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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bay breeze past Hungerford

Hungerford Town 0 Whitley Bay 1

Quarter final day and I considered that I'd had a result. For anyone who takes note of what I write......Just me then! You'd remember that I almost visited Hungerford earlier in the tournament, only for me to change my plans after an offer to visit a friend in the West country. So when Hungerford were drawn at home for the quarter finals, I was able to visit a new ground within reasonably easy reach of my home. Once a month, I attend a men's breakfast club in a village near why I live that basically involves a large fry up & a chat with mates about a current affair topic. So with sausage & black pudding weighing me down, I headed straight for the station and off into London. The journey was very straightforward with a direct train from Paddington. All was going to plan, although I did think the train was strangely packed. It soon became apparent that the vast majority of the travellers were going to spend the day at Newbury races. The crowd seemed to mainly be made up of young blokes , dressed in suits who were intent on drinking as much lager as possible in as short a time as possible. Having said that, everyone seemed in good humour and 'Sure thing' tips were flying up and down the carriage. The train stopped at Newbury racecourse station and took about 10 minutes to empty. This put us behind time and we crawled the rest of the way to Hungerford, stopping at every possible signal. I still arrived at the station in good time, normally I would have wandered into the town and had a nose round, but today, there were a group of fans at the station obviously going to the game & fearing a big crowd, I decided to follow them so that I didn't have to worry about examining maps and finding the way. It's actually a really straight road and the walk takes no more than 10 minutes. Following my big breakfast, I called in at a local 'one stop' that I happened to pass and lunched on a cheese and ham salad sandwich which I ate at the ground and really enjoyed. Who needs chips! I seem to bump into the FA Vase trophy on at least one occasion every season & for the second year running, it was at the quarter final stage. The FA were on hand taking photos of fans standing next to the trophy, I nice touch that always goes down well.

I quite liked this ground which had a standard sized stand around the halfway line as well as a covered area on the other side and behind one of the goals. A good sized clubhouse with a bar, the pitch slopes from end to end and was hard & bumpy. Tea and coffee was being thoughtfully sold both inside & outside the clubhouse, there was also hot food and cold snacks available.

 A windy day along with the bumpy pitch, meant that skill was in short supply. The ball spent most of the game either high in the air or out of play. Hungerford never really got out of first gear. When they did create an opening, they completely failed to get a quality strike on goal. Whitley Bay spent the entire game closing the opposition down and not allowing them any time on the ball, a tactic that proved to be extremely effective. It was no surprise when Whitley Bay were the team to score, the goal came on 46 mins. Two Hungerford players went for the same ball, Whitley Bay picked it up, a low cross was missed by a defender and Robinson from a central position, shot under the keeper from 11 yards. Hungerford did manage to force two fine saves late on from the Whitley Bay keeper, but in all honesty, Whitley Bay were deserved and reasonably comfortable winners.

Now annoyingly. No, incredibly annoyingly, the first leg of the semi finals are on Easter Saturday when I'm away at the CML groundhop and even if I wasn't, there's never any trains running. So I'll have to make do with one of the second legs.

1 comment:

Non League Fan said...

you are not the only one reading this... honest! Keep up the good work sir