Tuesday, 17 November 2015

2015 Stadium #20 - Goodison Park

Date: 27th October 2015
Stadium: Goodison Park
Location: Liverpool, Merseyside

My twentieth stadium of 2015 was on Tuesday 27th October at Goodison Park in Liverpool, Merseyside. The match was Everton vs. Norwich City in the Football League Cup 4th Round.

Goodison Park is located in a built-up residential area in the Walton area of the city, close to Stanley Park. The venue is three-quarters of a mile east of the nearest railway station at Kirkdale and around 2.5 miles north of Liverpool Lime Street station in the centre of the city. Goodison Park has been home to Everton since 1892 making it one of the oldest top-flight grounds.

With the stadium surrounded by residential streets on three sides it is quite tightly packed in except on the south side where there space for the club to utilise. This area is marked with a statue of Dixie Dean and a memorial wall gated entrance. Inside is a fan zone with food outlets and a small club shop (the main Everton One club shop is located just across the road). The southern end is home to the Park End - the most recent addition to Goodison Park having been built in 1994. This single-tier cantilever stand can fit approximately 6,000 fans and also includes the club reception, ticket office and hospitality areas. Because of its newer design it is the only stand in Goodison Park with no restricted views.

On the western side of the ground is the Main Stand which is the only three-tier structure. This was built in 1971 and towers over the other three stands which are of the same height. There are great supporting beams holding up the roof at the bottom of the second tier with smaller stanchions at the top to hold up the top tier. Since its opening the Main Stand has had corporate boxes added to the small bottom tier. Opposite this is the Bullens Road Stand which dates back to 1926. This includes a large gantry at the top of the stand where the TV camera is positioned. The southern end of the stand is given over to away fans with large following using the top and bottom tiers. There is a corner quadrant which links this Gwladys Street Stand behind the northern goal. Originally built in 1938 this end has undergone quite a lot of change over the years that followed. There is no quadrant linking it up with the Main Stand due to the church in the north-east corner of Goodison Park. With no more room to increase the current capacity of 39,572 and the small amount of corporate areas afforded to it the club have had their eye on building a new stadium for quite some time. However, after several false starts this will be a number of years before this may come to fruition.

The first half was a dull affair - the closest either side came to netting was in the 25th minute when Tyias Browning intercepted the ball and slid it through to Romelu Lukaku who brought a good save out of Declan Rudd. Only 5 minutes into the second half Norwich took the lead - a corner was only cleared as far as Gary O'Neil who scooped the ball back into the box allowing Sebastian Bassong to stroke the ball home. The hosts had plenty of possession during the following minutes but found it tough to create good chances until the 68th minute when they netted the equaliser. Kevin Miralles got into space down the left-wing and his low cross found Leon Osman who turned and rolled the ball in off the post. The away side had a few good opportunities to win it after this but were denied by some excellent goalkeeping by Joel Robles. The game progressed into extra time with Everton the better side but in injury time Ross Barkley blazed over to ensure this one was going to a penalty shoot-out. Everton successfully dispatched their spot-kicks but with Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond failing to score it meant an exit from the tournament for Norwich.

Result: Everton 1-1 Norwich City (Everton win 4-3 on penalties)
Competition: Football League Cup
Attendance: 31,694

Friday, 13 November 2015

2015 Stadium #19 - New Meadow

Date: 10th October 2015
Stadium: New Meadow
Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

My nineteenth stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 10th October at New Meadow in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The match was Shrewsbury Town vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

New Meadow sits on the southern outskirts of the town just across the railway line from the Meole Brace Retail Park. It is 2 miles south of Shrewsbury railway station and has been home to the club since 2007 when they left their Gay Meadow home after 97 years.

The stadium consists of four stands of identical heights with gaps in each corner. New Meadow has a capacity of 9,875 though for the visit of Chelsea in 2014 the club installed temporary seating in two corners to enable a record attendance of 10,210 to be achieved. The East Stand includes the club reception, home ticket office and a small club shop as well as the player dressing rooms. All the hospitality areas are contained within with two rows of corporate boxes in the middle of the stand.

