Friday, 14 September 2018

2018 Stadium #18 - Borough Briggs

Date: 15th August 2018
Stadium: Borough Briggs
Location: Elgin, Moray, Scotland

My eighteenth stadium of 2018 was on Wednesday 15th August at Borough Briggs in Elgin, Moray, Scotland. The match was Elgin City vs. Arbroath in the Scottish Challenge Cup 1st Round.

Borough Briggs is in the northern part of Elgin close to the River Lossie which meanders through the city. The ground can count amongst its neighbours a leisure centre and childcare centre to the west, an industrial and retail park to the south and open fields to the north and east. The venue is one mile north of the city's railway station and has been home to the club since 1921.

The entrance to the ground is on the southern side with the turnstiles next to the main stand. This structure runs for around half the length of the southern side and has a seating capacity of 478. The stand has a low roof but no supporting pillars apart from at the two sides. The dressing rooms are located within and the player tunnel emerges in the middle of the stand. This stand also has the club reception, shop and offices. The two dugouts are positioned either side of the stand and beyond this is uncovered concrete terracing though there is a small covered plexiglass section for disabled fans towards the eastern end. Close by to this is a food outlet in the south-east corner.

A covered concrete terrace runs the entire length of the pitch on the northern side. This has 11 rows of terracing with the back two levels a larger size to allow more flat standing. There are a huge number of supporting beams holding up the old looking roof but the stand does retain sound well. Unusually the four floodlights on this side go through the roof into the terrace so is in amongst the standing areas. The eastern and western ends of the ground both have flat concrete sections directly behind the goal with a concrete terrace built into a grass bank behind. At the back of this the grass banking takes over up to the perimeter of the site.

The game was a Scottish Challenge Cup 1st Round tie between League Two side Elgin City and League One side Arbroath. It was the visitors who edged the first half and had two clear cut chances during the first 45 minutes. The first of these came in the 21st minute when Kane Hester lifted the ball over the Elgin keeper Thomas McHale only to see Darryl McHardy clear off the line. In the 34th minute Abroath had another opportunity when the Elgin goalie was dispossessed while attempting some skilful play in his own area. The ball was pulled back and the resulting shot bounced off the crossbar and away to safety. The League One side took the lead in the 57th minute when a corner to the back post was headed into the top of the net by Thomas O'Brien. Within 60 seconds it should have been 2-0 when Kane Hester laid the ball off for Michael McKenna who blazed over from just inside the area. The last half-hour saw a more competitive showing from Elgin - with a quarter of an hour to play they should have pulled level when a cross into the area found an unmarked Chris McLeish who headed straight at the Abroath shotstopper. In the 83rd minute the late perseverence paid off when Jordan Lowdon lofted a free-kick into the area. Once again a key player was left unmarked but this time Darryl McHardy made no mistake and nodded past Darren Hill from six yards out. At the conclusion of 90 minutes the game went straight to penalties. The two sides were evenly matched after the first seven rounds of penalties but on the eighth round of spot kicks Elgin's Matthew Cooper's penalty was saved by Darren Hill ensuring a 7-6 spot-kick victory for Abroath.

Result: Elgin City 1-1 Arbroath (Arbroath win 7-6 on penalties)
Competition: Scottish Challenge Cup
Attendance: 401

Friday, 31 August 2018

2018 Stadium #17 - Balmoor Stadium

Date: 14th August 2018
Stadium: Balmoor Stadium
Location: Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

My seventeenth stadium of 2018 was on Tuesday 14th August at Balmoor Stadium in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The match was Peterhead vs. Brechin City in the Scottish Challenge Cup 1st Round.

Balmoor Stadium is close to the centre of Peterhead around a mile north-west of the town's port. The stadium forms part of the Lord Catto Recreation Ground which is a sports area carved out of a largely residential area. The football stadium's neighbours are an artificial pitch to the west and an athletics venue to the south. The stadium holds the unenviable record of the furthest distance between a senior British football club and its nearest railway station. The town of Peterhead lost its passenger railway services in 1965 with the nearest remaining railway stations (Aberdeen, Dyce & Inverurie) all at least 30 miles from Balmoor Stadium. The venue became home to the club in 1997 when their old Recreation Ground home, where they had played since 1891, was demolished to make way for a supermarket.

The main flank of the ground is the western one. On this side is the main stand which is an all-seater structure raised above ground level to allow for the two dugouts and players tunnel to be positioned in front of it. The main stand has no supporting beams to disrupt views though there are perspex panels at either end to keep fans more enclosed from the elements. At the back of the stand are corporate boxes with the entrance to this from the outside of the southern edge of the stand. There is also a small gantry hanging from the stand roof for TV purposes. The interior of the building includes the reception and club shop with a demountable service as the ticket office just beyond this. The stand takes up the middle half of the western side with uncovered flat concrete standing areas either side of it. In the north-west corner there is a food outlet and a secondary, smaller club shop.

There is a similar all-seater stand on the opposite side of the pitch. This also takes up the middle half of its side as well as being raised above ground level affording better views of the pitch. There are no corporate facilities in this stand though there is a press area in the middle of it. The two stands at Balmoor Stadium have a combined capacity of 1,000 seats for spectators. This side mirrors the western section in having flat concrete standing areas either side of the stand though this side also has standing areas available in front of the seating area. Upon my visit there was a metal fence part of the way down this to segregate home and away fans. Any supporters wishing to stand from an elevated position can choose the grass bank in the north-east corner. The northern and southern ends are fairly undeveloped with flat concrete standing in place. There is however plenty of space should the club ever need to erect more seating areas.

The game was a Scottish Challenge Cup 1st Round tie between League Two side Peterhead and League One side Brechin City. Three days prior the visitors had won their first league game in 470 days having gone the entire previous season the The Championship without victory. Any of their fans expecting confidence to be high would have been underwhelmed by the opening ten minutes as Peterhead bossed the early going. They should have taken the lead in the 7th minute when a through ball to Ross Kavanagh put him in on goal but visiting keeper Patrick O'Neil saved well. The hosts had plenty of early corners that put Brechin under immediate pressure but in the 12th minute contrived to go behind. The goal came out of nowhere as a long ball from the back was completely misjudged by home defender Jason Brown who inadvertently played in Dene Shields who stroked past the keeper from the edge of the box. Peterhead kept plugging away and in the 24th minute a header was tipped inches wide as the home fans prematurely celebrated an equaliser. Brechin goalie O'Neil was on good form and in the 35th minute an acrobatic save denied Russell McLean's header as the visitors reached the interval a goal to the good. The second half played out much like the first with Brechin limited to one good chance just after the hour mark when a breakaway concluded with Harvey Dailly shooting straight at Greg Fleming in the home goal when he might have grabbed a two-goal lead for the away side. In the 75th minute a header by Peterhead's Rory McAllister was saved by O'Neil on the goal line but 60 seconds later the equaliser finally did arrive. It came about when a winger did well on the right before clipping the ball to the back post for Russell McLean to tap home from a couple of yards out. With four minutes left on the clock Peterhead completed the turnaround to grab the win. McLean was again at the heart of things as superb work in the box drew three Brechin defenders to him as he jinked left and right before spinning and lifting a great ball to the opposite side of the goal for Jack Leitch to cushion a header into the net from a yard out.

Result: Peterhead 2-1 Brechin City
Competition: Scottish Challenge Cup
Attendance: 496

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

2018 Stadium #16 - Tele2 Arena

Date: 20th May 2018
Stadium: Tele2 Arena
Location: Johanneshov, Stockholm, Sweden

My sixteenth stadium of 2018 was on Sunday 20th May at the Tele2 Arena in Johanneshov, Stockholm, Sweden. The match was Hammarby vs. AIK in the Swedish Allsvenskan.

