Wednesday, 6 November 2019

02/11/19 Review: Paulton Rovers vs Basingstoke Town

Paulton Rovers 4-2 Basingstoke Town (Southern League Division One South)
Winterfield Road

It's not often you get game of the weekend, ground of the weekend and goal of the weekend all in one hit when on a groundhop, but *spoiler alert* that's exactly what I'd be walking into as I arrived at Winterfield Road for the early KO Southern League South encounter between Paulton Rovers and Basingstoke Town. As the tens millions of you who read my last entry will know, I was on one of my semi-legendary trips down to Severn Beach to visit Tom and that always equates to a tonne of footy and a couple of gallons of beer. Where better to start off than at one of Tom's most highly recommended- and non-postponed- grounds?

I'd barely parked up and he was through the turnstile!
Seems as how my host for the weekend had driven us over to rainy Cardiff for some Welsh Premier League action between Met Uni and Penybont the night before, it was my turn to take the wheel and after waddling through Bristol city centre to the outskirts, we eventually arrived late at Winterfield Road. Thankfully there would be goals aplenty in this one and despite missing out on an early opener from Paulton's Ryan Gay, we were optimistic about seeing more action and rightly so. Paulton 1-0 Basingstoke. As we entered the field from above the corner flag, I was instantly in love with the sights in front of me. The stand behind the goal is elevated above the pitch and was today where the Basingstoke boys would be housed, which followed around past the opposite corner and continued into a roofed terrace that ends just past halfway. Across from this is the main stand which shares resemblances to the beauty at Coles Lane in Sutton Coldfield, albeit a wee bit more cosy, and to my delight it has one of my favourite features of a non-league stand- a dugout that reaches out from the centre of the stand. Glorious!

Yup, it's a beauty!
The rest of the ground is surrounded by a stone wall and it completes the classic look of the two and a half thousand capacity stadium that once hosted an ITV covered FA Cup match against Norwich City. Although the hosts lost 0-7 that day, things were already going much better in this league match and the side, who are battling to overtake unbeaten Thatcham Town and leaders Frome Town, had already shown their intent against struggling Basingstoke. Tom and I climbed up the stairs into the grandstand and nestled ourselves into the fairly full seating area for the remainder of the first-half. The game itself had been entertaining, end to end, and the highlight for me was a rapid attack by the visitors which led to Ryan Suckling clipping the bar with a left-footed strike from mid-range. On the whole, the only eyesore was the Town away kit. Urgh, hate a luminous yellow strip!

Half-time, already?
Knowing that an afternoon game and an evening pubcrawl were still to come, we headed into the Rovers clubhouse to sample a shandy and it's fair to say that the bar area- just outside the stands and next to the car park- is just as great as the ground itself. With everything from a club emblem on the carpet as you walk in, to the many pool and snooker tables in the back room, there was also a wide range of beers to choose from (including Carling Premier... whatever that is!) and they even had the early Premier League kick-off showing on the TV. Who wouldn't want to watch highlights of United losing to Bournemouth whilst sipping a Staropramen and chatting about the various times we've played pool. Perfection- and the best thing was, there was still five more goals to come from the game we were here to see.

Ready for the second-half spills and thrills
By the time the second goal came, just after the hour mark, we'd already seen many half-chances from Basingstoke right in front of us and it would be through a lack of precision from the visitors that they then watched as a foul was conceded to give a penalty on the break, which Ben Bament banged home. Paulton 2-0 Basingstoke. Thankfully for the fans of the luminous boys they would not be downtrodden for too long. As a group of kids from Paulton's support ran into the away end to mock the visiting fans, the Town support would soon regain credibility as just four minutes later Zach Robinson slotted home and all of a sudden the excitement levels in the ground were raised to a mouth-watering level. Paulton 2-1 Basingstoke. The Dragons were flaming by now and when another half-chance came knocking in the 75th minute it would be Robinson who rose highest and beat Joe Perry to the ball, backwards heading the ball past the keeper and forcing a well-deserved eqauliser with fifteen minutes to go. Paulton 2-2 Basingstoke.

The firework display wasn't supposed to start until the evening
With the game now poised at two-all, we began to turn our eyes towards Twitter to see if there was still a chance of getting to a 3pm game nearby. We'd already been letdown by Bitton and Weston-Super-Mare being called-off and it appeared that we were clinging on to the hope that the FA Vase game over in Warminster was still going ahead. As Tom was looking into the distance between our current location and the Wiltshire ground, I watched on as Ed Butcher scored the goal of the day with a wonderful left-footed run down the wing, followed by a bit of trickery to take him out wide and then a lovely finish that nestled into the underside of the net's roof. Paulton 3-2 Basingstoke. Despite the fact that they'd done it once already, Basingstoke didn't quite have enough in the tank for a second fightback and after being let off by a Brad Abraham strike just before full-time, it would eventually be David Sims-Burgess who sealed the deal with a chipped finish. Paulton 4-2 Basingstoke.

Full-time, 4-2
As the game drew to a close, we lingered by the exit knowing that we'd be cutting it fine for the twenty mile jaunt down the country roads and over to see what Weymouth Street would have to offer us. Sure enough the Ref called it a day and we departed arguably my favourite ground visited in the south-west so far ready to take on the second game of the day and third of our four match weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment