Monday, 26 March 2018

Plymouth Argyle v Bristol Rovers. Saturday 17th March 2018

Argyle 3 Rovers 2


One of the many joys of supporting a lower league team is there is usually no problem getting a ticket. It is only rarely, for big away games when the allocation is sold out to season ticket holders before going on general sale that problems can arise. Alas, since forgoing my season ticket some ten years ago I have been vulnerable to such occasions. This fate befell me for this game as in form Plymouth gave an allocation of 1500 to localish rivals and in formish Bristol Rovers. 

Unfortunately for me I'd been planning to go to this game since October and had booked a family weekend on the Devon coast to coincide with the fixture. Not to be deterred, I opted to sit on my hands and get tickets for the home end. 

Accompanying me on this trip to Argyle's Home Park would be my mate Rich who was also down in Devon with his family. As we left our caravan park on the coast, 'The Beast from the East' was returning and it had started to snow heavily. Rich eventually found BBC Radio Devon on the car dial who were kind enough to confirm the game was on. Reassured by this I turned my concerns as to whether Rich was a bad luck charm. We worked out that the last time he'd seen Rovers away was a 6-1 defeat at Walsall in 2011, or a 4 or 5 nil hammering at Leyton Orient in the same year. I reassured myself that he was also present at 'The Taming of the Shrew' at Wembley in 2007 and the FA Cup win at Bournemouth the same season.


On arriving at Plymouth's home, the first thing that we noticed was how much space their seemed to be. Despite the ground being in a built up residential area and having been around for well over a hundred years, they have a huge car park to rival most out of town stadiums and the whole place felt very spacious. Not being able to go in the away end at least gave us the opportunity to be able to choose which stand to sit in. It didn't take me long to opt for the old Grandstand. The remaining three sides of the ground were rebuilt in 2001 and make up what would be a very generic single tiered bowl were it not for the wonderful Grandstand. Built in 1952 it seems much older. As you come through the turnstiles you first see it's rear, a never ending canvass of green corrugated iron. We then walked the length of the stand to the stairway leading up to our seats. 

I've already mentioned the abundance of space and as we looked for our seats we couldn't help notice corners of the ground that time seemed to have forgotten. The toilets were something out of the dark ages. Even if it was acceptable to get a camera out in the gents, the amount of black paint and lack of windows would have scuppered any efforts to document the Dickensian squalor. 

To the right of the far stairwell were a set of what looked like old scout huts, which I guess must have been club offices in years gone by.


As we got to the back of the Grandstand we had a good view of the away end behind the goal. In between the two stands was a what looked like a two-up two-down house wedged in to the corner of the ground. A kind of low brow, working mans version of the famous Pavilion at Fulhams Craven Cottage.
Squint and you could be at Craven Cottage
Impressed by what I'd seen so far, our impression of the Grandstand from our seats was equally as good. First of all were the seats themselves, lovely wooden foldables, clearly as old as the stand it self. We were also looking down at the rest of the stadium as despite being 50 years older than the rest of the ground, the Grandstand sits tall and proud. Beneath the upper tier is a narrow shelf of seating and than a vast terrace in front. Unfortunately the terrace is no longer used. A few thick and sturdy pillars interrupted our view, holding up the spider web like beams in the roof. 



Peering at the rest of the ground it is remarkable how neat, modern and uniform it is. Thank heavens the Grand Stand remains because the rest of the ground seems pretty devoid of character. If it was all the same on four sides it would remind me of a small version of Southampton's St Mary's, a decent modern and well appointed championship level stadium, but nothing to write home about.


The atmosphere pre match was good. It's stretching it a bit to call this a derby, but bearing in mind Plymouth's geographical isolation and the fact that both teams were going in the game with hopes of getting in to the playoffs, a bit of spice in the air was understandable.

That Plymouth are now serious playoff contenders in the second half of March is an incredible turn around from how they started the season. As late as December they were rock bottom of the league having been promoted via the play offs last season. An impressive unbeaten run including 6 straight wins has seen them eyeing up back to back promotions. Rovers have also had a good start to 2018 and came in to the game 5 points off the play off places.



By the time kick off came around it was snowing quite heavily but still not settling. Plymouth looked the better team in the early exchanges and were passing the ball around nicely, a little too calmly at the back as Harrison, playing alone up front for Rovers almost caught them out as they looked in no rush to clear their lines. In Rovers first meaningful attack, they were awarded a free kick left of centre out side the Argyle box when Stuart Sinclair was bought down. Our view from side on was perfect as up stepped Chris Lines and curled it low around the wall and in to the bottom corner. 1-0 to the visitors against the run of the play.

