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Gary Birch controls the ball before netting the opener for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

Gary Birch controls the ball before netting the opener for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

County cups have not brought much luck for Chasetown so far in 2010, but that changed for the better with a 2-1 Birmingham Senior Cup win at Alvechurch.

A scrappy affair would run to extra time after Josh McKenzie cancelled out Gary Birch’s first half strike, but a Grant Ryan penalty with ten minutes of extra time remaining set up a home tie with local rivals Rushall Olympic in the second round.

The first 20 minutes of the tie were lively with plenty of end-to-end action, the Scholars looking marginally stronger with Birch twice going close and home keeper Neil Leech punching Chris Peel’s corner away, but the Midland Alliance side produced some good pace down the right, skipper Charisma Agbonlahor – brother of Aston Villa star Gabriel – looping a shot into Ryan Price’s arms.

Richard Davies blasted a 30-yard shot over Leech’s crossbar before Alvechurch had the ball in the net courtesy of a mistake by Price after a Simon Fitter free kick, but the offside flag denied McKenzie from the follow-up.

It was Chasetown’s turn to be denied by the linesman’s flag on 22 minutes when Dave Egan’s shot from the left was ruled out, but four minutes later the Scholars were ahead when Gary Hay played in Ramone Stephens and his low cross found Birch whose right-footed shot bounced in off the post.

The pace slowed a little thereafter, although Richard Teesdale went close with a header following a Jack Farmer free kick but Leech plucked the ball out of the air.

The Scholars’ lead would last just a couple of minutes into the second half before Egan cleared Fitter’s header for a corner, the resultant kick met by McKenzie who headed through the gap at the far post to equalise.

The game became more scrappy with less and less chances being created, Ramone Stephens denied by the home defence on 54 minutes while appeals for a penalty were turned down five minutes later as Brett Skinner was challenged in the area.

Chasetown's Ramone Stephens escapes his marker. Pic: Dave Birt

Chasetown's Ramone Stephens escapes his marker. Pic: Dave Birt

Agbonlahor twice shot wide as Alvechurch looked to take the lead, while Teesdale headed over the bar and Leech punched Farmer’s free kick clear of danger.  The sides continued to cancel each other but Alvechurch looked marginally stronger in the closing minutes.  The target could not be found, however, substitute Johaine Thompson going closest for the Scholars as he fired a tight-angled shot over the bar, and extra time beckoned.

During the second half of extra time and just as a penalty shoot-out was looking likely, McKenzie brought down Stephens in the area and a spot-kick was awarded.  Ryan stepped up to send Leech the wrong way, and Chasetown went through.

The side now get ready for a long journey this Saturday (November 20) as they visit Workington in the FA Carlsberg Trophy (3pm kick-off).

Alvechurch: Leech, Street, Deehan, A Blake, McLaughlin, Skinner, Fitter, Pilgrim, Agbonlahor (c), McKenzie, Jackson.  Subs: Rolfe (Street 68), Carter (Skinner 97), J Blake (Fitter 109), Garvey, Chamberlain.
Chasetown: Price, Farmer, Peel, Cohen, Davies, Teesdale (c), Stephens, Egan, Birch, Hay, Jevons.  Subs: Ryan (Birch 72), Parsons (Jevons 45), Slater, M Branch, Thompson (Hay 81).

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