PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE PUTS UXBRIDGE OUT OF THE FA CUP
By Chris Pinn
Beaten by a better side on the day.
Players, former Players, Committee Members, Children and Supporters love the romance of the FA Cup and when your club is an underdog it makes it so much sweeter with those tales to be told for years to come and our victory away to Dartford in the previous round has been at the forefront of everyone associated with Uxbridge for the past couple of weeks.
It has been 16 years since Uxbridge last played in the 3rd Qualifying round of the FA Cup and a whopping 81 years since they reached the 4th Qualifying round so today’s opponents, Chippenham Town, would be another real test for the underdogs of Uxbridge.
Chippenham Town, sitting 2nd in the Premier Division of the Evo Stick Southern League came to Uxbridge as strong favourites and brought with them a large travelling army of fans that totalled over half the 379 crowd that filled Honeycroft, the largest crowd of the season.
With the Under 8’s & 9’s from Sandgate FC forming the players guard of honour and competing in the half time shoot out, the atmosphere around the ground was very buoyant with expectations of another cup upset.
It was even funny to see youth team manager, Dave Kennedy (The Silver Fox) regularly being referred to over the PA as Sandy The Fox until some bloke turned up at half time in a fox outfit to the relief of Dave who thought he was involved in the half time shoot out!
And so the game began in overcast conditions with a slight breeze in the air. The underdogs of Uxbridge went straight to work and went on the offensive, playing some neat passing football that threatened to get behind the Chippenham defence but they were well marshalled all afternoon by the two centre half’s, Greg Tindale & Mark Preece.
Chippenham Town, by no means underestimating the threat of Uxbridge, were professional, calm and collected throughout and moved the ball around themselves with confidence and urgency whenever the opportunity arose.
It was Chippenham, after a spat of 3 consecutive corners, that had the first opportunity of the game in the 7th minute when their third corner in a row looked to be heading directly into the top corner of the net but Paul McCarthy acrobatically flicked the ball out and away from danger.
A Jon-Jo Bates foul some 30 yards from goal, a minute later, saw a speculative free kick fly over Paul McCarthy’s bar and for the next 5 minutes, Uxbridge failed to put a string of passes together resulting in long balls forward for Matt Woods to chase but he was having little joy against the two giant centre half’s.
Despite this, Chippenham Town were not having it their own way. Excellent skill on the left wing saw Dave Thomas find Lewis Cole supporting. Lewis Cole's cross into the 6 yard area was frantically cleared for a corner before Chippenham Town took the lead in the 14th minute.
Now you can always find fault with a goal, especially when it is against your own side but credit must be given to Chippenham Town who moved the ball quickly from defence to attack on the right wing. A cross field pass found their left winger who went down the by-line and crossed for Ashan Holgate to leap and rocket a header past Paul McCarthy in goal. For the majority in the crowd they recognised and applauded what was a very good goal.
Credit Uxbridge once again. They refused to let the goal upset their play and continued to press Chippenham. In the 16th minute, Neil Scott (the brickhouse) launched a long throw that Wayne Carter headed over.
Jon-Jo Bates then sprang into life in the 19th minute with some great skill and set up Kevin Warner who drove into the box and crossed, just missing the lunging Matt Woods.
A minute later, Jon-Jo Bates waltzed past two midfielders and blazed a shot over the bar from 25 yards.
Chippenham substitute, Conor McCormack, on for the injured Michael Pook, almost extended Chippenham Towns lead in the 29th minute but Paul McCarthy tipped over his 25 yard shot.
Uxbridge’s best chance of the half came and went in the 30th minute when Dave Thomas produced some quality wing play before firing a bullet of a cross that found Kevin Warner at the back post. Only Kevin Warner will know why he chose to control and try and turn his defender when a first time shot may have been the better option.
4 minutes later, further good football from Chippenham Town saw them shoot narrowly wide of goal before the first of two controversial refereeing decisions came in the 43rd minute and both went against Uxbridge.
Matt Woods stole the ball off the left back and drove into the box and as he was just about to shoot he was tackled from behind and to the majority of supporters in the ground, it was a stone wall penalty. However, the man in black chose to give Uxbridge a corner and the half petered out with Uxbridge feeling a little aggrieved.
With the second half barely 4 minutes old, the officials controversially awarded hand ball against Neil Scott out on the Chippenham Town right wing. It was clearly ball to hand and the resultant free kick found Alex Ferguson flying into the 6 yard box unmarked to head Chippenham Towns 2nd goal and rub salt into the Uxbridge wounds. If the truth be told, this killed the game as a contest.
For the next 30 minutes, the game became a scrappy affair with small decisions being called fouls by the referee that resulted in frustrations from both sets of players in what was a good competitive game of football up until the 2nd goal.
The disruptions in play affected the quality of football in the middle of the park without any real substance to an end product but during this time it was Chippenham Town who had three half chances of note and every Uxbridge attack appeared to end with a long ball that the two excellent centre half’s of Chippenham Town dealt with comfortably.
It was either a lack in concentration, frustration or tiredness that led to Chippenham Towns third goal in the 83rd minute. Hesitancy between Mitchell Wiseman and Paul McCarthy eventually saw the goalkeeper punch the ball away from the edge of his 18 yard area.
Unfortunately, the ball found the Chippenham Town right back who crossed to the far post where Andy Sandell volleyed in to the back of the net to the delight of the Chippenham Town faithful.
As a frustrating game for Uxbridge was nearing the end, Uxbridge finally had their first opportunity of the 2nd half in the 85th minute with arguably their best piece of football.
Young fullback, Pen Peden showed good skill to break into the middle of the park. Ben Peden then passed to Lewis Cole who passed first time to substitute, Sekani McCalmon. Sekani McCalmon ran onto the ball and volleyed first time but Kent Kauppinen in the Chippenham goal went flying to his right to earn his clean sheet bonus!
So another year of FA Cup adventure comes to an end for Uxbridge FC and we wish Chippenham Town all the best for the next round.
It will be easy to pick out negatives from the game but we should highlight the positives. First though, let’s applaud Chippenham Town for a professional, business like performance in managing the game today. They were well organised and appeared to have an answer for everything Uxbridge threw at them, especially in the 2nd half.
From an Uxbridge perspective, there were 4 players in today’s squad who have progressed from our youth and reserve teams over the past 12 – 18 months with 18 year old Ben Peden showing maturity beyond his years today in his first FA Cup appearance.
Finally, had the penalty and handball decisions gone in our favour it could have been a different story because that is the magic of the cup. However, the neutral in the crowd today would say that the best team progressed to the next round and Uxbridge must pick themselves up and get down to the business of moving up the league table to give themselves an opportunity to play against step 3 sides in the future.
Thank you to all the supporters who supported the team today and we hope to see you at our League Cup fixture at Honeycroft on Tuesday when we entertain Egham Town. Thank you also to Sandgate FC for providing the guard of honour and the half time penalty shoot outs.