Welcome to my blog detailing my groundhopping exploits. My aim is to visit all football grounds in England (Premier league to the 8th tier) Scotland (SPL to 3rd Division) and the Welsh premier league I may also add grounds from other sports or countries. I hope you enjoy reading.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Aveley FC - Mill Field

Match - Aveley 3-3 Cheshunt
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1 North
Admission - £9
Attendance - 74
Scarf - N/A
Food - Cheeseburger 5/10
Ground No. 120
Ground Rating - 7/10

On Saturday I travelled to Aveley FC's Mill Field to tick off another of the remaining Ryman 1 North grounds I had not yet been to and was treated to one of the most enjoyable, action packed football matches I had watched for quite a while. Aveley were hosting Cheshunt in a league match which had 6 goals, 6 bookings and 2 red cards, it was brilliant, shame only 74 people turned up to see it.

 After a pint in the club house me and my dad entered the ground. On the same side of the ground as the turnstiles is the large raised seated main stand that runs along the touchline, this stand consists of a good number of old school wooden flip seats and looks in good nick despite it's obvious age. In front of this stand and to either side there is open terracing. This is one of the better stands I have seen at this level and provided a good view of the match although it does seem to be a fair distance from the pitch itself.

The rest of the ground is made up of shallow terracing with cover at the far end and the opposite touchline to the Main stand.

Cheshunt started the match brightly taking the lead on 5 minutes, but then should have been down to 10 men around the 20 minute mark when there left back committed one of the worst tackles I have seen. A two footed lunge around knee height in the centre of the park leaving the Aveley player limping for the rest of the first half. Luckily for the visitors he only received a yellow card from a referee that was rather poor all afternoon. Not long after Aveley drew level when a cross from the left wasn't dealt with by the keeper who put the ball straight into the path of the Aveley player who couldn't miss.

Just before half time though Aveley were reduced to 10 men when their left winger, who I later found out was on debut was sent off for kicking out at a Cheshunt player who had just wiped him out and was being booked anyway.

The second half started like the first had ended and you could just tell that there would be less than 21 on the pitch by the end, as players dived in to tackles left, right and centre and were pushing and shoving and standing up to each other. You could just see it kicking off.

Nothing really happened though until the last 15 minutes when Cheshunt retook the lead. Aveley, who seemed to be player better with 10 men then went straight up the other end to equalise again. With 5 Min's to go Cheshunt's huge number 9 scored his second to make the score 3-2 to the visitors. 3 more of there players managed to find there names in the referees notebook in this time.

The score stayed like this until the 94th minute where Cheshunt's player-manager made a huge mistake. A long punt up field caused some missed communication between Aveley's goalkeeper and defender 35 yards from their goal. the keeper heading the ball straight to a visiting player who sent a delightful lob over the keeper heading for the open goal to seal a 4-2 victory for Cheshunt, but instead of watching the ball go in Omer Riza, Ex Histon and Trabzonspor headed the ball in from 1 yard out. This meant the assistants flag was raised for offside causing the goal to be disallowed.

The resulting free kick was booted up field landing at the feet of an Aveley player who got to the by-line and cut the ball back to a striker who smashed the ball past the visiting keeper to make the score 3-3 and send his management team nuts in the technical area.

During the goal celebrations a Cheshunt player managed to receive his second yellow card and subsequent red. There was no time for anymore action and the referee brought an amazing game of football to an end.
Due to the exciting nature of the game and the decent standard of ground I had a great day out at Aveley and can't wait for my next groundhop. This is likely to be a trip to VCD Athletic runaway leaders of the Ryman Division 1 North on 21st December but this is yet to be confirmed.

Friday, 25 October 2013

St Ives Town - Westwood Road

Match - St Ives Town FC 2-1 Potters Bar Town
Comp - Southern League Division 1 Central
Admission - £8
Attendance - 241
Scarf - Sold Out
Food - Chicken Slice 6/10
Ground No. 118
Ground Rating - 6/10


On the 12th October I was finally off to my first football match of this 2013/14 season, and the chosen match was the Southern League division 1 game between St Ives Town and Potters Bar. That's St Ives Cambridgeshire not Cornwall.

St Ives Westwood Road ground is a ground that I had been to before quite a few years ago back in my refereeing days but for some reason hadn't noted it down on my grounds visited list. As they were promoted last season into the Southern League this gave me the perfect excuse to go back and being only 9 miles from home made it even easier.

Westwood Road is a small but relatively tidy football ground which is mainly made up of open hard standing, with two small stands on either touchline.

The stand on the nearside touchline consists of a few steps of covered terracing attached to the club house building with a small number of seats in the centre for club officials. This is where the majority of fans congregate probably due to the easy access to the bar. This building also houses the changing rooms to the rear of the building and the refreshment counter.

 The small stand on the opposite side of the pitch is a covered seated stand and is named the Lance Everdell Stand. The stand has 3 rows of mainly flip type seats made out in red and blue (I'm unsure why as St Ives play in Black and White) although a large number of these seats are in a bad state of repair. This stand did come in handy though as it started to rain late in the second half.

Both ends are open hard standing areas.

The game itself started with a bang. A rank 1st minute Potter Bar free kick taken on the half-way line managed to be volleyed in from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom left hand corner of the home sides net. This woke St Ives up who then took control of the game and scored twice in the next 20 minutes to take the lead. During this period they were taking Potter Bar's defence apart, as well as the two goals they had another disallowed for offside and two strikes that crashed off of the woodwork.

With all the play they were unable to add to there goals and slowly started to let the visitors back into the game with the sides ending the first half 2-1.

The second half continued as the final 15 minutes of the first with Potters Bar growing in confidence and were at this point playing by far the better football. Although St Ives looked very dangerous on the counter attack and had another goal disallowed for offside.

In the last 10 minutes Potter Bar should have had the opportunity to draw level, but appeals for a penalty were waved away by the referee. The game finished 2-1 to St Ives and I think Potters Bar would think that they should have got something from the game but is was not to be.

Not one of the best grounds I have been to at this level but not the worst either, but as always I enjoyed my day out and glad I have got my season up and running, with goals and a very good attendance for this level.

Next up Aveley V Cheshunt in the Isthmian league Division 1N on 16th November.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Ageas Bowl - IT20 England Vs Australia

Mens - Australia 248/6 beat England 209/6 by 39 Runs
Women - England 128/5 beat Australia 127/7 by 5 Wickets

On 29th August me and my wife travelled down to Southampton to see England take on Australia in the first IT20 match of the two match series.

The match was a double header with the Womens T20 match also against Australia which formed part of there new look Ashes series where all test, ODI and T20 count towards the overall Ashes success.

The Ageas Bowl home of Hampshire CCC is a ground in transition with a fair bit of building works ongoing and temporary stands used for these international games. But does have three nice looking main stands. The main stand that is home to the changing rooms has a roof that makes it look like a circus tent. This stand is situated behind the bowlers arm at one end of the ground, and is flancked by two matching stands The Shane Warne Stand and the Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie Stand.

The Womens started the days action in the afternoon knowing that a win would secure the Ashes. Bowling first they managed to restrict the Aussies to 127/7 off of there 20 overs and then went about knocking off the runs fairly easily helped by a good innings from Lydia Greenway who scored 80 of 64 balls. This sparked celebrations from the England team.

England Women celebrate regaining the Ashes

We then had a bit of time to wait before the main event started which we used to help ourselves to some rather decent fish and chips and a quick pint.

Before the mens match began the match ball was brought onto the ground by the RAF parachute display team.

The match itself started with a bang, Australia batting first put on a massive 248/6 with opener Aaron Finch doing most of the damage as he hit boundary after boundary off any bowler England used at him. When Finch was finally removed by Jade Dernbach he had managed to score an IT20 world record 156 from only 63 balls which included 14 maximums. It was a pleasure to see such an innings it was just a shame that it had been produced by an Australian against England.

England made a good go of it in reply but unfortunately fell 39 runs short despite a brilliant unbeaten knock of 90 off 49 balls from Joe Root.

The unfinished hotel

Next up I will be back at the football not sure where or when yet but probably sometime early to mid October

until then............

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Essex County Cricket Ground

Match - Essex Eagles 104 All Out lost to Surrey Lions 165 All Out by 61 Runs
Competition - Friends Life T20 Group Stage

On the 31st July (my wedding anniversary) I took my wife along with her dad and nephew to Chelmsford to see the Essex Eagles take on Surrey Lions in the final group game of this years T20 competition, and before you say anything going was my wife's idea so I didn't drag her out to watch cricket rather than take her for a romantic meal somewhere.

