Diss Town overcome Bradenham Wanderers to reach Norfolk Senior Cup third round
Diss Town advanced into the third round of the Norfolk Senior Cup this evening after some stoppage-time drama against Bradenham Wanderers at a deserted Brewers Green Lane.
The lower-league visitors thought they had forced a penalty shootout when they cancelled out James Bemrose's opener in the second minute of time added on, only for the hosting Tangerines to respond four minutes later through defender Billy Shaw's smart finish.
As understandable as it was predictable, it was a first half that lacked any real fluency as both sides had their first run outs since December in this behind closed doors encounter.
The hosts dominated in terms of possession, but to their credit Bradenham were not without threat – particularly when they managed to free Ivan Otono out wide on the left flank.
As it was, Diss' best chances to break the deadlock came towards the back-end of the half as the screw started to be ever so slightly turned.
Perhaps the best of those was presented to Bemrose after a mistake in the away side's rearguard from Jordan Rowe sent him clear in the 32nd minute, but his low strike was routinely stopped by Bradley McCormack.
Diss skipper Owen French then saw his header at a corner cannon against the crossbar in the 43rd minute and within 60 seconds Bryn Mullen had been denied a tap-in by Adam Bellingham's last ditch challenge.
They continued in the ascendancy early in the second half when Bemrose's flick on picked out an advancing Mullen. The winger opted for a half volley from the edge of the box and it was destined for the bottom corner until McCormack stuck out a glove to turn the ball around the post.
Mullen then showed his creative side with 55 minutes on the clock via a cross from the left for Bemrose. The forward met it perfectly on the volley, but could only guide his effort wide of the right-hand post.
It was all Diss at this point, but Bradenham did fire a warning shot moments later when Otono's cutback picked out an advancing Louis Henman-Mason, but from eight yards out he lifted his attempt well over the crossbar.
Yet finally in the 71st minute – after what had been a frustrating evening in front of goal – Bemrose displayed the predatory instincts he has shown in abundance during recent seasons. The ball broke kindly for the former Long Stratton frontman on the left hand side of the area and after cutting inside he unleashed a rising shot that arrowed into the stanchion. McCormack in the Bradenham goal played well all night, but he could only watch on helplessly.
The same player then should have put the tie to bed three minutes from time when Kieran Hagan's cross-shot found him all alone at the back post. Inexplicably, with the goal at his mercy, the number nine blazed over.
And it looked like being a crucial moment when in the second minute of time added on Bradenham got themselves level through centre-back Rob Thurley's close-range shot.
However, four minutes later Diss secured themselves a place in the next round when Shaw was most alert to the loose ball and with McCormack off his line he calmly lifted the ball inside the far post.
Diss: Bergin, M Wilson (Woodhouse 78'), Peek, Shaw, French, Taunton, Cawcutt (J Wilson 73'), Race (Hutchinson 67'), Bemrose, Hagan, Mullen