WINDSOR & ETON (Stag Meadow)

Despite being a Thursday between Christmas and New Year, there were plenty of games to choose from tonight and there was one game that just had to be done. That was Windsor & Eton's clash with top-of-the-table Truro City as, not only was it a decent looking game on paper, it might be case of visit whilst I could.

For the Royalists, 2010 has been an up and down year to say the least. They won promotion back in May but it has been pretty much downhill since. The manager and players left as the club had to cut costs and they now find themselves facing a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill. They appeared in court in early December and the magistrates gave them a stay of execution to sort themselves out, otherwise its the end and hence why I had to get in a visit to Stag Meadow sooner rather than later. Vulture!

The game was a very lively encounter and Truro went ahead through ex Fulham, Millwall and Bristol Rovers striker Barry Hayles, who at 38, was carrying a bit of bulk but still had a useful turn of pace. The visitors generally had more of the play but it was their 'keeper, Martin Rice, who pulled off two blinding saves to keep them ahead at the interval.

The second half wasn't as good as Truro seemed to have the homesters at arms length. They extended on 65 minutes when Barry McConnell scored from the spot and then moments later Hayles was given a straight red for a high challenge. Windsor defender Justin Clayton followed him down the tunnel soon after when he picked up a second yellow card. Paul Robinson reduced the deficit with 11 minutes to go but The Royalists couldn't find that elusive equaliser.

Thursday 30th December 2010
Southern Premier League
Windsor & Eton 1-2 Truro City
Attendance: 325

FOOTNOTE: The club was wound up in the high court on 2nd February 2011 over an unpaid tax bill.

BATH CITY (Twerton Park)

First and Foremost, I hope all my blog readers had a very Merry Christmas, even if the snowman bringing the snow did ruin it for most ground hoppers! After what seems an eternity, due to said weather, I finally got a chance to "tick" my first new ground since 11th December.

Inbetween i've lost a game on the 18th, surprisingly/shockingly a visit to Goodision Park on the 26th and a "double header" on the 27th. The only live football i've managed to see was a re-visit to Woodley Sports, who had a game on their 3G pitch beating Cammell Laird 2-0. That was just to get out of the house and get some fresh air in my lungs.

Today was due to be a visit to Morecambe's new ground, but that bit the dust 24 hours previous. That left very few options but fortunately the thaw began in the South West and Bath City's Twerton Park became playable. That meant their (Somerset v Gloucester) derby against Forest Green Rovers was going ahead. GAME ON!

Twerton Park is a fantastic old fashioned ground. Many of today's Sky generation fans would say it's a shithole, but I say it's a gem. A ramshackle dump with  a rickety old main stand, plus a smaller new one for the away fans, lots of terracing, uneven in parts, pylon floodlights and a wee slope in the pitch. I loved it!

The club and the fans did a great job getting the match on and they were rewarded with a bumper crowd of (to be said with your finest Richie Benaud impression) 1,222. As a devout paper chaser though it was disappointing not to get a proper programme, as they never produced one as they thought there was no chance of this game going ahead, but I perfectly understood why. Some very sad hoppers would've insulted the seller and sulked off home at this point! They gave a free four page programme to everyone and, to me, a free copy of their last issue, which was appreciated.

The game turned out to be very entertaining. Forest Green took the lead inside 3 minutes when a free kick was swung in and Adam Quinn ghosted in unmarked to head home. Bath looked useful on the attack, with journey-man Kaid Mohammed causing most of the problems, however they looked very suspect in defence.

Rovers had clearly done their homework and were getting men behind the ball, soaking the pressure then hitting the soft under belly that was the centre of defence. It seemed only a matter of time before their lead was extended, but on 24 minutes Bath were level. A needless shove by Quinn in the box resulted in a penalty and Mohammed levelled.

The joy didn't last long as Rovers went on the attack and from a free kick Luke Jones headed home, again the marking was nowhere to be seen. Deep into stoppage time Rovers went further in front,  a long ball out of defence was allowed to bounce by the centre half, as he must have thought the goalkeeper was coming out to clear, but Reece Styche nipped in to volley home.

Speaking to a Bath City fan at half he said that they normally have to go two goals behind before they wake up and start playing. How accurate that proved to be as the second was virtually dominated by City. Forest Green had clearly decided that 3-1 was enough and were going to defend it, time waste and generally use spoiling tactics. They nearly came unstuck. Mohammed went on  mazy run down the wing and his cross found its way Lee Phillips, who shot home,to bring the home side within a goal.

However with 12 minutes to go, as Bath piled forward, they got sucker-punched as Ross Dyer had the freedom of the City half to run through on goal and slot home to seal the win. In the last minute of stoppage time, as Rovers were down by the corner flag doing the time wasting routine, frustration got the better of Luke Ruddick and he lunged in leaving the referee no option but to issue a straight red card.

Very happy to get a game in today, but there was one tiny disappoinment, namely the fact I was saving a visit to Bath for the train so I could pay a visit to the legendary Royal Oak, but as I was in the car this wasn't to be. Maybe in the future i'll get the chance again!

Kaid Mohammed levels from the spot. The joy proved short lived.

Tuesday 28th December 2010
Conference Premier
Bath City 2-4 Forest Green Rovers
Attendance: 1,222


Once again I stayed local this week and, with the thaw in North Wales, there were plenty of games to choose from. I opted for a visit to 'The Rock' the new home of Cefn Druids.

Their old ground at Plaskynyston was sold off to a supermarket chain and, once planning permission for this was given, it set the wheels in motion for the new ground a mile up the road. The clearing of the land began in April 2010 and the ground started to take shape in June before being officially opened in August. The first competitive fixture was a 4-2 win over Penrhyncoch in September.

As new builds go, I was rather impressed with the set-up. The ground is a typical new build, with only a large seated stand but it's the location of where the new ground has been built that adds character. The ground was built on the site of a disused quarry, so the rock face dominates the ground, hence the name. As I found when I visited Plaskynyston on many occasions, the welcome from the Druids officials is still as warm as ever.

The home side took the lead after 8 minutes when Ashley Wilson tapped home after a good cross from Tom Obasi. Overall though the first half was pretty even. The Druids had plenty of opportunities to extend their lead, likewise Llandudno had chances to level, including hitting the upright.

The second was dominated by Llandudno as they sought an equaliser, though they rarely troubled the home 'keeper with their attempts. One effort that was on target, a superb turn and shot from Alec Williams, crashed the underside of the crossbar and bounced out to safety. Eventually they got their reward as Tony Cann levelled. A shot was saved by the keeper but it spun up, and was probably going to roll in, but Cann got the final touch to the ball before it went over the line, just to make sure.

In the final few moments both sides had chances to nick a winner, but i'd say a draw was a fair result.

Saturday 11th December 2010
Cymru Alliance
Cefn Druids 1-1 Llandudno Town
Attendance: 121