Rovers then came close to adding a second when the Arglye keeper, Mathews dallied over clearing a pass back and was charged down by Harrison but the rickoshay fell kindly for the home team. Argyle looked to get back in to the game and were still playing like a team full of confidence. Their main man Graham Carey was looking to do damage down the right flank, though Rovers right footed utility man - James Clark was doing a good job at left back in trying to keep him quiet.



Argyles equaliser was the best goal of the game and came from a neat sequence of passes from a corner, resulting in a floated cross from the edge of the box which was helped on it's way with a looping header from Jamie Ness in to the top corner. 1-1 with ten minutes until half time. 

The game then exploded in to life as Plymouth quickly won back position and came storming forward, suddenly it was two on two with Rovers centre back Tom Lockyer back peddling as the player on the ball ran at him. Lockyer then showed a flash of brilliance, picking his moment perfectly and executing a tackle genuinely reminiscent of Bobby Moore's famous dispossession of Pele from 1970. Lockyer would go on to be involved in the controversial moments of the game but this tackle really was a beaut. With the ball back at his feet he passed it over to right back Jo Partington who played what looked like a very hopeful long ball for Ellis Harrison to run after. Harrison however somehow managed to get there at the same time as the centre back Songo'o and in a great demonstration of powerful forward play, out muscled the Argyle man. He had still plenty to do with two other defenders having got back between him and the goal but he calmly bought the ball back from the touch line and coolly found the net via a gap between the keeper and defenders. 2-1 to the visitors.  

Ellis Harrison on the ball

Chances continued to come in the final minutes of the half and Rovers manager Darrell Clarke was apoplectic when Harrison appeared to be hauled down when through on goal only for no foul to be given. For where we were sat we concluded it probably was a foul but Harrison's dramatic pirouette would have done enough to put off the ref. 1-2 at half time. We sped off to the concourse bar in search of a beer and some warmth. I doubt the concourse has changed much since it was built in the 50's. There are no T.V.'s and it is certainly cosy. Up until half time we'd felt warm enough but the cold beer tipped us over the edge and we started to freeze in the second half as the snow continued to come down. 

No room for a T.V. in the concourse
A couple of minutes after the restart and Plymouth had a penalty. Lockyer was adjudged to have pulled down Moses Mokasi from behind as he raced in to the area. Up stepped Lameiras, but his penalty brilliantly saved and beaten away by Slocombe diving to his left. Argyle's despair was very short lived however, within a minute they had a large slice of luck as a speculative cross / shot from Ness took a wicked deflection of Ollie Clarke as he looked to head clear, the ball hit the inside of a post before bouncing across the goal line and in to the net. 2-2.



Argyle continued to look shaky at the back, especially the keeper, he again dithered over a clearance and was charged down successfully by Harrison, this time the striker managed to retain the ball and Matthews pursued him out of his area before bringing him down and getting booked. He later redeemed himself somewhat with a smart close range save from Sercombe.

Tom Lockyer then had two chances to retain the lead for Rovers. First he rose well for a corner only to head a yard over the bar from close range. Then he had a shot from close range, again from a corner which he somehow managed to hit straight in to the bread basket of Matthews, when anywhere else would have surely resulted in a goal. In terms of sitting on my hands I'd managed well when the goals went in at both ends. The closest I came to showing my true colours was inadvertently yelping in frustration when Lockyer headed over. It would be lovely if the Rovers captain could add the odd goal to his game soon.

Lockyer continued to be at the heart of things as with 5 minutes to go he gave away another penalty. This time he was adjudged to have bundled over Argyle centre back Songo'o as they waited for a corner to come in to the box. Graham Carey took over penalty taking duties and sent Slocombe the wrong way. 3-2 to the home team.

Que some tension bubbling over in the away end and a few fans very slowly stepping over one of the three canvas barriers separating them from the home fans. It looked like they had no intention of going any further but apparently some chairs and punches were thrown and it was a bit more serious than it looked from our vantage point.



3-2 at the final whistle. Rovers unlucky not to get anything from the game but fair play to Plymouth for fighting back. A pulsating game full of incident that will live long in the memory. We made our way back to the caravan park just in time before the snow came down as stranded us there for the next two days. Luckily we managed to drive home on Monday - taking heed of the advice offered by BBC Radio Devon for driving in snow and ice - drive steadily in first gear and wiggle the wheel about from side to side. Wise words.












Thursday, 1 March 2018

Grimsby Town v Exeter City. Saturday 24th February 2018

Grimsby 0 Exeter 1
Featuring a classic old ground, fantastic hospitality, a terrible game of football, getting on the pitch and the fine folk of Cleethorpes.


The long and winding road to the 92 is indeed long and stuttering. Will I ever get there? As I approach halfway, the end seems as distant as ever. Since becoming a parent I've averaged 3 new league grounds a season. At this rate I'll reach completion in about 15 years time. I'm not complaining though. If I wasn't restricted in how far I can travel, I'd never have had so many thrills and spills on the West Country non league circuit. But this weekend, all the thrills and spills would be happening in Grimsby, or Cleethorpes to be exact. 

I'd been wanting to visit Grimsby's Blundell Park for some time. It's a historic ground and I've always heard good things from fellow travellers and have long admired pictures of the iconic looking Findus stand.

This trip had been long in the offing. Tom, Pete and myself had been looking for a venue for an annual weekend away. Naturally I was keen to tie it in with a new ground. Tom who last featured on these pages in Bideford agreed and Pete, originally from Grimsby, suggested Blundell Park: Deal done. Once the date was fixed - the planning began in earnest. Fortuitously Pete had a family friend with a couple of B&B's in Cleethorpes so the accommodation was sorted. 

Having picked up a shiny Astra from the good folk at Europcar, me and Pete motored up to London on Friday night to stay over at Tom's house. After a nice evening in the company of Tom's partner Kate, we were on the road again by 6.30 am. Dawn was soon breaking as we sped through the (still quite busy) Londond streets. It was a glorious cold sunny day and our spirits were high as we headed north. It turns out there's not much in the way of motorways in Lincolnshire. This gave us plenty of opportunity to admire the beautiful, albeit quite flat countryside that looked resplendent in the morning sunshine. Of course we stopped for a coffee (is a coffee ever more enjoyable than drunk on a saturday morning from a service or train station with the promise of the whole weekend stretching out before you?).

Morning Coffee

After picking up Pete's dad Tony near the Lincolnshire coast somewhere, we were back on the road with Tony pointing out local landmarks and telephone exchanges on the final leg of the journey. Our early start meant that we arrived in Cleethorpes before midday with plenty of time to enjoy our surroundings.

In good spirits as we finally arrive in Grimsby

First stop was The Osborn, our B&B for the night. Pete's family friend, Di was on hand to meet us. He'd said Di was going to look after us well and straight from the off she exceeded all expectations. A season ticket holder and also mum of comedian and Soccer AM presenter - Lloyd Griffith - I doubt there is much Di doesn't know about Grimsby Town FC that is worth knowing. Moments after arriving, she was on the phone to the club getting us good seats - she advised upper left in the Findus stand, saying it would give a good view of the football but also a great view of the ships sailing by on the Humber Estuary once we got bored of the game!

We look on in awe as Di pulls the strings and makes sure we get good seats.

Leaving Di to get ready, we went off in search of food. Famous for it's fish and chips, Pete and Tony took us to renowned purveyors of the local cuisine - Steels. This place oozed class from the moment we walked in. Shown to a table upstairs over looking the market place, our friendly waitress quickly bought us our first beer of the day, an offering from a local brewery - Axhomle Best Bitter. A lovely drop. The fish and chips were top drawer and all enjoyed in comfy surroundings with staff who seemed rightly proud of the plaice... 

Steels

Bellies full we moved on to the local spoons to meet Di and her mate Valma who'd come up from Mansfield for the game. This palatial pub, aptly named The Coliseum Picture Theatre was a nice venue to while away an hour or so before kick off surrounded by Town fans. We enjoyed a few ales as Tony regaled us with tales of his trade union days and Di pulled up Steels on it's decision to switch from ketchup bottles to sachets. 

Talk eventually turned to football, Grimsby fans were looking pretty worried. Having not won a game since early December it wasn't a surprise. Before kick off there was a 9 point buffer between them and the drop zone but with a lot of games left to play, results needed to start improving soon. Town's last manager, Russell Slade had inevitably been sacked a week ago after going 12 games without a win. This left the Mariners rudderless and ex Hull and Southend boss Phil Brown turned down the job a few days ago. Exeter were unlikely to be easy opponents, comfortably in the play off positions with games in hand, they were fresh from an injury time win away to Crewe in the week. 

