However, a few tweets from the club pointed to the game being definitely on. So, I headed off on the 90 minute drive through the Cotswolds hoping that a sudden downpour wouldn't put paid to the game whilst I was in transit (it wouldn't be the first time that it has happened). So, when I approached the ground after driving through some fairly heavy rain on the way, I was very relieved to see floodlights glaring and cars already in the car park.
Newent's Wildsmith Meadow Ground is situated about half a mile East of the market town. One thing to note for first time visitors is that the SatNav will take you to Hooks Lane, which runs directly behind one of the goals. However, the car park and ground entrance is actually off the main B4215 road that takes you into Newent. The ground is set back from and slightly raised from the road. There is a good sized car park for spectators in front of the ground, with separate parking for players and officials behind the club house. The gated entrance takes you into the ground behind the club house end goal and this is where all of the facilities are located. The club house opens out onto a patio area directly behind the goal, protected by a net (as is the goal at the opposite, Hooks Lane, end). Dug outs are on the left hand side, as you look from the club house. There is a single spectator stand situated on the opposite side which is where the majority of spectators seem to gather. However, on this evening, with a very cold wind blowing, I found that the dugout side of the pitch, bounded by a tall fence, actually provided much more protection from the weather.
As always when I research a game, I look into the the towns as well as the football teams, especially any famous local residents. Newent certainly does not disappoint in this area, Vicky Holland (World Triathlon champion 2018), Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin (the town has a gold post box for their 2012 Olympic efforts) are amongst the people listed. However, the one that caught my eye, as someone who has always had a big interest in music, was Joe Meek, 'The Telstar man', who was born in the town and has a blue plaque in Market Square. I hadn't realised just how many top hits of the early 60s were down to Meek and, I certainly didn't know about the tragic and premature end to his life (he killed his landlady and then shot himself at the age of 37). However, this is a football blog not a music history blog, so back to the footy.
Despite this being a cup game and the clubs now playing in different league structures since The Rocks moved to the Western League in the Summer, there is a bit of league history between the clubs. In fact, they met once last season a 4-2 win for Newent at Wildsmith Meadow. recent previous meetings also show that The Daffs very much have the upper hand against Tytherington. They met twice in the 2019-20 season, Newent won 2-0 at Tytherington but went down 3-2 at home. The season before that, the sides met four times with Newent winning on all four occasion with an aggregate score of 17-2. All of which pointed to a difficult night for the visitors.
This season in the league, both sides are below halfway in their respective division. Newent sit 13th in Division 1 of the Hellenic League with 16 points from their 19 games. Tytherington, in Division 1 of the Western League, are 15th with 25 points from 22 games. They had already played a game in the Gloucestershire FA Challenge Trophy, beating Bristol Telephones on penalties to earn tonight's trip to Newent.
Apologies for lack of Rocks player names. Will add if/when I get them.
The teams entered the field to the tune of Faithless' Insomnia. Then within a few minutes, Tytherington had deployed a towel so that their number 16 could launch a long throw into the home box. It was like being back at The Hawthorns.
The visitors were well on top from the first whistle, penning Newent back inside their own half. After just 4 minutes Rocks' number 10 got the ball out on the right and drove towards the box and the by-line. His low, driven cross seemed to be turned against the bar by one of the home defenders, coming down on the line and bouncing to safety. There were loud claims that it had crossed the line from the Rocks players but the assistant on the far side kept his flag down. As I was the other side of the ground and towards the other end it is impossible for me to say if it went in or not, although I did hear a couple of people talking in the second half who seemed convinced that it was over the line (and they were, I think, home supporters).
Just three minutes later Number 10 was at it again, showing that he had enough pace to beat his defender with ease, he once again put in a great low cross. This time Number 9 put the shot wide from 10 yards, when he really should have scored. Rocks could easily have been two up in the opening seven minutes and were very much on top.
This pattern continued with Newent seemingly unable to get out of their own half. Rocks engineered at least one more good opportunity before 20 minutes had passed, but still could not find the net. They would come to rue this fact.
Newent did start to get their act together and looked to have an out ball onto their left flank but were consistently caught offside, allowing Rocks to push them back into their own half. Newent were however starting to prevent Rocks from creating as many chances. Then, with just about 30 minutes on the clock and as so often happens in these situations, Newent caught Rocks with a sucker punch. It was a goal of some simplicity, a ball straight through the centre of the visitor's defence found Jordan Cooper running free. He rounded the advancing goalkeeper and stroked the ball into the net. 1-0.
The goal changed the game considerably. Newent were now on the front foot and only four minutes later they doubled their lead. Again it was Cooper, put in on the right-hand side of the box he finished low and hard to the near post with his weaker right foot. 2-0. What a strange game! After seeming to be incapable of even getting out of their own half for 20 minutes The Daffs found themselves two goals to the good 14 minutes later.
Rocks were rocked but not down by any means. As half-time approached they came very close to getting a goal back when Number 3 saw his header cleared of the Newent line. Good covering from the defender.
HT Newent Town 2 Tytherington Rocks 0. As a neutral the score at the break seemed very harsh on the visitors who had dominated play for half of the first 45 minutes. However, you have to take your chances when you are on top. They didn't and were made to pay the price.
As a neutral the game needed a goal for Tytherington, but their threat seemed to have waned from the first half and Newent's defence, even after centre-half Fin Brown was taken off early in the second period, was not under anywhere near as much pressure as in the first half.
Five minutes past the hour mark, Newent sealed their progress to the next round. Once again it was Jordan Cooper, grabbing his hat-trick with the goal of the game. After Rocks lost the ball in the centre of the field, it was threaded through to Jordan, running diagonally right to left across the box, his superb left foot drive flew past the keeper into the far top corner. 3-0
From this point onwards the game was effectively over, and both sides knew it. Tytherington never gave up trying to get a goal back but their opportunities were in the first half and they didn't seem to be able to match the intensity of the early pressure. Newent were content with 3-0 and rightly so. They seemed much more concerned to keep a clean sheet than to add to their score.
FT Newent Town 3 Tytherington Rocks 0. After a rocky start, the home side took control of the game, especially in the second period. The third goal after 65 minutes effectively ended the match as a contest.
This was the second time I had seen Newent play, but the first visit to their home ground. The other game was almost 2 years ago at Moreton Rangers, a game they also won (Daffs Bloom).
Newent Town: Goode(c), Guinane, Griffiths, Barry, Brown, Davies, Hawkins, Lloyd, Cooper, Weir, Bevan. Suns: Woodward, Pemberton, Coakley, Allard
Ground Number: 293