This game was a winner takes all affair with a guaranteed place in the quarter finals up for grabs.

The ECG is a small but very atmospheric ground situated next to the River Chelmer in the centre of Chelmsford, which is made up of a number of stands. pics below.

The Lions won the toss and batted first and put a score of 165 on the board with scores of 54 from Steven Davies and 43 from Wilson.

The Essex reply was quite frankly awful being skittled out for 104 with Dutch international Ten doeschate the only Essex batsmen to get into double figures score a brilliant 60 from 39 including 4 sixes 2 of which almost ended up on balconies of the nearby flats.

Surrey as such were guaranteed a quarter final spot and luckily for Essex other results went there way and they joined the Lions as one of the best 3rd placed finishers.

My next visit will be to another cricket ground, The rose (Ageas) Bowl in Southampton to see the IT20 match between England and Australia. Hopefully I will remember to take my camera so should get some better pictures. After that I will be starting my football groundhopping again and I cant wait.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Arras FA - Stade Michel Brabant

Match - Arras FA 1-0 Wasquehal
Competition - Championnat de France Amateurs 2 Group A
Admission - 6
Attendance - Unknown
Scarf - €5
Food - Ham & Cheese toastie
Ground No. 117
Ground Rating 6/10

Last weekend me, my brother and my Dad travelled to Arras, France for a golfing weekend to celebrate my brothers upcoming wedding. Just as we are about to leave my parents house around 7am on Saturday Morning to make our way to Folkstone to catch the Channel Tunnel my brother says "do we need a passport", so with a quick detour to pick up his passport we were on our way.

As we had nothing planned for the Saturday night when we arrived in Arras I had looked to see if there was any football being played in the local area. Firstly I checked Ligue 1 and 2 but unfortunately the most local teams, Lille in Ligue 1 were away and RC Lens in Ligue 2 were at home but for some reason Ligue 2 football is generally played on Friday nights. I then checked to see if Arras had there own team and found that they did, and even better they had a home game on the Saturday evening kicking off at 18.00 local time.

Arras FA play in the Championnat de France Amateurs 2 Group A, this is the 5th tier of French football. Arras FA were currently sitting 4th in the table with the visitors a few places below.

We arrived in our Arras hotel around 13.00 local time and after having lunch at a cafe in town and a few beers back at the hotel we took the 10min walk to the Stade Michel Brabant.

When we arrived at the ground we bought our tickets from the ticket office just outside the main gate into the ground. On entering I headed to the bar/shop to see if I could get hold of an Arras FA scarf, which I managed after a small amount of pointing and gesturing, my french is awful.

The ground is mainly made up of uncovered terracing that is all raised significantly above pitch level, which gives a decent view of the action. The one stand is located along the near touchline adjacent to the entrance to the ground. This stand like the terracing is raised above pitch level and houses the changing rooms and dugouts. In the far corner of the ground is an electronic scoreboard.

The game itself started slowly with neither team really having any clear cut chances, although the home side maybe could have had a penalty, but was one of those that could have gone either way. The attacker would probably have had more of a chance of winning the decision if he hadn't made the most of the minimal contact from the visitors keeper.
The first half ended with the game goalless and left us hoping for a bit more from the second half.

At half time we headed to the snack bar for something to eat, asking what there was we were told we could have either a ham/cheese toasted sandwich or a ham/cheese baguette. So not the pie or burger that I'm used to but the toasted sandwich was decent enough, better than that pasty I had at Ilford a couple weeks back.

The second half was a bit more lively than the first with more chances created by both sides. The deadlock was finally broken on the hour when Arras won a penalty which was converted easily by the attacker who sent the keeper the wrong way.

One thing that I noticed while watching the game that disappointed me was the amount of diving and playacting that took place. Now I know we think we have a problem in England, but honestly that's nothing compared to what I witnessed watching this game. Players would literally throw themselves a foot in air then roll 6 times all while screaming as though they had been shot, I had never seen anything like it, even Suarez would be embarrassed.

