During the 2019/20 season, I was doing a road to Wembley in the Women’s FA Cup. I had been to a match in each round, well apart from the extra preliminary round when I was in a beach hut at Lewes, until the virus came along and football stopped. By this stage we were up to the quarter finals and these and the semi finals are still meant to take place at the end of the month but probably will be behind closed doors. The final is at the end of October at Wembley and some spectators might be allowed in by then so I might get to see the cup being lifted.
The 2020/21 seasons Women’s FA Cup started on Sunday so I thought I would start another ‘road to Wembley’, this time from the very start and the extra preliminary round. Hopefully, this time I can get to a match in every round and finish with the final at Wembley next year. More than 170 teams started in the round so I had a wide range of matches to choose from. I choice to go and watch Banbury United v Swindon Supermarine. Now why did I choice this match? Well it was being played at Banbury United’s Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium which was one of my favourite grounds that I went to last season when I watched their men’s team play there. Also, Chloe, who I know through Twitter, plays for Swindon Supermarine and it was a chance to see her play. Going to Banbury would also be the furthest I would have travelled in over 6 months, so I was really looking forward to it.
Trains were every half an hour from London Marylebone station to Banbury but I was a bit worried about how busy the trains would be as there were no trains running from Euston to Birmingham so this was the only way to get to Birmingham from London. Thankfully, the train wasn’t that busy and it took just over an hour to get to Banbury. I arrived in Banbury with plenty of time to spear before the 2pm kick off so I went and had a walk around the town. Banbury is a market town in Oxfordshire and has the fairly standard shops in the main shopping area. There are a few older looking pubs and a canal that had some barges on running under a bridge near the station. The ground is down a lane, about a 5 minute walk from the station.
At the ground, there was a table just inside the gate where I had to leave my contact details and had my temperature taken. With that being fine, I was allowed in! As I have already said, this ground was one of my faves from last season. There is concrete terracing behind one end which is covered and the terracing extends around part of the far side where it is uncovered. There is a covered seated stand on the entrance side at the end nearer to the terracing. By the entrance on this side is the clubhouse. At the other end is a covered standing area behind the goal. The rest of the ground is uncovered with flat standing. A lot of the ground is painted in the club colours of red and yellow which makes it quite colourful.
It was free entry for this match but as always, I would happily pay to watch. There wasn’t a programme or teamsheet. Banbury play in the Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League Division 1 (step 7 in the women’s league pyramid) whilst Swindon Supermarine are in the South West Regional Women’s Football League Eastern Division (step 6). It was a dry, warm and occasionally sunny afternoon for the match. Swindon Supermarine opened the scoring with the first real chance of the match when after a shot was spilled by the Banbury goalie, Yasmine Denny was first to the loose ball and put it in the net. There were half chances for both sides during the rest of the first half with Banbury having an effort headed off the line and a shot straight at the goalie whilst Swindon Supermarine put an effort wide. Swindon Supermarine had the first half chance of the second when a scramble from a corner was claimed by the Banbury goalkeeper. Banbury had some chances but all went off target before they equalised when their number 20 cut back in the area and shot into the top corner. Just as I was thinking if there would be extra time or not, Swindon Supermarine’s Jordan Higgs scored direct from a free kick taken from near the corner flag. So, it was Swindon Supermarine who won 2-1 with the late winner and progress to the preliminary round where they will play Ascot United away.
After a quick chat with Chloe, who got on the pitch for about the last 10 minutes, I made the short walk back to the station. I just missed a train back to London as I thought the train was at 10 minutes past the hour but in fact was at 5 minutes past. After 30 minutes sitting on the platform, the train back to London arrived and again wasn’t as busy as I thought it might be. An enjoyable afternoon to start this seasons ‘road to Wembley’.
The draw for the next round has already taken place-https://www.thefa.com/competitions/womens/the-womens-fa-cup/fixtures. There are a few matches that have caught my eye as to where to go but I will make a final decision nearer the time. The next round is on Sunday 20th September, a day there aren’t any WSL or Championship matches so I think it would be really nice if people who normally watch those, look to see if a local club is playing in the cup (or FA Women’s National League which starts that day) and go out and watch them. I am sure clubs would appreciate the support!
Twitter accounts- @BUFC_W @SSWGFC