Barking 0 Dunstable Town 3
I had originally planned to visit Rye in Sussex for this round. But then one of the amateur dramatic clubs that I belong to organised an evening that I really wanted to attend, so I found a game nearer to home. I would be able to make it back in time, unless there's extra time.....
I took pleasure in passing the olympic stadium at Stratford. Just a passing glimpse brought back happy memories. As it fades into history, it's almost as if it wasn't real. There's something about the Liverpool Street line to Shenfield. At two consecutive stations, we had been sitting there for about 15 seconds, when a passenger suddenly realised it was his stop, leapt from his seat and flew out the carriage just as the doors were closing. At Ilford station, a couple of kids got off the train and walked along the platform with balloon animals. People who create these things make it look so easy. I tried once, the balloon burst in my hands and I took a slap of deflated balloon on the cheek that left a red blotch for about a week. I tried a couple more times and just ended up with strange squeaking noises followed by a balloon that unravelled as quickly as I had folded it up.
Due to rail replacement on the District line, I took he train to Goodmayes. I was pleased to see a Tesco extra as we pulled in and I felt lunch coming on. But their cafe was a huge let down. A few sorry looking chips, one lonesome pie that sat at an odd angle and a few pathetic looking pease. Rather disappointed, I headed off to scour the local shops for alternative food.
I can't remember the last time it took this long to get my sense of direction. I strolled up and down the high street several times trying to find a landmark on my map. I finally spotted the road that I was standing on in my map although it was kind of not facing the way I was expecting - maybe I'm losing my touch as I usually figure out my roue almost immediately.
After almost slelecting a dodgy pizza place and a Southern fried chicken joint, I selected a chippy just as I entered Lodge lane. I had a saveloy and chips. Surprise, surprise, the second I left the shop it started raining and uite hard. I ended up eating my food whilst sheltering under a tree as the rain belted down with the odd drop of rain water landing square on my meal. Oh, the glamerous life we hoppers sometimes lead.
The ground itself wasn't too bad. A covered standing and seating area up one side and cover behind the near goal.
The nicest touch was a bunch of kids and some ladies who were selling homemade cakes at half time for the Macmillan charity. apparently they were down to their last 25 plates of cakes having started with several hundred. The cakes were great and how nice to see a local football club encouraging charity work like this. A little thing like this made me feel good about the whole day.
The game was a real contrast in styles. Dunstable passed the ball really nicely and were incredibly patient, but particularly in the first half, they wouldn't put the ball into the box for love nor money. Barking played a more direct game but had a couple of lively strikers. For 70 minutes we were at stalemate and I was staring to get quite agitated as extra time was the last thing I wanted. Fortunately for me Dunstable scored three in the last 20 minutes as they finally wore a stubborn Barking team town. The last minute saw one of the most incredible double open goal misses I've ever seen. Because it was right at the end of the game & the result was not in doubt, it was kind of shrugged off but I'm not sure I'll ever know how Dunstable didn't score a fourth goal.
Hopefully it will be Sussex in the next round, but Barking was a nice venue to find when I was short of time.