Away fans are positioned in the North Stand which has the smallest capacity on behalf of the media box in the top corner. There is an away ticket office on the outside and the area behind the stand also hosts a Powerleague centre with seven mini football pitches. At the opposite end of the stadium the South Stand contains the more vocal element of the Shrewsbury fanbase. The West Stand has the largest capacity in the venue and is the only stand without a platform for disabled supporters at the back.

Colchester came into the game on a good run of form and dominated the first half. The U's had the ball in the back of the net twice in the first half-hour only to see the offside flag deny them on both occasions. It was third time lucky in the 36th minute though as Gavin Massey's was turned into his own net by Mark Ellis. In the 39th minute it was 2-0 as a corner was knocked on to Tom Eastman who backheeled the ball into the home goal. The Colchester cruising at the break few could have foreseen the second half collapse that was to come. The home side made two changes at the break and this paid immediate dividends as just 39 seconds into the second half the hosts reduced the deficit as Larnell Cole beat Tosin Olufemi down the left-wing and crossed for Tyrone Barnett to head home. Just before the hour mark Shrewsbury equalised as Ian Black's floated ball bypassed the static away defence and found Tyrone Barnett who chested the ball and clipped it over the advancing Jamie Jones. The home side went in front in the 71st minute as a lofted ball beat a Colchester defence trying to play offside allowing Sullay Kaikai to round the keeper and roll the ball in. The final goal arrived in the 81st minute as Liam Lawrence lofted the ball to Kaikai who took a first time shot which went through the legs of Jones in the visiting goal. The two substitutes brought on at half-time had bagged four goals between them and turned a likely defeat into victory for the Shrews.

Result: Shrewsbury Town 4-2 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 4,947

Monday, 26 October 2015

2015 Stadium #18 - Kiln Brow

Date: 19th September 2015
Stadium: Kiln Brow
Location: Redhill, Surrey

My eighteenth stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 19th September at Kiln Brow in Redhill, Surrey. The match was Redhill vs. Windsor in the Combined Counties League Premier Division.

Kiln Brow is in the Earlswood suburb on the southern edge of Redhill, just under a mile south of Earlswood railway station. The ground is part of an area of green space next to the A23 road so is bordered by trees on all sides. The venue has been home to Redhill since 1984.

The majority of the facilities are located on the east side of the ground. The 162 seat Alan Thurlbeck Stand is situated level with the half-way line and is slightly unusual in that it has a floodlight in front of the middle of the structure. Directly behind the stand is the club bar. Towards the northern goal there a building containing the dressing and towards the southern goal a few demountables used for a food outlet and a small club shop. This side of Kiln Brow also contains a fairly large car park.

There is one other stand in the ground which is in the south-east corner - this covered concrete terrace only takes up around a quarter of the south side of the ground. The remainder of the ground is uncovered hard standing. The western section of the stadium houses the two team dugouts and behind this there is a spacious grass area for spectators.

Redhill burst out of the traps in this game and had the ball in the net in the 3rd minute only to see it chalked off for a foul on the keeper. The hosts did take the lead in the 24th minute when good play down the left saw the ball backheeled to Alex Rose who whipped a low cross across the face of goal. Gareth Chendlik was able to get on the end of it to tap in from a couple of yards out. Redhill were completely on top and a couple of minutes later the away side had to rely on an excellent double save by Carl Dennison to keep the score at 1-0. Seconds later Redhill had the ball in the net for the 3rd time but again it was disallowed, this time for offside. From the resulting free-kick there was a mix-up in the Redhill defence and in an attempt to clear the ball there was a trip in the box. Kyle Lucas duly sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to get Windsor back into the game. The pattern of the game then switched with Windsor becoming the stronger side and in the 52nd minute the visitors took the lead - after strong work down the left hand side the ball was crossed into the six yard box and turned in off the bar by Wayne Harvey. The away side looked to have the 3 points in the bag but in the 91st minute the ball was given away and a through ball found substitute Ulric Campbell who stroked it past the keeper from edge of the area to salvage a point for Redhill.

