Saturday, 26 September 2015

Newton Aycliffe 0 North Ferriby United 0

FA Cup, second qualifying round
Attendance: 254

While walking around the cricket pitch that adjoins Newton Aycliffe’s ground I passed two boys tossing sticks into a horse chestnut tree to knock down conkers. (The game seems rather quaint in this iPod age). I hadn’t been able to park inside the ground because of the crowd. Ah, yes: we’ve reached the second qualifying round.

For Newton Aycliffe (in Co Durham) this was their first time at this lofty stage and, even though, they were still three wins from the first round proper the match still heart-warmingly qualified as the biggest in their 50-year history according to their chairman and ex-manager writing in the programme. Today’s visitors, step 2 North Ferriby, know a fair bit about big matches having won the FA Trophy at Wembley just four months ago. Newton’s managerial duo – the Brian Clough and Peter Taylor of the Northern League, Peter Dixon and Paul Foster – have twice recently been at Wembley too with West Auckland in FA Vase. (Seven of their starting line-up today had followed the duo from West Auckland since their appointment a year ago).

The match was of note to me in that it was the fourth time I’ve happened to see North Ferriby in 12 months. I first saw them at the same stage of the Cup last season at Cleethorpes, then away to Warrington  (they just keep getting Cup draws away to small teams I’m interested in) and finally in the Trophy semi-final against Bath. Any more of this and I’ll have to join the supporters’ club.

There isn’t much more to say about the match than about Newton’s tidy but very basic ground. (It consists of two small, modern stands and some cabins but I suppose you can’t have a grand old ground in a new town). It was a tight, tense encounter with relatively few clear cut chances but some good saves from the home goalie. The closest we came to a score was just after the three cheers on the rugby pitch over the fence when a header from Denton of North Ferriby hit the base of the post.

Soon afterwards Northern League legend Matty Moffat (“Matty Moff”) of Newton found himself alone against four yellow shirts on the edge of the Ferriby box. Was he about to go on a mazey run to grab a dramatic late winner, cause the upset of the round and give me a little more to write about? Sadly not. Unfortunately, in the final reckoning this Cup occasion didn’t have much to get excited about. (It was the only goalless tie in 80 matches in this round).


Face in the crowd: Father Christmas, aka Salty, and a great peripatetic Northern League supporter, put in an appearance. I lost spotted him at Norton & Stockton five years ago.

Quote of the day: “You definitely got bullied at school!” shouted at the ref by a fan.

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