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Saturday 17th November 2012 ko 15.00

FA Vase 2nd Round

NEWPORT (IW) 1 (Przepolewski 10)

CADBURY HEATH 0

Att 201

Entry £6

Programme £1.30

Badge £3.50

Tea £1

In my last article I commented that I liked Sweden, at least in part for its wide open spaces. As I sat on the bus leaving the Red Jet ferry terminal at Cowes, I realised one of the reasons why I like the Isle of Wight, is the compact nature of the place. The streets are narrow and winding and there’s no great distance between anywhere. Other than my somewhat contrary nature, that feeling was rather shattered when the bus passed HMP Albany on the outskirts of Newport. The maximum security walls circling the huge facility looked particularly austere on a grey, cold day.

The bus amused me, as the company is called “Southern Vectis.” Vectis is the Roman name for the Isle of Wight, so why do you need to add “Southern?” From the bus station, its a short walk to St George’s Park, and you pass the Morrison’s and Marks & Spencer shops that sit where the football club used to live, until land prices saw a move further away from the town centre, to a purpose-built facility 25 years ago. Now Asda are sniffing around St George’s Park, but the club reckon they’ll move in next door, rather than displace them.

The ground reflects the club’s former Southern League status, with a large main stand and cover on all 4 sides. It’s an impressive home, albeit lacking the quirks and character traits of an older ground. The land was extensively levelled to build the the ground which has created a problem, with the pitch flooding. When there’s rain its a good idea to call ahead, we did, and the club were very good, calling me back with the message that the game was “Definately ON.”

The match was a match-up of the form teams of the Wessex and Western Leagues. I’d watched the Bristolian side at home in the 2010/11 FA Vase. They lost badly to an almost ridiculously strong Spennymoor side, but I remember the day most for a classy article in their programme by former resident Ian Holloway, now manager of Crystal Palace. This was a far more competitive match, although Cadbury Heath will wonder how on earth they managed to fail to at least force a replay.

Alek Przepolewski’s early header was his 18th goal of the season, but was also the end of Newport’s domination of play. Cadbury soon gained the ascendancy with some fine passing and movement, but at the end of it all, the forwards either blazed wide, or forced another good save from Gary Streeter in the home goal. Matt Huxley ballooned a shot over when it looked a good deal easier to score, and Streeter’s acrobatic tip over the bar from Mark Reynolds will live long in the memory.

Even a change of forward line couldn’t change the visitors’ fortunes and its was well before 5 minutes of stoppage time that their heads dropped. There was one last penalty shout, the aftermath of which saw Reynolds booked, but Newport had already one eye on Monday’s draw, as of course will I!