Chasetown 1 Cardiff City 3: Steane crashes back to reality

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The Independent Football

Ben Steane will be back on duty today at Coventry airport, where he works for HM Revenue and Customs, but could be forgiven if his mind keeps drifting back to a muddy tree-lined football pitch in south Staffordshire. For half an hour at the Scholars Ground on Saturday, Steane and his Chasetown colleagues lived the FA Cup dream.

The team from a former mining village with a population of just 4,000 were the lowest ranked club ever to play in the third round and were attempting to bridge the biggest gap six divisions and 136 clubs in the competition's history.

When Steane's cross from the right was deflected into his own net by Kevin McNaughton after 17 minutes the unthinkable suddenly became the imaginable for the 30-a-week part-timers from the British Gas Business Southern League Midlands Division One.

Steane said: "As soon as the goal went in I started thinking: 'Is this really happening?' If we could have held on until half-time and for the first 15 minutes of the second half I think they would have got a bit edgy.

"In the first 20 minutes of the first half we really matched them. We had a couple of corners we nearly got on the end of. We could have gone in at half-time 2-0. I think we were pretty happy with the first half, though it was disappointing to concede the goal when we did."

Peter Whittingham's equaliser in the second minute of first-half injury time changed everything. Cardiff had performed fitfully until that point "We were a bit lethargic and maybe one or two didn't realise they were in a cup game," Dave Jones, the manager, said but thereafter the Championship team took control.

All three Cardiff goals were the result of well-constructed passing moves, with Aaron Ramsey at the centre of their best work. The Welsh under-21 international midfielder, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Boxing Day, became the youngest player in Cardiff's history last year and has already attracted interest from the Premier League.

He played with maturity here and crowned his first start with Cardiff's second goal. "He's not played a great deal of football this year because he's learning his trade with us," Jones said. "The one thing Aaron now needs to get is strength and that will come as he starts to develop. He didn't look out of place at all today."

Goals: McNaughton og (17) 1-0; Whittingham (45) 1-1; Ramsey (60) 1-2; Parry (73) 1-3.

Chasetown (3-5-2): Evans; Thomas, Slater, Williams; J Branch, Hawkins, Steane, Holland (Spacey, 77), M Branch; Perry (Edwards, 79), Perrow (D Smith, 56). Substitutes not used: Sargeant (gk), S Smith.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Oakes; McNaughton, Johnson, Loovens, Capaldi; Whittingham, Rae, Ramsey (Blake, 89), Ledley; Parry, MacLean. Substitutes not used: Forde (gk), Hasselbaink, Purse, Thompson.

Referee: G Laws (Tyne and Wear).

Booked: Cardiff Capaldi, Loovens.

Man of the match: Ramsey.

Attendance: 2,420.

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