v Windsor (Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round – 8 Aug 2021)




Tuffley Rovers recorded a first FA Cup win in almost four years, as Aaron Basford’s first goal for the club proved the difference in a five goal thriller at Windsor’s Stag Meadow on Saturday.

Despite being drawn as the home side, Rovers travelled to Windsor as their own pitch was unavailable, after major drainage works during the summer, but they faced a familiar foe, in former Hellenic League side Windsor and one against whom they had a relatively good league record, although this was a first meeting in any cup competition.

The match started in dramatic fashion, as Rovers’ skipper Macaulay Herbert was left flat out after being caught by his teammate, Adam Clark, as the Rovers keeper came to claim a high ball in the first minute. Herbert was able to continue but it was a moment of genuine concern for all involved.

Aaron Basford had a half-chance shortly afterwards, in a bright opening for Rich Cox’s side, but Rovers were indebted to the recalled Clark on 11 minutes, as he made a sensational double save to keep Windsor at bay. Liam Wright then had a half chance for Rovers, but his shot was comfortably saved by Sam Butcher, before Clark made another great stop, to deny Eric Sowolona what looked like a certain goal.

A good period for the hosts was, however, rewarded just before the half hour mark, as Herbert was adjudged to have fouled Excellence Muhamba, giving Windsor a free-kick in a dangerous position. Charlie Jaggers stepped up to smash home a free-kick that flew beyond Clark’s desperate attempt to keep it out and handed a lead to the hosts on the day, despite their status as the away team for the tie.

Almost straight away Dion Ellis-Clark, starting in a Rovers shirt for the first time, drew a fantastic save from Butcher as Rovers sought an equaliser, but that was a rare moment of enterprise for his side and the game entered the interval with the score at 1-0 to Windsor.

Herbert was withdrawn as a precaution at half-time, being replaced by Lewis Bainbridge, with Xander Jones moving into the centre of defence and the newly introduced full-back added an attacking dimension which had perhaps been missing during the first 45 minutes.

As Rovers began to build on a good start to the half, they applied an increasing amount of pressure on the Windsor back line, although the nature of their 56th minute equaliser was not necessarily a fitting reward for their newly found adventure.

When Josh Swales swung a free-kick in towards the goal it appeared to be caught by the windy conditions and swerved wickedly towards the Windsor goal and Butcher could only palm the ball into the roof of the net.

If they had been buoyed by the equaliser, Rovers showed their defensive frailty moments later, as Jones and Clark got into a terrible mix-up, gifting Sowolona the chance to restore Windsor’s lead less than 60 seconds after the restart.

Fortunately for Cox, his side were unphased by conceding the goal and immediately regained their attacking composure, with the equalising goal coming just six minutes later.

Lucas Price did well to hold the ball up, before setting the ball back to Bainbridge, who burst past three challenges, before rolling the ball into the path of Domink Kent, whose low struck shut took a deflection and flew past Butcher in the Windsor goal.

Having scored the equaliser, Cox made a substitution almost immediately, withdrawing Sam Mendes and replacing him with Joe Shutt and it was the little wide-man who created the winning goal within four minutes of entering the fray.

Kent fed Shutt out wide and he cut inside his man before rolling the ball into the feet of former Cheltenham Town man, Aaron Basford, who struck a crisp shot beyond Butcher and into the roof of the Windsor net.

Despite establishing a lead, Rovers continued to play on the front foot, although they were indebted to Jacob Geddes and Clark, who both put their bodies on the line to keep the hosts at bay and the lead intact.

Shutt then almost extended the lead, after good work by Ellis-Clark, and another substitute, Rudi McKinnon, might have done better with a long range effort, but when the whistle sounded, after seven minutes of added time, Cox was left to celebrate a win that ensures a trip to Spartan South Midland side, Flackwell Heath, in the next round of the competition.