Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Binfield - Hill Farm Lane

Binfield FC
Hill Farm Lane
RG42 5NR

Ground Number: 288
Monday 19th August 2013
Binfield 3-2 Flackwell Heath
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay


After Friday night's dull goalless draw between Enfield and London Tigers, I had decided to give the FA Cup a rest until the next round. Especially as I am concentrating on steps 1-4 and those clubs have not entered the FA Cup yet. And also Monday is a pretty good night for TV, especially compared to the dross on other evenings. But then I saw that a mate on Twitter, Dan, was going to the game, and he was bringing his dogs! That was me part sold, as I love dogs and upon checking it on Google Maps it was only a 23 mile and 40-minute journey away (traffic permitting) so it would be fairly cheap too. I went to bed that night thinking there was a good chance that I would go, but I wasn't committing myself.

On waking the following morning I was really sleepy and thought that an early night instead of footy would do me good. But then sat on the toilet at work, I tapped into the excellent 'The Real FA Cup' website and was inspired by some of the reports on there, one of them being on the original game of tonight's tie, which also finished a disappointing 0-0 draw. But tonight there would be goals, or at least one goal anyway. In the best case scenario, a cracking 4-4 draw with a tense penalty shootout at the end. Worst case scenario - a game as dull as Friday's with a scuffed shot providing the only goal of the game, all whilst I am looking away at my mobile phone or something. Certainly, if it was as good as the game fellow groundhopper and friend of the site Ben's game at AFC Emley was yesterday, then I will be happy. Visitors Wigan Robin Park were leading 2-1 going into the full-time whistle. But goals in the 94th and 100th minute won the tie for Emley. 

Both sides play in the Hellenic League Premier along with sides such as Bracknell Town and Thame United. Both of tonight's teams had enjoyed solid starts to the season, both being in the upper half of the table at this very early stage. Usually, the beauty of the FA Cup is sides from different divisions being pitted against each other, but not on this occasion. It didn't matter to me though, as I had never seen Binfield play and had only seen Flackwell play once - that being back in 2008 when they hosted Wycombe in a friendly to celebrate their anniversary. Annoyingly, although I got a programme from that night, I threw it out some time ago, before I made a target of getting a programme or a ticket from each ground that I had been to. I have been looking for one on eBay for a good year, but have yet to find a copy.

I left home at 6.20 and was surprised to have a traffic free journey, arriving at the ground at just after 7PM. I paid £5 to get in and £1 for a programme from a friendly gateman who told me where I could park my car. As it was quite early still, I sat in my car, listening to TalkSPORT and reading my programme. The publication was excellent, well designed and laid out, with plenty to read. There were lots of stats too, and helpfully both stats and pen pictures for the home side - useful for neutral fans like me. Considering this would have had to have been put together at extremely short notice - the original game was on Friday and the programme must have had to be at the printers on Saturday it really was a triumph. Easily one of the better ones at step 5 and probably putting many higher division ones to shame too. And all for only a quid - remarkable. 
I didn't know it before I left, but a hopper I had met a couple of times before, Laurence Reade was going to the game. He has a website called 'Football wherever it may be'. He loves footy and visiting new grounds as much as I do, and my favourite comment of the night was 'Women are OK, but you can't beat the real thing!' He also tells a great story really well and I only wish I had his experiences to share, or his ability to tell stories off the cuff and keep you hooked.

The game kicked off on a pleasant fairly warm evening and from the start, it was a huge step up from the bore draw I had seen on Friday. There had already been chances when Flackwell were awarded a 10th-minute penalty for handball. This was harsh on the 'offender' Joel Havermans as he had his arms down by his side. Former Marlow player Adam Dickins completed this job, giving the keeper little chance with a good shot to give the visitors the lead. Binfield were only behind for 5 minutes, Dan Rapley equalising with a simple finish. The chances continued to come and minutes after the Binfield keeper Dan Weait made a great save to prevent the home side going behind again. Looking at reports from Friday night, he really kept his side in it and had to be in top form tonight as well. The home side had the lead on 30 minutes, a well-worked move ending in a tidy finish on the volley from Havermans, who had certainly made up for giving away the penalty earlier in the game with hard work and no lack of skill. Binfield further extended their lead in first-half stoppage time, again with a penalty, Earlier goalscorer Rapley was tripped in the area, this time there could be no arguments about the penalty. Carl Davies duly obliging and giving Binfield a bit of breathing space.

It had been an enthralling first half, and the second turned out to be just as good. For the first 20 minutes of the half, it looked as if Binfield would extend their lead, with them having several good chances. However, Flackwell played their part too and had several free kicks awarded around the Binfield penalty area. One of these was converted brilliantly by Adam Dickins, for his second goal of the night. From 25 yards out his curling shot beat Dan Weait and set up a tense finish. There were chances for both sides, but despite good saves from both keepers another goal just wouldn't go in. There was also a fair share of handbags, which led to Flackwell captain Jeff Brown being sent off for a second yellow card right at the death. It has been a great game and I was hoping that there would be an equaliser so I could enjoy more action, but it wasn't to be.

In the end I was really pleased that Binfield won. They were a really nice club and the ground is set in nice surroundings too. They now face Cheltenham Saracens or Slimbridge in the next round, to be played on 31st August, and it's certainly one result that I will look out for. After saying my goodbyes, I drove home. Another traffic free journey meant that I was home by 10.15PM. It had been a great night and had reignited my love for the FA Cup, which had never really gone away to be honest. I will certainly be seeing more action in this competition this season, though judging on the 2 games I have seen so far, midweek replays are the way to go.


HILL FARM LANE is a pretty basic ground, though this is the norm at Hellenic League level. There is only one main area of cover, this being a stand that holds around 100 fans. For additional cover bring an umbrella or if you are lucky you might get to stand in the disabled area behind the clubhouse. I think this ground would need a bit more expansion should they want to progress up the leagues, but it's surroundings are certainly pleasant.

There is a tea bar behind one goal, which remained busy all night - always a good sign. And the bar was good too, with a big screen showing Sky Sports and lots of club memorabilia adorning the walls. Drinks wise, there were a few draught pumps as well as a decent selection of bottles. There was no club merchandise for sale that I could see, but then again I didn't ask.

I'd thoroughly recommend a visit to this friendly club, though it's probably best done by car on a midweek as the ground is a bit out in the sticks. They were certainly on the ball putting this game on a Monday night, as it would be unlikely that I would have attended otherwise and I would have missed out on a great night.


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