Monday, 24 August 2015

2015 Stadium #12 - Woodside Park

Date: 4th August 2015
Stadium: Woodside Park
Location: Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

My twelfth stadium of 2015 was on Tuesday 4th August at Woodside Park in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. The match was Bishop's Stortford vs. Peterborough United in a friendly.

Woodside Park sits in a business park just off the junction linking the M11 to the A120. The ground is 1 mile from the outer edge of Stansted Airport and 1.5 miles from the nearest railway station at Bishop's Stortford. The club played at Rhodes Avenue between 1919 and 1997 and after a couple of seasons groundsharing moved to their current home in 1999.

The Main Stand is on the northern side of the ground and has room for 300 spectators. This stand contains the club bar and dressing rooms and there is an additional building behind this which houses a function/entertainment suite. In front of the Main Stand are the two dugouts and general uncovered standing.

The South Stand has been added since the opening of the stadium - this 225 seat structure has a TV gantry on top. The rest of this side of Woodside Park is a few steps of uncovered concrete terracing which extends round to the goals. This terracing then increases behind the two goals to form additional covered stands. Finally there is a very small covered seating in the north-east corner with half a dozen seats for disabled fans.

The game was a friendly between National League South side Bishop's Stortford and Football League One side Peterborough United. The home side flew out of the gates and took the lead after barely a minute - a corner was lofted to the far side of the box and found Anthony Furlonge in acres of space. Furlonge headed it back over everyone in the area and into the net. Stortford almost doubled their lead just after this after a one-on-one chance with the keeper but Dion Henry in the Peterborough goalie was up to the challenge. The hosts did get the ball in the net though in the 20th minute - Frankie Merrifield picked up the ball 25 yards out and with nothing much on unleashed a superb curler into top corner. The visitors appeared to have got over their lethargic start in the 25th minute and almost scored when a wayward clearance by a home defender came back off his own crossbar. However the young Peterborough side switched off again on the half-hour mark allowing Stortford to score again - a free-kick was sent into the box and a static defence allowed Anthony Furlong to nod in simple header. Coming out for the second half 3-0 down Peterborough clearly wanted to improve the scoreline and in the 50th minute a long ball found Kyle Vassell who controlled well before slamming it past keeper. Any hopes of a comeback were dashed though in the 58th minute as the three goal margin was restored when Mikel Suarez bundled in from close range after an initial save by the Peterborough keeper. There was time for one more goal in the 71st minute with this one going to the away side - a low cross was sent into the box and missed a number of players before Souleymane Coulibaly slotted in at the back post from a couple of yards out to bring the score to 4-2.

Result: Bishop's Stortford 4-2 Peterborough United
Attendance: 222

Thursday, 13 August 2015

2015 Stadium #11 - Rookery Hill

Date: 23rd July 2015
Stadium: Rookery Hill
Location: Corringham, Essex

My eleventh stadium of 2015 was on Thursday 23rd July at Rookery Hill in Corringham, Essex. The match was East Thurrock United vs. Dagenham & Redbridge in a friendly.

Rookery Hill is on the southern edge of Corringham next to the A1014. The venue is 2 miles west of Stanford-le-Hope railway station. It has been home to East Thurrock since 1984 but the club have their eye on a move into Stanford-le-Hope in the near future.

The south-eastern side of the ground contains the main stand - a 160 seater structure which sits level with the half-way line. Next to this there is a food outlet and club offices. The clubhouse is also on this side of the ground though this faces out into the car park.

Directly opposite the main stand are the two dugouts with an additional 140 seat stand towards the northern goal. Towards the southern goal there is a covered standing area though the rest of the standing on this side of the venue is uncovered. There are no stands behind the southern goal but the area behind the northern goal has two small covered concrete terraces located on either side of the goal. This two are linked by an uncovered wooden platform in the middle.

The game was a friendly between Isthmian League Premier Division side East Thurrock United and Football League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge. The Daggers sent a young side to Corringham but took the lead inside 10 minutes. The goal came as the visitors broke from an East Thurrock corner - the ball was crossed into the path of Ade Yusuff who slipped before recovering and unleashing a 20 yard drive into the corner of the net. The away side almost doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Jimmy Nottage hit the post for with a good effort from 25 yards. The Isthmian League side should have equalised just after the break but spurned a one-on-one opportunity with Daggers goalkeeper Lewis Moore. The second half was a quiet affair with very little happening until Dagenham sealed victory with a second goal in the 85th minute. A quick free-kick saw the ball played to Cadell Daniel who crossed for Reeko Hackett-Fairchild to stab the ball home from close range.

