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Tuesday 10th January 2012 ko 7.45pm

Wessex League Premier Division


WINCHESTER CITY 1 (Mills 89p) White missed penalty 56

Att 70

Entry £5

Programme FREE

Tea £1

Bacon Cheeseburger £2

Horndean is a small village around 8 miles north of Portsmouth. Its claim to fame is it’s where Gales Ales used to be produced, before the brewery was bought by Fullers and closed.

5 Heads Park is to be found the north of the village, a nearby pub, The Colonial, is the site of the village’s long since closed workhouse. On entering the ground I immediately felt a sense of Oxford United’s former home, The Manor Ground, the pitch slopes in exactly the same way, from bottom left to top right! I was given a programme, or rather a shell, for free as the match inserts hadn’t turned up. A few days later, I’m now in possession of the missing insert, and well I can at least say I got value for money!

I enjoyed the cafe, with its cheap food and expensive drinks, and the club were forthcoming with the lineups, surprised that anyone not connected with the participating teams could be interested in the fixture.

The ground is a mish-mash of facilities loved by hoppers and hated by ground graders. The changing room block, loos, and cafe are housed in what looks like a 1950’s style Butlins chalet block, and to add to the effect when an announcement is made over the PA, there’s “Bing Bong” sound first. You start to wonder where Ted Bovis and Gladys Pugh are hiding! There’s a bench seated wooden stand, and between the dugouts a small covered terrace. The bottom end is inaccessible to spectators.

I think the fans of both clubs got pretty much what they wanted. Horndean fully expected to lose, and were pleased not to have been embarrasssed by a team with far greater resources, and Winchester saw the win take them back to the top of the table. For the 3 hoppers there, this was a real curate’s egg of a game. No lack of incident or goalmouth action, but a singular lack of goals. We cut as much of a frustrated figure as Winchester boss Guy Butters. It seemed almost inevitable that Jamie White would miss his penalty, he missed everything else, and the only outlet seemed to be Sarnian winger Charlie Smeeton, who despite having an off-day, and a linesman who was a good 5 yards behind the play, was still head and shoulders above anything else on the pitch.

Of course we did get a second penalty, just when we’d given the game up as a nil-nil, and Leigh Mills put the ball in the bottom right corner, which was what White had tried to do earlier. So a small level of relief, in avoiding a nil-nil, but I left thinking this is the kind of ground and club, that inspires me to travel the distances I do.