Monday, 29 December 2014

Camberley Town 4 v 0 Frimley Green

Saturday 27th November 2014
Combined Counties Premier League
Krooner Park, Camberley
Admission: £6.00
Programme: Sold Out
Attendance: 177
Match Rating: 4

With the majority of clubs below the Conference South moving their games originally scheduled for Boxing Day back a day to the Saturday, my options were reduced with torrential rain falling overnight. With major delays on the trains persuading me to drive to a game today, I actually changed my mind en route, from a game at Sussex League club Loxwood where I had previously visited, to one I had not visited before, at Camberley. Even driving proved problematic today though, as I joined a traffic gridlock on the M25. Despite eventually finding my way across country, I unfortunately still missed the kick-off for this game, arriving about ten minutes in.

Krooner Park is located about a mile south-west of Camberley town centre, passing through an industrial estate until one passes through red and white gates with the club's initials on them and into the car park, located behind one end of the ground. After entering through a brick turnstile building in a corner of the ground, the overall impression of Krooner Park was one of a ground that is rather tired, seen better days - but it is exactly that which gives the ground some nice character and variety. Along the length from the turnstile, one passes a tea bar hut, the clubhouse with some overhang providing cover and a fair amount of open space to pitchside, whilst straddling the half way line is an all-seater stand. Behind the goal closest to the entrance, cover stretches virtually the entire width, and is rather cosy with its fairly low roof  above two terrace steps. Around the rest of the ground there is just hard standing, with a blue industrial unit providing the background to the length opposite the main stand and clubhouse. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, the turnstile operator informed me that they had sold out of programmes.

This match was very much the traditional local derby, with less than two miles separating the two clubs. After finishing as runners-up last season, Camberley are again sniffing around the top of the table this season, coming into this game in fifth place, with 13 wins and three draws from their 19 games, but they have games in hand over all of the clubs above them in the table, and were they to win their games in hand, would climb into second place and within a point of leaders Cove. Frimley Green are struggling at the other end of the table, third bottom, two points ahead of Guildford - having played a game more - and seven points ahead of bottom placed Hanworth Villa, having played two games more. They have won five and drawn four of their 22 games.

Happily, no goals had been scored by the time I arrived, as I found a very open and even game, with both teams creating chances. The first contentious decision came as a Frimley Green striker ran onto a long ball, only to be wiped out by the keeper who came out of his area to make a rather crude challenge, however not even a yellow card was produced. Camberley went on to assume the ascendancy, and deservedly took the lead on 29 minutes. A corner was headed out and then miskicked out of the area only to fall to a Camberley player who lofted the ball first time into the box, and Perry Coles diverted the ball past the keeper with a karate kick style connection. Frimley Green had a great chance to equalise when their striker found himself at the back post with just the keeper to beat, but he pulled his low shot wide of the far post. What would turn out to be the game defining moment came deep into first-half added on time, when the ball was swung from the left towards the Camberley goalkeeper, and the Frimley Green striker bulldozed the keeper into the net. That sparked a rather ugly brawl as the two players grappled with each other, soon others joined in, one Frimley player grabbing the Camberley keeper by the face from behind, whilst Frimley captain Andrew Grace ran the length of the pitch to kick the Camberley keeper. The referee did not help the situation one bit as he stood from a distance frantically blowing his whistle for a minute or more, but eventually made the correct decision, following consultation with a linesman, in sending off Grace and booking both of the original perpetrators. The Camberley goalkeeper could feel very fortunate to remain on the pitch now, benefitting from the earlier decision by the referee not to book him for his cynical foul outside of his area. It's fair to say the half-time interval came at a good time.

Yesterday I had seen a team come back from a goal down and a sending off in the first half to dominate the second and almost snatch a win. That was never going to happen today though, as Camberley went on to completely dominate the second half, with the visitors losing their discipline. It looked only a matter of time before the home side would extend their lead, and after Frimley Green could easily have gone down to nine men with a late, high tackle, they did on 72 minutes with a shockingly poor challenge by Lee Page, who tackled knee-high on Camberley's Daniel Band. From the resulting free-kick, Camberley doubled their lead, Doug Ford stretching out a foot to guide the ball home from the free-kick lofted into the box. Camberley would really turn the screw now, and on 80 minutes, a wonderful pass from the half way line over the defence fell at the feet of Sam Slater, who dribbled towards goal before slotting the ball past the keeper. Two minutes later and another perfectly judged aerial cross from the left resulted in Camberley's fourth, Matt Bunyan heading the ball home after just beating the keeper in the air. The win could have been even more emphatic, but Camberley surprisingly, playing with two extra men, seemed to place more value on the clean sheet than scoring further goals. No doubting that Camberley thoroughly deserved to win this entertaining feisty local derby, but in truth it was Frimley Green's poor discipline which lost them this match, as they seemed to have had enough about them, particularly (but not only) when they had 11 players on the pitch, to have got something from this game.

Video highlights of this game can be found here

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