Team Solent were formed as an offshoot of Southampton Solent University and have come quite a long way in a short time. This their second season in the Wessex League, having finished third in Div One in the 2011-12 season.
The ground is easily found, with the satnav that is and is down a short lane by the rugby club, just a mile or so from the M27.
I’d arranged to meet my friend, fellow hopper, Sutton based Dave Lewis at the ground. He travelling from his work in Farnborough by train.
A couple of days of mild and dry weather, came to a grinding halt as I bypassed Winchester on the M3 with heavy drizzle now falling, which continued throughout the game.
The ground has quite a smart clubhouse sited outside by the car park, which has a fancy cafe type bar, with any number of types of Italian coffees available as well as your usual, in my book, to avoid, nitro keg and lager beers, yuck.
I bumped into another hopper I know, Steve Jackson in the bar, and the three of us had an extremely enjoyable evening chewing the fat, mostly about things non league, and pandering to our stereotype, real ale! 🙂
A path leads from the edge of the car park to the turnstile, in what feels like a very modern, as it is, new setup.
Through the turnstile to the left of the pitch you find two identical but rather futuristic strangely shaped stands, actually aesthetically quite pleasing to the eye, but they formed the only cover at the ground, which was much-needed as the drizzle continued to fall.
In front of a healthy turnout of 78 (only 19 attended at Test Park on Dec 29), the 3rd placed visitors, with games in hand on top of the league Solent, made a lively start. After twenty nine minutes, a cross from the left was met in the area by a rising half volley from Michael Spinney, 0-1, a neat finish. As was apt, for a game that had been played from end to end for the first half, after thirty-six minutes, Michael Sheedy struck a lovely right footed goal from just inside the area, 1-1 and parity restored.
At half time we walked past the one man hotdog vendor, which looked more like a portaloo, and had possibly one of the loudest generators known to man! To head back to the clubhouse.
Although the second half was as equal in terms of possession and chances, Brockenhurst had the advantage in their sharpness in front of goal. However, they took the lead with a large slice of luck, as a hard strike from Mark Barker on fifty-four minutes took a deflection of a defender and skidded past the keeper, 1-2.
After sixty minutes the game was as good as over as Barker repeated his trick, this time lobbing the keeper with a sublime finish, from my angle it looked like he controlled the ball with his right, and before it hit the deck, lobbed it into the top corner with his left foot, a goal of premier league standard, 1-3. Due to our incessant chatter, I hadn’t been concentrating as closely as possible on the game, and my note-book suggested Barker completed his hat trick with this goal, apologies to Mr Spinney!
The fourth goal was a giveaway as a mix up between the home no2 and the keeper allowed an easy tap in for William Tickle on eight two minutes, I would say he trickled the ball in, but that wouldn’t be right would it? 1-4. In fairness to Solent this hadn’t been a 1-4 game, and on another day, it could easily of finished even. The drizzle continued on the way home, but the roads now free of commuter traffic flowed as I dropped Dave at Basingstoke station, and made home by 22:45, a cracking evening out.