FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Verwood Town 3

(James Guthrie x2, James Bergin)

Hengrove Athletic 1

(Josh Hemmings)

Attendance: 112 and 3 dogs (approx. headcount)

Potterne Park

A new ground, an FA Cup game and a bit of Wednesday night madness in the New Forest sounds like a perfect couple of hours, so when Verwood Town and Hengrove Athletic ended 2-2 on Saturday I was quick to pencil in the replay into my packed diary.

Having made it to an extra preliminary game I may try and get to as many rounds as I can this season, it will be interesting to see how far I actually get.

As for Verwood, that was one of the small handful of Wessex League grounds I didn’t make it to last season, and on top of that I had never managed to even catch the Potters at an away fixture. As for Western League Division One side Hengrove Athletic, I am honest enough to admit I hadn’t heard of the team until the cup draw, but isn’t that the beauty of non-league football?

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The Ground

Tucked up the corner of Potterne Park (ironically the stadium name), the ground is pretty neat, but also remarkably easy to watch the game without actually entering the ground. Surrounded by recreational grounds, I was surprised more people didn’t decide to watch from behind the fence.

Saying that I of course paid the entry fee and got a programme and a pin badge and left with no change from a £10 note.

It left me just enough for a KitKat and a can of Coke to munch on during what I was hoping to be a decent spectacle of FA Cup football.

Entering the ground by the corner flag you see the small tea hut right next to their seated area, pretty nice in size, housing about five rows of seats and it is there that I decided to take in the game, even if my view was slightly covered by the dugouts and a few standing spectators.

The other side of the dugouts is the covered standing terrace where I watched the final moments of the game, instantly regretting wasting 80 minutes bending my neck into unnatural positions to try and see the top right corner of the pitch.

With the rest of the perimeter standing room only, Verwood’s home turf is pretty nice, however they can’t do much to prevent anyone standing the other side of the fence watching the action unfold.

The Game

Wessex Premier side Verwood Town sailed into the next round of the FA Cup with a convincing 3-1 win over Western Division One outfit Hengrove Athletic.

Following a 2-2 draw four days previous at Norton Lane, a brace from James Guthrie and late finish from James Bergin sealed the victory for the home side with Josh Hemmings’ strike not enough as Grove crashed out at the first hurdle.

Verwood got off the best of starts when Guthrie hit a low hard drive into the corner of the goal with less than ten minutes on the clock. Grove had failed to clear the ball and Guthrie was in the right place to fire his side into the lead.

Both teams were pretty even in the early stages and Hemmings had a good chance to level but Verwood ‘keeper Tom Jackson kept hold of the effort.

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Guthrie was on hand again up front, this time being played in by his strike partner Ryan Kelly but he couldn’t quite add to his early strike as the defence stayed strong.

James Bergin, who played left back in the first half, was a constant threat from wide and he played in Matthew Head who could only poke the ball wide of the mark as the home side tried to assert themselves on the game.

Hengrove did grow into the game and finally got their reward when winger Bobby Medjedous hit a rocket shot at Jackson who could only parry into the path of Hemmings to simply tap into an open goal.

With the score all level at half time, the thought of extra time and penalties came to mind but Town managed to put those thoughts to bed with a solid second half display.

The Hens had a massive chance to go ahead when Asa White missed a golden opportunity of an open goal after the referee had not seen a clear foul on the Verwood goalkeeper.

Bergin had been shifted to right wing for the second half and he played a massive part in Verwood’s second when he was bundled over for a penalty following Guthrie’s blocked long range effort. And Guthrie, who had scored both of Verwood’s goals on Saturday, managed to add another two to his tally from the spot.

Hengrove tried an instant response and took a shot straight from kick off spotting Jackson off his line, the ball dipped and cannoned off the crossbar, sending a clear sign of intent.

The game turned scrappy with neither side gaining any sort of dominance or control, Verwood were trying hard not to let their lead slip and Athletic were struggling to find the breakthrough.

Town put the game to bed with five minutes left to play through James Bergin. The full back/ turned winger slalomed his way through the defence and into the box, cutting from left to right before finishing with his weaker right foot at the near post to send the Verwood faithful into rounds of cheers in the main stand.

Verwood ran the clock down and nearly added a fourth through substitute Pepe Chino Smith when the ball bounced off his stomach and the Hengrove ‘keeper managed to keep the ball out through a combination of his hand and the post to end the game at 3-1.

2016/17 Games: 15

2016/17 Grounds: 17

Total Grounds Visited 159

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