Monday, 23 May 2016

2016 Stadium #8 - The Cuthbury

Date: 9th April 2016
Stadium: The Cuthbury
Location: Wimborne Minster, Dorset

My eighth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 9th April at The Cuthbury in Wimborne Minster, Dorset. The match was Wimborne Town vs. Didcot Town in the Southern League Division One South & West.

The Cuthbury is on the western edge of Wimborne and its eastern side sits directly behind the town's Victoria Hospital. It is bordered by a mixture of housing and allotments to the north and south with an additional football pitch and then the River Stour to the west. The venue is 7 miles north of the nearest railway station at Poole and has been the home of the club since they formed.

The north side of the ground is a mixture of standing and seating, all of which is covered. This side is roughly split into thirds with the western third taken up with hard standing. The middle section consists of the dressing rooms and a small all-seater stand with approximately 40 seats. The eastern third has a couple of rows of wooden benches. Adjacent to this is the north-east corner which includes a small club shop, a seating area with a food outlet and a nice clubhouse consisting of a pub bar and a tea bar.

The pitch runs downhill towards the southern side of the venue which is all uncovered standing. In the middle of southern end are the two dugouts with a gantry on top. As with the northern end the western end of the ground is all covered though there are no seats. The area behind the eastern goal is very narrow - there is enough room for a fairly small number of people to view from but it probably more of a walkway than a spectator area. Directly behind this is netting to stop the balls going into the neighbouring hospital.

Going into the game both sides were well clear of the play-offs as well as the relegation zone so didn't have to worry about anything being at stake. Wimborne took the lead in the 12th minute with the goal coming about when Billy Maybury beat Harry Beer down the left hand side and clipped a ball into the box. This cross was then nodded back into the six yard box and a collision between the goalkeeper, a defender and Wimborne attacker James Stokoe saw the ball bundled into the net. The hosts came close to a second in the 36th minute when the ball was worked well in the box before being chipped onto the roof of the net. The home side were on top in this first half against a flat Didcot side but just before the break the visitors drew level from a corner when Luke Carnell powered a header into the top corner. The second 45 minutes was end-to-end with wasteful finishing from both sides meaning no more goals were scored. Didcot came the closest to netting again when James Organ's header was cleared off the line with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Result: Wimborne Town 1-1 Didcot Town
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 206

Friday, 6 May 2016

2016 Stadium #7 - Kiln Park

Date: 29th March 2016
Stadium: Kiln Park
Location: Raunds, Northamptonshire

My seventh stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 29th March at Kiln Park in Raunds, Northamptonshire. The match was Raunds Town vs. Rushden & Higham United in United Counties League Division One.

Kiln Park is on the northern edge of the town of Raunds. It is just off the A45 road with a service station directly to the north of the ground. It is 8 miles east of the nearest railway station at Wellingborough and has been the home of the club since 1991.

The western side of the ground has an all-seater stand with a capacity of 253. This includes a section of 24 seats for officials which is separated from the remaining seats by concrete. Next to this stand is the clubhouse building which includes a bar and player dressing rooms. This building then leads out towards the car park at the side of the venue. Towards the southern end of this side of the ground there is an additional covered standing area.

The rest of ground is uncovered standing behind a metal and concrete barrier. There are large grass areas behind the barriers on the other three sides of the pitch. This is particularly true down the eastern side of the ground where the dugouts are positioned. The viewing area here is set quite a way back from the pitch.

Raunds began the game well and took the lead in the 8th minute when a corner was headed on by Karl King allowing Marc Harrison to nod in on the line. The home side doubled their lead in the 16th minute when a ball over the top to King beat the offside trap and he was able to turn and shoot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Rushden reduced the deficit in the 22nd minute when the ball was crossed into the box from the right-wing and Aaron Cormack was able to get on the end of it to slid the ball in. Just before the half-hour mark the visitors then equalised from the penalty spot after the keeper felled a Rushden attacker. Jory Mann stepped up and smashed the penalty down the middle. There was then another flurry of goals just before the interval. Raunds went 3-2 up after a counter-attack saw Nathaniel Gosnal-Tyler pick up the ball on the left wing, cut inside a couple of defenders and shoot low inside the near post. The hosts were pegged back again almost immediately though -Jack Dyson was running across the area and as he shot from 20 yards a tackle deflected the ball past the keeper. Incredibly there was still time for another goal before the break as the ball was crossed into the box from the left-wing and Karl King rose above all to head down and past keeper into far corner. That was King's 2nd and Raunds' 4th in a breathless first half that had seen seven goals. Sadly the second half didn't live up to the excitement of the first and there were no more goals. Rushden were the better side but came up against a strong performance from Chris Jones in the home goal. The closest they came to securing a 4-4 draw was in the 72nd minute when a Rushden attacker was clean through only to be denied by a good save from Jones.

