South Midlands League Premier Division.
Colney Heath (Black/White Stripes/Black) 3-2 Hertford Town (Royal Blue/Royal Blue), attendance 48.
Admission £5, programme included.
Over recent years since I moved to Reading in 2006, I’ve really not taken a great deal of notice about collecting grounds and clubs in the South Midlands League. Rather I’d been concentrating ground visits to Hampshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset. But when recently checking my required lists, I noticed I still needed quite a number from the South Mids League. Another reason for not having much ventured north round the m25 has been my great fear of rush hour traffic from my Slough work base. But early this season, visits to Harpenden and Dunstable after work had proved to be pretty painless, so here I was venturing again to this region for one that had been long on my list.
I just had time for a quick pint in the GBG listed ‘Crooked Billet’, 300 yds from the ground down the high street, well worth a visit. I ordered my beer whilst at the bar the pub dog was crunching ice cubes with relish! “He is in charge” I was told. Every good pub should have a dog in my opinion.
A slight disappointment for me, was neither the appearance of a white board with the lineups, or a PA (in use) to read them. Fearing I may need to pester a team secretary (if I could find one) or worse still the officials at HT for them, I noticed a guy in the clubhouse pre-match who appeared to have them. As he was deep in conversation with others, I made a note of his face, and to catch up with him before half time (I did and he happily allowed me to scribble them down at half time).
Both sides pre-match were below mid table, but at this early stage of the season I don’t read too much into relative positions, as a good run of results can soon see a side shoot up the league. On a good surface a lively game began, very end to end, Hertford looking very quick on the break but lacking end product with poor crossing being evident. Colney Heath looked more skilful in midfield, with in particular Charlie Moxom taking the eye.
On twenty-nine minutes, Hertford keeper Knight (captain) inexplicably took a short goal kick, which was duly intercepted by CH forward Aaron Clarke, who strode forward and tucked the ball in the corner, 1-0. On forty-four minutes more good approach work, saw the ball in the area where strike partner Kyle Powell, tucked the ball into the right hand corner of the net, 2-0, ht.
Hertford were managed and captained at centre back by Marvin Samuel. His name stood out, I thought perhaps he was an ex pro? but having looked him up since, it seems he had played previously for Redbridge and Harlow, obviously higher up the NL ladder. His touch and general play for a veteran was a step above most on the pitch. In the second half he played up front, and his ability and vision made a big difference to their end product, and it was he that showed some neat skill on the edge of the box in the 63rd minute to put Billy Healy clean through to score, 2-1.
This looked like being the catalyst for Hertford to come back into the game. But four minutes later, a free kick from way out on the left touch-line was sent over, and Aaron Clarke (again), headed home unchallenged, 3-1.
HT them mostly pressed for the rest of the game, with lively winger Larry Asare-Bediako causing problems down the right-wing, and Samuels clever play troubling the CH defence. Deservedly they pulled one back on 90+2 when Samuels converted from a few yards out at the far post after a long ball into the box. 3-2. And this is how it stayed. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable end to end game, on a mild October evening at an unpretentious village club, without great facilities, but a decent pitch, and so one more had been struck from my list. 🙂