Olveston United Ladies say they are bitterly disappointed following a series of events that has caused them to withdraw from the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, despite leading their tie going into injury time.
Olveston were away at Almondsbury and were 3-2 up with two minutes left of injury time on the clock when a serious injury to an Almondsbury player saw an extended delay as an Ambulance was called.
Following the delay and after initially being instructed by the referee to have a warm up before playing out the last two minutes, Almondsbury’s players told the officials that they were not in the right state to play on and the game was abandoned.
A final decision on the outcome of the tie would be decided by the FA and as Olveston Ladies explained in a statement on the club’s website on Wednesday evening, the game was ordered to be replayed in it’s entirety this weekend.
The statement reads as follows:
“The verdict was received at 16:52 on Tuesday 14th September. The decision concluded that neither Club was at fault for causing the match to be abandoned and as the match had not been completed in its entirety the result at the time at which the match was abandoned in the 92nd minute should not stand as the result of the match. The match should be replayed in its entirety at Almondsbury Ladies.
Having read and digested the content of the decision letter we as a club were bitterly disappointed by the FA’s decision and subsequently held discussions via email and phone with Chris Darnell, FA Competition Manager but acknowledged the decision to be final and binding. In light of the decision to force the tie to be replayed in its entirely and following discussions between our Chairman, Committee members and Ladies Management team we have declared to the FA our intentions to withdraw from the competition with immediate effect under rule 11v.“
The statement goes on to explain that due to Longlevens’ men side having their FA Cup tie at Gloucester City moved to Sunday 19th September, the subsequent Ladies game against Olveston was postponed out of goodwill to allow the Longlevens Ladies side to go and support their male counterparts in the biggest game in the club’s history.
So with that postponement being confirmed a large number of the Olveston squad are now unavailable to play any fixture, let alone any fixture the club have been given 4 days to arrange.
As a result Olveston have had to withdraw from the competition as the FA will not allow the fixture to be played at another time.
The statement then reads:
“As a club we feel the FA’s decision to force the match to be replayed in its entirety does set a dangerous precedent for teams moving forwards and leaves a really bad taste in our mouths in what promised to be a memorable FA Cup debut with a win against higher league opponents. Our ladies, for 92 minutes had earned the right to be the next round, instead this has been denied to them.
As a club we felt that the result should stand or at a minimum reconvene to complete the final two minutes of the game. The FA did not share this view.
Had this situation been reversed and it was our player who was affected with Almondsbury winning 3-2 in the 92nd minute, we as a club unanimously agreed that we would have requested the referee blow the whistle and declare the result. After all, as Almondsbury pointed out in their statement after the game, there is more to life than football. We are disappointed that this view has not been taken by Almondsbury.“
The situation will divide a number of fans as on the one hand Olveston are effectively having withdrawn from the competition for not being able to play 90 minutes on a certain day whilst Almondsbury were unwilling to play 2 minutes last Sunday.
However, saying that Almondsbury had a player who suffered an incident that required the attendance of an Ambulance so first and foremost their well being is the number one priority here. Can you expect any club to turn down the chance to replay a fixture that they were losing before an abandonment? Of course not.
From an outsider’s point of view looking in on the situation it baffles me that the game cannot be played at any other time than Sunday, when the Second Qualifying Round doesn’t take place until the first weekend of October, a whole 17 days away – which the FA seems to clearly think isn’t long enough notice to arrange a game, yet believe four days for a replay is enough notice.
It was always going to be hard to please both clubs, but the attempt of a compromise of a change of date surely is the best case scenario for all involved here?