Result: Raunds Town 4-3 Rushden & Higham United
Division: United Counties League Division One
Attendance: 34

Thursday, 28 April 2016

2016 Stadium #6 - Station View

Date: 28th March 2016
Stadium: Station View
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire

My sixth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 28th March at Station View in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The match was Harrogate Railway Athletic vs. Farlsey Celtic in the Northern Premier League Division One North.

As the name suggests the Station View ground sits within sight of Starbeck railway station in the east of Harrogate. The venue is a couple of hundred yards from the station where the club was formed by railway workers in 1935. It has remained Harrogate Railway Athletic's home ever since.

The western part of the ground has a tiny 38-seat structure known as the Shaun Glennon Stand set into a grass bank and in front of this are the two dugouts. Either side of the stand there is uncovered standing with 3 rows of concrete terracing towards the southern goal. The northern end behind the other goal is all covered but it is split in the middle with concrete terracing for the western half and seating for the eastern half. As the pitch slopes down towards the eastern end of the ground more rows are added as you work your way along.

In north-east corner there is small building housing a club shop and a food outlet. The eastern side itself is uncovered standing with a small car park located directly behind. The south-east corner then has a modern clubhouse building while the area behind the southern goal is similarly uncovered standing with a fairly narrow section between the goal and the fence.

Farlsey were the better side in the first half - they played some nice passing football but were unable to fashion an end product early on. That state of affairs lasted until the 35th minute when they managed to take the lead. A ball into Harrogate's box wasn't cleared well and it fell to Aiden Savory who did a nice drag back to create space to allow him to drill the ball into the bottom corner from six yards out. A few minutes later the same man almost put the visitors 2-0 up when he had a shot saved at point blank range. The away side looked fairly comfortable until they gifted Harrogate an equaliser in the 53rd minute when a very short backpass was picked up by Chris Ovington who slotted past the keeper. Both sides had good spells after this and both keepers were on decent forms to keep the scores level. Aiden Savory caused the home side all kinds of problems throughout the game and he had another point blank effort saved before he hit the post with a curled effort with a few minutes to go.

Result: Harrogate Railway Athletic 1-1 Farsley Celtic
Division: Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 161

Friday, 15 April 2016

2016 Stadium #5 - Kellamergh Park

Date: 26th March 2016
Stadium: Kellamergh Park
Location: Warton, Lancashire

My fifth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 26th March at Kellamergh Park in Warton, Lancashire. The match was AFC Fylde vs. Bradford Park Avenue in National League North.

Kellamergh Park is located in countryside just north of the village of Warton. Surrounded by fields on all sides the ground is accessed via The Birley Arms pub car park. The nearest railway stations at Moss Side and Kirkham & Wesham are around 3 miles away. The venue has only been home to the club since 2006 but with ambitions to reach the Football League AFC Fylde will move to a new 6,000 capacity stadium on the outskirts of Wesham for the start of the 2016/17 season.

The western part of Kellamergh Park includes the Main Stand which takes up around half of the space alongside the pitch. It has 282 seats including a press area and also has a TV gantry positioned on top of it. This stand is flanked by two shipping containers which have been converted to hospitality areas. There is another smaller container in the south-west corner which is home to a club shop.

Working round to the southern end of Kellamergh Park there is a newer all-seater stand directly behind the goal. This stand was completed in March 2015 and has 250 seats spread across seven rows of seating. Next to this is a food outlet and then another shipping container which serves as Fuller's Bar. The southern side is completed by a scoreboard in the corner. Uncovered hard standing makes up the western part of the ground though there are raised concrete sections throughout to slightly improve viewing. The two dugouts are located on this sparse section of the stadium. Finally the Wrea Green End behind the northern goal consists of a covered terrace - this has eight levels of concrete steps with two sections of uncovered hard standing bookending the stand.

There had been a fair amount of rain in the build-up to the match but it had ceased an hour before kick-off so the pitch was in reasonable condition to start the game. A quarter of an hour into the game the rain started again and this time it was torrential. The rain coupled with strong winds presented real difficulties for the players with goal kicks and throw-ins regularly being blown straight off the pitch. The only action of note came in the 27th minute when a Fylde free-kick was handled in the box and Danny Rowe smashed home the penalty to put the hosts 1-0 up. Even before this the rain was saturating the pitch and one particularly bad area near the northern goal became completely waterlogged. When the ball landed in this area just after the half-hour mark it completely stuck to the ground despite the players attempting to clear the ball to a better area of the pitch. At this point the referee halted preceedings and after discussions with both managers the game was abandoned after 32 minutes.

Result: AFC Fylde 1-0 Bradford Park Avenue (Match Abandoned)
Division: National League North
Attendance: N/A

Thursday, 7 April 2016

2016 Stadium #4 - The Conigre

Date: 19th March 2016
Stadium: The Conigre
Location: Melksham, Wiltshire

My fourth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 19th March at The Conigre in Melksham, Wiltshire. The match was Melksham Town vs. Willand Rovers in the Western League Premier Division.

The Congire is part of a sports complex in the west of Melksham just off the High Street. The stadium has sports pitches to the west and north and housing to the south and east. It is one mile south of Melksham railway station and has been home to the club since 1926.

The clubhouse in the north-east corner is the first thing that greets upon arrival. The section of this facing out towards the pitch contains a snack bar and a covered hard standing section. Working along the northern side of the ground there is then a separate building for the players dressing rooms with a built in tunnel leading onto the pitch. This is adjacent to two home dugouts and then a 138 seat stand which is the only dedicated seating area. Beyond this is a single away dugout and then uncovered standing.

A building for club officials sits in the north-west corner and this marks the start of a hard standing area with a corrugated iron roof to provide cover. This extends the whole way round the western and southern sides of The Conigre though a section of the southern side is cordoned off due to overgrown trees. The eastern end of the ground is uncovered with a grass bank behind the concrete walkway behind the goal. This grass bank backs onto a couple of gardens of adjacent properties. The club have been seeking to move to a new venue for some time and the current status of The Conigre meant they were denied promotion to the Southern League when they won the Western League in 2015. A new stadium at Woolmore Farm on the southern outskirts of the town is currently under construction.

The hosts went into the game on a 12 game unbeaten run but they nearly fell behind in the 8th minute when a Willand effort was cleared off the line. It was an even first half with both sides neutralising each other's threats. The closest Melksham came to a goal was in the 42nd minute when a cross from the right-wing clipped the top of the bar. The home side stepped things up in the second period and in the 47th minute hit the post when Ricky Hulbert's shot came back off the woodwork from close range. The breakthrough came in the 55th minute when a drilled shot from 15 yards found Hulbert who made steered the ball home. Willand were still in the game as the end approached but in the 80th minute gifted Melksham a second when a horribly sliced clearance fell to Joe Stradling at the back post and he smashed the ball into the net to ensure the unbeaten run was extended to 13.

Result: Melksham Town 2-0 Willand Rovers
Division: Western League Premier Division
Attendance: 153

Friday, 18 March 2016

2016 Stadium #3 - Imber Court

Date: 20th February 2016
Stadium: Imber Court
Location: East Molesey, Surrey

My third stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 20th February at Imber Court in East Molesey, Surrey. The match was Metropolitan Police vs. Burgess Hill Town in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

Imber Court is a sports and training facility owned by the Metropolitan Police Service. It is situated just to the south of Molesey close to the River Ember. The football stadium is contained within a complex which also includes rugby and cricket pitches. There are two railway stations within a mile of the ground - Thames Ditton to the east and Esher to the south. The football club was founded upon the purchase of the venue in 1919 and they have played there ever since.

The Main Stand is on the west of Imber Court and is the only seated area in the venue. The stand was constructed in 1994 and can hold around 300 spectators. The brick exterior to the front of the stand means the seats are elevated giving decent views of the pitch. Directly in front of the stand are the two dugouts. There is a small food outlet next to the stand and the rest of the western side of the stadium is uncovered standing.

The only other covered area in the ground is the stand behind the northern goal. This consists of three rows of concrete terracing including a designated area for disabled fans in the north-west corner. The north-east corner acts as the entrance to the stadium and backs onto the sports club itself. The east and southern sections of Imber Court are uncovered with a couple of rows of concrete terracing in place in what is a fairly compact ground.

The hosts took the lead in the 23rd minute when Charlie Collins' curled free-kick into the box was met by the sliding boot of Ryan James who steered the ball towards goal. Will Salmon then got the final touch on the goal line and despite protests from the Burgess Hill players the goal was awarded. Met Police were having the better of the play but were pegged level in the 34th minute after Darren Budd slid an excellent ball through to Chris Smith who stroked the ball under the advancing keeper. A few minutes later Met Police almost restored their lead when Charlie Collins' cross into the box came back off the post and was cleared away. Just before the half-time interval the hosts did get the ball in the net when Ryan James headed in a free-kick only to see it ruled out for offside. Burgess Hill put in an improved performance in the second half but it was a poor one for the neutral with neither side managing to carve out any good opportunities as the game culminated in a draw to keep both sides in mid-table.

Result: Metropolitan Police 1-1 Burgess Hill Town
Division: Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance: 116

Monday, 15 February 2016

2016 Stadium #2 - Bashley Road

Date: 23rd January 2016
Stadium: Bashley Road
Location: Bashley, Hampshire

My second stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 23rd January at Bashley Road in Bashley, Hampshire. The match was Bashley vs. Banbury United in the Southern League Division One South & West.

Bashley Road is in the village of Bashley close to the northern edge of the nearby town of New Milton. The ground is sits adjacent to a caravan park to the east, a cricket club to the west, a garden centre to the south and fields to the north. The venue is just over a mile north of New Milton railway station and has been home to the club since they formed in 1947.

Covered spectator areas make up almost all of the southern side of Bashley Road. These areas consist of two metal terraces towards the eastern end of the ground and a 300-seat structure including a specified section for officials. Attached to this seated area is a club building which includes a club shop, office and media area with a balcony extending out from this. The northern side of the stadium consists of two levels of concrete standing with dugouts built into lower level either side of the half-way line.

The remainder of the venue is uncovered hard standing. At the eastern end there is a large grass area behind the hard standing while at the western end there are a couple of buildings. One of these is a clubhouse and food outlet while the other is Bashley Village Hall. The north-west area is a small car park for players and officials with the club using another site down the road for spectator parking.

Bashley went into the game having lost all 22 league matches they had played in the season to this point so Banbury were fully expecting to head home with the three points. The visitors took the lead early on as ball over the top led to Bashley goalkeeper Kieran Greene bringing down Ricky Johnson in the box. Johnson picked himself up and dispatched the penalty to give his side an 8th minute lead. Banbury were given another opportunity from the spot in the 31st minute when a defensive error by Bashley saw Dan Maher allowed to go clean through only to be felled by defender Aaron Dunne. As Dunne was the last man he received his marching orders. Johnson again stepped up and again went the same way but this time Greene was equal to it and saved the spot kick. Just before the interval the travelling side did notch up a second when a cross from the right-wing by Callum White was steered in by George Nash. The early stages of the second half were quiet as 10-man Bashley frustrated Banbury. This continued until the 67th minute when Bashley conceded their third penalty of the match after a trip in the area. This time the spot kick responsibility fell to Mark Bell who drove the ball into the bottom corner. This goal knocked the stuffing out of Bashey and they let in two more goals in quick succession. In the 73rd minute a cross into the box was headed on to Darius Browne who struck past Greene and in the 77th minute a defence-splitting ball allowed Leam Howards to stroke the ball past the advancing keeper to make it 5-0. Banbury had a number of efforts in the final minutes and Howards was denied his second of the game when an excellent chip was ruled out for offside. The final whistle went with Banbury recording a 5 goal victory but it was still a determined display by Bashley given they played the bulk of the game one man down.

Result: Bashley 0-5 Banbury United
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 126