Isthmian League Division One North
Capershotts, Waltham Abbey
Match Rating: 4
Unfortunately the usual bank holiday double for me was not really possible today, with two games at new grounds that I had not previously visited not do-able by public transport and driving through bank holiday traffic was an unpalatable option. And so I chose a more relaxing Bank Holiday than usual, for a very local derby, with just two and a half miles separating the two clubs, yet they are separated by the Hertfordshire/Essex county border.
Capershotts is about a half hour walk from Waltham Cross station, although on a warm sunny afternoon, I instead decided to walk from Cheshunt station, about a 45 minute walk, about half of which is through the Lea Valley Country Park, passing by the White Water Centre which was used in the London 2012 Olympics. On arriving at the ground, which is virtually adjacent to the M25, spectators walk through a car park, passing by the clubhouse, and then also the signposted main entrance, to reach a turnstile beyond the corner of the ground. In the modern era of sterile grounds with identikit stands, Capershotts is an absolute delight in being a hotchpotch of individual stands. In the entrance corner, the tea bar is housed in a portakabin, whilst along the length is an all-seater stand with a high roof and the back is attractively painted in club colours and initials. Beyond that stand is a standing area covered by corrugated iron held up with scaffolding. Behind the goal closest to the entrance is a brick stand covering a few terrace steps located in from of the changing rooms building, whilst around the rest of the ground there is just hard standing, and along the remaining length his makes a good vantage point as the path is slightly elevated. The character of the ground is enhanced with a sprinkling of trees around the perimeter, as well as allotments and a graveyard. The programme was reasonable, covering all the basics and impressively updated to include the score and reflection on Saturday’s game. Also worthy of note is the club's excellently priced admission fee, one of the lowest in the division and the same as some clubs in the step below in the pyramid are charging, It is a shame that such reasonable prices are not rewarded with higher attendances, usually struggling to break into three figures.
Waltham Abbey had a nervous end to last season, finishing fourth bottom and only 1 point clear of third bottom Wroxham, who were supposed to be relegated but were eventually reprieved. They have started this season in a similar vein, winning one and losing the other two of their opening three league games. Cheshunt, who have lofty ambitions these days and are in the progress of upgrading their home ground to host National League football, finished one position and six points adrift of the play-offs last season, have won two and drawn the other of their opening three league games this season.
This match certainly had an explosive start, with four goals coming in the opening 18 minutes. The visitors were awarded a penalty on 3 minutes for a trip in the box, and Jason Gallery sent the keeper the wrong way to give Cheshunt the lead. The home side got back on level terms when, following a corner played short, eventually the ball was played low forward into the feet of Ryan Blackman, who turned and shot the ball into the net. They went into the lead on 16 minutes when Ryan Flack got on the end of a low ball forward, knocked the ball to the side of the keeper and although he was some distance out wide, he struck the ball excellently into the far corner. But within a minute, Cheshunt were back on level terms. The keeper weakly and unnecessarily punched the ball away, only for Billy Jones to guide the ball over the defence and into the net. They went back into the lead on the half hour, when Jones sent a header across the keeper and into the net, with a defender on the line failing to keep the ball out with his hands. A breathless opening half hour gave way to a steadier remainder of the half, although one felt that there would be plenty more twists and turns in this game after the break.
That did not really prove to be the case though, as the game became more of a physical battle, with some increasingly aggressive tackles being put in. But Waltham Abbey did score an equaliser on 58 minutes. The ball was played back in the penalty area to Jack Daveney on the edge of the area, and he drilled a low shot just inside the post. Surprisingly, neither team looked likely to score a winner and the high scoring draw was a fair reflection of an even match with both defences looking more than a little suspect.