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Monday 23rd January 2012 ko 7.30pm

British Army FA Woolwich Cup Semi-Final

ROYAL ENGINEERS 2 (Sapper Williams 36 Corporal Cottam 89)

ROYAL ARTILLERY 2 (Gunner Tidy 24 Gunner Molyneux 76)

AET Engineers won 4-2 on penalties

Played at Aldershot Military Stadium, Queens Avenue

Att 49 (h/c)

Entry FREE

No programme

It’s a little known fact that the British Army FA is treated as a county like any other by the English FA. So when both Woolwich Cup semi-finals were scheduled to within 100 yards of each other on a Monday night, it attracted quite a few hoppers. Those with the big numbers watched the other semi-final on a caged 3G pitch, while 3 of us watched this encounter in the main stadium.

Being within the Garrison I’d wondered whether there’d be any issues with gaining entry, but there was none whatsoever. I parked in the adjacent Rugby Ground, and taking these pictures was unrestricted. Getting the lineups was straightforward too, although the teamsheets consisted of Name, Rank and Number, as well as shirt number. It did give a certain piquancy to reporting the scorers!! It’s just a shame there was no Private “Don’t tell him,” Pike!

But the ground, or rather that stand. The stadium is primarily an athletics one, but the pitched roofed stand built in 1955 and refurbished by Norwest Holst recently, is a real gem. It stretches all of the length of the track, the seats don’t go call the way back for no good reason, but the rake makes up for the 9 lanes of running track in between. I liked the notices at each block banning smoking, apart from the block containing the Directors’/Officers’ box!

I’d wondered what to expect from a regimental cup, in fact I’d braced myself for a truly dreadful game, but the standard was very good, we reckoned around Southern League lower division level. That said, a decent skill level doesn’t doesn’t necessarily make for good entertainment, but this was a cracking game. Artillery shot (I know!) themselves into the lead when a through ball found Bakary clean through, but Tidy was standing in an offside position when the ball was played. Active? Inactive? Well he was a few seconds later when Bakary squared to him to score.

It didn’t matter so much on 36 minutes when Mike Williams equalised for Engineers with a thumping shot, but by this time we were beginning to worry about extra time, as with Lee West and I, such things are rather too likely given past experience. Normally it happens when you are far from home, and if I can get extra time in Osaka, 7500 miles from home, I can certainly get it a mere 65 miles away!

And of course so it happened. Bakary went down in instalments for the penalty, and as the three of us were praying to every god we could think of, Andrew Cottam slotted home with 90 seconds remaining. Of course, the extra 30 minutes produced nothing so with the usual delays the shoot-out was organised with the Artillery missing their first two kicks to give a winning advantage to the Engineers.

By the looks of things, the final is often played at Warminster Town FC; that’s worth a thought just for the standard of play alone.