Monday, 19 August 2019

So Long And Thanks For All The Points - Poole Town vs. Yate Town

Throw in front numerous stands at The Tatnam Ground
Ever since I had a great night in Poole before getting the ferry over to Guernsey a couple of seasons ago, I've been really keen to revisit for a game and the opportunity presented itself last weekend. I had wanted to visit Pewsey Vale but the infrequent nature of the trains and heavy rain the previous night put me off until their FA Vase tie at the end of this month. The Tatnam Ground started out as a school playing field but is now a decent Southern League venue where on Tuesday night they lost in controversial circumstances to Tiverton Town. All I knew about their opponents Yate Town was that it was near Bristol but since their promotion last season they had won one and lost one so far, scoring five and conceding four so there was a decent chance of goals. 

Kick off at The Tatnam Ground
Yate Town have an early stroke of luck as the Yate player is robbed of the ball before the Poole attacker thunders a shot from the edge of the box against the crossbar. Yate then put together a decent passing move with the ultimate shot being well saved by the Poole keeper. Poole get the opener as the Yate keeper lets a shot from outside the box through him to put the hosts one up. Poole hit the bar for a second time this time with a cross cum shot that hits the top of the bar. Yate's best spell of the half comes when they get to the byline twice in quick succession but they fail to find the final ball. Poole get their second as a ball across the box is slotted in at the back post.

First half corner for Poole
Both sides have chances at the start of the second but both fail to force either keeper into a serious save. The first save required for either keeper is made by the Yate keeper who makes a good save from a well hit shot. The third and final goal comes from a header for Poole following a ball into the box. Poole comfortably see out the rest of the game to claim the three points.

A first half, half chance goes over for Yate
It felt like a long train ride from Waterloo to Poole and it was at two hours long. Tatnam Park is then about a twenty minute walk away. From my previous visit to Poole I had already visited the brilliant Drift  micropub by the quay (which sadly didn't open until one) and The Brewhouse that had a great selection of beers and is a closer to the station. My one new pub was another Brewhouse on The High Street which had a choice of Frome Brewery ales on hand pull. The clubhouse had BT Sports and the usual choice of lagers. The pork pies on sale just inside (alongside the excellent programme the ground are very highly recommended.

Dugout side of the ground

Monday, 12 August 2019

Debut Theme Continues - Mulbarton Wanderers vs. Boston Town

There were just over three hundred at Mulberry Park
Continuing my theme of seeing teams make their debuts in competitions, I headed to Norfolk to see Mulbarton Wanderers' debut in The FA Cup. They were able to take their place in this years competition after finishing third in their debut season in Division One North of The Eastern Counties League. They had made a storming start to the league season scoring eleven and conceding only one in their two games so far. The only time I believe I've seen Boston Town play was in Norfolk for a cup game when they played Great Yarmouth Town in The FA Vase. I'd suffered many a chastising afternoon in Boston watching Scunthorpe at Boston United so I have few pleasant memories of the town but I am keen to revisit. 

Kick off on easily the best match day of the season
The wind would play a big part throughout the match and Mulbarton try to use this to their advantage early with a couple of wicked corners. Boston also force a great save early on and it takes a great last ditch tackle to stop the attacker getting to the rebound. It is a really open first half where the next chance comes for Mulbarton who are unlucky when a touch from a Boston defender does enough to put off the advancing forward at the back post. The best chance of the half again falls to Mulbarton as a long ball forward puts the forward in on a goal but the Boston keeper makes a good block at the feet of the attacker.

One of the many great punches under pressure the Boston keeper made in the first half
As if the wind wasn't bad enough, the rain arrives shortly into the second to further complicate things. It is now Boston's turn to make use of the wind and in similar fashion to Mulbarton in the first half, a touch takes the ball just of the attackers head. The wind continues to cause havoc which forces a Mulbarton defender to head a corner off his line. Mulbarton's main chance is header from a great cross that forces the Boston keeper into another good save. In the closing stages, Boston are reduced to ten men for a rash challenge but the visitors see the rest of the half out to set up the replay.

Boston keeper in action again in the second half
It takes a little while to get to Mulbarton from London but it is a pretty straight forward trip with the first part being a train to Norwich from Liverpool Street taking two hours. It is a then a ten minute walk to Tombland where you can catch the 37 bus to just outside the ground taking twenty minutes. If you have a bit of time in Norwich there is a lot to see and I recommend a trip to St Andrews Brewhouse which had a wide choice hand pull, draft and cans for all tastes. In Mulbarton itself is The Worlds End which is an Adnams pub with the usual choice of beer. The ground is then five minutes away and the bar in the village hall had a good selection of larger and some ale in bottles as well as the sports channels. The club dealt fantastically with the larger crowd and was good to see them rewarded with a decent attendance. My favourite match day of the season didn't disappoint.

