Tuesday, 13 October 2015

13/10/15 Review: Leek Town vs Daventry Town

Leek Town 5-1 Daventry Town (Evo-Stik First Division South)
Harrison Park


Just a couple of days after my Non League Day special Blog it's back to the mid-week cold nights out and about in the local venues, with Leek Town vs Daventry Town being the game of choice for tonight. Having drove past this ground so many times on my way to watch the mighty Macclesfield Town, I was finally stopping off at the ground which was located just a mere 8.9 miles away from my house. An additional bonus to the geographical location of the ground was indeed the parking, or so I thought, being right outside the ground upon my arrival. I would later find out why nobody else parked there.
It seemed like a great parking space at the time
I walked around to the entrance to the ground and asked two gentlemen, who reminded me of Max and Paddy, where I could get my ticket. The taller of the two verbally directed me to a dimly lit turnstile, whilst the other prepared to tell the next guy the same info. I used my early arrival time to have a walk around the ground and even check out the clubhouse beforehand- another perk of being at an extremely local ground. The seating area in the main stand was vast and actually quite grand for a team of this division, with plenty of seating areas. But as I wanted to be as close to pitch-side as possible I sought out a spot with most of the other fans. I then took a minute or two to scout through the match programme, looking to see how the players careers had shaped so far. As expected, a lot of the players were cast-offs from Stoke City and Vale, who had also played across the Midlands for the usual suspects; Newcastle Town, Stafford Rangers, Kidsgrove Athletic and even the well-known Stone Dominoes. However, in one circumstance or another they had ended up playing for The Blues, who were currently sitting in and around the mid-table positions at this early stage. With 5 wins and 4 defeats so far, as well as a draw, Leek Town were as close to the top as they were to the bottom and they knew that if they were to get good results in their games in hand that a play-off place would be in their grasp, albeit at this early time of the season.


I decided to sit with the peasants rather than take the stairs up to the Gods
Daventry Town were the away side today and they have found themselves on the same amount of points as The Blues, despite having played two more games. So with this in mind, I predicted a draw to be on the cards as both teams looked to head towards the play-offs- and away from relegation. Before the teams came out I had a glance around at the crowd who were accompanying me on this cold Staffordshire eve and one highlight for me was seeing a fan trotting around with his CD Walkman. Coupled with the fact that I couldn't access the internet on my phone, I felt as though I had been pegged back a few years.


Pie, Peas and a Walkman- Retro!
Meanwhile, the lads were ready and began to march out for the match. A few minutes late, the teams quickly exchanged handshakes and got the ball rolling, which stirred the fans to head out of the clubhouse and to the side of the pitch. The Blues started fairly strong and got the ball straight into the Daventry box, but a poor pass sent it out for a goal kick. This standard of passing was on and off throughout, which was a shame because both teams looked like they could get some good moves going with just a tad more quality. After ten minutes of 50/50 chances, I had a wander up to the seated area and found myself admiring a nice view from the higher floor. I imagined that if ever Leek Town managed to get far enough to draw a Premier League club in the FA Cup then their ground would not disappoint any big clubs' fans with the views on display. Once I had got comfy I was then treated to the opening goal of the night- a low finish from the number 11, Niall Maguire. Leek 1-0 Daventry. The side who had finished 2nd in the league last season were ahead early on and hoping this would spur them on to an important victory.


The Blues got their noses ahead around the quarter of an hour mark
Shortly after that goal was the point in which I discovered why nobody else had parked just outside the ground. 3 times within the next 10 minutes the ball was booted up into the air and out of the ground, each time heading towards the general direction of my car. I can now have a laugh about my overreaction every time this happened, but at the time I wanted to run out and check my windows weren't smashed in. Once the hoof and boot style of play settled down, we were treated to a bit more classy play from both sides who made solid moves towards a goal. The concern for the away side was that they didn't really seem to have much up top, whereas the Leek Town forwards looked ready to finish at any given time. And with that, the ball was popped into the feet of Lee Cropper, who bounced the ball over the keeper, rounded and defender and then prodded the ball into the goal, beating the two defenders on the line in the process- a nice finish. Leek 2-0 Daventry. The number 10 had squandered a chance earlier on after he took the ball past the keeper before hesitating and losing balance, so this goal was a relief for all involved. By this time, I had edged around to the standing area near the dugout, just in time to see the manager's reaction to his side doubling their lead. One fan shouted his attention to ask him how many goals they could expect to see this evening, to which he popped his hand in the air with all fingers and thumb aloft, which followed with a big grin. He then returned his focus back to the pitch and warned his 3-man defence to make it to half-time at 2-0. The lads managed that for him, although it could have been different had the Daventry striker's challenge on a fancy-footed centre-back been successful. The manager turned to his assistant and said, "He fucking scares me sometimes!". A few fans who were in my company nodded in humorous agreement.


It was all going to plan for The Blues
Upon half-time I entered the clubhouse for a pint and it was during this break in the match when I had a true "Pint Of Football Moment" to remember. I had spotted earlier in the evening that today's match sponsor was Eric Britow, former Darts World Number One and 'I'm A Celebrity' contestant. However, I did not expect that the first person I would see in the bar would be the Leek-born legend, sipping on a Blue WKD. I grabbed my pint and had a look through the programme in the nicely presented clubhouse and also took note of one woman who openly confessed that the bottle of whiskey she had just won in the club's raffle would be "open to offers".
Decent clubhouse, decent fans
As the second-half kicked off the clubhouse partially emptied, with a few fans deciding to hang on to finish their drinks. I was lucky that where I was sat inside the bar I could see the Daventry goal. The reason that this was lucky was because within minutes of the restart a third goal was added, alerting most of the remaining fans to retreat back to pitch-side. Leek 3-0 Daventry. After viewing a goal-fest at Newcastle Town recently, I was glad to see that another Staffordshire side were doing the business on the pitch and putting their opponents to bed. Shortly after this there was yet another goal and with surely no more than 50 minutes on the clock it was game over. A lovely finish from one of the lethal front-men meant that the points were in the bag now for the home team. Leek 4-0 Daventry. This forth goal was good news enough for Mr. Bristow, who came back into the clubhouse to finish his drink and prepare to leave. If his sponsoring of a game wasn't already good news for The Blues, then this scoreline would read for an almost perfect night. After his departure, I finished off my drink and headed out for the last half an hour or so. I took my place in the standing area I had started the first-half by and I was again just in time to see another goal. The goalkeeper was caught out again and the ball ended up in his net yet again. Leek 5-0 Daventry.
Even Leek Town's Mascot had to sit down from the shock
This was as good as it got for Leek, who would surely be propelled into the higher region of the table with this goal-difference boosting win. A couple of subs were made for both sides and from then on The Blues certainly looked to take their foot off the peddle. In fairness to Daventry they did play well in the last 20 minutes and I could see why they were so close to Leek in the table before kick-off. The main problem in the first-half was the lack of fire power and in the second-half it was the keeper and defence, who were LEEKING goals (Blame for this poor pun goes to Partizan Bristle's Tom Meadowcroft). As the game drew to a close I sensed the frustration of the home crowd and had I just walked into the ground at this point I would never have guessed they were 5-0 to the good. With only a minute or so of regular time to go, Daventry gave the handful of away fans something to cheer about as they popped in a consolation goal. Leek 5-1 Daventry. There wasn't much action to follow this and the ref called time.

With this being my second game in four days, I felt very happy knowing that I had so far this week spent time watching the Silkmen win and also having finally visited Harrison Park, which of course had the extra benifit of a good game on display. When I visit a ground I often leave with a judgement of whether I would like to visit it again- and the answer for Leek Town was yes. A nice ground, a good game of football and hopefully no smashed car windows! I'll be at Marston Road on Saturday for Part One of a Pint of Football/Partizan Bristle crossover as we see the top side of the Evo-Stik First Division South, Stafford Rangers, take on a side in the relegation zone, Rugby Town.


Meeting Eric Bristow MBE, a nice moment for Pint of Football Reviews (and him too, I'm sure!)

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