Wednesday, 4 September 2019

AFC Stoneham - Chestnut Avenue



AFC Stoneham
The HP Arena
Chestnut Avenue
Eastleigh
Hampshire
SO50 9PF

023 8027 1755







Ground Number: 876
Tuesday 3rd September 2019
AFC Stoneham 1-3 Winchester City
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay



AFC STONEHAM - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was established in 1919 at the end of the First World War by demobilised soldiers. They were originally known as Royal Engineers (Ordnance Survey Office) and were renamed Ordnance Survey in 1929, Stoneham for the 2006/07 and AFC Stoneham from 2007 onwards. They started out in local leagues such as the Hampshire League, Southampton Senior League and Southampton Junior League. In 2004, they joined the newly-formed Wessex League, albeit in the step 7 Division 3. They moved across to the newly-formed Hampshire Premier League in 2007, winning the Premier Division at the first attempt. However, they didn't make the step up to step 6 until 2015 after a 4th place finish in the Hampshire Premier League - Senior Division. Since making the step up to the Wessex D1, AFC Stoneham have done well, always finishing comfortably in the top half. Last season they were champions and won promotion to the Wessex Premier. They've made a steady start to life at step 5, sitting in the lower half of the table, but with games in hand on other teams. They are set to move into their new ground in the next month or so which will allow them to move further up the pyramid, should on-field results go well.

This is only AFC Stoneham's second campaign in the FA Cup - last season they beat AFC Portchester (after a replay) and Westfield, prior to a 7-0 defeat to Cirencester Town in the 1st Qualifying Round. In the FA Vase, they've reached the 1st Round twice, losing to Shaftesbury in 2016 and Bodmin Town in 2018. Local cup wins include the Hampshire Premier League Cup in 2010 & 2015, the Southampton Senior Cup in 2012 and 2013 and the Southampton Junior B Cup in 1937. The club is based in Eastleigh, population just over 28,000 and home of the Conference National club of the same name. Famous people from the town include former footballer Wade Elliott and Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills.



MY VISIT

I'd be on my own once more for this week, as fellow hopper Anwar was off to watch his local side, Aylesbury in an FA Vase replay. To be fair, the list of games available was pretty small and all options were a fair distance away. Maybe, if it was a normal week, I'd opt for a night in, especially as I'd had an expensive Saturday. The expedition had cost me over £40 including travel, lunch and ticket and didn't even include my pub crawl or dinner when I got home. But with it being an attractive FA Cup game against Winchester City and AFC Stoneham due to move ground soon, I decided to go for it. The day of the game came and I actually had a decent night's sleep for once, even if I did wake up at my normal work time and go back to sleep until 8. It was my usual Tuesday morning walk down town where I got a pizza for lunch before coming home with my Dad. The afternoon was spent killing time and looking at possible future games for this month. In the end, I left just after 4.30 to hopefully allow enough time to get down there and have something to eat beforehand. The journey down was good and I navigated to Sainsbury’s as I had a voucher for 10p off a litre of petrol. However, when I got there, there was no petrol station, despite the website saying there was. I ended up going into the store to ask, having to spend a fiver to cover the car park charge. At least I got some chicken for dinner. From there, it was a few miles to the ground, though there was confusion when my sat nav directed me into a fenced-off housing estate. It turned out I should have forked off left when going in, something I realised when I saw other cars doing the same. When I got there though, I was given a warm welcome and entry was excellent value - £6 including a programme. The ground had a bit of character, but very much the look of somewhere that was being moved out of soon, with entrances changed to make way for the houses that were funding their new home.



The hosts had enjoyed a steady start to life at step 5 and would be bidding to reach the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Road for the second season in a row. To get this far, they'd won 2-0 at Brockenhurst and drawn the original tie 1-1 at Winchester. In the league, all their games had been at home and had included victories over Portland United (4-1) and Lymington Town (1-0) as well as a defeat to Christchurch (0-1). In other cups, AFC Stoneham had enjoyed great results, winning 5-0 at Ringwood Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup and  8-0 against Alton in the Wessex League Cup. Their latest game on Saturday had seen a disappointing 1-0 reverse at Petersfield Town in the FA Vase. Winchester City had a long history in the FA Cup and last season had their best ever run, reaching the 4th Qualifying Round before losing 4-1 at Torquay United. They were unbeaten so far this season, having beaten Melksham Town (3-0) and AFC Totton (2-1) as well as drawing against Bristol Manor Farm (3-3) and Basingstoke Town (1-1).



The game started with a bang as Winchester City's Rob Carr was sent off in the opening five minutes. The referee was claiming deliberate use of the elbow, but to me, it seemed accidental. It appeared as if the referee was reacting to the injury to Aaron Dunne, which took a while to treat, as opposed to the challenge. Sadly, the player had to come off but looks to be recovering well. However, despite having a man less, the visitors were making the better chances. They took the lead on 14 minutes when Olly Balmer's clever through ball found Oli Bailey who tapped the ball beyond the onrushing keeper and then into the empty net to give his side the lead. Winchester continued to look the better side but the hosts did have plenty of possession. Around five minutes before half time, AFC Stoneham had their first real chance of the game, a glancing header that went just wide following a well-delivered corner. Winchester City doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, a drilled shot by Jamie Barron from around the penalty spot that found the bottom left-hand corner after a deflection. The referee was ruling the game with a rod of iron. He booked the AFC Stoneham bench for their protests and later told a Winchester City player to 'respect his f*cking decision' despite me hearing no bad language from the players towards the ref. The first real chance of the second half came on 59 minutes, AFC Stoneham forcing the Winchester keeper to tip the ball over the bar, following a long-range shot. Four minutes later, they got their goal, another well-delivered corner was powerfully headed home by Matt Palmer with the visiting keeper getting hands to it, but unable to prevent it crossing the line. On 74 minutes, AFC Stoneham came close again, but any potential goal would have been ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper. Around ten minutes from time, the visitors came close to sealing the game but the shot was palmed around the post. They did get their third on 90 minutes, a lovely run and layoff by Jamie Barron found Ollie Griggs who netted from six yards out. I left at 9.45 and had a good journey home, aside from a few slow bits due to lane closures. I was in by 11.15 and was in bed pretty quickly, but it took me ages to fall asleep and so I was a bit sleepy when I awoke for work at 4 am the following morning.




THE GROUND


CHESTNUT AVENUE is a decent ground for the level, but will soon be no more. The ground has a fair bit of character, but only one stand. This sits on the halfway line and holds around 150 on wooden benches. There's also a small area of covered flat standing to the side of this, but the rest of the ground is open. I didn't see a bar at the ground, but there is a decent looking tea hut which sold a good range of well-priced food. The ground appeared a fair way from any alternative option, but this friendly club is well worth a visit before the ground goes.

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