The plans for this game were laid several weeks ago. With Leicester's game against Coventry being moved because of some egg chasing, an opportunity for another visit to a new NCEL ground became possible. However, an email from Helen arrived asking me if I fancied checking out City's Carl Pentney at Leamington, where he is currently on loan, changed my destination. Only slight possible dampener on this was his loan was due to run out in the week running up to this game but I happily read that this was now extended to the end of the season. But what neither of us had spotted and was not reported on City's OS was that several thugs, purporting to be Hednesford players, had spent their time in the game against Leamington knocking the living proverbial, of you know what out of Carl, resulting with him in hospital with no recollection of the game. All of this unfolded after we had arrived at The New Windmill Ground.
The ground is basically in the middle of nowhere with fields and chickens surrounding it, and no path as far as we could see on the busy road running outside of it. Inside, we meet up with Paul, a fellow City fan who has also come here today. The entrance brings you into the corner of the ground with the Clubhouse and The Harbury Lane End Stand in front of you. We decide to go round the ground clockwise along the side which contains the Clubshop, various food outlets, two seating stands and the programme shop at the end of the side stand.
There is terracing behind the goal opposite the end we first came in with four steps of terracing which run the whole length of this end. This end is known as The North Bank.
We carry on to the other side where there is another seated stand that looks like a lot of others in the non-league these days.
Helen decamps in this stand as this is where we will watch the game from and sets up to take her own pictures. I head back to the stand at the end where we came in and a transformation has taken place in here. When we arrived it was a nice covered standing area but has now transformed with a colourful array of flags at the back.
I head back to where Helen is sat to find her talking with a guy with a video camera. He is here to film the game for Soccer X TV, where you can watch the highlights of this game (amongst others) if you want to. Don't worry you don't see me, so its safe to watch! He tells me that "Helen knows her football". Of course she does, she had an excellent teacher!
The game got under way with Halesowen having the best of the chances early on but wayward finishing saw no goals. Linda's lad, Mark Bellingham, had the best chance for Leamington but was unable to get the ball past the keeper. We also had some terrible play acting from one of the participants who went down like he had been shot with no one near him and despite receiving treatment for his "injury" did not leave the pitch. Mind you, this may have been a problem seeing as I'm talking about the ref!
As you can see, the players were most concerned about his welfare.
On 33 minutes Halesowen took the lead. A free kick on the right was put over and a header back across the goal was met by ex-Foxes loanee Stefan Moore who put the ball into the net.
This was the only goal of the first half.
The first goal of the second half was not long in coming and Bellingham equalised for The Brakes on 49 minutes when he hooked the ball over his shoulder and the ball dropped out of the keepers reach into the bottom corner of the net. Bellingham then had a goal disallowed before scoring again on 60 minutes. He picked the ball up 30 odd yards out and made for goal, then hit his shot outside the box which beat the keeper. The game looked like it was going Leamington's way at this point but this was changed on 70 minutes with the controversial incident which changed the game. A ball was played forward by Leamington and as Corbett and Halesowen's Hood went for the ball they clashed and there was no doubt Hood was caught by Corbett but it did look a 50-50 ball but to most people's surprise the referee pulled out a red for Corbett. This put Leamington on the back foot and their goal was now leading a charmed life as Halesowen poured forward in search of the equaliser. The game entered the additional time given by the referee and just as it looked as though Leamington might hold out, a deflected shot by McDermott flew past Breeden in the Leamington goal. Halesowen now went looking for a winner but resolute defending kept them out until the final whistle.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day out at Leamington, having some great banter with the home supporters around us during the game. It's a nice ground too, with good facilities and I'm sure you'll get a good welcome if you visit for yourselves. You can also visit the Chesterton Windmill nearby too, but make sure you either choose a drier day than we had or a spare of shoes!
Thanks to Helen again for the action shots.
More pictures of The New Windmill Ground here.
Leamington 2-2 Halesowen Town