Monday, 19 February 2018

Terrras Run Continues - Weymouth vs. Royston Town

Touchline tussle in front of the main stand
After last week's enforced dip into league football I was looking forward to getting back to non league and with Monday off work I was able to look a bit further for a game. I opted to head to Weymouth as I had enjoyed my stay there when I saw Portland last season and had been keen to see a game at their Bob Lucas Stadium. Today they were playing Royston Town in what was a pivotal game in the race for the play offs in The Southern League Premier Division. Weymouth started the day in third place, fourteen points ahead of Royston just outside the play offs in sixth but the visitors have four games in hand. I have visited Royston's Garden Walk on two previous occasions. Once for an FA Vase tie with Tipton Town and again for a play off semi final with Barton Rovers. Weymouth were on a run of four consecutive victories which included the reverse fixture just three weeks ago.

Finally there was decent weather on a Saturday
At the start of the game, Weymouth are trying to be a bit too cute and are almost caught out when they give the ball away but Royston fail to take advantage. The visitors then manage to get in on goal before lashing the ball over the bar. It is Weymouth who get the first goal as Royston this time give the ball away and the ensuing break results in the forward hammering a low shot across the keeper and into the net. Things soon get worse for the visitors as they are reduced to ten for what I assume was decent. Weymouth now look to cement their advantage and the ball is put over the bar following a pull back from the byline. Just before half they get their second goal. A great passing move sees the forward collect the ball before cutting in and powering in the second.

One nil Weymouth
Royston are almost gifted a chance to get back into the game as Weymouth are sloppy in possession but the eventual shot is blocked. Weymouth then come close to getting the killer third as they break out following a Royston corner and the keeper is forced into a great save to keep out a great long range effort. Royston continue to try and get back into the match although none of the high balls seriously trouble the Weymouth goalie. Royston are then reduced to nine men as the player goes for a high fifty / fifty ball with his feet, kicking the Weymouth player in the head and he is sent off. Weymouth complete the victory as the forward is played in before slotting home. 

Chasing a through ball in the first half
It takes a long time to get to Weymouth from Waterloo - just under three hours - but is just about doable in a day. Once you get there you need to take the number three bus from The King's Statue to Radipole Lane which takes twenty or so minutes. Then it is a five minute walk down the hill to the ground. Weymouth is a great place to visit and I'd recommend spending the night to see it properly. There are a lot of good bars and restaurants around the harbour and Brewers Quay where there is The Red Lion which had a good choice of ales. If you want some where to catch the early kick off before the bus then The Gloucester does the job. The bar at the ground under the main stand had the usual selection of drinks. It was another great weekend in Weymouth, the welcome at the ground and in the town in general was fantastic. 

Weymouth look to finish the job in the second half

Monday, 5 February 2018

Stutes Ghost Past Defence - Histon vs. Fakenham Town

Goal for Histon - a sight that would be repeated throughout the afternoon
A late surge of rain caused chaos again with a lot of postponements on Saturday morning. I headed to Kings Cross with a choice of Huntingdon or Histon with the 3G backup of Ashford if needed. The Histon pitch passed an inspection and so I headed for Cambridge. If it weren't for Felixstowe's incredible season - they have an eighteen point lead at the to - then Histon would have an outside shot at the title. They had held Felixstowe to a draw in their last home outing. I visited today's visitors Fakenham for a pre season game with Norwich last season and they are currently in a transitional period with a new management team taking over and looking to pull away from the bottom. In the reserve fixture at the end of December, Histon came out two nil winners.   

Kick off at The Glassworld Stadium
Fakenham have an early corner that the Histon defence deals with and this is as good as it get for the visitors for the majority of the first half. A header from a long throw then forces the Fakenham keeper into a great save. Fakenham fail to learn from this and immediately afterwards, another long throw is headed past the keeper to make it one nil. Histon then play the attacker in before he is flattened by the out rushing keeper which results in Histon being awarded a penalty. The penalty is dispatched and Histon really have their tails up. From two corners, Histon add two more remarkably similar goals to go four up very quickly. The fifth comes as the Histon attacker gets to the byline and his pull back finds his onrushing team mate who hammers home the fifth. Fakenham finish with a decent cross into the box but there is unfortunately no one there to take advantage.

First half goal for Histon
The start of the second half has a subdued start after the goal glut in the first period but it doesn't take too long for Histon to get going again. From another corner, the Fakenham defender is alert to clear a headed effort off the line. A long Histon ball forward finds the forward who heads a sixth past the Fakenham goalie. From the next corner there is no keeping Histon out this time and another header makes it seven. Histon add an eighth in the closing stages to complete the comprehensive victory.

