Saturday, October 04, 2008

Game 10: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 3.0 Shortwood United (FA Vase) 04.10.08

After two enjoyable games in the FA Vase this season, decided to go to the game at Bemerton Heath this afternoon. The bright sunshine of last week's game had turned into a grey, overcast day and as I left the house it started to rain. By the time I arrived at the ground 10 minutes later it was pouring down.

Shortwood had earnt an FA Cup replay after an excellent result against Conference South Havant last weekend and that midweek game almost went to extra time, with Shortwood missing a penalty in the last minute. With that in mind, I expected Bemerton to be the underdogs but that turned out to be a mistake!

Bemerton took the lead on 5 minutes with a Sanger header that looked to be heading over the crossbar but looped down over the keeper and into the net. 4 minutes later they had a great chance to make it two nil from the penalty spot. One of the Shortwood players pushed into a Bemerton striker in the box as both players ran towards the corner flag chasing a ball and the referee felt that this was a foul. Sanger took the penalty and put it wide of the keeper's dive to the right but the ball hit the post and bounced back out again to be cleared to safety. A couple of the locals weren't expecting him to take the penalty and probably wished he hadn't!

As the first half went on, the referee gave a number of freekicks when perhaps an advantage could have been played or where there didn't appear to have been a foul. This led to a stop-start game and neither team were able to take advantage of the chances they had. Bemerton had another chance to claim a penalty when Sanger was hacked down in the box but to everyone's surprise the referee waived play on.

In the 35th minute Bemerton were reduced to 10 men temporarily as one of the team was getting attention from the physio off the pitch following a heavy tackle. As Bemerton cleared the ball from their penalty area, two more players were felled by similar tackles. With the numerical advantage now 3, the referee decided to blow the whistle and allow the physios to come on to the pitch, followed by a dropball.

By halftime the wind had really picked up and Bemerton had the advantage of playing out of the wind in the second half. They made excellent use of this in the 47th minute when they took the ball down the left hand side to the touchline, put in a low cross that evaded the oncoming defenders to find two Bemerton players in the box. I thought that they might get into each other's way but to their credit, only one player went for the shot and it ended up in the back of the net.

Shortwood looked to be running out of ideas after going two goals down and it was not a surprise when they brought on a very tall sub in the 60th minute. His first job was to take a thrown in on the nearside - the crowd thought that he might be better placed in the box until they saw how long he could throw the ball! Even with the wind against him, the ball was propelled into the six yard box and Bemerton were lucky that the scramble that followed saw a near post shot go wide. Shortwood now created some good moves but their passing and shooting in the final third was not good enough to get them a clear scoring chance.

As Shortwood pushed forward, Bemerton were able to exploit some space at the back. A great pass from the halfway sideline found one of their strikers who hit a shot low across the grass from the edge of the area. It looked like the goalkeeper was going to save it easily but somehow it skidded along the wet turf and underneath his falling body, losing some momentum but making it to the back of the net for 3.0. The final fifteen minutes went by very quickly and Bemerton were through to the next round of the Vase.

Walking out I checked my raffle tickets against the board - I was 1 number out from winning the main prize! Hopefully Bemerton will be luckier in Tuesday's draw!