Friday, 18 August 2017

2017 Stadium #17 - Llanelian Road

Date: 1st August 2017
Stadium: Llanelian Road
Location: Old Colwyn, Conwy, Wales

My seventeenth stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 1st August at Llanelian Road in Old Colwyn, Conwy, Wales. The match was Colwyn Bay vs. Airbus UK Broughton in a friendly.

Llanelian Road is in the south of Old Colwyn close to the coastal settlement of Colwyn Bay. The ground is adjacent to housing on its southern and eastern sides with fields to the north and west. The venue is 1.5 miles south-east of Colwyn Bay railway station and has been home to the club between 1984-1992 and from 1994 to the present day.

The main stand runs the length of the eastern side of the ground and was completed in 2012. Originally a large terrace the 500-seater structure was built to enable the club to play at National League level. In addition to the seating this has three directors boxes at the back and a floodlight sat directly in front of the middle of the stand. There remains a small amount of uncovered original terracing at either end of the stand. On the opposite side of the field are two stands - the Glynne Owens Stand and Margaret Jones Stand. These were recently all-seater ones as well but the seating has since been removed so now consists of two levels of concrete terracing. The two stands run most of the length of the field with a gap in the middle for a gantry and the two dugouts which are part of the stands.

The north terrace sits directly behind the goal at this end of Llanelian Road. The two levels of concrete terracing are covered by a roof with the rest of the northern end uncovered standing. The southern end is uncovered standing on a large concrete area. Behind the viewing zone is a club building with a sizeable lounge and a snack bar. There is a demountable containing the club shop in the south-east corner and in the south-west corner a tiny disabled viewing stand. This has one bench with 8 seats attached to it. There is a little more room on the bench next to the seating meaning around 12 people may be able to fit in there.

The game was between Northern Premier League Division One North side Colwyn Bay and Cymru Alliance League side Airbus UK Broughton. The visitors edged the early going at took the lead in the 12th minute when a superb 25-yard free-kick from Leo Riley found the top corner. Airbus UK stayed on top until a very costly 11 minute spell in the second-quarter which saw them concede three times. The first of these came in the 25th minute when a ball over the top found Jamie Rainford. All the Airbus players thought he was offside and stopped giving Rainford time to control the ball before striking at goal. The home keeper was able to save the first effort on the edge of the box but the ball bounced back to Rainford allowing him to stroke into an empty net. In the 32nd minute Colwyn went 2-1 up with a goal which came about in near-identical circumstances - a failed offside trap saw a ball over the top find Jack Hindle in acres of space and he calmly sidefooted past the keeper from 12 yards. The lead was further extended in the 36th minute when the ball was chipped to Astley Mulholland who controlled well in the box before slotting low past the keeper. Colwyn should have killed the game off just before the break after excellent work by Mulholland down the left wing resulted in him curling the ball out to the right wing for an unattended Hindle who with only the keeper to beat blazed it over bar. Airbus were more competitive in the opening of second half but the best chance in the third-quarter fell to the hosts in the 64th minute when Jack Kelleher outmuscled a defender in order to go one-on-one with the visiting keeper who was up to the task of stopping the scoreline getting worse. The away team then grabbed a goal out of nowhere in the 72nd minute. With the home side half-asleep a quick Airbus free-kick found Obi Anorou unmarked in area. Anorou got a shot away from a tight angle and the home goalkeeper was only able to deflect the effort into roof of the net. Both teams were going for it in the final ten minutes with this friendly being played in a real competitive spirit. However there were no more goals allowing Colwyn to record a 3-2 victory.

Result: Colwyn Bay 3-2 Airbus UK Broughton
Attendance: N/A

Friday, 11 August 2017

2017 Stadium #16 - Station Road

Date: 18th July 2017
Stadium: Station Road
Location: Takeley, Essex

My sixteenth stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 18th July at Station Road in Takeley, Essex. The match was Takeley vs. Hertford Town in a friendly.

Station Road is located towards the south of the village of Takeley in the shadow of Stansted Airport. It is hemmed in by housing on three sides with the remaining western side runs next to the B183 opposite a farm guest house. As the name suggests the venue was once adjacent to Takeley railway station but this closed to passengers in 1966 so the nearest active railway station is now Stansted Airport station which is 1.7 miles north.

