Wednesday, 26 October 2016

2016 Stadium #15 - King George's Field (Tolworth)

Date: 29th August 2016
Stadium: King George's Field
Location: Tolworth, London

My fifteenth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 29th August at King George's Field in Tolworth, London. The match was Corinthian-Casuals vs. Tooting & Mitcham United in the Isthmian League Division One South.

The ground sits within King George's Field - large area of green space close to the A3 road. The venue is surrounded by this except for the northern side which is adjacent to the Chessington branch railway line. The ground sits close to two railway stations with Tolworth half a mile to the east and Chessington North one mile to the west. The ground has been home to Corinthian-Casuals since 1988 when they were able to take it over from Tolworth FC and redevelop the site. This finally gave the side a permanent home after a nomadic existence of eight different locations in the post-war period.

The north side of the venue is the most heavily built up area. Starting from the north-east corner this begins with 5 rows of concrete terracing followed by an area with 3 rows of seating. This consists of 121 seats with a press box at the back close to the half-way line. There is also a separate directors area with 35 seats. Behind the main stand there is a covered eating area extending out from the clubhouse as well as a shed containing the club shop. This takes up around half of the northern side of the ground and with the exception of a single demountable for club officials next to the stand the remainder of the north side is taken up by uncovered standing.

Opposite this the southern side is fairly sparse with uncovered standing with a small grass section behind. The two dugouts are then located next to the pitch. The western end is also mostly uncovered though there is a covered section directly behind the goal with 3 platforms of concrete terracing. The eastern end has a covered stand for the majority of its length - this is larger with 4 platforms of concrete terracing.

The opening period of the match was action packed with a number of goals in quick succesion. This was almost started in the 10th minute when a bad Corinthian goal was kicked straight to Taurean Roberts who beared down on goal only for the keeper to redeem himself and palm away. His relief was short lived though as a minute later he was picking the ball out of the net - once again Roberts had an effort saved but this time Danny Bassett was there waiting to tap in the rebound on the goalline. The hosts equalised in the 14th minute when a free-kick to the back post was steered towards goal by Terry Murray and the ball bobbled through keeper's legs and into bottom of the net. Having within a couple of minutes the hosts found themselves behind again as Jordan Wilson's cross from the right side of area took a deflection off Josh Gallagher and looped over his keeper for an own goal. The Casuals had been on back foot but after conceding the second they got a grip of the game and made more of a fight of things. They got back to level pegging in the 40th minute when a tangle of legs saw Josh Gallagher brought down and the referee point to the spot. Josh Uzan steeped up and sent keeper the wrong way to make it 2-2. That wasn't the end of the first half scoring though as Corinthian put through their own net again - this time when Danny Dudley's deflected Claudio Hoban's corner into the goal. Into the second half Tooting had two efforts cleared off the line in quick succession but just when it looked like they could pull clear they gave away their second penalty of the match when Bashiru Alimi handballed in box. This time the keeper went the right way but couldn't stop Josh Uzun notching up a brace. This changed the nature of the game and it was now the hosts that were on top - shortly after making it 3-3 Uzan was inches away from securing his hatrrick when he headed over from six yards out. The home side were reduced to ten men in the 74th minute when Jordan Clarke received a second yellow for impeding the goalkeeper's goal kick. However this didn't disrupt the flow as both sides went close in the final 20 minutes. This entertaining match could have gone either way but the two sides had to be content with a point apiece.

Result: Corinthian-Casuals 3-3 Tooting & Mitcham United
Division: Isthmian League Division One North
Attendance: 212

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

2016 Stadium #14 - Leg O'Mutton Field

Date: 29th August 2016
Stadium: Leg O'Mutton Field
Location: Cobham, Surrey

My fourteenth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 29th August at the Leg O'Mutton Field in Cobham, Surrey. The match was Cobham vs. Dorking in the Combined Counties League Division One.

Leg O'Mutton Field can be found right on the western edge of the village of Cobham. This means it is mostly surrounded by green space (including nearby Painshill Park) with only the north side and part of the east side of the ground next to housing and allotments. The ground is 1.75 miles north of Cobham & Stoke d'Abernon railway station.

