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Tuesday 28th January 2014 ko 20.00

Friendly

OAKHAM UNITED 1 (Eason)

YAXLEY 7 (Carter 10 77 87 Hook 34 72 Cooke 67 Whaley 86p)

Att 7

At Uppingham Community College 3G pitch, Uppingham, Rutland

Entry FREE

No Programme

There aren’t many advantages of this lousy weather, but a game on a ground not usually used is a bonus. Oakham booked the college pitch, watched as one opponent pulled out then found Yaxley as a late replacement. It offered a tick not usually available, although with Oakham’s ground waterlogged this pitch is set to be used for league games. The Peterborough & District League have none of the hang-ups over a good artificial surface that the Conference do. I am indebted to uber-hopper Brian Buck for alerting Lee West and I to this fixture.

From my perspective it gave me an excuse to watch two sides scheduled to be on the first two United Counties/ Peterborough & District League groundhops, the first including Yaxley to be on 1st, 2nd and 3rd August. That and tick a ground in that tiny county, Rutland! I also gained another little nugget. Oakham will be moving grounds for next season; the new ground will be railed off and floodlit, and a stand will be added as and when they reach Step 6. Undoubtedly that new ground will feature on the hop, but I’ll look to visit their current home at the Vale of Catmose College Sports Centre before they move. The other bonus was a floodlit tick at a ground not normally available. Floodlit grounds are a finite commodity, so a free tick (if you exclude the cost of petrol and Fish & Chips!) is not to be sneezed at!

There is a marked difference between a pre-season and mid-season friendly. It was obvious that both sides being used to playing full-paced competitive games treated this one in exactly the same manner, even if the game was played in three 30 minute periods. It did produce the usual comment from players,

“So when am I coming on Gaffer? First, second, or third half?”

Yes the UCL Premier outfit won, and won well but look at the times of the goals, it was when Oakham ran out of steam in the last third of the game, that Yaxley were only allowed to run riot. Scott Carter’s lob for the last goal completing his hat-trick from his own half, was half sublime and half comedic. It wasn’t the greatest ground I’ll ever visit, but a new tick is never unwelcome, and as ever I learned something.