Monday, 26 September 2016

Shaftesbury v Fareham Town

Shaftesbury FC: Support your local team!
I was going to fill this match report up with jokes, make this a jovial, joyous affirmation of life, but I doubt if anybody connected with Fareham Town would feel much like laughing this weekend after what happened in Shaftesbury on Saturday. When you lose a game 5-1 in a national cup competition to a team a division below you and your goalkeeper is man of the match, it's no laughing matter.

I was going to tell you this joke:

A man walks in to a bar and asks for a packet of helicopter crisps. The barman says "Sorry, we've only got plane."

Then maybe this one:

What have West Ham United got in common with a triangle? They both have only three points.

If either of those jokes are ever funny, now isn't the right time.

The players step down from the dressing rooms. Up for the Cup!
Shaftesbury FC (1) 5 v 1 (0) Fareham Town FC
Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 24th September 2016
Attendance: 59
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Colours: Red and white stripes / black / black v Blue and black stripes / blue / blue
National Grid reference: ST8622 / ST8623

The 250 seater stand at Shaftesbury FC.
What was the point of starting a match report off with a joke or two? Well, in this case, I was going to end up with a joke relevant to Shaftesbury. You need to say it out loud, as it doesn't make any sense written down:

"I've just been to Shaftesbury!"

"In Dorset?"

"Yes, I thoroughly recommend it!"

Then, after Fareham's successful trip, I was going to come back at the end of the report and say that their fans and players enjoyed their trip to Shaftesbury FC, indeed, they would thoroughly endorse it to anyone...but then their otherwise enjoyable day out was ruined by the football.

Just goes to show that you can't plan these match reports in advance. I'll never learn.

The two-step covered terrace with obstructed view.
I travelled to Shaftesbury by car, heading west from Salisbury along the A30. This is a pretty road, which passes by the famous Fovant Badges - eight regimental badges carved in to the chalk hillside on the south side. The road meanders through the pleasant valleys of the West Wiltshire Downs and Cranborne Chase for miles and miles until you reach Shaftesbury.

Pleasant, apart from the blood and feathers of all the squashed birds which litter the tarmac. I've never seen so much roadkill on any other road in this country. I guess it was mostly pheasants, Britain's dimmest bird, but sad to see, nevertheless. The only hold up on the A30 was a short stretch of one-wayness with traffic lights to enable a master thatcher room to reroof an old cottage.

Shaftesbury itself may be the poshest town in the Wessex League. Full of delicatessens, boutiques and antiques, many old churches, cobbled streets, and estate agents that don't advertise the prices of the properties they're selling in their windows. It's an ancient hilltop town. The best-known flandmarks in Shaftesbury are the abbey and Gold Hill, which was featured in the famous Hovis advert in the 1970s.

Eating lunch in the town, the main conversation we overheard was that of two small girls telling their visiting grandparents all about their life at boarding school - lights out at 9pm, up at 6am. You don't hear that sort of thing in cafés round here very often.

Fareham Town's Ash Tattersall wins this duel. The clubhouse is behind the ball, outside of the enclosed ground.
Shaftesbury's ground is more impressive than most at this level, with a new dressing room block by the entrance, solar panels upon the roof to save money on electricity bills. This building is elevated above the pitch ever so slightly and has an overhanging roof, both features making this a popular place to stand and watch the match.

The pitch slopes away from the entrance, so walking down the slope on the right-hand side, you soon come to the lengthy main stand. I've read that this was erected by the neighbouring Tesco superstore, presumably as part of a deal when the shop was built. Within the stand are 250 red plastic seats. Plenty of legroom and a good place to keep dry on a rainy day.

There is hard standing around the rest of the pitch, with the exception of a two-step covered terrace opposite the stand on the halfway line. Unfortunately, this terrace is useless as the dugouts are directly in front of it, completely obscuring the view of the pitch. I presume the terrace pre-dated the dugouts and they were previously on the other side of the pitch and were then moved, with FA rules stipulating where they should go (in Scottish Junior football, dugouts can go pretty much anywhere, so you rarely see them in front of stands north of the border - much more sensible).

I was hoping for some attractive backdrops for photography purposes, but unfortunately, you can barely see the surrounding hills. The most interesting objects are a church tower to the west, and a telecommunications tower to the east, otherwise, it's all vegetation and houses.

Fareham Town start the second half under big autumn sky.
Shaftesbury FC (no sign of the Town suffix to their name anywhere at the club) are one of four clubs promoted to the Wessex League this season, three of whom have started off like rockets. Hamble Club, Baffins Milton Rovers and Shaftesbury already look like the three probable promotees at the end of the season. I can see why they've started so well if Saturday's performance is normal for them.

They're a young, well-coached, motivated team who play with the ball on the ground. Fareham Town, from the top half of the division above, found them a handful right from the start, and they just got better and better as the match went on.

Having said that, Fareham felt miffed that they weren't given the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot after 18 minutes, as Ashley Tattersall was tripped as he wiggled his way in to the box. From where I stood, it looked like his feet were taken from under him a good foot inside the area, but the ref thought otherwise, awarding a free-kick instead. The free-kick was blasted in to the wall and Shaftesbury immediately broke up field and scored the opener with an Aiden Beardmore header.

Beardmore scored his second five minutes in to the second half, slotting home after Fareham's keeper Tom Boyle blocked his initial effort. The away side scored next, Callum Laycock turning and neatly sliding the ball across the face of the goal in to the far corner after 55 minutes.

Fareham were unhappy again ten minutes later when the ref sent centre-half Zach Szemis (Fareham's tallest player) off to the dugout to place tape over his earring. They were unhappy because Szemis was standing in the wall facing a thirty yard free-kick. Unsurprisingly, Shaftesbury's Jamie Samways lofted the ball over the wall exactly where Szemis would have been standing, beating Boyle low down to his right.

After this blow, there was no doubt whatsoever about who was going to win. Szymon Matuszewski lobbed the keeper for Shaftesbury's fourth, then Lee Gale wrapped it up from close range in injury time for the home club's record victory in the FA Vase.

Back home along the Bloody Feathered Highway for unpredictable Fareham (they won 7-2 in their previous away match); a night of celebrations for the home club as they progressed to the First Round Proper. After today's draw, they will travel to AFC Stoneham on October 22nd. Should be a good game.

Shaftesbury celebrate their decisive third goal as Fareham's centre-half covers up his earring in the background.
Fareham Town bow out of the Vase at their first hurdle. Other Hampshire clubs involved in the competition at this stage fared as below:

Fleet Spurs 1-3 Fairford Town
Alton 4-2 Henley Town
Bashley 0-4 Highworth Town
Buckingham Town 4-3 Eversley & California (aet)
AFC Stoneham 3-1 Longlevens
Whitchurch United 0-6 Amesbury Town
Christchurch 1-3 Romsey Town
Hallen 1-3 Team Solent
Bournemouth 3-1 Brockenhurst
Horndean 2-0 Oldland Abbotonians
Cowes Sports 0-2 Alresford Town

Sholing, Andover Town and Blackfield & Langley will appear in the First Round Proper on October 22nd, with Moneyfields receiving a further bye to the Second Round in November.

Colourful Adidas boots.
I've been to Shaftesbury! Endorse it? Of course!

I shall add some more match photos to the HAH Facebook page early tomorrow evening. I've also updated the HAH Map of the Wessex League. Shaftesbury now have a spanking new photo of their stand to replace their badge on the map.

A match report from the Shaftesbury website can be found here. And a very short report on Fareham Town's site can be viewed here.

The next HAH will be from a Hampshire Premier Football League match on 8th October. My first recorded adventure within the county borders this season!

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