Friday, 30 August 2019

28/08/19 Review: Nuneaton Griff vs Coventry Copsewood

Nuneaton Griff 1-2 Coventry Copsewood (Midland Football League Division One)
Pingles Stadium

One night on from the gut-wrenching news of Bury being thrown out of the Football League, I decided to take my mind off the mainstream doom and gloom and make my way easterly to Nuneaton for a bit of Midland League action. To put things into perspective for those reading the latest rumours, Bury could well be playing at this step on the pyramid next season should they be authorised to enter their local equivalent- the North West Counties Division One North. A big drop, to say the least, as the Shakers fans may have to adjust to swapping away days at Portsmouth for trips to the likes of Cleator Moor Celtic, Golcar United and Daisy Hill.

There isn't always a light at the end of that tunnel

This Wednesday evening's outing to the Pingles Stadium would be my eleventh new ground of the season and I would be watching Nuneaton Griff take on the side who presented with me with my first of the 2019/20 campaign. That's right, I'm talking about Coventry Copsewood, who sat just four points above their bottom-placed hosts before this encounter. With just five games gone, it's probably too early to call this one a relegation battle, but it certainly was an important early battle between two of the basement sides. Pointless Griff were desperate to get off the mark, whilst Copsewood made the 10 mile jaunt up the A444 in search of a first away win since the opening day trip over to Oldfields Sports Ground in Uttoxeter- a ground I had the pleasure of visiting on Boxing Day 2016. I made a prediction for a 2-2 draw as I walked from the station through Riversley Park to the ground. A lovely summer walk, apart from the rain falling down on me.
As my Dad used to say, "it's only water"

For those of you who've visited Pingles Park, you'll know that it is a tip top condition athletics ground with a fancy gym and swim site next door. Interestingly, this is the second stadium I've been to that belongs to the Everyone Active group, having ticked off Clevedon Town's Hand Stadium back in May 2017 as I watched Wrington Redhill versus Fry Club in the Somerset County League Premier. If you are a first time reader you'll know by now that I only visit the best of the best! And indeed the facilities are undoubtedly the best, with all the mod cons ranging from a soggy sandpit for the long jumpers, all the way to even having an electronic turnstile that buzzed you in upon payment. Having come straight from work, the one major downfall for me was the lack of food available and as I'd foolishly walked through a park I didn't even find a scummy chippy to hone in on before kick-off. The helpful lady at reception did point me in the direction of something, but I gave up when I saw a posh pub and instead treated myself to a beer.

Safe to say that I didn't eat there... a bread roll was on the menu at over three quid!
By now I had that beloved mix of feelings that compiled of soggy, starving and sleepy, a concoction that can only be remedied by the beautiful game! Half past seven rolled around as it so often does and I headed into the sheltered main stand which seemed to be fairly well filled. A good sign for a sodden midweek match and it appeared that plenty of Copsewood followers had come along too- thankfully for them, they would not be disappointed!

Ready? steady? Let's go!
The opening exchanges in the match were fairly tepid and in truth I didn't recall a strike on target within the first half an hour. By this stage I was wondering if my 2-2 prediction was more stupid than optimistic, but thankfully Isa Abrahams had a pop and although it was a tame volley, it at least signalled intent from the visiting side. If that was a warning for Griff, the punishment would soon follow and just before the break Ellis Layfield showed class and finesse to turn in a Jamie Hastings cross from the right-wing. Griff 0-1 Copsewood. The goal had been coming and in many ways I was pleased it did, as it gave me hope for more of a gritty second-half battle. There was no sign of the rain lightening up and when the Ref blew up for half-time I peeped my head into the clubhouse for a change of scenery. It would be unfair to say that The Pingles Stadium isn't a good ground, because it really isn't, but I did feel that the natural occurrence of it being a part of a corporate chain of leisure facilities made the stadium feel a bit too "business like" for my liking. Yes, there is a nice main stand with a fairly decent view of the ground, but with the addition of the running track around the edge and the almost too neat layout as I looked around, I did feel that the place could do with a bit more in the way of character. Thankfully, the people serving behind the kiosk counter added plenty of character in one respect and that at least kept me entertained during the break.

To be honest, I just think personally I like being a bit more up close and personal
I may be wrong, but the only ground with an outer track I can recall going to and appreciating was the one at Enfield's QE2 Stadium, but that was on a sunny CONIFA afternoon so I might be being biased! Back on the pitch the match had restarted and within just a couple of minutes we were treated to a second goal, the equaliser from Griff. David Boal it was who rammed home a long-range effort and despite taking a deflection along the way it managed to beat Dale O'Donnell and level up the game. Griff 1-1 Copsewood. Could it be that the hosts would gather up their first point of the campaign? They certainly would if Ryan Slinn would have anything to do with it- the bulging midfielder decided he was going to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and by the time we reached the hour mark he was on rampant form. Unfortunately for the home side though, goals are what count and when Dave Freeman was unleashed from the Coventry bench they would ultimately send on the match winner. He played well from the moment he entered the field of play and as we went into the last twenty minutes, he would take the ball down the left wing, set up a good chance that was well saved, before getting back into position around the six yard box, ready to tap in a poacher's goal following a second reaction save made by Griff's Joe Salisbury. Griff 1-2 Copsewood. The remains of the second-half continued to have chances, whilst also maintaining the cagey, gritty, ugliness that makes football at this level the best of all! At one end, Griff pushed, whilst at the other Salisbury went close to doubling his tally, but ultimately the game would come to a close with the away side picking up their second win of the season. A classic on the field, albeit with more of a winter match feeling. Cheers to both sides for a good game, hopefully Griff will eventually pick up a few points than the 17 last season that saw them finish rock bottom of the division.

Good night Pingles Park, thanks for the footy!

No comments:

Post a Comment