There are two all-seater stands on the north side of the ground. The larger 86-seat structure straddles the half-way line and the club building housing a bar and dressing rooms is placed behind it. There is a newer 53 seat viewing area towards the western end of the ground which was installed in 2015. This additional seating will enable to club to host Isthmian League football should they encounter future success on the pitch.

The southern side of the ground is more sparse with uncovered standing for the length of the pitch. There is a grass area behind this which then backs onto a wide area of green space outside the confines of the stadium. The eastern end is hard standing but with a covered section directly behind goal - this isn't the pretiest site so has a temporary feel about it. The opposite end is similar in that it is uncovered standing except for a section behind the goal itself. At this end it is an iron stand with one level of raised concrete to act as a viewing platform.

Cobham started the game well and after going close early on took the lead through Kieran Campbell in the 25th minute. A nice ball was played out to Campbell on the left-wing and he beat a defender before cutting inside and slotting past the keeper at the near post. This was a brief bit of interest in what was a poor first half - the two sides were fairly even but there was not a lot of quality on display. Already a goal down Dorking then lost their goalkeeper Tom Day when he broke his wrist during a collision in the 35th minute. The long stoppance for this meant a large amount of injury time at the end of the half and it was in the 5th minute of this where the hosts beat replacement keeper Luke Longhurst. It came about when Cobham got the ball in box from the right and several players were queuing up to strike at goal - in end it was Jea Claude Yeboua who side footed it towards goal with the ball hitting the post, bouncing off the keeper's back and trickling over the line. The home side killed the game off just after the restart with the best move of the match - the left-winger held the ball on the edge of the box beforenbackheeling for Jea Claude Yeboua to ghost in and slam the ball into the roof of the net to notch up his second of the match. In the 56th minute Dorking came the closest they had been go a goal when Owen Hunte smashed the ball off the crossbar from 15 yards out. This spurred the visitors on and they were on top for the remainder of the game. This was even more evident when Cobham were reduced to ten men after Kieran Campbell received a second yellow for kicking the ball away. Shortly after this Dorking finally got their goal when the ball was played from the right into the six yard box and Brandon Watts poked home after scramble. Dorking peppered the home goal in the final minutes of the game but could not net again. Despite dominating the second half Dorking had left themselves too much to do and went down to a 3-1 defeat.

Result: Cobham 3-1 Dorking
Division: Combined Counties League Division One
Attendance: N/A

Monday, 10 October 2016

2016 Stadium #13 - Krooner Park

Date: 23rd August 2016
Stadium: Krooner Park
Location: Camberley, Surrey

My thirteenth stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 23rd August at Krooner Park in Camberley, Surrey. The match was Camberley Town vs. Bishop's Cleeve in an F.A. Cup Preliminary Round Replay.

Krooner Park stadium is within an industrial estate with buildings from this bordering the ground to the north and south. There is housing behind the eastern end with the western end backing onto the park itself. It is half a mile north of the M3 motorway and one mile south-west of the town centre where Camberley railway station is located. The venue has been the home of Camberley Town since 1923.

The north side of Krooner Park holds an all-seater stand with room for 195 spectators including one section given over to club officials. This stand is attached to the club building which has a bar and dressing rooms within and a snack bar facing outwards. The remainder of the north side is taken up with uncovered hard standing.

Hard standing is what is in place on the south side of the venue as well with this concrete strip having a fairly wide grass section behind it. The two dugouts are positioned on this side of the ground. The area behind the eastern goal is also uncovered though is much narrower. There is netting behind the goal itself in reference to the houses located adjacent to Krooner Park. The western end contains the venue's second stand which is known as the Chris Evans Stand. This takes up close to the entirety of the west side with a single level of raised concrete and cover for spectators in the form of a wooden roof.

This was an F.A. Cup Preliminary Qualifying Round Replay between Combined Counties League Premier Division side Camberley Town and Southern League Division One South & West side Bishop's Cleeve. The lower league side had recorded a 1-1 away draw three days prior giving them another chance at home. In an even first period it was Bishop's Cleeve looking possibly the better side in midfield but Camberley looked the more dangerous in the attacking third. In the 32nd minute this was proven when the hosts took the lead - a corner found Callum Nimmo in acres of space and he was able to produce a towering header which went over everyone into the top corner of the net. In the 53rd minute the hosts came close to a second when Jamie Hoppitt beat a defender down the right and slid the ball past the advancing keeper only to see a covering defender clear off the line. Camberley were now in the ascendancy - in the 63rd minute a goalline was required to tip Marcus Cousins' header over and the home side saw efforts cleared off the line in the 65th and 69th minutes of the game. Bishop's Cleeve goalie Marc Wright kept the deficit down to one in the 71st minute with a great double save to keep out two close range shots. Finally the pressure paid off with 15 minutes to go when Camberley were awarded a free-kick from 25 yards out. Dan Jewell stepped up and drilled the set piece into the bottom corner to put his side 2-0 up. The hard work of the home side looked under threat in the closing stages when they were reduced to ten men after Dean Greenwood saw red for kicking out at Bishop's Cleeve subsitite Matt Magee. This invited pressure onto the Combined Counties League side with a couple of late box scrambles but they were able to ride pressure to secure a deserved win to take them through to the 1st Qualifying Round.

Result: Camberley Town 2-0 Bishop's Cleeve
Competition: F.A. Cup
Attendance: 129

Thursday, 29 September 2016

2016 Stadium #12 - Raymond McEnhill Stadium

Date: 16th August 2016
Stadium: Raymond McEnhill Stadium
Location: Salisbury, Wiltshire

My twelfth stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 16th August at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The match was Salisbury vs. Bishop's Cleeve in the Southern League Division One South & West.

The Raymond McEnhill stadium is located in the Old Sarum area of Salisbury on the northern fringe of the city. Initially isolated the ground is now nestled within new housing developments and is also just north of the Old Sarum Airfield. It is around 3 miles from the centre of Salisbury where the city's railway station can be found. The venue has been home to Salisbury and its previous incarnation of Salisbury City since 1997.

The main stand runs along the south-west side of the stadium. This interior of this contains the club reception, a bar and a small club shop. Facing the pitch the stand is made up of several rows of seating and n unusual balcony for the southern half of the stand which provides additional seating for corporate guests. The main stand is flanked by concrete terracing on either side with the northern end covered and the southern end uncovered

The area opposite the main stand is a thin uncovered concrete terrace of 4 rows. In 2007 two small stands of 74 seats each were added to the middle of this side of the ground to meet grading requirements for the 5th tier. Similarly the south-east end of the ground is uncovered. The north-west end of the ground houses a sizeable concrete terrace 11 rows deep which runs the length of the area behind the goal and is popular with home fans.

Salisbury got off to the perfect start when they opened the scoring the 4th minute. An excellent Lewis Benson through ball from midfield allowed Tommy Wright to run on and slide past the keeper from the edge of the box. Wright came very close to adding a second in the 27th minute when he skipped inside a tackle in the box and his shot came back off the woodwork. A few minutes later the hosts did go 2-0 in front when a cross into the box was nodded on and expertly headed into the top corner by Justin Bennett. Wright, however, was continuing to be a menace and in the 53rd minute came close again when he dispossessed a dithering defender to go clean through only to see Steve Benbow in the away goal deny him. In the 61st minute Salisbury extended their lead to three - a corner into the box caused a scramble and with the ball bouncing around Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain reacted quickest to poke the ball over the line. Bishop's Cleeve did pull one back shortly after this when the ball was laid off to Mark Magee some 20 yards out and his fierce shot was palmed into the net by Salisbury keeper Alex Bass. The last word went to the home side in the 75th minute when a risky defensive header across the area saw the ball fall to Justin Bennett who controlled it before curling into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Result: Salisbury 4-1 Bishop's Cleeve
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 581

Friday, 16 September 2016

2016 Stadium #11 - Falmer Stadium

Date: 9th August 2016
Stadium: Falmer Stadium
Location: Falmer, East Sussex

My eleventh stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 9th August at Falmer Stadium in Falmer, East Sussex. The match was Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Colchester United in the Football League Cup 1st Round.

Falmer Stadium, currently known as the American Express Community Stadium or the Amex, lies in the midst of two university campuses - the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. To the north-east of Brighton the ground is located just off the A27 and is served by Falmer railway station which is adjacent to the site. The venue was opened in 2011 giving the club a permanent home for the first time since leaving the Goldstone Ground in 1997.

The stadium's unusual shape, designed to fit in with the surrounding rolling hills, sees to large stands running alongside the pitch and short ends behind the two goals. When the venue opened in 2011 there were four separate seating areas but within six months the club applied to add an additional 8,000 seats taking the overall capacity to 30,750 by the end of the 2012/13 season. The result of this is that all four quadrants have been filled in creating a lower tier bowl throughout the ground. With the short ends behind the goals the North and South Stand are single tier. The South Stand has a small hospitality area with a balcony overhanging the seating while the North Stand has a control centre and offices contained within. On the exterior of the North Stand there is the large club shop and ticket offices.

The largest stand in the ground is the West Stand which has three tiers. The middle tier is thinner than the other two and also extends out into the north-west and south-west quadrants. There are corporate boxes placed at the top of the lower and middle tiers and the fans 1901 Club is also included. As the largest stand a number of offices and meeting rooms are housed within. Opposite this is the East Stand which was a single tier stand when Falmer Stadium opened but a second tier was soon added. The south-east corner is where away fans are positioned with the hill directly behind this corner of the ground being the designated area for coach parking.

This was a League Cup 1st Round tie between Football League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion and Football League Two side Colchester United. The first half was a cagey affair - Colchester had come with a tightly packed defence and frustrated the home side to a handful of half chances. The visitors had a couple of counter attacking moments with Sammie Szmodics going closest with a header from six yards. Colchester's resistance was broken in the 64th minute when Kazenga Lua Lua went down the left wing and squared for Sam Baldock on the edge of the area. Baldock had time to readjust and curl an effort into the top of the net. Once the first goal went in that was the end of the challenge from the visiting side as the hosts added two more in quick succession. The second goal was scored in the 70th minute when Lua Lua again ran at the U's defence before slipping in Jamie Murphy who ghosted behind the back line and chipped the ball over Dillon Barnes. In the 74th minute Colchester were undone down the left wing again as Baldock had time to pick out Elvis Manu in the area with Manu sliding low into the goal. The Championship team rounded off the night with a fourth in the 86th minute as Jamie Murphy ran through three defenders on his way to steering the ball into the bottom corner. Though the League Two side had put up a decent performance for the first hour the capitulation in the final third saw Brighton record a comfortable 4-0 victory.

Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0 Colchester United
Competition: Football League Cup
Attendance: 6,895

Friday, 2 September 2016

2016 Stadium #10 - Alfredian Park

Date: 6th August 2016
Stadium: Alfredian Park
Location: Wantage, Oxfordshire

My tenth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 6th August at Alfredian Park in Wantage, Oxfordshire. The match was Wantage Town vs. Paulton Rovers in the Southern League Division One South & West.

The ground is on the southern road into Wantage a short walk from the town centre. It runs against housing for some of its east side but is otherwise entirely surrounded by fields in this rural part of the country. The nearest railway station of Didcot Parkway is some 9 miles east of the venue.

Alfredian Park has just a single covered stand which runs for around half the length of the east side of the ground. This stand is a mixture of seating and standing areas - the southern most part of it consists of 85 seats with a raised concrete platform next to this. Beyond this there is another section of seating in the form of two rows of wooden benches and finally the northern end another raised concrete platform area.

The rest of the ground is uncovered standing - the south and western sides have a strip of gravel and behind this a decent sized grass area to view from. The car park is directly behind the northern goal and behind this is the club building which houses the club house and player areas.

