Sunday 19 March 2023

Ground #380 - Evans Park

Date: 5th March 2023
Ground: Evans Park
Location: Stafford, Staffordshire

My fifth new ground of 2023 was on Sunday 5th March at Evans Park in Stafford, Staffordshire. The game was Stafford Town vs. Abbey Hey in the North West Counties League Division One South.

Evans Park sits in a sports complex just to the south-east of the town centre. Its neighbours consist of Stafford Cricket & Hockey Club to the west, bowls greens to the south and a radio control car racetrack to the south-east. The complex also has additional football and rugby pitches. It borders the River Sow to the north and is just under a mile east of Stafford railway station. The venue became home to the club in 2010, their first permanent home since their inception in 1976. 

The ground was converted into a 3G location in 2016 and is a cage arena. Unlike many other cage arenas though spectators can view from all four sides of the pitch with a decent amount of space. All the facilities are on the southern side of the ground though new dugouts were installed on the northern side of the field in late 2022.

The southern side has the Keith Mottershead Stand which dominates the ground. The middle half of the stand has 550 seats split in the middle for access to and from the dressing rooms within. The western side of the stand has a food outlet, toilets and a clubhouse for players and officials only. The eastern part of the stand is just covered flat standing under the roof though there is clear expansion room for additional seating here were it ever needed.

Stafford Town entered the game in 18th spot some four points from safety. The visitors in comparison were well settled in mid-table with little to play for. Right from the off the hosts were going for it in front of a record crowd. In the 13th minute a ball on the right of the box was dragged across goal and wide by Josh Simcox and a few minutes later Jack Grimshaw shot wide from a similar position. In the 27th minute the ball was fed to Simcox on the right and this time he made no mistake, controlling the ball well before shooting from the edge of the box across goal and into the bottom corner. Stafford did have to ride their luck either side of half-time though - firstly a slip by a home defender left in Tremaine Eastmond. He shot past the keeper but Jack Keeling slid in and cleared the ball off the line. Shortly after this Cory Knight was in on goal for Abbey Hey but he delayed and delayed and eventually shot wide. The other side of the half-time interval Knight wasted another opportunity when one-on-one with the goalie but shot just wide. These missed opportunities came back to bite Abbey Hey in the 61st minute - their goalkeeper Josh Lawton was dispossessed by Josh Simcox on the edge of the box and the Stafford midfielder chipped the ball delicately into the empty net. The visitors were then limited to long-range efforts after this. They went close in the 78th minute when a 30-yard drive by Jordyn Fitton was tipped over for a corner. In injury time a Dillon Kirkman free-kick from around the halfway line managed to squeeze past everyone and into the net but it was too little, too late as Stafford recorded an important 2-1 win in their attempts to avoid the drop.

Result: Stafford Town 2-1 Abbey Hey
Division: North West Counties League Division One South
Attendance: 489

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