Hanworth Villa progressed to the third round of the FA Vase with a last gasp win against Littlehampton Town in this replay that finally went ahead at the third attempt.
This match should have taken place on November 20th, but was called off even though the pitch was playable! The local referee who carried out the pitch inspection said it couldn’t be played because it might rain! Then it should have been played the week later, but again got postponed due to rain, although this time legitimately. So that brought us to this freezing cold and frosty night next to the A316, and a match between Villa, with five wins from seven home league matches, and Littlehampton Town, riding high in second in the Sussex County League Division Two.
Despite being a level down the non-league ladder, Town looked more than capable of springing a surprise, and were on the attack straight away, Shamus Wiggins getting onto a left wing cross but shinning his effort wide. Villa had some good early chances of their own, Jimmy Major having a shot blocked, and from the resulting corner Steve Loveridge had a shot that struck Levi King and rolled through to Jon Hendrick. Captain Ricky Farnden then missed the best chance of the opening exchanges, shooting wide when he maybe should have scored (easier written than done of course).
Midway through the first half, the visitors took the lead through Mitchell Hand. A lovely through ball from James Thompson set Hand clear. Villa keeper Terry Buss saved the initial effort, but the ball squirmed loose leaving Hand with an easy job of putting the ball into the empty net. Ten minutes before the break, we had a chance at both ends inside ten seconds. First, Farnden shot straight at Hendrick, and the goalkeeper’s clearance caused a mixup in the centre of the Villa defence, allowing Alex Kew to get through. However, Kew’s shot was comfortably saved by Buss. The save of the match came a few minutes before the break, when Hendrick saved brilliantly from a header by Adam Baigent. Half time Villa 0 Town 1
Four minutes into the second half, Villa should have levelled proceedings when Farnden found himself unmarked eight yards out, but he scuffed his shot straight at Hendrick. Both sides were playing some decent football, and another great move led to a chance for Town. Wiggins switched play with a diagonal ball to Kew, who cut inside well, only to shoot tamely at Buss. At the other end, Villa kept pushing for an equaliser, first through Major’s glancing header that went just wide, and then through two King efforts. The first was a piledriver from twenty yards that was deflected for a corner, and from said corner he fired agonisingly wide.
Sam Talbot went off to be replaced by Steve Reddings, and it was he who would play a crucial role in the final twenty minutes. He provided the assist for the equaliser on 77 minutes, slipping the ball through to King, who finished well. That, of course, left us with the possibility of another thirty freezing minutes. King headed wide from a Major cross, and then Reddings missed a glorious chance after the move of the match. Major and Anthony Oaks combined well before setting up Reddings, but he missed from close range as we went into the last couple of minutes. There was to be one last chance in this match, though, and this time it was scored. A Villa corner was floated in, and Farnden headed towards goal. Hendrick saved, but couldn’t hold onto the ball, and Reddings bundled the ball over the line to send Villa through, and the fans home half an hour earlier than many expected.
Hanworth Villa will now travel to Croydon for their third round tie this Saturday, December 8th.