Thursday, 21 August 2014

2014 Stadium #15 - Park Lane

Date: 5th August 2014
Stadium: Park Lane
Location: Canvey Island, Essex

My fifteenth stadium of 2014 was on Tuesday 5th August 2014 at Park Lane on Canvey Island, Essex. The match was Canvey Island vs. Maldon & Tiptree in a friendly.

Park Lane is in the south of the island just a couple of hundred yards from the Thames Estuary. The venue sits a few feet below sea level with a marker on one of the stands to denote this. The stadium sits in a green space in the middle of a built-up area. The nearest railway station accessible by land is Benfleet, some 3.5 miles north-west of the ground.

The west side of Park Lane features a thin all-seater stand which extends approximately 85 yards down to the southern end of the ground. This is fully covered and has just over 450 seats contained within it. Adjacent to this structure are the dressing rooms, food outlet and club bar. On the opposite side of the pitch there are two small covered stands either side of the half-way line with the two dugouts between them. These two stands have a few rows of shallow concrete and are the only covered sections on this side of the ground with the remainder of the east end given over to hard standing.

There is fairly limited space behind the goal at the southern end of the ground with a small terrace section taking up the length of this part of Park Lane. At the opposite end of the pitch there is a more substantial terrace which, though also uncovered, provides better views of the action from a steeper vantage point. The north-western corner of the venue has the turnstile entrances as well as the access points to the club bar.

The game was a friendly between Isthmian League Premier Division side Canvey Island and Isthmian League Division One side Maldon & Tiptree. The home side should have taken the lead early on when Victor Osobu crossed to the feet of Anthony Thomas who put the ball wide from a few yards out. However, Thomas made no mistake in the 33rd minute when he controlled a cross on his chest before wrong footing the goalkeeper and tapping into the empty net. Canvey's lead only lasted a couple of minutes - a Maldon long ball found Bradley Hunter on the edge of the box and he was able to out-muscle his marker before slamming the ball home. The Gulls came out on the attack at the start of the second half and in the 56th minute re-took the lead when Anthony Thomas' corner was curled into the back post and flew into the roof of the net via a deflection from Maldon defender Danny Smith. The visiting side then brought the game level again in the 71st minute when a blocked shot fell to Alberto Pinto who smartly controlled the ball before unleashing it into the bottom corner. If anyone was going to win it during the final minutes it was Maldon and in the 88th minute they came very close to snatching a winner. The ball was whipped into the box by a Maldon winger and when the Canvey goalkeeper collided with one of his defenders the ball was on its way into the net before a last ditch slide by Ashley Dumas just kept the ball from crossing the line.

Result: Canvey Island 2-2 Maldon & Tiptree
Attendance: 139

Friday, 15 August 2014

2014 Stadium #14 - Pride Park

Date: 2nd August 2014
Stadium: Pride Park
Location: Derby, Derbyshire

My fourteenth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 2nd August 2014 at Pride Park in Derby, Derbyshire. The match was Derby County vs. Rangers in a friendly.

Pride Park Stadium, currently known as the iPro Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is part of the Pride Park business park to the east of the city centre and around three-quarters of a mile from Derby railway station. The club moved to the stadium in 1997 having left the Baseball Ground which had been their home for the previous 102 years.

The West Stand is the largest in the ground - it has two tiers with executive boxes in between the levels for the length of the stand. The structure extends round into the south-west and north-west quadrants with the latter consisting of an extra two levels of hospitality areas with a big screen above this and a small amount of general seating on the lower tier. This side of the venue also contains the club reception, ticket office and a Starbucks built into the outside of the north-west quadrant.

The rest of the stadium is a bowl shape which takes up the North, East and South Stands. Because these stands are lower than the West Stand the roof dips down to take this into account. If the club become established in the Premier League there is an option to increase the capacity of these three stands up to the same height. The club shop is located in the East Stand and there is also a Greggs built into the north-east quadrant.