Upon entering through the turnstiles in the north-west corner the first structure to see is the clubhouse building which which also contains the dressing rooms and a food outlet. Next to this is a demountable for medical care of players and beyond this by the half-way line is the main stand. This consists of 5 rows of seating with a total of 118 seats and has a floodlight going through the roof in the middle of the stand. The section in front of the stand, and the rest of the northern side of the ground is uncovered standing.

The southern side of the ground houses two more stands - a 68-seat structure is located towards the western end of the ground and there is a covered flat standing section towards the eastern end. The two dugouts are between these two viewing areas with the remainder of the southern side uncovered standing. Space is at a premium at the eastern and western end. The small car park and road are behind the western end so there is a walkway with one row of raised concrete behind this. The eastern end has a little more space for a grass area behind the concrete strip of hard standing. Both ends having netting behind the goals to prevent balls going into the car park or road on the western end and adjacent houses on the eastern end.

The game was between Essex Senior League side Takeley and Isthmian League North Division side Hertford Town. The hosts took an early lead as they got their noses in front after barely a minute. It happened when the ball was played out to the left wing, the Takeley man cut inside a defender and crossed for an attacker to turn the ball in from a couple of yards. Both sides headed just over from corners in the opening 10 minutes before the match settled down into a fairly even contest. The home keeper had looked susceptible from corners early on and was punished for this in the 32nd minute when he dropped the ball in the box allowing Michael Toner to bundle the ball in. After the break Hertford had a great chance to go in front when they were awarded a penalty after a poorly timed tackle on Daniel Bond in the area. Tommy Wade went low to the keeper's right but the keeper guessed right and palmed the ball away. The third quarter of the game was a bad tempered affair with Hertford coming in with several nasty tackles. The visitors were then gifted a goal in the 71st minute when a very poor backpass near the edge of the area went straight to Sam Ruff and he calmly lifted the ball over the goalie from 12 yards. Hertford were on top after this and did get the ball in the net again with 10 minutes to go but it was ruled out for offside. With five minutes to go another bad backpass by Takeley was picked up by a Hertford substitute and he squared for a teammate who only had to stroke into an empty net from 10 yards. However the ball was blazed wide and meant the game finished 2-1 to Hertford.

Result: Takeley 1-2 Hertford Town
Attendance: N/A

Friday, 4 August 2017

2017 Stadium #15 - New Windmill Ground

Date: 11th July 2017
Stadium: New Windmill Ground
Location: Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

My fifteenth stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 11th July at the New Windmill Ground in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The match was Leamington vs. Worcester City in a friendly.

The New Windmill Ground is located in the countryside to the south of the town of Leamington Spa. The complex is 4.5 miles south of Leamington Spa railway station is surrounded by fields on all sides bar the road running to the south of the stadium which provides access to it. The ground was officially opened in 1999 with the club moving there in 2000 having spent the previous 12 years in hibernation after losing their 'old' Windmill Ground. The club have now had plans approved to build a new 5,000 capacity stadium closer to the town with the movement date to be determined.

The venue is split into two sections - the western section which contains a mini football pitch and the car park and the eastern section which contains the stadium itself. The entrance is in the south-west corner and a club shop built into a shed is the first thing you can see when you walk in. The area behind the southern goal provides the club's infrastructure. This includes a smart club bar which is pretty large and an additional building adjacent to this. These both sit directly behind the South Stand which is made up of 7 rows of covered concrete terracing. There are food outlets to the left and right side of this stand.

On the western side of the ground there is an all-seater stand containing 253 seats which runs for most of the length of the pitch. The seating is split into three sections with two sections of 50 seats separated by the larger middle section of 153 seats which also includes areas for officials and media. Next to this stand towards the northern end is a small covered metal terrace. The North Bank is the only side without a structure - this has 4 rows of uncovered concrete terracing and an electronic scoreboard in the north-east corner. The eastern area of the New Windmill Ground is largely uncovered standing. There is a raised concrete area behind the dugouts which used to house a stand but is now just a flat standing area with a TV gantry at the back of this. The only section area is a small stand with 41 seats towards the southern end of the ground.

