FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Westleigh Park, Havant
Upon the announcement of the 2nd qualifying round draw, the news that Havant & ‘Ville had been drawn at home to Sholing was met with eyes darting side-to-side, fingernails being torn at by agitated teeth, knees knocking like honeymoon suite bedposts against a partition wall.
To give an indication of our confidence of late, this was us reacting to being drawn AT HOME to a team stationed TWO DIVISIONS BELOW our own. However, it was perhaps not helped by the fact that Sholing have form against us. Three years ago, they defeated us 5-2 in the Hampshire Senior Cup.
We may have turned out a few Academy players in that roundly conquered XI, and no longer take the county competition as seriously as we once did, but the result was nonetheless a humiliation. Thankfully, Sholing do not have a huge body of support to call on to lord it over us on message boards and the like. In fact, they weren’t called Sholing at the time, but VTFC (having morphed through Woolston Works, Thornycrofts (Woolston) and Vosper Thornycroft as noms de guerre).
The fact they have finally left their roots as a shipbuilding works side behind, handle-wise, and adopted an actual place name is indicative that they are clearly appealing to the local population to come out of hiding and get behind them. Indeed, given that Sholing lies in what one might call Greater Southampton, that they have recently swapped their traditional colours of yellow and blue for red and white stripes displays such a flagrant need to be liked, they might as well have screen printed a big picture of a puppy’s face over the shirt n’ all.
Now, being a man who lives a heady rock n’ roll lifestyle, I went to watch Sholing, as VTFC, play at Horndean in the Wessex League a couple of years ago. Before that fixture my friend-in-terraces Mr Ketchup, reported that while they had rounded up a lot of Hampshire non-League football’s ‘star-names’, these chaps were at VT largely because their motivation was for a better-than-decent playing wedge and a good, hearty dinner, than testing themselves at the highest level possible. Basically, I was left to expect the playing shirts, whether yellow n’ blue, red n’ white, or covered in pictures of baby Labradors, to be as well-filled as Santa’s speedos.
Still, big-boned or otherwise, Sholing/VTFC were more than good enough for the Wessex League that year, gaining promotion with a goal difference of +106 (despite even then finishing second to Poole who weren’t eligible for the higher league at that time), and have adapted to life in the Southern League’s South and West division with some aplomb, reaching the Scarf & Vest play-offs last year, ending up only two points behind champions and fellow Sotonians AFC Totton.
As such you can see why, well-bellied they might still be (Kevin Gibbens still leading from the front with his substantial front), that Sholing brought with them a genuine threat to our Cup dreams for the year. However, the confidence gained from our 3-0 win at home to Thurrock and away point at Dover clearly flowed into this performance and, aside from some early wobbles in our own penalty box, it was a lesson in FA Cup banana-skin avoidance.
In the 26th minute, Steve Ramsay met a loose ball to crisply skim the ball into the far corner. Quarter of an hour later, a good bit of work from Sammy Igoe being served to the feet of our captain Peacock who did very well in slamming home a 25-yard shot for his first goal since the opening two minutes of the season.
Six minutes into the second half, the lead was increased further as Ryan Woodford’s shot from an Igoe corner was saved by Sholing keeper Mike Hookway, but the rebound fell nicely for Wes Fogden to tuck the ball inside the near post. Veteran midfielder Igoe, continuing his tremendous run of form, almost capped his performance with a goal but his terse shot in the 64th minute pinged off a post. Again though, the ball fell nicely for us, with Craig Braham-Barrett on hand to slam home our fourth.
At this point we took our feet off the gas a bit, and allowed our latest signing, 6’ 5” striker Ollie Palmer a chance to find his feet, mainly as they are quite some distance from his eyes. He looked pleasingly lively, but those who had started the game had certainly decided to put their already found feet up and read the paper for the remainder. As such, Sholing were able to bag a consolation goal in the 88th minute, Dave Marden knocking home a corner with his head.
We therefore march pretty comfortably forward in this year’s competition and given we’ve now been drawn at home six times in a row in the FA Cup, you’d imagine we might be due an away tie. I wouldn’t chuck another home tie against lower league oppo back in the hat though, certainly.
Drawn away to Weston-super-Mare. Exactly the same tie as when we were last draw away in the FA Cup (seven ties, and two years, ago). Not ideal given we've lost there in the league already this season. We won that cup game in 2009 though.
Road To Wembley
F: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1 (att. 89,102)
SF: Liverpool 2 Everton 1 (att. 87,231)
6R: Liverpool 2 Stoke City 1 (att. 43,962)
5R: Crawley Town 0 Stoke City 2 (att. 4,214)
4R: Hull City 0 Crawley Town 1 (att. 14,473)
3R: Crawley Town 1 Bristol City 0 (att. 3,779)
2R: Crawley Town 5 Redbridge 0 (att. 2,494)
1Rr: Oxford City 1 Redbridge 2 [a.e.t.] (att. 1,175)
1R: Redbridge 0 Oxford City 0 (att. 465)
4QR: Weston-super-Mare 2 Oxford City 3 (att. 630)
3QR: Weston-super-Mare 3 Havant & Waterlooville 2 (att. 333)
2QR: Havant & Waterlooville 4 Sholing 1
1QR: Sholing 2 Blackfield & Langley 1 (att. 144)
PR: Sholing 9 Newbury 1 (att. 117)