The game was a friendly between Football League Championship side Derby County and Scottish Championship side Rangers.There was a massive travelling contingent of almost 10,000 Rangers fans at the friendly and their side came close to opening the scoring on 15 minutes. Kenny Miller crossed the ball for Fraser Aird who headed wide from just a couple of yard out. Derby grew stronger as the half progressed and had a shot cleared off the line just before the interval. In the second half the home side were on top and just before the hour mark took the lead. Simon Dawkins got into the box and was able to draw two Rangers defenders and the goalkeeper away from the centre allowing him to cross the ball for Chris Martin to slide into an empty net. In the 73rd minute later the home side doubled their lead when Will Hughes ran through the visiting defence before laying a perfectly timed through ball for Martin who tucked the ball under the advancing goalkeeper. A couple of minutes after this Martin was involved in an off the ball incident with Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni. The Rangers man took exception to being tackled and flew head-first into Martin's chest. The referee was left with no option but to send Mohsni off for this ridiculous act. Derby narrowly missed notching up a third goal with the last kick of the game as the ball flashed wide from a free-kick but the game finished 2-0.

Result: Derby County 2-0 Rangers
Attendance: 17,860

Monday, 11 August 2014

2014 Stadium #13 - Crown Avenue

Date: 29th July 2014
Stadium: Crown Avenue
Location: Pitsea, Essex

My thirteenth stadium of 2014 was on Tuesday 29th July 2014 at Crown Avenue in Pitsea, Essex. The match was Bowers & Pitsea vs. Maldon & Tiptree in a friendly.

Crown Avenue, also known as the Len Salmon Stadium, is located on the outskirts of Pitsea with trees and fields on three sides and housing on the other. The stadium is 1.5 miles from Pitsea railway station.

The south side of the stadium has a covered all-seater stand at the centre of it with room for around 180 people. To the east of the main stand is a covered area containing a food outlet and to the west of it is a small uncovered concrete terrace. The rest of this side of the ground is uncovered hard standing.

As the northern side of the ground is hemmed in by trees there is only room for the the two dugouts with nothing in the way of spectator areas. The remaining areas for fans to view from are behind the two goals - there is a covered terrace behind the goal at the eastern end of the ground and uncovered hard standing behind the goal at the western end of the ground.

The game was a friendly match between Essex Senior League side Bowers & Pitsea and Isthmian League Division One North side Maldon & Tiptree. There was a dramatic start to the match as the visitors went 2-0 up in under 2 minutes. After 50 seconds the ball was lifted over the top to a Maldon striker who lobbed the advancing keeper and just 55 seconds after this Bowers failed to clear their lines and a 25 yard strike found its way into the net. The home side were really struggling and only some good fortune prevented the visitors from extending their lead until the 24th minute when another 25 yard effort was shot into the bottom corner. In the 27th minute it was 4-0 as a corner was whipped into the box and nodded home by a Maldon player. In the 32nd minute the hosts grabbed one back after the Maldon goalkeeper lost possession on the edge of his box and the ball was squared for a Bowers striker to tap in. The respite did not last long though as Maldon then scored another 2 goals within a minute - the first from the edge of the box and the second when a ball was sent across the box and with all the defender missing it the midfielder at the back post was able to slot home. The hosts saw out the 10 minute before the break but went in 6-1 down. Having being torn apart in the first half the home side re-organised at the break and put on a significantly better display in the second 45 minutes. On the hour mark there was an unsavoury incident when a visiting player appeared to headbutt a home player who then raised his arms in retaliation. The referee sent both for an early bath. In the 66th minute Maldon had a chance to notch up their 7th goal of the game when they were awarded a penalty but the goalkeeper was able to palm the ball away. Bowers were able to dig in and stop the score getting any worse which, after their first half display, must have been a big relief.

Result: Bowers & Pitsea 1-6 Maldon & Tiptree
Attendance: N/A

Friday, 8 August 2014

2014 Stadium #12 - Colston Avenue

Date: 26th July 2014
Stadium: Colston Avenue
Location: Carshalton, London

My twelfth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 26th July 2014 at Colston Avenue in Carshalton, London. The match was Carshalton Athletic vs. Leatherhead in a friendly.

Colston Avenue, also known as the War Memorial Sports Ground, is part of a green space in the middle of a built-up area. The ground is bordered by a mixture of trees, allotments and parkland on three sides with a secondary school on the other. The stadium is just a third of mile from Carshalton railway station and has been the home of the club since 1921.

The single all-seater stand is located on the southern side of the ground. This stand, which can hold 240 fans starts from the half-way line and extends towards the western side of the stadium. Attached on the eastern side of the structure is the walkway leading back to the player dressing rooms and further towards the eastern end of the ground there is a clubhouse and food outlet.

