Gareth Craven Goal Celebration1Dock were drawn away for the second successive Cheshire Cup tie-this time to local and divisional rivals Rock Ferry. The game lived up to all its pre-match promise, with both sides contributing to an enthralling ‘blood and thunder’ cup tie, which was aided by the sticky pitch condition at Levers.

The first chance of the game fell to the visitors, when Michael McGraa failed to convert a sharp chance created from good work by Dean Thomas and Mark Head on 5 minutes. Kynan Mason was then pulled up for offside when clear and Dean Thomas shot narrowly over as Dock took the game to the hosts.

Rock Ferry then countered on 10 minutes and Atkinson forced a good save from Martyn Stevenson in the Dock goal. Five minutes later, Atkinson again had a chance, only to shoot over the bar when well positioned.

The first yellow card was produced by the referee, when a heavy challenge on Carl Clampitt on the half way line resulted in Dysart being cautioned for Rock Ferry. Dock continued to probe for an opening goal and McGraa again went close after a fine passing move involving Irvine, Head and Mason.

Atkinson, who looked like Rock Ferry’s best bet for a goal then looped a header goalwards, only for Stevenson to comfortably gather. A minute later on 35 minutes, Dock swept upfield to take the lead through McGraa, when Duckers and Mason combined on the left to set up the Dock centre forward for a crisp finish.

Mark Head then had a shot saved by Rock Ferry ‘keeper Blackburn and McGraa then had another effort saved just before the break, as Dock looked to force home their superiority.

HT: Rock Ferry Social 0-1 Dock.

As has happened in previous matches, Dock were caught cold early in the second half, when Rock Ferry equalized within two minutes of the re-start. Dock captain, Paul Byrne was penalized for a foul on Rock midfielder Paul Jones and after Stevenson failed to deal with the free kick, Craig Cairns scored for the home side. Mark Head, who was struggling with a leg injury then came off to be replaced by Gareth Craven.

The game was now ebbing and flowing from end to end and Stevenson made a fine double save from Paul Jones and then ex-Docker, Luke Hughes. Kynan Mason then took full advantage for Dock on 55 minutes, when Michael McGraa did brilliantly to control a throw in won by Craven to the by-line to pull back a pass for Mason to hit home via a deflection.

Dock’s joy was short lived however, when on the hour mark, Craig Cairns scored his and Rock Ferry’s second when although looking a mile offside, was allowed to go on, round Stevenson and slot home for 2-2. Dean Thomas then had a shot for Dock cleared off the line as both teams tried to win the tie in normal time. Paul Byrne was then shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Cairns as tired legs and minds took over. Rock Ferry substitute Charles was also yellow carded for a foul on Steve Owen.

Mike McGraa then hit the outside of the post on 80 minutes after Mason set him up after getting the beating of Rock left back, Belpin, who up until then had enjoyed a fine game. It was no surprise that a winner was to come and the hero turned out to be Gareth Craven on 84 minutes for the Dock. He turned home from a Mason cross, after a fine move started by Ian Irvine at right back.

There was still some heart in the mouth moments for the away fans as Rock Ferry piled on the pressure for an equalizer. Paul Jones again went close but the Dock defence held out with Ian Brunt a stand out performer, making good interceptions and last ditch blocks when needed.

Dock will now meet Stockport side Straw FC in the quarter final, the tie will be played at The Memorial Ground on Sunday 4th January 2015 (full quarter final draw).

FT: Rock Ferry 2-3 Dock.

Dock. 4-4-2 (with substitutes in brackets).
Stevenson, Irvine, Bryne, Brunt, Duckers, Mason, C. Clampitt, Owen, Thomas, Head (Craven), M. McGraa.

REPORT: Peter Warburton
PHOTOS: Chris Stading

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Gareth Craven Goal Celebration