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County FA bows to Cup final pressure and calls off Monday's tie

Saturday's final league game has importance ripped away by play-off ban

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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County FA bows to Cup final pressure and calls off Monday's tie

THE Berks and Bucks FA have had second thoughts and have called off Monday’s scheduled Senior Cup final between Maidenhead United and Hungerford Town.

The FA had controversially ruled that tie should not be played at a neutral venue, but instead at Maidenhead’s York Road ground on the basis that Maidenhead were ‘the higher placed club’.

Bizarrely, the game had been pencilled in for Bracknell Town last Tuesday night, but there was no confirmation and that date was quietly dropped before Hungerford were only told on Tuesday night that they would be expected to go to Maidenhead on Monday.

But Hungerford protested that decision, which would have seen Maidenhead pocket gate and ancillary money, while likely enjoying their own promotion party in the event of a likely Vanarama National League South victory at bottom of the table Margate on Saturday.

“We would just be there to make up the numbers at their party,” said Hungerford manager Bobby Wilkinson. “It would be nothing to do with us, even if we won the cup.”

Wilkinson had already urged supporters not to attend the tie and had asked the club to consider withdrawing from the match and pay the maximum £750 fine if necessary.

But county FA officials held an emergency meeting and called off the game, which will now be played prior to the start of next season.

Hungerford will now complete their season at home to play-off certainties Chelmsford City in what is now a ‘dead’ match following the FA’s rejection of Hungerford’s appeal against being barred from the play-offs for not having an additional 140 seats installed before the March 31 ground grading deadline, a decision that also affects Darlington, Poole Town and Wealdstone.

The last pair also have nothing left to play for but pride on Saturday, making a farce of what was shaping up to be a thrilling final day of the normal league season in which league minnows and surprise packages Hungerford and Poole would have been vying for the final play-off spot, which is now set to go Hampton and Richmond Borough, who are busy counting seats and hoping they meet other criteria over stewarding and security.

Meanwhile, Hungerford have major injury doubts concerning Jon Boardman, Ian Herring, Luke Williams and Alan O’Brien for the Chelmsford match.

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