Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Ipswich Wanderers 0 v 3 Felixstowe and Walton United

Monday 17th April 2017
Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Humber Doucy Lane, Rushmere
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.50
Attendance: 103
Match Rating: 3

For my final game of the Easter weekend, I decided to drive to Suffolk today, to visit a ground that has long been on my radar following reports from fellow groundhoppers of it being a rather old-fashioned, quirky ground with plenty of character. It certainly did not disappoint.

Humber Doucy Lane is located almost three miles to the east of Ipswich town centre, just as the urban area gives way to countryside, and some old fashioned signage by the main road provides the first indication of a ground oozing with character. Spectators enter at the end of the car park, into one corner of the ground, and immediately after the turnstile, a homely clubhouse is located to one side, a tea bar to the other, and an open area with picnic tables for fans to mingle with their refreshments. Stretching along this length, first there is a brick built stand covering a standing area, straddling the half way line is a fairly narrow stand covering wooden seats, and towards the other corner flag, 2 rows of plastic seats have some rather rudimentary cover held up by scaffolding poles. Behind the goal closest to the entrance, there are a couple of further blue small buildings, beyond which there is covered standing stretching to the far corner. There is just hard standing around the remaining length and behind the other goal. In the modern era, it is a really delightful ground - not a modern "off the shelf" metallic stand in sight, no unnecessary modern additions to the ground just to satisfy the ground graders, just a collection of stands of various heights, other random buildings, corrugated iron sheets acting as a boundary around much of the ground, all of which are painted in club colours of blue and white, and finished off with some nice touches of signage around the place. A further nice touch is that the song "The Wanderer" is played over the tannoy as the players come out of the dressing rooms.The programme could not be considered good value at £1.50 though, 10 pages out 24 were advertising and although it did cover the basics, it was rather light on content for the price.

Ipswich Wanderers are heading for a mid-table finish, coming into the Easter weekend in tenth place, following 16 wins and four draws from their 36 league games. Felixstowe and Walton have had a great season, and are certain of a top three finish. They came into this game with a mathematical chance of winning the league, but with a nine point deficit behind Mildenhall with four games left to play, their best hope would be to hold on to the second place they occupied for this match, having won 25 and drawn three of their 36 games. It was something of a coincidence that I watched the reverse fixture of today's game at Felixstowe on Boxing Day, which the home team completely dominated to win 3-0.

On an afternoon that was chilly when the sun went in but pleasantly warm when the sun came out, there was a real false dawn to this game, as Ipswich Wanderers dominated the opening exchanges and did most of the attacking ion the opening 20 minutes. It was certainly against the run of play when the visitors opened the scoring on 21 minutes. Following a corner, the ball fell to Craig Jennings at the edge of the area, and he curled a delightful shot over the crowd of players into the top corner. The visitors doubled their lead three minutes later, when Nick Ingram poked the ball home following a bit of a scramble inside the box. Just after the half hour, it seemed that the game was all over when Rhys Barber powerfully headed the ball home following a free kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside. But it was Felixstowe who looked fairly comfortable with their two goal lead at the break.

The second half was not much of a spectacle, which suited Felixstowe just fine as they controlled the game, never really giving the home side any hope of being able to get back in the game. Jordy Matthews scored the visitors' third when the ball ricocheted in after his initial shot was blocked. Ipswich did manage to mount a few attacks, but as frustration mounted towards the end, so their hope faded away too.

The three points keep Felixstowe on course for a runners-up spot, being a point ahead of Newmarket with just two games left, but their very faint hopes of claiming the title were extinguished when news came through that Mildenhall had won their game and the title.

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