HENLEY TOWN’S Sunday side will this weekend return to the scene in which a game was abandoned after one of their players was allegedly knocked unconscious.
The Lilywhites’ game with Dorchester United in the Oxfordshire Sam Waters Sunday Cup quarter-final was brought to a premature end after 62 minutes on January 6.
Sam Bell, 21, from Caversham, was alleged to have been hit by a player from the opposition and was unconscious for three or four minutes. He also suffered a cut lip.
Both teams were found guilty by the Oxfordshire FA for failure to ensure no spectators entered the field of play and disciplinary proceedings are still ongoing with the Dorchester player alleged to have assaulted his opponent.
The game will now be replayed on Sunday in Berinsfield where the original match was played. At the time of the abandonment Dorchester were leading 3-1. There will be three officials on duty for Sunday’s clash.
Henley Town manager Howard Olley said he was disappointed with the FA’s decision to replay the game because he expected Dorchester to be thrown out of the competition.
He admitted they considered pulling out of the tournament in protest but the players voted to play the game.
Olley said: “We weren’t too keen to play them again but if we don’t then we feel we’re letting them win by being bullied out of it. We’re going to go back there and try to beat them with good football.
“We wanted to play on a neutral ground but we were told we have to play on their pitch. No one wanted to go back there — they’ve got work on Monday so don’t want to be getting any nasty injuries.”
In the last match, referee Peter Forrester sent off a Dorchester player in the first half for two bookable offences and handed out several bookings during the game. In the second half, Lilywhites player Oliver Haskell was said to have suffered a cut eye after allegedly being hit by a Dorchester player, who then allegedly struck Bell.
Olley said: “Everyone is a bit apprehensive but hopefully with three officials there they will be able to spot the stuff the referee missed last time and there will be more red cards.
“In the last game they would have been down to nine men after 20 minutes with proper linesmen and they would have seen the chap who knocked Sam out.”
Bell will be in the squad for the match and Olley said the striker would be ready for the challenge.
The manager also questioned his club’s charge by the Oxfordshire FA because he said the spectators who were accused of running on to the pitch were Bell’s parents.
He said they were concerned about the state of their son after he was lying motionless on the field and ran on to check he was okay.
Club secretary Robert Maskell admitted that Oxfordshire FA would have had to throw both teams out of the cup because they were both found guilty of the same charge.
Ian Mason, chief executive of Oxfordshire FA, said there was nothing in the association’s bylaws that allowed them to do anything other than replay the game.
He added: “We will have three officials there as a precaution to potentially avoid any further issues.”
Mr Mason would not comment on the case of the Dorchester player as proceedings are ongoing.
Police confirmed a 36-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of assault and was cautioned.