Friday 6 January 2023

Ground #376 - Clipbush Park

Date: 2nd January 2023
Ground: Clipbush Park
Location: Fakenham, Norfolk

My first new ground of 2023 was on Monday 2nd January at Clipbush Park in Fakenham, Norfolk. The game was Fakenham Town vs. Thetford Town in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.

Clipbush Park is on the north-east tip of Fakenham. The complex, which includes additional pitches, is surrounded by roads and fields to the north, west and south with a industrial estate and supermarket to the east. The club moved to the venue in 1996 after needing to end their 89-year stay at their Baron's Hall Lawn home in order to compete in the Eastern Counties League. Fakenham is one of the remotest parts of England when it comes to rail connections - the nearest station to the ground is 17 miles north-east at Sheringham though Norwich or King's Lynn offer better options for connections.

The eastern side of the ground has uncovered hard standing for its entire length with the middle third taken up by the clubhouse. Directly in front of this are the two dugouts whilst the entrance turnstile is towards the northern end. The northern end has wide hard standing with a covered section behind the goal with a couple of park benches.

The southern end is identical to the north even down to the park benches. The only stand at the venue is on the western side - this structure has 188 seats spread across three rows with covered terracing either side within the stand. This takes up the middle half of this flank with uncovered standing to the north and south of it.

Fakenham were up against the form league in the league this season with Thetford sitting on top after 16 wins from 21 games. With defence the focus for the hosts the first half-hour was very slow with the first short on target not arriving until the 32nd minute when a curling effort was well touched round the post by Tom Coombe. The hosts had a good chance themselves a minute later when Jake Watts went clean through only to drag his shot wide. Up the other end Coombe's services were required again as his palmed over a good shot from distance by Ashley Jarvis. With the match goalless at the break Fakenham had to ensure keeping things tight at the back but a disastrous spell early in the second half saw them concede three times in the space of seven minutes. Firstly in the 51st minute a Thetford counter culminated in Emmanuel Machaya playing in Cameron King who coolly took his time to go round the keeper and slot into the bottom corner. The second goal saw nice work on left of box by George Diggins who laid the ball off for Adam Laker to steer into the bottom corner. And by the time the 58th minute rolled around another ball out to the left found Dan Gilchrist in plenty of space and he produced a good finish from a tight angle as the keeper closed him down. The away side had been clinical with their chances and killed the game off as a contest with this spell. Thetford did add a late fourth goal with six minutes remaining when Gilchrist's shot squirmed past Coombe to notch his second of the game. It was job done for Thetford as they marched on towards a likely promotion.

Result: Fakenham Town 0-4 Thetford Town
Division: Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 160

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