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Monday 27th December 2011 ko 3.00pm

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division

ST MARGARETSBURY 2 (Anstead 6 79)

STOTFOLD 2 (Aulsberry 51 Donnelly 89p)

Att 46

Entry £6

Programme £1.50

Tea £1

Bacon Roll £2

After the Kings Langley game it was straightforward to drive round a few exits of the M25 then onto the A10 through Cheshunt, towards Stanstead Abbotts. Or was I? The team used to be called Stanstead Abbotts, but changed names when they moved to the Recreation ground. I was told that despite the fact that the postal address is in Stanstead Abbotts, the ground itself is, in fact in adjacent St Margarets. The “Bury” bit refers to the fact that the ground lies in the former grounds of the Bury, or Manor House. The Manor house was the property of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, but reverted to the crown after her execution in 1536.

The Greenwich Meridian (longitude 0°) passes through the village with its exact position marked by Meridian obelisks which were erected in 1984 to commemorate the centenary of the adoption of the prime meridian line.

The Recreation ground is a wonderful case of a club making the best use of what’s available. Its not ideal that the clubhouse is shared with the cricket next door, but the club have sorted out a walkway for the players, and a path around part of the cricket pitch for spectators. There’s a mighty handy grass bank so the Arena stands actually provide a really good view, as does a lean-to covered area next door to them. A shipping container has been converted for use as a canteen. The friendly PA man played Christmas songs over the tannoy, and was most informative for information on the club. It transpires that the club will be on the move. The ground will be used for housing and the club will be provided with a suitable replacement. The move is anticipated for the season after next. So that’s your cards marked everyone!

I’d seen quite a bit of the visitors during their stint in the United Counties League. Under then manager Ian Allinson, they were a tall, physical outfit, what took to the field on this occasion looked very different. A massive injury list meant that in effect they had just eleven players available with Manager Steve Young naming himself on the bench. So it was perhaps no real surprise when St Margaretsbury took the lead after just six minutes. Paul Donnelly was caught in possession leaving Anthony Anstead to run clear at goal before hitting a superb shot past the advancing Anthony Enders.

St Margaretsbury having won three of their last four games, the latest at Tring Athletic, poured forward in search of a second, and the visitors had Anthony Ender to thank for keeping them in the game with two fine reflex saves from Brett O’Connor and the impressive Anstead in the opening twenty minutes. However Stotfold gradually came into the game, as St Margaretsbury inexplicably stopped the short fast passing which had served them so well. Stotfold applied pressure of their own, forcing a number of corners through the tireless work of Aulsberry and Herr up front, but lacked a cutting edge; Bryant’s header flashing narrowly wide being their best effort of the first half.

Stotfold started the second half brightly and were awarded a free kick outside the box when Billy Baird burst through past two defenders before being brought down by Scriven. Pemberton stepped up and hit a super shot that beat keeper Deamer completely. The ball hit the underside of the bar and fell to Nathan Aulsberry who bundled the ball home on 51 minutes.

There followed a period of pressure from the visitors and the wasted a great chance to lead when Cottenden put Aulsberry clear through but his lobbed shot went narrowly wide with Deamer again stranded.

St Margaretsbury slowly reasserted themselves forcing the visitors back and Ender again made a smart save from Anstead, but the forward was not to be denied when on 81 minutes he headed home at close range from a corner at the back post.

Stotfold pushed forward in search of a point, and they got their reward when Cottenden was pushed in the box following a free kick. Noone seemed overly keen to take the spot kick but eventually Paul Donnelly was “volunteered” and he scored decisively to earn a point which I’m certain Stotfold regarded as a real bonus.