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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shrivvy comeback stuns Dawlish

Shrivenham 3 Dawlish 2

Quite a gap between the last round & this, so plenty of time to arrange my trip. I decided to visit a Hellenic league team as for some reason, I have very few of these grounds ticked off. I decided on Hungerford Town and preliminary arrangements were made. A spanner was thrown in the works when my mate invited me down to Somerset for a few beers on the Saturday as his wife was away. Having a lot to do at home at the moment, I was wondering whether I had the time to go. That was, until he Emailed me to say that he’d just bought a Nintendo Wii. Needless to say, it would have been rude not to help him test it out. He loves football as much as me & suggested some games we might see in the afternoon. One of his suggestions was Shrivenham. So, Hungerford will have to wait for another day & off to Shrivenham I went.
I was meeting my mate at Swindon, got to Paddington in good time & waited for the platform to be announced for my train. It eventually came up on the departure board with only 5 minutes to spare. Now, I’m a reasonably fit bloke, so got to the platform in a couple of minutes. More than can be said for the poor pensioners who were struggling big time and boarded the train with seconds to spare, it took them until Reading to recover. Why can’t passengers be given more time to find the right platform? Not only that, but all the carriages were incorrectly labelled. The carriage that said it was B, was actually C and the carriage that said C, was actually D. This caused complete carnage with those of us who’d booked their tickets in advance, ending up going in all directions trying to find our allocated seats. I actually tripped over at one point and as I lay on the floor with anxious passengers stepping over me, I thought “This is why I love groundhopping”. Once everything calmed down, it was a straightforward journey to Swindon. I had 45 mins on arrival before I was due to meet my mate so I set off in search of food. I headed for the shopping centre & discovered a little restaurant/cafĂ© called Octagon, so named as that is it’s shape. A nice relaxed atmosphere with ultra friendly staff. My sausage, chips & beans took a while to arrive put were piping hot and very tasty. They were washed down with tea served in the biggest & heaviest mug I’ve come across for a long time. The only down side was the piped Christmas music. Sorry, but November 17th is too early for all that. The drive from Swindon to Shrivenham took about 20 mins, mainly because a roundabout seemed to appear after every 100 yards. Thank God for sat. nav. It makes journeys like this so easy, although it almost takes a bit of the fun out of it. We found the ground easily, but struggled to locate the car park. Maybe if my mate had slowed down to 70mph, he’d have seen us go pasting past it. Basically, it’s just over the road and there were plenty of spaces. Getting there by public transport could be a struggle, although I did see a number 65 bus about a mile away from the ground, this can be caught from Swindon. You walk along a path to the ground where we were charged £3 admission including a programme. Considering the game we were presented with, this was outstanding value. The pitch slopes from end to end, has a low rail surrounding the playing surface with hard standing also all around. There is one stand that sits about 60, but is positioned near one of the corner flags, so doesn’t provide the greatest view. That is the only cover. The other side of the pitch has a raised bank, a feature I always like. Immediately behind this bank is a small wood with a few sparsely spaced trees, an interesting & unusual feature. Behind these trees are playing fields. In theory, people could walk across these fields and get in the ground for free. Happily, nobody chose to do this. The clubhouse was quite compact & packed out, so I never got to have a good look round. Hot food & drinks are sold separately by very friendly staff. My mate complained that it was the smallest hot dog he’d ever had, 3 bites taking care of it. The tea wasn’t great either but as I always say, you don’t go o football for the catering & at a small club like this, the effort was appreciated.
This game started off at a quick pace with both sides trying to attack; Little did we know what drama lay ahead. Dawlish were soon on top and scored after 11 mins when a header from a corner went in off a post. They doubled their lead on 24 mins sliding the ball home after a throw was flicked on. Dawlish were comfortably on top at the break. As the sides appeared for the second half, my mate said to me “Dawlish don’t look particularly fired up, do they?” I replied that “They probably thought they’d already got the game won”. They had several chances to increase their lead early in the second half & when Shrivenham put a golden opportunity over the bar, it looked like we’d see out a comfortable away win. The course of the game changed in a 5 minute period. Firstly, the Dawlish keeper gave away an unnecessary corner when he could have just picked the ball up. The corner was taken, bounced awkwardly & went straight in for a Shrivenham goal right against the run of play. A player from each side were then sent off for an off the ball incident, I was following the ball & didn’t see exactly what happened. Shrivenham adapted better to the loss of personnel & suddenly out of nowhere, were completely on top. The equaliser came on 75 mins as another attack down the right resulted in the low cross being slid home. Then 9 mins later, captain Mark Peters gleefully headed home the winner from a corner. An extraordinary comeback that surely even the most biased of home supporters didn’t see coming. A nice club to visit on the North Berkshire border.
As for Nintendo Wii. The Tiger Woods golf is great fun, as was a tennis game. The boxing is exhausting especially when alcohol assisted. I could well be writing more reports from the West country.

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