Usually forbidden side of the ground

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Tough Introduction For Roffey - Roffey vs. Selsey

Roffey looking for their first senior goal
After a couple of weeks of pre season games it was good to get back to competitive football. Roffey finished third last season in Division Two of The Southern Combination League and with Rustington and Copthorne lacking the required facilities, Roffey were promoted following an appeal. Floodlights are soon to be installed at Bartholomew Way and with one stand already in place it is a great looking ground. Their first opponents in senior football were Selsey who I visited quite a few years ago now for a match with Southwick which completed an enjoyable afternoon on the Manhood Peninsula - the name apparently means 'a common woodland'.    

Roffey begin life in senior football
Things don't start well for Roffey. A Selsey ball over the top sees the forward played in who is then taken out by the onrushing Roffey keeper which sees Selsey awarded a very early penalty that is put away for the opening goal. Roffey have a half chance on the break before Selsey really should get a second when a rebound falls kindly for the attacker but he somehow misses. They do get the second as the winger is allowed to cut inside before his shot across the keeper finds the back of the net. It very soon becomes three when Selsey ruthlessly punish a weak clearance. Roffey have the final chance of the half and they are unfortunate to see a good effort thud against the post.

Selsey looking to extend their lead
Roffey start the second well with the best chance coming from a chest down that allows a shot that goes just over the bar. Selsey continue the harsh lessons as they score again when the forward is played in and he slots the ball past the keeper. Roffey keep on pushing and a header at the back post goes just wide. They get their first senior goal with a penalty that is given when the referee sees some pushing at a corner. Selsey add two late goals to end a tough afternoon for Roffey.

Penalty to Roffey
The closest station to Bartholomew Way is Littlehaven which just over an hour from London Bridge. There isn't an awful lot near the station so on the outbound journey I stayed on the train to Horsham and visited the exceptional Anchor Tap which had a great selection of beers. I had intended to break the walk to the ground by visiting the Chapeau Brewery but this was closed and the walk took about forty minutes from Horsham to Bartholomew Way. From Littlehaven it is only quarter of an hour. The clubhouse was very friendly and allows you to watch the early kick off while having a can from the bar. As I said in the opening paragraph, it really is an attractive ground and it is good to see the effort made by the volunteers paying off.

Decent crowd for Roffey's first senior game

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Harriers Set Down Early Marker In Food Stakes - Kidderminster Harriers vs. Bromsgrove Sporting

Touchline tussle at Aggborough
Every year whenever there is a 'price of football' article, Kidderminster are always discussed with regards to their pies so this seemed as good a reason as any to head to The Midlands for my next pre season match. I'd seen Kidderminster play Scunthorpe numerous times during their time in the football league but had never been to Aggborough. Aggborough was of course where Scunthorpe were involved in the longest ever FA Cup penalty shoot out against Worcester City in a second round replay.

Kick off at Aggborough
Bromsgrove go through spells in the game, they start on top in the first half, before dropping off at the start of the second and then getting back on top towards the end when they score the winner with a clever header. Kidderminster have a couple of chances from close range at the start of the second period but can't force the ball home as the visitors claim a deserved victory.

Kidderminster looking for a late equaliser
There are seemingly a million different ways to get to Kidderminster from London. On the way out, I went from Euston to Birmingham New Street and then walked to Snow Hill for the second train. On the way back I changed at Smethwick Galton Bridge and New Street before getting back into Euston. Both journeys took just over two hours. After the long journey everything in Kidderminster was within five minutes of each other. I visited the carpet museum which was quite interesting before making my first pub stop at the brilliant Beer Emporium which had an extensive selection. Then just up the road is Weavers Real Ale House which had an equally impressive selection before finishing at The King And Castle which forms part of the heritage rail station. Aggborough is a five minute walk from the station and The Harriers Arms also had a good selection of beers and the sports channels. So on to the most important bit of the trip, the cottage pies. They were fantastic and well worth the money, they tasted fantastic and were obviously fresh and concluded a great day out.

Pie and programme
Main stand at Aggborough

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Trail By Heat - Badshot Lea vs. Farnborough

Close to the action at Westfield Lane
Like so many other ground hoppers I was enticed by a new ground and a programme at Badshot Lea's recently opened Westfield Lane ground, therefore this will be a fairly brief post as the ground has been covered so much across numerous blogs. So after many years of ground sharing at numerous grounds (including at today's opponents Farnborough) Badshot Lea have a ground of their own. This was the third at the venue following matches with Aldershot and Woking and I had read good things about the set up at Westfield Lane. I visited Cherrywood Lane when Farnborough when they were reigning Southern League champions and was able to get close to the monster winner's shield.

