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Tuesday 10th November 2015 ko 19.45

Isthmian League North Division

HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 1 (Morrison 76)

BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT 5 (Malton 4 Kelly 9 15 Gould 55 Read 90)

Att 134

Entry £10

Programme £2

Badge £3

Looks can be deceiving sometimes. You pull into the car park at Scraley Road and the ground immediately impresses. There’s a large main stand, with its little brother opposite, and there’s the friendly club shop too. I enjoyed having a chin-wag at the burger bar, and the clubhouse is spacious and well-appointed. It is the kind of place where I could sit back before the game, and watch the club being unconsciously competent. The problem was that one of my footballing bad habits was to bite me somewhat.

My bad habit is that I almost never check league positions before seeing a game. There’s no real reason for it, just laziness really, but I do tend to think that often you can judge how the team are doing on the pitch by what’s going on around it. As far as I was concerned Heybridge looked like a thriving club, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked at the league table in the excellent programme.

Second from bottom… that’s right, a club whose ground looks close to Conference standard look in danger of dropping into the Essex Senior League. A club who may well find themselves in a new stadium in a couple of years, Bloor Homes are in talks to build here, but the team are having a dreadful time of it.

Just three wins, and an 8-1 home defeat at the hands of Cheshunt point to a real crisis in confidence, and when Brightlingsea blasted their way to a 3 goal lead in fifteen minutes, a Cheshunt-like drubbing looking more than likely. Regent in contrast look an upwardly mobile club. They were promoted from the Eastern Counties League in 2014, but had only joined the ECL in 2011 from the Essex and Suffolk Border League. You wonder just how far the club can rise.

Not that the neutral spectator learned much about Regent here. Time after time Swifts’ flimsy defence was breached and only some profligate finishing prevented the score from becoming embarrassing. But here’s the shred of comfort for Heybridge, their problems seem to be purely defensive, they scored with Luis Morrison’s valedictory thunderbolt, and they moved the ball well. I got the distinct impression that a couple of defenders could stave off relegation.

Unless you’re a fan of the winning side, its difficult to enjoy a hiding like this, especially at a well-appointed and friendly club like this. Hopefully the Swifts can find a solution to their on-the-field problems because everything else about the club is mighty impressive.