2012/13: (Carlsberg) FA Vase – First Qualifying Round: Hemsworth MW v Nostell MW
The start of a new month and the opening weekend of the 2012/13 FA Vase competition. For those not familiar with this tournament, my thanks to Wikipedia who provide the following details. “…The Football Association Challenge Vase, commonly known as the FA Vase, is a knockout cup competition in English football, organised by and named after The Football Association (the FA). It was staged for the first time in the 1974–75 season, effectively replacing the FA Amateur Cup, which was discontinued after the abolition of official amateur status by the FA. While the leading teams from the Amateur Cup switched to the existing FA Trophy, the lower-level teams entered the new FA Vase. As of 2008, the Vase is open to all clubs in levels five to seven of the National League System, equivalent to levels nine to eleven of the overall English football league system, although clubs from other leagues may apply to enter if their stadiums meet certain requirements…” In addition, the Final is played at Wembley Stadium and the current holders (2011/12) are Dunston UTS who defeated West Auckland Town 2-0.
Looking back I think I’ve only attended one FA Vase game previously down in the Southwest at Minehead AFC. Today though it was a short train journey for the tie between West Yorkshire neighbours, Hemsworth Miners Welfare (MW) and Nostell MW. Both teams play in the (Baris) Northern Counties East League, with Hemsworth in Division One and Nostell in the Premier Division. Nostell had suffered a poor start to the season, exiting the FA Cup and picking up only two points from six League games, leaving them next to bottom. Hemsworth had only played three League games (winning two), due to their involvement in the League Cup and FA Cup and perhaps fancied their chances of causing an upset.
However, it was the visitors from Nostell who settled more quickly and in the opening exchanges the front three of Marchant, Eyles and Pearson caused the Hemsworth defence plenty of problems. As Hemsworth struggled in the opening twenty minutes the soft September sun was slashed through with some good old fashioned Anglo-Saxon (tinged with more than a hint of Yorkshire), as frustration grew within the home back-four. Having weathered the early storm, Hemsworth worked their way back in, managing to at last to get some possession and provide a threat going forward through Neil Towler. With just five minutes to the break it looked like the teams would go in at 0-0, but this all changed within a couple of minutes, as the dangerous Mitchell Pearson put Nostell ahead on forty minutes. Before Hemsworth had time to recover, they conceded a second within a minute. From a long ball forward, full-back Matthew Stor misjudged the flight which allowed Nostell striker Jimmy Eyles through on goal to slot past Hemsworth keeper Dale Walstow. As the whistle blew for the end of the first-half a shell-shocked Hemsworth found themselves 2-0 down and facing an early exit from the competition.
No doubt with the words of manager Wayne Benn still ringing in their ears, Hemsworth come out with determination in the second-half. The home team had the better of the possession in the opening twenty minutes, without really creating any significant chances. Instead it was Nostell who got a third goal on sixty seven minutes from an excellent run and finish from Jimmy Eyles. That was game-over for Hemsworth, who did at least did manage a consolation goal on eighty five minutes, when substitute Robbie Crapper scored. In truth, Nostell had been more clinical than Hemsworth and deserved their 3-1 win and a home tie in the next round against AFC Blackpool. For the home team, this was another exit from a cup competition, following on from their FA Cup and League Cup defeats. To use a cliché, “they can now concentrate on the League” – and it’s only the first week of September.