March has been a seriously busy month for me which is really good. Well, mostly. My bank account probably disagrees to be honest but with a large proportion of these games being Non-League or Re-Visits to Football League clubs it hasn’t stretched me too much financially. I’ve had a really enjoyable couple of weeks spending some time in the Southern Premier League but I was really looking forward to venturing out to my first National League South ground since going to a Bath City friendly back in July.
I made the arrangements for this trip months ago due a fellow Groundhopper, Scott Hatley, who works for & supports Chelmsford City mentioned that he would be making his way across the country to Weston-super-Mare for their away trip to the Woodspring Stadium. At the time of the booking I didn’t realise that this game would have such a dramatic impact on the relegation battle in the division. Both sides currently find themselves perilously close to the drop zone and will both be looking for 3 points to build a gap between themselves and the bottom three and for Weston this risks losing a unique record that they currently hold. They have never been relegated in their history. So this season could well bring this record to the end.
Weston-super-Mare currently play their games at the Woodspring Stadium and have done since 2004, the ground can facilitate 3,500 people but are yet to reach that capacity, the highest attendance was in 2014 when they hosted Doncaster Rovers of League One in the FA Cup 1st Round match which was watched by 2,949 spectators. A game which ended 3-1 to the Football League side. This wasn’t their best performance in the FA Cup though, this came in the 2003/04 season when they beat Farnborough Town on their way to the 2nd Round where they knocked out in a 4-1 defeat away to Northampton Town.
Their opponents, who make the journey from Essex sit just above them in the table were formed in 1878 and their last success came in the form of the Isthmian League title in 2007/08 which got them promoted to the National League South where they have played ever since, they finished the 2014/15 season in 10th but things haven’t gone quite to plan this season with only 1 win in 10 games coming into this game with their counterparts.
Weston-super-Mare is a place easily accessible to me coming from Bristol & I have no excuses to not venturing to the ground before other than I had it planned with Scott for a while. I have played here before but as mentioned previously I don’t count these as part of my groundhopping ventures. The journey, as expected was simple – approximately an hour from door to door so once I’d reached the ground I went into the clubhouse to watch the West Ham vs. Sunderland game and had a couple of drinks as they had a £2.50 per pint until the 1st goal was scored so we made the most of this. I also attempted to do some work on the laptop but the Wi-Fi was beyond awful which was a real shame but it was up from there.
After giving up on the Wi-Fi and watching West Ham somewhat comfortably beat Sunderland 1-0 it was time to go and explore the ground and I really was impressed. I liked the main terrace behind one of the goals, this wouldn’t look out of place much higher up the league pyramid. I was slightly surprised with the seats at the bottom of it though… I’m assuming that this was due to a minimum requirement in the National League South but nevertheless it was still impressive. The other parts of the ground included seating under cover on one side with two sets of uncovered standing sections. Overall I really was impressed with the ground, I could imagine that it could host a really good atmosphere on a bigger occasion such as the Doncaster Rovers game last season.
Due to being with Scott I was able to watch the game from the extremely cold gantry but it did give me an opportunity to have a really good view of the game. The game itself was much better than I thought it would be, I thought that a relegation battle in Non-League would be of a poor quality but it was a lot more interesting than I anticipated. There was a lot of good football on show. The first 45 minutes were a period where Chelmsford looked
to heap more misery on Weston who have only won at home on 3 occasions thus far in this campaign. They certainly started off the better of the two sides with good opportunities for Mark Hughes and Reece Prestedge but it was their loanee striker from League One side Southend United who gave them the lead their play deserved. A good ball from Girdlestone left Jason Williams 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper and a neat lob over the onrushing super-Mare keeper which bounced over the line via the crossbar. 1-0 to City who did look the better side in these opening 30 minutes. This brought an end to the opening half.
Into the second half and this was a very similar story. However the task of pulling something back for Weston was made virtually impossible by a decision which shocked the vast majority of people in the ground; probably including those from the away side. A rough challenge which at most would be a booking but even that would of been harsh. The referee made a quick decision, probably with no help by the reaction of the Chelmsford player who was tackled, to send the guy off. This was extremely harsh and all but ended super-Mare’s hopes of forming a fight back.
No surprises to what happened over the course of the remainder of the game, the away side began to dominate. Two minutes after the sending off the score was 2-0 as another Southend United loanee, Jack Bridge struck low into the bottom left hand corner following a good individual run. Following this Weston attempted to get back into the game with some restricted chances which included one long range shot which forced a good save. This however was as good as it got for the home side as a little while later they conceded a sloppy penalty which was cooly converted by Lee Sawyer, the former Chelsea youngster. This brought the game to a conclusion and a very favourable one for Chelmsford City who look to use this a step ladder to continue their fight against the dreaded drop. A very enjoyable afternoon and I give my very best to both sides for the remainder of the season and in the future.
You can see my Youtube video above. You can also check out the remainder of the match highlights here…
What Were The Statistics?
Weston-super-Mare 0-3 Chelmsford City
Attendance – 405
Price of ticket – £7 (Student)
Programme – £3.00
Car Parking – Free
Miles Travelled – 60
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