Result: Redhill 2-2 Windsor
Division: Combined Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 80

Thursday, 22 October 2015

2015 Stadium #17 - The Northolme

Date: 15th September 2015
Stadium: The Northolme
Location: Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

My seventeenth stadium of 2015 was on Tuesday 15th September at The Northolme in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The match was Gainsborough Trinity vs. Tamworth in National League North.

The Northolme is in a residential area close to the town centre. The nearest viable railway station is 1.5 miles south at Gainsborough Lea Road (technically Gainsborough Central station is much closer but with only three services per week it is of very limited use). The venue was built in the 1850s as a cricket ground and has been home to the football club since 1884 making it one of the longest serving grounds in English football.

The Main Stand is next to the half-way line on the northern side of the ground. This two-tiered stand has just over 500 seats and three supporting beams towards the front of the stand holding up the roof. Either side of this is uncovered standing with the western section containing a couple of demountable buildings. The north-west corner of the stadium includes a club shop and kids snack outlet which sits next to the covered concrete terrace which runs behind behind the western goal.

The south-west corner of the venue includes another food outlet just inside the turnstiles while directly outside the stadium is The Blues Club supporters bar. The southern side of the ground is covered concrete terracing for around two-thirds of the length of the pitch with hard standing directly in front of this. The area behind the eastern goal is uncovered terracing.Though the ground is tightly packed in its surroundings there is a decent amount of space inside with an overall capacity of just under 4,500.

The hosts were fortunate to avoid going behind in the 12th minute when Elliott Durrell hit the post with a low drive from just inside the box. However, they weren't as fortunate a minute late as Elliot Durrell again caused problems as he skipped through the Gainsborough defence before unleashing a low curling shot into the net from 20 yards out. In the 34th minute Tamworth doubled the lead when a corner to the back post was struck hard into the bottom corner by Owen Warlow. The visitors were rarely threatened during the game and the event passed by with an largely uneventful 2nd half. The closest the match came to another goal was in the 75th minute when Jan Budtz saved a Ross Dyer shot from close range to prevent a the defeat getting any worse.

Result: Gainsborough Trinity 0-2 Tamworth
Division: National League North
Attendance: 404

Thursday, 8 October 2015

2015 Stadium #16 - Liberty Way

Date: 12th September 2015
Stadium: Liberty Way
Location: Nuneaton, Warwickshire

My sixteenth stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 12th September at Liberty Way in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The match was Nuneaton Town vs. Gainsborough Trinity in National League North.

Liberty Way is in the midst of the Attleborough Fields industrial estate in the south-east corner of the town around 1.5 miles from Nuneaton railway station. The club moved to the venue in 2007 ending an 88 year stay at their Manor Park ground.

All the seating areas are on the north-east side of the ground. The main stand contains 514 seats and rests on the nothern side of the half-way line. There are offices and a TV gantry next to this with the dugouts in front of these. On the southern side of the half-way line there is a wooden structure for corporate clients which contains a small amount of additional seating at the front.

The opposite side of the pitch consists of uncovered standing with two concrete terraces taking up most of this side of the ground. Behind these terraces is a building for Nuneaton Rugby Club which also shares the ground as it rents the venue from the football club. The areas behind the two goals are taken up by covered terracing with the stand behind the southern goal being the larger of the two.

Nuneaton edged the first part of the game and took the lead in the 36th minute. A Gainsborough free-kick broke to Elliot Whitehouse who played a ball over the top of the defence to Aaron Williams who raced clear to slot past the keeper. The home side began the 2nd half strongly with concerted pressure on away box and on the hour mark they made the breakthrough. The ball was laid off to Shane Byrne on the edge of the box and his deflected shot wrong-footed Jan Budtz in the Gainsborough goal. Nuneaton dominated the rest of the game and Gainsborough could count themselves a little fortunate to have only lost by two.

