Wessex Division One
(Dave Wrixton, Grant Cormack)
Weymouth Reserves 1
M A Hart Stadium (Hurn Bridge)
Having just about recovered from my double header in London on Saturday, I managed some Wednesday night Wessex Division One action at Christchurch. Another new ground for me and not a single sign of #BTeamBoycott that had been the talking point of the week in the Football League after the first round of games from the Checkatrade Trophy.
Ironically, in a week that had seen the likes of Southampton Under 23’s take on League One side Charlton Athletic, I was watching Weymouth Reserves competing within the English Football Pyramid, but I can’t imagine many fans of Football League clubs caring too much.
The fact that Weymouth had been allowed to enter their second string into the Wessex set-up had caused quite a stir amongst the other clubs but all that aside, I had game 23 to look forward to.
The trip to the MA Hart Stadium was my third new ground in five days as I take my tally up to seven new grounds this month and 14 for the season.
Having rushed out of work at 7pm, I was praying for no hold ups and the roads were kind, arriving at Hurn Bridge (MA Hart Stadium) with about 10 minutes to spare.
The ground could well be competing in the Wessex Premier Division, it has two seated stands (one behind the goal and along one side), the rest of the spectator areas however are uncovered standing, perfectly fine as we wave goodbye to August for another year.
A little snack bar behind the goal looked well equipped and the clubhouse had a little TV screen giving me a chance to catch up on all the deadline day dealings at half time.
The main seated stand, The Stephen Bernard stand, to my delight didn’t have any support beams blocking the view so that’s where I decided to go for the match, opposite the dugouts.
The William Pickford Stand, behind the goal, looked more run down, housing about three rows of seats and a small handful of the near 100 spectators.
The players entered the pitch from the corner due to the changing facilities, clubhouse and entrance all being situated behind the goal, a more common theme as I travel around the tier nine and ten clubs.
A late Grant Cormack penalty sealed victory for Christchurch as they came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 and go up to 11th in the league, level on points with Weymouth Reserves.
Sanchez Jansz-Baker had put the visitors ahead in the first half, firing into an open net after a goalkeeper malfunction, but Dave Wrixton levelled the scores before the break.
Referee Alex James gave a penalty with about five minutes to go and Cormack stepped up to secure the three points for the home side.
Luke Stone had the best of the early chances but he didn’t put enough power in his shot from the edge of the box as ‘keeper Steve Bore held on. Stone had already blazed one into the trees minutes before as he was finding his range.
A problem with the floodlights nearly delayed proceedings when a couple of bulbs in each corner stopped working, however the referee deemed that there was still enough light to fulfil the fixture.
Weymouth were settling into the game with Edgar Zanin and Lewis Clarke going close with efforts.
It was the away team that opened the scoring when Dom Panesar-Dower picked out Clarke who had made a good run into the box. ‘Keeper Jason Collins had found himself in no mans land on the edge of the box and Clarke went round him to square to Jansz-Baker to slot into an empty net.
Both teams were still creating chances but the shooting was way off the mark with the spectators and trees in more danger than the goal.
Christchurch front pair Cormack and Stone found themselves two on one with the last defender to have a great chance on goal but the number ten scuffed his pass/shot wide and the onrushing Stone couldn’t reach the ball before it rolled out of play.
Collins was to thank for keeping the score to just 1-0 when he blocked Jansz-Baker’s close range volley in what was a great chance for Weymouth to give themselves a bigger lead going into the break.
Zanin then forced another good save from Collins when his effort from the edge of the box looked to be dipping in, only for the ‘Church number one to tip it over the bar.
Christchurch did find the equaliser when a long throw bounced untouched into the box to Wrixton at the near post to stroke the ball into the top corner after some woeful defending from The Terras.
The second half was littered with poor shooting and scrappy play from both sides as it looked to be heading for a draw.
Christchurch came close on a couple of occasions but they nearly were made to pay from a loose pass from the defender to allow Jansz-Baker a free shot on goal but Collins was on hand to parry away.
Aston Butcher was lucky to stay on the pitch when his last man tackle on Stone gave the home side a penalty with five minutes to go. It was an obvious red card but Butcher managed to get away with it.
Cormack stepped up to slam the ball into the back of the net, despite Bore getting his fingertips to the ball.
2016/17 Games: 23
2016/17 Grounds: 24
Total Grounds Visited: 166