Aldermaston play at the Aldermaston Recreational Society a multi-sport facility that nestles alongside Aldermaston's most famous resident The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), formerly RAF Aldermaston. There is a very large car park which is only a short walk from the clubhouse and the ground itself, the entrance of which is directly opposite the main entrance to the club house. There are few features at the ground besides the two-storey structure that houses the changing facilities and refreshments, although due to a problem with the water all teas and food were being served in the main clubhouse on this particular evening. The far end of the ground is backed by a service road into the AWE, making it unique in as much as it has a double, razor-wired, security fence directly behind the goal. One other interesting feature, certainly on this evening, was the sound of insects around the entrance to the ground. A sound more akin to much hotter climates, seemingly very out of place on an increasingly chilly March evening in Berkshire.
Spectators are pretty much restricted to one side of the ground, although there is nothing to stop someone going round to the open side of the ground, there are no facilities on that side at all. What Aldermaston do have, though, are a couple of volunteers that spend a fair bit of their evening chasing balls that have been cleared into the darkness. These two, one in particular, probably did as much running as some of the players. Another nod towards the brilliant volunteers who keep non-league football going.
On paper this looked like the pick of the Division One Supplementary Cup Quarter-Final ties. Two had already taken place, Holyport seeing off Cirencester Town Dev. 2-1 and Burnham winning 3-2 at Clanfield. Which left this game between Aldermaston and Easington as well as Thame Rangers taking on Malmesbury in Wednesday evening.
With Aldermaston sitting in second place of Division One West and Easington top of the East Division, this looked like an enticing match-up.
In the previous round Easington had edged past Almondsbury by a goal to nil whilst Aldermaston had romped to an 8-0 victory over Abingdon Town. The scene was set for a cracking cup tie.
It was clear from very early in this game that the sides were quite evenly matched. The longer the first half progressed the more obvious it also became that there wasn't going to be a goal fest. To be honest, I don't think either goalkeepr had dirty knees when they went off for the half-time break.
If anything I would say that Aldermaston had a slight edge on possession and probably looked slightly more likely to grab a goal, especially with the blinding pace of front-man Sid Gbla, who did cause some consternation in the Sports' defence.
There was no lack of spirit from either side. Tackles were flying in and the temperature on the pitch was rising a little, as opposed to off the pitch where it was definitely dropping a little cooler.
HT AFC Aldermaston 0 Easington Sports 0. Certainly not the most entertaining game of football so far. As I tweeted at the break, the first team to get a shot on target stands a chance of winning the game.
Then, just when the stalemate looked inevitable and a late night seemed to be on the cards, we got some very late drama.
Easington attacked for what looked like the very last play of the game and when one of their players was sent crashing to the ground the referee's whistle blew and he appeared to be pointing to the spot. This all happened at the far end of the ground from where I was standing, so there is no way that I could see if the offence was in or out of the box. Clearly, the home side felt that it was outside and made their protests very clear. Meanwhile, Easington's penalty taker Andy Stidder, had the ball on the spot and was ready to take the kick. This was the 93rd minute.
The referee brushed was surrounded by players from both sides. He eventually moved away from them and went to consult with the assistant nearest to the incident. He seemed to indicate that it was in the area. The referee, after more protests, then went to consult with the assistant on the far side, who couldn't have had a good view, before finally pointing to the spot again. It was now the 97th minute. To his credit, Stidder kept his nerve and slotted home the penalty. 0-1
There was barely any time left before the referee blew for the end of the game.
FT AFC Aldermaston 0 Easington Sports 1. A final few minutes of drama preceded by a tight, but not all that enthralling game. Two well matched teams, both of which looked like they could cut it at the next level up, should they attain promotion.
AFC Aldermaston: Saxty, Caitlyn, Dumbuya-Fillie, Porter, King, Browne, Whight, Coultress, Maycock, Blackwood, Gbla. Subs: Badshah, Sesay, Forde-Small, Li, Chowdhary
Easington Sports: Rimmer, Smith, Grant, J. Rose, Sabin, Snelling, Buckwell, Stidder, James, Coombes, H. Rose. Subs: Coleman, Milner, Spaull, Hill
Ground Number: 190