In the absence of my FA Cup Quest this season due to family commitments falling on at least three FA Cup weekends and a music gig on another, I’ve decided to pursue a different trophy, The FA Trophy to be precise.
And so, on October 7, my FA Trophy Quest began at the Marston’s Stadium, the home of The Nailers, Belper Town. As the crow flies, Belper is the nearest town to my house so it was a no-brainer to start there. Also it gave me the chance to visit a local ground which I’d actually never visited before, despite regular social visits to the pleasant town.
The Nailers’ visitors in this Preliminary Round tie were fellow Evo-Stik Division One side, Alvechurch – a meeting of 13th versus 7th in the early standings.
Belper started the better, putting pressure on the Worcestershire (not Warwickshire as first published. Sorry Church fans) side’s defence. But it was the away side who took the lead as full-back Jamie Ashmore played Daniel Dubidat in behind the Belper backline to finish smartly across the Belper ‘keeper.
It was a good finish, but it would be bettered a few minutes later. An Alvehurch corner was cleared only as far as defender Tom Turton who smashed a brilliant volley past the outstretched arms of ‘keeper Roberts and into the back of the net, skimming off the crossbar on its way in. It’s since gained Sky Sports Grassroots ‘Goal of the Month’, and deservedly so. If I see a better goal on my quest this season I’ll be very surprised.
Belper responded, and marauded forward, and they got lucky when the referee ruled that the ball struck the arm of full-back Ashmore in the box and pointed to the spot. It was a harsh decision, but Keiron O’Connell had no mercy and clinically dispatched the ball into the ‘keeper’s bottom right corner.
In the second half the game became stretched, and both sides were intent on winning the game and some excellent attacking football was enjoyed by a crowd of just over 200.
The rain was coming down by now, too, making the ball skid about and challenges a little poorly timed, and it was no surprise on 77 minutes to see a red card as Belper’s John Guy was sent off for a late tackle on Church’s Josh March.
But despite the numerical advantage and some fine counter attacking football, Alvechurch just couldn’t finish Belper off and were nearly made to pay deep into stoppage time as captain Eric Graves fired wide from distance.
So although the game promised more goals at HT, it ended 2-1 to the visitors. They, and I, travel to Cambridge City on Saturday, October 28. As always with these quests, my allegiance switches to the victors, so I’ll travel to St Ives – Cambridge City’s temporary home – with Alvechurch as my Trophy team. Come on Church!
Here’s THAT goal from Tom Turton.
— Dan Handley (@DanHandley_1) October 8, 2017
Welcome to Belper
Belper’s old and disused cotton mill, The East Mill, makes for an industrial backdrop.
The teams depart the pitch after the full-time whistle.
The travelling fans applaud their team off the pitch.