Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Lingfield - The Lair


Lingfield FC
The Lair

Sports Pavillion
Godstone Road
Lingfield
Surrey
RH7 6BT

01342 834269
Official Website
Twitter





Ground Number: 817
Tuesday 13th September 2018
Lingfield 1-3 Horsham YMCA
Peter Bentley Cup QF







LINGFIELD FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1893 and played in local leagues for nearly 90 years after formation. In 1980 they joined the Combined Counties League after being turned down by the Sussex County League due to lack of floodlights. Lingfield generally struggled in their three seasons here, though there was a runners-up spot in 1982, the only season the Combined Counties League split into two regional divisions. In 1983, following the installation of lights, Lingfield joined the Sussex County League. Starting in its second tier, a couple of mid-table finishes were followed up with relegation to Division 3 in 1986. After continuing to struggle, they left the league altogether in 1989, dropping down to the Mid-Sussex League and staying there until 1993 when they rejoined the Sussex County League. They were a lot more successful this time around, finishing as Division 3 runners-up to Bosham in their first season. They'd have to wait until 1998 for promotion when they went up to Division 2 as champions. The next decade or so saw them alternating between Divisions 2 and 3 as they struggled to compete at the higher level. 2007/08 finally saw success in Division 2 as they finished as runners-up to East Grinstead Town. This saw them promoted to Division 1, which sits at step 5 of the non-league pyramid. 2012/13 saw their best-ever finish of 6th but subsequent lowly finishes and reshuffles see them back at step 6. They currently play in the Southern Combination Division 1 (the new name for the Sussex County League). The last three seasons have seen top-half finishes, last time out they finished 3rd and due to a lot of changes around the non-league pyramid, that was good enough for promotion to the Southern Combination Premier and a good start to the season sees them in 9th prior to kick off.

In the FA Cup, Lingfield have reached the 1st Qualifying Round on three occasions, the last of which saw them lose 4-1 at Slough Town in 2012. The 2014/15 season saw the best run in the FA Vase - after beating Cobham, Epsom & Ewell and Chessington & Hook they crashed to a 9-2 3rd Round defeat at Colliers Wood United. A whole host of local cup competitions have been won, the last of which was the Sussex County League Division 3 Cup in 2006. A couple of well-known players have turned out for the club - striker Nicky Forster scored 6 goals in 4 games in 2011 before taking up the managerial reins at Dover Athletic and former Premiership defender Ian Pearce made 4 appearances for Lingfield's veterans team as a forward in 2016. He scored 2 goals in 4 games, all of which resulted in victories for his side. The record attendance at the ground came in 1983 when 1,200 fans turned up to watch a friendly against Brighton, which marked the installation of floodlights at their home. The village of Lingfield has a population of just under 4,500 according to the latest census and is best known for its racecourse, Lingfield Park.



MY VISIT

I was first due to visit Lingfield exactly eight months to this day when they had a league game against Billingshurst. However, after arriving at 7.15, the referee called the game off, despite both teams willing to play. With all of my blog typed, I didn't want to wait long for a revisit but was thwarted by the fact that they didn't use their ground early on in the season, due to the fact that it was shared with cricket. Eventually the time came - regular hopper Anwar was going elsewhere following an expensive week and so I was glad when I saw Lingfield were at home and that the weather was unlikely to pose a problem. The day of the game came and I'd had the best nights sleep in ages. I got ready and walked to town and back, not because I needed anything but because I'd benefit from the exercise of the 8-mile walk and back. The afternoon was spent sorting out old photos and blogs - I've developed a habit of doing this on the anniversary of games after checking out what games I'd previously been to on this day. After a dinner of Jerk chicken and rice, I left around 5.45, hoping for a decent journey. It turned out to be OK and after not unreasonable delays, I was there by 7.20. I paid £6 to get in, but opted against getting a programme as I’m running out of space and in any case, I’d got a picture of the cover online. I want to digitise a lot of my collection in time and would rather have a teamsheet at most games. I got some pictures before the game, before finding a standing spot along the side.




Lingfield, wearing their striking yellow and red kit were the better side early on, despite Horsham YMCA being top of the league. They came close early on with a lob that went narrowly over and took the lead after 15 minutes, Alex Barbary's charged down clearance falling to Connor Wilford who kept his calm and finished from around 10 yards. They stayed on top for a while, but gradually the visitors got back into it. The equaliser came after half an hour, a good run on the overlap from Dean Carden and a low finish from a few yards out at the back post by Alex Barbary, making amends for his earlier half clearance. Horsham then had their good spell, but parity at the break was a fair reflection of proceedings so far. The league leaders stepped up after the break and took the lead on 63 minutes. There were penalty appeals but the referee played the advantage, in the end, a shot on the turn by Jack Hartley put Horsham ahead. It was 3-1 on 84 minutes, this time a high ball was put forward and headed in by Sam Schaaf. Another player looked to have got the final touch to take it over the line which would have been offside, but that wasn't the case and the goal stood. There was even time at the end for the visitors to be denied a 4th, the ball hitting both post and bar before it was cleared off of the line. It was 9.45 before I left and after a good journey home, I arrived back an hour later. I went to bed pretty much straight away, but it took me a while to get to sleep. Video highlights of the game from DEphoto TV are below.




THE GROUND

THE SPORTS PAVILION is a fairly basic venue, but a well kept one. Hardstanding is available down two sides only as the ground is also used for cricket. The original covered area is in front of the clubhouse, this could provide cover for around 80 at a push. The one seated area is down the far end, a decent sized stand holding around 100. Nice touches include coloured goalnets. The clubhouse is where the bar and tea bar are located, on my visit this offered Magners, Holsten and soft drinks on my visit, plus there was a tea bar which I didn’t check out.


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