Eastern Counties League Division One South
Wormley Sports Club, Wormley
Programme: Online only
Attendance: 45 (estimate)
Match Rating: 4
After a couple of Saturdays involving long and tiring journeys to the Salisbury area, I wanted to head for a ground much easier to get to and from. Persistent rain forecast to fall all day in Hampshire put me off a trip westwards, and with a bright and sunny forecast north and east of London, I settled on this game, to see another pair of clubs newly promoted into senior football following this season's creation of a Step 6 league in Essex.
The Wormley Sports Ground is just under half hour walk away from Broxbourne train station, and a rather pleasant walk it is too, walking along the New River canal for the most part. The football ground is part of a large sports complex, including a playground, cricket field and several other football pitches. Spectators walk through a small car park, and then along a path to the side of a brick clubhouse, paying admission at a kiosk. Currently, it would be very easy to enter for free though, as the football ground is not enclosed from the surrounding complex, which can be freely accessed. There are excellent facilities in the clubhouse, with a bar in one section and a café in another. There is overhang along the front to offer shelter from rain, but it is set quite some way back from the pitch behind a goal and at an angle, meaning it is not ideally located to watch the game from. The changing rooms are housed in a separate brick building some way back from the corner flag. A neat hedgerow closely lines one length and behind the other goal, and straddling the half way line there is a small home made stand consisting of corrugated iron held up by scaffolding and painted in red and black, covering two steps. Either side are brick dugouts, with neat metal doors to prevent access when not in use. The remaining length, which backs onto the cricket field has just grass to stand on but is railed. It is a basic but quite charming ground, with some lovely autumnal colours amongst the surrounding trees, although presumably improvements will need to be made very soon - enclosing the ground and installing some seating are the most obvious. The club does not issue printed programmes, instead publishing an online one, but even that is woeful, consisting only of an introduction to the away club, and expected line-ups for today's game.
Both clubs have found progression to senior football quite a tough challenge. Wormley Rovers, who finished in fifth place in the Hertfordshire Senior League last season, came into this game in 15th place in the 19 team division, following two wins and four draws from their 12 league games, but they have picked up just one point from their opening five games at home. Lopes Tavares' elevation to senior football raised eyebrows to say the least, finishing fifth in the Essex Alliance League Premier Division, which is not officially a part of the pyramid structure. They came into this game in 17th place, following one win and five draws from their opening 12 league games. The reverse fixture of today's game took place in September, with the game finishing 3-3 in East London.
Although conditions were sunny and dry right up to kick off, rain started to fall a few minutes in, and it barely stopped throughout the game, falling heavily at times and with a little thunder and lightning mixed in. Wormley took the lead with barely a minute on the clock, a ball through the middle finding the run of the striker, and as he drove forward towards goal, the keeper seemed to have misjudged where his goal was as he faced up too far to one side of his goal, and the ball was slotted into the other half of the goal. They doubled their lead on 13 minutes when a long punt upfield by the keeper bounced through the defence and the striker found himself running clear and as the keeper sprinted out, he lobbed the ball perfectly over the keeper and into the net. The scoreline became 3-0, following a slip by a defender and a Wormley player dribbled along the box before passing to an unmarked team mate, who struck the ball low across the keeper and into the opposite corner of the net. And it really was game over with just 18 minutes on the clock when Wormley scored their fourth following a ball through the middle, and the player took a touch before passing the ball into the net. At this stage, one really feared for the visitors, as they just couldn't deal with balls launched towards their defence, and seemed to show a chronic lack of discipline and shape. But surprisingly, they did not ship any more goals before half time, and managed to have a few shots at goal, mostly not threatening apart from a punted shot from the edge of the area forced the keeper to tip the ball over the bar.
Wormley finally increased their lead to 5-0 on 51 minutes following a free kick floated into the area from deep and the ball was headed the ball into the net, and it became 6-0 on 72 minutes. The ball was crossed too far beyond goal but it tempted the keeper to sprint wide of his area to chase the ball down, failing and then it was passed to his team mate who took a few touches before flighting the ball beautifully over the keeper and defenders and into the net. Three minutes later and Wormley scored their seventh, after the ball was crossed from close to the right corner flag and was emphatically volleyed home through the keeper's hands and into the net. They finished off the scoring on 83 minutes after a shot from the outside of the area came back off the post and the loose ball was eventually driven home. Thanks to some missed chances and a drop in intensity at times, a double digit scoreline was averted. Perhaps this was an off day for Lopes Tavares, but they really were awful today, the sort of performance that has one wondering the wisdom of elevating clubs several divisions artificially, as they looked anything but of senior standard.