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Windsor FC take another big step towards Wembley in the FA Vase

Windsor took another step towards a trip to Wembley at the weekend after their substitutes helped secure a convincing 3-1 away win over Eastbourne in the FA Vase.

Despite finding themselves 1-0 down at halftime to the capable Sussex side, Mick Woodham’s team, who played superbly for much of the game, struck back in the final 20 minutes after he looked to his bench.

Windsor’s comeback started after Kieran Knight equalised from the spot before late goals from super-subs Nadir Shafi and Matthew Stockill confirmed their side’s place in the competition’s last 16.

It delighted Woodham, who, having previously described the game as the biggest since Windsor were reformed in 2011, was ‘certainly very pleased’.

“It is a good result for the club, a good performance,” the manager added.

“We deserved to win the game.”

Woodham revealed he had expected Eastbourne to come at them for the first 25 minutes of the game, but that did not materialise.

Instead, his side created a series of chances and he felt at least one should have been converted.

They were punished for their profligacy with 27 minutes on the clock when Evan Archibald put Eastbourne ahead.

“They caught us on the counter attack and went 1-0 up against the run of play,” Woodham said.

His players’ heads didn’t drop, but they came out second best after half-time.

Eastbourne were on top for ten minutes in which they replicated Windsor’s early first half ascendency.

Like the visitors, they failed to score, and Woodham remarked: “If I was their manager, I would say they were a bit wasteful in the second half.”

But he was able to change the game by calling on his bench, with Shafi replacing Luke Brooks-Smith just before the hour mark.

It proved to be the first of two inspired substitutions. With 73 minutes gone, Windsor were awarded a penalty after Shafi was fouled by Alan Foster.

Knight duly converted it, and, with three minutes left and the game in the balance, Shafi scored following a break-away.

It was not to be the substitute’s final contribution in his half-hour on the pitch.

Stockill was introduced for Jack Denton in the fifth minute of added time and he completed the scoring for Windsor inside of two minutes, securing their place in the Vase’s fifth round.

If they can overcome Hampshire side Hamble Club, Windsor will need to triumph in two more rounds in order to march out at England’s national football stadium for the FA Vase final. Woodham said: “Somebody’s got to win it, and why can’t it be us?”

The tie will take place at Stag Meadow on Saturday, February 3.

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