The Tele2 Arena is located at the southern end of the Stockholm Globe City complex some 3 miles south of Stockholm city centre. The stadium is on an elevated piece of land so has two local roads running underneath eastern and western edges with the main arterial road through Stockholm adjacent on its eastern side. The rest of the western side is taking up by an industrial estate and it is a similar story to the south. To the north lies the rest of the Globe City complex with a shopping centre and three more sporting arenas. The stadium is a few hundred yards from Globen station which is on the T19 Green Line (Metro) and the 22 Line (Tram Network). The stadium was opened in July 2013 and immediately became home to two of Stockholm's biggest football teams - Hammarby IF (who moved from nearby Söderstadion where they had resided since 1966) and Djurgårdens IF (who had been based at Stockholms Stadion since the 1960s). The new 30,000 capacity venue was gave both sides around twice the previous stadium capacities they had available to them so this has allowed both to significantly increase their average attendances.

Opened in 2013, the Tele2 Arena is the latest addition to the Stockholm Globe City arena and the site's largest venue with it able to hold over 30,000 in sport mode and 45,000 in concert mode. Heading north the other indoor arenas are the Globe Arena, a 16,000 capacity venue which hosts concerts and ice hockey. Built in 1989 it is the world's largest spherical building and has an inclined elevator taking people to the roof to look out over the city. Next to this is a 4,000 capacity concert venue called the Annexet and beyond this the Hovet which was the earliest structure at the site. This 8,000 capacity venue hosts ice hockey and concerts. Hammarby's former Söderstadion used to lie beyond this but was demolished shortly after the side moved to their current home.

The Tele2 Arena is a two-tier bowl with a slightly irregular upper tier whereby the amount of seats increases slightly the further north you travel. The lower tier has terracing behind the northern and southern ends as well as the north-west quadrant. This is aimed at providing a dedicated space for the loudest fans in the stadium with the Hammarby ultras occupying the northern end and the away ultras in the southern end. The dugouts, player tunnel and media section are in the centre of the eastern side and there are hospitality boxes at the back of the lower tier which extend the entire way round the bowl. The upper tier is entirely seating and there are big screen TVs above the seating areas at the back of the northern and southern ends. In each of the four corners there are supports for the retractable roof which can fully cover the pitch to convert the venue into an indoor arena. The design of the roof means when open there is a lot of steel positioned above the spectator areas which helps keep the noise in. With two sets of loud fans for this local derby it meant an excellent atmosphere for the game.

This Stockholm derby was a top of the table clash so it was no surprise to see a sell-out crowd at the Tele2 Arena. The hosts went into the game six points ahead of their city rivals so even at this early stage of the season a win would give them a commanding lead at the top. A win for the visitors and the gap would be down to three points with all to play for. The opening passages of the game were cagey will little attacking play. The first proper chance came in the 27th minute when AIK's Kristoffer Olsson played a one-two with Henok Goitom on the edge of the box and Olsson's low shot grazed the outside of the post. The visitors went close again a few minutes later as more decent interplay saw Nabil Bahoui poke a through ball into the area for Tarik Elyounoussi. Fortunately for the home side keeper Johan Wiland anticipated this and ran out to block the goal bound effort. The next meaningful action came ten minutes after the restart - an AIK corner was mishandled by Johan Wiland and with the ball on its way into the net an acrobatic overhead clearance by Muamer Tankovic saved his goalie's blushes. Not very much happened in the second period but with ten minutes left on the clock the game's key moment occurred. On the far side of the Hammarby penalty area Jiloan Hamad clumsily tangled legs with Daniel Sundgren bringing the AIK defender down. The resulting penalty was coolly dispatched by Tarik Elyounoussi's as goalkeeper Johan Wiland dived the wrong way. The final minutes saw Hammarby finally go on the attack but the hosts had seemed content with a goalless draw for almost the entire game and it was too little, too late as AIK held on to send the travelling contingent back across the city happy.

