We hosted AFC Varndeanians at the Reg Madgwick Stadium on Friday 25th August in the first round of the FA Vase; the question on all the home supporters’ lips was ‘Could we continue our Cup run in the Vase after two victories in the FA Cup’ – the answer was, yes.
The fixture was changed to a Friday evening due to our ‘landlords’ playing their FA Vase game on the following day. A crowd of just under 70 witnessed an entertaining game which was in the balance until injury time after a very late goal from our visitors to make it 2-1 only for us to seal the win with a goal even later after a quick break.
So, what of the game? It was no surprise that we named an unchanged team from the one that beat the Met Police on the previous Tuesday evening in the FA Cup. On the bench, we welcomed Reece Tierney and new signing James King.
We started well playing some good football and had the better of the opening exchanges from a Rory Edwards corner in the 16th minute took the lead from a powerful header from Zac Powell who made the ball ‘his own’ from the cross to power it past the keeper. Our visitors then came back into the game immediately and had two chances which were well saved by our keeper, Harvey Keough. We regained some control of the game after those two chances and had our own opportunities to increase our lead, but the half ended 1-0 for the ‘Salts’.
The second half began in a similar pattern with us having the lion’s share of possession but also very watchful of our opposition who were providing a good test for us. We increased our lead in the 58th minute after a great through ball from Rory Edwards who fed the ball to Ade Batula, who held off an opposition defender’s challenge to fire the ball over the keeper to make it 2-0. Ade Batula was proving to be a constant menace to the opposition’s defence all evening and the Varndeanian’s central defence pairing were not looking forward to him getting the ball anywhere near them. We had further opportunities to increase our lead, one of which was an effort by Chester Clothier which rattled the bar with the keeper well beaten. Then with the score at 2-0 in the 89th minute, our opposition scored what could be best described as a scrappy goal, but it set us up for a nervy ending to the tie especially with a lot of injury time to come. We were forced back into our own half as the opposition went looking for an equaliser which would have taken the tie to penalties and then we broke away after one of their failed attacks and it was that man again Ade Batula to put the tie beyond doubt and made it 3-1.
All in all, a very good performance with the only blot being that we conceded our first goal in the last 3 games which was disappointing, but we go into the next round with a tie away at either Bearstead or Mile Oak in late September. Our next game is the ‘landlords v tenants’ game at the Reg Madgwick stadium next Tuesday when we play our Cobham FC on Tuesday evening with a 1945 kick-off. After that game, we have a very tough game away at Eastbourne United in the next round of the FA Cup next Saturday. We will need your support in both of those games, so why not come on down and give ‘the boys’ your support; They always appreciate it.