• by Yann Year at the Skyex Community Stadium

Valiant second half effort gives comfort to Hayes & Yeading despite FA Cup exit


FA Cup First Round

Hayes & Yeading United 0 Oxford United 2

Defender Jack Williams believes Hayes and Yeading showed enough in their FA Cup defeat to Oxford United on Sunday to suggest promotion is a realistic target for them this season.

United left their fans feeling proud of the energy they put in to live with the League One pace-setters, who are 109 places above them in the football pyramid.

But the extra quality told, and goals in each half from Sam Long and Rob Hall took the visitors into the second round of the competition.

It ends a great run for the west London side, which began in August and lasted eight games, with prize money bringing in a very handy £44,102.

“We did ourselves proud with the effort, although we knew we could have played better than that,” the left-back told Capital Football.

“To come this far in the FA Cup has given us that momentum and a boost in confidence for the league.

“If we can perform against a League One team like that and put the same amount of effort in in our league games, I think we’ll go far and do well this year.

“It was enjoyable coming up against higher opponents. It’s a great chance to show what you can do. Because of all the cup games, we’ve got a lot of games in hand and if we do manage to pull off a few wins in them, we’ll be right up there and challenging for at least the play-offs this year.

“That’s our goal, to be up there challenging and the way we’ve been playing recently, I don’t think it’s an over-ambitious goal. It’s doable.”

Boss Paul Hughes would have been fearing the worst after a one-side first-half which could so easily have seen Oxford bag four or five goals, such was their control of the game.

They had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside when Matt Taylor tapped in from close range, James Henry fired over when clean through and the excellent, fleet-footed Tarique Fosu-Henry thumped a free-kick against a post having earlier fired against the underside of the bar from outside the box.

To their credit, Hayes and Yeading refused to buckle and came out fighting after the break. They made some good half-chances, with Hassan Jalloh twice forcing Simon Eastwood into saves.

Ogo Obi also saw the chance of glory with a near-post drive, although a cutback to the better-placed James Clark might have proved more fruitful.

But in reality, Jack Smith was the busier of the two stoppers and he did most to keep his side in the game until sub Hall clipped the ball past him midway through the second half to kill off thoughts of a comeback.

Hayes and Yeading fans, who included Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell among the 1,500 (he is a season ticket holder) were in excellent voice to the very end – self-deprecating with chants of: “You’ve got more fans than us,” and “Does your butler know you’re here?”

They were realistic enough to know they were up against a very good team and considering this was only their second outing in the first round proper since the amalgamation of Hayes and Yeading in 2007 – nine years since their only other appearance – a win was a long shot. But they were determined to make the most of their day.

This is a club which has had to regroup after sliding down leagues and being forced to move from their old ground in Church Road and ground-share elsewhere. Days like this at Beaconsfield Road, in the shadow of the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, are bonuses to be savoured.

Their next task is to try and find a way up from the Southern League Premier Division South – the seventh tier of English football.

“We dug in deep and stuck at it. We were hoping for the best, I suppose,” Williams said in summary. “Coming in at 1-0 down, we thought that if we give this a real go, we’ve got a chance of getting back in it, and to be fair, in the second half we came out and showed them how we can play and gave it a real crack.

“We did ride our luck at times but we did have a few opportunities and gave it our all.”

Line–up: Smith, Grant, Robinson, McDevitt, Williams, Cook (Della Verde 85), Donnelly (Twoomey h/t), Rowe (Little h/t), Clark, Jalloh, Obi. Subs not used: McCorkell, Piorkowski, Switters, Weight.

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