the real fa cup

Looking For Lightning

Paulton Rovers 0-1 Didcot
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

My voluntary exile from East Anglia and the faded pleasures of Ipswich Town continues – as does my search for a new non league outfit to watch. Paulton Rovers are gradually winning my affection, despite the odd supporter still wearing a half and half scarf mixing Paulton’s colours with the hateful combination of Norwich City green and yellow (a hangover from last year’s 7-0 FA Cup defeat and ensuing local awe at having mixed with the big(ish) boys).

Having done so well last year, there was a lot of belief at Paulton that another cup run could happen.

This was a fast, tense and enjoyable game between two well matched sides. I learned a few things too.

One of the benefits of low level football is you can hear what’s going on, including the odd gem of wisdom (amidst the profanity, whining and inanities). Great advice from an experienced battering ram centre forward by the name of Claridge, to his young centre back about how a quick but relatively slight defender should deal with a bruising no.9

Don’t fight him: if you let him know where you are, he’ll love it

It’s one I’ll lock away and pass on to my little boy when he’s old enough. Paulton are at times too pragmatic and too reliant on Claridge’s head for my liking, but Claridge is a pleasure to watch. He just oozes nouse.

Paulton Rovers played Didcot at the same stage last season, in their run to a meeting on telly with some Norfolk inbreds who play in yellow and green. Indeed, they played the same team in the First Qualifying Round last year as well (Tiverton). History wasn’t to repeat itself though.

Paulton started very strongly, getting the better of a busy but tidy midfield battle, and creating a number of good chances. 3 Paulton goals were chalked off in the first 30 minutes for offsides. 1 fair enough, and 2 at least arguable. Further chances went begging, with only one real save from the Paulton keeper (though that was a pretty special one, diving full length to parry a waste height ball, blazed from around the penalty spot amidst a post-corner melee).

Come half time, it was clear that Paulton only had to keep doing the same things, and they would run out comfortable winners. What exactly happened to prevent that is hard to say. They played the second half up the slope, but its not a big one and can’t seriously be blamed for letting Didcot dominate after the break.

I mentioned learning a couple of things at this game. The other thing was what happens when a referee books the wrong man before half time and openly admits it to both sides, giving an indication that he’ll give that player the benefit of the doubt in the second half to make up for it. Predictably, 5 minutes into the second half and the player in question cashed in his “free” foul in brutal fashion. Should probably have had a red, but knew he’d get away with nothing. A good illustration of why referees actually should be aloof at times, and deny any errors, even though it seems stupid to us onlookers.

Under greater pressure, Paulton relied more and more heavily on Rob Claridge’s (ball attracting) head to build attacks, and whilst he won many well directed punts, Paulton struggled to pick up the scraps he was leaving or to pass as they had in the first half. Still the chances came though; Dane O’Connor in particular guilty of missing a one on one with the keeper by an embarrassing margin. Whilst Didcot pressed, the Paulton defending was dogged and clever, fending off the attacks without looking in serious trouble.

Until, of course, the obligatory FA Cup moment in the 90th minute. Didcot broke away down the right and for pretty much the first time in the game, the Paulton defence failed to shut the door. A slide rule cross and easy tap in later, and the game was won with a goal which was agonisingly similar to one of those ruled out by the same lino in the first half. Even then, there was time for Rob Claridge to plant a great header inches wide of a deserved equaliser. But that’s it. No more FA Cup at Paulton this year. Lightning didn’t strike twice.

“We’re all going to Wembley” sang a lone numpty from Didcot. “Arrrrrrrse” said a local, “that Cleverley had a bluddy shockerrrr.” Actually, Cleverly made two bad mistakes, but was otherwise fine and offered some of the most consistent delivery from moving and dead balls I have seen outside of the Premiership.

You get clueless supporters at every level!

1 Comment
  1. I’d like to point out the views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily shared by therealfacup. Although, on the basis of open discussion, otherwise known as ‘banter’ in football parlance, they shall be left in and are open to comment for those affected to voice their views – here. As a well travelled Ipswich fan who used to live in, and has many friends from, the Fine City, I can only say that they are not ‘inbred’, as for the rest I couldn’t possibly comment.
    Damon (Admin).

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