The game was between National League North side Leamington and Midland Football League Premier Division side Worcester City. Leamington began the encounter on top until the 14th minute when Worcester snuck into the box and a shot from Brad Birch required home keeper Tony Breeden to acrobatically tip just over the bar. After this Worcester took over the running and took the lead in the 38th minute when Matt Birley curled a 25 yard free-kick into the side of the net just out of the keeper's reach. Leamington spent lots of time in the early part of the second half in the Worcester third of the pitch but sloppy passing let them down. In the 69th minute a nice move saw the ball fizzed across the visiting goal and land at the feet of Courtney Baker-Richardson who was presented with an open goal from two yards out. Unfortunately the ball came too quickly and he could only turn it over the bar. Worcester's let off didn't last long as the hosts equalised in the 76th minute - the move started when a good pass sent Colby Bishop down the left wing. He cut inside, beat a defender and shot back off the post. As the ball came back to him he lifted it to Baker-Richardson at the back post and he laid off for Julian English to head into the empty net. A few minutes later Baker-Richardson was causing problems again as he was tripped in the box by Nathan Hayward winning a penalty which was smashed high down the middle by Rob Thompson-Brown. Shortly after this Leamington notched up their third goal in the space of 10 minutes after a corner into the box fell to Tom Rankin who poked low past the keeper from 6 yards.

Result: Leamington 3-1 Worcester City
Attendance: 136

Friday, 9 June 2017

2017 Stadium #14 - Pavilions

Date: 16th April 2017
Stadium: Pavilions
Location: Runcorn, Cheshire

My fourteenth stadium of 2017 was on Sunday 17th April at Pavilions in Runcorn, Cheshire. The match was Runcorn Town vs. Barnton in the North West Counties League Premier Division.

Pavilions is located in an industrial area close to the banks of the River Mersey. It is bordered by a chemical site to the west, a vehicle hire centre to the north, the A557 Weston Point Expressway to the east and a former football ground and cricket pitch to the south.

The spectator areas are split across the western and eastern sides of the ground. There is a small sheltered area in the south-east corner with the clubhouse next to this which includes a bar and the players dressing rooms. To the right of this three rows of covered terracing - this stand was originally larger but the back section has been cordoned off limiting the space. The two dugouts are split by the half-way line and the remaining half of the east side is uncovered standing. With the curve of the A557 the area by the pitch gets progressively narrower as you go north and the northern end itself just consists of a narrow walkway behind the goal.

The western side has a club shop and tea hut in the south-west corner and then an area of covered flat standing. The corrugated iron protection in these areas has seen better days so wasn't ideal for the wet weather on the day. The longest stand in the ground is an all-seater structure which straddles the half-way line. As with the opposite side of the ground the northern section of this side is uncovered standing. Behind the southern goal there is a narrow walkway with the car park a level down from this. Directly behind the car park is an overgrown former football ground with one stand still remaining. Heading south from here takes you to the cricket pitch and the Pavilions Club itself which gives the complex its name.

Runcorn took the lead in the 16th minute when a penalty was awarded for a foul on the edge of the box. Craig Cairns shot the spot-kick straight down the middle. The remainder of the first half was a drab one played out in torrential rain which didn't help proceedings. The rain eased off towards the end of the half allowing a couple more chances - in the 41st minute a Runcorn corner was cleared off the line and on the stroke of half time Cairns had a goal ruled out for offside. The hosts came sprinting out of the blocks in the 2nd half and barely a minute after the restart went 2-0 up when a ball into the box found Mark Reed. The Barnton keeper saved his effort and a follow-up from Cairns but the ball then fell back to Reed and it was third time lucky for Runcorn as the ball ended in the back of the net. The two goal lead became three in the 55th minute - Simon Thelwell played a terrific 40 yard ball from the back which put Craig Cairns in on goal and he slotted past the keeper. Reed came close to grabbing his second in the 71st minute when he won a 50-50 tackle with the keeper but his goalbound shot was cleared off the line by a covering defender. A couple of minutes later Barnton got a consolation as Jason McShane dinked a curling effort into the bottom corner from 25 yards out. This was against the run of play and the respite didn't last long as Runcorn added another goal in the 76th minute. The one was a stunner worthy of a much higher level than the North West Counties League - the hosts played out from the back with a slick passing move which culminated in a cross from the right and a superb scissor kick from Mark Reed from 12 yards out which flew past the keeper. Two minutes after this Joseph Holt was put clean through but a good save from the keeper prevented a 5th goal for the home side. Barnton can count themselves fortunate the score was kept to 4-1 as Runcorn were brilliant going forward in the 2nd half and could've had more.

