Tuesday, 3 December 2019

All Down Hill For Poppies - Hordean vs. Bournmouth

Looking back towards Portsmouth from Five Heads Park
After three weeks without a new ground - one week I was at Dulwich Hamlet with friends and the next I was in Wroclaw who conveniently moved their game very late in the day - it was good to get back hopping. Also with the imminent month long strike by South West Rail staff it would be the last chance to travel to Hampshire for a little while so I settled on Hordean against Bournmouth in The Wessex Premier Division. Before kick off, Horndean were in mid table while Bournmouth were towards the bottom. I'd visited Bournmouth's Victoria Park ground for an FA Cup tie with another Wessex League side AFC Portsmouth quite a few seasons ago and really enjoyed my visit.

Kick off at Five Heads Park
Horndean kick down the slope in the first half and they use it to their advantage creating numerous chances without taking the lead. When they do take the lead it comes from Bournmoth not being able to clear their lines which allows the ball to be smashed in from close range. This springs the visitors into life but they fail to seriously threaten the Horndean goal when they do have possession. They are made to pay as the Horndean man is found in space from a corner before he buries the ball to make it two nil. It seems like I've never been away from hopping days as I miss the third Horndean goal while at the bar. 

Bournmouth trying to equalise in the first half
Bournmouth look to take immediate advantage of the gradient and the Horndean keeper somehow keeps out a close range effort following a cut back. They look out of the game as Horndean are able to break and when the ball is squared across goal the forward taps into an empty net. Bournmouth who are still trying for goals are frustrated by the home keeper who makes another great close range save this time from a header set up by a corner. They do get the goal they deserve with a header at the back post from a free kick.

Horndean on the attack in the first half
The nearest station to Horndean is Cosham and direct trains here depart from Waterloo taking just under two hours or you can go via Fareham which is marginally shorter. Then from the medical centre stops you can take the number 8 bus into Hordean. The only real pub of note is The Ship and Bell which has the usual selection of Fullers ales as well as the sports channels. The ground is then around ten minutes aways. The clubhouse outside the ground also had the usual selection of drinks and the early kick offs. A great return to the usual Saturday fun. 

One last picture of the stands at Horndean

Monday, 11 November 2019

A Close Range Thing - Nowrich CBS vs. Diss Town

Stand at The Field of Dreams
After getting soaked the previous weekend I was keen to avoid the now standard Saturday lunchtime downpour which meant going east and getting ahead of the oncoming rain. Most of the grounds left in the Eastern counties involve lengthy bus journeys but now Norwich CBS are playing at The Football Development Centre (FDC) this was a relatively easy new one to do. Noriwch CBS who were based in Spixworth and were going well sitting in fourth level on points and a couple of places above todays opponents Diss Town. Quite a few seasons ago I saw Diss Town host Woodbridge at their well appointed Brewers Green Lane ground.

Kick off on The Field of Dreams
Diss start on the front foot and the attacker fizzes a ball across the box but there is no one there to take advantage. Norwich take the lead when the Diss keeper oddly opts not to have a wall with a free kick not too far outside of the box with the unsurprising result of the ball flying into the net. Diss come close to an equaliser as a header from a corner goes just wide. The home side double their lead with another goal from a set piece. This time the ball is headed in from close range from a free kick out wide. They really should be three up at half time but the forward somehow puts his diving header wide of the target. In the final moments of the half the Norwich keeper makes a good save from a Diss free kick.

Two nil Norwich CBS
Diss get back in to the game when the ball is flicked in from inside the six yard box. Norwich restore their two goal advantage almost immediately as the ball is headed down for the forward who easily finishes. The hosts have another chance as the visitors get more frustrated this time a headed chance goes just wide. They do get the fourth with another header from a corner. 

Four one Norwich CBS
The nearest station is Norwich and trains here depart from Liverpool Street and should take two hours. Pre game I revisited the great St Andrews Brewhouse as well as taking in the even better Kings Head which no TV or music as well as a broad selection of ales, perfect. The 23 and 24 buses take you to very close to the ground although they stop at slightly different locations and this probably takes twenty minutes considering traffic. The bar at the ground is part of the wider football complex and had the sports channels. Despite this the club have taken steps to make it feel like their ground and I really liked the feel of the place. While waiting for my train I called into The Coach and Horses which also had a great choice of beer along with the sports channels. A really enjoyable and most importantly, dry day.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Visitors Almost Weather Storm - Corsham Town vs. Hengrove Athletic

Miserable day at Southbank
Last weekend was a bit of disaster, having reached Abingdon only for Town's game to be called off but thankfully in time for me to get a taxi to the Kassam to see Oxford United against Rochdale. As seems to be the trend at the moment (and for this coming bloody weekend too), it seems to relatively dry in the week before hammering down on Saturday. Again I started out heading to Malmesbury but after seeing on Twitter that Corsham foresaw no issues, I stayed on the train to Chippenham and took the bus. Today Corsham were playing Hengrove Athletic from Bristol and even though they were third bottom of The Western League One, their only two wins so far had been on the road so Corsham needed to be wary especially as Hengrove had the better head to head record.

