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, 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.

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