It was also quite pertinent to my chosen charity, Edie's Butterfly Appeal, as Edie was actually due to have neuro-surgery today (as it turned out, the operation has been delayed by a week). Ardley have a full-page Edie's Butterfly Appeal flyer in every matchday programme and will soon have a pitchside banner at Oxford Road. The plan being to get every away side to pose for a photo next to the banner and, hopefully, post it on their website. All of which will will go a little way to increasing awareness of Ependymoma (http://www.ediesbutterflyappeal.com/).
It was damp and misty Winter's evening as the teams took to the park. As I said, they had only played a league game 10 days earlier with Ardley running out 6-3 winners but, as their manager had pointed out in the pre-match notes, Highmoor played over half of the game with 10 men after Devon Reid was sent off in the 37th minute.
For the first 20 minutes of this game, with Highmoor kicking down the Oxford Road slope, there was little sign of the Ardley side that had scored 15 goals in the last 2 games. In fact Ibis were the better side by some way in what were, to be fair, fairly tame opening encounters.
Ardley did burst into life for a very short period about halfway through the half creating arguably two of the best chances but neither were converted. Matt Cruse, who had scored 6 of the recent 15, was particularly quiet seemingly marooned out wide on the right. So much so that there were constant commands from the bench for him to get into the game and, eventually, to switch wings in an effort to give him more of the ball.
Highmoor rode out the short period of Ardley pressure and hit back themselves eventually taking the lead in the 40th minute after winning a free-kick wide on the right. The ball was played across the six-yard box and when it wasn't cut out it was turned in by Harry Badderley. 0-1
HT Ardley United 0 Highmoor Ibis 1. A deserved lead for the away side who had definitely held the upper hand in a fairly scrappy encounter.
It has to be said that the half-time period passes much more quickly when you are in a warm room drinking tea and chatting with board members of both teams. A friendly bunch they all were too, both Ardley and Highmoor officials.
Still, we had a cup match to finish off and it was soon time to head back out into the Winter's evening for the second half.
The expected onslaught by the home side didn't happen although, to be fair, neither side looked a lot like scoring. That was until the 74th minute when Ardley grabbed an equaliser and began a 15 minute goal spree. It was defender Chris Jackson who grabbed the goal, rising above everyone at the far post to head home a left-wing corner. 1-1.
Four minutes later another corner, this time from the opposite side, dropped into the Highmoor box. When it was not cleared it was Jackson who was on the spot to poke the ball home for his and Ardley's second goal. 2-1.
At this juncture I should point out that both Ardley goals came from corners taken by James McCarthy who just happens to be the son of my daughter's Irish Dance teacher (a fact I only discovered when I got home).
After being hit by two quick-fire strikes, Highmoor were wobbling and were quickly losing any attacking threat in the game. They did, however, stem the flow of goals until the last minute when they conceded a penalty when Cruse was brought down in the box. Leam Howards stroked the ball home to make it 3-1.
A minute later and with the referee about to blow, a long ball downfield bounced over the Highmoor keeper's head allowing Howards to challenge and then roll the ball into an empty net. Highmoor's claims of a foul on their goalkeeper fell on deaf ears and it was 4-1 to Ardley.
There was barely time to restart before the referee drew the contest to a close. The goal machine had left it late today but 19 goals in 3 games is a tally any team would be proud of.
FT Ardley United 4 Highmoor Ibis 1.
The game wasn't a classic by any means and the weather was murky and damp. I doubt that the Floodlit Cup is that high on either team's season agenda. However, I would still rather be out there experiencing non-league football than sitting at home watching the 'joys' of another European clash between a bunch of multi-millionaire mercenaries.
Many thanks to the people of Ardley United for their hospitality and best of luck to both sides for the rest of the season.
Ardley United - @ardleyunitedfc
Highmoor Ibis - @highmooribis