Written by Andy Jones (@TheRamblingHam)
Ringwood Town FC emphatically overcame Romsey Town 5-1 in the FA Vase second qualifying round on Saturday despite having their goalkeeper sent off within the first ten minutes.
The tie, held at Romsey’s AEC Protection Ground, was the last qualifier before the competitions first round – a milestone that the club has failed to reach in 6 years.
The club came into the game in a run of bad form having lost their previous two league matches, and after Ringwood’s goalkeeper Liam Harris was sent off for handling the ball outside of the box just six minutes in, First Team Manager Richard Morse unsurprisingly admitted: “That’s not how we wanted to start.”
With no substitute ‘keeper on the bench, Joe Petty, who had started in central midfield reluctantly took the gloves with 84 minutes left on the clock.
Morse said Petty had now “played every position” for the club and the emergency shot stopper “pulled off a couple of good saves” to keep the score at 0-0 going into the half-time break.
Ringwood started the second-half well with two quick-fire goals, firstly from Ryan Hamm who capitalised on a mistake from a Romsey centre-half, followed up moments later by a brilliant Shawn Prentice strike, who rifled the ball into the net after some great team play down the left wing.
Romsey replied with a free-kick about 22 minutes from time, the 10 men of Ringwood would have been forgiven had they started to tire, but 10 minutes later Hamm popped up for his second after some great wing play down the right from Lyndon Taylor.
In another moment of madness the game saw the scorer of Ringwood’s second goal, Prentice, forced to be substituted as the officials had noticed he was playing with a cast on his arm – one that had been officially approved prior to the game.
As the game went on Romsey forced Ringwood’s makeshift ‘keeper into making more saves in what was a truly inspired performance from Petty.
Ringwood sat back and looked to hit Romsey on the counter, and sure enough Hamm broke through the Romsey defence to find himself one on one with the ‘keeper and coolly slotted home for his hat-trick – one of only eight hat-trick scorers across the whole of the FA Vase games taking place on Saturday.
Ringwood capped off a dominant performance after Morgan Cole finished a lovely move started by some fantastic wing-play on the left from Sammy Brown, a player that Morse has often referred to as a “trickster”.
Ringwood now go into Monday’s draw, after what Morse described as the “craziest game” in his three-years in management.
The club have had an indifferent start to the season and sit 13th in the Sydenhams Wessex League Division one. A slow start to the season will undoubtedly be boosted by a cup run, with the dream of Wembley now one step closer.
To find out more about the FA Vase visit www.thefa.com, or if you would like to find out more about Ringwood visit https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/ringwoodtown/teams/210809.