(Josh Parry, Danny Lane, James Hird)
Bush Hill 0
Attendance: 67 (approx. headcount)
2017 ended just as it started. On January 2nd this year I was watching a Hampshire League match between Colden Common and Hedge End Rangers. Fast-forward almost 12 months and this is my 108th game of what has been a packed year of footy.
Starting the year with a Hampshire League game and it was only fitting to end the year with a game in England’s 11th tier of English Football. Paulsgrove versus Bush Hill was one of the few games in the area that had survived the weather over Christmas. It resulted in a good crowd as the Portsmouth-based side hosted last seasons league champions Bush Hill.
It was my first time visiting Marsden Road and the first time watching Paulsgrove. As for Bush Hill, I had seen them five times, three times at home and twice away.
The trip to Paulsgrove now leaves me with just four grounds in the Hampshire Premier to visit to complete the league- Clanfield, Liphook, Liss and Fleetlands.
Wedged between a community centre, rail line, school and a boat/pirate themed children’s play park, sits Paulsgrove’s home pitch. Basic in its look, the pitch is bordered with a metal barrier (a minimum requirement for the league) with hard standing running down each side of the pitch. With no terrace or shelter for spectators the only cover comes in the shape of two metal dugouts that look like they have been through a warzone, dented and graffiti-clad.
The car park is tiny and there is little chance of getting a space, however there are some on road parking spaces that are free for two hours, perfect for me arriving 15 minutes before kick off. The pitch is just a few hundred yards from a Co-Op, Greggs and a few other stores so I was able to grab lunch before kick off. No floodlights meant that the game was a 2pm start to beat the sunset. Something they would have to address if they are to make the jump to the Wessex League.
The wet weather had made the areas around the pitch fairly muddy but that didn’t stop the spectators coming out in their brand new shoes courtesy of the big man with the beard from the week before.
I believe that the club have aspirations to enter the Wessex set up. They certainly have a decent enough space to develop into a ground. The car park could be extended further behind the goal and I imagine their main seated stand would also have to go behind the near goal due to limited space down each side of the pitch.
I wasn’t sure if there were any spectator facilities inside the changing room area but maybe they could use the community centre should they need to provide facilities in the Wessex League.
A programme would also be a welcomed improvement to the match day with only a couple of clubs in this division putting one together.
All in all I enjoyed my visit and was happy to tick off another ground in the Hampshire League. Little there for the more serious ground hoppers who would want a team sheet, programme, pin badge, stand etc but certainly not a wasted trip for myself.
Paulsgrove ended Bush Hill’s unbeaten start to the season to regain top spot with a 3-0 victory over last season’s champions.
The visitors looked a shadow of their championship-winning selves as they slipped to their first defeat of the season thanks to goals from Josh Parry, Danny Lane and James Hird.
The hosts got off to a great start when Alex Milroy forced a good save from visiting ‘keeper Malcolm Davie who tipped the shot at the back post out for a corner.
Paulsgrove were busy in attack and the visitors were just about dealing with it with some last ditch defending and some long clearances.
Bush Hill’s first chance of the game fell to captain Perry Harding who combined with Jack Jewell before curling his shot wide.
Milroy then spurned another good chance for ‘Grove when he hit a shot on the turn wide of Davie’s goal.
Hill’s Cain Prentice then raced through on goal, beating offside, before seeing his shot blocked as the score stayed goalless.
The opening goal came on 17 minutes when Josh Parry picked up a switched ball cross field pass inside the area before taking a touch and drilling a ball into the bottom corner across the ‘keeper.
Lane then missed a good chance for the hosts when he shot wide for six-yards when he picked up a loose ball from a corner and poked wide.
‘Grove doubled the lead on 29 minutes thanks to a huge blunder from Davie. The ‘keeper scuffed a kick off the floor straight into the path of Perry Easton who caught Davie out of position with a first time shot at goal. Davie did well to recover and get a touch on the ball, slowing it down as it approached the line, however, Lane was on hand to slide the ball into to back of the net.
The hosts were forced into an early change as Michael Austin limped off to be replaced by Hird.
Bush Hill were still not completely out of the game as they hit the crossbar with a looping shot right on the half time whistle.
After the restart, substitute Hird missed a chance to extend the lead when he scuffed his shot at the back post that would have killed the game completely.
Ben Baddams then headed wide for the visitors from John MacAuley’s cross as the Millbrook side tried their best to reduce the deficit.
Both sides made changes and visiting sub Terry Parker forced a great save from Adam Walker.
Paulsgrove ended all hopes of a Bush Hill revival when they made it 3-0 on 66 minutes. The ball was put into the box and it fell to Hird to bundle into the back of the net from close range.
Harding had a chance late on to restore some pride for the visitors when Prentice played a testing ball to his captain who was able to pressure home defender Rob White into stumbling over before running at goal and firing a shot straight at Walker who had come off his line to close the angle.
2017/18 Games: 44
2017/18 Grounds: 40 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 189 (51)