Result: Hammarby 0-1 AIK
Division: Swedish Allsvenskan
Attendance: 29,266

Friday, 1 June 2018

2018 Stadium #15 - Wodson Park Sports Centre

Date: 9th May 2018
Stadium: Wodson Park Sports Centre
Location: Ware, Hertfordshire

My fifteenth stadium of 2018 was on Wednesday 9th May at the Wodson Park Sports Centre in Ware, Hertfordshire. The match was Wodson Park vs. Enfield Borough in Spartan South Midlands League Division One.

The Wodson Park Sports Centre is at the northern tip of Ware - the complex consists of a leisure centre, four tennis/netball courts, a cage football pitch and two senior football clubs. Ware FC play in a dedicated football venue while Wodson Park play on a separate pitch in the middle of an athletics track. As the complex is only just within the town's border it is surrounded by fields on all sides. The venue is 1.3 miles north of Ware railway station. The club was formed in 1997 and initially played at the athletics pitch before moving into Ware's stadium in 2009. Four years later they returned to the athletics pitch and have remained there since.

The west side of the ground is the area with the most space. This backs onto the leisure centre which contains an upstairs bar that spectators can use during the interval. A 55-seat stand was opened in 2016 - just inside the southern half of the field this stand also has a section for standing at the end. Due to other the layout of the venue this stand is around 100ft from the pitch with a long jump area, a pole vault area and an eight-lane athletics track between it and the field of play. With this being such a long way from the action a number of spectators choose to watch from an uncovered standing area on the edge of the running track. The rest of this side is uncovered grass standing except for an access way at the back between the grass and the leisure centre.

The west side of the ground is technically the only side within the confines of the stadium. The rest of the venue is accessible but with the positioning of the barriers you would be outside the recognised stadium area. The eastern side has the two dugouts at pitch-side with a grass bank behind the running track. The northern end has a steep grass bank running up to the cage pitch while the southern end is flatter in nature.

This was the final game of the season for two sides in the top half of the table - with little riding on the tie the first half-hour of the game saw absolutely nothing of note occur as the play was bogged down in the midfield. The first decent chance of the game fell to the visitors in the 32nd min when a ball to the back post found a midfielder who fluffed his lines and sliced wide from close range. A couple of minutes after this an Enfield winger had a low shot cleared off the line. The hosts reacted to this close escape and a minute later almost took the lead when a ball into the box was controlled well and struck against the post by a Wodson winger. The home side didn't have to wait long for another chance though as they took the lead in the 36th minute - a cross from the right was missed by a defender allowing Oliver Babbage to smash the ball into the roof of the net from inside the six yard box. Wodson should have gone into half-time two goals to the good as Babbage played a nice one-two with a teammate but with just the keeper to beat he blazed over. Five minutes after the interval the chance of Enfield getting anything out of the game diminished when Sivi Bao received his marching orders after rugby tackling a Wodson striker who was clean through on goal. In the 55th minute the hosts went 2-0 up when a lofted free-kick picked out Jordan Halls who poked home from a couple of yards out. The game should have been killed off in the 62nd minute when a Wodson player got in behind the visiting defence but his poor finish saw the ball go wide of the far post. Just after this Wodson had a scare when Enfield were a whisker away from grabbing one back after a midfielder reacted well to a high ball and flicked the ball towards goal before the keeper could get it. The ball went just the wrong side of the post and this would be as good as it got for Enfield. The game was finally closed off as a spectacle towards the end of proceedings when Babbage grabbed his second of the game to round off a 3-0 win to consolidate 5th place in the league for Wodson.

Result: Wodson Park 3-0 Enfield Borough
Division: Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Attendance: 20

Sunday, 27 May 2018

2018 Stadium #14 - East End Park

Date: 1st May 2018
Stadium: East End Park
Location: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

My fourteenth stadium of 2018 was on Tuesday 1st May at East End Park in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. The match was Dunfermline vs. Dundee United in the Scottish Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg.

East End Park is located on the edge of the Garvock residential area east of the town centre. The site has a road separating it from housing to the south, an Aldi to the west, a cemetary to the north and a car dealership to the east. Three-quarters of a mile north-east of Dunfermline Town railway station, the venue has been home to the club since 1920 when they moved having occupied a separate stadium at East End Park just to the east of the current ground.

