Saturday, 14 April 2012

Holyport 1 v 2 Flackwell Heath

Monday 9th April 2012
Hellenic League Premier Division
Summerleaze Village, Maidenhead
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 76
Match Rating: 3

Today would turn out to be slightly unusual for me, as being a Bank Holiday, I did not set out for a game in the Combined Counties League for my customary 11.30 kick off. Instead, a noon kick-off at Holyport in the Hellenic League opened up a very convenient double in Maidenhead, and so off I headed to Berkshire for my Easter Monday double bill.

The Summerleaze Village is located about a twenty minute walk from Furze Platt rail station, or about half an hour from Maidenhead rail station, and is certainly hidden well off the beaten track, as one goes down a residential road, followed by a windy gravel road for a long way, passing by a lake and a couple of cricket pitches until the football ground is finally reached. Having only entered senior football and moved to this venue within the last ten years, it comes as little surprise that there is no real character or history to the ground, but it does still have a certain appeal nonetheless with a very rural setting and relaxed feel. Before entering the ground, one passes a kind of double decker structure of dark green portakabins housing the changing rooms and toilets. On entering the ground behind a goal close to the corner, there is a wooden tea hut to one side and a modern metallic prefab structure providing half a dozen steps of standing towards the goal but some way back from the pitch. There is an all-seater prefab stand located to the side of the half way line closest to the entrance, and hard standing is available on three sides, with the remaining length still accessible. Rapeseed fields behind two sides of the pitch with no fencing make for a bright, attractive, open feel to the ground. The 24 page programme was a very reasonable effort, containing plenty of information about both teams and the league.

Promoted into the Hellenic League Premier Division this season, Holyport have had a comfortable first season at the highest division the club has ever played at, in twelth place in the 21 team league. Flackwell Heath have had a good season and find themselves in fourth place, although that is likely to be as good as it gets for them, as they are thirteen points off of third place. When the two teams met over the festive period, Holyport claimed a 1-0 away win.

On a day more akin to the middle of winter than mid April, with constant drizzle in a strong gusty wind, it was the home side who took the lead with just three minutes on the clock, when Dan Rapley drove in from the wing, evaded several chances before firing home a low shot just inside the far post from just outside the penalty area. They went on to completely dominate the first half, making something of a mockery of the league placings of both sides, and they really should have scored at least a couple of goals, with the visitors playing in a rather lethargic and sloppy manner.

The second half continued in a similar manner, and so it was something of a surprise when Flackwell Heath suddenly got back on level terms, when Liam McManus glanced a header into the net from a corner. This was harsh on the home side, but a sense the tide was turning came when Holyport had a player sent off for a second yellow card as the referee seemed to lose control of proceedings, inconsistently dishing out a succession of yellow cards for not very much. However, the sending off did not change much, as Holyport continued to dominate, carving out plenty of chances. However, it was Flackwell Heath who scored the next goal to take the lead, again from a corner, when Riccardo Cannon stooped to bullet a header just inside the near post. That goal proved to be the winner, a real smash and grab for Flackwell Heath, when Holyport deserved at the very least a point.

No comments: