Saturday, 13 January 2007

13/01/2007 - Arlesey Town 2 Potters Bar Town 1

I MADE the trip from Braintree to Arlesey Town's ground in Hitchin Road in about an hour going down the A120, on towards the A10, then on the A507 through Baldock to Arlesey. I chose Arlesey as I had no kids in the car so a longer journey wasn't a problem and it would give me a chance to nail the north western corner of the Ryman Division One North.

On the way I past through a town called Cottered which had a match playing in a park which after consulting my Non-League Newsdesk and Football Mitoo was likely to have been a Hertford FA Junior Cup match Cottered (2) V Inter (3)

The weather was overcast but there was no rain, however there was a strong wind in attendance travelling virtually straight down the pitch from right to left as you looked out from the main stand.

I took a picture of the turnstile and then when I went through, the turnstile man asked me if I had taken my photo for posterity. I resisted the temptation to tell him I was from Bedfordshire Health and Safety and said yes, before he relieved me of £6 entrance, £1.50 for a chunky-looking programme and 50p for a Golden Goal (74th minute).

Into the ground and I was greeted by a stadium which reminded me slightly of Harlow Town but without the upper deck on the main stand and without the sense of brand new-ness. Still very tidy and respectable.

Opposite the main stand is a long terrace with plenty of standing, while the main stand has three or four rows of seats in front of changing rooms, a well-equipped bar and a neat looking press box which is likely sponsored by the nearest PVC windows business.

At one end there was a nice terrace behind the goal, unfortunately the wind rendered that uninhabitable, and in fact the only place with any reasonable shelter was the main stand or a handicapped stand up behind the right-hand goal.

The snack bar looked good but remained untouched due to a ham and cheese toasty consumed before leaving Braintree.

The match started brightly if unskillfully with a lot of huff and puff from both sides. Arlesey had the first best chance as one of the strikers headed nicely toward goal, forcing a good tip over from the Potters Bar keeper.

Then Potters Bar went close with a header when they hit the bar, but the match was heading toward a nil-nil at half time until the 45th minute when Potters Bar gave up a loose free kick just to the left of the box which was crossed in invitingly for a well-placed header and one-nil.

The Scholars were unfortunate to go in one behind and after a nice pint of Guinness in the bar, they found themselves two behind when another good Arlesey attack ended with a header against the bar and a quick response from Craig Rydeheard to convert the knock down... I had the Guinness, not the Potters Bar defence mind.

Up to that point I had expected Potters Bar to win, as they were playing with the wind in the second half and they had played the better football, and indeed they pulled one back in the 75th minute, although I was up the wrong end to get a good look at Daniel Taylor's goal having taken shelter in the disabled area which I was advised by a local was the plum spot in the ground to avoid the wind.

He was correct and we enjoyed some banter for the next 15 minutes as Potters Bar desperately sought for an equaliser, a general lack of composure in front of goal their undoing and the Arlesey crowd went home happy, as did I after a very pleasant trip was enhanced by the news that Derby had struck a 94th minute winner at Pride Park.

Arlesey Town
Potters Bar Town