Saturday 27th July 2013
Supporters Direct Cup
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, Enfield
Match Rating: 4
For today's action, I opted for a rather quirky looking international match between teams in their seventh tier of their respective league pyramids.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stadium is about a 15 minute bus ride from Enfield Town rail station, and is not a particularly exciting stadium, even though I am loathe to criticise a venue that club officials have so worked so hard for, to get their club back in the town. The ground is part of an athletics complex, which results is spectators being rather distant from the action, behind a running track, although spectators are allowed close up to the pitch behind both goals. Along one length of the pitch but set quite a long way back is quite an unusual looking building with rounded ends and a cylindrical tower to one side, certainly the highlight of the ground, housing the bar, covered seating and a little standing area on the first floor. Three small uncovered stands of terracing are closer to the pitch, although the dugouts impede one's view from these. Straddling the half way line on the other side is a small metallic all seater stand, whilst behind both goals are similar sized stands but without seats. The ground does have a surprisingly peaceful feel to it given its location, surrounded by trees, next to a park and some distance from the nearest main road. The 20 page all colour programme was very good at informing of how the two clubs and this fixture came about.
Although really just a meaningless pre-season friendly, today was also named as the Supporters Direct Cup, contested annually by two selected supporters trust owned clubs. Enfield Town, of course, were formed when supporters of Enfield lost patience with their club showing little inclination to return its home back to Enfield after the scandalous sale of their Southbury Road stadium and so formed a new club in 2001. They will play in the Isthmian League Premier Division this season after successfully battling against relegation last season. YB SK Beveren were formed in 2010 when supporters felt they had 'lost' their previous club KSK Beveren when it merged with another club, Waasland, and the new club assumed Waasland's registration and history. In their second season, they won promotion last season into the Third Provincial East Flanders League.
Although violent thunderstorms were forecast today, the reality was another very warm and muggy afternoon, and the signs from the opening minutes were that this would be something of a mismatch, with Enfield Town's players looking far too quick in feet and mind for Beveren's. After hitting the crossbar from 8 yards out, Enfield Town took the lead on 8 minutes when the bounce of the ball completely deceived the keeper and the ball went into the net via a glancing header. After having a point blank range shot saved by the keeper's legs, Beveren were back on level terms on 13 minutes, when a sloppy defensive pass with picked up by a Beveren player, who strode forward before smashing a powerful shot into the top right hand corner. Parity only lasted for two minutes though, when the home side retook the lead when the ball was poked home following a scramble deep in the area. On 39 minutes, the home side opened up a two goal cushion when a corner was played to a forward just outside the box, who found space before a drilling a low shot which went through the keeper's hands and into the net. 3-1 was how it remained at half time, although in truth the lead should have been much more convincing, with Beveren's keeper making countless good saves as well as Enfield Town hitting the woodwork twice.
Within three minutes of the restart, the home side put the game beyond doubt with a fourth goal when the ball was drilled in low from the edge of the area after the ball had bobbled around the penalty area. Eight minutes later, and after Enfield Town again hit the bar, they were awarded a penalty when the goalkeeper brought down an onrushing striker. The penalty was struck powerfully low into the bottom left corner. On 58 minutes, Beveren were gifted another consolation goal when a suicidal defensive pass was intercepted and the ball was struck low past the keeper. There was then a rare lull in proceedings as numerous substitutions took place, until the home side made it 6-2 on 82 minutes when a corner was very weakly pushed out by the keeper and the loose ball was hit home via a deflection. After Enfield yet again hit the woodwork, they scored their seventh on 89 minutes when some neat play in the box ended with a low shot past the keeper. There was still time for one more goal, when an excellent run forward drew the keeper out and the ball was slid low past the keeper and into the net. That was to be the end of the scoring with a thoroughly convincing 8-2 scoreline, although really Enfield Town should comfortably have made double figures.
The cup was presented to Enfield Town shortly after the final whistle, and although the game turned out to be a real mismatch, the result didn't matter and this really was a wonderfully friendly occasion, with both sets of fans mingling with each other and singing each others songs, both during the game and afterwards in the clubhouse. Credit to Beveren's players for still battling gamely throughout and not resorting to more agricultural damage limitation tactics, and credit too to their supporters who added colour and something different to the occasion, and combined with Enfield Town's supporters being in fine voice throughout, there was a really good natured spirit throughout today.