Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pre Season Done Right At The Lasmar - East Preston vs. AFC Preston

Summer skies in Sussex
This season's first trip to the seaside took me to Angmering for the pre season friendly between East Preston and AFC Portchester which was a clash between the Sussex and Wessex Leagues. This was a revisit as I had previously visited Lashmer Road for an FA Cup tie against Ringmer back when East Preston were in Division Two of the county league and the hosts lost 4-1 on that day. I saw Portchester at Winchester last season and they looked more than comfortable against the now Southern League side. 

Players waiting to kick off
Portchester settle almost immediately and look very comfortable on the ball. East Preston almost gift Portchester the opening goal but the chance is put high and wide of the target. The come closer with a header following a teasing cross from deep. The visitors get in behind the East Preston defence but the defenders are able to regain their composure and clear the danger. Towards the end of the half East Preston have their first chance of the game when the forward has a shot which is blocked by the Portchester defender.

Portchester attack the flanks in the first half
Portchester score with the first attack of the second half. A corner finds its way to the back post and the ball is forced home from close range. They score again when a shot from distance takes a heavy deflection to leave the goalie flat footed as the ball goes over the line. The Portchester winger gets in behind the defence and again the East Preston defence is able to deal with the danger. A good Portchester passing move results in the ball being cut across the six yard line but the ball is blazed well over the bar. The final score was four nil and I don't know if I missed one when I went to the bar just before half time or when I left to catch my train.

The first Portchester goal of the second half
Angmering is served by trains from Victoria and the journey takes the best part of two hours. The ground is then a ten minute walk from the station. The beach is worth taking in and the chip shop in the village centre is pretty decent from memory. Also in the centre of the village is The Tudor Tavern which had a good selection of beers including Beachcomer which is perfect for a lunch time drink. The clubhouse at the ground is brilliant as it had Sky Sports as well as one ale from The Hammerpot Brewery. The reason why I was so impressed with pre season at East Preston was that entry was only three pounds which included a programme which was better then some clubs produce in the regular season. They have a another home friendly this Saturday against Alresford Town so if you want a great pre season experience I fully recommend attending. 

The dugout side of the ground

Monday, 20 July 2015

Epsom And Ewell Gain Belated Vase Revenge - Epsom And Ewell vs. Hoddesdon Town

Fantastic clubhouse at The Surbiton Town Sports Club
In April 1975, Epsom and Ewell met Hoddesdon Town in the final of The Fa Vase at Wembley. The teams met for the first time since their date at Wembley on Saturday at Surbiton Town Sports Club. Epsom had made a promising start to their pre season winning one and drawing so far this summer. I have visited Hoddesdon on two previous occasions, once in 2009-10 for a Vase game against Kirkley and Pakefield and again last season for a Spartan League match with Kings Langley. There are least two times I've seen Epsom and Ewell, once away at Guildford City in The Combined Counties League and at Alton Town in the same competition.

Kick off at The Surbiton Town Sports Club
Hoddesdon have an early goal disallowed as a rebound is forced home after the initial shot was saved. Epsom take the lead shortly afterwards when a long ball forward is allowed to bounce by the defenders and the ball is lashed home on the half volley from the edge of the area. Epsom follow this up with further long range efforts which both come close to doubling the advantage. They do double their advantage as the forward is played in through the middle and he slots the ball past the advancing keeper. Hoddesdon get one back just before time as the Epsom keeper is caught out by a free kick. I didn't see a lot of the second half but I did see Hoddesdon make a good start to the second half but just before I left, Epsom made it three one. In my dash to make the train I missed a further four goals which hopefully isn't an omen for the coming season.