The game ended up finishing 1-0 to the home side although Wasquehal should have equalised in injury time when there forward put a free header over the bar from 5 yards out.

After watching the game I reckon that the quality of football at this level closely matches that of the Ryman/Southern/Northern premier league rather than the conference national that is step 5 in England, and although the football wasn't great I still enjoyed my first experience of football outside of the UK, and would recommend visiting Arras FA for a game if your ever close by.

Now that really is my season over I will be back in August.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Ilford FC - Cricklefields Stadium

Match - Ilford FC 0-2 Grays Athletic
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1North
Admission - £8
Attendance - 125
Scarf - N/A
Food - Cornish Pasty 3/10
Ground No. 116
Ground Rating 2/10

On Saturday I went to tick another of the Ryman League division 1 North grounds off of my to do list and went to Ilford FC's Cricklefields Stadium to watch their game against table toppers Grays Athletic, I last saw a Grays Athletic game when I was Assistant Referee for a game they played against Salisbury City back when they were plying their trade in the Blue Square Bet Premier League, but due to financial troubles they have had to leave their Recreation Ground home and have subsequently dropped down 3 divisions and are in the process of starting again.

Before Saturdays game Grays were on a winning run of 14 straight league games whereas the home side have only won one of their last 10 and were sitting second bottom in the league table. As I have had two      0-0 draws in my last two games I was hopping for a bag full in this one.

I arrived at the ground around 30 Min's prior to Kick off and entered the stadium which is an Athletics stadium therefore having a running track around the pitch. Simply put I don't like running tracks around football pitches especially at grounds this small.

On entering I looked around to find someone selling programmes with no luck and then as is customary when me and my dad go to football we went to find the snack bar, there wasn't one but when we went up to the bar for a drink we found they were selling food, where you had the choice of either a pasty or a sausage roll heated up in a microwave, that was it, we passed. Although I did go back at half time for a pasty as I was starving, although I wish I hadn't bothered.

My first impressions of the ground then were pretty poor, but at least the weather was good and I was optimistic of watching a decent game of football.

The ground then as I have already mentioned is an Athletics ground, on both sides of the ground there is open terracing, with a small covered stand at the halfway line on each side. The stand on the far side is covered terracing, this side of the ground is also home to the team dugouts. The stand on the nearside houses around 200 blue plastic flip seats. To one side of this stand is the club house building which houses the changing rooms and the bar mentioned earlier. The bar has large windows that face out onto the ground and a number of fans decided to stay in there to watch the game. 

Grays started the game brightly and took the lead within the first ten minutes when they poked the ball into an empty net after a goalmouth scramble. Some awful defending by Ilford then allowed Grays a couple of further chances which were kept out well by their keeper. Grays thought they had scored again though when the Ilford keeper looked to have stepped behind the goal line with ball in hand following an effort created by one of the visitors dangerous corner kicks but the officials waved away the appeals.The rest of the half was quite dismal to watch with both teams playing punt and run football with the rock solid pitch not helping matters.

The second half didn't improve much although Grays still looked as though they would score every time they had a set piece around Ilfords penalty area. It was from a corner kick when they did finally double their lead when more terrible Ilford defending allowed the ball to bounce in a central position 2 yards out. The Grays attacker with his back to goal managed to pull off an overhead kick that left the keeper little chance to react.

After going 2-0 down Ilford made 3 changes in quick succession which gave them more going forward and they should have got an undeserved goal on the hour when one of there substitutes was played through one on one with the keeper who made a comfortable save from the shot, the first thing he had had to do all game, the ball rebounded off of him though into the path of another attacker who managed to hit the ball straight back at the keeper who was lying on the ground. This summed up Ilfords day and showed why they are sitting second bottom in the league standings. They really did look poor.

So with neither team putting in what could be considered as decent performances the game ended 2-0 to the visitors and extended there winning run to 15 consecutive games.

A poor ground then and a dreadful game of football but I'm glad I have ticked another off the list, don't expect to see me going to another Ilford FC home game anytime soon though.

This is probably my last game for this season, so if I don't update again before the season is out have a great summer and I will speak to you all again for the 2013/14 season.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Brentwood Town - The Arena

Match - Brentwood Town 0-0 Harlow Town
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1North
Admission - £8.50 - Includes Programme
Attendance - 63
Scarf - £7
Food - Bacon Roll 6/10
Ground No. 115
Ground Rating 7/10 - Extra mark for leather sofa

On Saturday I ticked off another Ryman Division 1N ground by visiting Brentwood Town to watch their match against Harlow Town. This leaves me with just 5 more grounds to visit to complete the league although as I am unlikely to complete them this season this is likely to increase next season.

Brentwood Town play at The Arena at Brentwood Leisure Centre and is simple to get to as the leisure centre is well signposted once you enter Brentwood although traffic in the Town Centre can be a nightmare.

The Arena is set at the back of the large Car Park meaning that parking is never an issue, with the leisure centre and a number of other sports pitches in front and to one side of the enclosed ground.

On arriving at the ground myself and my dad headed straight to the turnstiles which are situated at one end of the ground and like always made our way straight to the Tea Hut, which on entering is located in a porta cabin just to the left of the turnstiles where I purchased a Bacon Roll which was ok but nothing special and a warm can of Coke which is never nice.

A hungry father racing to the turnstiles
After eating we took a stroll around the ground, The Arena consists of two stands one at the turnstile end which has three steps of terracing located directly behind the goal and is quite large in size, although a terraced stand you do have the option to sit as there is a leather sofa and two armchairs located at the back of the stand, and due to the small attendances probably wouldn't have an obstructed view although I never tested that out.

The other stand is situated on the near touchline straddling the half way line and is an old wooden stand housing a small number of plastic flip seats. There is also a club member seating area within the stand with the home club members having padded seating.

This stand also houses the changing rooms and players entrance tunnel. At the top and back of the stand there is a bar area that has 2 TVs and a projector showing football, we stopped here for a pint before the game kicked off just catching the final whistle of Wigan's shock FA Cup win against Everton.

The other two sides of the ground consist of narrow hard standing areas, with the dugouts on the far touchline either side of the halfway line with a scaffolding structure behind which I presume is used when they film the games, there was nobody up there for today's game.

At 3pm the game kicked off with the pitch only just playable and the home side started the brighter trying to play passing football despite the conditions although never really creating any clear cut chances and their No.9 up front spending more time complaining at his team mates than trying to put the ball in the net which he continued for the whole 90mins.

Harlow came back into the game as the half progressed forcing Brentwoods keeper into one decent save, they then had their captain booked harshly and their left back booked correctly before the half came to a finish with the score at 0-0.

I was disappointed before the game to find no club shop at the ground as I collect a scarf from every ground I go to if possible but thought today I would be unable to add a Brentwood Town Scarf to my rapidly growing collection. Until at Half time over the tannoy I hear "We have a collection of merchandise for purchase including Mugs, Pin Badges, Scarves............" I never heard the end before making my way into the club Bar in the seated stand to find the man with the mic who gladly went and found a scarf for me to purchase for a reasonable £7.

The second half started much the same as the first half with neither team really taking control until about 10mins in Harlow's captain committed a rash challenge about 25 yards out from his own goal and after having been booked and warned once more in the first 45 was sent off leaving his side with 10 for the remainder of the game, although this should have been 9 as minutes before their left back had committed a reckless challenge on a Brentwood attacker but escaped with a final warning.

Brentwood though were unable to make the extra man count and apart from a couple of half chances, a goal closely ruled out for offside and great display at the back from the visitors player/coach Dan Brown couldn't find a winner, not helped by the constant moaning from their No.9

The game therefore ended goalless, that's now two 0-0's in a row for me. Better luck next time.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Queens Park Rangers - Loftus Road

Match - QPR 0-0 Norwich City
Competition - Premier League
Admission - £33 - Restricted View
Attendance - 17,543
Scarf - £10
Food - Pukka Pie Chicken Balti 7/10
Ground No. 114
Ground Rating 6/10

On Saturday I travelled to West London to the home of Queens Park Rangers to see the hoops game against the Canaries of Norwich City. This game was my first Premier League game of the season and saw me complete groundhops of all the London based clubs currently playing in the English Top Tier.