Result: East Thurrock United 0-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Attendance: N/A

Friday, 7 August 2015

2015 Stadium #10 - Burroughs Park

Date: 21st July 2015
Stadium: Burroughs Park
Location: Great Wakering, Essex

My tenth stadium of 2015 was on Tuesday 21st July at Burroughs Park in Great Wakering, Essex. The match was Great Wakering Rovers vs. Concord Rangers in a friendly.

Burroughs Park is adjacent to a large number of allotments on the edge of the village of Great Wakering. Is is 2.5 miles from the nearest railway station at Shoeburyness although Southend Central at 5 miles away has the advantage of connecting bus services. The venue has been home to the club since 1985.

The ground has one all-seater stand which sits just to the west of the half-way line on the northern side of the venue. This stand can hold 150 supporters and includes a wooden press box in the back corner. The remainder of this side of Burroughs Park is uncovered hard standing and there is a small demountable club shop just to the east of the all-seater stand.

The southern side has a covered terrace level with the half-way line. In front of this are the two dugouts. There is additional uncovered concrete terracing behind both of the goals with this taking up half the space at the eastern and western sections of the ground. The north-east corner, known as Nobby's End, contains the clubhouse, a food outlet and changing rooms with a roof section extending over the hard standing in this corner.

The game was a friendly between Isthmian League Division One North side Great Wakering Rovers and Conference South side Concord Rangers. The visitors were the better of the two sides throughout the game taking the lead in the 23rd minute as Ben Greenhalgh dinked a free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner from 20 yards. Five minutes later Concord doubled their lead with a short corner routine allowing Sam Bantick to collect the ball before cutting inside a defender and curling the ball past the keeper. The home side steadied themselves and had a decent spell before the break including an effort which hit the crossbar. However the away side showed their two division advantage in the second period with a comfortable performance. Great Wakering relied on their goalkeeper to make a number of good saves but in the 82nd minute they broke through when Tony Stokes held off the attentions of the home defence before curling into the net from the edge of the area. Concord rounded off the scoring in the 87th minute as they camped around the home penalty area - the first couple of shots were blocked but when the ball fell to George Doyle he made no mistake as he slotted home.

Result: Great Wakering Rovers 0-4 Concord Rangers
Attendance: N/A

Thursday, 14 May 2015

2015 Stadium #9 - Highbury Stadium

Date: 25th April 2015
Stadium: Highbury Stadium
Location: Fleetwood, Lancashire

My ninth stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 25th April at Highbury Stadium in Fleetwood, Lancashire. The match was Fleetwood Town vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

Highbury Stadium is located one mile east of the Irish Sea on the Fylde peninsula. It is tightly hemmed in by housing on three sides and a park on the remaining side. Fleetwood does not have a railway station so the nearest station is Poulton-le-Fylde around six miles south. There are however connecting tram services from Blackpool which stop 200 yards from the ground. The venue has been home to the club and its previous incarnations since 1939.

Having gone up six divisions in the space of a decade Fleetwood have had to adapt their Highbury home beyond all recognition. The latest addition is the Parkside Stand which dominates the ground. Finished in 2011 this stand has one main tier of seating with room for around 2,000 fans. At the back of the stand there are two levels of hospitality and conference areas with the top one of these including a balcony of additional seating which hangs over the top of the main seating area. The stand is topped off with a dramatic curved roof. It also contains the club reception and a small ticket office and club shop.

The only other area of seating is on the opposite side of the pitch where the Highbury Stand is located. Due to the adjacent social club this stand only runs for around half the length of the pitch and has a total of 550 seats. The Memorial Stand sits behind the north goal and is a concrete terrace with room for just under 1,500 home fans. Attached to the back of the stand is an excellent bar known as Jim's Sports Bar which can be used by home or away supporters. Behind the southern goal is the Percy Ronson Stand - this small terrace takes up around two-thirds of this side of the ground and has a capacity of just over 600. This is where the away fans view games from although there is also a small section of the Parkside Stand provided for those who want to sit.

The first half was a pretty quiet affair - the closest moment to a goal was around the half-hour mark when Gavin Massey went close to scoring with a volley from six yards - on this occasion Fleetwood keeper Chris Maxwell was able to palm the ball away and smother Massey's rebound effort. The game sprung into life in the second half - barely a minute after the interval Colchester took the lead. Excellent work down the wing by Jacob Murphy saw him beat two defenders before crossing for George Moncur to slot home. The visitors went close to extending their lead on a couple of occasions but found themselves pegged back in the 64th minute when Jamie Proctor clipped the ball home after a chaotic bit of pinball in the Colchester penalty box. In the 73rd minute Fleetwood took the lead when Proctor's lofted pass found David Ball who shrugged off Bongani Khumalo before curling the ball into the corner of the net. This meant that the visitors were staring relegation in the face unless they could turn the game round and in an extraordinary end to the game they did. In the 84th minute Gaving Massey swung a ball into the box - Macauley Bonne failed to connect but his presence seemed to put off Maxwell in the home goal and he let the ball slip through his hands into the net. The U's went on the attack straight from the kick-off and only a minute later after the equaliser were awarded a penalty when Dion Sembie-Ferris was scythed down just inside the area. Chris Porter stepped up and slammed the ball home to complete a remarkable turnaround for the U's whose season had looked finished at one point. The goals which kept Colchester in the survival hunt proved crucial as the following weekend victory over Preston saw Colchester stay up.

Result: Fleetwood Town 2-3 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 3,129

Monday, 4 May 2015

2015 Stadium #8 - Proact Stadium

Date: 14th April 2015
Stadium: Proact Stadium
Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire

My eighth stadium of 2015 was on Tuesday 14th April at the Proact Stadium in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The match was Chesterfield vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

The Proact Stadium was part of a regeneration project of the former glassworks in the Whittington Moor part of the town and sits adjacent to a large Tesco store. The venue is around 1.5 miles north of Chesterfield railway station and has been home to the club since 2010 when they moved from their Saltergate home where they had been for the previous 139 years.

The ground is pretty typical of modern new builds with four separate stands of similar heights though the East and West Stands have curved roofs. There are gaps in each corner which can be filled in should the club ever need to expand the ground. The West Stand is also known as the Main Stand and has 3,144 seats as well as executive boxes and conference areas towards the rear. The outward facing side of the stand has the club reception, ticket office and a small club shop.

Opposite this the East Stand has 3,208 seats and is sometimes used for away fans. This stand has a health club, cafe, community centre and play area contained within as well as a memorial garden at the back of the car park. The North and South stands behind the goals have flat roofs and both have a capacity of just over 2,000 each. Away fans are often positioned in the North Stand though on my trip we were in the East Stand.

Chesterfield came into the game on a strong run of form and took the lead after 6 minutes - Drew Talbot's cross into the box found Gary Roberts who took advantage of a defensive slip to steady himself and volley the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards. In the 16th minute Dan Gardner slipped past Colchester defender Alex Wynter with ease before pulling back for Sam Clucas to smash the ball into the roof of the net. Less than 60 seconds later it was 3-0 as some atrocious defending by Colchester allowed Sam Clucas to ghost past three defenders and chip the ball over Chris Lewington. The game was over as a contest by this point though the visitors were able to arrest the scoring until at least half-time. Colchester made a triple substitution at the interval at the break to try and turn things around but if anything the second half was even more one-sided than the first. In the 58th minute Dan Gardner took a speculative 20 yard shot which was spilled into the back of the net by Lewington in the U's goal. A couple of minutes later it was 5-0 after more horrendous defending led to Jimmy Ryan beating the offside trap and chipping the ball in from close range. The hosts continued to batter the visitors who had Lewington to thank for keeping the score down to single figures. In the final few minutes there was yet another shocking attempt to play offside against Gary Roberts which led to him being felled by Lewington in the area. Roberts brushed himself off and dispatched the penalty to round off the scoring. A brilliant performance from Chesterfield against an appalling Colchester who were lucky to only lose by six.

Result: Chesterfield 6-0 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 6,508

Thursday, 30 April 2015

2015 Stadium #7 - Mill Field

Date: 6th April 2015
Stadium: Mill Field
Location: Aveley, Essex

My seventh stadium of 2015 was on Monday 6th April at Mill Field in Aveley, Essex. The match was Aveley vs. Thamesmead Town in Isthmian League Division One North.

Mill Field is close to the centre of Aveley and is just over 2 miles from the nearest railway station at Purfleet. With building work ongoing the stadium is now bordered by housing on three sides and the venue itself will become housing in the next few years. having resided in Mill Field since 1927 the club will soon be moving to Belhus Park just to the north of the village.

