Sunday, 9 December 2012

Hadleigh Worth It

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 8 December 2012 at The Millfield
Hadleigh United 2 Oxhey Jets 0
FA Vase Round 3.  These step 5 clubs play in the Premier divisions of the Eastern Counties and Spartan South Midlands Leagues respectively.
Ground 496 on the lifetime list, chosen randomly from my shortlist through Twitter as the first confirmed fixture in my morning timeline.
Pre-match preparation
Hadleigh’s route to the third round:
Stanway Rovers 1-4 Hadleigh United (2nd Qualifying Round)
Hadleigh United 1-1 Walsham-le-Willows (1st Round)
Walsham-le-Willows 0-2 Hadleigh United (1st Round replay)
Colney Heath 1-2 Hadleigh United (2nd Round)
They are in the top half of their table and could be as high as second if they win a couple of games in hand.

Oxhey Jets’ route to the third round:
Oxhey Jets 5-2 Bedfont Sports (2nd Qualifying Round)
Oxhey Jets 1-1 Hanwell Town (1st Round)
Hanwell Town 0-1 Oxhey Jets (1st Round replay - I was there)
Oxhey Jets 4-0 Cockfosters (2nd Round)
Likewise, they could be second in their league if they win those games in hand.
This match in one sentence
Oxhey contributed to their own exit by gifting an early first goal and missing a second half penalty which might have set up an interesting finish.
So what?
£1500 and a place in the last 32 for Hadleigh United.
The drama unfolds
It had been a calm first few minutes, with both teams trying to keep possession and play a passing game, but then Oxhey gifted the first goal of the game to their hosts.  Under pressure, the ball was played back to goalkeeper Sam Styles on the edge of the area.  His pass out to the left went to Hadleigh's Marcus Josiah.  He hit it firmly towards the empty net, and Styles could only divert it into the roof of the net.  1-0 after 6 minutes

Styles kept Oxhey in the game with a fine double save from Josiah three minutes later.  Josiah was dangerous throughout and my scene-setter clip shows the home side coming close to scoring a second after 15 minutes.  Hadleigh are in the white shirts.

Oxhey's first real sight of goal came with a turn-and-shot from Lewis Putman after half-an-hour, but it was straight at Dan Heath who saved comfortably.  I was now watching a more even contest, a good midfield battle and with both defences busy and effective.  With ten minutes before the break, Heath had to come out of the area to block Putman again.  Then Josiah, who had switched to the left, broke the defensive line and Chris Ingham's physical presence was just enough to prevent him from getting the shot away so Styles could come out and collect.  I have one more short clip from the first half.  1-0 at half-time

Lewis Putman had his half-time gasper, just as at Hanwell in an earlier round, and Jets set about the task of equalising.  I've moved to the opposite touchline.  Hadleigh started to defend a bit deeper and a Jets goal looked increasingly likely as the half wore on.

However, Hadleigh's Paul Donnelly came close to heading a second.  With the game in the balance, the pressure was growing as Oxhey got more and more possession.  Here are two short clips from just after the hour mark.

What then happened is that Hadleigh scored on the break - Scott Chaplin stayed composed and finished well.  2-0 after 73 minutes

Oxhey kept to the task, to be fair.  They earned a controversial penalty two minutes later and home keeper Heath was yellow-carded.  Here's what I can and can't tell you about this turning point - but first a still pic from my position (Heath is being booked and recriminations are in process) to show that I was absolutely level with the 18yd line.

Putnam was through one-on-one.  Heath came out at pace.  The ref was about 20m upfield in a central position.  The two players came together in the "D" and Putman went down.  The referee pointed to the spot - I don't think the assistant was involved in the decision.  Heath protested his innocence and accused Putman of diving.  I can't say for sure whether there was contact, but I can say for sure that if it did happen, it was outside the box.  Given the referee's call, I don't understand why the card wasn't a red one.  Anyway, this was a chance for Oxhey to get back in the game and give us a very interesting last few minutes.

Andrew Lomas will probably be happy that I messed up with my photo - his spotkick pinged back off the crossbar and in effect that was game over.  Although Oxhey never gave up, Hadleigh looked more comfortable with the two-goal margin and the game petered out.  Final score 2-0
The programme

Something random
A kingfisher in Tinker’s Lane on my pre-match photo walk!  It must be said that this ground is in a delightful location alongside a river - it looked stunning in some early afternoon sunshine.

Hopping for Moorfields Update
Two goals – 116 in 33 games at an average of 3.51 now. 
What Next?
No idea – coming up to 500 which may well be completed as part of a Boxing Day double.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for any developments.


  1. Great write up ! Penalty decision was awful, outside the box and no contact, which their player even admitted to diving ! ref didn't even consult with his linesman either, never mind justice was done in the end !

  2. Cheers, Dan. Must have been a heart-in-the-mouth moment for you there. Might even see you again in a later round!

  3. I hope so ! it was a lil but it didnt need to be if the ref had done things properly ! I think we deserved to win the game and we have a long trip up north to look forward to!