A CLEAN sheet, more evidence of an improving defence, and a safe passage past Macclesfield in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday. It was a good day all round.

“No FA Cup fireworks today,” said someone ruefully as I left the ground. They need to look at the bigger picture.

The key aim at this stage of the competition is to progress. Fireworks can wait until later on. Ask any Cheltenham fan.

They saw plenty of fireworks on Saturday against non-league Maidstone and are out of the competition.

The players were not perfect on Saturday. Chances were missed and passing back to the goalkeeper was too commonplace, but these are minor niggles.

Good football was played at times and Macclesfield ended the game well beaten.

A 3-0 scoreline would have been more appropriate than the 1-0 that goes in the record books.

There was one controversial moment in the eyes of some. Star Forest Green Rovers defender Dale Bennett was booked for time wasting.

Some minutes before he had been the recipient of a stern sergeant major warning from the referee. “Get a move on NOW!” was heard in the East Stand. A few minutes later Dale, waiting to take a throw in, stood like a statue.

Referee Trevor Kettle acted instantly and appropriately. All referees should follow his example, and while they are at it deal with encroachment at free kicks.

Many of us remember Clive Thomas. The game needs another ref with his determination.

The all-round experience was again enjoyable. The Carol Embrey Suite was as effervescent as ever. Post-match players and their families were very much in evidence.

The crowd was small (1,387). The true magic of the FA Cup is lost on too many. This is our competition. The strength of the cup is the number of teams that enter. All parts of the country are involved, and every football fan has the chance to dream as I am now.

Get past Exeter City in the West Country derby second round clash and we could be off to Manchester – blue or red. None of us would mind.

This is so different to those distant and irrelevant TV games. They may please the eye, but do they touch the heart?

Those fans missing on Saturday will be the first to whinge if they cannot obtain a ticket should the club land a big fish in the subsequent rounds.

The loyal supporters should be rewarded by making the purchase of a programme at our second round fixture one of the criteria for obtaining a match ticket for any big game.

The cheerful and charming post-match interview with Isaiah Osbourne was very revealing. The midfield star indicated that he was enjoying his football for the first time in five years.

He added that the players were now united as a team and especially united in support of manager Mark Cooper. Is this anything to do with the departure of Liam Noble? I suspect it is and all credit to Isaiah for performing so well in filling the gap when Noble left.

The 3G surface at the Corinium Stadium impressed me tremendously when I watched the FA Trophy replay against Paulton Rovers. The ball ran crisp and true.

Paulton adapted well to the surface passing quickly and accurately, making our Cirencester Town team look second best.

Young Tommy Anderson, on loan from Forest Green, had a reasonable game playing wide on the right of midfield, perhaps too wide as he did not see much of the ball.

Happily, he was named man of the match subsequently against Mangotsfield on Saturday.

Visiting the Corinium Stadium I was reminded of the excellence of the tea Rita serves in the board room at half-time. My match day refreshment experiences in League Two are much improved, but Rita and her tea remain the tops.

As I head for Crawley on Saturday, Mrs Light will be taking the 11am service at the War Memorial in the Market Place.

Those there will see the vast number of names carved into the wall of the church's south porch. It is an overwhelming sight, so many young men from our town having given their lives for all the right reasons.

Each name tells a story. A son, a husband, a father savagely taken before they could enjoy the lives that we have had the chance to enjoy.

They grew up in our town with hopes, ambition and joy in their hearts. None of this was fulfilled. We owe them a considerable debt.