QPR currently sit rock bottom of the league despite the large sums of money that have been spent on the playing staff by owner Tony Fernandes who is also the man in charge of Caterham F1 team. Norwich however are occupying a mid table table having spent far less than the Hoops, relying on players generally bought from lower league sides mainly Leeds Utd. Although there seems are reasonably large gap between the teams as far as points and table position this was probably a game that Rangers manager Harry Redknapp had earmarked as one to win.

The Journey to Loftus Road was quite straight forward as me and my dad drove to West Ruislip underground station and caught a central line train straight to White City Station and from there had a short 5 min walk down South Africa Road to the ground.

After a short stop to buy a scarf for myself and a woolly hat for my dad we walked around to the opposite side of the ground to the Ellerslie road stand where we would be watching the game from. This side of the stadium is quite hidden away behind a row of terrace housing. We went through the turnstiles around an hour before kick-off into a small, cramp open air concourse where there were a number of food outlets and only one set of men's toilets.As is the norm when we go to football we headed straight for the food which was decent, but then you can't really go wrong with a Pukka Pie can you?

We then made our way to our seats around 40mins prior to Kick Off and were met with the worst possible seats in the ground, I had foolishly taken a risk on restricted view seats and although only being four rows back from the pitch and therefore at Loftus Road very close to the action we were only able to see one goal. Note for future Never buy restricted view tickets.

My view of far end
Loftus Road is one of if not the smallest ground in the top flight with a capacity of just over 18,000. The largest stand in the ground is the South Africa Road Stand that runs along the touchline opposite the stand that we were in. This is a two tiered stand that is split by a row of VIP suites. The dugouts are situated centrally at the front of the South Africa Road Stand. The Two ends are identical small two tiered stand with the far end housing away fans in the top tier and home fans in the lower tier. On top of the stand at the far end there is an electronic board which shows the game as it happens, this was helpful for us when play was happening behind the post. For this game we were seated in the Ellerslie Road stand this is a single tiered stand which as I have probably already mentioned has a number of bloody great big posts at the front of.

 QPR started the game with there new £12.5 Million pound signing from Anzhi Machalakalakalakalaka and ex Blackburn Rovers Centre back Chris Samba and also Spurs loanee Andros Townsend while Rangers other big money January buy Loic Remy was out injured, the Hoops started brightly with Adel Tarabbt having a couple of decent long range efforts but neither troubled Bunn in the visitors goal. Norwich quickly picked up and had a good chance of there own which Hoolahan managed to put over the bar from 5 yards out. The rest of the half passed by with nothing to worry either keeper and was generally a scrappy affair although Norwich did look the more composed team.

The second period was a lot more exciting with both teams creating a number of chances. Firstly QPR's Brazilian International goalkeeper pulled off a couple of great saves from Hoolahan and Bradley Johnson the first of which was a one handed reaction stop down low to his right from Hoolahans flicked effort from inside the 6 yard box.

The best chance of the game though came from the Penalty Spot, after the tireless Jamie Mackie was upended by the visitors keeper. Adel Tarabbt took the penalty which was well hit low to the keepers left but Bunn guessed correctly and made a very good save to keep the game goalless.

After the penalty miss Rangers piled on the pressure and were the only team that looked like scoring especially from set pieces around the box where Samba was the main target and also a couple of long range efforts the most memorable from Townsend who hit a sweet strike from 25 yards out that was flying in the top corner but for another great save from Bunn.

The game ended then goalless and QPR can feel a bit disappointed not to have won, they remain undefeated though in the new year but unfortunately draws are not enough to keep them up.

  In the end it wasn't the worst game I had ever been to but a 0-0 scoreline doesn't help my average goals per game which has now dropped towards 3.

Loftus Road in conclusion is a half decent stadium but I think QPR may have to think about moving if they are to stay in the Premier league as I cant see them being able to increase what they have here and they need to be able to have larger crowds if they continue to pay out £100,000 per week wages.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Thamesmead Town - Bayliss Avenue

Match - Thamesmead Town 3-2 Aveley
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1N
Admission - £8
Attendance - 51
Scarf - £10
Food - Bacon Burger £3.50 6/10
Ground No. 113
Ground Rating 5/10 (would increase when finished)

After having had my last planned hop to York City called off due the torrential rain on the 22nd Dec I decided to start my groundhopping off early in 2013 with a new years day trip to see Redbridge in the Isthmian League Division 1N. Unfortunately this game was also called off at around 10am so after a quick look online settled on the game at Thamesmead Town's Bayliss Avenue ground for their game against Aveley in the same league. Both Thamesmead and Aveley are fighting near the top of the league before this game Aveley sat 4th and Thamesmead 6th with Aveley having a couple of games in hand over the home side.