Result: Runcorn Town 4-1 Barnton
Division: North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 335

Monday, 5 June 2017

2017 Stadium #13 - Edge Green Street

Date: 16th April 2017
Stadium: Edge Green Street
Location: Ashton-in-Makerfield, Greater Manchester

My thirteenth stadium of 2017 was on Sunday 16th April at Edge Green Street in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Greater Manchester. The match was Ashton Town vs. Stockport Town in North West Counties League Division One.

Edge Green Street is in a residential area in the west of Ashton-in-Makerfield. It is bordered by housing on the northern, southern and western sides with a football pitch and a primary school to the east. The ground is 1.5 miles south-east of Bryn railway station and has been home to the club since 1964.

There are two stands on the southern side of the ground. The smaller of these is an all-seater stand towards the eastern end of the ground which has around 70 seats. The larger stand is close to the half-way line and consists of three levels of concrete. This is mostly standing though there are two rows of seating which have been bolted into the floor which adds around another 50 to the seated total.

The eastern end is uncovered standing with a car parking area behind the goal. In the north-east corner by the entrance there is a club bar and food outlet. Further down the northern side there is the dressing room building which has a thin concrete viewing area in front of it. Past this building there is a decent sized grass area behind the barrier with the two dugouts and a gantry as well. The western end has a smaller grass area with netting behind the goal in light of the housing estate behind.

With Ashton having only recorded five wins all season while rooted to the foot of the table it was unsurprising to see the visors start the game off better. In the 15th minute the ball was sent out to the right of the box and Ben Halfacre's shot stung the palms of the Ashton keeper. In the 26th minute a penalty was awarded to Stockport after a push on Adam Stubbs on the edge of the area. Stubbs landed awkwardly and was stretched off with the delay meaning it wasn't until the 30th minute when Halfacre stepped up and dispatched the penalty low to the keeper's right. A few minute after this the away side went close again when a crossfield ball found Alec Mudimu who saw his shot come back off the post. In first half injury time only a point blank save prevented Jamie Hinchliffe from making it 2-0. During the opening minutes of the second period the hosts had their first meaningful chance of the game when a defender flashed the ball wide from close range. Any hope of getting back into the game was extinguished in the 57th minute though as a cross from the right found Halfacre in the area and he headed downwards past the keeper to give Stockport a two-goal lead. The remainder of the game was comfortable for Stockport though late injuries to Aaron Dwyer and Syrone Allen meant they had to finish the game with only nine men. Even then Ashton failed to really threaten as they went out with a whimper.

Result: Ashton Town 0-2 Stockport Town
Division: North West Counties League Division One
Attendance: 315

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

2017 Stadium #12 - Brocstedes Park

Date: 16th April 2017
Stadium: Brocstedes Park
Location: Ashton-in-Makerfield, Greater Manchester

My twelfth stadium of 2017 was on Sunday 16th April at Brocstedes Park in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Greater Manchester. The match was Ashton Athletic vs. Squires Gate in the North West Counties League Premier Division.

Brocstedes Park is situated on the northern edge of Ashton-in-Makerfield - it is surrounded by fields or parkland on three sides with the M6 motorway bordering to the east. The venue is just over a mile from Bryn railway station to the south-east and Garswood railway station to the south-west.

The ground entrance is close to the half-way line on the western side of the patch. There is a demountable club shop directly by the entrance and then further forward a clubhouse with a bar, food outlet and dressing rooms. In front of this is a flat concrete area with a couple of picnic benches. There is a small roof overhang which provides a single line of covered viewing. By the half-way line itself there are the two dugouts and adjacent to this is a stand which runs almost half the length of the field down to the southern end. This covered stand is a mixture of seating and standing areas. There is a much smaller all-seater stand in the north-west corner of the ground which allows for another covered viewing area.

