Poppies exit League Cup after late Horndean stunner

Victoria Park, home of the Poppies

Report from Carlo Simone at Victoria Park

A stunning volley from Dan Manuel saw Bournemouth Poppies knocked out of the Sydenhams League Cup last night at the third round stage.

It was a game in which Bournemouth mostly controlled the proceedings. But Horndean were more clinical with their chances which saw them progress at Victoria Park.

Shiv Roushbaiani had equalised with a powerful strike from outside the area, shortly after Horndean had gone in front through a Mitch Frost header from an inswinging free-kick. Manuel’s brilliant dipping volley from 25 yards restored Horndean’s lead in the 75th minute, and proved to be the winner.

There were 10 changes made by manager Michael Cuffie following Saturday’s 6-0 thumping of Newquay in the FA Vase, with only Aziz Aldahayan retaining his place in the starting XI.

Debuts were also given out to Tom Wensley, Joseph Huston-Mendy and Mihail Visitiu.

Horndean started off the stronger as Mitch Frost headed over from a Josh Parry free-kick, but Poppies had a chance of their own just a few minutes later with Roushbaiani hitting an effort wide after a cross was headed back to him.

The Deans took the lead where from another free-kick Frost was more clinical, heading unmarked past shot stopper Sam Reilly at his near post in the 12th minute.

The home side looked to immediately respond as Lucas Gelschleichter won the ball from a Horndean defender and played a smart backheel to Visitiu, who shot over from range.

Roushbaiani  then received the ball just outside the Horndean penalty area, shifted it onto his right foot and struck a powerful effort beyond Ross Casey to draw Poppies level in the 17th minute.

The rest of the half was an even affair with Ryan Chandler for Horndean making some great progress down the right wing, but his cross always eluded his teammates after he cut inside on his left foot.

Pepe Smith then had two chances to fire Poppies in front. First, he headed over from point-blank range after a measured cross from Gelschleichter, before he received the ball 40 yards out and attempted to lob the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, his effort was nowhere near the target and drifted comfortably wide.

The half concluded with a long-range effort from Chandler which flew wide, and a strike from midfielder Joe Stacey which was comfortable for the visitors’ goalkeeper.

In the second half Poppies narrowly avoided conceding after Reilly misjudged a threaded through-ball and was almost caught out. The initial shot was superbly blocked by a defender; Reilly then redeemed himself by smothering the rebound and the third effort was finally blazed over from close range.

After that the home side were in the ascendency, as substitute Manny Ohameje had great joy down the right-hand side, but his first cross was far too close to the goalkeeper who claimed comfortably.

Frustration started to set in to the home side’s rhythm as they came close with a number of chances. Firstly, a chipped ball from Stacey found Visitiu who laid it off to Roushbaiani, but his shot was blocked back onto him before dropping into the grateful hands of Casey.

Poppies were again cursing their finishing ability as sumptuous crosses were volleyed wide by Visitiu and headed just past the post by Ohameje.

Gelschleichter went agonisingly close with a curling strike soon after, that drifted just over the bar after the ball was played back to him by Stacey.

But Poppies were eventually made to pay for not capitalising on their chances. Manuel had attempted a chipped through which was intercepted by Huston-Mendy’s header, but as the ball fell back to him he hit a sweet, dipping volley into the top corner beyond Reilly.

Poppies had 15 minutes to equalise again, and they upped the pressure with several corners and free-kicks which never truly troubled the Horndean defence. The closest they came to scoring was from a deflected Harry Cooper strike which was comfortably saved.

The Horndean defence remained compact and the visitors were able to progress to the fourth round of the competition at Poppies’ expense.

POPPIES: Reilly, Aldahayan, Head, Huston-Mendy, Wensley, Cooper, Stacey (Langston), Roushbaiani, Gelschleichter, Visitiu (Ohameje), Smith (Hatch)

Unusued substitutes: Flynn, Jones