After waking up to snow in Tamworth, which called off Academy football at the CR MOT Community Stadium, The Lambs travelled north to Stainton Park to face Radcliffe FC, 13th in the Northern Premier League, for the first time the clubs histories.
Both sides had earned £5450 from wins in the previous 2 rounds, with £3750 on offer to the winners, and £1000 for the team that didn’t progress.
In the previous round Radcliffe beat Lambs local rivals Nuneaton and came to the game in a rich vein of form, while The Lambs were looking to return to winning ways as quickly as possible after a barren time in front of goal.
For the managements 96th game in charge, Tom Parker made his full debut for the club in a team that welcomed Ben Hart back after his knock to the head at Spalding two rounds previously had kept him out of the action.
For the visitors, former Lambs keeper Cameron Belford lined up with his grandad on the bench albeit as kitman!
The Lambs, in red against the Boro blue, kicked off down the slope attacking the Fell End in the first half, with the sun in pink clad Belford’s eyes for the opening few minutes.
Forde tried to shoot from a Concannon through ball through the centre and forced a corner on the left on 4 while at the other end Pendley denied player manager Grant and the same player headed wide of the mark from the cross from the clearance.
Waite’s run resulted in another left sided flagkick on 7 and Concanon found Hart at the near post but a defender blocked it out for a repeat attempt which Radcliffe tried to break from but failed to capitalise on the quick attack.
An uncharacteristic short pass in the right of the Lambs midfield by Yeomans allowed Grant to poke the ball through to Navarro in the box and he prodded it past Singh, under pressure, into the bottom right corner from a few yards out (0-1, 11 mins)
Spinelli was forced to change his shirt due to a nose bleed before he could return to the field, and then Navarro got the better of Lucas on 14 and forced The Lambs to defend strongly, and then Grant turned the ball around from six yards forcing Singh into a parry to give Boro a corner on the left. The ball was played into the area and Grant will claim that he got his head to it before Singh could get his hands to it but from behind the goal it did appear that either could have had the decisive, if unintentional, final touch (0-2, 17 mins)
While the home stewards and Lambs physio dealt with an fan related casualty behind Singh’s goal, Navara beat Yeomans on the left and forced a corner but Thornley headed over the target from the edge of the six yard box.
After a period of treatment on the field, Parker was unable to continue with 26 minutes gone, meaning Tamworth made an early change bringing McDonald into play
On 32, Apka-Akpro directed his left footed strike form the left of the area wide past the far post as Grant continued to as questions of the Lambs defence, and Crothers forced another corner with the next move as his cross was blocked by Wilder.
But there were shouts of ‘easy’ when Grant nearly turned home the loose ball as the Tamworth defence were found to be at sixes and sevens once again.
The Lambs were back in it on 35 though when McDonald headed home a pinpoint cross from Wilder from the left and gave the small band of travelling fans a reason to cheer. (1-2, 35 mins)
Singh prevented a powerful drive form the Radcliffe right going under the cross bar from Crothers on 40 and Navarro linked with Grant again on 41 to forced Singh to protect his near post at the culmination of a well worked move down the left.
Waite struck a hopeful effort from 20 yards on 45, but only managed to his the frontage of the stand behind the Fell End goal as four added minutes were indicated and the whistle blew.
Boro restarted proceedings but it was The Lambs who seemed to have a renewed impetus keeping the ball and playing to feet in the early exchanges.
Radcliffe forced a corner on the left on 50 though and Crothers dead ball went straight into the back of the net at the far post without a touch from anyone (1-3, 50 mins)
The home side were then awarded a penalty when Hart brought down his man in the box, and Grant stepped up, sending Singh the opposite way to his low left finish (1-4, 53 mis)
Belford prevented Beswik lifting the ball over him from a Concannon chipped through ball on 56 as, despite the deficit, Tamworth continued to look lively but couldn’t get a shot away in the final third.
Waite worked hard to get the ball into the area on 58 but McDonald’s resultant shot was blocked for a Beswick corner and Brown’s header was cleared.
Grant added insult to injury by netting his hat-trick on the hour finishing from the left of the area with a rifled shot past Singh after a ball into the box from the left (1-5 60 mins)
Tamworth made a double before play restarted, welcoming Creaney back to the side but Singh was next in action, preventing Baxter’s right footed curler with a parry out for a corner on 64.
Cribbin upended Waite on 70 for a booking and Hall was shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away a minute later.
A rare Lambs attack ended with Waite striking Hart’s set up wide of the target from 18 yards on 78 but there was not much hope of a comeback and Boro passed the ball around without too much ease as the minutes ticked by.
The home side forced another corner on 83 but could only head it over the target from past the far post and on 86 a melee in the box was eventually cleared by Pendley on the line.
Jones was booked for a foul on Hart on 87 and Singh left his area to take the freekick in front of the dugout for one final push.
But on 88 and for the second time in a week a Lambs player was sent off for an off the ball incident – this time Forde was shown the straight red card leaving Tamworth a man short for the final few minutes.
Three additional minutes was shown at the end of the game and we wish Boro all the best in the rest of the competition.
Singh, Yeomans (Riley 61), Wilder, Beswick (c.), Pendley, Brown, Concannon (Creaney 61), Hart, Waite, Forde, Parker (McDonald 30)
Subs: Fallows, Thomas, Griffin, Shaw
RC: Hart, Forde 88
Belford, Crothers, Hanley, Thornley, Cummings, Lenighan, Navarro (Jones 78), Baxter, Spinelli (Hall 68), Grant, Akpa, Akpro (Gribbin 59)
Subs: Oldham, Mercer, Taylor
YC: Cribbin 70, Hall 71, Jones 86
Referee: Mr. Swift