Walker Central 0-1 Cullercoats
Charlton 9, Hall 8, Williamson 8, Patterson 8, Morton 8, Connelly 7 (Watson 55, 7) Cobley 7, Parker 7 (Shipley 70, 7) Tallen 7, Mcewan 7, Bromham 7.
A 13th minute finish from Andy Tallen was enough for Cullercoats to see off Walker Central in a preliminary tie.
With both our keepers missing and others lacking commitment to the cause we were clear underdogs against a very strong and powerful looking side from the top division. We started well with Alex Mcewan and Lewis Williamson combining well down the left as Tallen was released on a couple of early occasions. On 13 minutes Tallen again broke the offside trap and finished well despite the Walker keeper blocking his initial effort.
Both sides looked a little rusty after the Christmas break and chances came and went for Alex Mcewan and James Bromham who both found themselves in good positions without being able to get a firm shot away. Walker finished the first half strongest but anything they threw at us was well defended by Dan and Thomas at center half with Jason at right back and Lewis in an unfamiliar role at left back. Karl returned from suspension and was only troubled once in an assured first half.
Second half we made no changes initially with only Robbie and Jack as subs we kept things the same and started the half really well with another chance for Mcewan whistling past the post and a good strike from Kian Parker flashing just wide. Robbie was introduced for Josh on 55 minutes to try and give us more legs as Lewis reverted back to midfield.
As our legs tired we began to lose shape, struggled to gain possession and sat too deep as Walker gained control. On 60 minutes Karl made a miraculous save diving low to his right to keep out an acrobatic overhead kick from a Walker forward that would have been worthy of winning any game. Despite being under the cosh for long periods we still looked dangerous on the counter as Shipley was introduced in attack which allowed Tallen more space out wide but several of his crosses came to nothing from great positions. Walker continued to press but in truth never really looked like notching a late equalizer as Karl confirmed his MOM display and always looked in control. There was a late scare as Walker looked to get in behind but a great last ditch tackle from Thomas saved the day.