Sunday 12th December 2021 3pm – The FA Vase – Foxbury, Chislehurst
There are days when the footballing gods shine a light on the beautiful game and we get to see a real classic. It isn’t all about the goals – some high-scoring games, naturally those that tend to be one-sided, are as dull as ditchwater – but about the cut and thrust, the conditions and the crowd. This was one of those afternoons.
For those not yet up to speed on the story of Stansfeld Oxford and Bermondsey Club then let me provide a 30-second recap. Playing at Step 6 in the South Eastern Counties League One, ground sharing with Step 5 Glebe but having reached the Third Round of the FA Vase for the first time, having beaten high-flying Step 5 Badshot Leas in the last round and now paired against Leas rivals, Frimley Green in the next round.
Glebe’s home tie against Beckenham Town meant the game was shifted to Sunday, which suited everyone apart from their opponents. A decent crowd of 177 in the previous round was topped by sixty more fans who perhaps would have been in the club house watching Brighton & Hove Albion vs Spurs had COVID not seen that game postponed. What they saw was a game of two halves as the home side used the conditions to their favour to run out clear winners.
An early Frimley Green goal looked to set a tone of a hard afternoon ahead on a very heavy pitch but with a “partizan” home crowd, slowly getting under the skin of the Frimley players and even the officials on occasions, the result was a comprehensive win. Kicking down the slope in the second period and playing two up front, pulling the defensive wide, Stansfeld produced wave after wave of attacks.
The equaliser needed some fortune, with a ball through the middle for Milton to run onto. As he shaped to shoot the Frimley keeper slipped over and despite a desperate attempt to get back up, could only palm the ball into the net. Ten minutes later Sam Smith got the last touch on an inswinging corner and from that point the result was never in doubt, as Frimley Green couldn’t create a chance. The icing on the cake, a thirty-yarder from Ross Morley with ten minutes to play saw wild celebrations from the players and the bench as their place in the next round was assured.
The Fourth Round draw saw Stansfeld as one of only four Step 6 sides left in the competition, as clubs now are just four wins away from Wembley. Their reward for another victory was an away draw to Step 5 Raynes Park Vale, with the tie being played in mid-January.
Whilst dreams of a visit to Wembley are still premature, Stansfeld’s gutsy performance certainly won more friends, who will hopefully return to support them in their campaign to win promotion to Step 5 this season.