the real fa cup

“You Don’t Know Who You’re Playing”

North Ferriby United 1 Ossett Albion 2

As cup shocks go this was not quite one for the history books, nor even the biggest upset on a day when a few giant-killers from past seasons found themselves free to concentrate on the league. But it was deserved by Ossett Albion in a ride-your-luck-and-throw-bodies-on-the-line sort of way, and by North Ferriby, whose supporters blamed the officials for some dubious calls and their own players for effort which was questionable at times.

Certainly Ferriby were guilty of poor preparation off the pitch. The front cover of the match day programme announced an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round tie against Ossett Town.  Maybe it was better, then, that they exited at this stage and avoided the risk of repeating the error with the likes of City and United, United and Wednesday, Forest and County.  Or maybe they should have just demonstrated the ultimate disrespect with something like “FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round tie v Small Town in Wakefield.” Only kidding.

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Ferriby programme

But if the Villagers were privately comfortable to be playing the lesser – on this season’s league form – of the Ossett rivals they were appropriately punished for complacency which was at its most glaring with the winning goal.

Tom Corner may or may not have been offside as he raced clear of Ferriby’s defence, nudged the ball beyond keeper Adam Nicklin and rolled a pass across the six-yard box. But more at fault than the officials were the home defenders, statuesque and staring at each other as Darol Lucas arrived at the back post to claim a tap-in.

That was just before half-time and came barely 10 minutes after Ossett had made the most of a decent slice of good fortune. Kurtis Noble took a tumble in the Ferriby penalty area, the referee pointed to the spot and most of the rest of us scratched our heads. Generous to Ossett, harsh on Ferriby and a game-changer as Corner tucked the ball into the… erm… corner and the home team lost their way and the tie.

Ferriby have a fair few former Hull City players in their ranks, the Championship side something of a feeder club having supplied in a roundabout way the likes of Nathan Peat, Russell Fry, Gary Bradshaw and the Ryans Williams and Kendall.  And at times they showed the touches that were evidence of experience at a higher level. Williams took a blow in what commentators euphemistically describe as the abdomen but rather than worrying about saving Ryan’s privates his team-mates played on and the ball fell for Bradshaw whose sublime turn beat the defender and created the space to plant a shot past Jody Barford’s left hand.

With only five minutes gone and Ferriby flying, few in the crowd were tipping an Osset upset. Bradshaw was a constant threat, reminding me of his perfect hat-trick years ago, left foot, right foot and a header to beat Kidsgrove. Better temperament, in fact much better than that demonstrated with the excessive aggression that brought a red card on his Cheltenham debut in 2005, might have made him a contender.

But he is where he is, and more often than not in the opposing penalty area. An overhead kick in the second half was spectacular and only inches wide, but there wasn’t much else from Ferriby.

Barford was busy but rarely stretched, reacting superbly to keep out a close range header but dealing routinely with most other attempts. A late, long range punt from Steve Gardner bounced behind off the crossbar, but Ferriby hadn’t done enough to earn freak goals.

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Ossett fans

Their fans bayed for a corner and may have been justified. They may also have had a case in their calls for an offside flag in the build-up to the winning goal. And the penalty was a tough call and there’s no way the referee played the full four minutes added time at the end.

But for all their possession Ferriby didn’t create enough. Peat, rougher, tougher and more heavily tattooed than in his days at Hull City, ripped into his team-mates for their lack of movement as he waited to take a throw-in, an episode which just about summed up their day.

Ossett were indeed lucky to still be in the game by the time of the penalty award, but that gave them a foothold and they climbed, never really oozing confidence but working hard, getting men in the way and becoming more organised if less ambitious.

A few years ago Ferriby was the scene of something I have never witnessed anywhere else in a football match – two meaty midfielders charging in for the ultimate 50-50 challenge, and as they both laid boot on ball at precisely the same moment it burst. With a proper bang. No gentle, hissing deflation but loud, sudden and a rude awakening for anyone who may have been nodding off in the best stand.

By comparison, Ferriby’s Cup campaign fizzled out, with the loudest interruptions coming from Ossett’s black and amber army, suitably confusing for those Hull City fans who took advantage of their team’s Sunday kick-off to swell the crowd at Church Road to a season’s second-best of 236. (238, v Worksop, who brought a few, in case you were wondering.) Albion even brought a drum, which is a risky business when Ferriby’s ground is only a few hundred yards from one of the country’s busiest shipping routes. But, gracious in defeat, the home fans resisted the temptation to test the seaworthiness of the instrument and its player, declining even to indulge in the chant “If you can’t get a girlfriend, get a drum.”

Ends.

Words & Pictures by author Phil Ascough. Check out his books Armchair Olympian & Kissing the Badge: How Much Do You Know About 20 Years of the Premier League?  You’ll find Phil on Twitter as @audaciouschip

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