Saturday, 7 May 2011

Cambs League Double

Saturday 7th May 2011

"The bloody weather forecast"

A term that has been used frequently this season by myself, and no doubt many other football fans throughout the country. After the glorious weather we have had of late which included yesterday (Friday 6th May) here in Leicester, it   should have turned overnight with the forecast of showers and / or prolonged heavy periods of rain during today.  The sold called forecast left me with the case of trying to find where it would be driest during the lunchtime / early afternoon period within a ninety minute drive of home, and in the end Cambridge seemed the best bet. In the end this (the rain) did not materialise apart from a heavy spell between 10am and 10.30am, and this happend while I was driving eastwards on the A14. Due to the forecast I put to bed my original plan of Milton v Welford Victoria in the Northants Combination and I set about looking at fixtures in the Cambridgeshire Senior League - a league that will be virgin territory for me. St Neots based club Eaton Socon jumped out at me as a possible but then I came across an 11.30am kick off in the leagues third tier (Senior Division B) between Longstanton and West Row Gunners. An email to their secretary Edward James confirmed this and now it was a case of what game I could "double" it up with. 

Game 1
Longstanton 3-5 West Row Gunners
Cambridgeshire County League Senior Division B
Longstanton Recreation Ground

Longstanton is a village (population 1,700 in 2001), located six miles north west of Cambridge. For the majority of its history Longstanton was split into two parishes - Long Stanton All Saints and Long Stanton St. Michaels. The two did not official merge until 1953. The village is home to two mediaeval churches: 
All Saints Church 
1) All Saints which was built in the mid 14th century and is a grade 1 listed building
2) St Michaels is smaller of the two and was built around 1230. It is a rare example of a church with a thatched roof and is a grade 2 listed building.

St. Michaels Church

The village will also border the proposed new town of Northstowe which will become the UK's first eco-town. More information on this can be found on the wikipedia page: Northstowe.

The journey to Longstanton is around 75 miles and takes approximately an hour and a half with the majority of it being on the A14 dual carriageway. It was straightforward with the traffic being light and having stopped for petrol and food I arrived at the recreation ground ten minutes before kick-off. Just before kick off I made acquaintance with two fellow groundhoppers Bob Davies  who is from Stevenage and Newmarket based Martin Wray (who was with his wife Fran and dog Lucky) and has his own website: Football Grounds In Focus. This is a site that I been contributing to for a couple of years now, whether it be photos and / or match reports. The football club share the facilities with the local cricket club and it was due to cricket that the game today was brought forward by a few hours and as such the game attracted a number of groundhoppers who took advantage of this like myself to attend two games . The pitch was in pretty good condition and roped off on the two sidelines. Also on the site are tennis courts and the village bowls club. 

The game itself was a cracker with the two teams prior to kick off seperated by two points and one place in favour of the home side. West Row started the better but the best chance in the opening spell came to Longstanton but the effort was saved by the keeper. The opening goal came on 18 minutes when a corner was hit first time into the net by Austen Diaper to give the home side the lead. This lasted just nine minutes when a misplaced back pass allowed Nick Agombar to score from a narrow angle. West Row then had an excellent chance to take the lead but hit the post from a yard out following a fumble by the keeper. Before half time Longstanton missed a excellent chance themselves to take the lead but their number 7 put the ball wide. We did not have to wait long for another goal following the half time interval as Longstanton re-took the lead on 51 minutes. Diaper got his second with a simple finish from 8 yards which followed a well worked move on the right. Ten minutes later and the visitors were awarded a penalty following a foul by the keeper. This was confidently dispatched and the game was level again. With twenty minutes remaining Longstanton look the lead for the third time when a through ball was hit first time by one of their substitutes. West Row equalised for the third time with 78 minutes on the clock and just two minutes later took the lead for the first time in the game. This was a simple tap that followed a cracking shot from outside the area that was parried by the Longstanton keeper. The final goal of the game came with time up when West Row hit the home side on the counter attack and the chance was finished with aplomb.

Admission / programme: none
Attendance: 45 (head count)
Match rating: 4 out of 5

The second half was spent chatting to Martin and at the end of the game bode farewell as we set off in different directions for game number 2.

A slideshow of photos taken can be viewed below:

With numerous options for game 2 I made my way to the one nearest to Longstanton for a 2pm kick-off.

Game 2
Over Sports 0-0 Chatteris Town
Cambridgeshire County League Premier Division
Over Recreation Ground

Over is just four miles from Longstanton and has a population of around 3,200 inhabitants. It is also located some ten miles from both Cambridge and Huntingdon. 
Village sign (source: Wikipedia)
The village recreation ground is similar to that of the one at Longstanton in the fact the football club share the facilities with the cricket club. Also at the side is a childrens play area and skate park. The pitch was roped off on three sides with no access behind the near goal. 

At the start of play Over needed a point to finish runners-up behind league champions Lakenheath and in the end they got what they required. In truth the game was a shocker with it being played at a high tempo throughout. It was a very niggly encounter with very few chances created and at times the referee (especially in the second half) struggled to keep control. I am struggling to remember any chances but I do recall the visitors hitting the bar in the second half and the Over keeper making a decent save. Of the chances created most either went wide or were tame efforts that did not trouble either keeper.

Admission: by donation - gave £1
Programme: none
Attendance: 74 (head count) but appeared more in the second half
Match rating: 1 out of 5

Both games were played in glorious sunshine and the rain did not appear until after dark, long after I arrived home. 

A slideshow of some photos taken during the game can be viewed below:
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