Wessex Division One

Hythe & Dibden 1

(Terry Cox)

Pewsey Vale

(Michael Martin)

Attendance: 50 (approx. headcount)

Clayfields

Now when I get asked why I go to all these matches, there is no real reason, apart from the fact that I love football.

I don’t need to be watching world-class football every week and my bank balance couldn’t support that either, but for a few quid to go and watch some local sides for a couple of hours it really is my sanctuary.

Being a Crewe Alexandra fan, you would be frowned upon if you took an interest in a certain PVFC (our local rivals Port Vale), however after signing Jon Guthrie from Pewsey Vale in 2012, shortly before I moved the other way from South Cheshire to Hampshire, some Crewe fans and maybe me more than most, have a soft spot for the team that gave us one of our better players over the last few seasons.

In truth, I had never seen Pewsey Vale play a competitive match. I had seen their development side lose 7-2 in the Wiltshire league earlier this season and last season I made the trip up to their home pitch for a charity game in memory of Charlie Lamb. Guthrie played a part in the game and it was really good to see him back where it all started.

Now looking at the league table, tonight’s game didn’t make for good reading. Both sides are at the wrong end of the Wessex Division One and as another local ground hopper had told me, his last 12 games watching Pewsey Vale had ended in defeat for the Wiltshire side.

I wasn’t expecting much in terms of goals tonight either, with both sides on 36 games, they had scored just 75 goals between them, Pewsey with 42 and Dibden on 33. The goal against tally was also pretty dreadful, Hythe conceding 80 and Pewsey boasting a goal difference of -102 after conceding 144.

Despite the stats not looking good, it was a good chance to come to Clayfields for the first time since setting up this blog. I did visit once last season, a 5-1 victory for the New Forest outfit over Fleet Spurs in January 2016. With no football since Saturday and my next game likely to be next Monday, I opted for a revisit to Hythe & Dibden tonight.

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The Ground

My first thoughts wen turning off the main road was the size of the car park. Too many of these clubs have very few spaces to park but at Clayfields, there is adequate space and still enough room for my car, despite turning up a matter of minutes before kick off. There is still enough time to walk back to the main road to grab a picture of the sign that reads “Welcome to Clayfields Sports Centre, The Home of Hythe & Dibden FC. Next Home Game: Pewsey Vale 05/04/17 19:45.

I walked back towards the clubhouse, all familiar from my last visit just over 12 months ago and head towards the little shed that acts as the turnstile and entrance to the ground. I paid my entrance fee and I believe the programme tonight was complimentary as you head in behind the goal.

To your left there is a little seated area with four rows of bench seats, nothing too unorthodox there as it is placed to one side of both dugouts. To the right were ten individual bits of covered terracing offering a fair bit of shelter down one side of the pitch. I was informed that these were taken over from the old ground, Ewart Rec, when H&D moved to Clayfields. Why they aren’t connected to make one continuous sheltered terrace I don’t know but it gives Clayfields a unique feature. There is nothing behind each goal but a path all the way around the pitch should you want to stand behind either goal.

The clubhouse is fairly straightforward with a TV, some tables and chairs and a bar, I took full advantage of the warm sausage rolls going for 50p a go, very nice when we had a break in the second half when the floodlights decided to turn off.

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The Game

A late penalty rescued a point for Pewsey Vale who had already confirmed their place at the bottom of the league after just three wins all season.

The result ended a run of six straight defeats for the Wiltshire based side after Michael Martin’s spot kick in injury time cancelled out Terry Cox’s 85th minute opener.

Luke Watts saw his shot bounce off the base of the post early in the game after receiving a pass from strike partner Ashley Hewer.

Pewsey had a couple of chances after their early let off, home defender Sam Hayne just getting enough of a touch to take the sting out of Danny Horwood’s long range effort as it landed straight into the arms of Mitch Stedman.

In the other goal, Sam Tuttle produced a great save to deny Cox who struck a wonderful free kick from the edge of the box on goal but Tuttle was at full stretch to tip it onto the crossbar and out for a corner.

Tuttle was nearly caught out by Cox moments later when the influential midfielder sent a looping shot from distance that the Vale ‘keeper did well to tip over.

Hewer missed a great chance to put Hythe ahead when Watts sent a ball into the box that Tuttle couldn’t hold onto and it fell to Hewer who volleyed over with little time to think about the shot.

The was a flicker in the floodlights with a few bulbs going out but the players continued with the remaining lights still bright enough to play on.

News spread that Fawley’s game down the road had been abandoned due to floodlight failure with the power surge not causing too much damage at this game.

Hythe went close as the game approached the halfway point, Tuttle tipping over Ollie Dennett’s cross before making another good save to keep out Dan Gain’s volley from a corner.

The second half started with more Hythe pressure as the home side really should be in the lead by now. Cox played a good ball into Watts who forced a good save from the ‘keeper at a wide angle.

Cam MacKenzie should have done better for the visitors when he raced through and poked the ball wide past the onrushing Stedman.

On 63 minutes the ground was covered in darkness as the floodlights cut out. The players and officials returned to the dressing room with club officials confident that the lights would come back on the game restarted after a ten-minute break, the Hythe players jokingly suggesting that they had scored as the lights went out.

With the tempo of the game dropping, Hythe made two changes in quick succession, introducing Ollie Bradley and Nathan Gray to the game to inject some pace in the attack.

Bradley was on fine form and needed no time to settle into the game, grabbing the ball and leaving players in his wake on the left flank before cutting inside and curling a shot at goal.

Gray was also a dangerous player in the box and he two spurned a good chance when he shot on the swivel but the effort sailed into the car park.

Tuttle was determined to keep a clean sheet and made a great save one-on-one to deny Marcel Laptas who had just beaten the offside trap to connect with Watts’ pass.

Hythe were getting close as Pewsey were looking to keep only their second clean sheet of the season and defender Gain had his header cleared off the line by a Pewsey body as it looked like it was going to end 0-0.

The opening goal did come five minutes from time when Laptas got his head down, ran to the line and crossed back into the box and Cox was on hand at the back post to nod in what should have been the winning goal.

In the second minute of injury time, Pewsey were awarded a penalty after Adam Field burst into the box with the ball at pace, only to be hauled down by Payne, landing in a heap and was immediately subbed off. Payne was booked for the offence before captain Michael Martin coolly slotted the ball into the back of the net as both teams shared the spoils.

2016/17 Games: 117

2016/17 Grounds: 63 (10)

Total Grounds Visited: 155 (41)

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