HENGROVE ATHLETIC (Norton Lane)
It was "Hobsons Choice" that led me down the M5 for the nights Western League encounter between Hengrove and Portishead, as it was the closest ground to home that I hadn't been to and, as being a Monday, there were very few fixtures to choose from. I was still in two minds as to whether to go but after a morning of doing domestic crap, I just had to get out of the house!
Hengrove's ground is situated in Norton Lane, which is in Whitchurch, which is 3 miles from Bristol. It is a basic ground with a small covered standing area and a small stand of seats. There is a clubhouse at the ground and they had a real ale on draft, Butcombe Bitter, which went down a treat!
Hengrove have made a good start to the season, indeed they won their first five games from the off, and have only been beaten twice so far but one of those was the away game at Portishead (who won 4-2). They currently lie third in the table, with Portishead down in thirteenth. This is third time they have met this season as for days after that defeat, Hengrove got some revenge by dumping them out of the FA Vase 2-0. So what odds on a draw tonight to even things out?
The first half was pretty uneventful and very scrappy. There was no real pattern of play and both teams seemed like they wanted to kick each other off the park, with lots of niggly fouls. Hengrove eventually settled down towards the end of the half and started to play football but they always looked vulnerable to the Portishead long ball over the top, as they had a pacy striker, and that's where their best efforts came from.
The second half was a lot better and Hengrove carried on at the start of second period the way they finished the first. They had plenty of chances but appeared to be trying to walk the ball in the net. Portishead struggled to get out out of their own half for about 20 minutes or so but eventually a long ball was punted up field and Simon Kelly rounded the advancing goalkeeper to slot home to give Portishead the lead, completely against the run of play.
At this point I must give credit to the referee who used a bit of common sense and let this passage of play develop because as the keeper rushed out, he blocked Kelly's initial attempted lob with his hand, well outside the box, and the referee could've easily blew up and red-carded the him, but the ball fell kindly to the striker who was able to continue around him to score.
This turn of events knocked Hengrove for six and they struggled to regain their composure after the goal. It was looking increasingly likely Portishead would hold on for the three points but with a minute to go a ball was launched in the box and Tom Evans jumped with the keeper but the goalie saved his initial header but only pushed it into the air and Evans made no mistake second time and the ball trickled over the line to give Hengrove a share of the spoils. In my humble opinion this was a fair result, now where's that fixed odds coupon?
Monday 18th October 2010
Western League Division One
Hengrove Athletic 1-1 Portishead