Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Recreation Way, Mildenhall
Match Rating: 4
Following my 3pm kick off at Newmarket, I got back in the car and drove 11 miles north-eastwards to Mildenhall, to watch a game that promised to be a rather one sided affair, going by the league table at least. It turned out that the best experience of this groundhopper day was saved until last.
Recreation Way is situated very close to Mildenhall town centre, and spectators enter in one corner of the ground by paying admission at a brick hut, decorated with attractive club signage. This is a ground that is very easy on the eye, neatly arrange and tastefully decorated, tucked into an attractive naturally enclosed area and with some good character about the place. After both grounds I visited earlier in the day had plastic pitches, Mildenhall have a grass one, but with a considerable slope from end to end. Most of the spectator facilities are along the side closest to the entrance. After passing my a table offering club souvenirs, there is a stand painted in black and yellow club colours covering a few terrace steps, and then there is a brick clubhouse which was extremely busy this evening, and with a refreshments window on the outside. Just beyond the half way line there are wooden benches covered by a low roof in front of another brick building. Close to the corner at the top of the slope on the opposite side there is a small modern metallic stand. The ground is nicely hemmed in by trees. The 40 page programme had an attractive cover and contained the necessary stats and some interesting features to digest, but with plenty of advertising contained within.
Mildenhall Town have made a terrific start to their season, leading the table, winning 13 and losing the other of their opening 14 league games, with their only defeat coming back in August, and are six points clear of second places Stanway Rovers and 12 points clear of third placed Newmarket Town. So, it would be a tall order for the visitors to get anything from this game, particularly as they came into this game second bottom, with just a win and four draws from their opening 14 league games. They had lost their last five league and cup games, and shipped ten goals in their last two games.
With night falling as the game kicked off at 6pm, the first half of this game was surprisingly even, with the visitors probably aided by kicking down the slope. Unfortunately for the struggling visitors, their goalkeeper gifted the league leaders the lead on 20 minutes. A free kick from the left wing by Luke Parkinson was floated goalwards, and the ball went through the keeper's hands and into the net. Swaffham had some half chances, and the closest they came to scoring was on the half hour, when a header from a free kick was deflected wide. But Mildenhall held a narrow one goal lead at the break, but with the prospect of playing down the slope to come.
Perhaps as expected, Mildenhall upped a gear in the second half and completely controlled proceedings, as Swaffham increasingly struggled to get out of their own half, and they were certainly not helped by their keeper who was having a poor game. Mildenhall doubled their lead on 63 minutes following a cross from the right to the far post found Parkinson, who took a touch before firing home via a sizeable deflection from the keeper. The result was put beyond all doubt on 66 minutes. The ball was floated in from the outer right side of the area, the keeper parried the ball into the danger area, and the ball was turned in via a deflection, Lee Clift being awarded the goal. Mildenhall scored their fourth on 74 minutes following some neat passing inside the box, and Parkinson curled the ball inside the far post. At that stage, further goals for the home side looked a certainty, but they never came, but Mildenhall will be content with a comprehensive win and a dominant display, in the second half certainly, which saw their lead at the top of the table extended by a further two points.