This was the opening day of the Southern League season and the game took a while to get going. Paulton edged proceedings by creating the more clear cut chances. The breakthrough came just before the break when good Reeko Best did well to steal the ball on the right-wing before drilling the ball across the face of goal to allow Kailan Gould to bundle in. Paulton's goal just before the break was then matched by one just after as they went two goals to the good. This one saw the ball clipped into the box and a big deflection off Wantage defender Stuart Cattell saw the ball loop over the keeper and into the net. In the 53rd minute the visitors put the result beyond doubt with an excellent team goal. Will Hailstone did well down the wing and laid the ball off for Elliott Gibbons to curl into the corner. Almost straight from the kick-off Paulton then very nearly added a fourth. It came about when the Wantage goalie and a Paulton attacker both went for the ball on the edge of the box sending it cannoning back off the crossbar and away. This was the wake-up call for Wantage to get back into the game and avoid a thrashing and they did do that with a much more positive last half-hour. The visitors came close to rounding the tie off with another goal in injury time but blasted a shot straight at the keeper from a few yards out.

Result: Wantage Town 0-3 Paulton Rovers
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 43

Thursday, 9 June 2016

2016 Stadium #9 - Parken

Date: 16th May 2016
Stadium: Parken
Location: Indre Osterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark

My ninth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 16th May at Parken in Indre Osterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark. The match was FC Copenhagen vs. FC Nordsjælland in the Danish Superliga.

The stadium is part of a sporting complex which lies adjacent to the Fælledparken green space. Parken is the largest of two stadiums in the area with the 7,000 capacity Osterbro Stadium sitting next door playing host to two smaller Copenhagen sides. The venue is one mile west of Nordhavn railway station and has been home to FC Copenhagen since it was constructed in 1992.

Parken was built on the site of the former Danish national stadium of Idrætsparken which was in use between 1911 and 1990. Completed in 1992 the venue became the new home for FC Copenhagen and the Danish national team. It has a capacity of 38,065 for football but this can be increased up to 55,000 for concerts. The stadium has also played host to handball and the Danish round of the Speedway Grand Prix world championship. The east and west stands hold the largest number of supporters - the two run alongside the pitch and are almost mirror images of each other. Both are two tiered stands with a strip of corporate boxes separating the two tiers. The East Stand is considered the main stand and contains the dugouts and dressing rooms.

The other two-tier stand is behind the goal at the southern end of the stadium. The lower tier is given over to the more vocal home support with a minimum age limit of 15. The northern end of the ground is the only single-tier one at Parken. Above the single tier of seating are several glass floors of offices and hospitality areas which means the stand is of roughly the same height to the other three. All four stands are separate in so far as none of the four corners are filled in with seating. This ensures the venue retains a compact feel. These corners hold a variety of facilities - the north-east corner containing offices and a restaurant, the north-west corner having a cafe and the club shop, the south-west including a gym and the south-east housing a fan club.

Copenhagen went into the match knowing a win would be good enough to secure them the Danish Superliga title with a couple of games to spare. They went close to opening the scoring in the 9th minute when a shot from Youssef Toutouh from the edge of the area curled just wide, hitting a stanchion behind the goal. In the 23rd minute they went close again when a corner was cleared as far as Peter Ankersen who drilled a 30-yard shot through the pack of players only to see his effort palmed away by David Jensen. Despite being well on top it was 0-0 at the interval and the hosts continued the second half in similar attacking form to the first. It was all Copenhagen in the opening passage of play and their banging on the door finally paid off in the 63rd minute. Benjamin Verbic picked up the ball and advanced towards the area before laying it off to Federico Santander who, with his back to goal, turned and shot low from 18 yards into the bottom corner of the net. The home side doubled their lead in the 67th minute. Again it was Verbic and Santander linking up with the former making good work down the right wing as he skipped over a sliding tackle before crossing low for Santander to poke home on the line. It took until the 80th minute for Nordsjælland to finally test Robin Olsen in the home goal. However by that point it was too late and the visitors, on a poor run of form, slipped to another defeat. Celebrations could start as the final whistle went confirming Copenhagen's 11th Danish Superliga title. Plenty of fans stayed to enjoy the occasion and applaud the players on their lap of honour.

Result: FC Copenhagen 2-0 FC Nordsjælland
Division: Danish Superliga
Attendance: 23,063