Tuesday 31st January 2011 ko 7.45pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division
COVE 1 (Harewood 63)
SOUTH PARK 7 (Lavery 2 9 13 64 G Smith 41 C Smith 74 84)
Att 25 (h/c)
Oak Farm, at the end of Squirrel Lane, in Farnborough owed me a game. Or rather I owed the Farnborough district of Cove a game! Let me explain. Around 14 years, and 1000 grounds ago, I was learning my hopping trade. I spotted in the “Non League Paper” that Cove were at home on Spring Bank Holiday. I arrived at 2pm, about an hour before what I thought was kick off. What I didn’t know then was that on Bank Holidays CCL fixtures are usually at 11am, so all I saw was the start of the post-match drinks! Entirely my fault, and I’ve made use of this quirk of the fixtures a few times since.
It was a chilly night, but I tucked into a mug of tea and a delicious burger (a shame no onions) , and with 3 other hoppers enjoyed a game that summed up much of this friendly little club’s recent history.
From being relegated by choice from the Isthmian League in 1996, to finishing rock bottom of the Combined Counties League in 1997/8 and 98/99, and the Premier Division in 03/04, to having arsonists torch the main stand in 2002, life has not been kind to them. The stand was replaced by a modular affair which does little else but maintain necessary gradings, but on this occasion the defence looked in most need of rebuilding.
Put simply, defending a high line and being incapable of spring the offside trap properly will inevitably lead to the concession of goals, and plenty of them. Time after time the Cove defence stepped up and each time a South Park forward found himself clean through. Keiran Lavery collected a quite superb 13 minute hat trick, and goals continued to arrive at regular invervals. It wasn’t that Cove were wretched, but every mistake was being punished. A shred of salvation arrived with Andrew Harewood’s fine shot, but a minute later there was Lavery at the other end to resume normal service. Substitute Chris Smith scored and missed two, as Cove’s defence seemed to lose what little of the plot they’d had had in the first place.
On this occasion the final whistle served two purposes, one to put Cove out of their misery and for those hardly souls spectating to trudge off in search of some warmth, observing that the puddles in the car park, were now ice.