A RECORD crowd packed into Westwood Road on Saturday for one of the finest football matches Huntingdonshire has seen. The game had everything you might want from a fifth round FA Vase tie – drama, excitement, controversy ... and no little skill on a heavy

St Ives joint-managers Jez Hall and Warren Everdell look on.

A RECORD crowd packed into Westwood Road on Saturday for one of the finest football matches Huntingdonshire has seen.

The game had everything you might want from a fifth round FA Vase tie - drama, excitement, controversy ... and no little skill on a heavy pitch.

And while St Ives were unlucky not to emerge winners after an exhilarating 3-3 draw against Needham Market, chairman Neville Nania said he was proud of his club's achievement.

"It was a real team effort across the club and we would like to say a big thank you to all the committee members, players' families and friends who gave up their time to come down to the ground and help out," said Nania.

Typical of the community spirit surrounding the match, local plumber Dave Finkle provided his services free of charge on the morning of the game to repair a damaged toilet in the clubhouse.

An official crowd of 769, boosted by tickets handed out to local schoolchildren, was added to by late-comers and officials to increase the numbers inside Westwood Road to more than 800.

Those in attendance at Westwood Road included the deputy mayor of St Ives, a district councillor and a member of staff from the Football Association's headquarters at Soho Square.

Goals from Graeme Thackray, Dan Moyes and Barry Albone were not quite enough to see off Ridgeons League high-fliers Needham, who three times equalised. The replay will be on Saturday.

Joint-manager Jez Hall said: "It was a great day for everyone involved with the football club. We were disappointed not to finish it off with a win but we know we are capable of doing it this weekend.

"Hopefully, the people who have come down to watch us on the FA Vase run will come back and keep supporting their local side."

* The chairman of the Huntingdonshire FA, Jim Bremner, was taken ill at the game after suffering a mild heart attack.

Paramedics were called during the first half to tend to Mr Bremner, 73, who left Westwood Road by ambulance.

A Hunts FA spokesman praised the St Ives Town officials for their assistance and said Mr Bremner was recovering in Hinchingbrooke Hospital.