Wednesday, 28 December 2016
It's Boxing Day and I'm heading off to see a top of the table local derby in the 2nd Division of the Midlands Football League. It's taking place at Fairfield Villa (2nd place) against the visitors of Droitwich Spa (3rd place).
Fairfield is a village situated a few miles North West of Bromsgrove. They play at the local recreation ground there. I am travelling with a group of 3 Droitwich supporters. The driver is Ben Lloyd, the club website and programme editor, with Andy and Luke, who he picks up in Fernhill Heath and Droitwich respectively. We make it to the club by 11:00am, an hour before kick-off. The ground is situated at the back of a row of houses on the Stourbridge Road (B4091). A small drive leads up to the car park. The one end of the pitch adjoins this and the club house/changing rooms are situated in the bottom left corner. Further along the left are the 2 dug-outs. The pitch slopes down after the half way line and the opposite end is bordered by woodland. The right side is bordered by a children's play area and Fairfield First School.
After some refreshments in the bar, we go outside just before kick-off. Fairfield are in their home strip of red shirts with black shorts and red socks. Droitwich are in their away strip of white shirts, black shorts and socks.
(Droitwich's James Lennon, battles for possession with the Fairfield defence)
Although it's a sunny day, there is a chill westerly wind behind my back which is blowing down the slope (the end that Fairfield are playing toward). Also the pitch looks a bit bobbly and not really conducive for flowing football.
So it proves in a scrappy, competitive first-half, probably typical of a local derby.
The home side create a chance in the 21st minute with a good attack down the right but Spa's keeper, Matt Oliver, saves the shot down to his left.
In the 32nd minute, Droitwich's Nick Seabourne collides with the home keeper, Chris Hancox, who takes most of the impact with his left shoulder.
Hancox carries on after some treatment but is clearly still in discomfort. Seabourne is booked but I don't know if he could have avoided the collision.
Oliver makes another good save from the Fairfield No.11 just before half-time to preserve their clean sheet. When the teams troop off the field, it looks as if this is the kind of game that will be settled by a single goal.
Fairfield Villa were formed way back in 1902, became members of the Bromsgrove League and won it in their first season. They moved to their current ground in 1959 and joined the Midland Combination in 1985 after years of success in the Bromsgrove and then Kidderminster Leagues.
They are a club who regularly finish in the top 6 plus they have won the President's Cup twice and the Worcestershire Junior Cup once (losing finalists, 6 times).
During the interval while enjoying a coffee in the club house, the guy serving behind the bar tells me that Fairfield have 5 first team regulars out today and their keeper is the reserve.
When I go back outside just as the teams are going back on the pitch I soon realise that Chris Hancox has been taken off and has been replaced in goal by an outfield player.
This seems to inspire Droitwich to up their game and with the wind behind them, they look more dangerous now.
In the 56th minute the Spa left back, Jamie Smith's free kick is parried by the keeper, it falls to Seabourne but he manages to shoot against the post from close in.
Just 4 minutes later, Crowther goes close when he places the ball over the bar after being set up with a lay off from No.9, James Lemon. Then another Spa defender ,Matty Hunt, then sees his header pushed over the bar by the substitute keeper, after a period of sustained pressure by the visitors.
Fairfield still look dangerous on the break and in the 81st minute, their No.9 Connor Collins goes on a determined long run to the right of the Droitwich goal and his cross shot goes wide of the far post.
2 minutes later though, Droitwich score the winner when their Man of the Match, Jamie Smith, crosses in to the box for substitute, Macaulay Finch to head in to the far corner of the net.
Lemon almost doubles the lead for Droitwich right at the end of normal time but his shot hits the post after he has rounded the keeper.
Droitwich have won and so they swap league places with their old rivals and have also done the league double over them too. I am sure though that Fairfield will be competing with Droitwich all the way for the rest of this season.
Match attendance: 50
Match entrance fee: free
Match programme: none available
Match entertainment: 6/10