Wasn’t too much thought as to which match to choose for Saturday. 35 miles away at Reigate was was of the lowest sides left in the FA Cup, South Park. The Combined Counties Premier League Side were hosts to Ryman Isthmian Premier Division side Met Police. I wasn’t the only one with this idea, a record 643 turned up for the game, which also led to some car parking difficulties in the neighbourhood. I joined the queue, handing over my tenner when at the front, and getting entry, a programme and £2 change. Bargain!
Not much in the way of facilities, one small seated stand behind one of the goals. I did have a conversation with a fellow Grecian about how they would cope if they got Exeter in the next round. His reply, easier than if they get Sheffield United. TV crew also in attendance.
Could South Park get a shock win? A shot from South Park that grazed the outside of the post within the first minute made it look like a giant killing was on the cards. But from then Met Police stamped their authority on the game, and the higher position in the leagues became obvious.
They took the lead in the 17th minute. With most of the players in the 6 year box, Howard Newton was able to head past the South Park keeper James Wastell. For although South Park weren’t getting much possession or territory, going in at 1-0 down at half time was a fair reflection.
South Park came out for the 2nd half up for getting an equaliser, but Met Police soon extended their lead to 2-0 with a good strike from Jonte Smith (one of 6 Smiths on the pitch) in the 48th minute. Despite South Park changing their game, they weren’t able to create many real chances. Some good saves from James Wastell kept them in it, but Met Police dominated the game, and the on loan striker Jonte Smith (from Crawley Town) scored his 2nd goal of the game in the 80th minute and his 10th of the competition. Game over.
The Met Police’s delight at the final whistle was quite obvious. In to the first round proper and a chance to play a league team. For South Park, I’m sure they made a few friends along the way and the publicity they have created with this run will be enable them to grow as a local club.
As an update. Met Police drew Crawley Town in the First Round of the FA Cup. The game will be played at Imber Court, East Molesey on 3rd November.