There's something about non-league clubs in Leicestershire. They all seem to have very pleasant, well-kept grounds, and Aylestone Park are no exception to this rule. The ground boasts a large car park and a gated entrance to the ground, rather than a turnstile. The entrance brings you in behind one of the goals. The main clubhouse is immediately to the right and has a marquee attached to the front which means you could sit under shelter, with a beer and hot food, whilst being almost within touching distance of the back of one of the nets. To the right-hand side of the ground from the clubhouse are the dugouts. This side of the pitch is completely open, backed by a training pitch. On the opposite side is the main covered seating stand as well as, towards the far end, a new snack bar built in a wooden structure which also has indoor seating.
Behind the far goal is the full-size 3G pitch. The ground is well-tended and very neat. The pitch looked to be in prefect much perfect condition. All in all, another great Leicstershire ground.
There is no FA Vase hsitory between these clubs despite the geographical proximity (less than 20 miles apart).
Aylestone PArk's best run in the competition came last season when they reached Round 1. Fater seeing off Clipstone and Kimberley Mners Welfare, bith by 2-1 scorelines, they suffered a giant-killing, 3-0 at home to Step 7 outfit Blidworth Welfare. So, could they stage their own 'cupset' this season?
In the league this season both sides have started their campaigns with a 100% record, so we are looking at two teams in very good form. Loughborough, however, crashed out of the FA Cup with a 4-1 defeat to Maltby Main.
The match started at a furious pace with neither side holding back in any challenges and there were clearly one or two 'let him know you're here' tackles flying in.
Barely 6 minutes in we had the first incident of the game when Park's Harry Sheffield went down in the box to very loud penalty claims from the home side.The referee waved play on immediately but it was certainly one that could easily have been given.
As if to rub salt in the wounds, five minutes later Loughborough took the lead. A pacy break through the middle before they switched the ball out to the left. When it was delivered back across the edge of the box Connor Smith drilled an absolute beauty past Dawe and into the far corner. 0-1.
Undaunted, the home side continued to play their football and were certainly not out of the game. If anything they were the better side for the next 20 minutes or so, causing the Uni defence plenty of problems.
The game, whilst not as feisty as the opening 5 minutes, was still very competitive, fast-moving and still had a few tasty tackles flying in. Tackles that were dealt with in an inconsistent manner by the referee. His decisions were rattling Aylestone Park more than Loughborough, possibly because they were a goal down and desperate to get back into the game. Whatever the reason, the more they complained about decisions, the more the decisions seemed to go against them, as often happens.
To make matters worse for Park, 37 minutes into the game The Scholars grabbed a second goal and it was Connor Smith again hitting one from the edge of the box, but this time his effort was taken past Dawes by a hefty deflection. 0-2.
A minute before half-time the frustrations of both teams boiled over after a challenge right in front of the dugouts. There was plenty of pushing and shoving, but not much else for the referee to sort out. The scuffle was clearly borne of frustration at some of the decisions, but no excuse for the actions.
HT Aylestone Park 0 Loughborough University 2. Loughborough looked to be an accomplished side, but Aylestone battled hard and, in the period between the two goals, had the better chances and looked more dangerous.
Just past the hour mark the home side were given an absolute mountain to climb when combative midfielder Tom Hill received a second yellow card after a hefty clash in midfield. Once again though, it was a controversial decision. There was, undoubtedly a foul on the Loughborough player and it warranted a yellow card, but the home players and bench vociferously claimed that it was in fact Callum Armsden (who had not been booked) who committed the offence. The referee was having none of it though and duly sent Smith back to the dressing rooms. I'll be honest, from my position I could see the coming together but did not have a clear view of who committed the foul. Judging by the incredulous expressions of the players though, I would say that the wrong player received the card. At this point I thought that the game may descend into a series of fouls and arguing with the referee. I could see another red card coming, either for the home side or even for Loughborough in an attempt to even it up. However, credit to the teams - especially Aylestone Park - who settled back into the game and continued to offer up some good football.
The home side's fate was finally sealed in the 82 minute when Will Dawes was upended in the box. He took the penalty himself, sending Dawe the wrong way to make it 0-3.
There was still time for a battling Park side to see a Davoile effort headed off the line but, in truth, the game was probably up for them after the sending off.
FT Aylestone Park 0 Loughborough University 3. The game was certainly not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Aylestone Park gave a good account of themselves, caused a very useful Step 5 side plenty of problems, and even came close to getting a consolation goal when down to 10 men.
Two very good footballing side on show this evening. Both should do very well in their respective leagues and both play very attractive styles of football.
Aylestone Park: Dawe, Edwards, Phillips, Kirby(c), Wormleighton, Grassby, Sheffield, Hill, Armsden, Davoile, Holdom.Subs: Webster, Bjelic, Hollyoak
Loughborough University. Hilton, Field, Davis, Townrow, Turner, Hourican-Harvey, Smith, Wilson, Akpobire, Dawes, Iaciofano. Subs: Ferrinho, Stallan, Silva, Connor
Ground Number: 207