This evening saw the visit of Bideford AFC of the Southern League Premier Division (one Division above the home side) in an FA Trophy replay. Didcot had managed to come from 3-1 down in Devon to force a draw and were obviously looking for something of a cup shock. Having said that, Diddy are riding high in Division 1 whilst Bideford have not managed to match last season's results and remain in the bottom half of the Premier. So, there really isn't too many places separating the teams.
The kick-off was delayed 10 minutes due to traffic congestion. Oddly, I also saw that the game at Stourbridge was delayed due to the late arrival of Carlton to Amblecote and Kettering was delayed due to floodlight failure. It was one of those nights.
When we did get under way. the weather had improved slightly and I was able to take up a position on the sideline to get a good view of the action.
It became apparent very early on that there really wasn't much to choose between these two teams. The game was developing into a midfield battle. Neither side made any clear cut chances in the first 30 minutes but that didn't detract from the game. When a chance finally came it fell to Didcot but the final shot was tame and straight at the away keeper. As half-time approached I had Didcot ahead on points but overall it had been a fairly even encounter.
Initially, the second half was more of the same except it was even more difficult to separate the sides. Bideford had definitely stepped up a little but Didcot were still matching them. Then, on the hour mark, Didcot won the ball back in the Bideford half and strung together a quick-fire passing move which completely opened up the away defence for Jack Longford to put the Railwaymen in front. It was the best move of the game and deserved to be marked with a goal. To their credit, Bideford's heads did not drop and they equalised within a minute when Graham Mercieca fired home.
This was beginning to look like the end of the normal time goal-scoring. Both sides made chances but extra-time was looming when a long clearance beat the Bideford back-line and Pablo Haysham ran on to finish clinically. With less than five minutes remaining, Bideford couldn't find another equaliser.
Dicot, on the balance of play, deserved their win. At no point in the game did they look like a team from a lower division than their opponents. They now look forward to a trip to fellow Division 1 (albeit Central) side Uxbridge.
Didcot Town - @didcottownfc
Bideford AFC - @bidefordafc