Sunday, 9 August 2015

Brockenhurst 0 v 0 Salisbury

Saturday 8th August 2015
Grigg Lane, Brockenhurst
Wessex League Premier Division
Admission: £7.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 396
Match Rating: 3

The long awaited opening day of the English football competitive season, a beautiful warm and sunny day and the curiosity of watching the first competitive match of a phoenix club  all sufficiently tempted me to make the long trip down to the heart of the New Forest today.

Grigg Lane is located about a ten minute walk from Brockenhurst rail station and is a pleasant, neat and tidy ground. Straddling the half way line is the attractive main stand painted in club colours of white and blue, with the changing rooms on the ground floor and seating providing good elevated views of the action above. Towards the corner flag is the large and spacious clubhouse, while beyond the corner flag and behind one of the goals is the “Badgers Sett”, the tea bar, and a small stand covering a standing area. Around the rest of the ground is just hard standing behind railing. Tall trees around most of the ground give it a nice rural feel to it. To add to the feeling that everything was somewhat overpriced here today for the level of football, with £1 charged for main stand access on top of £7 admission, as well as overpriced refreshments, the programme was also overpriced at £2.00, with 28 black and white pages inside the cover, with plenty of stats and penpics of the opposition but with limited reading of interest.

Brockenhurst finished in 14th place last season, but have shipped plenty of goals in pre-season, 29 goals in 7 games, all at home, although ten of those goals can against Winchester City. It is difficult to guage how Salisbury will fare this season, being their first after being born out of the ashes of Salisbury City who went out of business at the start of last season. A lot will clearly depend on how quickly manager and director Steve Claridge manages to blend the team together, but one would imagine that they will be challenging towards the top of the table, certainly instant promotion must be the expectation to climb the leagues as soon as possible.

On a very warm and sunny afternoon, and with Salisbury lining up in a Brockenhurst away strip, this was an entertaining game despite the final goalless scoreline, indeed it was one of those afternoons when one wondered how on earth nobody scored today. Salisbury dominated for long periods, and the majority of the game was played in the Brockenhurst half, although the home side certainly had their moments on the break.

Both sides carved out chances throughout the game, but it was in the last quarter of an hour when Salisbury will kick themselves for not coming away from their first ever competitive encounter with a win. They hit the crossbar, forced a superb reflex save from a close range header and saw a goal bound header cleared off the line, but in the end, both sides had to settle for a point, a point that Brockenhurst were obviously much the happier with. 

So, while it was disappointing to begin my domestic competitive season with a goalless game, this was an entertaining one and my visit was an enjoyable experience in pleasant surroundings, a large crowd creating a good vibe, and in warm, sunny conditions. Credit shoud also go the club in ensuring that it was sufficiently prepared and organised to accommodate a crowd much bigger than what they are used to, with the whole day passing off seamlessly. 

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