The Recreation Ground, home of Pickering Town had long been on my list of grounds to visit, so when I saw they were hosting South Shields in the F. A. Cup Extra Preliminary Round, I took the opportunity to make the visit.
Pickering play in the NCEL Premier whilst their visitors play their football in the Northern League Division One. Both sides were coming into the game on the back of two defeats and I was interested to see how Pickering would cope with their visitors having already seen them in pre-season away to Northallerton where they lost 1-0.
After having spent an enjoyable morning in one of favourite places, Sandsend, we headed over the North Yorkshire Moors to Pickering. The ground was easy to find and we parked up with a surprising number of cars already in the car park. These were not here for the game though, but a dog show on the pitch behind the ground.
As we entered we were greeted by Pickering officials who pointed us in the direction of the Clubhouse with the promise of the “Leeds on the telly”. However I made my usual amble around the ground to get my pictures first. The first thing you notice of course is the fact the ground is shared with Pickering Cricket Club and there is no stand opposite you as you enter. Instead, there was just a rope, beyond which was the cricket square. Apparently there is a fence put up once the cricket season is over but today it was still open as it had not yet finished. We head clockwise round the ground and the side we have entered has a two step hard standing leading to an elevated stand with three rows of seating sitting astride the half way line.
The dug outs sit either side of this stand meaning that the two benches are well apart during games. The hard standing continues along the side after the stand, leading you to the stand that is situated in the first third of the end. This stand has four rows of red seats with no supports to obstruct your view.
Beyond the stand there is more hard standing and several buildings that appear to belong to the cricket club. This then leads to the far side where the cricket square is situated but we decide not to walk down this side and so head back the way we came. There is a covered terrace at the end we came in which runs half way down the end and beyond this there is the Clubhouse and dressing rooms complex.
We go in and have a coffee. The Clubhouse has a bar and kitchen serving hot drinks and food. There are a number of South Shields fans in here, nearly all of them wearing shirts.
We go back outside and take up a seat in the stand behind the far goal and we see how big a slope there is running down from the cricket pitch touchline. There is a minutes silence before kick off for a former Pickering player, Joe Greening who was tragically killed earlier in the month.
From the kick off Shields are on the attack and a shot from Burnell from distance just goes over the bar. On 10 minutes Wightman is fouled from by a Pickering defender from behind in the box and a penalty is awarded. Lee Scoggins stepped and calmly put the ball into the back of the net. The goal does not really change anything and it is still Shields pressing forward while Pickering struggle to get anything going. Shields extend their lead on 30 minutes when Scroggins runs onto a great through ball and fires a great shot from the edge of the box past Kevin Martin in the Pickering goal. No further score sees the visitors go in 2-0 up at half time.
The South Shields fans join us at our end for the second half and I have to say what brilliant fans they are, really getting behind their team and the banter flying around was superb. Not so sure about the horn though! The second half continues as the first finished, with Shields on the attack. Scroggins finds himself on a one on one with the keeper but puts his shot just wide of the post. A minute later though he completed his hat trick. A lovely cross from the right was met with an equally good header to make it
3-0. This actually inspires Pickering and they almost reply a couple of minutes later when a good header from Andy Park is superbly saved by Carmichael in the Shields goal. But they do pull one back on 55 minutes when Tom Adams hits it from just outside the box and ends up in the corner of the net somehow avoiding everyone in the crowded box. Pickering are in the ascendancy now and they create more chances but Carmichael is equal to everything thrown at him. The game turns back in Shields’ favour after Chris Wynne is brought on. He has three great headers, but two great saves from Martin and a thumping header off the bar prevents him from scoring. On 90 minutes Wynne gets the goal his performance deserves when he cuts in from the right and puts a good shot into the corner of the goal. There were further chances even at this late stage of the game but there was no further score. Now as you know, I do not usually give man of the match awards but today that accolade has to be given to Lee Scroggins, but not just because of the hat trick. He totally ran the game and Pickering never got to grips with him. Also a special word for the South Shields fans. Their support was terrific and their good humour is to be commended. One of them asked the Pickering keeper if he was enjoying his day (this when his was losing 4-1), and his reply was “It would have been an awful day if it wasn’t for the banter with you guys”. Nicely summed up.
More pictures of the Recreation Ground here.
Pickering Town 1-4 South Shields