Kick off in the pouring rain
Corsham's confidence was based on the fact it was only meant to be light rain from two o'clock onwards. instead it cained it down for the whole game and some time afterwards. I was concerned when I got there but the referee to his credit was happy to get on with it and even when there was a puddle in one corner we still played on which was down to one of the volunteers sweeping water off the pitch. Unsurprisingly it was impossible to take notes (or straight pictures) but Corsham took an early lead after a swift counter attack. Midway through the half Hengrove get an equaliser with a low driven effort. Neither side let the weather get to them but Corsham waste chance after chance but they get a late winner from a close range set up by a free kick. Credit to all involved for getting the game on and seeing it through.

Hengrove keeper watching on. Note the puddle on the far left
So trains to Chippenham depart from Paddington taking an hour and a quarter. Then from by the river you take the twenty minute ride on the X31 bus into Corsham. I'm glad the weather allowed me to explore the picturesque town and around the edge of the manor house that sadly didn't open until two. Thankfully the enchanting Flemish Weaver which had a great choice of ales and little areas of seating to choose from. For the early kick off, The Royal Oak across the road does the job. The ground is then a ten minute walk from the high street and if it's raining you have to dash between the puddles to avoid getting splashed. The clubhouse had the usual drinks along with the sports channels and they produced a brilliant programme. Absolutely everyone at the club made me feel welcome and I again have to thank all invovled for not making it a wasted trip.

Even wetter side of the ground

Monday, 21 October 2019

First Win For Blues - Leiston vs. Hitchin Town

Leiston getting in to the box early on
I'd always wanted to visit Leiston but had been put off by the complexity of the trip but after actually looking in to the detail, it turned out to be relativity straight forward. Leiston were yet to win in the league this season and this weekend they were playing second from bottom Hitchin Town so this seemed the perfect time to visit. Hitchin Town's brilliant Top Field is a must visit and there aren't many other grounds like it, I had planned to visit this pre season but the plan never came to fruition. Leiston had an eventful match on Tuesday night where they drew four all with St Ives.

Kick off at the soon to be aptly named Victory Road
Hitchin have a lucky escape early as a drilled cross hits a couple of players but goes wide of danger and their first chance of the game is a free kick that goes harmlessly into the wall. Leiston take a deserved lead when then the forward is played in on goal before confidently finishing past the onrushing keeper. An absolute bullet header from a corner doubles Leiston's lead which is nothing more than they deserve. Hitchin get back in to the game with a close range finish from a corner that isn't dealt with. It had been a little while since this happened, but Leiston get a third just before the break while I'm at the bar.

Early chance for Lesiton
The second half is a bit of a non event as Leiston see out the game to claim their first three points of the season and brining them within three points of Hitchin.

There was a healthy contingent from Herts to cheer on The Canaries
It's a three legged journey to Leiston. The first leg is a train to Ipswich from Liverpool Street where you can catch a train to Saxmundham. Then a short walk from the station you take the 64 bus for twenty minutes into Leiston. I really didn't give myself enough time in Leiston. I would have liked to walked down to Sizewell to see the sea but this would have taken at least an hour. I did get time to briefly explore the fascinating Long Room Museum but I don't think I really did it justice in the short time I spent there. Just across the road from the museum is The Engineers Arms which a couple of ales from the local Southwold Brewery as well as the sports channels. As per many other hoppers who have blogged about Victory Road, the welcome is fantastic and people go out of their way to help you find your way. The homely clubhouse had a wider than usual selection of drinks along with the sports channels.

Long throw under cloudy skies

Monday, 14 October 2019

Back Up Comes Up Trumps Again - Tuffley Rovers vs. Holmer Green

One of the areas of cover at Glevum Park
This weekend I was really keen to get to Malmesbury Victoria but a mixture of heavy rain the previous evening and it not really being possible to make it to another if the game was called off put doubt in my mind - the game obviously went ahead. Thankfully Tuffley Rovers tweeted before eight that their Hellenic League game with Holmer Green was definitely going ahead it was an easy choice. I had seen Holmer Green play at home previously but this game sadly only lasted ten minutes before the referee got upset and abandoned the game. That was back when Holmer Green were in the Spartan South Midlands League and this was their second season in this competition. Both sides were in the bottom half but Tuffley were boosted with a four win over Binfield the previous weekend.  

Kick off at Glevum Park
Tuffley really should take the lead when the forward is played in on goal but he sends the chance well wide. Tuffley then have two chances in quick succession as a low shot is saved before the Holmer keeper is again called upon to save a free kick.

First half action towards the out of bounds end
Holmer Green are played in and the Tuffley keeper is quick off his line to snuff out the danger. The hosts take the lead when a pull back finds the man in space who hammers the ball home. Holmer Green are still scrapping and the Tuffley keeper is alert to keep out a low bobbling shot. Tuffley almost seal the points with a header back across the keeper but his defender hacks the ball off the line. A couple of minutes later a near identical attack results in the second to confirm the win.

