Tunbridge Wells 1-5 Sheppey United (Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round 2)
I have to admit that as I missed Saturday’s game I was quite pleased it was a draw as I wanted to go there in what has become a great little derby game, so with this in mind I borrowed what I thought was going to be a nice spacious luxury Mercedes bus bus to take the lads down in. The reality was a lot different, spacious yes, luxury ? Not so, it turned out to be as old and in as bad a condition as me with more rust than Peter Sutcliffe’s hammer. Anyway, unperturbed we set off for the epic journey, despite more pauses than a Gareth Gates sentence we got there in good time. Now, parking looked a bit tricky so we turned right into a cul de sac that looked straight out of Dynasty, all gated drives and balconies. After turning the sunshine bus round we parked on the pavement no doubt outside Hesketh and Gemima’s house who could clearly be seen gathering up all their valuables as we pulled up.
After walking through the forest we got into the ground, first impressions, I liked the ground, like Botany Rd used to be minus the vagrants. As the team came out, what I thought was fog turned out to be a massive bonfire which I at first thought was a nice touch by our hosts to make us feel at home by burning some cars out but turned out to be Infact a massive bonfire.
So Sheppey line up with our 17th keeper of the season, Robert Budd, he certainly looked the part but we’ve had more people watching the net than operation Yewtree so far so I wasn’t getting too excited. The rest of the team lined up as usual, no colonel or Tom Brunt but with Coops and Remmell coming in we still looked strong. The mutants from Nuclear Island all huddled together in the Fortnum and Mason stand looking like the assembled cast of Oliver Twist or the land that time forgot, while it was good to see the Wells numbers considerably swelled by their Men servants and chauffeurs.
The game kicked off, the atmosphere crackling from both sets of fans, the first goal was going to be all important, luckily it went to us and in the first minute, the Wells players had barely had time to finish waxing their moustaches when Batten found Bradshaw out wide, Bradshaw played the ball inside to Remmell who had more space than papa’s hunting lodge, steadied himself and stroked it in the far corner. 1-0 to the Urchins. Sheppey continued pushing forward, Trey going through his repertoire of flicks and stepovers, it looked like we would score every time we had the audacity to enter their half. Meanwhile at the back our own middle class defender Ralphy commanded his defence against any attack the hosts could muster ably assisted by the again excellent Girty who seems to be getting better by the week. It was at this time one of our esteemed members told us that he was the victim of some “banter” regarding his somewhat high forehead from their number 7, armed with that there were plenty of songs about his own bald patch ( which he took in good spirits) until the original victim suddenly recognised the number 8 as the real assailant. Sorry number 7 but if it helps you had a good game.
Anyway, another attack, the ball breaks loose from 25 yards out, Harvey with his back to goal swivels on a Kings Guinea and hits the ball so hard I’m surprised it regained consciousness straight into the top corner past the helpless keeper, 2-0 to the ruffians, this really wasn’t cricket. Ten minutes later from almost the same position the ball falls to LHO again, again he shoots on sight, equally as hard but this time the bar saves the hosts, this was great football. Wells tried to get back into it, their fans still singing and urging them on but in truth there was only one team in it. Just before half time, Remmell is fouled on the edge of the box, he stays down, on “sprints” George the physio to the tune of Laurel and Hardy, followed by the stretcher bearers, this looked bad, it was but not for Remmell, he got up it was George that had to be carried off due to his exertions. From the resulting free kick Girty curled it round the wall but the keeper got down for an excellent save. As the ref checked his fob watch and blew for half time tucker, Bob Budd our keeper seemed to be in some distress and was even overtaken by George walking off, rumour was it was pins and needles due to standing still but this looked like our goalkeeping curse coming back.
Second half Budd looks better, game kicks off but as a cross comes over, he looks to catch it but struggles under no pressure, shades of Jordan again. The posh lads sensed this was their chance, they rolled up their metaphorical sleeves and started getting crosses in, despite heroic defending the writing was on the wall, once such cross came in, the forward didn’t connect right, knocking his monocle out but it was enough to bounce past the keeper who by this time was less mobile than Dawn French on a unicycle 1-2, the home crowd started singing ” rah rah rah we’re going to smash the Oiks” and it looked possible, this was pure Sheppey drama.
Off comes the keeper, who by now was walking like Ian Dury to be replaced by our intrepid hero Luke Harvey Oswald, The new right back replaces the injured Coops who was struggling with crupe, this was crunch time, Wells still pushing on looking for the equaliser, the 60 or so scruffs from Sheppey tried their best to spur their heroes on, it was backs to the wall, similar to the public schoolboy hosts, did we have the moral fibre to hold on ?
Yes we did, Bradshaw, goes on one of his runs, gets brought down, captain Batten rolls it into Hicchams feet, Hiccham returns it to Ian who looks up and curls it past the keeper, 3-1 to the scum, the Ites fans were in raptures, we didn’t need a keeper. Five minutes later, wells attack breaks down, Batten finds Remmell who plays a superb reverse pass to the overlapping Hiccham who slides the ball into the net, another great team goal, 4-1 to the Oiks.
On comes Timmy for Remmell, Wells still pushing on, leaving more empty spaces than David Beckhams exam sheet, Timmy takes advantage, shoots, the goalkeeper can only parry to the Shrewsbury shifter who sweeps it home, sadly just prior to this we had engaged in some light hearted discussion with the Lino who took this opportunity to show us who was boss, offside.
Timmy then gets down the left, cuts in and unleashes a rocket that again hits the bar, this was too much, then with two minutes left, the Wells defence doing their best Lord Lucan impression, Bradshaw nods it down for Timmy who is now more alone than a nun on a hen night sweeps home, 5-1 to the tramps. Wells fans to their credit cheered their team on until the final chukka but it was all over, Fisher in the next round whilst our gracious hosts stayed to clap both teams off.
For the third game we’ve hit the ground running, some of the early football was the best I’d seen for a while and the speed of passing would have made our sponsors proud.
The goalkeeping situation is still a tricky one but in truth the way we played we could have had Jeremy Beadle in goal.
Luke Harvey, his goal was just brutal, had the ” minerals” to go in goal and even got away with a complete air shot after charging out the area.