Isthmian League North Division
Ship Lane, Aveley
Match Rating: 4
After my planned visit to Crowborough Athletic was thwarted after that game was postponed due to floodlight problems, I then turned my attentions to visiting a new ground. I decided to head through the Dartford Tunnel and visit a ground that I have thundered past many a time previously without actually visiting.
Romford currently play at Ship Lane, sharing the home of Thurrock FC. Located just north of the first turn off northbound after the Dartford Tunnel, the ground is, considering the area, surprisingly very neat, tidy and attractive on the eye. As one enters in one corner of the ground, the very spacious and airy clubhouse is adjacent. Straddling the half way line on one length is an imposing all-seater stand built into the grass bank, which has a hotel perched on top of overlooking the ground. With the first rows in an elevated position, the stand offers excellent views of the action. Along the opposite length there is cover mainly for standing but with five rows of seating towards one goal. Behind the goal where one enters there are a few covered terrace steps, whilst behind the remaining goal is a stand covering terrace steps, with a brick building housing the changing rooms to one corner, along with snack bar. The 34 page programme was very good at informing readers of the club's recent games, latest news and information on tonight's visitors.
Both of these teams had very disappointing opening league games on Saturday, Romford losing 0-3 away at Needham Market, whilst Waltham Forest had their big day back at their home ground at Wadham Lodge after playing in exile at Ilford since 2008 spoilt by losing 0-5 at home to newly promoted VCD Athletic. Last season, Romford finished in eighth place, whilst Waltham Forest finished in 18th place in the 22 team division.
On a mainly overcast evening, this game was lively and entertaining right from the start, with Romford impressing with their skillful creative play. They had several chances to open the scoring in the opening minutes and were denied a stonewall penalty on five minutes when their forward was clearly and audibly fouled in the box. Waltham Forest had their moments, but the home side deservedly went in front on 22 minutes. The ball was played in low from the right and, via a deflection, the ball fell to Abs Seymour who took a touch before firing into the net from the edge of the box. Romford doubled their advantage four minutes later when the ball was carefully passed across the penalty area, eventually landing at the feet of Kurt Smith, who tapped home from close range. Romford continued to carve out chance after chance, before eventually extending their lead to three deep into first half added on time. A third free kick in quick succession was glanced towards the far post, and was headed into the net by Paul Clayton.