FA Cup 1st Round
Westleigh Park, Havant
For the first twenty minutes, it was like the Alamo. For the first twenty minutes, it was like watching a hybrid offspring of the woodpecker and the hammerhead shark going at the dusty bark of a decaying tree. For the first twenty minutes, we hurtled down insistently like level 11 Space Invaders.
However, following this opening salvo, we proceeded to put in our worst showing for a good month or so. We can tell it’s a month because in this past week Shaun Gale received the Conference South Manager of the Month award. We’re not entirely sure what it gets you, tangibly, but it may well be a ‘World’s Greatest Boss’ mug, an iron-on t-shirt transfer saying ‘October’s #1’ and a take-away dinner for two from the nearest active Wimpys.
Whatever it is, a voucher for defeat in the game following said award is usually thrown in the gift basket like anthrax in yer Sherbet Dib-Dab. Bad enough then, but the poisoned chalice was then polluted with further toxins as Wes Fogden was then announced as our league competition’s ‘Player of the Month’. Some will call it a great honour for both. I call it sabotage.
Then again, we can look for these excuses, but it won’t help; we could try blaming the 4th official seeming to have it in for us after replacing the day’s main referee following his injury. We can’t though, and if anything #4’s appearance allowed a little light relief. As he prepared for his emergency duties by stripping off so many layers of clothing it appeared he was involved in some kind of novelty world record attempt, our matchday MC, Trevor, came on mic to declare an “intermission.” Sadly, we did not have the foresight to have a legion of tabard-clad old ladies prepped and ready with trays full of ice cream tubs and packets of wine gums for such a circumstance.
Like I say though, we could blame #4, but Droylsden might have felt just as relieved to see the back of #1 as in the first half we seemed to have him on side; tucked up in our pocket, betwixt the scrotum and the wallet.
What it came down to was that everything we could throw at Droylsden, they would happily soak up, like sponge chunks taking aboard sherry in a drunk’s Christmas trifle. They seemed content to take our early sustained pressure, and patiently allow us to wear ourselves out. If anyone was punch drunk it was us from throwing too many of ‘em early on. The Bloods’ 64% possession stat on the BBC’s match report also tells a story. They had us chasing about after them for long periods and in our attempts for an equaliser, following John Hardiker’s 57th minute opener, left ourselves open to the counter-attack, and a killer blow from Ciaran Kilheeney with just a minute of normal time to go.
So, we must only offer our congratulations to Droylsden and feel aggrieved on their behalf that their win appeared to have been such a low priority to ITV that they sent to cover it a bloke who’s only previous experience of filming was to hold the camera for five minutes at a wedding while the bride’s tech-whizz younger brother went for a piss.
To the victor the spoils though, and we will find out this afternooon how significant those spoils are. Good luck to the Bloods in the next round.
Thus, we exit, pursued by the knowledge that we have to get our confidence back up for a league fixture just two days later, on Monday night. This season’s Cup dreams have withered on the vine, but at least we can say we still have wine cellar full of potent memories in this competition. We’ll add to that stash in future, without doubt.
Just, y’know, not this year, and perhaps this season is supposed to be about delights in difference places. We shall see.
Road to Wembley
F: Manchester City 1 Stoke City 0 (att. 88,643)
SF: Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0 (att. 86,549)
6R: Manchester United 2 Arsenal 0 (att. 74,693)
5Rr: Arsenal 5 Leyton Orient 0 (att. 59,361)
5R: Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1 (att. 9,136)
4R: Swansea City 1 Leyton Orient 2 (att. 6,281)
3R: Norwich City 0 Leyton Orient 1 (att. 18,087)
2Rr: Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 [aet] (att. 1,345)
2R: Droylsden 1 Leyton Orient 1 (att. 1,762)
1R: Havant & Waterlooville 0 Droylsden 2
4QR: Droylsden 3 Barwell 0 (att. 411)
4QR: Havant & Waterlooville 2 Histon 0
3QR: Ashington 1 Droylsden 4 (att. 543)
3QR: Havant & Waterlooville 4 Dorchester Town 1 (att. 708)
2QRr: Droylsden 3 Hyde 1 (att. 354)
2QR: Hyde 0 Droylsden 0 (att. 375)
2QR: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Frome Town 0
Previously, on dubSteps
22jan05: Droylsden 1 Hinckley United 0