NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Hinchingbrooke Cup furore involving Eynesbury Rovers

Eynesbury Rovers manager Mark Ducket.

Eynesbury Rovers manager Mark Ducket. - Credit: Archant

A furious row has erupted following the exit of Eynesbury Rovers from the Hinchingbrooke Cup.

Rovers had expected to receive a walkover to the final when opponents Yaxley were unable to raise a team for a late-March semi-final clash between the two United Counties League Premier Division sides.

However, competition bosses wanted the game to be re-staged, but that decision did not go down well with Rovers who attempted to appeal to the Hunts FA without success.

It is understood they then declined to play in the semi-final and have subsequently been removed with Yaxley advancing to a final date against Huntingdon Town on Monday, May 21. The showpiece clash will be staged at the Premier Plus Stadium – the home of St Neots Town.

A statement from Eynesbury revealed: “The club wish it to be known that they are very disappointed with the decision of the Hinchingbrooke Cup committee to allow Yaxley through to the final when they failed to fulfil the semi-final at Eynesbury, calling the match off on the day of the game.

“We believe they were in breach of the following rule . . . ‘Any club intending to ‘scratch’ must give information of its intention to do so to the competition secretary and to its opponents’ secretary at least seven days before the date agreed upon playing, failing which the committee shall have power to compel the defaulting club to pay the expenses incurred by its opponent. A Club failing to satisfy the committee with good and sufficient reasons for not competing on a date arranged shall be adjudged to have lost the match’.”

“When we tried to contact Yaxley to rearrange the fixture we sent two emails and received no reply from either. We appealed to the FA but that was turned down as they state that as a third party we are not allowed to challenge the decision. We feel this decision has diminished what was a historic and prestigious competition and feel that it is a sad day for local football.”

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Rovers manager Mark Ducket was fiercely critical of the decision on social media while it even drew consternation from Huntingdon boss Jimmy Brattan, whose side beat higher-level Deeping Rangers in the other semi-final last week.

Hinchingbrooke Cup secretary John Walker said: “Competition rules require participating teams to mutually agree match dates. Rules also require the Executive Committee to decide action on matches that are arranged but not completed.

“When Yaxley was unable to raise a team on March 27 a meeting of the Committee decided not to adhere to Eynesbury’s demand that Yaxley be removed from the competition.

“Eynesbury offered Yaxley dates for a rearrangement that were not responded to because Yaxley wanted to focus on their remaining league matches and promotion to Step Four.

“Eynesbury then declined to compete in the semi-final. The Committee had no option but to award Yaxley a bye into the final.

“Eynesbury mounted a formal appeal against the decision of the Committee but this was rejected by the Football Association.”