The northern side of Colston Avenue consists of a covered concrete terrace which extends the whole lenth of the pitch. There is plenty of space for fans here with the roof providing protection from the elements. The two dugouts are positioned directly in front of this stand. The eastern end of the stadium also consists of covered concrete terracing although it is much smaller than the area on the northern side. The western end is mostly uncovered standing though there is a small covered section directly behind the goal.

The game was a friendly match between Isthmian League Division One South side Carshalton Athletic and Isthmian League Premier Division side Leatherhead. The hosts almost took the lead in the 28th minute when Nassim Dukali dispossessed a Leatherhead defender and struck the ball towards goal from 20 yards. With the keeper beaten the ball came back off the post and away. Just a couple of minutes later it was the turn of the visitors to hit the woodwork when a corner was swung in to the back post and looked to be going in. Carshalton defender Ricardo Panto reacted quickly to head the ball off his own crossbar and it was scrambled away. In the 43rd minutes Leatherhead did grab the lead as Kiernan Mason-Hughes drew the home defence out with a positive run and when the ball found Ashley Miller he was able to clip the ball into the bottom corner. The away side continued their play into the second period and should have stretched their lead on a couple of occasions. In the 79th minute they were punished when Jason Henry ran down the wing before laying the ball off to Kingsley Aikhionbare to slot home to make it 1-1. In the final two minutes both sides had excellent chances to win the game - first Mason-Hughes split the defence to go clean through but was denied by a good save by Jack Eden. Just after this Jason Henry then found himself one-on-one with the Leatherhead keeper but his weak shot was easily stopped as the referee blew the final whistle.

Result: Carshalton Athletic 1-1 Leatherhead
Attendance: N/A

Thursday, 31 July 2014

2014 Stadium #11 - Rosemary Lane

Date: 15th July 2014
Stadium: Rosemary Lane
Location: Halstead, Essex

My eleventh stadium of 2014 was on Tuesday 15th July 2014 at Rosemary Lane in Halstead, Essex. The match was Halstead Town vs. Witham Town in a friendly.

Rosemary Lane is located at the back of an industrial estate just off the high street. As it is also on the outskirts of the small town of Halstead the north side of the venue backs onto the countryside in this rural part of north Essex. The nearest railway station is Braintree, some 6.5 miles south of the town. The Rosemary Lane venue has been home to the club since 1948.

The ground has a single stand located in the centre of the southern side of the venue. This stand has a total of 312 seats with it split down the middle by the players tunnel which leads back to the dressing rooms. There is also an additional back row without seating that can still be used. The structure has a couple of stanchions to hold up the old roof but offers good views of the game.

At the eastern end of this side of the ground there is also a tidy little clubhouse. The rest of the ground is uncovered hard standing with a strip of concrete extending around the pitch. The two dugouts are situated on the northern side of the ground directly opposite the stand.

The game was a friendly match between Eastern Counties League Division One side Halstead Town and Isthmian League Premier Division side Witham Town. The match started fairly evenly with both sides scrapping it out without generating many shots on goal. As the half wore on Witham got on top and won a number of corners after causing Halstead real problems down the wings. In the 41st minute one of these corners paid dividends as James Robinson's cross bounced off a home defender and into the net. The visitors continued to look the better of the two sides at the start of the second period but in the last 20 minutes the game started to swing towards the home side and in the 77th minute they scored a tidy equaliser when a smart dummy lead to a Halstead attacker having a run in on the goalkeeper and he drilled the ball low into the bottom corner. Despite being 3 divisions below their opponents Halstead looked the more likely to grab a winner in the closing stages but in the end both sides deserved a draw which is how it finished.

Result: Halstead Town 1-1 Witham Town
Attendance: N/A

Thursday, 12 June 2014

2014 Stadium #10 - Brunton Park

Date: 26th April 2014
Stadium: Brunton Park
Location: Carlisle, Cumbria

My tenth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 26th April 2014 at Brunton Park in Carlisle, Cumbria. The match was Carlisle United vs. Oldham Athletic in Football League One.

Brunton Park can be found on the edge of a residential area just to the south of the River Petteril. The ground lies 1 mile from Carlisle railway station and has been home to the club since 1909.

