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

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mavericks Complete Double - Worthing United vs. Wick And Barnham United - Played At Shoreham FC

Main stand at Middle Road
After going to Goodwood on Saturday I was keen to see a game at a new ground on Bank Holiday Monday and The Sussex League Division Two Final between Worthing United and Wick and Barnham United at Shoreham proved ideal. The cup final pitched champions Worthing against third placed Wick and Barnham and so it promised to be a close game. And with four of the top five scorers in the division playing there was a good chance of goals. Both sides place in the top three meant they achieved promotion to The First Division for next season. I'd seen Worthing a couple of weekends ago at Midhurst and Easebourne in the league when they won 8-1. I had visited Worthing United's Robert Albon Memorial Ground for a Sussex League Division One match with Pagham a few years ago. I have also visited Wick and Barnham's Crabtree Park for a Division Two match with AFC Uckfield

Kick off in the 2014-15 final
Worthing United push on from the kick off and a cross from the byline is cut out by the Wick defence. Wick then are able to break out and win a corner which unfortunately doesn't beat the first man. They do better with a delivery into the box when a free kick from wide is headed towards goal but the head lacks the power to trouble the goalie. Worthing take the lead when the midfielder is allowed to run into the area and despite the keeper getting a strong hand to it the ball finds the back of the net. They double the lead when the forward is played in through the middle and despite the Wick defenders appealing for offside, he slots the ball home to make it two nil. Worthing get in again out wide but this time the shot is blocked for a corner. Towards the end of the half, the Worthing keeper gives the ball away from a free kick and the defender has to be strong to deny the forward a shot on goal. 

One nil to Worthing
Worthing are almost gifted a third early in the second half when they are let in via a miss kick but the ball is eventually scrambled away for a corner. Wick's first foray into the Worthing penalty area is a free kick which is overhit and beats everyone. Worthing's next chance comes when the winger is able to cut inside and his shot goes just over the bar. The Worthing forward is then allowed to turn in the area but the shot clips the top of the bar to the relief of the Wick defenders. Wick win a free kick on the edge of the area following a clumsy foul and the free kick is bent just over. Worthing have a decent chance to seal the game when they break from the half line but they take too long to get the ball in and have to settle for a corner. Both sides have chances in the final moments but none are taken and Worthing win the final two nil. 

Worthing attack in the second half
Shoreham is reached by trains from Victoria and the journey takes around an hour and forty minutes. Middle Lane is then a steady twenty minute walk away. Shoreham is a pleasant sea commuter town and it is worth walking through the town centre to the pebble beach. In the town centre there is The Crown And Anchor which provides a view of the river as well as BT Sports for the lunch time kick off. In between the ground and the town centre is the fantastic Duke Of Wellington which was having a beer festival but it looks like it has a brilliant selection of beers in general. The clubhouse has the usual selection of drinks and had a big projector screen. I can also recomend one of the burgers. Next to the station is The Crabtree Inn which is ideally situated for a pre train drink.     

Post foul shot of the dugout side of the ground


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Play Off Tie Goes The Distance - Royston Town vs. Barton Rovers

Dusk at Garden Walk
Play off season has begun in non league and I had a now rare, midweek game between Royston Town and Barton Rovers in the Southern League Central Division. I had previously visited Garden Walk for a FA Vase match against Tiptree Town back when Royston were in The South Midlands League. That match went to extra time which should have served of some sort of warning. In the regular season Royston had finished a distant second behind champions Kettering while Barton finished fifth ahead of Rugby Town who had lost to Royston on the last day. Both of the regular season games had been won by Royston without Barton scoring. Royston had hit form at the right time, winning eleven of the last thirteen games.

Kick off in the semi final
Barton start on the front foot and they win a free kick in a decent position which the home defence is able to clear. The visitors then get a ball in behind in the Royston defence but the keeper is first to the ball. Barton do get the ball into the net with a header from a corner but the goal is ruled out by the referee for pushing. Royston manage to push back Barton and they win successive throws by the corner flag but these come to nothing. The Barton winger then goes on a mazy run after cutting in from the wing and the keeper makes a decent save at his near post. Royston manage to etch out a couple of half which fail to seriously trouble the keeper. Just before half time, both sides are reduced to 10 men following a two footed tackle and the usual aftermath.  

Barton clear in front of the wooden standing cover
Barton have the first sight of goal in the second period with a header from a corner which is claimed by the Royston goalie. Royston then get on top for the first time in the match and the Barton defence has to be alert to deal with a threatening cross into the box. They come close when following a quick break down the wing, the attacker is able to find his fellow forward but his shot is straight at the keeper. The home side come even closer when the Barton keeper makes a great save to tip a shot from the corner of the area onto the bar. There are no goals in normal time and so the match goes to extra time where there are also no goals. Barton win the eventual shoot out which I missed (as well as ET) as I didn't want to get back too late - I should have heeded the lessons from my previous visit.

A Barton attack in the first half breaks down
To get to Royston you have to take a train from Kings Cross and if you get a quick train you can be there in forty minutes. Garden Walk is then a ten minute from the station. In terms of pubs in the town centre there is The Green Man which had an extensive range of beers on tap and in bottles. The Coach and Horses which you pass when walking to the centre from the station has Sky Sports for the early kick off. The clubhouse had a couple of ales on and also had Sky Sports.

Wing play in front of the stand