FA Vase Exit

Punjab United 5 (4) v (1) 1 Godalming Town FA Vase Qualifying Round.

A trip to a new ground is always interesting and this one certainly had a flavour all of its own. I was assured that the food was good with a menu that boasted a few Punjabi items, accompanied by Asian music, which all added to the unique atmosphere.

Even the weather was ok for the game in the end, although it rained heavily on the journey from Guildford.

When you get drawn in a Cup match against a side from a level above, you hope to have a few lucky breaks and the best possible squad available. But of course, there is nothing you can do about injuries, and with Tom White and Ollie Mc Aleese still out and Captain Luke still flirting with a return to playing and with Ryan O’Sullivan, Ross Cheek and Rob Parrott not available it was always going to be a tough one.

So, young Ollie Ballam from the U23s stepped in and wore the goalkeeper’s jersey, with, in front of him, Jack Sherwood, Ben Matthews, Jimmy Norman, and Matt Cox. James Mariner in front and Luca Scannella and Enrique Belope. Jason Cotton and Kieran Ferguson were upfront with Cameron Edwin in the number 9 shirt.

On the bench Rikkie Letch, Will Ab-Lowerth and new signing Jason Vincent alongside Luke Beale who although named and wearing the kit I am sure did not intend to make an appearance.

The game started reasonably well for the Gs with Cameron as always alert to any opportunity as he closed down the home keeper, when he tried to kick the ball clear from outside the area. Cam got his boot to it and the ball spun away to where Enrique was, but the half chance was soon gone as the defenders tidied up.

Ollie took a long range shot comfortably as it dipped in front of him. Not long after Ollie was called upon to make another save, beating the ball away, but the home side were quicker to react and the ball was in the net. Fortunately for the Gs the linesman had his flag up for offside so, a bit of a let off.

Then the Gs won a free kick, just inside their opponent’s half and somewhat to the right of centre. Jimmy Norman placed the ball and hit a powerful left footed, low shot, that I first thought had just missed and had hit the side netting. But no, it was a great goal for Jimmy and his first of many hopefully for the Gs. Dare we hope for an upset?

It did not take long for the home side to level the score. From a corner on their left, which was not cleared, after which the ball was hit in from close range.to make it 1-1.

The hosts started to really dominate things and won several corners before they were awarded a free kick someway outside the G’s area. The defensive wall was set, but appeared to move as the ball was struck, which gave the ball a wicked deflection that saw the ball hit the net going in the opposite direction to Ollie. 2-1 down now.

Another Punjab corner was partially cleared before a couple of passes saw the home side add a third when a player went through the Gs defence before beating Ollie at the near post. 3 -1 down now.

There was still time for another goal before the half time whistle as they played the ball in, from out wide on their left,and the ball was headed in from close range as it was played back across the face of the goal.

So, 4 – 1 down at half time and nothing really to play for except pride in the second half. Tony needed to change things and he did, bringing on all three allowed subs. Rikkie, Will, and Jason Vincent in more of a 4 4 2 set up. Jimmy, Kieran and Jason C all came off. Will went to right back moving Jack up to right midfield, Rikkie went into the back four as he did on Saturday and Jason Vincent partnered Cam up front.

This certainly made a difference with Gs now being able to get some passes going and we saw both Matt Cox and Jack Sherwood much further forward and making runs deep into the opposition territory. Jason went very close, when he was on the end of a ball coming in from the left that he steered just wide of the post with the outside of his boot.

Yes, the home side did get another goal, but that was a stunner from miles out that just dipped under the cross bar, the Punjab number 11 having worked his way past a couple of Gs defenders as he came in from the left flank.

More chances came for the Gs with Jack Sherwood making a great break coming in from the right and with some neat passes in the middle between Cameron and Jason, but it was one of those days when the ball did not run for us.

The second half was a much better performance all round from the Gs who had most of the possession, which gives us hope, for when we return to the League games on Monday.

So, the Gs went out of the F.A. Vase without really doing themselves justice and I am sure they were all disappointed, but there were some good individual performances including from Ollie in goal. Cameron battled well all day and was doing his fair share in the defence as well. Jason Vincent looked to have a bit more presence and teamed up well with Cameron.

Another game of two different halves. Well done to the lads for showing they had pride in the shirt and that they did not let their heads drop.

We also need to acknowledge that the home side were very good on the day and we wish them well as they progress in the competition.

Onwards to Monday 11am start I am told against Forest Row.

 Football is a funny old game, who would have thought that West Ham would be top of the Premier League (if only for a day) The pundits gave them no chance.You may have gathered I am a Hammers supporter and we need to live off crumbs.