On arrival at Loop Meadow though I was reminded of how the County FA is often arcane in its bureaucracy as it became clear that neither DJ Campbell or Louis Morrison-Derbyshire would be able to play as a seven day notice period is required for new registrations. This is in contrast of course with the FA Cup where DJ was able to play at little more than 24 hours notice. I understand that league forms can be signed up to midday on the day of the game! It seems that they are still using the pigeon post at County HQ which to be fair is somewhat remotely located in Faringdon, the quirk of the now redundant 1974 County Council boundaries, meaning that this address and indeed tonight's cup tie would be played in Oxfordshire.
Loop Meadow continues to be a curious ground. There is a maze of rooms and bars, which if you follow the correct path can end up with you entering the playing area for nothing, Barking style. To add to the air of magic, at first glance the kits used for last night's match looked like Arsenal home and away. Since my last visit they have place two tiny seated stands at opposing corners behind one goal, presumably to increase the seated capacity for ground grading reasons, whilst the covered standing behind the same goal is currently fenced off with some more building work apparent.
Didcot had risen to second in the Southern League Division One South & West on Saturday, and like our opponents in the previous cup tie at the weekend, Faversham Town offered much in the way of hard work, but ultimately were unable to threaten the Magpie goal. Thus with United again being gifted an opening first half goal, once Town ran out of steam, the goals were rattled in to give the score a rather lopsided look.
All things considered this was a pleasing outcome in view of the players Drax was able to rest. Traffic delays for Jacob Erskine meant Harry Pritchard continued in the left back slot, with Melchi Emmanuel-Williamson playing alongside Mark Nisbet in the centre of defence. Ryan Upward returned to the midfield to partner Ashley Nicholls, behind a full hand of wingers in Danny Green, Lanre Azeez, Tashan Adeyinka and Reece Tison-Lascaris.
The latter two players combined to open the scoring in the fifteenth minute. A cross from the left by Tison-Lascaris looked it would be comfortably collected by Didcot goalkeeper Alex Williams but he could not hold on to the ball which was scrambled into the net by Adeyinka.
This proved to be the only difference between the sides at the interval and the Didcot manager clearly got stuck into his team at half time as they came out fizzing with energy to enjoy their best spell of the match. They were unable to unduly trouble Elvijs Putnins and the introduction of Dave Tarpey with twenty five minutes left enabled the Magpies to go up a gear, creating countless chances of which three were taken in the last ten minutes.
Firstly an Azeez pass found Green in plenty of space in the penalty area, having time to pick his spot with a delightful finish. Good work by Jonathan Hippolyte again found Green, making it two goals in two minutes, before Hippolyte finished the scoring with the goal of the evening, firing home from just outside the penalty area.
An exciting end to the evening then but what it will lead to looks to be in some doubt as the page containing the draw details has changed radically. It appears that Wycombe Wanderers have withdrawn following the decision to fold their reserve team, whilst Reading having apparently returned to the competition are now nowhere to be seen. As of course MK Dons are not a real club, this leaves Maidenhead United as the biggest club in the competition, waiting for details of the quarterfinal draw, ties to be played by mid November.