COLNE FC (Holt House Stadium)

After being foiled, for what seemed quite a while, usually due the weather, I finally managed a visit to the Holt House Stadium today. Colne FC have been playing at this famous ground, with its spectacular views overlooking the town, since their formation in 1996.

The ground was previously used by Colne Dynamoes, who are unrelated to the current club, who, after an injection of cash, won the Northern Premier League in 1990 but were denied promotion to the Conference and subsequently folded.

Colne British Legion FC took over the ground but they too folded in 1995.

Colne FC were elected straight into the North West Counties in 1996 and were in Division Two until 2004 when they won promotion and have been in Division One/Premier Division since.

Today they were taking on Northern Counties East Division One side Bottesford Town in the FA Vase, a competition that holds special memories for the town of Colne. Following on from Dynamoes win in 1988, the present Colne FC had a run to the semi-final in 2004 before losing 3-4 on aggregate to Sudbury Town. The home leg saw a record gate of 1,742 in attendance at the Holt House Stadium.

There was to be no run to Wembley for the Reds this season as they crashed out at the first hurdle to their lower 'step 6' opponents. 

With the ground being high upon a hill, the one thing that does hit you immediately when you enter the ground is its slope and it's obvious there is going to be some sort of advantage kicking down the slope than up it.

It was Colne who had the advantage of the slope in the first half and it took them just five minutes to break the deadlock when Paul Fildes shot home. The Reds had the majority of the possession and were creating plenty of chances but a combination of poor finishing and Robert Zand's goalkeeping kept Bottesford in the tie.

After 27 minutes though the visitors were level. With their first attempt on goal Danny Boulton raced clear to equalise. Both sides had further chances but it was all square at the break.

The second half began with more pressure on the Bottesford goal as Colne continued the second period as they ended the first. There was another glorious chance to take the lead but an effort was blocked on the line. With an air of inevitability, especially after Colne's profligacy in front of goal, after 55 minutes Bottesford broke clear down the right and a superb cross was headed home by Marc La Rocca.

Colne continued to pile on the pressure for the remainder of the game, whilst being vulnerable to the counter attack, but could not find an equaliser their overall play probably merited.

For Bottesford though it was a consummate away performance. They soaked up the pressure, played on the counter and, when they came, they stuck their chances away. Oh and they also rode their luck on occasions! This result now puts Bottesford into the first round proper where their reward is a home tie against another North West Counties League side, Rochdale Town.

As for me, this visit today now means I only need a trip to Holker Old Boys to complete visits to all grounds in the North West Counties League**

Saturday 15th September 2012
FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Colne 1-2 Bottesford Town
Attendance: 68

** I do need to visit one other team to complete the leagues, but seeing as its a certain team in red and they groundshare, I probably won't be in any particular rush to go there!!!

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