Wessex League Division One
Clayfields Sports Centre, Dibden
Match Rating: 4
I have long since wanted to pay a visit to Clayfields, but have wanted to save it for a long, fair day, considering that it would make for a really nice day out, and that their pitch has been renowned for being readily prone to waterlogging. Today was a good day to make the trip.
After arriving at Southampton Central train station, I then walked about twenty minutes to Town Quay, to catch the ferry across the River Test to Hythe. Included in the £7.00 ticket price is a trip along the oldest pier railway in continuous service in the world, from the Pier Head to arrive at the attractive waterfront of Hythe. From there, it is about another 20 minute walk to the Clayfields Sports Centre. After walking through a good sized car park, spectators pay at a booth next to the brick clubhouse building, which is moderately attractive, and reasonably sized and comfortable inside. From the entrance/clubhouse, there is short incline to enter the ground itself , which is enclosed with see-through fencing. Along one length there are no fewer than ten small individual areas of cover, whilst on the opposite length, there is a modern metallic stand which unusually contained bench seating rather than plastic individual seats. Behind one length there is a second pitch and behind the goal opposite the entrance is a short hill, whilst the remaining length is closely lined with trees. The ground is certainly pleasant and smart venue to enjoy at this time of year, but it could be quite a soul-destroying place on a cold, damp winter’s day. A programme was produced, which was a bonus after the no-show at Romsey last week and apparently Hythe & Dibden are not reliable issues themselves. It has to be said that today's publication was not the best, full of advertising, and the only up to date information was the club's forthcoming fixtures.
I had watched Hythe & Dibden put in a battling performance to come away with a 1-1 draw away at Romsey last Saturday. Tadley Calleva opened their account with a 4-2 home win against United Services Portsmouth, after finishing last season in seventh place.
On a moderately warm and mostly sunny afternoon, the visitors won this game thanks to a dominant first half in which they opened up a three goal lead, and the half time scoreline could have been even more convincing. They took the lead on 9 minutes when a player out on the wing cut back and whipped in a perfect cross which Paul Coventry managed to connect with sufficiently to divert the ball into the net. On 27 minutes, they doubled their lead with a rarher fortunate goal, Coventry's shot from outside of the area took a deflection to lift the ball over the keeper and into the net. They made it 0-3 on 33 minutes with a terrific goal. The ball was sent diagonally from the half way line into the path of George Hallahan, who struck the ball powerfully low across the keeper and into the net.
It really felt like the game was over at half time, as Hythe never looked likely to score while Tadley always looked dangerous in attack. But the second half was much more even, and Hythe pulled a goal back on 52 minutes with a good first time finish by Ben Slade after the ball rebounded into his path. Tadley restored their three goal lead on 75 minutes when the ball was drilled in from the left wing by Archie Fawcett, presumably intended as a cross, but the keeper let the ball squirm through his fingers and it dropped over the line. Hythe scored again on 88 minutes when Lewis Fay just managed to stretch and connect with the ball ahead of the keeper to divert it into the net following a diagonal ball forward into the box. But again Tadley restored their three goal lead, this time within a minute. A shot hit the keeper and the deflection rebounded off a defender, before Brett Denham tapped the ball home from very close range.
So a convincing away win, which was a good reflection on how the game panned out, and on this evidence, Tadley Calleva look a good bet to be challenging towards the top of the table. It looks likely to be an average season for Hythe & Dibden, as they desperately need to pose more of a threat going forward.