Monday, 7 March 2016

Stowmarket Town 1 v 0 Woodbridge Town

Saturday 5th March 2016
Greens Meadow, Stowmarket
Eastern Counties League Division One
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 117
Match Rating: 2

Today I was offered the chance of catching three matches in one day thanks to the annual Groundhopper weekend organised by the Eastern Counties League, and despite considerable rainfall forecast during the day falling on grounds already saturated and worse for wear, I took my chance on the long drive into Suffolk, starting with this midday kick off.

Greens Meadow is situated to the north of Stowmarket town centre, and is quite a decent set-up for the level of football, although certainly not easy on the eye for the most part. Spectators enter through a turnstile hut by the half way line, to the right of which is a grey all-seater stand, and to the left is a covered standing area rather more attractively painted in club colours, with some seats placed along the top step, and towards the corner is a large clubhouse with tea bar serving hatch to the front as well as some tables and chairs. The "media centre" is placed behind the corner flag, a small wooden shed where the team line-ups could be found, and around the rest of the ground there is just hard standing, although spectators are some considerable distance away from the pitch. Grounds at this level tend not to look their best on a cold, wet day during the winter months, and this may indeed be a more pleasant ground when the surrounding trees are in colour, and if the very busy A14 dual carriageway flyover did not perch closeby above the ground, providing the constant drone of traffic noise as well as being something on an eyesore. The 32 page programme was reasonable for this level, informative enough and with some interesting articles to read, although over half of the pages contained just adverts.

This match would be between two teams heading for comfortable mid-table finishes. Stowmarket came into this game in 14th place in the 19 team division, with seven wins and five draws from their 23 games, while Woodbridge were in 10th place, with 10 wins and seven draws from their 26 games. When the two teams met in September, the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

On a dank, cold afternoon with frequent short sharp bursts of rain which made me gulp at the prospect of my subsequent games being on later, Stowmarket had the first real chance of the game on 3 minutes when a stabbed shot with the outside of the boot hit the outside of the post. And indeed, it was Stowmarket who had the better of things for much of the first half, creating some half chances, although Woodbridge finished it the stronger, having some decent sights of goals themselves.

The second half was more of a midfield battle, probably as players had to cope with an increasingly muddy and slippery pitch, and a nil-nil was looking increasingly inevitable, until Stowmarket were awarded a penalty on 68 minutes, after the keeper spilled a shot and then brought down on the onrushing striker as he tried to pounce on the loose ball. Matt Dixon found the back of the net to the bottom right despite the keeper going the right way and almost getting to the ball. Stowmarket saw out the rest of the game fairly comfortably to claim the three points they just about deserved on the balance of play and chances.

No comments: