Villa Pay Penalty
Hanworth Villa and Walsall Wood played out an entertaining match in this FA Vase fourth round encounter, where the visitors were the home team and vice versa!
Postponements played a huge part in this game, in more than one way. Firstly, I should have been at Beveree Stadium watching Hampton & Richmond and Harrow Boroughs squaring off in the Isthmian Premier League. However, this match was postponed due to a pitch that is in such bad condition that it cannot recover, even after three days of no rain! There were maybe as many as twenty Beavers supporters who made the short trip to watch this match as a result.
As for this FA Vase Fourth Round tie, it was originally scheduled for January 19th, and was due to be played at Walsall Wood’s Oak Park. Unfortunately, it ended up being postponed four times, and therefore under competition rules, the venue was switched to Hanworth Villa’s Ranch ground. As a result, Wood wore their red home kit, with Villa adopting their change strip of all purple.
The match was played in lovely weather conditions, perfect for a game of football. It was a full blooded affair, with both sides looking for goals, and was quite a fractious event on occasion. While it was end to end, there wasn’t an awful lot of goalmouth incident in the first quarter. The best action of the early stages came in the nineteenth minute, when a Scott Cooper shot was saved brilliantly by Villa keeper Buss, before Villa broke straight down the other end, only for Ross Cheetham to narrowly shoot wide of the far post. Cheetham had earlier seen a penalty appeal turned down after he tangled in the box with Shann Boothe.
The deadlock was broken on twenty six minutes, and this time a penalty was awarded, at the other end. Ahmet Bilgimer was hauled down in the box, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Jamie Hawkins to confidently stroke the ball home to make it 1-0, even though Buss guessed the right way.
A few minutes after the goal, Ricky Farnden almost levelled when he got on the end of a powerful driven cross from Joe Johnson. However, the brilliantly named Dale Faultless in the Wood goal got down smartly to his left to keep the ball out. There were several stoppages in the game, the first of which was a five minute delay after a nasty clash of heads between Shann Boothe and Farnden. Both players were able to resume, and it was Walsall Wood who went looking for a second goal. Bilgimer got through in the box, but was denied by Buss. The Villa keeper stayed down after the clash, and had to receive fairly lengthy treatment. When play resumed, there were two quick freekicks for the “home” side; the first hit the wall, but they were immediately awarded another, and this time Hawkins made no mistake as he drilled the ball into the same corner that he put his penalty.
Unfortunately, Ricky Farnden must have still been feeling the effects of his head injury, as he was replaced by Josh Brooks before the break. There were no further moments of note, and after a rather stingy five minutes of stoppage time, at half time it was Walsall Wood 2 Hanworth Villa 0.
Wood started the second half looking for the killer third goal, with Cooper seeing a shot deflected wide, while a Tom Evans shot from distance ,et the same fate. On fifty seven minutes, the lively Bilgimer dragged a shot wide, and this seemed to spark Villa into life. First, Levi King hit a stunning left foot curler from the edge of the box that Faultless saved superbly, diving full stretch to his right to tip the ball over. The resulting corner was cleared outside the box to Anthony Oaks, but he ballooned his effort over the bar. On the hour, though, Villa found themselves back in the match. King made no mistake this time as he hit a low curling shot from virtually the exact same position as his earlier effort. This time, though, Faultless was unable to prevent it nestling in the far corner to give the “away” fans hope of a comeback.
Villa were well on top at this point, and Lee Higgs almost levelled, but his glancing header from a corner went wide. With ten minutes to go, though, the scores were levelled. Another corner was sent into the box, and Higgs smashed the ball home after Adam Baigent flicked it on. This prompted the crowd to wonder whether the game had to be decided on the day, or if a replay would be required (I still don’t know!)
However, this problem never presented itself, as within two minutes of the equaliser, Wood were awarded a second penalty. Andre Gonzalez beat Higgs for pace, and the right back brought down the attacker. It looked again like a fairly easy decision for the officials, even from my obstructed view from the other end of the ground. Up stepped Hawkins to confidently complete his hattrick and send Wood into the fifth round, where they face the long trip north to take on Runcorn Town.