Monday, 21 August 2017

Binfield v Horndean

Not the easiest ground to find, but eventually you'll find Binfield FC down this lane...
We'll start with a quiz this week. It's a bit intellectual, but bear with me.

Here's a series of quotes from a famous writer (you'll probably recognise most of them):

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed;

What mighty contests rise from trivial things;

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

So, who wrote these words? Was it Shakespeare? Sounds like him, doesn't it?! 

Swinging on the railings as the officials lead the teams out for this FA Cup game. They would never allow such behaviour at Wembley!
Binfield FC (0) 1 v 1 (1) Horndean FC
Saturday 19th August 2017
Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 120
Admission: £6
Programme: £1
Colours: All red v All yellow
National Grid reference: SU8571 / SU8572

Dunno, but I thought I saw the shape of a penguin up in the clouds above Binfield. It's gone now.
The quotes weren't from Shakespeare - they're all the work of 18th century satirical poet Alexander Pope. The relevance to a football report on an FA Cup match between Binfield and Horndean? Well, Pope is Binfield's most famous resident, his family having fled there in 1698 when all Catholics were expelled from London. The Binfield suburb of Popeswood is named after him.

Binfield is a village on the outskirts of Bracknell in Berkshire. The football club played on a field in the village up until 1983, when they moved to their current ground on Hill Farm Lane. There was obviously a lot of work required to bring it up to tip-top standard, with the land needing flattening - hence the artificial slopes from moved earth at the clubhouse end and along the right-hand side.

Binfield's ground isn't the easiest to find. It reminds me of my two visits (so far) to Andover New Street - I've got lost both times. As at New Street, the football ground is both outside of the nearby populated area and next door to a graveyard and an archery field. There are three pitches at Binfield - the one in use by the first team has a pitchside rail, whereas the two neighbouring pitches for youngsters do not. At the entrance to the complex is a large car park, within which lies a rusty roller (did I remember to take a photo of the roller? Find out at Christmas...).

Horndean clear their lines under pressure early in the match.
Behind the car park, there's a brand new clubhouse with a bar and a tea hut. Attached to the clubhouse is a fair-sized area of covered standing. On the other side are the changing rooms with an overhanging roof, making two covered standing areas with an elevated view at this end.

On the right is an Arena stand with approximately 100 red plastic seats. The rest of the pitch is surrounded by hard standing, with the exception of the far end, which is officially out of bounds to spectators, but it's easy enough to walk from one side to the other if you fancy a shortcut. The whole ground has a pleasant feel of the countryside with red kites gliding overhead at intervals throughout the game.

But why was I here on Saturday? Because it's the FA Cup, that's why! As I usually do these days, I start the season by following random Hampshire clubs to new places (new to me, anyway) in the early rounds. There's rarely a dull game, and every journey is an adventure. It's a harmless enough hobby and I never expect much from my days out, so any excitement is a bonus.

Which reminds me of a famous quote:

 "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed".

Now, who was it who said that again?

Miles Everett shoots just high and wide for Horndean.
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast"

It's still early season, and anything could yet happen. Horndean beat one of the favourites for the Western League title, Melksham Town, in the previous round of the cup, whereas Binfield knocked out one of the top sides in the Southern Combination, Chichester City, so both sides would have been going in to the game with a certain amount of confidence. In particular, Horndean have yet to be beaten in any competition so far, so I had them down as slight favourites pre-match.

The game was evenly contested. If I'd brought my mates from Opta along, I'm fairly sure they would have counted roughly equal numbers of shots, 50/50 possession statistics, and so on (but what's that new stat on Match of the Day this season...Likelihood of Scoring? 0.27 v 0.74? What on earth is that one all about?!).

The breakthrough came after 29 minutes, when Horndean's Miles Everett turned in the box and slotted home low and hard from twelve yards with his right peg, leaving Binfield's keeper wrong-footed.

The southern Mark Smith. Just step sideways.
"What mighty contests rise from trivial things".

So the Wessex League side went in a goal up at the break. It could have been two after 47 minutes when Mark Smith lofted a cross in from the right, which went over keeper Matt Hill's outstretched arms and rebounded off the inside of the far post and was then walloped to safety by a Binfield defender. The Deans were beginning to look relatively comfortable during the second half, restricting their Hellenic League opponents to just the odd opportunity here and there.

Substitute Josh Maloney had his legs scythed from beneath him as he shot from eight yards after 62 minutes, resulting in several minutes worth of treatment from the Deans' physio, but the ref waved play on. A converted penalty here would probably have settled the tie.

However, it all started to go wrong for Horndean ten minutes later, as Binfield's Joe Gritt and Horndean's Ash Howes went for the same bouncing ball. Gritt caught Howes on the ankle. Both players went down, but Howes got up first and gave Gritt a petulant kick. Right in front of the ref. It was obvious what was coming next.

Down to ten men, Horndean conceded a free-kick 25 yards out from goal on 76 minutes. As their wall lined up, I could see a big gap on their right. I was willing them to shuffle over a yard or two, but my ESP message didn't get through. Josh Howell duly stepped up and aimed for the gap. Low and hard towards the corner, keeper Del Harding got a hand to the shot, but couldn't deflect it wide.

And that was that. After being rattled by the sending off and then conceding a goal in quick succession, Horndean regained their composure and held out fairly comfortably in the end to take Binfield back to Five Heads Park.

The view from the top of the grass bank at the entrance end.
The replay will be at Horndean tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. The Wessex League side should be favourites to go through on the 15 foot slope of their home pitch, but you never know with cup football.

Whoever wins will play Cornwall's Bodmin Town at home in the First Qualifying Round on September 2nd. Other Hampshire clubs in today's draw have been paired thusly:

Gosport Borough v Bridgwater Town
Frome Town v Fleet Town or AFC Totton
AFC Portchester v Dorchester Town
Farnborough v Salisbury
Paulton Rovers v Winchester City
Basingstoke Town v Hartley Wintney
Cinderford Town v Moneyfields
Andover Town or Wimborne Town v Cadbury Heath

Hmm, I can feel a trip to the West Country coming on for the next round.

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread".

Indeed. Wise words from Mr Pope.

The Home of The Moles.
There's a brief match report on Binfield's website here. It contains a link to their photographer's album of 99 action shots, which mostly concentrate on the home side, unsurprisingly. There will be another 40 or so photos from the game appearing on the HAH Facebook page later this evening (after I've had a nice cup of tea).

Can Horndean finish off the job they started tomorrow evening? If you live nearby, why not pop along and find out? After all, this is the FA Cup - it's a Mighty Contest - and anything could happen!

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