Thursday, 3 May 2018

01/05/18 Review: Cadbury Heath vs Chipping Sodbury Town

Cadbury Heath 2-6 Chipping Sodbury Town (Toolstation Western Premier League)

Without an end of season trip to the West Country for a new ground, it's not really end of season, right? Indeed, for the third year on the bounce I was heading through to visit Partizan Bristle (Tom) and the destination for this one night only affair was Springfield, the home of Western League Premier side Cadbury Heath. Across the two Western League divisions this would be my tenth new ground and after attending the Western League Groundhop back in October I was again looking forward to ticking off this one in East Bristol, a ground that Tom had visited once before already.

I'm surprised they let him back in
After quickly wolfing down some Gumbo in Tom's Severn Beach homestead we made the 20 mile journey taking us across the M4 and after the confusion of parking in the near-empty adjacent sports club car park we started to wonder if we'd got the right time. Inevitably we walked a few yards down the road and it all came flooding back to Tom, meaning we'd made it to Springfield in good time. We made our first port of call, surprise surprise, the portacabin disguising itself as a clubhouse and upon entry I got some serious Abbey Hulton vibes from this very ramshackle setup.

As we later found out, the Heathens are fundraising for a new clubhouse and the 1894 founded club certainly won't be judged on the quality of the carpet in their cabin. No, it is true that one of South Gloucester's finest have a trophy cabinet that even recently has been restocked with success last season in the Gloucestershire Challenge Trophy and going back to 2011-12 the Western League First Division title too, so don't be fooled by this small suburban club despite being 18th of 20 teams in this season's Toolstation table. The evening's opponents, also formed pre-1900 in South Gloucestershire, were Chipping Sodbury Town and as a side sitting 14th in the league before the game would provide a stern opponent as they look to consolidate a mid-table finish in their last away game this season.

The calm before the storm
We decided to spend our pre-match enjoyment watching the warm-up from behind the fence and having already kicked one ball back to the training forwards as we arrived, I let my steel toe-capped chum take the next one on, knowing that it would undoubtedly lead to some sort of mockery. His mighty strike bobbled across the floor like a deflated turd and a middle-aged man emerged to state that he could have done better with his arthritis riddled right foot. Amazing! The humour would continue as we entered the ground and as I was stood perusing my free program next to the chap taking people's money I overheard someone ask if Cadbury Heath had a full team for tonight, to which he paused before stating "half of one"- and so the scene was set for another great game. As usual, Tom and I both made a prediction for the outcome and both selected a win for the Sods, 2-1 and 3-1 respectively, just as the game started.

Let the goal fest begin
Within the opening five minutes we were to be treated to a goal and having only just got settled we were witness to some early poor defence from the home side which allowed George Box to go on and set the standard for what would be a very high-scoring contest. Heath 0-1 Sodbury. The Sods continued to look aggressive in attack and as Tom Fry booted one wide in the 10th minute you got a sense of what the result was going to be. Surely enough the home side struggled to restrain a good attacking side and as the likes of Sam Jenkins offered depth in the final third the next goal soon came in the form of a Joe White finish, which was a tad unfortunate for Mitch Norman who'd made an initial nice save to no avail. Heath 0-2 Sodbury. For Cadbury Heath the best it got for them in the opening exchanges was when captain Simon McElroy hit one from range at Sam Burgess, but in truth it was the visitors who looked dominant in the first-half. The Lino on our side obviously took pity on the hosts at one point as Norman looked to have made a good fingertip save and after pointing his flag at the corner spot for a split-second, he then looked at the Ref before they universally called for a goal kick. Nobody argued the decision, but I decided to make a cheeky comment as he ran past us about his initial call, to which he jokingly said "only we know what we saw". Non-league officiating at its best.

Love a good flag
There would be one more goal to report before the break and in the last five minutes Town punished some very deep defending from the Heathens as Jenkins brilliantly released Box who did well to loft the ball over the keeper. Heath 0-3 Sodbury. The game seemed all but over at the break and as we headed back out to the bar we got the feeling that there could well be a lot more goals to come. We reemerged for the second-half as darkness began to fall on Springfield and with it now being a bit chilly in the air we clenched our beers as the game restarted. Looking over at the 40 in attendance with us who veered more towards the old style stand where the tea hut was located, with the odd few sitting in the semi-caged newer Wendy and Terry Mitchell Stand, the game's first chance of the second-half came from a close-range strike from Marcus Williams and the hosts already looked in better shape. This wouldn't stop the away side from striking again though and it was another great combination from Jenkins and Box to give the number 10 his hattrick for the day. Heath 0-4 Sodbury. As the hosts tried their damnedest to grab a goal for their own, they were hit again on the break as this time Box's shot on 55 minutes was saved and Jenkins was left to run in and grab himself a goal after providing assists for most of his side's attacks in the game. Heath 0-5 Sodbury. The goals weren't ending there though and thankfully for the hosts they would grab a couple of consolation goals, which in truth I felt they deserved. First off McElroy struck a thunderous drive which took a slight deflection before beating Burgess, finally giving the home fans something to at least cheer about. Heath 1-5 Sodbury.

"We're gonna win 6-5", chanted Tom and I
An entire 20 minutes passed us by without a goal until an 85th minute penalty was awarded to Cadbury Heath, which Burgess stepped up to take and complete a fairly unsatisfactory brace. Heath 2-5 Sodbury. In stoppage time we saw an eighth and final strike when the away side gained a corner. It was taken quickly and White powered into the penalty area only to then strike home his second, the Sods sixth, of a comprehensive morale-boosting end of season win and further show the home side that improvements will need to be made in time for the next Western League season. Heath 2-6 Sodbury. So ended the fifth game in five days for me with this one, having visited new grounds in the form of Ball Haye Green and Sandbach Community Football Centre in between a super Saturday at my old favourite Moss Rose and the team who I volunteer for, Stone Dominoes. I will be back in action some time soon before the CONIFA World Cup, so look out for my final domestic season ventures, wherever they may be.

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