Tuesday, 2 May 2017

01/05/2017 Review: Wrington Redhill vs Fry Club

Wrington Redhill 1-2 Fry Club (Somerset County League Premier)
Everyone Active Stadium

The final day of my trip to Bristol would mean checking out some May Day football for a second consecutive year alongside Partizan Bristle, who was visiting his first "new" ground of the long weekend on our third outing in as many days. We'd already visited his two favoured teams in Bristol Rovers and Manor Farm, so it was time to be a bit more daring and try out a ground that neither of us had hopped to before- Clevedon Town's Everyone Active Stadium.

Here we go again
What was now a whole year ago, last May Day was the first date of my debut Western League groundhop down in Bristol as we witnessed a glorious Monday afternoon match at The Lawns in which Melksham Town overcame Cribbs in the Les Phillips Cup. 365 days and 43 grounds had passed since then and I was ending this weekend by visiting another Western League ground, albeit to check out my first ever Somerset County League match. Today's game would no doubt be slightly different to the one I'd seen the day before at the Mem, as Rovers lost out in a seven-goal thriller against everyone's favourite side Millwall, but nevertheless I was still looking forward to it and I had predicted that I would again be witnessing plenty of goals. Whilst making the short drive over to see Wrington, who play at Clevedon, which is in the village of Kenn (keeping up?), Tom and I discussed the prospect of going from viewing a league game in-front of 11,000 fans, to this one- which would be nearer the 11 mark! Having not seen the table beforehand, all that I knew was that this was a mid-table battle- and I therefore made my pre-match prediction in favour of the hosts. I went for 4-2, Tom went for 5-3.

The calm before the storm
The ground, formally known as The Hand Stadium, has been taken over by the leisure company Everyone Active in recent times and approximately half a million quid has been spent on building a top notch fitness facility which includes a gym and a 3G pitch (not the one seen in the picture above, obviously). As this out in the sticks area has developed into a state of the art venue for sporting enthusiasts, the actual football ground has sat around ageing like that hundred year old oak in the middle of your local forest. I'm sure that as with any ground in this situation, it will eventually be modified or ripped out to make way for the inevitable upgrade and probable artificial pitch, but for now it certainly seemed in working order and it obviously does the job for Clevedon Town and today's hosts Wrington Redhill. One memory that has to be noted is when Town managed to make it to the FA Cup First Round ten years ago, where they ended up losing to a then Football League Chester City side. Today though, we weren't here to see Clevedon and it was going to be all about Wrington Redhill as they faced up to another home-tie at the ground which was 7 miles away from their natural home.

You can't beat that warm Somerset welcome
Leading up to this match, which was the final league game for Fry Club, the visitors had been in yo-yo form. Prior to Saturday's away draw against Bridgwater Town Reserves, Fry had suffered a 0-3 away defeat, gained a 2-0 home victory, as well as a 3-2 win and loss a piece since the start of April, meaning that a win today would sit them in a decent 10th place to end the season. Meanwhile the hosts were playing their eleventh successive home game and had managed three wins, a couple of draws and five defeats from their last ten matches inclusive of cup. Redhill do also have a final league game to come on Saturday- an away day at basement club Berrow. Now that you're all caught up, on with the match.

14th vs 11th
The match got underway in reasonable fashion and as expected the goal-scoring opportunities began to flow soon enough. Roughly three minutes into proceedings saw the first chance fall to a Green attacker and he prodded home what we expected to be the first of many- not the start the visitors had in mind. Redhill 1-0 Fry Club. The next ten minutes or so passed without much to shout about at either end. Fry Club seemed to have composed themselves after a shaky start and Wrington were looking okay under pressure. One player, who seemed to go by the name of "Chicken", was getting a lot of the ball and he seemed decent down the right channel and into the centre of the field for the visiting side. The Fry's striker, meanwhile, showcased his best WWE skills by unleashing a Powerbomb on a Wrington defender after he successfully dispossessed the forward- we nicknamed him "Angry Number 9". His involvement throughout the whole match was feisty and in fairness I picked him out as the best player on the field.

Number 9 was so angry, he even conducted his own storm
In terms of playing style, it was as you'd expect at this level. There was a sprinkling of dodgy defending and hopeless hoofing mixed with some decent passing and the odd top quality cross from the away side as they looked to grab an equaliser. With 25 minutes now on the clock, the Fry Club players finally had reason to cheer and it was from one of those aforementioned testing crosses that a visiting player hit home. Redhill 1-1 Fry Club. Following this, Fry Club felt the moment shift in their favour and out of nothing they produced a true piece of beauty that the 30 or so of us in attendance were very lucky to witness. As the ball hung in the air surrounding a few players just outside the box, one of the Fry Club attackers decided to give his best FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup effort a try and it paid off with a stunningly executed bicycle kick. What a strike. My goodness, that would be a top goal in any league in the world. In a word, that goal, delicious! Redhill 1-2 Fry Club. In a weekend of thrilling games, this fifteenth and final goal of our weekend was a great one to see out my trip. The only thing that could have made us happier at this stage would have been if the bar would open.

It didn't, and therefore a Tuck Shop cuppa would have to do
As half-time arrived, the remains of the blue skies disappeared and we therefore decided to move camp into the covered main stand. With not a beer in-sight, we finished off a tea a piece and soon enough it was game-on again. Almost as if to be timed perfectly with with the ref's whistle, the restart was met by the opening of a few quickfire showers. This didn't spoil the game though, and if anything it was the whistle-happy refereeing display in the second 45 that stopped the momentum building for either side on more than one occasion. Aside from a close headed effort from the Fry's number 7 and many a powerful drive from "Angry number 9", the chances were not forthcoming and the highlight of the second-half actually came from a standoff between the Linesman and one of the Subs down on the bench. After Mr. Lino ordered the chap to "shut up and sit down", time appeared to stop for a few moments before the Sub eventually took the advice begrudgingly- that could have ended differently.

Non-League Episode VII: Revenge of the Scary Lino
Back on the pitch there was only a few minutes left and Wrington made one last push to grab an equaliser. The number 11 for the hosts took a long-range effort which was initially saved with comfort, before bobbling around the keeper and almost bouncing into his net. Close, but no cigar for the home side on this occasion and the full-time whistle blew just after the 90 minute mark. Tom turned to me and said "I'm guessing they don't bother with injury time at this level", and with that our ventures were over. After driving back over to Shirehampton to drop Tom off, I then headed back to Stoke where I knew that any future footballing outings for the season would be few and far between. For the rest of May I only have two definite trips planned- I'll be heading to Wembley with some of my good pals to see the Non-League Finals Day (No write-up to follow for this one) and then just a couple of days later I'll hopefully be at Dalymount Park for a much anticipated night out in Dublin to see Bohemian FC versus Limerick. Exciting times!

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