Hoddesdon make it two one.
Epsom host Lingfield on the 28th so if you fancy seeing a game at unique venue then I would fully recommended going along. Surbiton Town Sports Club is a steady twenty minute walk from Tolworth Station. Trains to Toworth depart from Waterloo and the journey takes about half an hour. In between the station and the ground is The Hogsmill Tavern which has a fantastic beer garden if the weather is nice. The clubhouse shown at the top of the post is fantastic and has the usual selection of drinks and Sky Sports on the big screen. The club produced a special pre season programme for this game but they also had some left over programmes from last season and it is well worth picking one up as it is a fantastic programme.

Elevated match action

Monday, 8 June 2015

Ryman Recap - Harrow Borough vs. Wealdstone

Wealdstone attack the end populated by their sizeable away following
For this weeks Ryman Recap, we return to the 2009-10 season for a Middlesex derby in the FA Trophy between Harrow Borough and Wealdstone. With just three miles separating the two grounds it promised to be feisty, a fact reinforced by comments in the 'away programme' (see pictures at the bottom of the article). The two teams were experiencing differing fortunes it the Ryman Premier Division with Wealdstone in the play offs and Harrow sitting just above the drop zone. In the previous round Harrow had required a reply to defeat Soham Town Rangers.

Just before kick at Earlsmead
Wealdstone backed by their noisy set of fans start the game much the stronger and take an early lead and it takes a brilliant performance by the Harrow keeper to restrict the visitors to just the one goal. The game is delayed at half time after the referee suffers an injury. This doesn't distract Harrow who equalise a short time into the second half. Wealdstone retake the lead with a thundering free kick but Harrow equalise for a second time in the dying seconds. I unfortunately missed the second equaliser as I had to leave to get a Halloween fancy dress party - a true story. 

Side on view of the main stand
The closest station to the ground is Northolt Park and trains to here depart from Marylebone and the quick trains take quarter of an hour and it is then a short walk to Earlsmead. I don't remember going to any pubs before the game but the clubhouse was pretty decent and had Sky Sports. As I mentioned earlier, the Wealdstone fans produced an away programme to raise money for Stones player Steven Hughes who had suffered a serious knee injury. I have yet to see this at any other game and was definitely a fantastic idea.

View from the Wealdstone end

Monday, 1 June 2015

Combined Counties Catch Up - Redhill vs. Whitehawk

Watching on at Kiln Brow
Bit of a strange one for this Combined Counties Catch Up. The game from which the photos are taken is a Sussex County League Division One clash between Redhill and Whitehawk. Redhill now find themselves in the Combined Counties League following their relegation from the Ryman League. Whitehawk of course missed out on a place in The Conference National following their play off defeat to Borehamwood. Back to the game in question and both sides were doing fairly well in the league and they were comfortable in mid table and there were just two points separating the sides with the visitors having two games in hand. In the reverse fixture at The Enclosed Ground, Redhill had claimed a two nil win.

Front on view of the stand
As this was one of my first seasons ground hopping, details are fairly sketchy as it was so long ago! What I do remember is that the game was a fairly turgid affair with very little in way of goalmouth action.

Additional cover behind one of the goals
Kiln Brow is a short walk from Earlswood Station. Direct trains to Earlswood depart from London Bridge and the journey takes just short of fifty minutes. I remember the clubhouse being fairly decent and I remember they had Sky as they were showing Manchester United vs Liverpool (when Liverpool won 0-4). I just missed my train on the way home and so I popped into the The Old Chestnut which did the job.

View over to the dugout side of the ground

Monday, 25 May 2015

Combined Counties Catch Up - Chertsey Town vs. Metropolitan Police

Dusk at Alwyn's Lane
I visited Chertsey Town in the 2009-10 season for an FA Cup Preliminary Round match against Metropolitan Police who were then in the Ryman Division One South. There was a decent chance of a shock in this tie as Chertsey were second in The Combined Counties Premier having won three and drawn one of their four league games so far. They had also won two nil away at Chessingon and Hook United in the Extra Preliminary Round. The Police on the other hand were struggling and were yet to win the league after three games. This tie was played on Friday night and according to the programme this was the first competitive Friday night game at Alwyn's Lane.   

The main stand at Alwyn's Lane
The shock did not materialise. Chertsey were on top in the first half but they failed to make their dominance count. They were made to pay mid way through the second as The Police scored when the attacker was left alone. The visitors saw out the rest of the game to set up a tie with Tonbridge Angels.

Chertsey attack in the first half
Trains to Chertsey depart from Waterloo and the direct trains take just over an hour although if you're happy to change then the journey can be a little quicker. The ground is a steady fifteen minute walk from the station and I vaguely remember there being a couple of pubs on the walk. I also remember the clubhouse being pretty good.

Tree lined end of the ground

Monday, 18 May 2015

Combined Counties Catch Up - Ashford Town (Middlesex) vs. Tooting And Mitcham United

A very bright and sunny Short Lane
For my first dip back in time to produce posts for all Combined Counties League clubs, we travel back to the 2008-09 season for a Ryman Premier Division clash between Ashford Town (Middlesex) and Tooting and Mitcham United. The Middlesex part being necessary to differentiate between this Ashford United and the one in Kent. Tooting had been promoted via the play offs the previous season and had lost their two opening games against Borehamwood and Billericay. Ashford had won their first two games and would have been in confident mood.

Seated accommodation at Short Lane
And their confidence was very well placed as they won seven nil. The home side were three nil up at half time and added four in the second period which also saw Tooting reduced to ten men to compund a thoroughly miserable afternoon.

Ashford's fans behind the goal
The nearest underground station to Short Lane is Heathrow Terminal 4 on the Picadilily Line. The journey from Central London takes about half an hour or so. From here you can catch the 333 bus to the top of Long Lane and the ground is a further five minute walk. I don't remember there being any pubs in the area but the clubhouse was quite good and welcoming in general. 

Gas holder end of the ground

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Wood Win Play Off Final - Borehamwood vs. Whitehawk

The new stand at Meadow Park
As I had a wedding reception the following weekend, this was my last Saturday of the season. I had a choice between Rayleigh Town versus Manford Way in The Essex Olympian League and The Conference South Play Off Final which was between Borehamwood and Whitehawk. Against my better judgement I went for the later. This was a revisit as I had visited Meadow Lane for an FA Trophy tie against Romford in the 2010-11 season which was their first season in the Conference South. Whitehawk have flown up the leagues in recent season and my visit to The Enclosed Ground was in the same season for an FA Cup tie with Hendon back in their Ryman South days. Back to this season and the two sides had finished in second and fourth respectively and had both won the away legs of their semi finals to get to this stage.

Kick off in the big game
As you'd expect in such a game, the opening stages are quite cagey and both sides best chances come from free kicks. Whitehawk's is a header that goes just wide and the Borehamwood player is perhaps a touch lucky not to get booked for the initial foul. Borehamwood's chance from a free kick is when the attacker finds himself in space at the back post but he only finds the side netting. Into the second half and Whitehawk come close with another header from a set piece. The opening goal comes when a free kick from a clumsy foul finds the bottom corner to put the home side ahead. Whitehawk equalise when the attacker is bundled over in the box and the resulting penalty is buried past the keeper. There are no further goals and the match goes to extra time. The Borehamwood winner is a volley on the turn which the Whitehawk keeper had no chance of saving. The home defence survive the onslaught to claim their place in The Conference Premier for next season. 

The impressive Whitehawk following
Borehamwood is on the regular Thameslink line and trains take about half an hour from St Pancras. Meadow Park is then a fifteen walk away through the town centre. Five minutes from the ground is The Wishing Well which is perfect for the early kick off. The clubhouse has been significantly expanded since my previous visit and now is a lot bigger and now also has Sky Sports. While waiting for my train back I visited The Alfred Arms which is around the corner from the station.

So that's my last post of the season. Throughout the summer I'll be aiming to fill the gaps in The Combined Counties and Ryman Leagues as well as The Conference South.

Whitehawk attack in the first half