Coleville Town 1 Leiston 0
Of the 8 clubs in the quarter finals, I had only visited Poole and therefore there were no nerves when the draw was made. Dunston would be too expensive, I was banking in Kings Lynn making the semis, so Coalville was my choice. I went online to book my train tickets and was stunned when the cheapest option on the outward journey was a first class seat from St Pancras. I was almost excited about this & eagerly rushed to my coach as the train pulled in. The joy did't last long as it became apparent that there was a mix up. The coach had G on the outside & J on the inside and there was mass confusion as multiple people were trying to sit on the same seat. I was lucky to reach my seat early as it turned out to be double booked. The guard looked at my reservation three times along with the other person with an identical piece of paper & rapidly had to improvise, finding seats in weird and wonderful places for disgruntled passengers. You couldn't make it up! Eventually the dust settled and I had a peaceful, comfortable journey although the complimentary coffeee tasted like dish water.
I decided to travel to Loughborough and catch the bus from there, this gave me the opportunity to tick off a pub from the Good pub guide. I didn't have too long so it was just a quick half. The 'Swan in the rushes' is a real ale pub on Loughborough high street with a fine selection of beers. I opted for a pale beer called Harvest pale which did not touch the sides. I learnt that this was named CAMRA champion beer of Britain last year and what a worthy winner.
I found my bus stop with ease and had a ten minute wait on a narrow strip of pavement. People queuing for the bus, mixed with mums with large pushchairs and people coming out of shops caused an almighty log-jam & I was bustled and jostled all over the place and it was a relief when the bus turned up. An elderly lady sat next to me and immediately sparked up a conversation. "I hate it when they start" was her opening remark. My natural sarcasm had to be restrained as I was on the verge of asking her what she expected a bus to do. It turned out that she was a lovely lady and good company. I chatted with her for a good 30 minutes. I hope I brightened her day as she certainly brightened mine.
The bus got caught in traffic when nearing its destination so I hopped off and walked the last 10 minutes. I only arrived with about 15 mins to spare which always irritates me slightly as I don't feel I get to know the ground as well as I might. You walk down a lengthy track with the ground appearing below you. This view reminded me very much of Hertford Town where I spent a few years as their P.A announcer.
The ground was quite nice. An open tented club shop selling scarves and programmes, a couple of refreshment places and a media room. Two seated areas, one on each side. The largest seating area was on the far side, the other cover was a corrugated shed behind the near goal. A huge embankment loomed above the far goal, a feature I loved. A couple of walkers stopped for a free view during the game. I had a bacon roll on arrival as I'd not had other time for lunch due to the length of journey. It really wasn't great despite the pleasant and quick service.
Once again the weather got in the way. Light drizzle turned to heavy drizzle followed by persistent light rain with a sharp, cold wind that slapped you round the cheeks before cutting right through you. My glasses needed windscreen wipers as I had to stand in it as all the covered places were taken. A truly miserable afternoon AGAIN!
The first half of the game was excellent with fast, good quality football and tons of commitment. Coalville hit the bar with a header when it was easier to score and had most of the attacking play. They scored 10 minutes into the second half with a scrambled goal. The game deteriorated badly after this with several lengthy injury stoppages and the ball seemingly constantly going miles out of play over the far touchline with never a spare ball to hand. Leiston had a man sent off for 2 yellows, the second for an elbow and despite a couple of near misses, they couldn't get back into it.
This will not go down as my favourite Vase trip ever. The miserable weather and poor second half the main reason, but this was a tricky ground to reach & I'm pleased to have got it ticked off.