Road to Wembley 17/18: Extra-Preliminary Round Replays

As the FA Cup hurtles forward, there are a few ties to round off before the next round can begin. Our reporters have been out there once again soaking up the action.

CB Hounslow 2-1 Rusthall

This was a bonus F.A. Cup replay for me, away from my normal ‘Road to Wembley’ trips.

Check out the first matches on the journey!

It was also a new ground, not only for me, but also the hosts themselves.

CB Hounslow United were due to open ‘The Lair’ the following week, but following the necessity of this replay, this game would be the first at the new stadium.

After another long trip across London, I got off the bus in Staines Road to walk up to the ground.
I soon became aware that I was directly under the flight path of planes landing at Heathrow Airport.
These planes were so low it almost felt like they would clip the top of the houses nearby.

I walked up to ground, and soon realised that everybody in the locality seemed totally oblivious of these monsters falling from the sky, whereas
I must have seemed like a child, stopping every couple of hundred yards, to gawp at each passing plane.

It was £6 to get in, and another £1 for a programme, which was ample on pages, but not so much on reading matter.

It’s a tidy new ground with a small stand opposite the clubhouse, and a tiny covered terrace behind one goal.
It actually reminded me of a miniature version of Darlington’s new ground.

The only confusion was that to use the toilets, and visit the tea bar, you had to be let out and back in the ground. I guess they’ll find a way round that soon.

The CB stands for Cater Bank, who were connected to the club in early days of CB Hounslow United.
They play in the Combined Counties Premier, whereas Rusthall are newly promoted to the Southern Counties East Premier this season,
So this was step 5 v step 5.

Rusthall are from Royal Tunbridge Wells. They had to use the Tunbridge Wells FC ground for the first game, whilst their ground is being upgraded.
There was also added spice to the game for them, knowing that a win would mean a Tunbridge Wells derby in the next round against their local rivals.

Right from the start I was impressed with the quality of football.
The brand new pitch looked in such great shape that I thought it was 4G at first.
Hounslow looked to have the upper hand early on with Theo Campbell bossing the midfield, and Adam Roberts shooting into the side netting after 10 minutes.

It only took another 10 minutes for Hounslow to go ahead with a header from Gabriel Chiedozie.
Rusthall played some decent football but only really when Hounslow allowed them.

Just when I thought they couldn’t get back into the game, Rusthall equalised. Dan Mitchell chested the ball down, and fired it in off the left hand post 10 minutes before half time.

Still the planes continually flew over at the rate of one about every 90 seconds. Not that I was timing them.
I imagine the players must have had difficulty communicating over the booming noise.
I found them a novelty at first, but eventually they became a nuisance. I’d also find myself missing the action watching them queueing to land.
I also got the occasional whiff of aviation fuel.
I was impressed with the strength of the Hounslow floodlights. I just hoped they wouldn’t be mistaken for landing lights.

After an hour Hounslow took the lead again through Chris Henry. It was deserved as they were dominating, and they could, and should have extended their lead.

They didn’t live to regret it though as Rusthall failed to hit the net again and Hounslow finished as 2-1 victors in front of a bumper crowd of 143.

The dream of a local derby for Rusthall was gone.
It’ll be CB Hounslow United returning to Tunbridge Wells in the next round, this time to face the landlords.

Our thanks to Andy Phillips who is in his second consecutive Road to Wembley. Follow him here!

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