THE FOG which drifted around VS Rugby's Butlin Road ground for much of last night's FA Cup second-round tie eventually dispersed; but neither side could see their way clear to the third round, where a home match against the Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur, awaits.
The frustration was worse for the home side, for whom a switched tie at White Hart Lane would provide enough money to redevelop their ground and advance their League ambitions. Had Kim Green and the substitute, Warren Bufton, not squandered late chances, this would have been the outcome instead of a replay next Wednesday. .
There was little to choose between two protagonists whose histories could hardly be less alike. Marlow, the Diadora League side, are one of only two clubs to have played in this competition every year it has taken place. VS Rugby, in contrast, were formed in 1956 by an enthusiastic bunch of schoolboys. Since then they have progressed swiftly, winning the FA Vase at Wembley in 1983 and their next ambition is a place in the GM Vauxhall Conference.
There was little evidence of ambition in their first-half performance, however. The match was only seven minutes old when Mick Martin, the Rugby keeper, alarmed home supporters and players alike by dallying so long with the ball at his feet that he had to scramble it away from the incoming Marlow No 9, Mark Watkins. It was a misjudgement deserving of choicely worded comment from the manager at half- time; the only complication here being that the 34-year-old Martin is also the club's manager.
Martin made some amends after 25 minutes, however, when his long drop-kick sent Green chasing in on goal. Green became entangled in orange as Marlow men caught up with him, but he was able to supply the supporting Mick Shearer, whose shot bounced off the diving keeper's chest and was hacked clear.
Through the fog, Rugby's right- winger, Robert Smith, provided rare gleams of light, but it was Marlow who looked livelier after the break. David Lay and then Watkins forced Martin to make saves on which he could compliment himself in the dressing- room. But a dressing-down was in order 17 minutes from time when he went out to the left-hand edge of his box in a rash attempt to clear a bouncing ball. Ansil Bushay hooked it past him onto the head of the incoming Kenny Glasgow, but then glanced the ball past the post before collapsing into the net in horror.
VS Rugby: Martin; Sweeney, McGinty, Fitzpatrick, Olner, Redgate (Bufton, 79), Smith, Bradder, Hardwick, Shearer, Green. Substitute not used: Warner.
Marlow: Lester; Ferguson, Mikurenda, Glasgow, Hubbick, Hannigan, Lay, Regan, Watkins, Bushay, Caesar (George, 61). Substitute not used: Franks.
Referee: PS Danson (Blaby).Reuse content