Sat 21st Aug 2021
FA Cup - Preliminary Round
Bishops Cleeve 2-0 TAFC First team
Our run in the worlds oldest competition came to an end at Bishops Cleeve, a picturesque town just north of Cheltenham. After a close and cagey first half our hosts (nicknamed the Mitres) opened the scoring on the hour following 2 controversial moments but then finally put the tie to bed 8 minutes from time to book their place in the next round.
One of the benefits of playing in national competitions is that you get to play teams from different parts of the country who compete in different leagues. After a 2.5 hour journey we arrived at the stadium which had a stunning location at the foot of Cleeve Hill the highest point in the Cotswolds. For train enthusiasts you could see the smoke and hear the sounds of the local heritage railway from the ground.
Our hosts came into the game in outstanding form having won 4 and drawn 1 of their 5 games so far scoring 16 goals and conceding 5. Their form had taken them to the top of the Hellenic Premier Division and so we knew we had a tough match on our hands. Interestingly they had played all 5 games at home and were due to play their next 4 at home as well, which was evidentially due to the fact that they will soon rip up the pitch and replace it with a 5G surface which seemed a shame because the pitch looked in superb condition.
The setting may have been idyllic but the first half was far from the concept of total football with both teams circling each other like shadow boxers, looking for an opening to land a big blow but being careful not to leave themselves open to a counter attack.
The home side tried to threaten from long throws from their tall left back Leroy ODiero and they had 3 successive corners around the half hour mark but we managed to deal with these potential threats well. Our opponents did produce a great move in the 20th minute but Dave Saunders came out quickly to snuff out the threat at the feet of Blaine Waugh.
To be honest we did not produce much of a threat during the early stages being content to keep our shape and defend well against a team that had a lot of scoring potential amongst their forward players. But as the half wore on we did show some glimmer of hope with Manny Gbojuade whipping over a dangerous low cross which forced the home keeper Sam Gilder to come out bravely and claim amongst the feet of the players.
Kieran Turner slipped a lovely ball through to Chris Vardy who had a clear sight of goal and had the ball on his favoured left foot but he slipped at an unfortunate moment. Manny Gbojuade then seized upon fine cross from Frankie Hercules but the home centre back Mark Prichett produced a brilliant saving tackle.
So it came as no surprise that a close, competitive half finished scoreless. HT 0-0
The Mitres leading scorer Jack Watts sent an early shot wide of the goal and soon afterwards following a good move Ollie Butler had a couple of shots blocked. We were definitely looking the livelier team when controversy struck just before the 60 minute mark.
Kieran Turners left foot shot forced a terrific diving save from the keeper with Ollie Butler following up to collect the loose ball but his attempt to get free was foiled by the defenders hand. A cry went up for a penalty which seemed fair but the officials ignored the appeals.
The feeling of injustice was compounded a few minutes later when a free kick was awarded after the home player slipped over. It seem rather harsh and to add insult to injury the resulting free kick was deflected in for an own goal. Score 1-0.
The whole nature of the game now changed as we had to chase the game and find a way through a strong home defence which was made more difficult by the absence our centre forward Chris Blunden who was unwell.
Pushing forward we left ourselves more vulnerable at the back and sub Zac Guinan headed a good chance wide from a fine cross from Jack Watts. We then had a lucky escape when the normally lethal Jack Watts missed a sitter by shooting wide of the post. We were not creating any clear chances and the killer blow came 8 minutes from time when the busy midfielder Harrison Reeves stabbed home to put his side into a commanding 2 goal lead. Score 2-0.
We kept pressing more in hope than anything else and Kieran Turners deflected shot forced Sam Gilder to tip the ball over the bar. Reeves forced Dave Saunders into a good save with a rasping shot but the home run down the clock to see out a convincing 2 nil win.
Full Time 2-0.
There was a feeling of injustice after the game that the key decisions had not gone our way and that the crucial opening goal came from an unfortunate own goal. But thats the way it goes in football and full marks to our opponents who deserved their win in the end and we wish them all the best in the next round. We also appreciated their hospitality which was excellent.
A disappointing result but we have to be realistic that we have come a long way in the last couple of years and that we are building from scratch. Its also worth noting that we have only ever gone further than the Preliminary Round on 2 occasions namely 2006/07 and 2010/11 when we suffered heavy defeats to Kings Lynn and Wealdstone.
Finally a interesting fact from our hosts match stats which showed they had 57% possession to our 43%, and had 17 shots with 7 on target whist we had 16 shots with 9 on target which seems to indicate that the match was closer than the result shows.
BC: 1 Sam Gilder 2 Linden Dovey 3 Leroy ODiero 4 Jake Parrott 5 Mark Pritchett (14 Matt Sysum 46) 6 Kieran Aider (10 Sam Blackie 55) 7 Blaine Waugh 8 Archie Haskayne (Capt) 9 Jake Rhodes (17 Zac Guinan 64) 10 Jack Watts 11 Harrison Reeves. Subs not used: 16 Lee Llewellyn 18 Sean Quinn G/K Greg Lannon
TA: 1 David Saunders 2 Harrison Cornick 3 Cameron Brooks 4 Tommy Twelves 5 Scott Bonner 6 George Carbery 7 Frankie Hercules (14 Evans Lamboth 74) 8 Ollie Butler 9 Chris Vardy (18 Joe Chott 83) 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 Emmanuel Gbejuade (16 Tom Shaw 83) Subs not used: 12 Temi Bankole 15 Ben Johnson 17 Luke Cestrone 19 Adam Sawyer
BC : Own Goal (60) Harrison Reeves (82)
Following Report taken from Bishops Cleeve's Website

Mitres edge out Tring to progress in FA Cup
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Bishops Cleeve made it into the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2019 in an evenly contested match.
Whilst the hosts controlled a lot of the ball early on it was the visitors who looked the most threatening, with Tommy Twelves having a couple of efforts go close, including a powerfully struck shot which went just over when he was left free at the back post.

Emmanuel Gbejuade then saw his effort well saved by Sam Gilder before Bishops Cleeve started to create some chances of their own with Blaine Waughs header going just over and Linden Doveys powerful long range effort going just wide. However neither side managed to find the net in the first half.

Bishops Cleeve nearly took the lead seventeen seconds after the restart as Jack Watts crossed to Kieran Alder in the box but the midfielder slipped on the greasy surface as he struck his shot meaning it was an easy save for Dave Saunders in the Tring goal.

Tring then saw Oliver Butler and Kieran Turner have several shots on target blocked as the hosts started to really push for the opener.

It was Cleeve however that made the breakthrough on the hour mark. Waugh had won a freekick on the right hand edge of the box and after a bit of pinball in the box the ball ended up in the back of the Tring net, with Matthew Sysum deemed to have got the all important final touch.

The goal seemed to be the turning point in the match as Cleeve now started to look the most threatening with the tireless Waugh and sub Zac Guinan, making his debut on youth loan from Cheltenham Town, causing problems for the Tring defence.

It was Waughs determination that led to Cleeves second goal when slight hesitation in the Tring defence was seized upon by him, not once but twice to then cross to Harrison Reeves for the winger to calmly convert with eight minutes to go.

Tring still hadnt given up and it took several fine saves from Sam Gilder to prevent them coming back into the game as well as some fine corner hold up play by Jack Watts (frustrating if against you, brilliant if for you) to seal the 2-0 win.

The draw for the First Qualifying Round will be made on Monday 23rd August.

(No photos on file)

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