A particularly nasty virus struck me on the weekend of the previous round & having been unable to leave the house, I was particularly looking forward to this weekends games. After the usual research & thought, I decided to visit Daralston. Then, my friend who coaches a village team in Somerset, E-mailed me to say that he had a free weekend & would I like to take in a Vase game down his way. He gave me a list of 4 potential ties & I needed all of the grounds except Frome. On paper, Bitton versus Poole seemed the most appealing and that's where we ended up. Having got into London, you have to travel to Keynsham station. There's actually 3 grounds within easy distance of Keynsham. Keynsham themselves, Brislington (Also at home in the Vase) and Bitton, quite unusual for a tiny station with only one train an hour. As usual at Paddington station, the platform number for my departure was put up with under 10 minutes to spare and there was a mass bundle as everyone manoeuvred for position trying to find a good seat. As a sea of people descended on platform 1, there was one dapper old fellow standing there with an umbrella in the air trying to get somebody's attention, he was probably flattened in the rush. Having secured a seat, I was surrounded by a group of Spanish girls either going to hen night. They were certainly in good spirits and loud but I forgave them this mainly due to the fact that I was mesmerised by the bride to be's ability to do a French plait without looking at what she was doing. She combed each of her friends hair and then whilst talking to somebody else and not looking, knocked up this masterpiece arrangement with not a single hair out of place. I tried this on my daughter once and ten years later, she's still trying to get the knots out of her hair. I had to change at Bath, a City that i never tire of. There were cranes and scaffolding everywhere and yet somehow it still looked magnificent, I think it's the brick work and how the buildings are built into the hills, one of my favourite cities! On arrival there were a group og guys clearly doing their community service, sweeping leaves. They seemed to be working hard until the train pulled out, then they all leant against the railings and lit up cigarettes. When my friend arrived ten minutes later, they were still in the same positions. The ground was only a five minute drive from the station. We did a quick wander around the outside of the clubhouse to have a look and were amused when an elderly chap mistook us as officials and asked my friend if he could buy two programmes from him. I wished we'd followed him as when we did enter the ground at 2:45, they'd sold out. There was a small clubouse where we bought a pint which also did filled rolls. Happiness on arriving at a ground is finding a game on an adjoining pitch and we were lucky enough to see the first half of Bitton reserves match, not a bad standard although we saw no goals.
Bitton's ground will not go down as a favourite of mine. A small stand and another covered area on the opposite side provide shelter, there is hard standing on both sides and behind one goal, the far goal just has grass for you to stand on. There is a sweeping end to end slope, this and a sticky pitch must have sapped the players energy. Bitton were top of their league and Poole third in theirs, so a tight game was expected. The pitch did seem to be quite long and this certainly helped an exciting end to end match.
Poole started strongly and were only denied by an excellent early save. When Bitton scored after a defensive slip on 12 mins it was against the run of play. 7 mins later and Bitton doubled their lead with a sharp finish but Poole came straight back to make it 2-1 after only 20 mins. Bitton scored again on 36 mins after another defensive slip. I expected that Poole would make a second half comeback as they were kicking down the slope but they had the wind taken out of their sails following a penalty. A great Bitton run down the left wing ended in a pinpoint cross that was met with a header that crashed against the bar, came back and unluckily hit a defender on the arm. The penalty wasn't convincing but still beat the keeper. Poole did get one back on 68 min but if anything, Bitton finished the stronger as Poole chased the game and were delighted with their win.
Great to be back on the Vase trail and Bitton could claim a few scalps on their quest for a Wembley place.