Kick off at a very muggy Westfield Lane
A quick look at the team sheet shows that out of the 23 Farnborough players named, only 6 are not trialists so the game was never going to flow. They do however force the first chance when the Badshot keeper is caught out trying to play out from the back but he does well to recover and win the ball back. The hosts take the lead when a long ball down the left plays the man in who slots past the Farnborough keeper. Both sides have half chances throughout the rest of the game without seriously troubling either keeper as the game ends one nil.

Farnborough attack the clubhouse end
Westfield Lane is actually in Wrecclesham while is reached by taking the number 18 bus from Farnham which takes 10 minutes. Farnham is served by direct trains from Waterloo, taking just over an hour. I spent an enjoyable morning in Farnham looking at the castle and the town museum. The pubs (The Wheatsheaf and The Hop Blossom) both did the job without being spectacular. Right next to the bus stop in Wrecclesham is The Royal Oak which is a good village pub and is just opposite Westfield Lane itself. The clubhouse was of course all very new and had the standard selection of drinks and was very welcoming. Big credit to the folks at Badshot Lea for building themselves an excellent set up of their own.

Much sought after team sheet with programme
Second half action at the far end

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Saints Begin Hunt For Cup - Huntingdon Town vs. St Ives Town

View from the far corner at Jubilee Park
For my first game of the season in England I opted for a ground that I had always been put off by due to the long walk from the station however following a bit more research I found a good way to get there so headed off to Huntingdon Town against St Ives Town. This match was in the Huntingdonshire FA 125 Premier Cup which is a tournament involving eight local sides and this was one of the first games in the group stage. There is a three division gap between the two sides but with it being a cup and pre season game there was always the chance of a shock. St Ives' Westwood Road is an excellent ground as is the town itself and I really enjoyed my trip there. 

Kick off of the season in England!
The game takes a little while to get going as you'd expect but from the first serious bit of goalmouth action the opener is scored. A St Ives bouncing ball in isn't dealt with and is subsequently smashed into the net. Then the Huntingdon keeper does well to save a shot from the edge of the box and things sadly get worse from the resulting corner which sees the ball headed in at the back post. Huntingdon come into the game more in the second half but when they get behind the St Ives defence they fail to the final ball and the game ends two nil.

St Ives attacking the clubhouse end
As I said in the first paragraph, Jubilee Park isn't the easiest to get to. I first took a train from Kings Cross to Huntingdon which takes just over an hour. Then from the bus station in the town centre, I took bus B to Maryland Avenue and Jubilee Park was a twenty minute from here. In the town itself there is the Oliver Cromwell Museum which was worth going around and just across the square is The Falcon which had a wide selection of ales and ciders on offer. The clubhouse at the ground had the standard drinks on offer and the food looked good too.

Close shot of the covered accommodation at Jubilee Park

Sunday, 7 July 2019

First Blank After Only Two Games - Bohemian vs. Derry City

Flags on the Tramway End at Dalymount Park
The morning after the Waterford match I travelled back to Dublin for a couple of days exploring the capital as well as catching the Leinster Senior Hurling final at Croke Park (post to follow at some point) and on my final evening I took in Bohemian against Derry City. Clearly having seen Bohemian in their previous match, they would be full of confidence following their last minute win while Derry City had won four one away at Cork the same evening. The two teams were in third and fourth place at the start of play with Bohemian sitting in third and therefore the last European spot.

Pre match handshakes at Dalymount
The game has a tentative first half with the main chance coming for Bohemian from a dipping shot that the Derry keeper tips just over the bar. Both sides have very good chances to win it in the second half. Derry's chance follows a great through ball and the Bohemian keeper produces a great double save while the Derry keeper produces a great block from another long range effort.

Unused seating on the far side
Dalymount is about a half hour walk from the city centre or you can catch the green line tram to Phibsborough which takes less than ten minutes and the stop is five minutes from the ground. The entrances to the ground are on St Peters Road and Cabra Road and not well advertised. If you get there early enough, some of my favourite bars in Dublin are within a few minutes of Dalymount. The Bald Eagle had a brilliant selection of beers while The Back Page and McGowans were also great pubs that also had the sports channels. Dalymount is sadly soon to redeveloped so I really recommend you see if before it goes. I loved the bars underneath the main stand, a lot better than some of the more functional clubhouses you see at some grounds. I'll absolutely be back soon to see more football in Ireland.

Best photo I could get of the stand I was in