Maybe it is some consolation that the county still retains it's own county FA and it's own FA cup competitions, the most senior of which (and the clue is in the name) is the Huntingdonshire Senior Cup. It was this Cup that had drawn me eastwards, a Hunts Senior Cup Quarter-Final between Huntingdon Town and Eynesbury Rovers.
The Croms, as Huntingdon are known, play their home games at Jubilee Park on the Northern outskirts of the town. Entrance to the stadium is through a single turnstile located in the left-hand corner of the ample car park. Somewhat uniquely, once you have paid, you have to go through the clubhouse to access the ground. It's almost like being funnelled through the gift shop after a museum visit and, in my experience at least, unlike any other ground.
It had been a long drive from Oxfordshire so upon entering I made my to the toilets where I, quite literally, bumped into one of the locals. He was standing just inside the doorway trying to do up the buttons on his jeans, muttering about what an absolute nuisance they were. It got me thinking. The man had a point. Whatever happened to zips? Gents toilets across the country are full of men desperately trying to button up their flies as quickly as possible and failing miserably. As we approach the winter this phenomenon will only get worse as cold fingers struggle to connect brass button with appropriate button-hole. Is it time to start a petition to have jeans manufacturers return to zips?
As I said, the game was a Hunts Senior Cup Quarter Final. Visitors Eynesbury Rovers have a good record in the cup, winning it on no fewer than 15 occasions although their last triumph was in the 2001/02 season. Huntingdon have been less successful overall but can boast a victory as recently as the 2013/14 season. The sides both play in the United Counties Premier League but, this season, there could not be much more contrast in the form of the teams. Rovers sit in second spot just three points adrift of leaders Peterborough Sports and having lost just twice in twelve. Huntingdon are rock-bottom with just a single victory which came in the first game of the season at Peterborough Northern Star. Late in September Rovers edged out Town 2-1 at Hall Road thanks to goals from Jordan Brown and Craig Smith
As expected it was Rovers who started the game the brighter of the two and immediately had their opponents on the back foot. It took until the 14th minute for Eynesbury to make the breakthrough. A lovely, defence-splitting, through-ball was weighted to perfection for Craig Smith to run onto, round the keeper and slide into the net to make it Huntingdon Town 0 Eynesbury Rovers 1.
Five minutes later, with Huntingdon trying to push up a little, Eynesbury launched a quick break down the right flank. The cross was driven low to the front post.The Huntingdon keeper made a superb reflex stop from the first effort but Smith was on hand to hammer home the rebound for his and Eynesbury's second of the night.
To be fair to the home side they didn't let their heads drop and, within two minutes of going 2-0 down, they almost got themselves back in the game when a speculative effort from outside the box beat Greygoose in the Eynesbury goal but came back off the joint of post and bar. A few minutes later Greygoose was called into action again this time going full length to turn away another drive from outside the box. This was a s close as Huntingdon were to come in the first half though as the Craig Smith show rolled on.
Huntingdon's keeper Richard Roberts pulled off two more splendid saves before, after 40 minutes, a powerful Smith header nestled in the corner of the net only for the assistant on the far side to flag for offside. Two minutes later Smith stretched into a challenge in the box and lifted the ball over defender and keeper only for it to fall agonisingly the other side of the far post. Then two minutes after that the unfortunate striker had another effort ruled out for an earlier offside infringement from one of the Rovers forwards.
Half-Time. Huntingdon Town 0 Eynesbury Rovers 2. An entertaining half that could easily have finished 6-2 to Eynesbury.
They were made to rue the missed chance just five minutes later. That man Smith raced clear of the home defence, drew the keeper and then unselfishly laid the ball off for substitute Thorpe to roll into an empty net for 0-3. A commendable piece of play from the Eyes striker who you have to remember was on a hat-trick after being denied by the two earlier offside decisions.
Huntingdon, still undeterred, strove to get what they could out of the game. A goal now would only be a consolation but even that was to allude them. They had a golden opportunity after 77 minutes when the referee awarded a rather soft looking penalty to the home side. Staffieri took the responsibility and put the ball low to the keepers left. However, it was not far enough into the corner and Greygoose got down well to make a comfortable stop, summing up Huntingdon's evening.
Finally, with just a couple of minutes left, Smith got the hat-trick that he richly deserved. Picking the ball up outside the Huntingdon area, he drove into the box and beat Roberts with a low shot to the keeper's near post.
So the game ended Huntingdon Town 0 Eynesbury Rovers 4. Rovers deservedly through to the semi-final and The Croms left to concentrate on rebuilding their league season. After another trip to battle with the brass buttons, it was time head off back home to Oxfordshire.
Good luck for the rest of the season to both sides and thanks for an entertaining evening of football.
Huntingdon Town - @htfc1995
Eynesbury Rovers - @eynesburyrovers