Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Arlesey Town - Armadillo Stadium

Arlesey Town FC
Armadillo Stadium
Hitchin Road
SG15 6RS

01462 734504
Official Website

Ground Number: 257
Tuesday 26th March 2013
Arlesey Town 3-0 Redditch United
Southern League Premier Division


After Saturday's restricted choices, games wise, I was looking forward to another game tonight. Again, the choice would be slimmed down, due to the England game being tonight. I was originally planning to go to Solihull Moors v Harrogate Town tonight, but that had been moved to tomorrow. I would have Anwar back as my fellow traveller tonight, after a bit of a break, and was looking forward to the help with the fuel costs and the good company. I had the day off as usual, and spent the day relaxing. I left around 4, planning to go to Aylesbury to get some food shopping and other bits before meeting Anwar at his work at 5.30 in Wingrave. I also had a good pub planned for tonight, the Engineers Arms in Henlow, around 10 minutes from the ground. Everything went according to plan and we were in Henlow at 6.40PM. My app came up trumps again, and this was one of the best pubs yet. With 7 ciders on, 6 of which were new to me, I had plenty of choice. I could only have one though, due to lack of time and me driving and so I opted for a half of Bollhayes Cider, very pleasant at 6%, which is on the lower end of the ABV rate for real cider. Very nice it was too. I also saw that they did various food, including pizzas for a fiver, so I think I will be returning at some point in the future when we are in this neck of the woods. After that, we went in search of food, going to the Henlow Chippy, which had mainly poor reviews on google. It was OK, pretty mediocre, but at least it filled a hole. And service was quick too, which with kick off approaching was essential. Decent chippies down south a few and far between anyway, so it doesn't really come as a surprise.

We got to the ground around 7.30, and on one of the coldest nights of the season, it was not the best time to realise that I had left my coat at home! Luckily my fleece was pretty good, but it was still gonna be a cold night. After paying to get in and getting a programme, there were still only 14 in the ground, with under 10 minutes to go till kick off! The attendance was announced later as 80, which was highly optimistic, unless they were counting the officials and players. We walked round taking pictures of the ground, before getting a much needed hot drink and sitting in the main stand. Both teams form had been stuttering of late, and while Arlesey were in a mid table placing, with a slight chance of the playoffs if they put a good run together, Redditch were struggling at the bottom of the table. They were one point clear of the final relegation place, with Bedworth below them. They had only been relegated to the Southern Premier from the Conference North a couple of seasons ago as well. Arlesey had a former Wycombe player in Zema Abbey as manager, the much travelled striker having an unremarkable 5 game spell at the club under Tony Adams, where he failed to hit the back of the net. He is making a better job of management however, taking Arlesey, one of the smaller clubs in the league to a respectable league position and also on an FA Cup run which resulted in some much welcome revenue, as well as a good showing away to Coventry at the Ricoh Arena, where they played a lot better than the 0-3  scoreline suggested. He is assisted by his brother Nathan, the former Luton Town keeper, who is still playing for the team in a dual role.

The first half was completely dominated by the home side, with Redditch hardly getting a sniff of the action and looking like relegation certainties. Arlesey took the lead on 17 minutes - Hibbert heading in a Roberts corner. And the lead was doubled just before half time when Prosper crossed for Dillion to head past Redditch keeper Bradley Catlow. The Arlesey Twitter confidently predicted game over at this point, as they should have had a lot better. Even though 2-0 can be a dangerous lead, this proved to be the case. Redditch were a little bit better in the second half, having some chances, but Arlesey were still well on top. The home side got their 3rd and the final goal of the night on 54 minutes as Aston Goss got clear of the defence and finished smartly past the keeper. We left the ground just before 9.50 and were back in Aylesbury in around an hour, with me getting home at 11.10. As usual, I didn't want to go to sleep and spent a while looking on various places on the net, before watching that night's Wheeler Dealers, getting to bed at 1am, with the usual effects the next day that having only 3 hours sleep causes.


THE ARMADILLO STADIUM is a neat modern stadium with a capacity of just under 3000. The main stand on the clubhouse side holds around 200 and is raised up, so as to offer a better view. Opposite is covered standing, holding around 500, though part of that has been converted to seating, presumably to comply with ground grading regulations. There is an uncovered terrace to right, whilst the remaining area is hard standing. The warm bar was most welcoming on a cold night, and although there was nothing special on the cider front, it was nicely decorated and had a big screen TV showing the England game. There was no club shop that I could see, though you could get a limited range online. The tea bar was decent, and although I didn't eat anything, the soup and the bovril were spot on and amongst the best value I have had this season.

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