Sunday, 13 November 2016

Basildon United 3 v 2 Felixstowe and Walton United

Saturday 12th November 2016
FA Vase Second Round
Gardiners Close, Basildon
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 64
Match Rating: 4

I decided fairly early on this week to visit my penultimate Essex Senior League ground today, with an attractive looking fixture in the FA Vase. However constant rain was forecast throughout today, and thereby brining about the first nervous Saturday morning of the season, monitoring Twitter feeds and finding back-up plans. However, the rain turned out to be constant drizzle rather than downpours and so this game was never in doubt and I indeed paid my second visit to south-east Essex on consecutive Saturdays.

Gardiners Close is just over two miles, or a 45 minute walk, north eastwards from Basildon train station, and the football ground is situated amongst various others sports clubs. After passing through the car park and then turning just in front of the clubhouse, spectators enter along one length, where all of the spectator facilities are situated. There is an all-seater stand straddling the half way line, whilst either side are covered standing areas, with a couple of picnic tables in both areas. Hard standing is available around the rest of the ground, with slight neatly lowed grass banking around the path. Tall trees line the length opposite the stands, giving a pleasant background. There is also some terrace steps straddling the half way line on this side, but the tall dugouts get in the way of one’s view from there. An onion shaped water cooler tower behind one corner makes for an usual sight. The 20 page programme covered plenty of stats to preview the match, and was pleasingly light on advertising.

This match promised to be a well matched game between two clubs from neighbouring leagues. Having finished as runners up in the Essex Senior League last season, just two points adrift of champions Bowers and Pitsea, they went into this match in sixth place, with 11 wins and two draws from their 20 league games. Felixstowe and Walton United were in sixth place in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, with eight wins and three draws from their 15 league games. They had a terrific run in the FA Cup from the Preliminary, which included a win against National League South outfit Bishops Stortford, to reach the 3rd Qualifying Round. To set up today's fixture, Basildon beat Crawley Green 1-2 away in the previous round, while Felixstowe beat Haverhill Borough 4-0 at home.

On a really murky afternoon, with constant fine misty rain falling, Basildon were certainly quick out of the traps, opening the scoring with just 4 minutes on the clock, Nathan Dewberry tapping in at the far post  following a cross along the six yard box. Dewberry doubled Basildon's lead on 13 minutes following a rebound off of a defender. Basildon were in virtually complete control throughout the first half, although a minute before the break, the visitors did see a free kick floated into the box miss everyone and come back off the far post.

The second half continued in much the same vein, with Basildon dominating, Felixstowe just could not get going and the match seemed to be meandering towards a comfortable home victory, with Basildon having the best chances to score again, a floated shot coming back off the crossbar and a close range far post strike on the stretch was blocked by a defender. Out of nothing Felixstowe gave themselves hope on XX minutes. The ball was chipped into the box from a free kick and although Craig Jennings failed to control the ball initially, he pounced on the loose ball to stab it home. Things got even better for this visitors on XX minutes when they equalised. A good run from midfield towards the outer corner of the area ended with a low cross towards the six yard box and Kyron Andrews tapped the ball home. They barely deserved to be back on level terms, but they upped their game and extra time looked to be on the cards until the sixth minute of added on time when Basildon won the match with a terrific goal by Jamie Brown, who took a few touches to create a little space for himself to curl a lovely low shot from the edge of the area into the far bottom corner, to spark wild celebrations, and at the final whistle which blew shortly afterwards, they celebrated as if they had won a cup. Felixstowe will be so disappointed to lose so late in the game, but Basildon undoubtedly deserved to progress into the last 64 of the competition, and Felixstowe were fortunate to give themselves a chance in the closing minutes.

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