I HAD originally planned to go to Great Wakering Rovers V Redbridge but Vanessa decided to go to Colchester Zoo with the kids and so I had a change of mind, as Stanway Rovers is close to the zoo and we would be able to meet up for something to eat after both trips.
Stanway and Lowestoft were champions of their respective divisions in 2005/6 with the Essex side gaining promotion to the Ridgeons Eastern Counties Premier as their reward.
This season there has been differing fortunes for both teams with Stanway struggling to establish themselves at the higher level and Lowestoft struggling with financial problems which has put the club in backroom turmoil.
However you would not have imagined this could be possible had you seen the well-organised and well-appointed organisation that the Suffolk team brought to Essex.
Players, officials and the ragtag band of vocal supporters were all smartly turned out in their Lowestoft Town coats which featured the name and number of club sponsor Gary Bennett on the back.
Bennett runs a driving school and he has been appointed acting chairman to steer the club forward (groan) during their current taxman turmoil which saw them forced to raise £13 grand by the end of January or be wound up.
Reports this week revealed that the money has already been raised, but obviously the backroom events at the Suffolk side need to mirror the performances that the reigning champions have created on the pitch.
Although sitting just above mid-table, they have plenty of games in hand on the higher teams, and have only been beaten twice this season.
Stanway on the other hand are probably doing enough to avoid dropping straight back down but have lost half of their 24 matches this term.
I made the journery from Braintree to Stanway in about 30 minutes, taking the A120 to Marks Tey and then going up the old London Road to Stanway.
The Hawthorns is in a housing estate although the ground sits next to a builders merchant at the top end which has an amazing hillock at one corner flag. It's a wide-open complex with five-a-side pitches alongside the pitch and a nice little grandstand on the far side.
You enter behind the goal at the opposite end into a tunnel-like shelter that runs the width of the pitch. The main clubhouse is in the car park outside.
The match was played at a slower pace than the Ryman League North matches I have been watching this year and the football benefits from this with players having more time on the ball allowing both teams to try to play.
The difference between the two sides though was the defences, Lowestoft's back four were a mean-spirited bunch who closed out Rovers' forwards, while the home team rearguard were run at times ragged by the 'Trawlerboys'.
And speaking of which, the best line of the match came from a couple of Stanway officials who watched as a salty sea dog in knitted cap, and roll-up fag, shuffled past them to join the Gary Bennett Driving School coat-wearing gang of Lowestoft fans behind the goal. "He's got his trawler parked outside".
The five goals came from Richard Woodrow (overlapping breakaway) , Jamie Stockeld (drilled shot in the box), Marcus Saunders (side foot swipe straight from a corner) , Carl Poppy (neat chip/lob) and Russell Stock - an ungainly, old fashioned centre-forward type who had a deceptively good touch for a big man and deserved his far post header in the dying minutes.
Ground Rating: 3/5
Refreshment Rating: 1/5 (The snackbar was poor, but did not deserve the abuse that the Lowestoft fans delivered to the poor old girl behind the tea urn, I went with a dubious sausage roll, a tea and a coffee. Not all at once.)
Profanity Rating: Very Low (a couple of effs from the Rovers keeper, but understandable as he picked the ball out five times.)