Impressive Wick reach first round of FA Vase

Wick booked their spot in the first round proper of the FA Vase after brushing aside Eastern Counties League Division 1 South outfit Hackney Wick at Crabtree Park on Saturday.

The home side were emphatic in front of goal, with Jack Cole striking twice, David Crouch netting, plus a penalty from Kieron Playle-Howard, wrapping up a 4-2 second round qualifying triumph.

Wick had not reached the first round proper since 2016, when they were beaten by Haywards Heath Town, but made sure they would appear at the same stage this season.

Cole’s opener on the half-hour was cancelled out by Sam Azimi’s strike as it was 1-1 at the break.

Two goals in three second half minutes put Wick on their way to the first round proper.

Playle-Howard struck from the penalty spot to all but secure Wick’s progress ten minutes from time. The visitors pulled one back with a spot-kick of their own soon after but Wick held on.

Wick celebrate a goal in the FA Vase victory over Hackney Wick. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Wick celebrate a goal in the FA Vase victory over Hackney Wick. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Wick secured £725 in prize money for reaching the first round proper and have been handed another home tie, this time against division-higher Southern Counties East Premier Division outfit Lordswood on Saturday, October 13.

The win also ensured Wick won successive rounds in the national competition for the first time since 2007, with joint manager Lee Baldwin beaming after the victory.

He said: “It’s brilliant for this little club, the boys grafted so hard again.

"We know we can play but in recent weeks we’ve lacked a physical dominance and our work rate hasn’t been good enough. The last few games we’ve matched our technical ability with physicality and it’s produced some very positive performances. Any cup we are in we will try to progress, but the FA Vase is a fantastic competition. Winning is a habit and we have to keep the habit going.”

In a very even first half, Dan Cox teed up Cole for a 27th-minute opener as Wick drew first blood. Hackney Wick were not trailling for long, levelling through Azimi minutes later.

Wick turned things in their favour over a three minute spell after the restart. Cole got his and the home side’s second after 52 minutes then fellow frontman Crouch made it three. The visitors had a goal ruled out before Cole was brought down with a penalty awarded. Playle-Howard made no mistake from the spot, making it 4-1.

Azimi was brought down by Nathan Ediker in the area and Hackney Wick were awarded a penalty. Cris Rollin reduced the deficit to two goals but Wick saw out the final few minutes.

Wick have also been boosted after announcing the signing of former Bognor, Horsham and Worthing frontman Terry Dodd.

Baldwin added: “Terry (Dodd) is an exceptional signing for us and we are hoping to bring in two more in the next couple of weeks who will hopefully take us to the next level.”

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