Tuffley looking for the opener
If you time it right you can get a train direct to Gloucester from Paddington but the more common route is to change at Swindon, either way it takes around two hours. Sadly the cathedral was hosting a service for the Women's Institute so I spent most of time in and around the docks. It is no coincidence that the dock area hosts the actual Gloucester Brewery  where you can sample their ales or you can try TANK which is the brewery pub and also has a great selection of guest local ales. Just across the road is the Gloucester branch of The Brewhouse and Kitchen which had the usual selection of beers. A short walk away you can take the number 10 bus to Lower Tuffley and the ground is a short walk across the park and down Keats Avenue to the turnstile. The bar at the ground sold cans and the welcome and general vibe from Twitter, to the people at the ground and the supporters in general was brilliant. Word also has to go to the match day programme which was top notch.

Last section of cover

Monday, 7 October 2019

Back Up Comes Up Trumps - Lye Town vs. Boldmere St Michaels

The Sports Ground in all its glory
This weekend I had intended to take in Halesowen in the FA Cup but from the start, this plan had problems. First of all the match was moved to a half twelve kick off but I could still make it in time with my advance train ticket. However this was not actually possible if all the lines were blocked at Coventry. To make use of my ticket, I had to travel to Snow Hill from Marylebone and from there I went on to my back up at Lye. I'd seen a lot of pictures of The Sports Ground and it looked even better in the flesh. In The Midlands Premier League this afternoon they were hosting Boldmere St Michaels who were yet to win this season. Lye had only won twice themselves so was a big game for both sides.

Kick off at The Sports Ground
Boldmere have the first chance as they have a shot well tipped over following a pull back from the winger. It is however Lye who get the opener when the Boldmere player turns a cross into his own net. Boldmere aren't downhearted and they get the equaliser from a long throw that the home defence fail to deal with. The last chance of the half falls to Boldmere and they are unlucky to see a shot hit the post after the player is found with a great past.

Celebrations all round for Lye
Lye almost score a fantastic goal at the start of the second half as an audacious lob hits the post. Boldmere go ahead for the first time when the Lye keeper blocks a shot but he cannot stop the rebound being smashed home. The lead doesn't last too long due to the Boldmere keeper letting a weak through his grasp. Lye now go for the winner and it takes a great block on the line to stop a certain goal. The visitors claim their first of the season as a result of a great finish created by a looping ball forward.

Brilliant terrace at the clubhouse end of the ground
As I said in the first paragraph, the best way to get to Lye is to take a train to Snow Hill from Marylebone and changing there for Lye and this all takes just over two and a half hours. A very short walk from the station is the tap room of The Sadler's Brewery where they offer a wide choice of their ales. About five minutes away is The Shovel and among the extensive ale choice are a couple of tasty collaborations. The ground is just a couple of minutes from the station and the clubhouse had the usual selection of drinks. The Sports Ground is a real cracker and is a must visit for anyone who loves football grounds. 

View from the corner towards the cricket pitch

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Lads Get Cup Shock - Royal Wootton Bassett Town vs. Hereford Lads Club

Interesting backdrop at The Gerard Buxton Sports Ground
We're still in the middle of cup season and as I'd seen most of the reachable teams at home in The FA Trophy I went for my first game in The Hellenic League Cup. There was a chance of a shock as Royal Wootton Bassett Town who were fourth bottom of the Premier Division and only got their first league win in mid week were hosting Hereford Lads Club who were in third in Division One West in their first season since been transferred from The West Midlands League. Wootton Bassett had already been knocked out of The Floodlit Cup by lower league opposition in the form of Malvern so The Lads Club would fancy their chances.

Kick off in a brand new cup (for me anyway)
Wootton Bassett start on the front foot but it doesn't take long for Lads Club to get on top. The visitors take a deserved lead as the Wootton Bassett defence let a ball forward bounce and when the ball falls for the forward he bends a shot past the keeper into the far corner. They should really get a second when the ball falls at the feet of a Lads Club attacker but he lashes the ball over the bar. As the half heads towards the end, Wootton Bassett come close with a shot that bends just wide.

Royal Wootton try to drive at the Lads Club defence
Wootton Bassett get an equaliser with a cracking shot from distance that flies past the Lads Club keeper into the top corner. Parity doesn't last long though, the Lads Club attacker gets the ball at the back post and he draws the keeper out before slotting between defenders to make it two one. With Wootton Bassett more of an attacking force now, they hit the bar with a close range header. Lads Club are then harshly (I thought) reduced to 10 men after a hard challenge but they don't let this setback affect them. They get the clinching goal as the forward beats his man before hammering home to seal the three one win. 

Wootton Bassett looking to get back into the game
It was a simple trip to Wootton Bassett with the first leg being a train to Swindon from Paddington, taking an hour. Then from the bus station you take the 55 bus right into the town. The museum that is open for a couple of hours before lunch is a good introduction to the town. Just around the corner is the brilliant Five Bells which had at least five ales and felt like a proper pub. If you want to watch the early kick off then The Cross Keys is a great spot to do so. The ground is on the edge of town and takes about half an hour to walk to. The clubhouse has the sports channels and a good selection of beers. The programme is brilliant with a lot of stats and interesting reading. A great introduction to The Hellenic League Cup.

Match action in the clubhouse corner