Today's game was a bonus for me as I didn't really plan on going until a text message during the aformentioned gig offered me a lift. Never one to refuse such a kind gesture, it was off to Irchester for some spiffing Sunday afternoon football fayre!
For those of you unaware, Irchester is a small village on the outskirts of Wellingborough and their (basic) ground at Alfred Street is in heart of the village. They play in the United Counties League Premier Division (step 5) and today was their first FA Vase tie since 1977 (when they lost to Langford after a replay). Their opponents were Ipswich Wanderers, who play in the 1st Division of the Eastern Counties League (step 6). Both teams entered the game in good form, each having won three games on the spin in their respective leagues.
We arrived in good time which allowed us to snaffle our programmes before the very limited batch was sold out (and sell out they did, well before 2pm, much to the annoyance of some other 'hoppers) and then take a leisurely trip to the GBG recommended Locomotive pub in Wellingborough (pictured right) and sample some of the 7 real ales on draft.
The game wasn't the most exciting, but there was just enough to prevent total boredom. Lots of persperation, especially in the baking afternoon sunshine, but very little inspiration, especially in the final third. However, it was Ipswich who looked the more likely as they seemed to have pace in their side, but as touched upon they were let down with their final ball. Irchester did carve out a couple of half chances but Wanderers' goalkeeper was equal to them.
The tie was sealed in the second half by Ipswich's Danny Phillips, who bagged himself a hat-trick. His opening goal was a neat finish and his other two goals came from the penalty spot, both decisions you could argue were 'dubious' to say the least. The referee did the Irchester team no favours whatsoever as, on top of the penalty decisions, he also turned down what looked like a stonewall penalty of their own, gave the 50/50 decisions against them and sent their manager from the dugout, when he could not contain his anger no more.
An upset of sorts as Irchester crashed out. The cover of their programme declared "The road to Wembley starts here" but unfortunately for them thats where it ended too! Ipswich will now go on to play Raunds Town in the next round.