Reds overcome plucky Met Police
Goals from Josh Simpson and Billy Clarke sealed Reds’ passage to the second round of the FA Cup despite a late scare against Metropolitan Police.
Simpson made it 1-0 with 36 minutes gone before Clarke doubled the lead midway through the second. Met Police responded and former Red Allan Tait pulled a goal back, before the hosts had two or three chances as the game wore on.
Four changes were made by Richie Barker following Saturday’s draw with Oldham as Sergio Torres, Dannie Bulman, Joe Walsh and Mark Connolly came in.
There were five former Reds among the Met Police squad, and four of those were named in the starting line up as Jay Lovett, Joe Dolan, Matt Smart and Tait all looked to get one over their former club.
But it was Reds who immediately got themselves on the front foot and were within a whisker of opening the scoring with just five minutes on the clock.
Bulman picked the loose ball up 35-yards out and as no-one came out to pressure, he went for goal, only to be denied by the underside of the crossbar and the assistant referee, who adjudged the ball had not crossed the line.
Met Police were certainly showing some fight, putting in some strong tackles, one of which resulted in Nathan Byrne making way for Mat Sadler with 25 minutes on the clock, as Reds struggled to break down the Ryman League side.
That all changed just after the half-hour mark as Gary Alexander’s flick found Mike Jones who played it through for the onrushing Simpson to prod past Jamie Butler who had come racing out of his goal.
The home side had rarely threatened going forward but did manage to create an opening on the stroke of half time as Billy Crook saw his effort blocked before Paul Jones denied Smart.
Met Police began brightly after the restart and Jones was again called into action after the restart as he tipped behind Howard Newton’s effort from just inside the area.
The game was much more even, though Reds twice went close through Alexander and then Billy Clarke before a Joe Walsh slip allowed Craig Brown to run clear, but he dragged his shot wide.
You sensed the hosts had to take one of those chances, and that proved to be the case as Reds went 2-0 up with twenty to go.
Nicky Adams, who had just come on for Torres, fed Alexander who put the ball on a plate for Clarke to tap home from two yards.
The hosts though were back in it with ten minutes to go, as Tait pulled one back following Brown’s shot that had come back off the crossbar.
Met Police were sensing another and Jones had to be at his best to tip Brown’s header behind. Lovett then had his header cleared off the line by Bulman before Newton hit the post from the rebound.
Reds held firm to see the game out and progress to the second round for the sixth time in the club's history.