The west side of the ground is the most significant part of the venue. There is a 400 seat wooden stand level with the half-way line - this structure was built in the 1950s and has a few supporting columns at the front of it to hold up the roof. In front of this is a large amount of uncovered concrete terracing which runs for the length of the pitch. The clubhouse, dressing rooms and dugouts are also on this side of Mill Field.

The east side housed the Pepper Stand until it was damaged in a storm in 2009 - there is currently just a small bit of covered concrete terracing with a tarpaulin back to it. Because of the curve of the ground this sits a way back from the pitch. Behind the northern goal there is a covered metal terrace which has been added in recent years. The rest of the venue is uncovered hard standing.

The visitors were on top in the early going though it took until the 28th minute for them to take the lead. Tyrus Gordon-Young played a slick pass in behind the defence which allowed Michael Uwezu time to slide the ball past James Marrable in the Aveley goal. In the 34th minute Thamesmead doubled the lead when a dangerous cross into the area saw Spencer Harrison divert the ball into his own net. It looked like the away side were on for an easy win but in the 41st minute Aveley grabbed a lifeline when Steve Willis beat the offside trap and having drawn the goalkeeper then squared for  Liam Nash to stoke into the empty net. Thamesmead restored the two goal lead in the 54th minute in real route 1 fashion - a long goal kick up field was nodded on for Michael Uwezu to slam past the goalie. This lead went back down to a single goal in the 72nd minute as Petrit Elbi held off the attentions of a couple of defenders on the edge of the area before shooting in the bottom corner. This was the catalyst for a costly few minutes for Thamemead - firstly Derek Duncan was sent off for hitting Luke Stanley and straight after this they conceded a third when a nice passing move culminated in Arian Retkoceri curling a shot in off the post from 20 yards out. The hosts were well on top for the rest of the game but couldn't quite get a winner. In the 93rd minute Thamesmead were reduced to nine men as Michael Spencer was given his marching orders for a second booking but there wasn't enough time for Aveley to take advantage of this.

Result: Aveley 3-3 Thamesmead Town
Division: Isthmian League Division One North
Attendance: 76

Thursday, 23 April 2015

2015 Stadium #6 - Parsonage Field

Date: 6th April 2015
Stadium: Parsonage Field
Location: Farleigh, Surrey

My sixth stadium of 2015 was on Monday 6th April at Parsonage Field in Farleigh, Surrey. The match was Farleigh Rovers vs. AFC Croydon Athletic in the Combined Counties League Division One.

Parsonage Field is in a leafy, residential area on the edge of Warmlingham. The ground is around 3 miles east of the closest railway stations at Whyteleafe, Whyteleafe South and Upper Warlingham. The venue became home to the club in 1959.

The southern side of the ground contains the car park, a clubhouse and the dugouts. The clubhouse building has an overhanging roof providing a covered spectator area which includes a couple of wooden benches. To the right of this there is an open area which extends towards the pitch and this contains several additional picnic benches.

The remainder of the venue is uncovered standing but there are no more hard standing areas on the other three sides. There is a metal barrier running alongside the pitch on the the northern side of the ground and this extends round the corners almost as far as the two goals. There is however only a narrow strip where fans can congregate behind the two goals. Directly behind the eastern goal is the access road to the venue and beyond this a field. The perimeter fence on this side has seen better days so the club are hoping to replace this soon. There are no floodlights at Parsonage Field which led to the club moving to the Croydon Arena a few years ago. They have now returned but will be unable to progress any further up the league ladder without a floodlit stadium.

This was a top of the table clash with both sides knowing a win would see them occupying 1st place come the final whistle. The visitors had the best of the opening period of the game and took the lead in the 26th minute when Callum Maclean controlled the ball well in the box before driving into the bottom corner. AFC Croydon Athletic were looking to extend their lead while they were on top but two Farleigh goals in the space of four minutes turned the game on its head. Just after the half-hour mark the hosts were awarded a penalty when a free-kick was handled in the box - Liam Neaves stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to level the game up at 1-1. In the 38th minute Neaves scored again when his free-kick into the area bypassed everyone and bounced into the top corner of the net. The away side were on top for the bulk of the second half but Farleigh dug in resolutely and were able to eke out a 2-1 victory to remain at the summit of the division.

Result: Farleigh Rovers 2-1 AFC Croydon Athletic
Division: Combined Counties League Division One
Attendance: 207