Rushden & Diamonds Strengthen Their Play-Off Hopes

03/29/2010

 This week I travelled to Kingsmeadow, the home of AFC Wimbledon. I had never been to the stadium before, but I must say it is an impressive ground for a team that has only been existing since 2002 and have fans who are really passionate about the team.   

AFC WIMBLEDON 0-1 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS

 Attendance 3, 640

 AFC Wimbledon’s play-off hopes suffered a dent as they were narrowly beaten by Rushden & Diamonds at Kingsmeadow. However the game will be over-shadowed by the controversial winning goal scored by the Diamonds Craig Farrell, that saw them edge closer towards promotion.   

AFC (blue) and R & D (yellow) battling to win the ball

 

 The game started brightly, with both teams eager to secure the win, but it was Rushden & Diamonds that created the first meaningful chance of the game on 10 minutes. A throw-in on the right found its way to Aaron O’Connor who found himself one on one with James Pullen in the Wimbledon goal, but his shot was well saved. Wimbledon responded but Brett Johnson’s shot was easily saved by Diamond’s keeper Dale Roberts.   

 Both teams continued to battle throughout the entire first half, but neither team could find that all-important goal. Diamonds left-back Kurt Robinson saw a speculative scissor kick shot sail over the bar, while Wimbledon’s Will Hendry saw his 30 yard strike fly well wide. However Wimbledon had the best chance of the half just after the half hour mark. Glenn Poole received the ball on the left and his cross was met by top scorer Danny Kedwell, but he headed just over and both teams went into the break level at 0-0.

 After the break, the game flowed in much the same fashion as the first. However Wimbledon should have been in front within 5 minutes of the restart. Ricky Wellard passed the ball to Kedwell on the right and his cross was met by Hendry, after Wellard has missed the ball, and he shot straight at Diamond’s keeper Roberts when he should have scored.   

AFC (blue) freekick

 

 This would come back to haunt Wimbledon as soon after, Rushden & Diamonds were in front. Aaron O’Connor fed the ball through to striker Craig Farrell who ran onto the pass to slot the ball  past keeper Pullen and into the net. However as the ball was played in, Farrell looked offside, but luckily for the travelling fans, the linesman failed to notice and the goal stood, giving them a 1-0 lead.   

 Rushden & Diamonds began to assert themselves on the game, but Wimbledon still searched for that goal to draw them level. Sam Hatton had a free-kick saved by Roberts, while Luke Moore saw his shot sail just wide.   

 With 6 minutes injury time added, Wimbledon continued to push forward with Wellard heading straight at Dale Roberts but the Rushden & Diamonds defence held firm and held on to secure a vital away win.   

Teams

AFC Wimbledon: Pullen, Hatton, Judge, Lorraine, Johnson, Poole (Elder 63), Gregory, Hendry (Adjei 54), Wellard, Kedwell, Moore.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Conroy, Duncan   

Rushden & Diamonds: Roberts, Corcoran, Osano, Stuart, Robinson, Porter, McNamara (Huke 70), Byrne, O’Connor (Akurang 85), Farrell, Tomlin (Louis 74).
Subs Not Used: Day, Wolleaston.   

 Man of the Match- Jamie Stuart (Rushden & Diamonds)

 Captain Jamie Stuart had a solid game today at the heart of the Rushden defence. He dealt with everything that was placed upon him and he and the rest of the defence will be absolutely delighted to come away with 3 vital points.   

 Match Verdict

 Rushden & Diamonds will be delighted with picking up the win today. In an even game that could have gone either way, it was a controversial decision made by the linesman which settled the game. AFC Wimbledon wil be very disappointed not to pick up at least a point today and now face an uphill struggle to clinch a play-off place, which the fans desperately want.  

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Histon’s most passionate fans?

03/19/2010

Located just a few miles away from the city of Cambridge, between the villages of Histon and Impington, stands the Glassworld Stadium, home of Histon Football Club.

