Friday 21st September 2012 ko 19.45
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
DIDCOT TOWN 3 (Clark 62 73p Osborn-Ricketts 77)
CLEVEDON TOWN 1 (Flurry 22)
With the North Berkshire League hop the next day, this fixture couldn’t have been more convenient for those staying over the night before. Or in fact anyone who fancied a “warm-up” game. There were even 3 hoppers who’d watched Didcot Casuals, on Town’s training ground 2 years ago. I bet its unusual for the two grounds to be ticked off in that order! The convenience of the fixture lead to a rumour that Chris and I had got the fixture moved to attract hoppers. Not the case I’m afraid, we don’t carry that much clout, but Phil Annets media officer at the NBFL did get the club to put a full page advert for the hop in the excellent programme!
Loop Meadow Stadium is one of the better new-builds, replacing their Station Road (now a Sainsbury’s) home in 1999. The sight lines are good, and there’s now cover behind one goal, a condition of Southern League Premier football, now sadly a division above their current status.
Annoying for all concerned the draw gave Didcot the fixture that they would have had if neither side had made it through the 1st qualifying round, albeit with the away team at home. What the game proved, apart from that the Railwaymen have a nice little cup run going is that they should have little difficulty in collecting 3 points when the two sides meet again in the rearranged league fixture at The Hand Stadium next Tuesday.
It was a travesty that Clevedon were leading at the break. Joe Flurry’s stab home following ex Reading and Bristol City striker Scott Murray’s blocked shot, represented virtually the visitors’ only meaningful attack of the half. In contrast Didcot saw chance after chance go begging though a mixture of profligate finishing and the brilliance of Lee Matthews in the Clevedon goal.
The second half saw juctice prevail as Didcot made the pressure count. James Clark was put though by Sam Elkins to equalise. Didcot’s second was a little fortunate as Eliott Osborne-Ricketts powerful shot hit a Clevedon hand and a penalty was awarded on the linesman’s signal. Clark’s spot kick was emphatic to give Didcot the lead. 4 minutes later the tie was over as a spectacle as Osborne-Ricketts scored the goal of the game, skipping through two challenges before rifling home.
It was a highly statisfactory game to watch and the crowd was significantly higher than normal, so hopefully the experiment will be repeated. The statistic that no-one cold have predicted is how close 190 was to the crowds at the 4 NBFL games the next day!