The Silverlake Stadium
At this end of the season, part of the beauty of being a ground hopper is that you can cherry pick a game of major importance to watch. I mean, a game with something to play for. In most leagues from the Premier League down to your local county Saturday league, there will be plenty of mundane mid-table games with nothing riding on it.
Boreham Wood against Gateshead last weekend was one of those games for me, but due to a family party in the area it was perfect for me to tick off a new ground. The weekend before, the game between Whitchurch United and Fawley was a classic, whoever lost goes down, simple.
So after reading that I hope I have left you thinking; “Why has the Terrace Traveller decided to go to Eastleigh against Wrexham?”. Simple really, despite the game being a dead weight in terms of both sides finishing in the bottom half of the table and well clear of the drop, I was helping Wrexham with their match day media team.
After a work experience placement in 2014, I have regularly helped Wrexham when they have been at Eastleigh and anywhere in London and the south coast. This season alone I have helped at Dagenham and Sutton away.
My record with Wrexham isn’t great. My first game went well and it has been a steady decline since. A 2-0 FA Trophy win over Southport in December 2014 was followed by a 3-1 defeat to Dartford the following Saturday. Later that season they drew 2-2 with Eastleigh and then I was part of the media side at Wembley when they lost on penalties to North Ferriby United in the FA Trophy Final.
Last season I helped them just once in the 2015/16 season, a 1-1 away draw at Eastleigh and this campaign they lost 3-0 to Dagenham and 1-0 to Sutton. A draw today meant I have seen just one win in six games that I have helped out.
My role with the club has ranged from doing the Twitter updates, to the post match written report, to co-commentating for Wrexham Player and conducting post match interviews, very full on but exactly what I worked so hard to train for and what I should be doing in a full time capacity.
In regards to Eastleigh, I have seen a fair few games since moving to Southampton in 2012. 19 trips to the Silverlake (and two away games) to be exact watching the club develop from a National League South team to a side just shy of the Football League with an ever improving ground to match.
Wrexham equalled their worst points tally since their drop from the Football League in 2008 with a lack-lustre 1-1 draw with Eastleigh to end the 2016-17 season in 13th.
The North Wales side ended the campaign on 58 points, just one ahead of the Spitfires who are probably glad to see the back of this unsettling and chaotic year for the Hampshire outfit.
After a goalless first half, Jordan White put the visitors ahead before Matt Tubbs pulled things level 17 minutes from time.
Richard Hill’s Eastleigh had much of the early possession, Tubbs getting some early shots in, the first being blocked away before blasting a volley hopelessly wide after 13 minutes.
The Spitfires rattled the crossbar straight from Sam Matthews’ corner as they looked like they could force the opening goal.
Before the end of the opening period, Iffy Allen put in a dangerous cross into the Eastleigh box but it was just out of reach of White who couldn’t jump high enough to make a connection.
Former Livingston man White then did well to make some space to shoot on the edge of the box with a drop of the shoulder but his effort was blocked away as the score stayed at 0-0 at the break.
Whatever Dean Keates said to his Wrexham side at half time must have worked as the visitors found themselves a goal up just seconds after the restart. Oliver Marx sent a long ball forward and the ball found its way to Allen who saw his shot blocked straight into the path of White who had the easy job of poking the ball over the line.
Matthews, on loan from Bournemouth, hit a shot from distance that was just wide of the top corner as the hosts tried to force a way back into the game.
Both sides made changes on the hour mark with Hill opting to introduce a forward at the expense of a defender with James Constable replacing Paul Reid. Martin Riley and Ntumba Massanka replaced Russell Penn and George Harry in a double change for the visitors.
Wrexham went close to doubling the lead when Stoke City loanee Ollie Shenton fired a good shot from the edge of the box, rippling the side netting.
The Spitfires made one more attacking change in Scott Wilson who replaced Craig McAllister, just five minutes before the equalising goal. Hakeem Odoffin did well to work the ball on the right side of the pitch before appearing to bundle over James Jennings in the process. The game continued and Constable managed to plant a solid cross low into the box and Tubbs was there at the near post to draw the scores level.
Eastleigh could have taken the lead just two minutes later when Wilson bent a great shot at goal but Wrexham ‘keeper Shwan Jalal was at full stretch to palm the ball away.
Minutes before Tubbs was replaced by Eastleigh debutant Tom Bearwish, the journeyman striker had a shot just whistle just wide as the hosts looked to be in control of the game.
Both sides had half chances in the closing moments but neither team were able to find the winner to end their respective seasons in mundane fashion.
2016/17 Games: 127
2016/17 Grounds: 67 (10)
Total Grounds Visited: 157 (41)