The South Stand is considered the 'main' side of the ground. This stand includes the reception, a ticket office and a smart club shop which looks newly refurbished. The spectator areas facing the pitch consists of an upper seating deck of just over 3,000 seats which includes a media section. There are a couple of supporting beams to hold up the roof that sit in front of this seating deck. The lower deck used to have approximately 1,000 seats bolted onto an old concrete terrace which were split into two sections by the dugout area. In 2002 these lower deck seats were removed and executive boxes were added in their place for most of the length of the pitch. These are similarly split into two sections with a disused terrace section in the middle. This all gives the stand an unusual appearance with the hospitality boxes so low down. Level with the bottom of the box windows are the top of the two dugouts by the half-way line.

The opposite side of the field has the North Stand which has the shortest height of the four stands at the ground. This is the most dated structure and has lots of supporting beams in amongst the seating to support the roof. There are around 2,400 seats with a flat concrete area at the back. There is a also a TV gantry above the seating in the middle of the stand. The design of the stand means it retains sound very well generating a great atmosphere for this game. The two stands behind the eastern and western goals are near-identical with the only obvious differences being the police control box in the south-east corner and the player's tunnel in the south-west corner. Both stands are large single-tier structures that were constructed in 1998 to replace uncovered concrete terracing. Each offers uninterrupted views and have 3,016 seats apiece bringing the venue's current capacity to just under 11,500.

With the sides having finished 3rd and 4th in the Scottish Championship this was the first leg of the first stage of the play-off process for the Scottish Premiership. The hosts appeared much more up for the game and were clearly the better side in the opening half. Fraser Aird consistently caused Dundee United problems down the right and at the middle of the half his fizzed ball across the box just needed a home boot on it to nudge the ball home. As it was two defenders and one striker all collided stretching for the ball and the danger was over. The best opportunity came in the 38th minute - once again it was the inventive Aird who crossed in the ball from the right and Declan McManus' looping header from the six-yard line beat the keeper but not the crossbar. The ball bounced down and the rebound was knocked over the bar as the two sides went in level at the break. The hosts began the second half in a similar vein and went close again when Fraser Aird's 25-yard curling effort was acrobatically tipped over by visiting keeper Deniz Mehmet. The big moment of the match came in the 55th minute when a long goal kick by Mehmet was poorly defended leaving Dunfermline's Lee Ashcroft and Dundee United's Scott McDonald as the last two men before goal. A tangle ensued with McDonald going down fairly easily but referee Bobby Madden had no hesitation in producing a red card for Ashcroft. This turned the tide of the match and the away side were now the ones in the ascendancy. Scott Fraser flashed a shot just wide of goal from inside the area and an excellent save from home keeper Lee Robinson denied McDonald's low shot from 12 yards. Dunfermline were not done though and shortly after a free-kick into the box found the head of Nicky Clarke but with the goal seemingly goalbound Mehmet leapt across and palmed it away. In the 72nd minute Billy King was unleashed in on goal for the visitors but the keeper narrowed the angle well and his cross was deflected away before King's advancing teammate could knock the ball into the vacant net. The rest of the game was an end-to-end affair as both sides went for it in what was an exciting game that was only missing goals.

Result: Dunfermline 0-0 Dundee United
Division: Scottish Championship
Attendance: 6.474

Thursday, 24 May 2018

2018 Stadium #13 - Recreation Ground (Sheerwater)

Date: 28th April 2018
Stadium: Sheerwater Recreation Ground
Location: Sheerwater, Surrey

My thirteenth stadium of 2018 was on Saturday 28th April at the Recreation Ground in Sheerwater, Surrey. The match was Sheerwater vs. Kensington Borough in the Combined Counties League Division One.

The Recreation Ground is located in the north of the village with two full-size pitches, one inside the stadium itself and one directly to the west. The stadium has housing to the north and south and a school to the east. The club played at the site from their formation in 1958 up until May 2018 when they vacated the site to make way for a widescale regeneration of the area which will see the demolition of the current Recreation Ground. The club will enter a groundshare arrangement at nearby Woking FC for the 2018/19 season.

