With the constant heavy rain putting paid to most of the non-League programme once again last Saturday, Western League press officer Kerry Miller went down the 4G route and enjoyed an unusual treble with three games in three different counties last Saturday.
One young side who are always worth watching are Exeter City’s U18s and they look on course to repeat last season’s triumphs with a League Cup semi-final thrown in for good measure. The club’s training ground is the impressive Cat and Fiddle complex in Clyst St Mary which many years ago was the home ground of Western Leaguers St Lukes College and the changing room pavilion is still there and largely intact although the iconic Rothman’s Western League scoreboard was finally taken down a few years ago. The old Western League pitch is still there and surrounded by advertising boards but the youngsters now have a 4G pitch alongside the varied grass pitches, all of which would have taken a battering had they had been used on Saturday.
Instead the all weather surface came up trumps and City hammered their counterparts from Premier League AFC Bournemouth 5-1 to emphasise what a fine set up the Grecians have at youth level.
With Western League games going down at regular intervals and even Shepton Mallet’s fine pitch giving up the ghost, it was 4G again for the afternoon part of the day and with Roman Glass St George away, Keynsham Town’s home game with Almondsbury was definitely on while a few games in Bristol did get the final go ahead elsewhere.
Keynsham have played at the Crown Field since just after the war and in recent seasons the ground has been transformed into a much used and much changed venue which gains from not being completely enclosed by a hideous 12 foot chain link fence like so many others. The new seating came courtesy of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate make over and having been painted and brushed to within an inch of its life, it has possibly never looked better or brighter.
A good crowd, including a number of neutrals just happy to see a game, watched Keynsham go back to the top of Division One with goals from Tauren Williams and top scorer Matt Brown, his 50th for the club in 70 games.
The third game in the 4G trilogy was at Oaklands Park, formerly the home of Southern League Almondsbury Town but now the HQ of Gloucestershire FA and on the opposite side of the road to Almondsbury. Oaklands Park is used by a host of clubs including Roman Glass, Lebeq FC, and Bradley Stoke Town from the Bristol and District League Senior Division as well as by the county and Bristol Rovers U23 side on occasions.
This Saturday, for a 5.30pm kick-off it was the turn of Premier Combination side Real Thornbury who had the services of Taunton Town winger Ross Staley for one game before he headed off to Perth, Western Australia to play and coach. Predictably he was far too lively for the Oldland Abbotonians’ second string and netted five in an 8-0 win. Oaklands Park, along with the other two grounds, has an excellent surface but the complex suffers a little from the plethora of small sided goals which are dotted about the place including a group of them directly behind the main goals which is off putting to spectators and can’t be any fun for the players of officials. However with plenty of covered seating and standing areas it is a comfortable venue and for those whose footballing fix can stretch to more than one game on a Saturday, theregular 5.30pm kick-offs are an interesting idea.
Picture courtesy of www.sportsandsafetysurfaces.co.uk