Sunday, 16 March 2008

Game 530

St. Ives Town 0-1 Stotfold
United Counties League Premier Division
Saturday 15th March 2008
Westwood Road

Another day where I couldn't decide who to go and watch. I narrowed it down to a short list of eight which included Welshpool, Sleaford and Hitchin but in the end I opted this UCL clash. The United Counties League is one of three that I am close to completing with only five clubs now left to visit - Boston, Eynesbury, Olney, Rushden & Higham and Sleaford. St. Ives is about 1hour 25 from Leicester down the M1 to junction 19 and across on the A14 and I relied on the trusty sat nav to get me to Westwood Road. I arrived at the ground around 30 minutes before kick off and was charged £5 for admission and programme This gave me time to get some food (£1.50 for a burger and 50p for a large cup of coffee), read the programme which looks impressive but did not contain much reading material and consists mostly of adverts - credit to the club though for achieving this and take a couple of photographs.

You enter the ground on one side which contains the serving hatch and clubhouse. There is a lean to projecting from the clubhouse to provide some covered standing (and is where the majority of fans congregated), and a seated stand on the opposite side of the pitch. This had more people using it in the second half due to the inclement weather that appeared after half and hour into the match. Doing a head count during the second half I would say there was around 75 - 80 people in attendant.

At the start of play Stotfold were leading the Premier Division and had scored 97 goals in the process while St. Ives occupied ninth place. The visitors nearly got of to the perfect start when I think, their number 9 forced the home keeper to make a save after only 20 or 30 seconds. The game then took a turn for the worse on the 12th minute when two players (one from each side) were sent off. I did not see the initial incident but what I then saw was the Stotfold number 7 swing a punch at the St. Ives number 3 who had his back to him, the St. Ives player then turned round and shoved the afore mentioned number 7. The Stotfold player was shall we say the least insensed by this decision and then proceeded to throw his shirt of the pitch and had to be calmed down and taken to the changing rooms. When he returned some of the home fans were giving him some verbals as he stood behind his team's dugout but instead of ignoring them he replied a couple of times, much to the annoyance of his manager who then got one of his non-playing staff to take him to a different part of the ground. Lucikly the game settled down and did not degenerate into all out war. Both sides created chances during the half with both keepers and poor finishing helping keep the score goalless.

The second half carried on from the first with both teams creating chances and failing to put them away. St. Ives had the clearer opportunities while Stotfold created more of them. This was always going to be a game where one goal was going to be enough - just a matter of which team was going to get it. About half way through the second half it occured to me that the last nil-nil I saw involved Stotfold on Easter Monday 2006!!! Maybe my jinx would strike again. Thankfully this was proved incorrect as the visitors scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot on 79 minutes through their number 10 after the no. 6 was brought down. Being a neutral and having an excellent view of the incident I thought the referee got this correct. St Ives pushed hard for an equaliser they deserved on the day but it was not to be. That's football.
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