Southern League Division One Central Play Off Semi Final

Farnborough 4

(Perry Coles x2, Jamie Cureton, Scott Donnelly)

Egham Town 0

Attendance: 523

The Cherrywood Road Stadium

The end of the season is near; play-off games in various leagues are already starting as we draw closer to May, the month that football in the UK ends before reconvening in July.

I have wanted to head to Farnborough for most of the season, I was just waiting for the right time and as the regular season in the Southern Division One Central got into the final few games and it was clear that they would finish second (gifting them a home semi final) I was trying to save my trip for the their play off game.

Their opponents weren’t confirmed until the final day with a handful of sides all in contention for the final play off spot. Egham Town ended the season in fifth, a team I had never heard of, with no disrespect to them, I hadn’t watched all that much football in this division.

Farnborough were also putting on a free burger and chips deal, why would I not go to this game?

It was joined by my best friend Woody, who was keen to take a camera with us and do some filming as I look at maybe doing some videos to put on YouTube.

This was only my second time watching Farnborough, the first coming in my 100th game this season at the end of February when they beat local rivals Fleet Town 2-1 away.

The Ground

The ground is one of the better non-league grounds that I have been to this season. I instantly compared it to Eastleigh (minus some of the more recent developments at the Silverlake Stadium). Has a capacity of 7,000 making it bigger than many grounds in the Southern Premier should they win promotion in Monday’s final.

We got to the ground about 19:15, the queue to get in was getting longer and with only two turnstiles open I’m glad we got there with 30 minutes to spare. This isn’t detracting from the hard work that the volunteers at the club do and if you appreciate this level of football, you can appreciate that there may not have been any free volunteers to open the other gates.

On entry you were given a wristband to hand in to get your free burger and chips (with any drink purchased). The queue for that was long too and the bloke serving had clearly had enough by the time we got to the front, pretty rude despite us being very chilled about having to wait for our food. Either way the game kicked off as we were waiting for food which was tasty until I pulled a long dark hair out of my chips, safe to say I didn’t eat any more after that.

Next to the food stall is the club shop, a pretty good size stocking a good range of merchandise from shirts to hats/scarves etc. I picked up my programme and pin badge and was on my way.

Back to the ground, the first thing you see when you get through the turnstile is the impressive stand behind the goal, a sea of blue seats in a modern looking stand that wouldn’t look out of place at a Football League ground. Two different groups of Boro fans had gathered at the top of the stands in opposite corners chanting and creating a lively atmosphere.

Behind the opposite goal with covered standing, offering a more traditional area for the more hardened of non-league fans who wouldn’t want to sit down at the football.

Down one length of the pitch a covered stand runs all the way down with half terracing and half seats, a pretty unique layout but it seemed to work. Opposite that stand is what I think is the main stand, older looking than the big seated stand behind the goal, it housed the dugouts built back into the seats, and it was also where the executive lounge was housed as well as the press box.

I love the ground and I would love to go back next season if time allows and if you are local or fancy visiting, I would totally recommend it. A top non-league ground that should Farnborough continue to progress through the leagues, could well be home of a National League side once more.

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The Game

Farnborough cruised into the Southern League Division One Central Play Off Final with a convincing 4-0 victory over Egham Town at the Cherrywood Road Stadium.

A brace from Perry Coles as well as singles from Football League veteran Jamie Cureton and Scott Donnelly confirmed the victory for Spencer Day’s men.

They will now face Barton Rovers in Bank Holiday Monday’s final with the winners securing promotion to the Southern League Premier.

The first real chance of the game fell to Dennis Oli who poked a shot wide from Nic Ciardini’s free kick.

Oli then forced a good save from Jamie Norris with a low shot from the edge of the area. Boro were probing as Cureton sent one sailing over the bar after a corner had only been half cleared by the Egham defence.

The first goal did come on 25 minutes when left back Keith Emmerson sent a long ball forward to Cureton who controlled it well and put a ball into the box for Coles to bundle over the line despite the close attentions of Ryan Parsons.

Two minutes later, Farnborough doubled the lead when Town ‘keeper Norris came to the edge of his area to collect a long ball forward but visiting captain Luke Neville headed the ball straight to Cureton who cushioned the volley into the back of the open net with the ‘keeper stranded way out of position.

Norris did make a good save with his legs to deny Sam Pearce who nearly rounded off an exquisite move with some nice one touch passing, combining with Cureton to work a shooting chance. From there, Egham hit Boro on the break and Brendan Matthew got the better of Josh Huggins before firing a cross across the goal mouth that couldn’t reach his onrushing opponents.

Cureton forced another good save from Norris when he shot from the edge of the box as the hosts looked to be in complete control of the game in the first half.

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Town’s best chance of the first half fell to Reece York who could only poke the ball wide after home ‘keeper Zaki Oualah had saved the ball with his chest from a well taken free kick on the wing.

In first half stoppage time, Egham’s Elliott Carey wasted another chance to get his side back in the game but he couldn’t place his near post shot on target as it went out for a goal kick.

The Sarnies started the second half brightly as they looked to get back into the game and they came close when half time substitute Louis Stead forced a good save by the legs of Oualah after Chris Moore had set up his team mate to shoot. There were shouts for a penalty when Moore collided with Oualah for the rebound but the ‘keeper came away with the ball and Egham still had a mountain to climb.

There were claims for a penalty at the other end as Ciardini raced through and fell under the pressure of Callum Webb who got enough of the ball for it to run straight through to Norris.

The third goal came on 60 minutes when Emmerson made a bit of room for himself, chipping the ball to Cureton, who picked out Coles to take a touch a smash low in the bottom corner across the ‘keeper to confirm the victory for the home side.

Cureton should have had his second soon after when Ciardini picked out the former Norwich City striker at the near post but his shot went wide of the mark.

The game was put to bed on the 67th minute when Egham failed to properly clear their lines and the ball fell to Donnelly who was on hand to fire the ball into the bottom corner off the inside of the post to round off a perfect night for Day’s men.

Egham were down and out and Farnborough continued to create chances without adding to the score. Fans were cheering every pass as Boro kept the ball with ease as the clock ticked closer to 90 minutes, confirming their place in Monday’s play off final.

2016/17 Games: 126

2016/17 Grounds: 67 (10)

Total Grounds Visited: 157 (41)

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