the real fa cup



AFC Totton 2-3 Cambridge City
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round 2012-13

Supporting neither team, I was free to enjoy an enthralling cup tie at Testwood. It certainly was an enjoyable start as I discussed Truro City’s plight with a fellow non-league fan (none of my friends would have known what I was on about), and Totton’s matchday announcer exchanged good-natured banter with Cambridge supporters before kick-off. Testwood is a relatively new ground, and I was delighted with the choice of sideline terracing available. Nothing quite matches the glory of a series of relatively new steps and poles overlooking a field.

The great thing about football at this level (both sides ply their trade in the Southern Premier) is that you’re free to wander around and stand/sit where you like. The sides swapped ends after the toss, and Cambridge’s loyal band of followers walked from one end of the ground to the other. But they barely had time to hang their flags behind the goal before Dave Theobald headed them into an instant lead.

Cambridge’s direct style brought an early goal. But Totton, under the stewardship of Steve Riley, play direct, attractive football. They also have fine cup predigree, having reached the Second Round proper last season, where they were beaten at home by Bristol Rovers. So it was little surprise when Dave Allen crossed for Mike Gosney to equalise twenty minutes later. The hosts looked more likely to take a lead into the break, but they hadn’t reckoned with the most aptly-named player on the pitch. Cambridge City captain Adrian Cambridge blasted the visitors back in front before the break with an accurate drive.

Hampshirians are typically a friendly bunch but it was above and beyond that a couple of old chaps stood near me offered to fetch a half time cuppa’!

I took Totton to my heart after that act of generosity, and watched the hosts storm out of the blocks in the second half. But The Stags found themselves further behind when David Prada extended their lead with less than 30 minutes remaining.

There was a great cup atmosphere on the terraces as Cambridge and Totton supporters mixed. It simply wouldn’t happen at a higher level: fans mocking their own team and joking around.

Attacking midfielder Dave Allen spearheaded the Stags’ charge all afternoon and it was no surprise to see him peg the score back to 2-3 when the former Bashley man pounced on a loose ball and rifled into the net.

The hosts peppered City’s goal with crosses in the closing minutes but were unable to really test goalkeeper Zac Barrett. Totton had played the most attractive football but ultimately Cambridge had made the most of their attacking play and deservedly went through to the First Round Proper.

Words & Pictures: Andy Lloyd Williams
Andy is an author, his first book, Robin van Persie – The Biography, is available here. Tweet him here @A_LloydWilliams

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