Kingy's, or The King George Playing Field to give it's full name, was Droitwich Spa FC's traditional home following their foundation in 1985 until 2017. That's when they left for Stourport Swifts Walshes Meadow whilst their home ground was being redeveloped. They moved back to the town at the start of this season and have already had some very large crowds pack into the ground, notably the 972 who witnessed the 3-0 victory over local rivals Worcester City in a previous Senior Cup round.
The ground is situated to the rear of Droitwich Spa Leisure Centre, to the West of the town centre. Beware, parking is not easy around the ground. The leisure centre car park is reserved for leisure centre users (rightly so) and, with the large crowds currently watching the team, i is difficult to find a space close by. I eventually managed to find a spot a short walk away, about 5-10 minutes total walk time to the ground.
It's an interesting setup at Kingy's. Access to the ground is via a single gate in the far corner of the ground. When you pay to enter you also receive a stamp on your hand. the reason for this is that the majority of facilities, bar, burger van, toilets, are all outside of the stadium boundary. The ground has covered seating for 100 on the far side with hard-standing around the rest of the pitch. It was good to finally get this game on but the recent weather conditions had obviously played havoc with the surface, emphasised by the number of bobbles seen throughout the game. It was a difficult surface for the players but, it's the same for both sides.
Both of the sides are having good seasons in their respective Step 6 leagues. At the start of play Droitwich sat sixth in Division 1 of the Midland League, just outside the playoff places. Pershore, however, could better that. They came into the match sitting proudly atop the Hellenic League Division 1, twelve points clear of their nearest rivals, although having played three more games than second placed Milton United.
League form aside, this evening's game was a Worcestershire Senior Cup Quarter-Final featuring a Droitwich side making their Senior Cup debut and a Plums who were the current holders, having defeated Worcester City last season, to win the trophy for the fist time in their history. In this season's competition, Droitwich also defeated Worcester City 3-0 (as mentioned above), following that up with a crushing 7-1 defeat of Bewdley Town at Ribbesford Meadows. Pershore hammered Littleton 6-0 in Round 1 before gaining a superb 4-3 win at Malvern in the second round. With Evesham and Redditch already through to face each other in the semi-final, the winner of this game would go head to head with either Stourport Swifts or Kidderminster Harriers.
Despite the playing surface, the game got off to a promising start. Both sides loked lively and with a very good crowd inside the ground (463), it really lokoed like we could be in for a great cup match. Six minutes in, home keeper Dominic Rogerson had to be alert as Petar Tonchev was played in. The home keeper coming out on top of their one to one battle. Two minutes later teh visitor's had their keeper Eddie Cox to thank as Connor Collins muscled his way onto a long ball but could not beat the stoppReduceder.
Unfortunately, after this initial burst of action, the game began to get scrappy with neither side really troubling the opposition golakeeper to any extent. Luke Molloy went on a good run from midfield on 18 minutes, beat a couple of defenders, but then lifted his shot well over Cox's bar. Just before the half hour mark, Sam Clark had a big chance for the Plums, possibly the best opportunity of the half, but also fired over.
The half was just about to come to a close when a nasty looking lunge from Cory Rudd left a Pershore player in a heap. Following a fracas involving a number of players, the referee called Rudd over an issued a straight red. The ensuing free kick came to nothing and almost immediately the referee drew the half a close.
HT Droitwich Spa 0 Pershore Town 0. Pershore knocked the ball around well and hprobably just about edged it, in what was a fairly dreary half. However, Droitwich's direct style has caused them problems at the back and they looked vulnerable at times.
However, as with the first half, the early excitement soon gave way to a more pedestrian encounter. Droitwich settled back into a more defensive line-up, not that surprising given they were a man light. They were happy to run down the clock as much as possible, employing every tactic in the book. Their physio was a busy man and Rogerson, in goal, was warned by the referee for taking an age over every goal kick. Toi be fair, you couldn't blame them for their tactics, especially as it became increasingly apparent that Pershore were running out of ideas to break them down. I've not seen the Plums play this season, but I am sure they have not got to the top of their league with final balls the like of the ones they produced all night. Crosses and balls into the box were consistently poor throughout and you could see their frustration growing.
Firstly, on 89 minutes, Droitwich were awarded a free-kick some 40 yards from goal, way out on the right touchline. Right-back Jack Brighton hoisted a long ball into the Plum's penalty area. Eddie Cox came out to claim it but let the ball slip through his grasp. The momentum took the ball over the line. A scrappy goal for a scrappy game. 1-0.
Oh well I thought, at least I could get back in a warm car soon. No! Two minutes into added time, Pershore launched an assault on the home goal, the ball bounced inside the six yard box where a Pershore player seemed to stoop to head goalward, only to be clattered by a defender's boot. Penalty to Pershore! Droitwich players were incensed, claiming that the forward's head was very low and that the defender had every right to try to clear it. You could see their point to be honest. However, Petar Tonchev didn't care, sending Rogerson the wrong way to even the scores. 1-1. There was hardly enough time to restart the game before the referee blew for full-time and, thankfully, take us straight to a penalty shootout.
FT Droitwich Spa 1 Pershore Town 1. The second half started with a burst of action and then ended with a burst of action. In between was largely forgettable. Not knocking the teams. Sometimes games go this way. They were quite closely matched, the sending off changed Droitwich's game plan, the pitch negated any chance to play passing football.
This is how the penalty shoot out played out:
Droitwich - Connor Collins 1-0
Pershore - Sean Cooke 1-1
Droitwich - Perry Moss 2-1
Pershore - Petar Tonchev 2-2
Droitwich - Jack Brighton 3-2
Pershore - Scott Hammond 3-3
Droitwich - Jack Davies 4-3
Pershore - Kirk Layton 4-4
Droitwich - Haydn Morris skies it. Still 4-4
Pershore - James Baldwin to win it. Inexplicably rolls it down the middle into the Rogerson's arms
Droitwich - James Lemon 5-4
Pershore - Jake Donnelly has to score. He does. 5-5
Droitwich - Charlie Tilley 6-5
Pershore - Pressure on Sam Clark. No problem. 6-6
Droitwich - Alex Dugmore 7-6
Pershore - Jordan Jones. Under pressure. Scores 7-7
Droitwich - Matthew Hunt 8-7
Pershore - Jordan Adams. Puts it over the bar. 8-7
Droitwich go through 8-7 on penalties
Droitwich Spa: Rogerson, Brighton, Morris, Rudd, Hunt, Dugmore, Moss, Davies, Collins, Lemon(c), Molloy. Subs: Baker, Thompson, Tilley, Charles, Deeprose
Pershore Town: Cox, Stoddart, Cooke, Jones, Layton(c), Adams, Willis, Burns, Clark, Clark, Tonchev. Subs: Nutt, Donnelly, Hammond, Baldwin, Beach
If you want to catch eithe rof these teams in action this coming weekend (4th February). Droitwich are back at Kingy's for a league encounter with 3rd placed Hinckley AFC, one of the teams that The Saltmen have in their sights for the playoff places. Pershore have a Challenge Cup game at Clanfield 85.
Ground Number: 346