The Nest - Recreation Ground
The Nest - Recreation Ground
Ground Number: 834
Tuesday 5th March 2019
Loxwood - Horsham YMCA
Southern Combination Premier
LOXWOOD FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
A previous club in the village, Loxwood United, was established in 1920. They played in the West Sussex League, the main highlights being twice winning the Tony Kopp Cup in 1977 and 1988 as well as becoming Division 2 North champions the following year. Generally, though, they played non-competitive football and folded sometime in the first half of the 1990s. The current club, Loxwood FC, was formed in 1997 and joined the West Sussex League. They were highly successful here and moved up to Division 3 of the Sussex County League (step 7 of the non-league pyramid) in 2006. After a couple of seasons, they were promoted to Division 2, building a new stand in 2008 and adding floodlights in 2010 to comply with step 6 ground grading requirements. Loxwood were promoted to the step 5 Sussex County D1 in 2014 after finishing third behind Eastbourne United and Broadbridge Heath. They've played here ever since, though the league was renamed the Southern Combination Premier Division in 2015 to reflect it covering a wider geographical area. Loxwood have had two best-ever finishes of 6th in 2015 and 2017. Prior to the game, Loxwood sat 16th, safe from relegation, but set for their worst finish since being promoted to step 5.
In the FA Cup, Loxwood have twice reached the Preliminary Round - losing to Arundel in 2016 and Banstead Athletic the following year. They've reached the FA Vase 2nd Round on the same number of occasions - losing to Newport IOW in 2014 and Colliers Wood United in 2015. Other local cup wins include the Malcolm Simmonds Memorial Cup in 2005 and the West Sussex Centenary Cup twice. The village of Loxwood is part of the Chichester district and has a population of just under 1,500.
With an extremely limited choice of games this week, fellow hopper Anwar turned down our only possible option at St Andrews. It seemed to be a running trend this season - last year we would have a number of choices in double figures but in recent weeks, the most we had was 4. I still wanted a game though and after seeing that there were no possibles on the train, I did what I usually did and looked south. Due to it being around 30 miles closer, I chose Loxwood over options at Horndean, Corinthian and Bearsted to keep costs down. The day of the game came and it was standard for my day off work - a good nights sleep and a 4-mile walk down to High Wycombe before an afternoon at home. It was nice to be able to download the match programme - though to be in truth, it wasn't up to much - out of 28 pages 20 were adverts of some sort or another and the others were fixed information or statistics. The website and Twitter, on the other hand, were excellent and provided me with all I need to know ahead of tonight's visit. I got a fair bit done in the afternoon before leaving at around 5.15 after a dinner of stir fry. I had a decent enough journey with delays on the M25 and through Guildford, but nothing horrendous. I got to the ground at 7.10 and had to park on the road outside as the car park was full. I stopped in the bar to go to the toilet and noticed that they had a cider that I’d not had before in Cornish Orchards Dry. I don’t normally drink midweek, but the chance to help out a non-league club too was too good to turn down. It was very nice too and good value at £3.50.
Looking at the form book, both teams were on pretty decent form despite their differing. Loxwood had won 3-1 at Arundel on Saturday - their third victory in a row. They were unbeaten since a 6-0 defeat at Pagham on 26th January. Visitors Horsham YMCA had won 3-2 at Little Common on Saturday which again was their third victory in a row and were unbeaten since 12th January when they lost 5-3 at Hassocks. Entry was a reasonable £6 and with the on and off rain, I spent most of the game sheltered in the stand. Both teams had bright spells in a lively opening period but it was the visitors that took the lead on 25 minutes when a free kick was headed home by Dean Brown. It was 2-0 to Horsham YMCA five minutes later when Alex Barbary slotted home a low corner at the far post following poor marking. The game seemed over on 41 minutes when Brown got his second, this time he controlled well, sidestepped his marker and finished with a low shot into the net. Loxwood were given a glimmer of hope on 44 minutes when Sam Karl got away down the left and put in a great cross that left Mark Goldson with a simple finish. The second half saw a much-improved performance by the hosts and they reduced the arrears on 51 minutes when Goldson got his second. A corner was put in and caused chaos with a shot was cleared off the line. It came out to Goldson who blasted home from just inside the area. After the on and off rain of the first half, it was pretty persistent for most of the second with Loxwood giving it a real go. Horsham YMCA had chances on the break and it was a surprise there were no more goals. The visitors' keeper Aaron Jeal was booked for time wasting in the dying embers of the game as his team sought to run down the clock and this resulted in him and some home fans having a slanging match as I left the ground. By the time I got back to my car, it was 9.50 and so I headed for home, listening to Radio 5 on the way where the big news was Real Madrid getting beaten 4-1 at home to Ajax which as amusing as it was, scuppered my bet for the night. I was in at 11.05 after a good journey, getting into bed at 11.20 but finding it hard to drop off to sleep.
The Nest is a very pleasant venue which is surrounded by trees. There is plenty of hard standing as well as two areas of cover. There’s the standard metal ‘arena’ stand and although this is fairly dull, it does the job, holding around 100. There’s also an attractive wooden stand behind the goal for standers, this holds slightly more. The clubhouse houses all the facilities and this is spacious and has a good range of drinks. Food appears to be restricted to rolls and snacks, while a small range of merchandise is available. Overall, I’d recommend a visit to this friendly club and future plans include a new toilet block in the ground and replacing the perimeter fence.