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Monday, April 03, 2006

Semi final nicely balanced

Bury Town 1 Hillingdon Borough 1

Following consultation with the police, it was decided to play the FA Vase semi finals between these two teams on a Sunday. This accompanied by the decision to also play the second leg at Nantwich on the Sunday, means I could only make it to this 1st leg as I’m away next week. It was also announced that this would be all ticket. Great panic when I discovered this with a week to go, but I sorted it out and received my ticket with a couple of days to spare. Why then did I turn up at the game to find them selling tickets on the gate?
This had a bit of a surreal feel to the whole day. I normally get to my venue with loads of time to spare and take in a bit of the town. For some reason, what with it being a Sunday and WAGN deciding once again to do essential maintenance every weekend until mid-June, meant that I got to Bury with only an hour to spare. Plenty of time, but I never got to see much of Bury St Edmunds at all.
Lunch was a couple of cheeseburgers at Stevenage station and a stale kit Kat at the ground. The journey was without incident and actually took me through quite picturesque surroundings. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the station to the ground, but I still managed to take a wrong turning and ended up in the back streets of Bury. Normally, there’s people bustling around and it’s easy to find someone to ask for directions. Again, maybe it was because it was Sunday, but I walked for 5-10 minutes and didn’t see a single soul on foot or in a vehicle, very eerie. I eventually found my way and arrived at the ground in good time. According to the press, there were only 580 people at the other semi final the day before at Cammell Laird. By 14:20, Bury Town was packed and I just managed to get a place on the rail. By kick off, it was about 2 deep all the way round and no space whatsoever behind both goals. I’ve been to the ground once before a few years ago for an evening match but didn’t have a chance to look round this time as I didn’t want to lose my place. The big crowd ensured a good atmosphere. The one spoiling factor was the wind. Once a year, every year, you get a game like this when the wind is so strong that goalkeepers struggle to reach the halfway line with their kicks. To be fair, both teams adjusted really well and this was a cracking game right from the first whistle.
Hillingdon attacked from the kick-off and were unlucky not to get in after only 10 seconds. They impressed me greatly. Intelligent strikers, energetic in midfield and strong at the back. They deserved their draw and ensured an exciting second leg. Bury hit the post early on before scoring on 11 mins. They won a free kick 30 yards out that was brilliantly dispatched into the bottom left corner by McGavin. Tilbury then went really close for Hillingdon with a brilliant 35 yard wind assisted volley that grazed the woodwork. Then Hillingdon won a cast iron penalty on 25 mins after a player was flattened in the box. Craft blasted the penalty into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance. It was nip and tuck after that with both sides having half chances, Lawrence coming closest for Hillingdon with a 22 yard effort that clipped the top of the bar.
Hillingdon will be happiest going into the second leg, but this tie is far from over.
I’m just gutted I can’t make the second leg.
Next stop for me, St Andrews and the final.

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