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Friday 30th August 2013 ko 19.45

FA Cup Preliminary Round

WANTAGE TOWN 2 (Claydon 60 86)

DIDCOT TOWN 3 (Webb 3og Ferriera 37 Haysham 70)

Att 321

Entry £6

Programme £1 (poor, far too many adverts)

After the excesses of the weekend, I’d felt rather footballed-out. There were no lack of options on Tuesday and Wednesday, but save for a little writing the urge to jump in the car had been absent. But on Friday, a nice local game beckoned, and an FA Cup game too. It was time to get back in the swing of things, and on arrival I wasn’t the only one to have thought along the same lines. There were a good 20 hoppers, many of whom had been touring around North Wales with Chris and I. There was North Berkshire League representation too, with fixtures secretary Charlie East, and Treasurer Mike Panting casting an interested local eye on the proceedings.

However the reunion had a far more significant member, Didcot manager Andy Wallbridge. The former Oxford United defender was Wantage manager last season, and was surprising sacked after leading them to the Hellenic League runners-up spot, behind runaway winners Marlow. That didn’t turn out to be too much of an issue to his career, as he promptly accepted the manager’s job at Didcot Town, one promotion up the pyramid, in the Southern League Division One South and West.

For the neutral the game was interesting, as a local derby, but also as Wantage were top and Didcot bottom of their respective leagues, so much riding on one fixture. Wantage made a fast start, missing 2 chances in the first 3 minutes so when Sean Webb turned a right-wing cross into his own net it was real hammer blow. Didcot made them pay too, Jermaine Ferreira doubling their lead before half time.

Wantage had more possession, but were profligate in front of goal, until the introduction of Richard Claydon. When he made it 2-1 you could sense a come-back was possible. That looked possible though, only for 10 minutes, as Pablo Haysham restored the visitors’ two-goal lead in the 70th minute, and despite Claydon’s second, the replay didn’t look probable again.

It was, by anyone’s standards, an excellent game to watch in front of a bumper crowd. The fixture was played on a Friday as Alfredian Park was hosting a youth tournament the next day. Judging by the attendance Friday night football is something that the club should consider for the future. For Andy Wallbridge the evening proved if nothing else that revenge is sweet.