Chesham Utd 2 vs Lewes 2 (Lewes win 3-1 on pens): The late, late show

The best thing about the FA Trophy is you occasionally get to visit grounds outside of your normal league orbit. Well, yesterday we got to visit a beauty: Chesham Utd’s “The Meadow”, which nobody could accuse of breaking the Trade Descriptions Act. (All photos here by Danny Last.)

So, the ground got the Supporters Club seal of approval, but what about the football? Well, it wasn’t the best of starts…

We barely had time to soak up the scenery before the home side were ahead. The ball was pinged out to the right, crossed back into the centre, and the unmarked Frankie Sutherland stroked Chesham into the lead after only nine minutes. Time for a visit to the Tea Bar or were we going to need something stronger?

Fortunately, it turned out that marking was bang out of fashion in leafy Buckinghamshire, as the Rooks equalised a mere ten minutes later. Mascoll’s corner was lofted to Champion at the far post, who was afforded enough space to build a housing estate before planting a header past Chesham’s keeper, Sam Beasant – son of Salad Cream dodger, Dave.

That goal was an intra-arterial injection of Lucozade Sport for the Rooks, who were suddenly all over the hosts and unlucky not to take the lead from another corner moments later, when a scuffed corner clearance landed at the toes of Joe Taylor and The Bastard spanked it against the crossbar.

Lewes dominated the rest of the first half but the second was much more even, with the salmon-clad Lewis Carey having to pull off a couple of smart saves to keep the scores level. At the other end, it was kites, not rooks, who were catching the eye.

The game seemed to be trundling towards penalties, when Lewes got a late break. A shot from (I think) sub Silva was saved low by Beasant. The ball rebounded out to The Bastard, who slipped a lovely pass into the path of left-back Mascoll who tapped it in, well into stoppage time. The dozen or so Rooks who made the journey were delirious, although not before conducting a thorough health and safety check on the terracing.

You can’t be too careful at our age.

Alas, it wasn’t to be the winner. It turns out 2-1 up in the 95th minute is the most dangerous score in football, and Chesham romped up our end, largely untroubled by defenders, and slammed one past Carey to ensure the game would be settled by spot-kicks.

Just as we prepared to trudge up the other end, we were given cheer by Chesham’s groundsman. “Don’t worry, lads,” he yelled. “We’re shit at penalties”.

If there’s an end-of-season award for Most Honest Groundsman, Chesham’s fork-wielder has one hand on the trophy, because they were absolutely cack.

Carey saved their first effort, their third penalty was poked wide, and Carey again saved their fourth. We could even afford to let The Bastard miss a penalty for the first time in three Prime Ministers, and who knew Mitchell Nelson was a spot-kick specialist?

There was more cup action on the drive home, as the live Sussex Senior Cup draw saw us given a nasty home time against Worthing. And we’re still in the hat for Monday’s Trophy draw, where everyone will be delighted if we get to visit a ground anywhere as nice as this.

It’s going to be Bishop’s Stortford, isn’t it?

Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Mascoll, Salmon, Champion, Young, Olukoga, Hyde, Renee, Murrell-Williamson, Taylor

Subs: Nelson, Pritchard, Silva, Skinner, Coleman De-Graft, Dalling

Supporters Club Man of the Match: Lew Carey. Two decent saves in the second half, two stops in the shoot-out. A solid afternoon’s work.