Wantage Town FC
Friday 30th August 2013
Wantage Town 2-3 Didcot Town
FA Cup Preliminary Round
With my trip to Rome in a months time, and my plans to see Lazio play, I was trying to make that ground my 300th. With me currently being on 292 before tonight's game, I had to get my skates on and do 3 in a week in some cases. So tonight was a great chance to get started, a local derby in the FA Cup and a nice Friday night to spend out watching football.
I had been sorting some of my previous PC problems out since my last game, with stuff getting sold on and going back. Also I had won £40 on bets during the week, and with Anwar back in the passenger seat and keeping me company for tonights game, things were looking a bit better financially. I had spent the day working till 12.30, before going home and relaxing for the afternoon. I checked out the Europa League draw - fixtures to be confirmed and was hoping for Eintracht Frankfurt v Swansea on the 7th November. In the end, they were not in the same group, but I still fancy going to see Frankfurt play. As well as Germany treating their top flight fans better and charging them less, Frankfurt was also the home of Apfelwein - the German version of cider. I had a couple of bottles imported, but wanted to try more in it's homeland and a city break with a game would be the ideal time to do it So fingers crossed they will be at home on my week off. Looking at it just now, Frankfurt are away when I have time off, so will have to look elsewhere.
I left home at 4.20 and went into Aylesbury for a look in a few shops. I had also been eyeing up a pub, the Royal Oak, just half a mile from Wantage's ground as they had up to 20 real ciders, with me hoping to try one or two, bearing in mind the fact that I had to drive home. I met Anwar at 5.45 and despite having a bit of trouble finding the ground as the entrance was not very clear, we were in there by 7. I paid my £6 to get in, plus another £1 for a programme. It's the 3rd out of 3 FA Cup games this season that I have paid for out of my car window, just like Harry Redknapp giving an interview on transfer deadline day!
I jogged down to the pub, getting there around 7.10. Time was really limited and so I only had time for 1 pint sadly. I chose CiderNiks Noveau and as it was a bit of a bitter and acidic one, the barman let me try it before I bought it. It wasn't the best I have had and was certainly different, but I wanted to make my judgement over a whole pint. It was certainly good value, especially for the south, coming in at £2.80 a pint. I only wish I'd had time to try more. After that I went looking for dinner and as I was in a rush, there wasn't many options and so I settled on a portion of chips for £1.50 from the local Chinese. They were pretty nice, but I was still hungry when I got back to the ground and got some more from them too.
I got back with around 8 minutes to go before kick off. I bumped into fellow groundhopper Laurence who introduced me to a few people of of the non league message board that I go onto, including a Portsmouth fan who I chatted to throughout the night. I then went to find Anwar and we found a decent spot to watch the game from.
I had seen Didcot on their own ground before, back in January 2008 as a Tom Cadmore header sealed a Wycombe victory, comprised of the usual fringe and youth players that play in the Berks and Bucks Cup. I had also seen them lose 3-1 last season at North Leigh and it seemed as if they were carrying this form on. They were second bottom of the Southern League Division 1 South and West prior to kick off. Wantage meanwhile, a division lower in the Hellenic Premier were flying at the top of the league, and with the teams being so close league wise as well as geographically, it promised to be a tight game.
It started at a good pace and the home side could have had a couple within the opening 5 minutes. However it was a scrappy own goal that opened the scoring. Pablo Heynsham's cross was deflected into his own net by Sean Webb. Both sides had good chances to score, but it was an excellent curling shot from Jermaine Ferreira that gave Didcot a comfortable 2 goal lead at half time.
It was a fairly slow start to the second half but Wantage got a goal back on the hour mark when Richard Claydon finished from close range but minutes later Heynsham restored the 2 goal lead with a great strike from distance. Claydon, who had only come on as a substitute in the second half got his and Wantage's second with time to spare to give it a real go. But despite giving everything, Didcot managed to hold on and Wantage's FA Cup dream was over for another season.
After the game it was a much quicker and clearer drive home and after stopping at Tesco and dropping Anwar off, I was back home by 11.05. I had a couple of ciders and watched Baker and Kelly on BT Sport before going to sleep.
ALFREDIAN PARK is typical of grounds at Hellenic Level, in that it only has one stand. But it is one of the best in the league, running the full length of the pitch and being a combination of terracing and seating. This is more than enough for most games. The rest of the ground is open and is used as a car park, so if it's cold you can sit in your car and watch the game.
The tea bar is good and well priced, the chips I had were decent enough and hot drinks like Bovril were only 50p. There is a clubhouse that I didn't try, but no club shop that I could see.