FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round
Spelthorne Sports Club, Ashford
Match Rating: 2
As the FA Vase is a competition I probably enjoy following more than any other on my travels, my choice of venue was dictated by the Preliminary Round fixtures available today, ideally between two clubs from different divisions, and at a ground I had not previously visited. I decided to take one step closer to completing the Combined Counties League Premier Division with a trip to the south-west extremity of Greater London.
The Spelthorne Sports Club is about a 15 minute walk westwards from Sunbury train station, with the football ground a little further beyond the cricket field and club house along the busy A308 Staines Road West. Spectators enter the football ground via a turnstile block in one corner and once inside, one finds a surprisingly neat and attractive ground that is well maintained. To one side of the entrance turnstile is a large garden shed which is a hospitality area, whilst to the other side is a brick building housing the changing rooms and refreshments bar. To the other side of the goal is a small wooden stand with a couple of rows of yellow seats. A very similar stand is located just down the length from the entrance corner, whilst further wooden cover but of standing area straddles the halfway line. Compliments to the club for installing some attractive give, easy on the eye wooden stands, rather than the usual identikit metallic ones. Around the rest of the ground is just hard standing. Colourful trees around three sides give a surprisingly rural appearance to the ground despite blocks of flats and a Water Treatment Works building being visible, although the constant traffic noise certainly detracts from the pleasantness. The programme was simply made but no matter as the content is more important, and it was a sufficiently informative publication.
Spelthorne Sports have made a solid start to their league season in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, winning two and drawing three of their opening six league games. Tring Athletic have made a similarly solid start to their campaign in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, winning three and drawing one of their five league games.
On an afternoon of miserable weather, with constant murky drizzle during the first half which relented to mainly grey overcast conditions in the second half, this was not a game that will live long in the memory. The visitors just about had the better of the first half and did most of the attacking, and the highlight of their chances came on 35 minutes when a free kick heading for the top left corner forced a fine save.
In the second half, and it was the home team who had the better of things, coming very close to scoring on a few occasions up to the hour mark, but after that, the game developed into a real midfield battle and the game petered out to a goalless draw after 90 minutes. Although I understand that FA Vase rules dictate that extra time should be played if the the scores are level after normal time, the players shook hands and left the field and head to Tring on Tuesday evening for a replay to earn the right to travel to Winslow United in the next round.