So, after a quick change I headed off to leafy West Berkshire for the Cricklade Shield Quarter-Final between Siddington and Jovial Monk.
Although Siddington were drawn as the home side they had agreed to play the game as an away game, so it was switched to Lambourn Sports' ground where Jovial Monk play their games. Lambourn, of course, is famous for being a centre for horse-racing, a fact that is not lost on anyone travelling from Oxford when you pass gallops (I believe part of trainer Nicky Henderson's land) and a signpost reading The Valley of Horseracing, as you approach the village. The Sports Club is on the South East edge of the village. There is parking available at the ground and on Bockhampton Road. There is a fairly large clubhouse building (closed at the moment) which incorporates the players and officials facilities. On the same side of the ground, towards the village end, there is a small covered seating area. The ret of the ground is open and slopes a little from the village end.
Siddington, who won the Cirencester league by a point in 2007, were placed in Group B along with Minety, Tredworth and Quedgeley Wanderers Reserves. They went down 8-1 to a strong Minety side and conceded their other two games, putting them in last place and therefore into the Shield competition. In the last 16 The Blues came out on top of a seven goal thriller at Seend United, earning them a Quarter-Final place.
Jovial Monk, who I saw put up a good display against a very useful Chesterton outfit, finished third in their group. by means of a superb 2-2 draw at Hatherop and a walkover against Swindon Centurions. They were only kept out of qualification for h Cup competition by goal difference because Hatherop lost 2-0 to Chesterton whereas Monk were beaten 5-1. In the Last 16 Monk took Nalgo Sports to penalties after a 1-1 draw, beating them 3-1 in the shootout.
Jovial Monk started the game extremely quickly, hitting their stride from the first few seconds. They created two very good chances inside the opening two minutes but both went begging. Then after Siddington had responded with a raid of their own, Monk hit them with another break which should have resulted in them taking the lead but Kris Redford's shot from the 6 yard box was well blocked by the feet of Siddington's goalkeeper Charlie Begley. The let off for the Blues was only brief however. Six minutes in and Jovial Monk took the lead. Luke Richards was set free on the right wing, he outpaced the defence before firing high into the roof of the net. 0-1
Just after the half hour, Richards probably shoudl have put his side two up but this time fired wide, albeit from a tigher angle than his goal. A minute later Redford also came close, shooting over when maybe he should havr maade the keeper work. They were getting closer, but it was still only 1-0. A precarious score line. Siddington had not shown too much, but it only took one lapse and they could easily be level. The Jovial bench an coaches were well aware of this, urging their players not to take their foot off the gas.
Ten minutes before the break yet another fantastic through ball opened up the Blues defence but once again Begley did well to block the effort. Then, as we approached half-time, it was Peachey-Score's turn to go close, clipping the bar with Begley beaten this time. It looked as Siddington were going to go into the break just a goal down, after being on the back foot for most of the half when, on 44 minutes, Monk finally managed to put a bit of daylight between the teams. It was a lovely passing move that did the damage, worked down the left before being passed across the face of goal to Peachey-Score to slot home for 0-2.
Relief at giving themselves a to goal cushion could easily have been muted on the stroke of half-time when Siddington gave a warning that they could cause Monk a problem, Griffin firing narrowly over as they created their best chance of the half.
HT Siddington 0 Jovial Monk 2. The away side, playing at home, were well in charge. Some of the through balls played were excellent, slicing through the Blues defence. With some better finishing this game could easily have been completely dead and buried. However at 2-0, an early second half goal from Siddington could make Monk regret the missed chances and they gave notice of their ability with the late effort that sailed just over the bar.
Then just as we approached the hour mark Monk hit Siddington with an almost carbon copy of the first goal. This time Richards burst clear on the left hand side, but the result was the same as the striker slid the ball past the keeper to make it 0-3
It was now just a case of how many goals the Sunday League side would clock up. On 65 minutes they made it four when Richards linked up with Peachey-Score for a sweet 1-2 to complete his hat-trick. 0-4. And what was his reward for grabbing three goals? That's right. He was asked to play centre-half for the remainder of the game.
That didn't stop the wave of yellow and black attacks though. Peachey-Score was causing havoc on the right with his pace and the flow of excellent through balls was perfect ammunition for his pace and willingness to run into the channels. Siddington's keeper was still doing his utmost to keep the score down, palming away a goal bound header from Veejay Sammi this time.
On 79 minutes, after so many cultured through balls from Monk, it was a good old fashioned lump up field that got them their fifth goal. The long ball evaded all defenders and found Liam Kearns free and bearing down on goal. He duly obliged, slipping the ball past the keeper. 0-5. This was Kearns's last contribution as Monk Manager Shaun Smith finally got himself limbered up enough to put in a cameo appearance up front.
FT Siddington 1 Jovial Monk 5. In fairness the result was not in doubt from the first minute. Although Monk found it difficult to get the second goal in the first half, they were always in control of the game. Some of their approach play was of a very high standard. If their finishing had met the same quality and the Siddington keeper hadn't made a few decent stops, it could well have been double figures.
Jovial Monk will now take on the winners of Ludgershall Sports (Step 7) v Swindon AFC (Step 9). A tough test whoever they face.
Thanks to Jovial Monk's Shaun Smith and referee Mark Niermirski for the team sheets.
Siddington: Begley, Walsh, Holness, Griffin, McLeod(c), M.Richards, Lowe, J.Richards, M.Lach, Reeves, Dodson. Subs: S.Lach, Clark, R.Lach, Miller
Jovial Monk: Seward-Nice, Redford, Peachey-Score, Richards, Sammi, Dent, Lennard, Hughes, Ali, Kearns, Edwards, Smith, A.Burroughs, L.Burroughs, Lewis
Ground Number: 264