Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Team Solent - Test Park Sports Ground



Team Solent FC
Test Park Sports Ground
Lower Brownhill Road
Southampton
Hampshire
SO16 9QZ









Ground Number: 714
Monday 28th August 2017
Team Solent 0-0 Bournemouth
Wessex League Premier





TEAM SOLENT FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

Team Solent was formed in 2005 and are affiliated to the local Southampton Solent University. After starting out in the Southampton League, they were founder members of the Hampshire League in 2007 and enjoyed four successful seasons here, finishing as runners-up in 2010 to Colden Common and 2011 to Liphook United. That year they took the step up to the Wessex League, spending four seasons in Division 1, prior to becoming champions in 2015. Since promotion to the Wessex Premier, they've had two 7th placed finishes. Despite this, they team have enjoyed a torrid start to the current season, losing all six games so far and sitting rock-bottom of the league.

Team Solent has not had a huge amount of success in the FA Cup with their sole victory in 5 seasons coming when they beat Lydney Town 6-0 in 2016, prior to losing 4-1 at Cadbury Heath in the Preliminary Round. The FA Vase campaign last season saw an incredible run with the students beating Hythe & Dibden, Hallen, Helston Athletic, Shaftesbury Town, Bodmin Town and Croydon prior to a 5-2 defeat to eventual winners and Northern League Champions South Shields in the 5th Round. Locally, Team Solent have won the Hampshire Premier League Cup twice, the Southampton Senior Cup four times and the Wessex League Cup in 2016 as they beat Newport IOW 1-0 in the final thanks to a Tony Adekunle goal. 




MY VISIT


At the start of this season, I knew that game 27 of this season would be my 2000th of all time. That figure was a bit of a rough guess, having not recorded the multiple games I'd seen watching my brother play when we were younger, games for my school team or the occasional Sunday league game. However, I'd only got around to keeping records around five years ago and with only details of certain games online, this was the figure I'd decided to go with. It looked like I was going to have to wait for the landmark, with very little choice of evening kick offs on Bank Holiday Monday. Team Solent proved to be real stars by being the only late kick off in the UK at a ground I'd not been to. Although it was only 10 miles closer to my afternoon game at Shoreham than it was to home, I decided to go and get it done, therefore giving myself a nice bank holiday treble.

From the game at Shoreham, I drove across to Southampton. As I'd been warned that the catering facilities were poor, I drove to the next town, Shirley, for dinner. Arriving at 6.20, I parked in Sainsbury's, getting some Irn Bru from Iceland and some chicken strips and chips from Roosters Piri Piri. After finishing my dinner, it was 7, so I drove the 10 minutes to the ground. I spent 10 minutes looking at before going in. As there was a multitude of hoppers and only 7 programmes printed, I and others missed out, although it didn't bother me that much as I'm fast running out of storage space anyway. I caught up online and went around taking pictures of the ground while I waited for kick off.



I stood on the far side, glad that it was cooler than earlier. Team Solent might have lost all their games so far but they didn't show it as they started the game well, defending solidly and attacking regularly. Though the build up play was very good, the final finish was lacking. They were restricting Bournemouth to chances on the break and limited ones at that but you felt that if they did get their noses in front, the hosts' confidence would drop and they'd find it hard to come back. At half time though, it was still scoreless, though it had been one of the better 0-0 halves that I'd seen. Both sides continued to have chances and Solent might even have had a penalty but the referee adjudged that the Bournemouth keeper Nick Thomas had not felled the onrushing home striker. Bournemouth also hit the bar with 10 minutes to go as both sides got closer and closer in the latter stages. The visitors were on top by now but were fortunate when Team Solent broke. Two players brought down Silvano Obeng simultaneously as he got away from the defence but just one got booked despite them being the last men. The free kick was wasted and Bournemouth broke quickly which led to another free kick for a cynical trip by a Team Solent defender. This time the effort was a lot better and it drew a good save from home keeper James O'Rourke. Moments later the final whistle blew and Team Solent had their first point of the season.

A goalless draw had not been what I would have wanted to mark my 2000th game but in truth, it had been an excellent contest and the best game of the day. Both of tonight's sides reminded me of Bemerton Heath Harlequins from the same division in that they created plenty but just couldn't finish. As a result, better teams will pick them off and they will struggle despite playing some great stuff. I'd been cheering Team Solent on as I'd like to have seen them pick up a rare win, especially as they offered my only option for a late kickoff. It was quite late on by the time I left, around 9.50 and as per usual, the Two Mikes podcast kept me company on the way home. A slow spot on the M3 was hit as soon as I got on there and due to problems further up I was sent via the A34 which also had some slow drivers. After better progress up the M4 and coming home via Maidenhead and Marlow, I got in at 11.30. It had been a good day and it had worked out well when you split the mileage and fuel costs across the three games. I went to bed within 20 minutes, but it took me ages to get to sleep. As a result, I was knackered the following morning as I woke at 4 am for work - stupidly I'd volunteered to work my day off before I knew I had a late game. I, therefore, decided not to go to Desborough the following evening, instead, my next game will either be at Wisbech St Mary on Friday or more likely on Saturday for Wycombe v Forest Green Rovers.



THE GROUND

TEST PARK is situated in the middle of nowhere near the M27 motorway and as a result, has no food or drink options. It's a real shame as there is no bar and the food and drink are limited to once machine selling fancy coffees at over two quid a paper cup and another machine selling weird stuff like nut and seed mixes. It's not really set up for football fans, as the meagre print run of 7 programmes testifies.

The ground itself, while not being the greatest is very well kept with well-cut grass behind the standing areas and wooden fences giving a pleasant surround. The stands may be metal ones, but they are of an interesting design, at least the two seated ones that hold around 50 fans each are. There's another covered area for those who wish to stand and this holds around another 50, whilst the rest of the ground is open to the elements.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Tidy and pleasant ground, but the extras are sadly lacking (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Middle of nowhere, but decent amount of parking (4)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Decent enough (6)

4: Value for money
£5 at step 5 is always good value (8)

5: Social Media & Website
Bit lacking, semi-regular updates (4)

6: Programme
Sold Out (-)

7: Game entertainment
A good contest for a 0-0, best game of the day (7)

8: Tea Bar
A couple of machines (2)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
None (-)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 70: 37
AVERAGE SCORE 5.3

GROUND PHOTOS

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