Tuesday 1st May 2012 ko 6.45pm
North Berkshire League Division Two
BENSON LIONS 1 (Taylor 25)
BERINSFIELD 8 (Ingram 22 Stockford 24 49 Rawlings 44 Kenny 47 Saunders 62 73 Marshall 75)
Att 23 (h/c)
80 minute game
Nothing for sale
It would be easy for the unitiatied to confuse Benson AFC with Benson Lions. There isn’t much distance between the two grounds, about a mile or so, but there’s one massive difference, the Lions are a Forces team, and play their football within RAF Benson. That of course means you have to get through security.
All it takes is a little forward planning. You need to produce photo ID at the guardhouse, and they’ll take your photo and issue you with a pass to flash at the gate. From there, it’s a short drive through the Domestic Site of the base to the sports ground on Lancaster Way. There’s football, rugby and cricket, as well as a fitness trail, and its as sick and span as you’d expect at a military base. This game was played on a different pitch than normal, as with cricket taking precedence, the football was shunted away from the clubhouse.
The security factor didn’t stop a fair few Berinsfield fans from making the short trip to follow their team, in fact one admitted she’d driven past her “Weightwatchers” class in Benson to attend this game. However I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to her identity!
With both sides normally wearing red, Lions opted to change their kit, only to discover their green change kit was dirty. So they decided to wear the RAF Benson team’s new 2nd XI kit. Have a look at the photos, it’s quite something!
The afternoon had seen the pitch used for an inter-base game. This had two impacts on our game. Firstly there was a small muddy pool in one goalmouth, the second proved pivotal. 4 Benson Lions players played in both fixtures, and while Berinsfield as befits the divisional champions were worthy winners, the fatigue had an obvious impact on the hosts.
Berinsfield took the lead, Mark Ingram’s deft flicked header, steering AJ Stockford’s cross from the left past Gillespie in the Lions’ goal. It was quickly 2-0 as Stockford’s cushioned volley after a quickly taken free kick wrong footed a Lions defence arguing that the free kick was taken in the wrong place. It was, but play to the whistle lads.
Lions, found a lifeline as Dan Dixon parried a shot right to Matt Taylor who stabbed in at close range. At half time the servicemen were unfortunate to be losing as they’d matched their visitors.
All that changed as the players visibly tired, during the second half. Simon Kenny fired home to make it 3, and Stockford tapped home to get himself a brace. Lions bad evening got worse when Steve Morley collected a second yellow for elbowing David Murphy, putting unnecessary strain on an exhausted team. The Lions bench had seen it coming, the assistant manager had offered a £20 bet. There were no takers, but they couldn’t substitute him as they has to prioritize the players who’d played in both fixtures.
Substitute Luke Saunders collected a late brace, both times Gillespie got something on his shot, but both times he watched the ball trickle agonizingly over the line. Ian Marshall’s late strike was a neat coda to a league season that’s seen Berinsfield lose only twice.
After the game I had long chat with Benson Lions about how they could host a NBFL groundhop game. The base does have procedures for open-days, but security isn’t something that can be compromised but that I’m sure that can be worked with, and the club have great plans for the visiting hoppers.
To finish, I need to correct one element of my previous reports on Berinsfield. They had let me know that they have only been asked to leave one league, not the three I previously mentioned. I apologise, and am happy to set the record straight.