Wessex Division One
Folland Sports 1
Hythe & Dibden 1
Friday night football, no, not Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Southampton, but a Wessex Division One clash between Folland Sports and Hythe & Dibden.
Having visited Folland Park once before (a 2-1 defeat to Lymington Town in February) it wasn’t ‘on my list’ but with nothing better to do on my Friday evening, I raced down the M27 straight after work, arriving about a minute into the game.
Nothing really sticks out for me at Folland Park, apart from a massive plane statue (pictured above) by the entrance of the ground. Originally established as Folland Aircraft, the club have close links to the making of planes (coincidently nicknamed the Plane Makers) and were set up by workers of a nearby plane factory in 1938.
The ground also has the most bizarre ‘stand’ behind the far goal, looking more like a bus shelter plonked in the wrong place, unsurprisingly, no one was occupying this part of the spectator area.
With pitch side standing room only on the side of the dugouts and behind the near goal, the opposite side to the subs bench is where the main stand sits. With a tea bar, comically named ‘Mugs Corner’ situated in the top corner it sits next to a small covered standing area which turns into a seated terrace with a couple of rows of bench seats.
Rain earlier in the day had formed little puddles on parts of the seating but I managed to find a dry patch and take in the game, sheltering from the cold wind (I wouldn’t have guessed it was August).
Ten man Folland Sports held on to claim a point against Hythe & Dibden as the home side are still on the hunt for their first win of the new season following relegation from the Wessex Premier.
The visitors took a first half lead through striker Oluwaseun Olabiyi before Craig Ralph headed in a second half equaliser. Ralph then picked up a second yellow minutes after equalising to give his side the arduous task of holding on to the draw.
Lenny Burney put Folland’s first chance of the game well wide of the post when he disposed Hythe central defender Nick Dwyer.
Hythe ‘keeper Greg Snelgrove was kept busy, holding on to another tame effort from Burney before nearly being caught out by a dipping long range shot from Liam Golding.
Olabiyi then had Hythe’s best chance of the early exchanges when his shot on the edge of the box was just high of the crossbar.
Hythe’s big number nine, Tom Switzer didn’t fare much better with a good chance from a tight angle, putting his shot over and into the bushes.
Burney was Folland’s main threat and his 20 yard strike was parried away by Snelgrove, keeping the scores level.
It was the away side that broke the deadlock after some great work in the midfield by Terry Cox. After flicking it over Perry Easton and controlling it beautifully to get past Craig Ralph, he produced a defence splitting pass to Olabiyi who let it roll into the box before firing a first time shot past Richard Butt.
Full back Ricky Rawlins blasted the ball wide for the home side after finding himself unmarked at the back post, meaning his side trailed 1-0 heading into the interval.
The hosts came out for the second half and soon grabbed the equaliser through Craig Ralph who was left unmarked to get a good run up on a powerful header from a beautifully delivered Perry Easton free kick.
Ralph then went from hero to zero in a matter of minutes when a nasty challenge from behind on Cox resulted in a second booking for the midfielder and he received his marching orders.
Hythe & Dibden used the man advantage to put a bit of pressure on their opponents but Richard Butt saved well from winger Mark Lilley before Olabiyi hit a tame shot moments later straight at the number one.
The opening goal scorer then went close to a winner when he headed against the post from inside the six-yard box following a dangerous delivery from Sam McCarthy to round off what was an even encounter.
2016/17 Games: 18
2016/17 Grounds: 19
Total Grounds Visited: 160