By Liam Moakes Thursday 20 September 2012 Updated: 20/09 14:45
MIDLAND Combination Premier Division high-flyers Walsall Wood proved their promotion credentials as they dumped higher ranked Alvechurch out of the FA Vase 3-2 at the second qualifying round stage at Lye Meadow on Saturday.
It looked as though two goals from Omari Sterling-James - who has been a revelation since his arrival - were going to be enough to send Dean Holtham's men through, but two goals in the final eight minutes did the trick for the visitors.
The hosts were depleted as keeper and top scorer Richard Taylor and Joe Wright were missing through injury, Michael McGrath was absent for personal reasons and Elliot Nash was also unavailable.
All of this gave chances to Liam Maher in goal, Dean Poulson in midfield, Leroy Coates out wide and Jazz Luckie up front.
There were few clearcut chances in the first half hour but the hosts took a 35th minute lead when Sterling-James headed home from a corner.
Ahmet Bilgimer spurned a great chance of an instant equaliser when he fired weakly straight at Maher from an excellent position and it should have proved more costly in first half injury time when Sterling-James pulled the ball back into the path of Coates but, with the goal at his mercy, he blazed over the bar.
The game-changing incident arrived in the 57th minute when Bilgimer got goal side of Poulson and was clean through on goal before being pulled down.
The mandatory red card followed and within two minutes the visitors had levelled when Bilgimer netted with a neat finish.
To their credit Alvechurch battled hard and their efforts looked to have paid off when Walsall Wood captain Lee Stretton misplaced his header straight to Sterling-James on the edge of the box and the striker impressively stepped inside a couple of defenders before firing into the corner in the 78th minute.
However, with time running out, the visitors levelled again in fortuitous circumstances when a clearance fell to Danny Owen, whose mishit effort drifted past an unsighted Maher into the corner to make it 2-2.
Just as extra time seemed a certainty, Walsall Wood bagged the decisive fifth goal in the sixth of eight added minutes when a great crossfield ball from Rock on the left found the diminutive Bilgimer at the far post and he found the net past Maher at the near post to book their place against Eccleshall in the next round.
Alvechurch, who have seven points from eight games, return to Midland Alliance action tomorrow with a visit to bottom placed Heath Hayes.
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