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Christchurch's FA Vase Fourth Round match against US Portsmouth called off

Celebrations after Christchurch beat Falmouth on penalties in the FA Vase Third Round (photo: @justinparrypho1)
Celebrations after Christchurch beat Falmouth on penalties in the FA Vase Third Round (photo: @justinparrypho1)

CHRISTCHURCH FC’s FA Vase match, due to be played on Saturday, has been called off after the FA confirmed the postponement of all upcoming ties.

Christchurch were due to take on Sydenhams Wessex Division One side US Portsmouth at The Victory Stadium on 9th January in an attempt to reach the last 16 of the competition.

However, all of the FA Vase Fourth Round ties were due to be played in areas currently under Tier 4 Covid restrictions, which prohibit “non-elite” football from taking place.

In a statement released by The FA, it stated its commitment to rescheduling the fixtures as soon as it is safe.

The FA statement read: “With over 75% of the population under Tier 4 restrictions, all FA Vase Fourth Round fixtures scheduled for Saturday 9th January 2021 – and the remaining outstanding third round matches – will be unable to take place, in line with the latest government guidance.

“These fixtures shall therefore be postponed with a new date to be confirmed.

“We will continue working closely with the relevant parties to ensure these fixtures can be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Christchurch co-manager, Wayne Smith, said: “As a club, we are directed by the league who report to the FA. We can only follow the guidelines outlined for everyone regarding the league and FA Vase and hope everyone stays safe.

“My personal thoughts are that we shouldn’t have come back when we did, as a country we are worse off now than when we null and voided the season last year. A stop-start-stop-start season is not good for anyone as it’s hard to prepare for anything.

“Everyone needs to stay safe obviously, and I would rather stop and only restart when it’s clear we can carry on and complete a season fully.”

In response to the news, US Portsmouth FC Tweeted: “As you’ve no doubt seen and read, our game is postponed. This is a key word to us. Postponed or delayed is far more positive than cancelled. Fingers crossed the leagues we all play show similar pragmatism.”

All local sides, including Christchurch, will be out of league action for the foreseeable future after the Sydenhams Wessex Football League Committee confirmed the indefinite suspension of fixtures as large swathes of the country moved into Tier 4.

Sydenhams Wessex fixtures secretary Roger Allen said: “A significant part of the league’s geographical area has been included in the Tier 4 region. This would have stopped a number of clubs located within Tier 4 and clubs on the fringe of Tier 4 areas from fulfilling fixtures.

“The matter will be kept under constant review, but a formal review is scheduled for Monday 18th January.”

Both sides were coming into the FA Vase tie carrying impressive winning streaks while scoring plenty of goals, Christchurch’s run stretches back six games with 13 goals scored, while US Portsmouth had won eight on he bounce, scoring 24.

Each was also named Club of the Month for December in its respective division.

Christchurch progressed to the fourth round of the FA Vase after edging past Falmouth Town in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. Ash Pope gave Christchurch the lead before James Ward levelled for Falmouth Town in the final minutes of normal time.

The visitors took an early lead in the shoot-out, but Christchurch held their nerve to score the next six as keeper Lewis Gunstone-Gray saved twice.

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