the real fa cup

Pulp Non Fiction

Sheffield FC 0-3 Goole
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay, Tuesday 1st September 2015

It was here at the Coach & Horses Ground that I saw the early stages of Warrington Town’s magnificent cup run last year which earned them the title of Team of the Season on this very website. That time it was a 2nd qualifying round replay when hosts Sheffield FC were knocked out by their counterparts from the other side of the Pennines on a night when Yellows manager Shaun Reid, brother of Peter, was in a particularly gobby mood.

Less than 12 months later, I find myself back on the outskirts of Sheffield for another replay, but this time a little earlier in the competition in the Preliminary Round with Goole AFC the visitors. Lesser known siblings of famous footballers seem to be a recurring theme of my trips to the world’s oldest football club, with Sheffield FC now managed by Andy Kiwomya, brother of the former Ipswich and QPR striker Chris.

After the Club PA man gave a masterclass in French with his pronunciation of Sheffield players Jacques Joblon and Benny Igiehon, things soon took a turn for the local when the teams ran out to the sounds of Pulp’s Disco 2000. Not even a minute into proceedings and a Goole through ball of different class was latched onto by Leigh Hutchinson. The forward sought to take the ball round 16 year old debutant keeper Jordan Greaves who clipped Hutchinson’s feet to concede a penalty. To compound matters, Greaves was immediately dismissed to reduce the home side to 10 men with virtually the full 90 minutes still to play. It’s safe to say the young keeper will remember his first time.

With no substitute goalkeeper available, it fell to Matt Roney to don the gloves and number one jersey, although it is a role he has had to deputise in previously. Roney couldn’t get near Nathan Smith’s penalty, but fortunately for Club, and the good of the spectacle, the spot kick cannoned back off the post and to safety. Despite failing to capitalise on the golden opportunity from 12 yards, the Vikings remained positive and firmly on the front foot in the opening exchanges. They came up against an inspired Roney however, who denied them in some style twice in quick succession.

Sheffield did eventually find their composure and began to have some joy of their own, with James “Jinky” Edwards causing problems down the left flank and carving out some decent chances. As if playing with 10 wasn’t enough of a disadvantage though, some agricultural challenges from the home side could have resulted in further dismissals, but the referee was reluctant to brandish his red card for a second time. His leniency did waiver just before the break however when a questionable free-kick was awarded to the visitors on the edge of the 18 yard box. Makeshift keeper Roney pulled off an incredible save, but Matt Semley reacted quickest to tap-in the rebound.

Upon hearing the half-time whistle it signalled the rush out of the side gate and into the Coach & Horses pub, after which the ground is named. A Thornbridge Brewery-run venue, it adjoins the Home of Football and is a treat that cannot be missed. I opted for a pint of Guthrie, a pale ale I’d not seen in the Thornbridge range before and very nice it was too. Indeed, I’m not ashamed to admit that in savouring the hopped delights the second half was already a few minutes old by the time I made my way back pitchside. For all the potential in a mooted move back into the city centre, leaving this pub behind to move to a new stadium will be a real shame.

Despite the sucker punch just before the end of the first half and their numerical disadvantage, Sheffield continued with their positive intent to get back into the game with some quick football, and actually both teams had played an attractive style on the floor all game long. Club midfielder Conor Glavin was denied by the crossbar following a shot from distance in perhaps their best opportunity, but could not find a way to draw level.

With around five minutes to go, the Vikings did finally make their superior numbers tell and in cruel fashion for the home side. Roney, who had filled in admirably between the sticks up until that point, misjudged a deep cross and could only palm it into the path of Derry Robson who nodded home from a couple of yards out. Minutes later Robson sealed the deal with a sumptuous lob and their progression to the next round and a home fixture with Bamber Bridge.

Words & Pictures: Chris Walker.
Chris co-runs Blackpool FC website Measured Progress and can be found on Twitter at @onedavebamber

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