Blaby & Whetstone 1 Eastwood Town 3
A first victory of the season, £3,000 in the bank and a home tie with a Conference North side were Eastwood Town’s rewards on Wednesday after a comfortable win in Leicestershire.
A quickfire double in the second-half sealed the tie but the Badgers largely controlled throughout, with Tom Orton’s stunning equaliser for Blaby just before half-time the only blot on the landscape.
With the visiting team, its fans and even a local journalist all stuck on the M1 for two hours beforehand the match was delayed for half-an-hour, but it didn’t seem to faze the visitors who saw Anthony Griffith Jnr strike a post on seven minutes after creating space in the penalty area.
Blaby were lively and Darren Henfrey and Liam Read both saw efforts just miss the target, but the visitors would take the lead on 37 minutes.
Alex Troke delivered a low free-kick into the penalty area and the ball took a deflection, possibly off TJ Nightingale, before finding the net, though Troke took most of the congratulations.
Blaby’s leveller was spectacular, right-back Orton letting fly from 25 yards after a free-kick was squared to him, leaving Sam Andrew with no chance in the Badgers goal as the ball flew into the top corner.
The second-half saw effort but little product from the hosts and that allowed Eastwood’s extra quality to shine through.
Grant Ryan made his first appearance of the season from the bench and it was he who fed Nightingale to run on and smash a powerful finish into the corner of the net on 66 minutes and put Eastwood in front.
The game was then sealed three minutes later, as a counter-attack saw Jermaine Hollis burst down the right and beat two challenges before squaring for Ryan six yards out who couldn’t miss.
Darran Wheeler hit the post for Blaby late on when a goal for the hosts could have made it a nervous finish, while at the other end Nightingale had a shot cleared off the line with Mitch Hanson only able to put the rebound over the crossbar when he should really have scored.
But Eastwood were safe and a home tie with Cambridgeshire side Histon now awaits on September 22.
Eastwood: 1 Sam Andrew 2 Alex Troke 3 Paul Riley (Josh Raven 90) 4 Danny Elliott 5 Romaine Graham 6 Perry Marriott 7 Jermaine Hollis 8 Mitch Hanson 9 TJ Nightingale 10 Anthony Griffith Jnr (Grant Ryan 52) 11 Paolo Piliero (Gregg Simmons 83)
by Mark Duffy