Storm Antony was the only winner in Saturday as Histon’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie at Ipswich Wanderers was abandoned after just 19 minutes. Histon were leading 0-1 at the time courtesy of a Ryan Towner penalty.
The light rain in the Ipswich area on the morning of the game had gradually built in intensity from midday onwards, turning into something close to monsoon conditions not long before the scheduled kick-off time. This left the unfortunate Match Referee with a dilemma, but the decision was taken to start the game at 3.00pm as the pitch was still in a playable condition at the time. But any hope that the heaviest of the rain would quickly blow over soon faded and the intensity of the rainfall only seemed to increase. With players slipping over and water starting to splash around their ankles, the decision was made to bring the game to a halt due to genuine concerns for their safety.
Reports on the morning of the match were that the pitch had coped well with the rain in the days leading up to the game, but a heavy deluge forecast by the Met Office for midday on Saturday might cause problems. The worst of the rain held off until most of the crowd were on the way to the ground, but then the skies opened, showing little mercy for the opening round of the world’s oldest cup competition
What football we did get to see was an even affair. The Wanderers could have taken an early lead when a free header from a corner cleared the crossbar, but the visitors looked dangerous going forward. Histon were handed the lead after some dubious decision making in the Ipswich defence. Firstly, a defender chose to go to ground under pressure from Connor Barnes near the touch line in the expectancy of being awarded a free kick. When the whistle didn’t sound, Barnes whipped a cross that was deflected across goal towards Marcus Cole. The home keeper decided to take on the diminutive forward in a foot race for the loose ball, but it was a contest in which the keeper always looked second favourite and ended in young Marcus being sent sprawling on the wet turf. Ryan Towner converted the resulting penalty with his trademark effiency, but five minutes later the game was over for the day.
The abandonment may have come as a blessing in disguise as Max York was unavailable for selection on the day and several Histon players in the starting line-up were making their return from injury. Pat Bexfield, Ryan Towner and Danny Gould were all carrying knocks into the game and the slippery surface underfoot may have posed a real threat to them aggrivating their existing injuries. Histon Physio, Craig Galbraith must have had his heart in his mouth throughout the 19 minutes of football that were allowed to take place.
By the time the last few straggles left the ground some 45 minutes later, the approach to the Humber Doucy Lane Ground resembled a river. We can only hope it has dried up in time for the re-scheduled start on Tuesday evening.
Histon line-up
1 Sam Roach, 2 Sam Collison, 3 Charlie Tunnell, 4 Ryan Towner, 14 Pat Bexfield, 6 Ollie Brookes, 7 Dan Brown, 8 Bubba Camara, 9 Connor Barnes, 10 Marcus Cole, 11 Danny Gould
Unused Subs; Luke Lindsay, Guy Motley, Dexter Todd, Harvey Bullinaria, Jack Beasley