Saturday, 24 August 2013

Racing Club Warwick 1 v 4 Southam United

Saturday 24th August 2013
Midland Combination Premier Division
Townsend Meadow, Warwick
Admission: £5.00
Programme: 50p
Attendance: 100
Match Rating: 4

My first long distance trip of the season was inspired by the availability of very cheap advance tickets using Chiltern Railways, to a ground that aroused my curiosity previously having driven past it, in a part of England I've watched little non league football.

Townsend Meadow is about a half hour walk from Warwick rail station, via the historic and attractive town centre and finally past the Warwick Racecourse grandstand as one approaches the ground - which indeed backs onto the racecourse. Once one passes through the enclosed turnstile in one corner of the ground, there is a large, modern, very neat and tidy clubhouse building behind the goal. This, together with some new, bright and colourful signage around the ground, is the only modern aspect of the ground - otherwise, it is a ground that is crumbling, matching the club's fortunes on the pitch. Between the entrance and the clubhouse, there is a scout hut which houses the officials' changing rooms, whilst in the opposite corner are two yellow portakabins which serve as the players' changing rooms. Straddling the half way line on the length where one enters the ground is an all seater brick stand that has seen better days with quite a few seats removed. On the other side is another brick all seater stand, but it is longer and has a lower roof. Behind the other goal is just hard standing. Trees surrounding the ground give it a nice rural feel and crumbling it may be, but still give me a ground like this any day over the dull, soulless facilities springing up at an alarming rate at this level to meet ground grading criteria. The programme was very basic, 12 pages providing little more than a couple of minutes worth of browsing, but at a sensible price of 50p I would be loathe to criticise it too harshly.

When I booked my train tickets for today, Atherstone Town were scheduled to be the visitors, which would have made for an interesting game between two former Southern League clubs. However since then, Southam United had become today's opponents, which would represent a local derby, with the clubs being separated by just ten miles. Neither team has hit the ground running in the league season so far, both teams have won one and lost the other two of their three games so far. Last season, Southam did the double over Warwick, and finished in seventh place, with Warwick finishing 17th in the 18 team division.

Having happily left torrential rain behind in London - which would cause several games to be abandoned in the south-east today - the weather was overcast but dry here. After a lively and fairly even opening to the game, the outcome was all but decided by a seven minute spell early in the game. The visitors took the lead on 10 minutes when a long punt forward by the keeper was controlled by Simeon Smith, who took a few strides with the ball before hitting a powerful shot from an angle which the keeper saved but Pawel Tomczak hit home the rebound. Six minutes later and Southam doubled their advantage. The ball was played low from the right across the box and the ball was tapped home from the centre of the goal by Smith. A minute later and it was 0-3. Some neat tippy tappy football inside the area ended with the ball being tucked home by George Curry. It was a devastating seven minute spell, from which the home side didn't recover in the first half, with Southam always looking much the likelier to score further goals.

The home side improved after the interval, and they pulled a goal back on 62 minutes. A corner eventually fell at the feet of a Mark Turton just inside the box, and he unleashed a powerful drive into the roof of the net. Suddenly a comeback didn't look out of the question as Warwick looked a different team full of attacking intent. One got the feeling that the next goal would be crucial, but shortly after Warwick couldn't put the ball away as it scrambled around the six yard box, Southam restored their three goal advantage on 70 minutes when Smith guided the ball with his head into the net after a fine cross on the run by Andy Wilson-King. That surely was game over now, and although Warwick continued to create some presentable chances to score again, they fell to a heavy defeat which means they have now lost all three of their opening home games of the season so far.

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