The remainder of the ground is uncovered standing. There is a large grass area behind the northern goal and it is a similar story on the eastern side where the confines of the ground run right up to the trees which border the M6. The area behind the northern goal is a narrow concrete walkway with a second full size pitch directly behind the stadium at this end. There is netting behind the goal to prevent wayward balls ending up on this pitch.

The game burst into life early on as the visitors scored in only the 2nd minute of the tie. It came about when a shot at the near post was dropped by the keeper and Joseph Noblet reacted quickly to smash into the roof of the net. It took until the 10th minute for Ashton to equalise when a cross from the left of the box was backheeled into the corner from 10 yards out by Danny Smith. The rest of the half was fairly even but not many shots were on target so there wasn't a huge amount for the keepers to do. Ashton managed to get on top in the 2nd half and were clearly the better side in the final 45 minutes. They took the lead in the 63rd minute after a quick break down the left wing saw the ball squarded for Lee Vaughan to slot home from 12 yards out. The visitors best chance was in the 83rd minute when a free-kick was missed by the Ashton goalkeeper and the subsequent header was cleared off the line by a covering Ashton defender.

Result: Ashton Athletic 2-1 Squires Gate
Division: North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 298

Friday, 26 May 2017

2017 Stadium #11 - Central Avenue

Date: 15th April 2017
Stadium: Central Avenue
Location: Billingham, County Durham

My eleventh stadium of 2017 was on Saturday 15th April at Central Avenue in Billingham, County Durham. The match was Billingham Synthonia vs. Willington in Northern League Division Two.

Central Avenue Stadium is part of the Synthonia sports grounds located opposite the former site of the ICI chemical plant. The northern end of the ground is bordered by a rail line with local rivals Billingham Town the other side of the line. The town's railway station is half a mile north towards the centre of the town. The venue was home to Billingham Synthonia from 1958 until April 2017 with this being their final game at the stadium.

The stadium's focal point is an impressive cantilever stand which runs the entire length of the pitch on the eastern side of the ground. This stand consists of ten rows of concrete with the southern and northern thirds given over to standing and the middle third to seating. This middle third has benches attached to the concrete floor and includes a media box at the back of the stand. In front of the stand is a flat concrete standing area with two rows of barriers - the two dugouts are in front of the furthest forward set of barriers.

Within the stand there is a large bar containing a club shop and a separate small lounge room. There is also a tea bar which faces out towards the flat concrete area between the stand and the pitch. In April 2017 Billingham Synthonia released a statement referring to the maintenance costs of this stand as a key factor behind the decision to leave Central Avenue. The remainder of the ground is uncovered standing. There is a gravel track encircling the pitch meaning the viewing areas are oval shaped. A strip of concrete runs round almost all of the rest of the venue - these are designated spectator areas. The steep grass banks behind both goals have signs discouraging supporters from climbing to get a better view of the action.

The opening few minutes was an even affair with Willington going close in the 5th minute when the ball was crossed into the area from the left and Will Preston steered the ball just the wrong side of the post. In the 8th minute it was Billingham's turn to go close after Steven Huggins dispossessed Adam Cromby in midfield and laid off the ball for Chay Liddle who's shot was cleared off the line. The hosts spent more time in the attacking final third but their tame efforts didn't really test the goalie. In the 55th minute Synthonia took the lead - the ball was clipped over to Chay Liddle on the left side of the area and he smashed the ball across the keeper into the bottom corner. There was almost another goal in the 67th minute when Nathan Steel stroked the ball inches wide after a scramble in the area. The key moment came just after this in the 71st minute when Billingham broke down the left, squared the ball for Liddle who saw his shot saved only for Nathan Steel to knock in the rebound. The visitors offered little in the final few minutes so it meant mixed emotions for Billingham who clinched promotion from the league in their final game at their Central Avenue home.

Result: Billingham Synthonia 2-0 Willington
Division: Northern League Division Two
Attendance: 315