The west side of the venue had a series of seating areas. The main one of this was a covered stand which straddled the half-way line - this had 67 seats spread across three rows. Behind this on a lower level was a club building which housed a small clubhouse as well as the dressing rooms. To the south of this stand was an uncovered all-seater stand with 65 seats across seven rows. Adjacent to this stand was an odd metal structure with 11 seats spread across six rows with two seats per row up to the final row with one seat. This area was earmarked for officials. To the north of the main stand was uncovered standing on a strip of concrete which ran until the end of the pitch with a grass bank behind.

With this site being an athletics stadium there was a six-lane running track encircling the pitch giving it an oval shape. The northern end had an uncovered grass bank with a footpath of concrete stones curving round for the whole side before petering out as it transitioned into the eastern side of the ground. The eastern side was uncovered grass with no hard standing area. The two structures on this side were the dugouts either side of the half-way line. There was a hammer/shotput cage in the south-east corner with the rest of the southern end a flat grass section with the curve resulting in it becoming fairly narrow at its middle point due to the adjacent houses.

With Sheerwater riding high in the league and aiming for promotion they were keen to get three points on the board to aid them to the Premier Division. They almost took the lead in the 3rd minute when Alex Headland took a shot on the left which was spilled into the path of Shane Rideout who took too long to compose himself and saw his shot blocked. In the 9th minute a Sheerwater header at the back post was tipped onto the bar and from the next corner a scramble on the line saw the hosts appeal for a goal which was not given. With all this pressure it was no surprise when Sheerwater did get in front after a quarter of an hour. The home side had had a lot of play down the left and once again left-back Alex Headland was unleashed and this time he no made no mistake shooting low across goal into the bottom corner. The home side went 2-0 up in the 19th minute as Shane Rideout received the ball 12 yards out and coolly slotted low past the diving keeper. The next goal came in the 25th minute and was a spectacular one with Andrew Rothwell's half-volley from 25 yards flying into the top corner. Sheerwater went 4-0 up in the 28th minute when a pass deflected off a defender back to Alex Headland who had plenty of space to knock low into the net from 12 yards out. Sheerwater had the ball in the net for a fifth time before the half-hour mark but this time Shane Rideout was denied by an offside flag. After a dismal opening to the game Kensington finally managed to get out of their own half and the run-up until half-time saw them give a much more competitive account of themselves as they created a few opportunities. They continued this better spell into the second half and got a goal back in the 53rd minute when a through ball to one of their strikers was slid under the advancing keeper. Sheerwater didn't take kindly to a potential comeback and a half-volley from Chris Machay five minutes later was only a crossbar away from restoring the four-goal lead. In the 66th minute Machay was able to grab his goal though as he was played in on goal, and though he was taken wide by the keeper he was able to get past the a covering defender and shoot at goal with a defender running back only able to help it across the line. Kensington were not happy with this goal as they claimed they had paused for a substitution to take place. Their gesticulations delayed the restart slightly and they were clearly still thinking about it as Sheerwater grabbed their sixth of the day straight from the kick-off when Shane Rideout having plenty of time to slot past the goalie with the away defence missing in action. In the 78th minute the hosts scored an extremely simple goal as goal kick was punted up field, headed on to Robbie Wilson who poked past the advancing goalie from the edge of the box. Three minutes later the score went to 8-1 as Michael Leech headed in a corner. In injury time Chris Machay did get the ball in the net as well but it was ruled out for offside. Apart from the middle half-hour of the game Sheerwater completely demolished their opponents and even without the two offside goals the number of chances they enjoyed could easily have seen them into double figures against a Kensington side which were wide open at the back.

