Having a choice between travelling to see Sholing or Didcot in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Cup, I decided to make Oxfordshire my destination. I was hoping for a closer and more incident filled match than the previous 3 games I’d seen so far this season and I definitely got that!
A modern stadium on the edges of Didcot, the Club moved to the Loop Meadow Stadium at the beginning of the 1999/2000 season. The view from the dugouts includes the Didcot Power Station and the Didcot Railway Centre with the steam trains moving up and down the line. The sponsors also have a couple of hot air balloons that get inflated and then flown off at half time. There is of course football to watch on the pitch as well. Nicknamed the Railwaymen but called by their supporters, Diddy.
Didcot Town ply their trade in the Southern League South and West Division (Sponsored by Evo-Stik) and are in the bottom 3rd of the table. Maidenhead United on the other hand are in the Conference South and sitting 7th. So, quite a gap between the 2 clubs (50ish if you’re counting). This would by Diddy’s 4th game in the FACup, having started on the 25th August at home to Abingdon.
I met up with fellow Grecian, Russ, and we stood just to one side of the away dugout. Which provided its own fascinating commentary on the game! For the first 20 minutes or so, Diddy were far the better team creating plenty of opportunities. Once Maidenhead got in to the game, they looked dangerous but had no potency in front of goal.
The inevitable happened though, and on 40 minutes a good fast move saw Diddy take the lead. Good work out on the right (and not offside) saw the ball come in to Williams who made no mistake in putting the ball in to the back of the net.
A different half was now in store as Maidenhead now had to take the game to Diddy. Despite several changes and increasing frustration from the management team beside us, Maidenhead couldn’t find the breakthrough. They had a good call for a penalty with a defender handling on the line (see pic), but the referee did not agree.
Diddy took their time over goal kicks and free kicks, much to the frustration of the Maidenhead players, which in the end saw their captain, Daniel Brown, sent off for dissent. That then signalled the end of the Maidenhead challenge, and Didcot finally were crowned giant killers. Well deserved to.
Their reward for this victory was not only £10k from the FA, but a home tie in the 4th qualifying round against Southern Premiership side Arlesey Town. A winnable game for Diddy and the possibility of reaching the 1st round proper. This is the furthest that Diddy have got in the FA Cup in their history, which explains the loud delight from the home fans that greeted the final whistle.
All in all, a good day out.