That Exeter were todays opponents gives me the opportunity to tell my Paul Tisdale anecdote. It goes like this: He once smashed the windscreen of my car! Tisdale who has been manager of Exeter since 2006 is just waiting for Arsene Wenger to finally be wheeled away before he becomes the longest serving manager in English league football. It was back in the summer of 2001 that our paths crossed. He'd recently retired as a player and we played a few games of cricket together. He was a fine batsman and on the way to a century, he hit a six that bounced of my mum's ford Ka's windscreen that I'd driven to the game. He was a gent about at least and has gone on to b a fine manager and arguably one of the best dressed men in English football.


With 3 o'clock fast approaching we hot footed it to the ground. Arriving just before kick off we quickly took our seats high up in the Findus, now named the Youngs stand. The stand was built in the early 80's and was one of the first stands to be named after a sponsor - The frozen fish and crispy pancake firm - Findus. Before Di's intervention we'd been umming and ahhing about whether to sit here or in the Pontoon - the home end behind the goal. Arriving in our seats I was very happy with where we were. The Findus stand really is a thing of beauty. It stretches about two thirds of the length of the pitch and has a shallow lower tier of red seats with glass fronted hospitality at the back. Above this the large upper tier stretches high up above the rest of the stands and is covered with a slanted silver wind shielded roof. The result is something resembling a giant opened tin of tuna jutting out over the pitch.


Opposite is the main stand which is apparently the oldest remaining stand in the football league, dating back to 1901. At first glance it doesn't look that old as it is fitted with shiny red seats and has been re roofed a number of times since the start of twentieth century. It now shares a roof with the adjoining stand behind the goal. The remaining stand is the Pontoon - it's black and white seats contrasting with the red else where.

The main stand - the central part dates from 1901

Grimsby started the game quite brightly but I'm not going to pretend that this was a great game. It looked quite windy out there and both teams were struggling to get the ball down and do much with it. Understandably for a team that hadn't won for 13 games - the atmosphere in the ground wasn't electric. The first half progressed without much incident. Grimsby's right back, Zak Mills had a hell of a long throw on him but Exeter's back line dealt with most of what was hurled at them well.
A great view of the game and the ships in the Humber

The games two talking points came towards the end of the first half. First of all Exeter were awarded a penalty after Jake Taylor was recklessly chopped down in the box. Up stepped the Grecians top scorer Jayden Stockley, who made no mistake from the spot. 1-0 to the visitors.

Stockley gives Exeter the lead
Within a minute Grimsby had their own penalty. Straight from the restart they got in to the Exeter box and what looked a very soft decision went their way when Harry Cardwell was adjudged to have been fouled. Up stepped JJ Hooper who to the dismay of everyone apart from the 148 fans behind the goal who'd travelled up from Devon, couldn't find the target.

Hooper about to scuff his penalty wide
Half time came and much to our delight Di had a pint ready for us in the Trust bar. She also introduced us to club photographer Anne who not only took some group shots of us all, she then offered to get us on the pitch at full time! The good folk of Grimsby sure know how to make you feel welcome. The half time vibe seemed positive considering the score and recent results. Many seemed to appreciate the effort the home team were putting in and there was a fair bit of optimism that things could be turned around in the second half.


Ultimately that optimism proved ill founded on this occasion. Grimsby won a few corners and had a few long range shots that didn't trouble the keeper, but they couldn't find the equaliser. Exeter didn't look in much danger of adding to their lead. When they had Kane Wilson sent off for two bookings with ten minutes to go they were more than happy to hang on and a bit of time wasting saw them over the line. The BBC alleged that both sides had one shot on target in the whole game. On the evidence I saw this seemed generous and apart from Exeter's penalty I don't remember either keeper being troubled. 
1-0 at the final whistle and it was time to find Anne. She was as good as here word and before we knew it we were being waved over the advertising hoardings and on to the sacred green Blundell Park turf. 

'Curley' Pete saunters on to the pitch, cutting a dash in a hat Paul Tisdale would be proud of.

Anne seemed remarkably upbeat about her team much to her credit. Perhaps worryingly given that we felt we'd witnessed a generally turgid and discouraging affair. A lot of Grimsby fans we spoke to were of the opinion that today's performance was a significant improvement on recent games. I couldn't tell if this was because Grimsby really have been dire lately or if the Town fans we encountered were all resilient optimists. Either way lets hope they get back to winning ways soon. Other results went against them and suddenly the gap from the drop zone was down to 6 points with a lower team having a game in hand.