A rare Fakenham attack in the first half
As I eluded to earlier, the closest station to Histon is Cambridge and the fastest trains take forty five minutes from Kings Cross. For the second leg I took the Citi 8 bus from the city centre right into Histon itself. If you just want to head straight to the ground then Busway Route A departs from the railway station itself. If you do take the later option then you will miss out on the fantastic Red Lion which had at least five hand pulled ales on as well as a broad selection of lagers - a strong contender for pub of the season. Closer to the ground itself is The Railway Vue which had a healthy choice of drinks and also had Sky Sports for the early kick off. The clubhouse at the ground had a more varied than most selection of drinks and offers a view of the action if you want to keep warm. The food was very good and the ground has cover on all four sides so is a good option for a damp day.

Histon look for even more goals in the second half

Monday, 29 January 2018

10 Men Claim Huge Three Points - Tadley Calleva vs. Andover New Street

Miserable day in Hampshire
There was only game that really stuck out this weekend - Tadley Calleva against Andover New Street in Division One of The Wessex League - although the weather did it's best to ruin things - AFC Aldermaston just down the road was a late call off. This match pitted the top two against each other. Both sides were on forty five points and as Tadley had played two games less with a much better goal difference, New Street really had to win. When I saw New Street host Andover numerous seasons ago, they were second bottom of the league so they seem to be enjoying happier times. In their last three games, Tadley had scored an impressive sixteen goals and so New Street were going to have be on their best form to get the points.

Wind and rain at kick off
On the back of their recent goal scoring exploits, Tadley are full of confidence from the start and a looping header from a long throw goes just over the bar. The New Street keeper then spills a free kick which he is relived to also see go over. He is not so lucky shortly afterwards as when he spills a free kick for a second time, the Tadley forward is there to tap home the rebound. There is controversy surrounding the free kick as the foul was committed right on the line of the area and the Tadley players were adamant it was inside the box. New Street now begin to have a bit more of the ball. The Tadley defense has to be alert to block a shot from a corner. Then in almost a perfect repeat of the incident in the build up to the Tadley goal, a New Street player is fouled right on the line and this time after discussing with his linesman the referee awards a spot kick. The penalty is buried and the teams go in level at half time. 

One nil Tadley
The second half has more of a tentative start, the only threat to either goal is a bouncing ball into the Tadley box that the keeper deals with. The New Street player then appears to say a bit too much after a corner is awarded to Tadley and he is given a second yellow and his team are down to ten men. Tadley have a chance to regain the lead shortly afterwards with the attacker bearing down on goal, it takes a great last ditch tackle to prevent the effort on goal. The ten men then take the lead. It comes from another set piece as the free kick eludes everyone and finds the bottom corner. The game is now really open and the New Street defender does well to clear a header from a corner off the line. After a mad scramble, New Street think they've sealed the points but the goal is disallowed. New Street hang to claim a massive three points in a fantastic match.

Tadley look for goals in the second half
The nearest station to Tadley is Basingstoke which is reached by trains from Waterloo with the quicker trains taking forty five minutes. Then from just outside the station you can catch the number two bus to Tadley that takes twenty minutes. Pub wise, the closest to the ground is The Fox and Hounds which had a good selection of beers and the sports channels. The clubhouse had the usual selection of drinks and also had the sports channels. The only one section of cover so wasn't the best for a soggy day but the welcome and the match made it all worthwhile.

Dugout / windswpet side

Monday, 22 January 2018

Lincolshire Defeats Rain - Deeping Rangers vs. Rothwell Corinthians

Long awaited rain free sky in Market Deeping
I like many people were shocked by the horrific rain forecast that seemed to come out of nowhere on Friday evening and a very late change of plan saw me changing course to the very southern edge of Lincolnshire for United Counties action between Deeping Rangers and Rothwell Corinthians. On the train and bus up, Twitter was a constant stream (in more sense than one) of games being called off but I was relived to see there was inspection planned at Deeping Sports and Social Club and was able to enjoy my pregame beers in peace. I of course only saw Deeping a couple of weeks ago and they were still looking to keep the pressure on table toppers Newport Pagnell. Other than the fact you have to get a bus from Kettering to get there, I have to confess I know very little about Rothwell Corinthians. Today's match pitted third against twelfth but I was just happy to see a game at a new ground on grass. Rothwell won the reverse fixture one nil in a rare blank for today's hosts.    

