Thursday 14 September 2023

Ground #392 - Summer Road

Date: 22nd August 2023
Ground: Summer Road
Location: Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk

My seventeenth new ground of 2023 was on Tuesday 22th August at Summer Road in Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk. The game was Walsham-le-Willows vs. Lakenheath in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.

Summer Road is to the north-west of the village of Walsham-le-Willows. The ground is part of a sports area with it sharing a side with a cricket field and being on the opposite side of the road to a sports club with multiple grass pitches, one cage 3G pitch and tennis courts. Otherwise this is very much a rural setting with fields and farmland surrounding the ground. It is 6 miles north of the nearest railway station at Elmswell. Apart from a brief spell after the war the club have played at Summer Road since the late 1800s.

The entrance to the ground is in the south-east corner. The eastern side has a stand halfway along with the middle two-thirds of the structure taken up by 4 rows of seating. This is bookended by two level concrete covered standing. There are small dugouts on either side of the stand. The southern end has a pleasant clubhouse and cricket pavillion building and a separate dressing room building with a food outlet. These buildings are set a little way back from the pitch as a grass area with picnic benches bridges the gap to the field of play.

The northern end is uncovered standing except for a small covered stand directly behind the goal. This is a ramshackle structure with additional supports for the roof. The western side is shared with the cricket pitch and is uncovered standing. This side is unrailed instead having a rope to mark the edge of the spectator area.

The two teams had started the season in opposite ways - hosts Walsham had lost all 4 games while visitors Lakenheath had won all 3 of theirs. The game started in line with the form book with Lakenheath grabbing a 3rd minute lead - a ball to the back post was headed across goal to an unmarked Tom Thulborn who headed in on the line. The away side were the better of the two in a quiet first half but Walsham carved out a couple of chances. In the 26th minute Scott Chaplin's free-kick was palmed onto the post and just before the interval a breakaway from a Lakenheath corner saw Charlie Norman play in Olly McKenzie-Vince but he shot wide from close range. Another chance went begging four minutes after the restart when shots in quick succession from Charlie Norman and Ethan Garcia were aimed straight at the keeper. After this Lakenheath got on top with the first chance in the 56th minute when Luke Young's free-kick was headed onto the bar by Dean Grogan. In the 63rd minute the away side doubled their lead with a shot across goal from the left was slid in from close range by Luke Young. Six minutes later it was 3-0 - Tom Thulborn was unleashed down the right, he advanced on goal and deftly chipped over the advancing keeper into the back of the net. Walsham didn't want to let the quick-fire double get the best of them and shortly afterwards Charlie Inglasias danced through the defence, round the keeper and clipped wide under pressure from recovering defenders. Lakenheath weren't done though and with ten minutes to go Jamie Smith zipped a ball across goal from the right and after keeper and defender missed it Tom Thulborn was there again to scramble the ball over the line to score his third of the night. Walsham persevered and went close to a consolation in the 87th minute. A corner was bouncing around the box but Sam Last's effort went just wide when it could have just as easily gone in. It summed up Walsham's night with the 4-0 scoreline a little harsh against a clinical Lakenheath.

Result: Walsham-le-Willows 0-4 Lakenheath
League: Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 89

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