Result: Nuneaton Town 2-0 Gainsborough Trinity
Division: National League North
Attendance: 625

Sunday, 27 September 2015

2015 Stadium #15 - Fetcham Grove

Date: 31st August 2015
Stadium: Fetcham Grove
Location: Leatherhead, Surrey

My fifteenth stadium of 2015 was on Monday 31st August at Fetcham Grove in Leatherhead, Surrey. The match was Leatherhead vs. Merstham in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

Fetcham Grove is located within a sports complex which includes a cricket club and leisure centre. The ground is half a mile south of Leatherhead railway station. The current incarnation of the club was formed in 1946 and they have played at Fetcham Grove since then - prior to this the venue was home to Leatherhead United.

The south-west side of the ground is a mixture of seating and terracing but is all under cover. The seated area is placed in the middle with concrete terracing either side of it taking up most of this side of Fetcham Grove. There is a food outlet positioned in between the seating and the terracing towards the northern end of the ground and there is a club bar behind the terracing towards the southern end of the ground.

The north-west side is taken up by uncovered hard standing with a grass bank behind it. The hard standing extends round to the south-eastern area which is the narrowest part of the stadium. Behind the goal at this end is a covered standing area. There is a large grass bank behind the northern goal with concrete terracing towards the bottom of this. Part of the terracing is covered and this is known as the Bernard Edwards Stand.

There was an energetic start to proceedings but the first real chance didn't come until the 27th minute when a Merstham header hit the crossbar. Five minutes after this Merstham did take the lead when a ball to the back post was pulled back for Wes Daly who drilled the ball in from 20 yards. In the 54th minute the visitors hit the woodwork again when a defence error saw Tommy Hutchings pick up the ball and try a terrific chip which came back off the inside of the post. Hutchings continued to cause the home defence problems and in the 63rd minute he managed to burst through the defence before squaring for Fabio Saraiva to tap into an empty net. The closing stages were end-to-end and the home side almost made it a nervy finish for Merstham when a 40-yard lob came back off the crossbar with 10 minutes still to play. The away side survived the scare and saw out the rest of the game out to pick up a good win.

Result: Leatherhead 0-2 Merstham
Division: Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance: 275

Friday, 11 September 2015

2015 Stadium #14 - High Road

Date: 31st August 2015
Stadium: High Road
Location: Chipstead, Surrey

My fourteenth stadium of 2015 was on Monday 31st August at High Road in Chipstead, Surrey. The match was Epsom & Ewell vs. Raynes Park Vale in the Combined Counties League Premier Division.

High Road is in a rural setting to the south of Chipstead around 1.5 miles from the village's railway station. While Chipstead FC are the owners of the ground Epsom & Ewell have played there since 2012. The club have gone through numerous groundshares since their West Street Ground was sold in 1993.

The 157 seat Memorial Stand is situated on the western side of the ground. This stand replaced an older wooden structure in 2004 and it was extended in 2007. To the north of this stand is a food outlet and a couple of benches. To the south of the stand are the changing rooms and the club house which extends outside of the turnstiles.

The remainder of the venue is hard standing with one other covered area in the south-west corner behind the goal. Added in 2006 this area has a raised concrete platform. Though quite a compact venue High Road does include several mini football pitches to the north and east of the ground itself.

With a torrential downpour starting as the teams walked onto the pitch the opening period of the game was a scrappy one and it wasn't until the rain died down a bit that a proper game ensued. The home side took the lead in the 26th minute after excellent work down the wing by Beckett Oliver culminated in him crossing into the box and an under pressure defender ended up chesting the ball into his own goal from a couple of yards out. Epsom went 2-0 up in the 40th minute after a corner was nodded down to Kyle Hough who smashed the ball into top corner of the net. The visiting side were second best all afternoon and fell further behind in the 75th minute when Kyle Hough netted again. This one was the best goal of the game as Hough beat a couple of defenders before drilling a shot into the bottom corner from just inside the box. Immediately after this Epsom almost added a 4th from a corner but a goalline clearance saved Vale's blushes. The visitors did get a consolation back in the 85th minute when a corner was headed in on the line but could have no complaints about the scoreline.

Result: Epsom & Ewell 3-1 Raynes Park Vale
Division: Combined Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 62