 Comfortably sitting in mid-table in the league. Histon, nicknamed The Stutes may only be a small club, but they have a fantastic following.

 And you won’t find more passionate fans at the club than Dave and Ann. Current season ticket holders who have supported Histon for more than 20 years. They used to support Histon’s fierce rivals Cambridge United, but after they moved to the village, they began to fall in love with the club and haven’t looked back since.

 They recall what it was like when they first started watching Histon. “When we first started watching Histon there were just 20 people and a dog.”

 Now Histon are in the Blue Square Premier and Dave and Ann feel it has been a fantastic ride up until now. However Dave thinks it’s only a matter of time before the balloon bursts on the football club they love. He reckons that the smaller clubs can no longer compete with the bigger clubs in the league, and although he wants to see Histon become the first village side to enter the Football League, he feels it’s important for the club to hold on to where they are and become an established team in the Conference.

 But for the moment Dave and Ann are going to continue to enjoy watching the club they are mad about. They travel around the country to watch their beloved team play and now are owners of a motor home so they can continue their trips around the grounds. “The best ground we’ve probably been to is Notts County and the littlest has got to be Bognor Regis.”

 If there’s one last thing they’d like to add it’s “Histon is a great, friendly, family club and there’s always time for everyone who comes.” So why not pop in for a visit to the Glassworld Stadium. You might just fall in love and go back again and again.


Club Focus: Eastbourne Borough

03/06/2010

Eastbourne Borough initially started off life as Langley Football Club in 1964 and basically played on a field.  However over the years, the club has grown and although they changed their name to Eastbourne in 2001, they are very much a football club based on the community.

Eastbourne Borough is not only a football club though, it is a social club. It provides extra activities such as bowls for the community and has even been recognised for this by holding an international tournament involving England C in 2006. With these extra activities, it has helped fund the football at Eastbourne. Directly outside the ground there is also a field which has been used for the community, including youth and ladies football games.

The people involved with the club are mainly volunteers. I met Roy Young who has worked at Eastbourne as a volunteer for 15 years. He describes the club as a ‘family’. Roy is in charge of the food on matchdays and often works 9 to 5. But what is special about these volunteers is they don’t just do one job, they are heavily involved in all aspects of the football club. On my trip to Eastbourne, I even saw the chairman Len Smith with a drill in hand helping with the preparations for the match, which is unheard of especially in the Premier League and I was impressed with that. There is no millionaire behind the scenes at Eastbourne so everyone works hard and fights to see football played at Priory Lane.

Priory Lane itself is small compared to some of the other grounds in the Blue Square Premier. It has an official capacity of 4,151 and has 3 stands as well as terraced areas. The first stand as you enter the ground is called the Mick Green stand, which has been named after one of Eastbourne’s most influential players in their history. Then to the right of that there is the Peter Fountain stand and directly opposite is the River End stand. The home and away dressing rooms are the same size and come complete with Red bulls for all the players. However there is no accommodation for female officials, which will need to be reviewed as it against FA rules. The executive boxes above the dressing rooms have been designed based on the boxes at Crystal Palace and there is also a nursery which provides another linked back to the community. The tunnel leading out to the pitch is behind the goal which is unusual in modern times and the pitch has a new drainage system which cost £150,000. I have been told it does work very well considering the ground is situated on marshland. The dugouts have also seen improvements for this season. Eastbourne also boasts the most amateur programme in the league at only £2.

Lee Peskett describes Eastbourne as the ‘best pub team in the world.’ Lee has been watching Eastbourne since he was 12 and is now heavily involved in the club, having been a committee member since 2005. Lee is in charge of the press and is also a coach at under 7 level. He had supported Chelsea but now says he has ‘caught the bug’ of non-league football. When Lee started watching Eastbourne, 100 people would turn out to watch and the annual Bonfire event would attract a bigger crowd than football.

Now football is at the very heart of Eastbourne. Although once described as ‘only a park side’, Eastbourne is anything but that. It is a proper football club with loyal and passionate fans devoted to the club.