Roman Glass St George bill themselves as the oldest football club in Bristol. Founded in 1872, they hail from the Bristol suburb of St George, although having moved from their Whiteway Road ground in 2011, they now play their games 10 miles North-West of St George, in Almondsbury. The move now provided the club with a ground that could pass ground-grading for Step 5 football, a level that The Glass gained in 2018. They struggled a little in their first season in the Premier League but last season were having a much better time of it before the abandonment. This season sees only the club's third venture into the FA Cup. Last season they won in the FA Cup for the first time, beating Winslow United 3-2 away from home before going down 2-1 to Didcot Town at Loop Meadow. For a short time in 2005-06 the club was managed by former Liverpool defender Nick Tanner.
Oaklands Park is situated just a short distance from the Almondsury Interchange, where the M5 crosses the M4. The ground is also the headquarters of the Gloucestershire FA. Supporters are admitted through a single turnstile behind the goal of the motorway end of the ground. Track and trace information capturing was in place, but did not create any queuing issues as far as I could see. It was good to see that the club's advice to arrive early had been taken in by supporters. When I got to the ground, some 30 minutes before kick-off there were already a fair few people inside. The ground offers a covered seating area, flanked by two covered standing areas, all on the rugby club side, to your left as you enter from the turnstile. The snack bar is situated in the far corner, the Almonsbury end, set back and raised above pitch level. The pitch itself is 3G.
Surprisingly, considering the match was being played on a smooth, artificial pitch, the opening encounters were littered with long, hopeful balls from both sides. Maybe they were just feeling their way back into the game? Whatever the case, it took around 10 minutes for the game to settle down and for the teams to begin trying to pass the ball around and the ground.
Neither keeper was severely tested in the opening half our though, with the majority of efforts at either end not finding the target.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, however, the game seemed to spring into life. First of all another long ball from the Glass goalkeeper was controlled out on their right flank. The ball was whipped across the six-yard box, narrowly evading an attacker. Two minutes later Ben Bament found the ball at his feet just a few yards out but couldn't make the contact he needed to force the ball over the line. Almost immediately, Flackwell Heath broke back down the field and had a couple of attempts themselves, although neither unduly troubled Ross Grimshaw. However the next move, a raid down the left by The Glass, found the ball being switched across to Aysa Corrick who fired hard and low past the past Watkins to make it 1-0.
Heath went looking for an equaliser but to no immediate avail. In fact, it looked as if the home side were going to go into the break a goal to the good before, in the final minute before half-time, Ross Grimshaw was forced to make a good save from Adam Thomas's shot. The keeper got down well to parry the effort but it fell kindly to Ashley Howell who stroked the ball home to make it 1-1. The referees whistle for half-time went almost immediately after the restart.
HT Roman Glass St George 1 Flackwell Heath 1. For the most part it was a very even half. Heathens equaliser on the stroke of half-time must have changed the team talks for both teams.
Just before the hour mark Flackwell Heath won a free-kick out wide. The ball was played into the penalty area where Mo Ceesay was very close to getting his head on the ball. It was a warning for the home side which, as it happened, they did not heed.
With fifteen minutes left to play Heathens won another free-kick, this time in a much more central position. The ball was drifted into the penalty area again where this time Ceesay beat everyone to the ball, glancing a header past Grimshaw into the net. 1-2.
Glass made efforts to push for an equaliser but, apart from a big handball shout declined by the referee, they could not muster any serious efforts. In fact it was Heathens, defending from the front, who continued to look the more likely to extend the scoring.
FT Roman Glass St George 1 Flackwell Heath 2. In the end the away side did enough to warrant their victory. They will at home to Step 4 Cirencester Town in the Preliminary Round a week on Saturday. For The Glass,their scheduled fixture against Bitton on Saturday has been postponed because their visitors will be in FA Vase Semi-Final action.
Roman Glass St George: Grimshaw, Dunn, Cann, Fitzpatrick(c), Harding, Woodhouse, Corrick, Trott, Bament, T.Simpson, Radford. Subs: S.Wentland, L.Wentland, Cox, C.Simpson, Lloyd
Flackwell Heath: Watkins, Ushiro-Lumb, Gray, Burrell, Eaton, Ceesay, Hathaway, Taylor, Thomas, Howell, Baines(c). Subs: Touray, Weekes, Phillips, Glynn, O'Sullivan
Ground Number: 239