I truly love the Easter period and this is exactly why. Game 2 of the day & it is only 3PM! There are a number of National League grounds in which I struggle to think when I am going to get the chance to visit and finally I’d found one to do one other than my local grounds! The Recreation Ground, the home of Aldershot Town. They are a team who have been in the Football League as recently as 2013 when they were relegated back to the Non-League pyramid. Of the 5 seasons they were in the Football League again they spent 3 of them in mid-table and even once made the wonders of the League Two Play-Offs but just 3 years later and it was back to the drawing board following finishing bottom of the pile during the 2012/13 season.
After my original plan of AFC Wimbledon and Sutton was off I decided to head to Guildford City & Aldershot which allowed me to keep up the 3 games in 1 day. Following the 11:30
Combined Counties Premier League game between Guildford City and Sutton Common Rovers I made the 11 mile journey to the next ground, as expected it was fairly simple and myself & the Hopper and Son got to the ground with about an hour before kick off. This gave us time to do a bit of exploring, head to the shop to buy a programme for me and a pencil for Liam.
I then went and took my place in the South Terrace for the first half. I must say, in terms of price, I wasn’t impressed with the prices that Aldershot charge. £19 for Adults and £13 for students is fairly steep when I pay less than that at the vast majority of clubs, even in the Premier League sometimes (rarely I know). My ticket for my AFC Wimbledon game was £11 so I paid more for a game in the division below, doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Cons of being a groundhopper I guess!
The Recreation Ground, which has been the home of Aldershot Town since 1992 which was as a result of Aldershot FC reforming to create the new club which has stood ever since. The official capacity of the ground is 7,100 but I don’t know if this is the current capacity with a few sections of the ground closed for reasons I am unaware! It really disappoints me when you see nice grounds with sections closed off for various reasons. One of the worst I’ve seen is at Mansfield Town with one whole side along the pitch closed and boarded up.
I decided that for the first half I was going to stand in the main terrace behind one of the goals, this is always my preferred place to go as it is, in my opinion, the best atmosphere, if high enough the best view which gets me the best photos & also the cheapest which is an added bonus! The opposite stand to me was a fully seated stand that went across about half of the pitch whilst the sides were made up both seating and standing with the main stand holding the directors areas, in other words – the comfy seats, which is where I managed to go for the second 45! To be fair, they were bloody comfy but I don’t want to make a habit as I don’t want to be compared to the normal “rich boy seats”.
The game started off fairly poorly with little happening and a fairly poor atmosphere to go with it which was a shame – the travelling Braintree Town fans were trying but it didn’t go to much with the game being as poor as it was for the opening 30 minutes or so. I’m quite fond of Braintree Town from what I’ve previously heard. I have quite a few followers on Instagram and now YouTube (I’ve just started my YouTube channel so it would be amazing if some of you could check out my videos and subscribe to my channel!) who are travelling supporters who I could just about pick out in the small crowd as I know that they don’t have the greatest numbers who travel but they certainly make the best out of their situation! It was their support that I would imagine spurred their team to take the lead on 34 minutes. A neat bit of play led to Simeon Akinola putting them ahead with a sublime chip over the rushing on Aldershot goalkeeper. 1-0 to the visitors and deservedly so.
This lead was only to last 6 minutes with a good equaliser coming from a looping header from Omar Beckle just 5 minutes before the break. I had actually turned out to be quite a decent half of National League football, even after the poor start! So at the half time whistle it was even-stevens between the sides who would both, but especially Braintree, be looking to kick on in the second half to try to take the 3 points.
This would not be the case though as Braintree suffered somewhat of a shock at the hands of the home team who ended up winning the game by 2 goals to 1. 69 minutes were on the clock when Aldershot took the lead after a bit of ping pong and Nathan Ralph poked it in to secure all 3 points and only their 2nd win since January and seriously damage Braintree’s dream of reaching the Football League.
On the basis of the match stats it was a probably a deserved win but really disappointing defeat for Braintree and their fans. For the sake of these guys I hope the team turn things around and get themselves into the Play-Offs. Unfortunately though I won’t be routing for them any further than that though as my heart is set on Grimsby Town going up. I’d have my entire 92 planned out if Grimsby go up as well as Bristol Rovers into League One. I would then have a team to follow in each of the 4 Football League divisions! I could maybe get it done even quicker than I’d hoped!
I must admit, I did actually really enjoy my visit to Braintree – It’s, in my opinion, a proper football ground with a hell of a lot of personality. It was a shame that the atmosphere didn’t hit on. I even heard the team drummer say that the reason he wasn’t using it in the first half was because “it’s pointless in an atmosphere like this”. He did get it out in the second 45 minutes, but as he expected, it didn’t make a great deal of difference. Good luck to Aldershot and Braintree for the remainder of the season! Hopefully see you both in the Football League in the next few years.
What Were The Statistics?
Aldershot Town 2-1 Braintree Town
Price of ticket – £13 (Student)
Programme – £3.00
Car Parking – Free
Miles Travelled – 7 (From Guildford City FC)
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Cheltenham Town vs. Grimsby Town – 01/04/2016