The lads with Anne




After saying goodbye to Anne, next stop was near by private club - The Constitutional where Di was on hand to sign us in as guests. The good times flowed as we met more friendly locals and Tom enjoyed the rugby on the big screen. I also got chatting to a nice Exeter fan who whilst appreciating the 'ugly win' doubted his team would be able to clinch promotion this season. We shall see. This supporter was a proud share holder in his club and it would be good to see a supporter owned club climbing the leagues.


We spent the rest of the evening exploring the Cleethorpes night life. First up was The Notts, a fine traditional pub that could have featured in a Patrick Hamilton novel. I don't know when it last had a refurb but long may it continue in it's current guise.

Eventually we ended up in an intriguing place called the Swashbuckle Tavern, or Swashy's. This was proper Saturday night territory and everyone seemed to be having a good time on the dance floor infront of the bar which is also a ship. I was pretty tired by this point and alarmed when Tony seemed to be finding a second wind, downing his drinks with abandon and trying to drag us on to the dance floor. Fortunately he was outnumbered and eventually he was in a taxi home. We had bite to eat in a still open Italian restaurant, marred only by a disturbing story about a kebab from Pete, before heading back to the comfort of The Osborn. 

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend and lets hope Grimsby rally and preserve their football league status.
An old timer in the corner of The Constitutional encapsulated the outlook and friendliness of the Town fans we met. As we left, he shouted "Keep the faith lads" with warmth and conviction. We'll do our best Sir. We'll do our best.

Saying goodbye to The Osborn





Monday, 29 January 2018

Leeds United v Fulham. Tuesday 23rd February 2016

Leeds 1 Fulham 1

I know what you're thinking: "Burton you nutter - why are you blogging about a game from two years ago?" Child care duties have meant opportunities to get to new grounds have been few and far between of late. So when I stumbled upon a few photos of this game from 2016 on my phone, I thought I'd churn out a few words to go with them. Plus I imagine it be a while before I'm back in Leeds.

With some annual leave to use up I'd ventured north to visit my cousin at Leeds uni, swooping on an opportunity to take in a trip to Elland Road as well. Growing up in the 90's, Leeds were one of the big clubs of my youth. Winning the last pre premier league title in 92, then at the start of the next decade - shining brightly all the way to a champions leauge semi final courtesy of O'Leary and his 'babies' backed by the reckless Risdale. Implosion soon followed and after sinking to the depths of the third tier, Leeds remain where I found them two years ago, in the Championship.

After a nice coffee at the uni campus with my cousin, we then spent an enjoyable afternoon in various pubs in the centre before finishing up in Headingley. Feeling like I needed some exercise having spent most of the day driving and drinking (in that order), I decided to walk. I hadn't realised quite how far it was, about 4 miles and some of that was walking on the bank of an A road with no pavement. Eventually I arrived at the ground relieved to be in one piece and warmed from exertion.

From watching games at Elland Road on T.V., it had always seemed to me quite a modern stadium. My ticket however was in the oldest part of the ground - The West Stand, built in the 1950's - I had a nice spot, level with the half way line and just behind the dug outs. Opposite was the ginormous East Stand, completed in the mid 90's it towers over the rest of the ground. The filled in corners make Elland Road an impressive stadium with a nice mix of old and new. For this second tier lower mid table clash it was probably about half full.


Not surprisingly I don't recall a huge amount about the game almost two years on. Sitting just behind the dug outs I do remember the contrasting figures of the two managers patrolling the touchlines. Fulhams Jokanovic looked carved from granite, a mountain of a man with impossibly square shoulders oozing class as he strolled around the technical area in a sharp suit. The Leeds hot seat was then occupied by Steve Evans. Also wearing a suit, the now Mansfield boss didn't cut quite the same dash. I think he's lost some weight recently but even from 30 yeards away he seemed to radiate angry vibes and a general unhealthyness.

I also remember Fulham taking the lead before Leeds equalised through Lewis Cook later in the first half. Cook's goal was an absolute belter from 35 yards. Then still a teenager he is now a premier leagure regular with Bournemouth. I was surprised to see from Wikipedia that despite having now made over 100 professional appearances, the scorcher from this game remains his only ever goal to date.


As well as Cook's goal, the thing that stands out from my night at Elland Road was the half time entertainment. Hidden like a gem amongst the standard birthday shout outs and dizzy penalties, was the wonderful 'Piecam'. A genius fusion of pies, roving cameras and big screens that culminates in picking a lucky winner from crowd. Piecam goes like this - With the stadium announcer commentating, on to the big screen flashes a shot of the stand behind the goal, the cameraman then looks for people eating a pie, the pie eaters are encouraged to catch the cameraman's eyes by gesticulating and jumping around, once the camera man zooms in on someone munching on a pie that means they're the winner.

And the prize?

A dozen pies.

This innovative approach to half time entertainment left quite an impression on me. In the intervening years I've occasionally put #piecam in to twitter to follow the drama. A few months a  ago when I looked, there was someone complaining that some of the dozen pies he won were out of date. For some reason I found this both funny and distressing. I'm pleased to report though that Piecam remains alive and well.

I remember nothing of the second half apart from their being a nice full moon over the stand which my crappy camera phone failed to do justice. 


It would be great to pay another visit to Elland Road when there's a full house, perhaps back in the top flight. I imagine it would be some atmosphere.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Keynsham Town v Bath City. Tuesday November 7th 2017

Keynsham Town 0 Bath City 1

There wasn't a space in sight when I arrived at the car park for this Somerset Cup second round clash. This was my first experience of a County cup game and I was surprised by the bumper attendance. I wrongly assumed National League South Bath would field a much weakened team against Western League Div 1 (10th tier) opposition Keynsham. As it turned out both teams fielded pretty much full strength sides and the attendance was way up on Keynsham's average, boosted by plenty of Bath fans who'd made the short journey up the A4.


This was my first visit to Crown Field though I have viewed it from the main road and train line between Bristol and Bath countless times. It's quite impressive for a Western League ground and in the last couple of years a make over has seen a smart 3G artificial pitch installed. The main feature of the ground is the white painted main stand on one side of the pitch which has a nice mix of terracing and seating with changing rooms and club house at it's rear. There's not much else in the way of stands though behind one goal the narrow terrace is raised 5 foot above the pitch affording a good viewing position. A Rugby club is on the other side of the pitch and there are some smart looking training pitches behind the other goal. Keynsham have been main stays of the Western League since the 70's and it is slightly surprising to find out they haven't ventured further up the pyramid in their recent history given the relative opulence of their home.


Despite the four divisions between the two clubs, the home team gave a good account of themselves in the first half and had a couple of chances, including a header from a  long free kick which the Reading loanee in goal saved well. The away team, as expected, were moving the ball about nicely and created the majority of the chances. Shortly after he was booked for descent, Bath's number 11 Compton hit a post from a free kick and was subbed off with what looked alike a hamstring injury shortly after.


The home team competed well and it was 0-0 at the break. Having done a lap of the ground in the first half I settled behind the goal that Bath would be attacking in the second - up on the raised terrace.
The away team began to dominate more after the restart and Keynsham were having to defend resolutely were managing to survive goal mouth scramble after goal mouth scramble. By this time ex Bristol Rovers forward Jamie Lucas had been bought on up front to try and secure the breakthrough for the Romans and avoid a penalty shoot out.

I got chatting to a Bath fan called Geoffrey and a couple of his mates who proved good company. On balance Geoffrey probably just about falls in to the 'happy drunk' category and in his fuggy haze seemed to take comfort in moaning and quipping about how poor his team were and how they were struggling to overcome western league opposition. 


With about 20 minutes to go, Bath eventually took the lead with a near post finish from a corner. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Geoffrey somewhat and he was noticeably quieter, seeming slightly ill at ease with his team winning. This gave me the opportunity to notice a few more of the mostly Bath fans behind the goal. A few young youths were on the beers and involved in a halfhearted attempt at being twats to the Keynsham keeper. To their credit, I suppose, they couldn't quite pull it off. The home team continued to defend well, limiting the amount of clear cut chances for the away team and occasionally looking to break with intent themselves.

With a few minutes to go Bath resorted to taking the ball to the corners and time wasting, showing respect to the opposition and how seriously they were taking the tie. This show of nerves evidently reassured Geoffrey and he rallied, returning to his chatty self. He pointed out that he was surprised to see right back Welch- Hayes playing. He's been on loan at Oxford City and played the full 90 minutes in their impressive in FA cup win at League 2 Colchester. Presumably he'd been recalled and here he was just 3 days later playing in the second round of the county cup. Fair play to him.


1-0 at the final whistle. The first time I've been really cold at a game this season, a very enjoyable outing none the less and I look forward to seeing the draw for the third round.