Friday, 11 November 2016


On a glorious October day I have made the last minute decision to visit Hereford, for the intriguing FA Cup 1st Round tie between Westfields and Manchester based club, Curzon Ashton. It's been a great achievement for Step 5 club Westfields (Midland Football League, Prem Div) to get this far, albeit with the help of continual home draws after their Extra-Preliminary away win at Stourport Swifts (4-3).

They have had some great results in the previous rounds, most notably against Southern League Premier Div team, St Ives Town (4-0) and Leiston, the Ryman League Premier Div leaders (2-1).

Before I leave home to go the rail station I hear that the 'Football Focus' team headed by Dan Walker will be at Westfields today at 12pm. Yes, it's going to be quite an occasion.

I get to the ground at 2:10pm, to ensure I get a good vantage point and to be able to buy a match programme before they sell out. There are already plenty of supporters in the ground ( about 300) and I can see TV cameras dotted around Allpay Park.

Unfortunately by the time kick-off time arrives so have banks of cloud too, thus spoiling the sunny conditions that were originally forecast for the duration of the game.

When the teams come out, Westfields are in their usual claret & sky blue kit while Curzon are in a change strip of lime green shirts & black shorts and socks.

Curzon Ashton take control of the game but Westfields get awarded a penalty from their first attack when Aidan Thomas is adjudged to have been brought down in the penalty area. This is converted by Craig Jones past the Curzon keeper, Hakan Burton (as shown below).

The Westfield players and supporters go wild and I have difficulty in taking photos for a few seconds with all the jostling around me, ha ha! It's a great moment for the home team.

The game is turning out to be a cagey affair with Curzon dominating possession but Westfields looking more dangerous when they do manage to break out to counter-attack.

Home keeper, Kieron Blackburn, is called on to make 2 good saves to enable his team to keep their lead and Craig Jones reminds Curzon Ashton that Westfields are still a threat when he fizzes a free-kick over the bar just before half-time.

So it's 1-0 for Westfields and many of the home crowd must be wondering if their heroes can pull off a result today. The official attendance figure announced is 1178 and what would it have been had not Hereford FC been playing at home today?

After visiting the loo I decide to try and find a different spot to watch the match, as I had been facing a northerly wind and my hands had got very cold. My shutter finger at one point had seemed to lose all feeling! I find a more sheltered place at the side of the goal that Curzon Ashton will be attacking in the next 45 minutes and the sun decides to come out too!

When play resumes, the visitors pile on the pressure. They press the Westfields players very well and are quicker to the ball. 

Westfields defence though are well marshalled by their experienced skipper, Phil Glover. Curzon are faced by a wall of claret and blue whenever they attack. 

Despite Westfields 'parking the bus', Curzon do create chances. Joe Guest has strikes a shot against the post when he probably should have scored and later Neil Cummins puts the ball in to the net but is adjudged to be offside.

The home sides brave resistance is undone with just 9 minutes to go, when from a right wing corner, substitute Adam Morgan tucks the ball away after a header had bounced back off the cross bar. This sees some of the Curzon supporters stage a mini pitch invasion to celebrate their relief.

There are no more goals and it's probably a fair result, as Curzon for all their possession have not created that many chances. Both teams now go in to the hat for the 2nd Round draw. It's been a great occasion today and has given Westfields a taste of the big time in their 50th Anniversary year. Curzon Ashton are a club just 3 years older but have reached Step 2 in the Non-League pyramid, surely an inspiration to today's hosts.

Match attendance: 1,178
Match entrance fee: £10
Match programme: £1.50
Match entertainment: 7/10

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