Wednesday 7 September 2022

AFC Stoneham - Stoneham Lane Football Complex

AFC Stoneham
Stoneham Lane
SO16 2PA

07841 696579

Ground Number: 1104
Tuesday 6th September 2022
AFC Stoneham 1-3 North Leigh
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay


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 season 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. In 2019 they were champions and won promotion to the Wessex Premier. Midway through that season, they moved into their new ground. There were two abandoned seasons due to the pandemic but last season they finished a highly credible 5th.

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.


What with having missed out on a trip to West Didsbury & Chorlton on Saturday, owing to National Express's incompetence, I was glad when AFC Stoneham drew at North Leigh. It was my only chance of an FA Cup game at a new ground and although I'd initially planned to save it for the colder weather, the lure of a cup game was too much to resist. I'd have Colin with me again happily and was glad of the company. The only downside was having to register and get a QR Code to enter the ground, a real pain for a one-off visit, although it only took a few minutes. For less tech-savvy people though, it must be a real chore and it makes you wonder what was going on in a particular official's head at the Hampshire FA when they thought that one up. I also registered fellow hopper Colin, as he is not the best with things like that.

The night before, I went to another FA Cup game at Beaconsfield Town. It was either that or a walk up to Penn & Tylers Green for a youth league game. In the end, I opted for the lure of the FA Cup with fellow hoppers Daniel and Karl travelling over from Essex & Suffolk. Sadly, as with most of the FA Cup games I have seen this season, it was a bit dull. The game never really got going until extra time. It was visitors Walton & Hersham who won through in the end. by a 1-0 scoreline. Given that they were the lower league side, having only been recently promoted from the Combined Counties League, up against a step 3 team, they were impressive. They made the vast majority of chances whilst Beaconsfield offered little, content to pass the ball around the back on their 3G pitch and not do much with it.

 The day of the game came and for once, I'd had a good night of sleep, waking just before 9. As it was forecast to rain, I just put yesterday's clothes on for my usual walk down town. However, there was only drizzle. I picked up most of the things I needed before coming home and having a bath and a change of clothes. I relaxed at home in the afternoon and began to think that I'd made the right decision going 3G following a downpour and reports of flooding on the M25. That said, there wasn't too much cover at the ground. I'd picked up a fancy pizza from Lidl for my dinner, reduced to £1.50 and this was a pretty decent meal. I left at 5.15 and headed to Amersham to meet Colin. He was out of work pretty quickly and we were on our way by 5.45. We had a good journey, aside from 15 minutes delay near Heathrow. We were there at 7.15 and I initially parked in the overflow car park up the road although after seeing spaces in the normal car park, I headed back and moved my car down. Even after I'd left him ten minutes ago, Colin was still struggling to fill out the details on his phone, my point proven. It wasn't the best interface but I managed to scan both mine and his barcodes and we were past the first gate. It was then £7 at the turnstile, plus £1 for a well-presented and decent programme.

AFC Stoneham were sat in 7th in the step 5 Wessex Premier, having played three games. They'd won 3-0 at Baffins Milton Rovers and 1-0 at Blackfield & Langley in the league but lost 1-0 at Fareham Town. They'd also beaten Cowes Sports 6-1 in the Hampshire Senior Cup. To get this far they had beaten Bashley 2-1 and Newport IOW 2-0 to get this far before the two sides drew 2-2 in Oxfordshire on Saturday. North Leigh played in the step 3 Southern Premier South, having been promoted last season. They were near the bottom of the league having won 2-0 at Hendon and drawn 3-3 with Yate Town and had lost their other 4 league games. This was their first round in the FA Cup this season. North Leigh had played in the 4th Qualifying Round as recently as 2016 but a win for AFC Stoneham would represent their best ever progress. North Leigh were on fire in the first ten minutes. Jordan Thomas opened the scoring with a cracking curling shot from the edge of the area then Levi Steele headed home an Owen Dore cross. AFC Stoneham pulled a goal back on 23 minutes, a great through ball by Liam Callaghan found Scott Hills who finished with a low shot. Stoneham looked the more likely during the rest of the first half, but the scoreline stayed the same at the break. North Leigh looked to close the game out in the second half and generally did so. There was a slight delay to the game when the ref insisted that we had a white ball as opposed to a yellow one. Stoneham had a late rally and gave it a good go, but the game was decided by a sucker punch at the end. Substitute Jordan Alves found the bottom right-hand corner with a low shot.

No attendance was available at the time of writing this blog, many due to the abysmal FA website that had last season's results only. There was a decent crowd there and we met some friendly Stoneham fans who used to live in the Midlands.  We had a good chat and it was a friendly atmosphere at the ground from supporters to club volunteers.  We left around 9.50 and I dropped Colin off at 11.15. I was home myself by 11.30 and stayed up for half an hour before going to sleep. The traffic was bad going to work the next morning, but once work was out the way, I did this blog the following afternoon.


THE STONEHAM LANE FOOTBALL COMPLEX is an out-of-town facility built more for the player that the spectator. There is a huge amount of parking, both at the ground and a short drive away up the road. A QR code is needed to get in so they have your details, with the system not the best it might be worth saving it to your phone as a picture for ease of access. The food and drink facilities are very basic with the only hot food being pasties and sausage rolls.

It is all very smart and modern though and a great community facility. The ground, a 3G cage essentially, is not bad for what it is. You can walk the whole way round and there's plenty of space for fans. The only cover is the usual metal stand, this holds around 150 and is unique for its purple seats. The club people are friendly and the programme is excellent. It's well worth saving for a faint day with its 3G pitch.

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