The venue is dominated by the East Stand - a large cantilever stand built in 1996 which has a capacity of 6,000. This side of the ground is the only side which is all-seater and the northern end of it is usually given over to away supporters. On the opposite side of the pitch there is a mixture of seating and terracing which can also hold a total of 6,000 fans. This consists of the Paddock which is uncovered concrete terracing split down the middle by the tunnel to the interior of the stadium. Built above the terracing is the Main Stand which is split into three sections - the original structure which was built in the 1950s sits in the middle with two wings with additional seating which were added afterwards. The interior of the Main Stand includes the club facilities such as the dressing rooms, ticket office and hospitality areas.

The area behind the goal at the southern end of the venue is Warwick Road End. This unusual looking stand has a triangular roof which covers the concrete terracing which can house 3,500 people. The club shop is located directly outside the Warwick Road End. Finally the Petteril End is situated behind the goal at the northern end of the ground and is the smallest area at Brunton Park. This is a narrow section of uncovered concrete terracing with a small seated area towards the eastern end of it. The Petteril End is only fully opened for rare matches where high enough attendances are recorded to warrant the opening.

The game was the Carlisle's final home match of the season and they knew that a win was vital if they were to give themselves a chance of staying up. Oldham began the more composed of the two teams and played some good passing football despite not really threatening the home goal. Carlisle went closest when Gary Madine's long range effort was tipped over the bar just before the break. The visitors had the ball in the net around the hour mark as Joel Byrom headed James Wesolowski's cross into the net but as he turned to celebrate saw the offside flag denying Oldham the lead. Shortly after this the visiting side had the ball in the net again and this time it counted - a ball was sent over the drop to James Drayton who easily beat two defenders before poking the ball into the the bottom of the goal. As the game wore on the hosts desperately searched for an equaliser to get a foothold in the game but they lacked quality up front and the wayward finishing meant they could not turn it around. The angry home fans knew as the final whistle went that their chances of staying in League One were very slim and a week later their relegation was confirmed with a 3-0 defeat to Wolves.

Result: Carlisle United 0-1 Oldham Athletic
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 5,313

Thursday, 29 May 2014

2014 Stadium #9 - Bellmount Wood Avenue

Date: 22nd April 2014
Stadium: Bellmount Wood Avenue
Location: Watford, Hertfordshire

My ninth stadium of 2014 was on Tuesday 22nd April 2014 at Bellmount Wood Avenue in Watford, Hertfordshire. The match was Sun Postal Sports vs. Welwyn Garden City in Spartan South Midlands League Division One.

Bellmount Wood Avenue is the site for the Sun Postal Sports & Social Club which sits right on the very outskirts of Watford. To the south and east is the residential Cassiobury area of the town with woods to the north and west. The venue has been home to the club since 1937.

There is one all-seated structure which sits level with the half-way line on the western side of the venue. This stand is a concrete terrace with 96 seats bolted to the middle section. There is space on either side of the seating for standing and it is covered by a metal roof. The rest of the stadium consists of uncovered standing, some concrete, but the majority is grass.

The eastern side of the ground has the dugouts positioned by the half-way line and the social club is located to the south-east of the pitch. This social club contains a large hall including a bar as well as the other club facilities such as player dressing rooms.

It was an action-packed game from the start as the visitors took the lead in the 4th minute - after a shot was blocked in the Sun Postal box the ball ricocheted off Welwyn's Perry Stellon and ended up in the back of the net. The hosts responded quickly and levelled in the 11th minute when Colin Wilson's free-kick was met by Dan Tomkins who slid the ball in on the goal line. Just a couple of minutes later they were awarded a penalty when a handball was spotted in the area. James Armstrong tucked away the spot kick to complete the turnaround. Around the half-hour mark Sun Postal put the visitors under pressure with a series of corner and finally one got through as Ashley Lewis headed home to make it 3-1. There was still time for Welwyn to reduce the deficit before the break as Jason Caswell's drilled shot from the edge of the box went in off the post to end an entertaining first 45 minutes. Sun Postal restored their two goal lead in the 53rd minute after Craig Lynskey slammed home from close range and any hope of a Welwyn comeback was dashed in the 67th minute when they were reduced to ten men for a second bookable offence. It was surprising it had not happened earlier as the game had been an extremely bad tempered one. This quietened the game down a bit though Sun Postal added a 5th through Ashley Lewis late on to run out 5-2 winners as they continued on their way to the Spartan South Midlands Division One title.

Result: Sun Postal Sports 5-2 Welwyn Garden City
Division: Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Attendance: 67