Tuesday 1st February 2022 ko 19:45
Southern Combination Division One
Neathey sent off 65 (2nd Booking)
GODALMING TOWN 2 (McAleese 57 Oakley 77)
When your opportunities for a new ground to visit midweek are limited sometimes its funny how somewhere so straightforward to get to could have somehow have avoided my attention for all my years groundhopping. Oakwood are named after the district of Crawley they play in, and were formed in 1962 by former pupils of St Wilfrids School, an establishment that preferred the oval ball!
Crawley is just over an hour’s drive from Oxford, and the ground is usually quoted as being on Tinsley Lane. That’ll get you more or less there, but the ground is actually accessed via the narrow Kenmara Court, which is off Tinsley Lane. Look out for the pillarbox and the turn is close by.
Back in the 60’s what the club took over was a former works sports and social club which might explain the slightly awkward access, which in turn might explain why the club have looked to move. Any move though would be a wrench, because there is no lack of space here, and the club use it for no end of youth pitches, and everywhere you look that youth ethos is there for all to see.
That background is what makes the ground what it is. The clubhouse is large, and there’s even a notice in situ advising that football and rugby boots shouldn’t be worn beyond the doors even though rugby hasn’t been played here for years. Ground grading mores are satisfied with a “Stadium Solutions” edifice which unlike many I’ve seen is well positioned and comfortable. However the place to be is the veranda area in front of the clubhouse; there is something rather civilised about watching a game sat on a bar stool, with somewhere to put your pint!
I must admit I was surprised to see Godalming Town as the opposition. They’re managed to play in 4 different divisions since I saw them, Southern League Division One Central, Isthmian Division One South and both divisions of the Combined Counties. Now they’ve moved laterally to the Southern Combination- has any club further west played in the league or its predecessor the Sussex County League?
In fact the only issue seemed to be the pitch, or rather the number of games played on it. Crawley Town use the ground for training and Forest Row are also playing Southern Combination games here too! The result was a difficult surface to play on, with both sides quickly learning to just knock the ball long for their forwards to chase.
At times the game was attritional; one of those where a goal will only come from an error or a set piece, and guess what, that’s how both goals happened! The first was a header from a corner, the second from a punt forward that was missed by both centre half and goalkeeper. Home frustrations were obvious and Jermaine Neathey spent a mere 3 minutes on the pitch, collecting bookings for a shirt-pull and dissent in the space of a few seconds, as the game petered out.
I felt for Oakwood; when you’ve got the likes of Crawley Town, and Three Bridges ahead of you in the pecking order locally life isn’t easy, and still they keep going. You have to admire that.