Sunday, 13 September 2015

Kent Football United 3 v 2 Lydd Town

Saturday 12th September 2015
Glentworth Sports Club, Dartford
Kent Invicta League
Admission: £5.00
Programme: None
Attendance: 36
Match Rating: 4

Although I had only passed through Dartford yesterday evening on my way home from a holiday in East Anglia, a lack of appealing local or FA Cup games meant I headed to north Kent to tick off my penultimate ground in the Kent Invicta League today.

The Glentworth Sports Club is about a 15 minute walk from Dartford train station via the town centre, and is located beyond a car park and the Glentworth Ex-Serviceman's Club, and one enters in one corner of the ground. Whilst this place has potential to become a decent and attractive ground, and plans are afoot to make it so, there is precious little if anything to recommend a visit here for as it stands currently, and was not a pleasant place to watch football today. A tea bar is located just inside the entrance to the right, with picnic tables on a large patio area to the left behind the goal. There are currently no floodlights nor stands here, nor any hard standing. The area between the tea bar and the half way line is more akin to a building site, with uneven soil and construction materials strewn around, and there are some wooden poles attached to the railing to suggest this is where a stand may be placed. Spectators are prevented from venturing beyond the dugouts along this length. Behind one of the goals, as well as a patio area, an uneven path runs from the pitch to the changing rooms, which appear rather rudimentary and are certainly not easy on the eye. Spectators are not allowed behind the opposite goal, whilst down the remaining length, spectators can stand on grass. Trees behind this length offer the potential for a reasonably attractive setting. A rare effort to improve the ground's appearance is blue sheeting draped from the pitchside railing. Despite being told the programmes were coming, they never arrived – apparently, from noting other groundhopper visits, it is hit or miss (mostly miss) whether programmes are issued here, which really is not good enough at senior level.

If this match were played last season, this probably would have been an away banker, as Kent Football United struggled at the foot of the table and Lydd Town looked for long periods that they could claim the one promotion spot available before falling away slightly to finish third. Indeed, Lydd won 0-7 here in February. Things seem to be a little different for Kent Football United this season though, having opened their league campaign with three wins and two draws from six games and came into this game in fifth place. They bowed out of the League Cup last Saturday though, with a 4-2 defeat at Bearsted. Lydd look to be one of the teams to beat again this season, with a 100% record from their first five league games, and won away to strugglers Rusthall in the League Cup 2-5 last Saturday.

On a warm and sunny afternoon, all the signs in the early stages were that this would be the expected away win, and Lydd duly took the lead on 4 minutes, when a ball forward by Ryan Smith drew the keeper out to the outer corner of his area and Gary Lockyer struck the ball low into the empty net. They doubled their lead three minutes later when Ryan Smith headed home from a corner. It really was looking like a case of how many Lydd would score, until what turned out to be the game changing moment arrived on 37 minutes. The home side were awarded a penalty for a hand ball, and Danny Bezant placed the ball into the bottom right corner which the keeper only just couldn’t get a hand to. In the last minute of the half, Kent Football United scored an equaliser with a wonderful goal, Jack Gibbons flighting a lovely shot from 25 yards over the keeper and the ball hit the underside of the bar and bounced over the line.

It was quite surprising that the scores were level of half time, and even more surprising when the home team then went into the lead two minutes after the interval when the ball was looped from the left over the keeper, and Michael Ring headed the ball home. Lydd really disappointed in the second half, as they seemed more interested in moaning and arguing than rolling up their sleeves to get back in the game, and Kent Football United had by far the better chances to score, coming close twice within a minute when the Lydd keeper had an air kick at a back pass and only just managed to kick the ball away before it crossed the line, and later on in the move, a shot was crashed off the post. Lydd had a couple of chances in the last five minutes, having the ball in the back of the net but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the keeper as the forward bulldozed the ball in from the player’s grasp, and then in a similar situation to their first goal, a Lydd forward fired the ball goalwards from an angle with the keeper drawn out, but this time a defender managed to clear the ball away before it crossed the line.

And so Kent Football United claimed the three points, and credit to them for responding so well after conceding two early goals, in contrast to Lydd who really threw away this game as they lost their composure and focus as things started to go against them.

This was an enjoyable game to watch, which made up for the disappointment of the ground and the lack of programme. I look forward to revisiting some time in the future when hopefully this will be a much tidier ground with facilities suitable to host senior football.

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