Dorset Intermediate Cup Semi Final

Corfe Castle 4

(Matthew Suttle, Courtney Johnstone x2, Dan Ricketts)

AFC Blandford 0

Attendance: 78 (approx. headcount)

The Fortress

Imagine this: free entry, a programme worthy of a football league side and an 11th Century National Trust site as the backdrop. Sounds just splendid for a Saturday afternoon in March.

Now I am not ashamed to admit that I knew nothing about the game, with the only information I was going on was via a well-run Twitter account affiliated to the home side. What I did know is that I am always looking to find a new ground to visit.

It really does go to show that a strong social media presence can work wonders for a small club like Corfe Castle, and they hopefully wont be offended by my use of the word small.

Now the only reason I had heard of Corfe Castle FC was their active Twitter account, I remember months back they tweeted about producing a programme for a game, they don’t do it for every match but on the basis of the one I got yesterday, when they do make one, they do a good job. I knew it was a cup semi-final (again, thanks to Twitter) but I didn’t have a clue what league these teams played in, but I soon found out it was the Dorset Football League Division One, the 13th level of English football. It was also a top versus third encounter so I thought the game would be a tight affair.

Either way, when I was weighing up my options for my Saturday entertainment, the fact that the club replied to one of my tweets convincing me to come, was a game changer. Everybody wants to feel wanted and if I feel that a club values my support I am likely to visit and revisit.

What made the day better was not only did I see four goals, my other choice Shaftesbury against Totton & Eling, finished 0-0! I am also forgetting that it is FA Cup weekend and I am so totally not over the fact that I wasn’t able to get a ticket for any of the quarter final games, ending a run that has taken me from the Extra Preliminary round all the way through to Round Five.

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The Ground

Corfe Castle play at the aptly named ground, The Fortress. There is no seated stand and no terracing, just a field, a pavilion and some string bordering the pitch. That’s all you need really.

I pulled up on the pay & display car park about 50 yards from the ground, however with no change and no option to pay on card, I continued towards the ground and with the assurance of someone in a Corfe Castle FC jumper, pulled it up on the grass verge by the gate.

I walked into the pavilion (clubhouse, whatever you would like to call it), purchased a programme and instantly recognised the accent of the guy selling them. Now anyone from Stoke-on-Trent (where I was born) knows that it is bloody difficult to escape, so when two ‘Clayheads’ bump into each other in Dorset, it does feel remarkably strange, I never got the gentleman’s name unfortunately but if you are reading this get in touch!

The pavilion had some pictures and shirts on the wall for various Corfe Castle teams and another table selling snacks, very well equipped for a side of this size.

Walking out on the other side, behind the goal and you can see all you need to see, a pitch ready for 22 blokes chasing a bag of wind in the hope of reaching a local cup final, just beautiful.

There was a couple of benches behind the goal offering a few seats but I was very happy stood close the halfway line, moving about taking some pictures, I’m no photographer but I like to have a go every now and then.

The Fortress is a must visit for anyone looking for a quirky ground to get to. I know I say every ground is a must visit but this really is a MUST visit. A friendly atmosphere with some clearly great people running the club out of the love of the game, it was amazing to see and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Viva!

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The Game

Corfe Castle made it to the final of the Dorset Intermediate Cup with a convincing 4-0 victory over nine-man AFC Blandford.

The visitors had two men sent off in a crazy two-minute spell in the second half with the score at 2-0.

The first foul was committed less than 20 seconds into the match, with both sides trying to stamp their authority on the game early on.

Blandford striker Chris Dixon tried an acrobatic attempt in the opening exchanges but it was easily held by James Fooks.

The home side went close when player/chairman Matthew Suttle had his shot well blocked by visiting ‘keeper Ben Cutting before heading over the bar as the ball was crossed back into the box.

Cutting then made another save to deny Courtney Johnstone before Suttle booted the rebound wide.

Down the other end, Aaron Lawes did ever so well to beat Fooks to the ball but was pushed wide and as he fired the ball back into the box there was nobody there to convert before it was cleared away.

The first goal came on 20 minutes when Cutting completely missed a simple catch from a deep John Lovell free kick and Suttle was on hand to scoop the ball over the line from inside the six-yard box.

Corfe were then denied a stonewall penalty when Johnstone raced into the box and was fouled by Ashley Rimmer but the referee waved play on.

Dixon again went close for ‘Blanny’ when his long-range lob landed on the roof of the net, closer than it looked when it was looping high in the air.

The referee then decided against giving another clear penalty when Suttle played a little pass over the top for Johnstone and this time he was tripped by Cutting right on the edge of the area. Cutting had raced off his line but wasn’t fast enough and got away with wiping out his opponent.

Some solid sportsmanship was shown just before the break when Corfe defender Luke Reynolds took a boot to the face, and as he stumbled around in a dazed state, players from both sides rushed over to help him out, a great thing to see in the circumstances.

With the score at 1-0 after the first half, there was still plenty to play for and neither side had really put their mark on the game.

Harry Smith had a couple of chances for the hosts after the restart putting a shot over the bar from close range before heading wide from Jack Hector’s corner.

The second goal came on 54 minutes when Hector fired a low shot at Cutting who could only push the ball back into the six-yard box and to the feet of Johnstone who smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Blandford were then reduced to ten men in bizarre circumstances, Jon Hill was shown a red card for what seemed like a second yellow after a late tackle on Mark Lemon. However there was some confusion from the visiting bench who pointed out that Hill hadn’t been booked prior to the challenge, however despite the referee’s blunder, the away side found themselves a man light and two goals behind.

It got worse less than two minutes later when Blandford found themselves down to nine men when Lawes was given a straight red for a nasty two-footed lunge on Bobby McCuish. The players had been shoulder to shoulder and Lawes felt aggrieved not to have been given a free kick so lashed out at McCuish on the touchline with a knee high sliding tackle worthy of an early bath.

Despite being reduced to nine men, Blandford rallied together and managed to have a spell of possession, without having the numbers to cause any threat in attack. Dixon did manage a shot from the edge of the box but Fooks managed to parry away before jumping on the loose ball at the second attempt.

Corfe made it 3-0 from the penalty spot when Smith played a good ball into Johnstone and he was hauled over by Cutting who received a yellow card. Johnstone stepped up and converted the penalty with ease to ensure Castle’s place in the final.

Both sides made changes and Corfe’s Dan Ricketts had a good shot parried away by Cutting shortly after coming on. Johnstone collected the rebound and was tripped over again by Cutting, this time the referee gave a yellow card to the home striker for diving, another tough call.

It was 4-0 on 77 minutes when a game of pinball in the box ended in Ricketts firing in the rebound after Cutting had done well to make two saves from close range efforts.

Ricketts was lively as Blandford started to slow and he did have the ball in the net with an exquisite lob but the linesman had his flag up for offside.

2016/17 Games: 107

2016/17 Grounds: 59 (9)

Total Grounds Visited: 154 (40)

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