FA Cup Third Round Qualifying
Hungerford Town 1
(Matt Blake x2, Tom Winter, Byron Lawrence)
I am really loving the FA Cup this year. I loved it anyway but I have never been involved in the world’s best cup competition until this season.
Yet to miss a round my run continued with a trip to Berkshire to watch Hungerford Town take on Leiston one step below, a potential “Cupset” on the cards.
I was present for Hungerford’s last round win when they narrowly (maybe undeservedly) knocked out lower opposition Basingstoke Town. They had to be on top form again this week if they were going to not become of victim of FA Cup giant killing.
Hungerford play in the National League South, step two, a bit higher than the usual Non League grounds I find myself trekking around to. Having just been promoted from the Southern League Premier, I was pretty impressed with the Bullpit Lane facility.
On entry behind one goal, more and more familiar as I continue to check new grounds off my list, there are two seated stands facing each other on the touchline.
Next to each seated stand there is a little covered standing terrace. Behind the goal is the Ron Tarry stand that is more covered terracing. The just shy 250 attendance made all the covered areas look very full in a game marred with showers.
With a big clubhouse by the entrance, the place reminded me of Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium when they were in the Conference South, before their recent ground developments.
Isthmian Premier League side Leiston caused one of the bigger upsets of the round with a 4-1 away victory over National League South side Hungerford Town.
Town had taken the lead just after the hour mark through Rhys Tyler before Leiston hit back with four goals to secure their place in the next round.
The first half was a drab affair with the home side asserting their dominance on the game without really causing too much trouble in front of goal. Town’s Luke Williams showed great skill on the edge of the box but managed to scrape his shot wide for the first real chance of the game.
Home captain Matty Day then put one wide from distance as Hungerford pressured Leiston’s back four into a mistake as they tried to play the ball out from the back.
Day then headed over from a dangerous free kick when Louie Soares was dragged back when he tried to race clear just inside the attacking half.
Leiston did manage to have a little spell of possession midway through the first half but couldn’t find that final pass to create a clear chance.
Hungerford winger Soares then missed a simple chance when his unmarked header went just high of the crossbar.
With the game goalless after 45 minutes Hungerford continued to have more of the ball but their shooting was way off the mark when James Clark fizzed one wide.
Stefan Brown had Hungerford’s best shot on target when he cut inside from the right and unleashed a low drive at goal but ‘keeper Jacob Marsden was able to collect the ball with little problem.
Christy Finch then thought he had put the away side in the lead when his effort looked destined for the top corner but George Legg managed to get fingertips to the shot to tip it over for a corner.
Hungerford managed to take the lead on 62 minutes when a quick break away resulted in right back Tyler slamming the ball across goal into the corner of the net to put his side in the driving seat going into the final part of the game.
However the goal was the alarm that the away side needed and they soon started to pressure Hungerford to try and battle to get back into the game. Matty Day’s weak backwards header was never going to reach his goalkeeper and Blues striker Matt Blake managed to nip in and fire in to pull things level.
Bobby Wilkinson instantly changed his strikers around following the goal as Nicholas Bignall came on for Harry Goodger to try and grab the winner.
But Leiston soon manged to get ahead when a deep cross found Patrick Brothers who managed to stretch a leg out to tap it back across goal for Tom Winter to fire home.
Wilkinson decided to make a double change as the game slipped out of Hungerford’s reach bringing on Nat Jarvis and Garyn Preen to try and pull things level.
But it went from bad to worse as Byron Lawrence put the nail in the coffin, adding a third for the visitors after Legg could only parry into the number seven’s path after fumbling away a shot from a tight angle.
Leiston were in the mood for it and Hungerford were probably glad for the game to finish shortly after Blake grabbed his second of the day when he beat the offside trap to race through, round the keeper and pass into the goal sparking a crazy celebration which resulted in a yellow card for the striker who took his top off.
2016/17 Games: 36
2016/17 Grounds: 38
Total Grounds Visited: 173