Southern League Division One Central
Fleet Town 1
(Pat Cox x2)
Another busy week was taking shape again this week as I made it two games in two days with a double header at Team Solent planned tomorrow I was certainly cramming the matches in.
Tonight was a special night, not only was I about to tick off another new ground, I was going to witness an intense derby between Fleet Town and Farnborough, this was also my 100th game of the season.
I have wanted to visit Fleet for a few months and was just psyching myself up for the journey on a weeknight. I of course could find a free Saturday to visit but they seem to have a lot of midweek games and I always opted for somewhere closer to home.
But when I saw the derby match with high-flying Farnborough and a rare whole day off work tomorrow, it all fit into place for another new ground.
Having gone over a month without visiting a new stadium, I was ticking off my third new ground from my last four matches.
The game at Fleet had some background, the club are in a sticky financial situation and the players are currently playing for free. Their top scorer and star man Pat Cox jumped ship…. You guessed it, to the near neighbours Farnborough.
Cox, who had scored 27 goals for Town this season, was yet to score in his opening handful of games for ‘Boro, so it was all set up perfectly for a cracking night at Calthorpe Park.
I left it very late to get to the game, having been unsure if a late afternoon downpour had ruined the pitch, and the fact that I was cooking a delightful bowl of pasta, peas and Quorn meatballs, meant that I was leaving the house with an ETA of 19:40 cutting it fine to say the least.
Anyway, I got to the ground to be greeted by ‘Car Park Full’ signs so I found a space in the housing estate opposite and ran like the wind to make sure I didn’t miss kick off.
I got into the queue, paid, and completely missed out on some free Dominos Pizza that they seemed to be handing out just as the teams were doing the pre match handshakes.
Calthorpe Park is pretty basic in comparison to some over grounds at this level. I haven’t been to many Southern League Division One Central grounds and it does compare with Petersfield whom I visited in January.
However when you look at the grounds in the South & West division at Totton, Salisbury, Hereford, Wimborne there is a big difference.
Saying that, Fleet’s ground was still a cool place to visit. The slope on the pitch did make me chuckle as I wandered around the ground in the opening minutes of the game.
Behind each goal is a little bit of cover that seemed to be packed out with away supporters at each end, with Farnborough seeming to have a much bigger following than Fleet.
Down one length of the pitch, the same side as the dugouts is all uncovered standing at pitch level and there is one seated stand by where you enter the ground.
There is a little bit of cover if you are queuing at the tea hut but as the rain had eased off I decided to stand pitch side just to the left of the seated stand.
The clubhouse is at the end of the car park and you have to leave the stadium to get into it, however it is no mither going in and out of the ground at half time.
Pat Cox scored a brace against his former side to give his new side Farnborough a 2-1 away victory over Fleet Town.
The visitors, who sit in second place, are firmly in the play-off places behind runaway leaders Royston Town.
Fleet on the other hand are just in the bottom half of the table after enduring some mixed fortunes over the season.
The hosts, who were shooting downhill had a couple of early chances when Ben White fired over the bar from the first shot of note.
White then had a penalty shout dismissed when he raced into the box after the ball and away ‘keeper Aaron Bufton blocked and brought White to the floor.
Farnborough’s first clear chance fell to former Football League midfielder Scott Donnelly who headed straight into the hands of Ryan Pryce.
Boro’ looked dangerous from corners and Josh Huggins had a shot cleared off the line as the visitors went close to scoring the opening goal of the game.
The first goal came on 19 minutes when Donnelly sent a cross in from the right wing and Cox was there at the back post to jump high and nod the ball into the back of the net before wheeling away to celebrate with his new team mates whilst his old team mates looked on.
The game had very few chances following the opening goal and on 38 minutes, Fleet were undone again by a carbon copy of the first goal. Sam Pearce this time sent the cross in from the right and Cox was again in the right place to head in at the back post to send the Boro’ following into party mode.
Just as half time approached, Fleet were given a lifeline, pulling a goal back just before the interval. From a corner, Fleet flooded the box and as a group of players all jumped for the ball, it fell to Zac Hawker to smash in from close range to give some hope to the home side.
There was just enough time for Pryce to save well to deny Nic Ciardini who had hit a good shot at goal from the edge of the box.
In the second half Farnborough nearly stretched the lead when a throw in had been worked into the box and Donnelly’s shot deflected up off Simba Miambo and it looked like it was looping into the top corner before Pryce clawed it away off the line.
Fleet were unlucky not to have pulled the scores level when substitute Danilo Cadete raced through and latched onto Rob Carr’s flick on, rounded the ‘keeper and fired his shot against the post from a tight angle.
Pryce then pulled out another good save to deny Boro’ substitute Perry Coles from close range after Huggins had raced down the right wing and produced a good cross into the number 12.
As the game reached the final moments, Fleet had given it a good go but as Carr’s curling effort went straight into the hands of Bufton, Farnborough knew they had claimed the three points in a tight encounter.
2016/17 Games: 100
2016/17 Grounds: 57 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 153 (40)