Friday, 6 October 2017

06/10/2017 Review: Ashton & Backwell United vs Bishop Sutton

Ashton & Backwell United 2-1 Bishop Sutton (Toolstation Western League First Division)
The Lancer Scott Stadium

The day before Non-League Day is always a day to relax, reflect and prepare for a game- unless you are a Groundhopping moron like myself and you decide to drive all the way to Bristol to meet up with Tom (aka Partizan Bristle) for the first of seven matches in the legendary Western League Groundhop Weekend.

Just 10 to go til 100! 
Donning my "best of the non-league" Macc Town scarf, I set myself up for a ride from Staffordshire down to Somerset for a Western League encounter between a 19th placed Stags side and top 10 side Bishop Sutton. With seven games at five new grounds to write about, I knew this was going to be one heck of a weekend and when I made it to Backwell with Tom in his fancy rental car, which he struggled to comprehend, I was ready for a decent game to start us off- predicting a 2-2 draw for this first encounter. Tom had made a pre-match prediction of 2-1, which I feel obliged to comment on as he actually got it right this time around- even though the lad couldn't even figure out how to lock a car! We quickly mooched on into the ground and sufficed ourselves with a cheeky beer at the spacious clubhouse, before heading out to pitch-side for the big kickoff.

That carpet is worthy of any museum of clubhousing excellence

The ground itself had quite an enclosed but cosy atmosphere and with surplus of 200 here for the match it was already shaping up to be a good en. Tom had visited the Lancer Scott Stadium back in 2015 so this was no new addition to his repertoire of 60 grounds, but that didn't mean we weren't both excited to be there watching the home side showing off their very fetching Barca-esque kit. The game got going and after just 6 minutes the first big chance came to eventual goal-getter Sam Skidmore, with the Lionel Messi wannabee showing more of an Eidur Gudjohnsen touch as his attempted flick did not connect. The action for a while was barely minimal and I found myself having a familiar mooch around the ground, laughing at the fact that the two seating rows in the main stand were labelled as Row B and Row K. "Where would you like to sit, Row B or Row K?" "Anything in between?" "NOPE!"

Let's have some goals then
The match had remained feisty on the field and with a couple of tickets, or cards to the normal person in attendance, being dished out we saw plenty of hefty tackles to see us through until the first goal of the night. Skidmore was the man to bang in the opener and his strike opened the scoring on the 42nd minute. Ashton 1-0 Bishop. The half-time whistle was blown and we headed in to the bar again for a secondary can of Stella Artois- talk about living the good life. Whilst chatting to the bar staff it became apart that the average ground of a few dozen had been well exceeded on this evening and I was pleased to see the groundhopping masses in attendance. Tom had received numerous funny looks and a comment about him supporting the "dirty and diseased" Bristol side, in a largely predominate City region, and so I felt the need to ensure people knew that I was in fact supporting the mighty Silkmen- who, in case I haven't mentioned, are the top team in the whole of non-league football!

Round to the Bill Coggan Stand for the second half
With the final 45 looming, we poured our pints into a plastic and made our way out and over to the other stand which, you'll see from the above picture, I've nicknamed "the Jumanji Stand". We continued to watch the Stags press after the break and in a reference to The IT Crowd, Tom summed up the start of the second half by stating "that's the problem with Ashton & Backwell, they always try to walk it in." and he remained correct in his summary until that man Sam "Eidur" Skidmore popped up to head a powerful second home for the hosts, which would ultimately prove to be the winner. Ashton 2-0 Bishop. The Bishops, playing in a bright yellow attire, didn't let their two goal deficit defeat them though and they perked up after conceding the second. Unfortunately I missed the scorer but in the 73rd minute the travelling team did manage to pull one back and mean that it was still game on. Ashton 2-1 Bishop. In the 86th minute Sam Thomas was sent off for a second booking after a dive, I think, and this led to a last gasp effort to grab the equaliser. At this point it was my pre-match prediction versus Tom's and after the United keeper made a great injury time save the Ref soon blew the whistle to end the opening match of our long weekend adventure.
Despite the late pressure, this turnstile proved to be a bigger problem than the visiting attackers
Tom and I quickly scooted off to the car, knowing that I'd have to get back and write this Blog, but we'll be up and at 'em early doors tomorrow as we head to Weston-Super-Mare to join the Western Groundhop crew for a four day extravaganza! Bring it on!

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