Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Wells City 2 v 5 Cadbury Heath

Saturday 8th October 2016
Western League Premier Division
Athletic Ground, Wells
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 219
Match Rating: 3

At the conclusion of the first game of the Western League hop, I joined the conveyor belt of cars making the 20 minute drive south eastwards for the 1pm game at Wells City, with on paper a step up in quality, this game (indeed, the only game in the hop today) being in the Premier Division.

The Athletic Ground is located just to the south of Wells city centre, and spectators enter the ground via an entrance is one corner of the ground. It is a very neat and tidy venue, combining attractive modern finishing touches with some old-fashioned character. The pitch has white mesh railing around the pitch, with wooden fencing around the perimeter. All of the facilities are along the length opposite the entrance, with an old-fashioned stand straddling the half way line, with elevated wooden steps to sit on, but it is some distance away from the pitch and there are several supporting pillars along the front. To one side, there are a couple of portakabins housing the changing rooms, whilst to the other side there are small temporary looking buildings, one of which houses the tea bar. The clubhouse is situated outside of the ground. Behind one goal, the top of Wells Cathedral is just about visible, with the Mendip Hills in the background. The 24 page programme was very neatly presented, had minimal advertising and plenty of relevant information and was good for the level of football.

Having been promoted into this division this season, Wells City have had a solid start to their Premier Division season, having won four and drawn two of their 12 league games. Cadbury Heath were in a lowly 16th position, with two wins and two draws from their 9 league games, but they have several games in hand on most teams above them, partly due to their excellent run in the FA Cup, reaching the 3rd Qualifying Round, before bowing out to Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Burgess Hill Town.

With the sun managing to break through the clouds at times, Wells actually started this game in the ascendancy, doing pretty much all of the attacking in the opening 20 minutes, until the game decisively turned away from them on 24 minutes when the visitors were awarded a penalty, presumably for handball which was far from obvious, and Matt Huxley tucked the ball into the bottom left corner despite the keeper going the right way. Two minutes later and the visitors doubled their lead. The ball bounced across the penalty area and Sam Bailey toe poked the ball high over the keeper and into the net.

0-2 was how it remained at half time, slightly harsh on Wells, but they had a great chance to halve the deficit within a minute of the restart when they were awarded a penalty for a shove in the box, but the shot was hit at a good height to the keeper's right and was well saved. Wells' disappointment was compounded within a minute when a long ball over the defence found Huxley unmarked in the area with just the keeper to beat, which he did with a cool finish. Wells gave themselves a sniff of a comeback when they pulled a goal back on 52 minutes when a diagonal ball towards the back post was firmly struck into the net via the inside of the neat post. But that hope was all but extinguished on 55 minutes, when another ball over the top found Simon McElroy, who finished with a neat lob over the keeper. Wells didn't look likely to reduce the deficit again, and five minutes from time, they fell further behind when some neat passing across the penalty area ended with Huxley toe poking past the keeper for his hat-trick. Wells did score a second when Daniel Spill ran to the edge of the area before drilling the ball inside the post. And four minutes from time, they appealed for a penalty but instead their player was shown a second yellow card.

So after starting the match the better team, Wells were well beaten in the end and Cadbury Heath certainly deserved their comprehensive win and, based on this performance, will surely soon climb the table. Although there was not the same charmingly rustic feeling encountered early at Cheddar, again the event here was well organised, everyone was suitably catered for, and this was a pleasant place to watch football.

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