Monday, 5 September 2011

Erith and Belvedere 4 v 1 Selsey

Sunday 4th September 2011
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Park View Road, Welling
Admission: £7.00
Programme: £1.50
Attendance: 92
Match Rating: 4

An added bonus, this game. Although I don’t usually like to return to the same ground too soon – I had only been to Park View Road in April to watch the Kent Senior Trophy final – it worked out perfectly to call in for this game on the way home from Stansted Airport. In any case, it would be the first time I would watch Erith and Belvedere at Park View Road, with an FA Cup between clubs from the Kent League and the Sussex League.

Directions to and descriptions of the ground can be found here from my April visit, only to add that Erith and Belvedere have their own turnstiles to enter the ground through. To add to an already expensive admission fee, programmes were available for £1.50, which had an attractive cover and contained 16 pages of information within an outer shell of wall-to-wall advertising.

The fortunes of both clubs have contrasted quite wildly so far this season, pointing towards a home win. Erith and Belvedere started their season with three straight wins in the league, although they lost on Bank Holiday Monday at home to their apparent bogey side, VCD Athletic. In the previous round of the FA Cup, they defeated Sussex League Division 1 side St Francis Rangers 2-0 at home. Selsey have lost all three of their league games so far this season in the Sussex League Division 1, and reached this round of the FA Cup by defeating Mile Oak, of Division 2 of the Sussex League, after a replay. Today’s match would be the first ever between the two sides.

Throughout the first half, Erith and Belvedere always looked the better side and had more attempts on goal, whereas Selsey looked a very limited outfit, always battling hard but struggling to find their passes. The visitors would certainly have been the happier with the goalless scoreline at half time, although for their dominance, one could not say that Erith and Belvedere would be kicking themselves not to have taken the lead.

On 58 minutes, against the general run of play, Selsey took the lead, with a goal of quality that had been lacking in their play previously, Jake Goulding finishing off a fine passing move by delicately placing the ball across the keeper and into the net via the far post. Selsey then proceeded to have their best period in the game, but on 70 minutes, the tie was level again when Michael Cassius made a surging run down the wing and into the box, and after his initial shot was blocked, pulled the ball back to Hinga Amara, who scored from 6 yards out. A nightmarish midweek trip down to deepest West Sussex was looking increasingly inevitable for Erith and Belvedere, until they edged in front in the 89th minute with a wonderful goal. Luke May received the ball 25 yards out following a clearance, and he had time to curl a perfectly judged shot into the top corner. On the stroke of 90 minutes, Erith and Belvedere made the game safe when Callum O’Shea’s shot was parried by the keeper and Andy Constable tapped into an empty net from a few yards out. Two minutes into injury time and the home side added a fourth, when Amara just beat the keeper to head the ball home following a well judged floating cross by O’Shea. There is no doubt Erith and Belvedere deserved to win this tie, and the scoreline was perhaps a fair reflection of their domination and superior quality, although it doesn’t tell the story of a game that was in the balance right up until the final couple of minutes, and Erith and Belvedere will visit Ryman League Division 1 South side Hythe Town in the next round.  

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