Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hertford Town 2 v 1 Cockfosters

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Saturday 28th March 2015
Hertingfordbury Park, Hertford
Admission: £2.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 559
Match Rating: 3

With a few options of clubs in the south-east offering reduced or "pay what you want" admission today, I plumped for a visit to Hertingfordbury Park, which was hosting a charity day, as well as an open day for a local junior football club. This match would also be my first taste of South Midlands League action for several seasons.

Hertingfordbury Park is located about a twenty minute walk from Hertford North train station, and turned out to be quite a pleasant ground to visit, having some character with a fairly rural setting. One enters through a turnstile block in a corner, and moving towards the half way line is hard standing, behind and slightly above which is a large flat area, where a barbecue was in operation today under a gazebo. Beyond this is a fairly small white building housing the clubhouse and tea bar, then there is a small wooden garden shed housing the club shop, before the highlight of the ground, a tall old style pitched roof stand straddling the half way line. It doesn't offer the greatest of views, with large obscuring pillars, but it is always refreshing to see more traditional stands, this one complete with wooden fold-up seats (as well as plastic replacement ones). Beyond this stand, there is just hand standing, stretching behind one of the goals and along the other length. Behind the remaining goal, a pitched roof covers six terrace steps. The ground has a nice leafy setting - which clearly would be even more attractive in the summer/early autumn months, and a railway viaduct also provides an attractive backdrop behind the main stand. The 20 page programme was attractive and professionally produced, covered the important stats but was light on reading, although it was good to read about the charities benefitting from the proceeds of today's match, as well as of the partner junior club, Bengeo Tigers, who played several games on the pitch before and after the adults match.

Both teams are stuck firmly in mid table, with nothing left to play for in the league this season. Hertford are in ninth place, with 51 points from 33 games, whilst Cockfosters are in 15th place in the 22 team division, with 34 points from 31 games. When the two teams met in early November, Hertford won 0-3. Hertford actually had a player away on international duty today, Dajour Buffonge playing for Montserrat in their World Cup qualifying game against Curacao.

On a dry, fairly mild afternoon, playing conditions were made difficult by a hard, bobbly pitch and a strong gusty wind, and so it was little surprise that the first half was even, with few goalscoring chances created until the home side took the lead on 22 minutes. Tommy Wade  got on the end of a long punt up the field by the keeper which carried in the wind fell, ran towards goal before firing a low shot across the keeper and into the far corner from just inside the area. 1-0 was how it remained at half time, a scoreline which suitably reflected a tight first half that Hertford just shaded.

Into the second half and Hertford showed some more attacking intent, still rarely looking like scoring another though, until they did on 68 minutes. Wade controlled a long punt upfield well before slipping the ball perfectly into the path of Jordan Watson, who strode forward, kept a defender at bay before shooting low across the keeper and into the net. That was the decisive goal, as Hertford controlled the remainder of the game, at least until the third minute of added on time. Moments after Hertford could have scored a third when Charlie Evans placed a low shot just wide of the keeper, Cockfosters got a goal back. A free kick was swung in to the back post, the ball was headed across goal and Davie Evans tapped the ball home from close range. It was too little too late though, as Hertford secured the win on their big day.

The whole day was a real credit to the club, showcasing youth football in the town, and donating the admission proceeds of the day to two charities, and it was very pleasing to see the club rewarded with a relatively huge attendance, albeit that the vast majority of the attendance was made up of children participating in their own games of football.

No comments: