A Cryan shame as Scarborough miss out

Scarborough 0 Chelsea 1
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The Independent Football

They doled out caviar and chips, at least to we fortunate folk seated in the directors' box. Nice touch, and supposedly a representation of two sides divided by stature, relative position in football's hierarchy and sheer bucketfuls of money: £58m compared with £2,000, the latter what it cost to acquire striker Mark Quayle whose goal against Southend secured this tie.

You could comprehend the concern and sense of awe in the voice of Malcolm Reynolds, the Scarborough chairman, who has salvaged the Sea Dogs from that watery grave called administration, as he surveyed the sun-drenched (in every sense, thanks to sponsorship by the tabloid newspaper) stadium and muttered: "I just hope our lads aren't humiliated."

Not a chance. Scarborough were nothing if not fair to their supporters. They offered just about everything you could demand from a non-League side in such circumstances. Organisation, courage, physical endeavour, and on occasions, a flash of inspiration to match their illustrious guests.

True, you feared for Scarborough after Chelsea's captain, John Terry, had breached their defence after just 10 minutes. Ultimately, though, it proved anything but the pushover we suspected it would become. Chelsea were not exactly in deckchair mood, and you could not condemn the attitude of Claudio Ranieri's men, but, oh, their profligacy was astonishing to behold.

The result was that in the final 10 minutes, the Nationwide Conference club players, though weary, had summoned sufficient confidence to believe they could force a replay. How close they came, too. Russell Slade's team were granted no favours when referee Barry Knight ignored a chorus of appeals for a penalty after William Gallas had handled in the area. Conspiracy theorists who believe that officials favour the Premiership side in such situations would have had a convention full of converts after this.

Having inspected an immediate TV replay, Slade had no doubts and indicated exactly what he thought of the decision. Knight explained afterwards that, in his opinion, it was "ball to hand". But Slade insisted: "It's clear. He [Gallas] put his hand up. It was up in the sky. Those [decisions] are easy ones to make. You normally get those."

Yet a spot-kick would not have been required anyway, if only seconds earlier, Colin Cryan, Scarborough's Irish Under-21 international defender, had taken the opportunity that would - no, should - have written his name large in FA Cup folklore. Throughout this FA Cup campaign, he has famously (at least in north Yorkshire terms) donned his "lucky underpants" for games. As someone drily observed afterwards, when the chance fell to him, a ball just waiting to be placed beyond Carlo Cudicini, it would have probably have been better if he had been wearing them on his head.

Instead, he headed the ball straight into the hands of the grateful Chelsea goalkeeper, accompanied by wails of disbelief from the home faithful behind the goal. No Ronnie Radford-style acclamation for him. No "hero" headlines. Just a return to anonymity. What one may call a Cryan shame. Somebody suggested, rather unkindly, that the miss would continue to haunt him, given that he "had cost his club a trip to Stamford Bridge and £400,000" in revenue.

Just what he needed to hear. "I think if you had watched me run back afterwards you'd have seen the disappointment and heartache in my face," he replied. In fact, the player on loan from Sheffield United had contributed more than his share to a doughty performance by Scarborough with a sterling rearguard performance against Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

So, Chelsea prevailed, but by nothing like the margin we all, including the Scarborough chairman, had imagined. "It tells you everything that we're here at the end debating a referee's decision which decided the game," reflected Reynolds, who had done what no other chairman ever has in this observer's memory, installed the media in his directors' box. Ken Bates would have had us shot rather than allow such an invasion of his sanctuary. "But I'm not disappointed to lose; how can you be when you never expected to win?"

Notwithstanding the rejected penalty claims, his manager took a similarly magnanimous attitude. "It's been a wonderful journey. I don't want the players to forget that. And it's been fantastic for the town. As you know, at this time of the year it's usually dead here."

Nothing happens quickly in the town on the resort at the end of the A64. When the Holbeck Hotel slid into the ocean in 1993, even that took three days. It took a while for the town's football team to adjust to the sheer pace and invention of the Premiership team. Both managers had to contend with bright sunlight straight into their eyes. For a while Scarborough had stars in theirs as Frank Lampard thumped a venomous drive against a post.

Then Hasselbaink's one-two at a corner with Gudjohnsen ended with the Dutchman curling in a splendid cross. Mario Melchiot headed on, and Terry nodded home. Rather foolishly, he cupped his ear towards the home supporters as he ran back, which ensured that he heard a volley of abuse from that section from then on.

Chelsea's Alexis Nicolas, a home-produced 20-year-old Cypriot Under-21 international, drove just over on his debut and Gudjohnsen lobbed just wide, and Terry charged the length of the pitch but was awry with his finish. The second goal promised simply would not materialise. And so it continued into the second half, with Lampard, Gallas, Gudjohnsen and Hasselbaink all guilty of poor finishing. When they were on target, goalkeeper Leigh Walker's reactions were superb. One Terry header was expertly punched off the line by the goalkeeper, who is coached by the former Sunderland FA Cup hero, Jim Montgomery.

Then, that Cryan miss, the penalty that never was, and the talk... of what might have been.

Scarborough 0 Chelsea 1
Terry 10

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 5,379