Potters Bar Town FC
Monday 25th November 2013
Potters Bar Town 2-1 Aylesbury
Southern League - Division 1 Central
Last season, I completed the Southern League Division 1 Central, finishing off with the one I was least looking forward to in Guildford City. The reason - the running track around the pitch. As it turned out, it wasn't so bad and was a decent game against Biggleswade Town, who subsequently went up through the playoffs. But changes to the league due to restructuring, promotions and relegations meant that 3 new teams were entered into the league and I wanted to complete it again. Kettering and St Ives could wait, for tonight it was the turn of Potters Bar Town, a ground that I had seen the outside of when passing through, but obviously had not seen a game at.
Tonight's opponents were Aylesbury, which was the main reason we were going tonight. My regular groundhopping buddy Anwar lives in the town and supports them - it's them I have to thank for getting him back into non-league football and being company for random games, as well as the obvious help with fuel costs. Talking of Aylesbury, last season they had a faint hope of the playoffs for some of the season, but this season they had struggled and were in 19th place before tonight's game. Potters Bar were a few points better off in 16th place and would be slight favourites for tonight's game, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion. I hadn't seen Potters Bar play before, but I was glad when they started scheduling matches on a Monday night as it was an easy tick with no other competition for matches, well not much anyway. It was a good night for TV though and we always had a good dinner on Monday, but with my folks away and having Sky Plus, it was the ideal time to go there. Aylesbury, on the other hand, I had seen twice before. Back in 2009, they faced Wealdstone in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round and despite taking the lead, they ended up losing 4-1 to the Stones. Wealdstone went on to face Rotherham in a decent tie in the next round, where they lost but made a good show of themselves. The other time was last season, when they played out a dull 0-0 draw at Daventry, the highlight of the game being a penalty save from the Aylesbury keeper.
I was working on the day of the game and had a meal lunchtime to save me having to spend too much later on. I left home at 5.45, meeting Anwar in Aylesbury at 6.20 after hitting a bit of traffic. Despite this, we made good progress to Potters Bar arriving at 7.15. I had read about the small amount of parking at the ground and there were already cars dotted around everywhere as the main spaces were full. I still found a space easily enough though. We both went straight into the ground, buying a programme each as per usual. I checked what had been happening on Facebook since I left home before taking some pictures and reading some of the programme. It wasn't the most exciting of grounds but it did its job OK. I found out that one of my Facebook friends, Splodge, was also at the game. He is secretary of Fareham Town FC in the Wessex League and has done over 1300 grounds which makes my total of 317 as of tonight's game look tiny.
Aylesbury had just been taken over by former Slough manager Steve Bateman and he had bought in plenty of players. The most notable of which was Dan Burnell who will always get you plenty of goals at this level. But it was winger Aston Goss who opened the scoring on 8 minutes after he slotted home from a low ball into the box. Aylesbury were pretty much always in command but just lacking in the final third. Goalscorer Goss, in particular, made several good runs down the left side but was unable to put a decent cross in on more than one occasion. It was still 1-0 at the break and if anyone was going to score it was going. The second half saw Aylesbury have the lions share of the possession. It was around 59 minutes that Splodge commented 'Potters Bar will never score in a month of Sundays'. On the hour mark, Potters Bar get a break and the ball is put on a plate for Tobi Akin to score. Aylesbury had further chances to score but nothing really clear-cut. It was Akin again who got the winner when a corner was touched on for him to get his second. Aylesbury had a late chance to equalise but former Grays keeper George Kamarusi just managed to grab the ball in time to prevent the follow-up. It hadn't been the greatest of games and a draw would have been a fair result. We said goodbye to Splodge who had a 2-hour journey home back to Fareham. On the way home, we were planning our future hops. On Saturday, all things going to plan I will be dropping Anwar off at Leicester before heading on to Coalville Town v Grimsby Town. With Anwar still having a lot of the 92 to do, I can see similar situations in the future as there are plenty of non-league ones that I'd like to do around the country.
PARKSIDE is a fairly decent ground for the level . As you come in there is a smart newish stand in front of you, this holds around 150 and offers good views of the action. To the right is a small covered area for around 100 people behind the goal. Opposite is what looks like the original main stand, it has a couple of rows of benches with room for standing behind it. The rest is just open hard standing.
I saw club shop stuff advertised in the programme, and assume it is on sale behind the bar. Talking of the bar, although it's not the most well furnished or modern I have seen, it does have Sky on the big screen. And even better they do a couple of real ciders which is very rare in any club bar. I had tried both before so I didn't indulge but it was excellent to see nonetheless. The tea bar sold burgers and bacon and sausage rolls, but sadly no Bovril which would have done me nicely on a chilly night.