And so, onto game seven of my ‘Path to Wembley’ > https://hopticklist.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/the-path-to-wembley/
A toss-up today between this or a visit to Woking FC for Hayes and Yeading v Boreham Wood. I decided to avoid the M25 and head to Beaconsfield.
On a grey day, I arrived to find an already full car park, and to be directed toward a field opposite, the draw of the cup was obviously going to boost the gate today judging by the number of people already having arrived at two fifteen.
Rather unusually the draw for the first round proper had already been made, live on TV at 13:30pm, and the talk upon entering the ground was on the merits of Mansfield away. Opinion appeared to be divided amongst the Slough fans I overheard discussing it.
One thing you cannot fail to do at a Slough Town home game is to get the lineups, team sheets are pinned up in prominent positions by the entrance gate. The first thing that struck me today was the colour clash. According to the team sheet, Slough would be wearing Amber shirts and navy blue shorts, and Gosport would be wearing Navy shirts and amber shorts, this sounded like a dreadful combination to me. Actually when the teams took to the pitch, Slough did indeed wear their amber (in olden days they were more inclined to wear yellow). But, to confuse matters the amber shirt had a navy sash around the shoulder area. To help a little Gosport wore yellow shorts rather than the expected amber. I was very surprised the ref sanctioned this, and didn’t insist on one the teams changing their strip, especially for such a high-profile cup tie.
Since leaving their old Wexham Park ground in 2003, due to a disagreement with the stadium owners, ground sharing has been at Windsor’s Stag Meadow, and then since 2007 at Holloways Park, which is a cricket ball throw from the M40. It’s a rather soulless venue, the only benefit being a low slung roof over the terraced clubhouse end that does create very good acoustics, especially on a day like today when the larger than normal home crowd were happy to exercise their tonsils in support of the Rebels.
The good news for Slough, is that it seems now only a matter of time before work ‘should’ begin on building their new home back in the town. I believe the club are still awaiting planning permission back from the town council to commence on the site of a school, ‘Arbour Vale” in the north of the town. It’s hoped to be in Arbour Park in 2014.
The club have always had a healthy fan base, and these days 200 or so is their regular turnout in Beaconsfield, today boosted by about a hundred or so from Gosport, we had 523 yellow shirted and scarfed fans. Sadly the game did not reach any greats heights of entertainment, and rather matched the grey afternoon. A horrible fractious first half, that finished with 5 booking, 3 home, 2 away, and for Gosport Jamie Brown being very lucky not to see red, the ref giving the benefit of the doubt for a nasty late tackle. Gosport had the better of the half, and Slough keeper James Warrington was the busier.
Thankfully the second half was a much better affair, with both teams going for the jugular in what became quite an end to end affair. Ed Smith and Danny Burnell, the Slough front-runners started to stretch the back line of Borough, and Slough keeper Warrington pulled off some good saves, whenever Borough ventured forward.
The game clearly improved, after both teams had realised the days ref would not tolerate serious foul play, and they both concentrated on the ball rather than the opposition. Gosport from the league above, the Southern Premier League, looked a physically stronger and bigger team all round, but Slough had some quick nippy players. Gosport right back Dan Woodward took the eye as a very useful player.
As the game wore on it became increasingly unlikely a goal would occur, and that they would need to reconvene down on the Hampshire coast on Tuesday night. And honestly, as a neutral it was hard to give an argument for either team deserving to win. And so, as the game finished in murky drizzle, and I’d made a note to re-calculate my ‘since last 0-0’ stat, actually 3 for the season already. How do some hoppers go 60/70 games without seeing one? I was happy in that I had continued my aim of a game in every round of the FA Cup so far this season, and looked forward to studying the 1st round proper draw for which game I may potentially attend.
Footnote: Slough won the reply 2-1 after being one down, and travel to Conference side Mansfield in the first round. And Hayes and Yeading v Boreham Wood finished 2-3, with two sendings off, hmmm, perhaps I should have travelled there, hey ho!