Result: Sheerwater 8-1 Kensington Borough
Division: Combined Counties League Division One
Attendance: N/A

Monday, 14 May 2018

2018 Stadium #12 - Sincil Bank

Date: 21st April 2018
Stadium: Sincil Bank
Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

My twelfth stadium of 2018 was on Saturday 21st April at Sincil Bank in Lincoln, Lincolnshire. The match was Lincoln City vs. Colchester United in Football League Two.

Sincil Bank is in the east of Lincoln less than a mile south of the city centre. The site is on the edge of a large residential area close to the South Commons park. The stadium gets its name as it is on the banks of the Sincil Dyke which runs along its western perimeter. It is bordered by a sports college to the south and a three-quarter size cage pitch to the east. To the north there is a car park and then the aforementioned housing. The venue is just over half a mile south of the city's railway station and has been the club's home since 1895.

The eastern side has the St Andrews Stand sitting by the half-way line. Despite only being built in 1987 this stand looks a lot older than it is - the budget for the stand was slashed during construction which left it smaller than its wooden predecessor. The stand has a couple of supporting beams in front of the seating in order to hold up the roof. The interior holds the reception, club shop, ticket office and boardroom. The area to the north of the St Andrews Stand is unused though an additional family stand was added to the south of the St Andrews Stand in 1994. With it only able to hold a couple of hundred fans the stand looks tiny compared the rest of the stadium. There are also club buildings in this area with the dressing rooms, treatment centre and a police control box.

The West Stand runs the length of the field and dominates the stadium. The single-tier stand with its cantilever roof was built in 1995 to replace an old terrace and with a capacity of 5,700 it accounts for over half the stadium's total capacity. The southern end of the stand contains the noisiest home supporters.  The stand behind the southern goal was opened in 1992 replacing the Railway End terrace and is the smallest structure in the venue. With only half a dozen rows of seating the stand has 17 hospitality boxes which run the whole way along the back of the stand. There are a couple of supporting beams towards the middle which reside in front of the seating area. Behind the stand there is an outside bar area for home fans. The Stacey West Stand is behind the northern goal and was opened in 1990. 12 rows of seating were added on top of the original concrete terracing in 1999 completing the stadium's conversion to an all-seater venue. The stand has three supporting beams which can restrict views and is now assigned to away fans. However, if home support is sufficiently high the stand can be segregated with home supporters allocated the western half and away fans allocated the eastern half. This is the arrangement for my visit.

Colchester had to win to keep their faint play-off hopes alive and started the game the better of the two sides. Chances though were at a premium throughout the half with the closest either side went being on the half-hour mark when Matt Green's 25 yard effort was pushed wide by Colchester keeper Sam Walker. After a dull goalless first half the second half was a more entertaining affair. Lincoln took the lead from the penalty spot in the 55th minute after Ollie Palmer was felled when he was about to shoot. Elliott Whitehouse tucked the penalty into the bottom corner with Walker diving the wrong way. The lead was short-lived though as the U's equalised in the 60th minute. A fortunate deflection saw the ball break to Courtney Senior on the left-wing, he then played a nice 1-2 with Mikael Mandron as he ghosted into the area to slot home from six yards out. The away side should have taken the lead in the 73rd minute when Sammie Szmodics had plenty of time to pick his spot from the left side of the area - his effort was saved by Ryan Allsop with the rebound being blazed well over by Mikael Mandron when he had an open goal to aim for. The hosts nearly went back in front in the 82nd minute when a spectacular 25 yard shot across goal by Ollie Palmer hit the underside of the bar and bounced to safety. A minute after this the task got harder for Lincoln as they were reduced to ten men when Michael Bostwick pulled back Mikael Mandron as he raced in on goal. With both sides needing a win Lincoln and Colchester threw players forward as the game entered an end-to-end finish. There was a dramatic end in the 94th minute as Alex Woodyard's hanging cross from the left saw Colchester keeper Sam Walker come to claim the ball. He missed his punch with Luke Waterfall stealing in to head into the top corner to secure three points for Lincoln as they took a big step closer to booking their play-off place.

Result: Lincoln City 2-1 Colchester United
Division: Football League Two
Attendance: 9,211