A tale of two replays

In his latest column on the borough’s amateur football scene, Scott Lanza checks out two FA Cup prelims

Waltham Forest v FC Romania

The players walk out before Waltham Forest v FC Romania in the FA Cup extra preliminary round

The FA Cup is one of those competitions that can provide a litmus test on what level of the game a supporter follows.

If you think the competition gets started in the third round in January then you probably support a Premier League or Championship team; on the other hand if you think things get underway in November when the first round springs into action, then you probably follow a League One or Two team. Leyton Orient fans will realise in October that the competition for them starts in the fourth qualifying round, while for fans of teams lower down the non-league pyramid the FA Cup starts in September.

But fans of the borough’s two Essex Senior League (ESL) sides will know that the competition actually begins on the first Saturday in August when the extra preliminary round fires the starting gun for the competition which ends in May’s showpiece Wembley final.

For Wadham Lodge FC it was their first ever appearance in the FA Cup. Their opponents Framlingham Town were also making their debut. This aroused the interest of BT Sport, who interviewed both clubs and filmed the match for their FA Cup show.

Gaffer James Falaise told the Echo that the exposure was a positive experience and the day was one that will be remembered: “It was a long journey, but the boys enjoyed it on the minibus. Because of the distance we had few supporters at the game, but we played well and could have edged the game.”

The original tie ended in a goalless draw but Wadham Lodge sadly came unstuck in the replay, losing 3-0. The second tie couldn’t be played at Walthamstow’s Matchday Stadium and had to be switched to Aveley’s new Parkside facility, and James said: “It was odd surroundings for the team, after the draw in the first game we would have liked to have played the replay at our own ground in front of our supporters. In the end it feels like we had to play two away games.”

The Wadham Lodge manager’s anguish was echoed by his counterpart in the Waltham Forest dugout. Qayum Shakoor feels that his team deserved to win their first game with FC Romania on chances overall and was happy they made a bright start against one of the strongest teams in the ESL.

However, Qayum has recently seen two of his forwards snapped up by Bostik Premier outfit Dulwich Hamlet. Losing two big guns may have had some bearing on Waltham Forest’s FA Cup campaign. Having battled to a 2-2 draw at FC Romania they then lost the replay 2-1.
Qayum was disappointed with the FC Romania result but said: “We have a new squad, we have lost a few players, but we were able to match a well-established ESL team and that is a testament to them as players and as coaches.”