MK Irish’s impressive run in our debut season in The FA Vase has come to an end after losing on penalties to Fakenham Town, following a spirited comeback that saw the game finish 2-2.
Perhaps suffering from another long coach journey to Norfolk, MK Irish struggled in the early stages of the game as the home side took lead after 25 minutes, coming from a corner that Irish failed to clear before the ball fell kindly to a Fakenham attacker, who converted from close range to make it 1-0.
The home side thought they had doubled their lead just before the break, as they had the ball in the back of the net again, yet the linesman’s flag was raised and the score remained 1-0 as the half-time whistle went.
The second half was a completely different story as MK Irish came out fighting. Against the run of play, Fakenham managed to double their lead after a capitlising on a defensive mix up, however with half an hour left to play the visitors were far from out of it.
Substitute Dom Lawless got the ball rolling by picking it up on the edge of the box and curling into the bottom left corner, meaning with 15 minutes to go the comeback was well and truly on as the tide was turning in Irish’s favour.
Just five minutes later, George Shrieves was fouled as he broke with pace into the box, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot, giving the away side the perfect opportunity to level things up. Mason Spence stepped and scored in off the post, leaving the game all square with ten minutes left to play.
It was backs to the wall now for Fakenham as Irish pressed higher and higher, looking for a winner that would have completed a remarkable turn around. The home side were leaving all but one player behind the ball and were doing anything possible to clear the ball, which kept coming back at them from the now dominant MK Irish.
Then came the controversy as with injury time coming to an end, Spence had the ball on the edge of the box and crossed in to a dangerous area for Lawless to run onto, the panicked Fakenham keeper rushed out and both players missed the ball completely and collided in the 50/50 challenge as the ball ran through to Shrieves to touch home into an empty net.
Unfortunately for the side who had done so well to come back and dominate the second half, the referee then blew for a foul on the Fakenham keeper – a more than debatable decision when considering that both players had every right to go for the ball and both collided with one another.
That was the last chance of the game and just as in the last round against Wroxham, Irish’s fate would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
This time however, the luck was against the visitors as Alex Filip and Christiaan Beaupierre missed their efforts as Fakenham were faultless and scored all four.
A heartbreaking way to end our debut FA Vase season, the boys fought until the end and did enough on the day to win the game, and if certain decisions had gone in our favour it would have been a different story.
With the announcement of Tier 4 lockdown measures now in place, the season now faces another pause as the Spartans South Midlands league has suspended all fixtures until further notice.
We hope to be back out on pitch soon and thank you for all of your support on what has been a brilliant cup run.