We arrived at the ground around an hour before Kick Off and with no spaces in the clubs car park parked down a small side road just outside the club gates and made our way to the turnstiles, only to find them closed. While we waited for the ground to open we went for a pint in the decent sized clubhouse which is also home to the snack bar and where I got hold of a club scarf which was a bit on the expensive side at £10.

The turnstiles were finally opened 30 min's before kick off. The whole place is undergoing some big changes. After speaking to a club official we found out that the works have been going on for around 4 years with 3 different building firms going bust during the project and the current builders having issues with getting an electricity supply to the new stand which will also house the club offices and presumably new changing rooms and clubhouse.
Almost finished new stand
The Turnstiles are situated at one end of the ground which has a very half finished feel to it which as mentioned above it is. At the turnstile end there is a small covered seated stand directly behind the goal which has around 100 flip seats painted in the club colours of Green and White.

The far touchline is currently closed while the new stand is finished off with the rest of the ground made up of a small hard standing footpath around the pitch with the far end being covered behind the goal and the near touchline being totally uncovered with the teams dugouts in front.

Far end with A2016 flyover right behind
The game started slowly but it was obvious from the those early stages that the teams were to play with differing styles. Thamesmead were playing very direct while Aveley were trying to get the ball down and make use of there decent looking wingers. Neither side created much early on but it was Aveley that were arguably having the better share of possession. It was Thamesmead that took the lead though half way through the first half. An attacking player was tripped in the box as he was about to shot with the resulting penalty being tucked away with ease by Meads left footed No.3 Ashley Probets sending the visiting keeper the wrong way.

It was 1-1 at the break when the lively Aveley No.9 Petrit Elbi finished off a lovely passing move that saw the ball worked from left to right and then crossed into a dangerous area where he volleyed the ball home from 8 yards out.

During half time there were murmurings that the referee was looking to abandon the game due to the fact that there were a number of floodlights pointing towards the centre of the pitch that weren't working. With the players returning to the pitch to start the 2nd half the ref spoke to both captains advising them that he would give it 10 min's and if they were not back on a he believed the light had got too bad he would call the game off. Luckily though with a clear sky and a makeshift floodlight set up by the Thamesmead officials the game was seen to it's conclusion.

Not a great picture of the makeshift floodlight
Aveley started the 2nd half brightly and should have taken the lead after 2 Min's when during a goal mouth scramble the ball fell to an attacker 2 yards from goal his shot though was blocked on the line with the Visitors bench screaming for a penalty believing the ball had been stopped by an arm it was eventually cleared for a corner.
The away side were again looking the most likely to score but as it was in the first half they fell behind again and again it was the left foot of Probets who curled a free kick up and over the wall into the top corner of the Aveley goal. Thamesmead then took control of the game and should have killed it off when there No.9 was released one on one with the keeper. He kept his calm to round the keeper but somehow blazed the ball high over the bar.This woke Aveley back up who then created a number of chances one of which cannoned off the bar and a couple of penalty shouts which lead to one of the away coaches telling his players to go down/dive. How can we get rid of diving when we have coaches like this around????? from one of these penalty shouts Aveley were awarded a corner the deep cross that came in was headed back into the 6 yard box and the ball was turned in by Junior Appiah to level the game. Proving to the coach that you don't need to cheat to score goals.

The rest of the game was quite even and as they entered the 3 Min's of signalled additional time looked as though it would end with the score at 2-2. Then in the 2nd min of time added on Thamesmead won a free kick around 25yards out on the left hand side. My MoM Thamesmeads Probets crossed the ball in which was only half cleared straight to a Green shirt the player drilled the ball back towards goal and with a slight deflection it ended up in the net to give the home side all three points.

There are videos of both Aveley goals on their website Here

A good game in which to start 2013 and I will definitely return to Bayliss Avenue once the ground is finally finished. Hopefully the finished ground will entice more people to come and watch their local team as the attendance of 51 wasn't great.