FA Cup Preliminary Round
Moneyfields Sports Ground, Portsmouth
Attendance: 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 4
On FA Cup Preliminary Round day, I decided on a similar experience to the previous round a fortnight ago. Once again I would head to the Portsmouth area, and once again would watch a Wessex League club at home to a club from the Western League. It would also be an opportunity to visit a ground that I have seen at speed from a train window on many occassions in the past.
Although the Moneyfields Sports Ground is located immediately adjacent to the train line into Portsmouth, it is located between Fratton and Hilsea train stations, about a half hour walk from each. It's a ground that is neat and tidy, with perfectly adequate modern facilities, but it doesn't have much charm about it. After one passes through the turnstile, immediately to the left is a modern metallic all-seater stand tucked in the corner. To the right is a tea bar, then some open space before a large brick building housing the changing rooms, with plenty of overhang covering a few shallow steps of terracing. Around the rest of the pitch is just hard standing. Behind the other length is a tall hedgerow separating the main pitch and a secondary one, whilst the railway line passes behind one of the goals. The programme was better than others I have encountered in the Wessex League recently - which is not difficult - and had everything you'd hope for from a programme at this level.
Moneyfields have had a good start to their season, currently lying in third place in the league after Seven games, winning three and drawing three. In the Extra Preliminary of the FA Cup, they triumphed 2-1 against Western League outfit Cadbury Heath. Longwell Green Sports have won one and drawn one of their four league games so far, and won away 1-2 at Western League Division One outfit Bradford Town.
Under a clear blue sky and warm sunshine, this was a very entertaining and feisty game of football, one that teetered on the brink between competitive and aggressive. After an even opening 18 minutes it was the home side who took the lead, when the ball was powerfully headed into the keeper's hands by Steve Hedgesfrom a lovely cross, but the keeper let the ball squirm past his hands and cross the line before being cleared. Just after the half hour and the home side doubled their lead. A long high ball was pumped forward which a defender couldn't effectively deal with, allowing Bobby Scott to run towards goal before gently lobbing the keeper and the ball bounced into the net. It was quite a harsh scoreline on the visitors, although it could have been worse after some questionable defending and goalkeeping. However they got a crucial goal back on the stroke of half time, Kris Lee driving through ball home inside the near post from the edge of the area.
Game on it would seem in the second half, although Sports task was made harder when they were reduced to ten men on 53 minutes. A very debatable award all round - the defender James Pocock did not seem to be the last man and the foul seemed to be in the penalty area. Five minutes later and Longwell were awarded a penalty when a defender's clearance ricocheted onto his hand and although the penalty was saved, through rebound was hit home by Sam Thomas. Either side could have won it in the remaining half hour, although the period was far more memorable for frequent fouls and constant harassing of the referee by both teams, and it wasn't any surprise when Steve Hutchings of Moneyfields received a second yellow card for yet another aggressive foul. He looks a decent player, but his constant niggly gamesmanship is not pleasant to see. In the end, a 2-2 was a fair result, meaning a long trip to Bristol on Tuesday for Moneyfields to try and earn a trip to Bashley in the next round.