Eight on one at kick off
Deeping dominate possession in the opening stages but they relived to see Rothwell missing the key man on the overlap when they break out of defence. When Deeping have a break of their own they take the lead as the man cuts inside before angling a shot past the keeper. The Deeping defence then twice blocks shots from a confident Rothwell. The visitors get the equalizer they deserve when a cross field pass is headed back across goal and the Rothwell attacker lashes the ball home.

Rothwell keep Deeping out in the first half
Deeping press on the start of the second period. They create numerous half chances but the Rothwell defence stands firm. Rothwell's resistance is broken however twice in two minutes. Firstly when a header from a corner is cleared off the line, the rebound is hammered home. Then shortly afterwards, the attacker is played in on goal and even though the first effort is well saved the rebound from some distance is slotted home. Deeping make sure of the points when a powerful header from another corner flies past the keeper.

The Rothwell keeper collects the high ball
The trip into Lincolnshire first requires you to catch a train to Peterborough from Kings Cross with the quick trains taking forty five minutes. Then from the bus station next to the shopping centre you take the 101 bus into Market Deeping that if traffic is good takes twenty minutes. Market Deeping is a pleasant part of the world which is similar to Stamford but on a smaller scale. Even through it is primarily a restaurant, The Iron Horse Ranch House had a great selection of American beers. For more traditional British fayre, The Bull has a couple of ales on. If you want to catch the early kick or have a drink by the river in warmer weathers, The Old Coach House is a good choice. The ground is then a twenty minute walk out of town. The clubhouse outside of the ground had a good choice of beers. Unlike many grounds that are on the edge of town, this ground has a great unique stand and the hot dogs are fantastic as is the friendly welcome.

All the best teams in Lincolnshire play in claret and blue...

Dugout side of the ground

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hosts Duck Out In Six Pointer - Barton Rovers vs. Aylesbury United

Barton on the attack in front of the backdrop of the Bedfordshire scenery
For the first time in a little while, I was able to chose a game in the week and head out on Saturday without having to constantly to check Twitter to see what games have survived. My game of choice for this momentous occasion was the Southern League East Division clash between Barton Rovers and Aylesbury United. This game had great importance at the bottom of the table with both sides too close to the sole relegation spot although both sides were ten points clear of Arlesey in last place. Aylesbury are currently in exile, playing at Chesham United's Meadow ground which is a much visit for anyone who hasn't been. Barton won the reverse fixture back in August 3-2 and were hoping to complete the double.

Kick off at Sharpenhoe Road
With so much at stake, the game was fairly tense throughout. This is shown early on as Aylesbury create an opening for the man at the back post which goes begging as he loses his balance. They create another chance later on in the half but the shot is straight at the keeper. Barton's best chance of the opening period comes when the forward gets in on goal, eventually forcing the keeper into a good save. Aylesbury take the lead towards the end of the half with a header at the back post from a corner. Not too much happens in the second half. Aylesbury do hit the bar with a shot on the turn before they seal the points with a goal late on.

The Barton defenders await a first half ball in
To get to Barton, you first need to get a train to Luton from St Pancras with the quick trains from upstairs taking twenty five minutes or the slower ones from the lower levels taking about an hour. Once in Luton you need to walk through the shopping centre to stop G1 outside the Weatherspoons to catch the 81 bus which should take twenty minutes. Everything of interest in Barton is on Bedford Road including two pre game pubs. The better of the two in terms of ales is The Waggon and Horses which also had the sports channels. If you don't want to walk too far from the ground then The Royal Oak more than does the job. The clubhouse had a wide selection of beers and also had Sky Sports. I really liked Sharpenhoe Road, the pictures don't really do the backdrop justice. There is a seated stand on the clubhouse side and covered standing on the opposite side. Both ends are uncovered standing. The club also produces a physical programme.

Tree lined covered standing

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Doughboys Fail To Fully Rise - Wellingborough Town vs. Deeping Rangers

Deeping attack in front of the stand
So with another couple days of iffy weather, I left home on Saturday with numerous options in mind. I was really keen for Shrivenham but their pitch inspection was a little too late and so after hearing on Twitter that no inspection was planned, I headed to Wellingborough Town who were hosting Deeping Rangers. This match was in The United Counties Premier Division with Wellingborough in the bottom half and Deeping in tenth. Deeping Rangers had a great run in this years FA Cup, reaching the second qualifying round where they were knocked out by Kidderminster. The closest I'd come to seeing either side play before was when I saw next door neighbours (quite literally) Wellingborough Whitworth in an FA Vase tie against Edgware some years ago.

Stand in the sun at kick off
There aren't a lot of clear cut opportunities at the start of the match until when midway through the half, a Wellingborough cross following a break is cut out. It is the home team who take the lead with a near post header from a corner. Straight afterwards, Deeping come close to an equalizer as a shot is deflected just wide. The goal sparks Deeping into life and they pepper the Wellingborough goal and a couple of chances come close to the equalizing goal. When they do score the equalizer, it is in a very similar vein to the Wellingborough goal. The attacker is left unmarked as a free kick if lofted into the box and he heads home to make it one all. Things get worse for Wellingborough immediately afterwards as the forward is able to get to the byline and his pass finds its target and the ball is bundled in to complete the turn around just before half time.

One nil Wellingborough
It doesn't take Wellingborough long in the second half to restore parity. The Deeping keeper appears to misjudge a long range shot which ends going through him and into the net. Both sides push forward looking to retake the lead but neither fail to create a real chance. Wellingborough create the next clear cut chance as the attacker is able to bear down goal, forcing the Deeping keeper to make a great save at his near post. The home team are reduced to ten men mid way through the half as the Wellingborough man is sent off for a late lunge and Deeping are able to take advantage. They get behind the Wellingborough defence and the ball is slid home from close range. The away side get a late fourth to seal the victory.

Deeping make it one all at the clubhouse end
To get to Wellingborough from London you need to take a train from St Pancras direct to Wellingborough which takes forty five minutes. Having been to Wellingborough before I knew to try out The Olde England for ales and welcoming pub cat and to The Horseshoe Inn which is good for any early kick offs. One new find was The Old House which had a great selection of ales. I tried The Session IPA from The Framework Brewery in Leicester. The ground is then a steady twenty minute walk away. The clubhouse had the usual selection of drinks and was very friendly. I didn't sample the food but it looked more than decent.

Dramatic sky over the clubhouse

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Hosts Get Helping Hand - Andover Town vs. Alresford Town

Decent crowd at The Portway Stadium
This weekend seemed to be the worst so far for weather in the build up to a game. I left home with several options including Broadbridge Heath and Tadley Calleva (both of which were postponed) and Leverstock Green. However, the first game I knew was definitely on was Andover Town against Alresford Town in The Wessex League. It had the potential to be a decent game with Andover top of the league and Alresford a few places back in fifth. I can fully recommend a trip to Alresford's  Alrebury Park with the town and the ground being worth visiting. That was for a FA Cup tie with Cadbury Heath that they would sadly lose. I had seen Andover Town at the home of the other Andover side, New Street a couple of seasons ago and their ground was also a serious march away from the town centre.

Pre match formalities
The first chance comes early as Alresford get a shot away after a free kick into the box but the shot is saved and the header from the resulting corner goes just wide. Andover respond with a good chance of their own on the break which takes a fantastic block from an Alresford defender to keep it out. Andover get more into the game as the half goes on and a header from a free kick produces a good save from the Alresford keeper. Andover make their pressure count as another free kick isn't cleared, a scramble ensues that ends with the ball in the back of the Alresford net. Then as the half comes to an end, Andover think they've scored a spectacular second but the referee has already blown for a penalty which is dispatched to double the lead.

First half action at the clubhouse end
Andover continue where they left off and score from close range to make it three nil. This sparks Alresford back into life as a dipping shot from range is tipped over by the Andover keeper. They do get their goal as they break out and finally force the ball home from close range. The two goal deficit doesn't last long as Andover win their first penalty due to a soft looking foul. The spot kick is buried before Andover are awarded a bizarre third penalty. After an Andover ball in, an Alresford player is booked for something which prompts the Andover players to ask for a penalty. After running back to the half way line for a consultation with his linesman, the referee awards the third penalty which is converted much to Alresford's disgust. The visitors do get a second late on but it is scant consolation.

Goal mouth action in the second half
Andover is very easy to reach from London. All you have to do is catch a direct train from Waterloo that takes just over an hour. Unfortunately, the station is halfway between the ground and the town centre. If you have time to go in to town I recommend The Redbridge which had a great selection of beers and the sports channels. The ground is then a good forty five minute walk from town. About two thirds of the way there is The Chesnut Tree which is a good half way house and also had the sports channels. The clubhouse sells cans but does offer an elevated view of the action. I really liked the ground - a good mixture of cover across different levels - absolutely worth visiting.

Andover winger breaks through in the first half