It was a Combined Counties Premier North vs South clash at The Memorial Ground on a freezing Winter afternoon, as Farnham Town welcomed Burnham FC in the Third Round of the FA Vase.
Having already achieved their best run in the competition for 47 years, Paul Johnson’s side were on the brink of Club history as a win over Burnham would see the Club equal their best-ever FA Vase campaign and into the Last 32.
The two sides actually met in a pre-season game back in July, a game that saw The Town run out 4-1 winners, but they could not afford to underestimate their opponents who were the top scorers in the competition coming into the game, with 20 goals in four games.
Johnson had essentially a full squad to pick from going into this tie, with the only absentee being right-back Jack Dean who remains sidelined with an ankle injury picked up in the trip to Fleet Town at the end of September, however he is nearing a return to action.
There was an early chance for Farnham to take the lead as Dean played a through ball for Adam Liddle to run onto, but Burnham ‘keeper Dennison did well to prevent Liddle from taking the ball past him, making himself large and just about getting a paw on the ball to deny the striker from slotting into an empty net.
After a sloppy opening 10 minutes from The Town, they soon clicked into gear when Owen Dean dribbled past his challenger in midfield to play a piercing through ball for the onrushing Darryl Sanders. The No.10 took the ball in his stride well before his right-footed strike beat the Burnham ‘keeper to hand Farnham the lead, perhaps against the run of play.
Just five minutes later, Shamal Edwards should’ve doubled the lead. Sanders played a ball over the top for Edwards to run on to with just the ‘keeper to beat. His thumping volley cannoned off the outstretched wrist of Dennison towards the byline. Edwards looked to cut it back for a teammate but it was well cleared.
Farnham piled on the pressure with yet another chance, this time it was Liddle who chipped an effort over the keeper, however the attempt was cleared off the line. So close to Farnham to extending their lead.
After 22 minutes Farnham did finally double their lead. Sanders playing the ball between two defenders into the path of Dean who skipped around Dennison’s challenge and steered it goalwards with his left foot, and while it was on target, Liddle was there to tap it home for his ninth goal of the season, which is how the scoreline would remain going into the break.
Coming out of the interval, Farnham began to turn the screw and on 52 minutes, the game was put beyond reasonable doubt. Dean picked up the ball on the right channel and played it in-field to Sanders who played a deft first-time chip over the defence back into the path of Dean who illustrated great composure to bring the ball down under his control and steer it home into the bottom right corner.
Four minutes later and Farnham had a fourth. At the heart of everything positive on the day, it would be Sanders and Dean combining again for this one, but Dean turning provider as he played a reverse pass into the box on the right side for Sanders who lashed home a first-time finish into the far left corner, giving Dennison no chance – his 13th goal of the campaign.
Despite the fog building over the pitch making it trickier for spectators watching on, Johnson’s side continued to cut open the Burnham defence and shortly after the hour mark, Sanders was denied his hat-trick after some neat interplay between him and Joe Jackson. His low shot was blocked in the box but rebounded into the path of Edwards who volleyed home his 14th goal of the season, equalling last season’s tally.
At this point Burnham looked defeated and didn’t look like they were going to cause the Farnham defence any problems. With 76 minutes played Jackson cut inside onto his left foot and wrapped the ball into the top left corner to make it 6-0 to the hosts which is how it would end. The ‘keeper got a glove to it but the touch wasn’t enough to prevent the ball from going in.
Despite the freezing conditions, Farnham were in red-hot form as they progressed into the Fourth Round of the FA Vase – equalling their Club-best run set 47 years ago. Following Monday’s draw, The Town were handed a sixth-successive home draw in this year’s competition as they prepare to welcome Bridgwater United to The Memorial Ground in January.