Thursday, 20 September 2012

Leighton Town - Bell Close




Leighton Town FC
Bell Close
Lake Street
Leighton Buzzard
Bedfordshire
LU7 1RX



01525 373311



Matchday Number: 216
Wednesday 19th September 2012
Aylesbury United 2-0 Hanwell Town
Spartan South Midlands League - Premier Division



My mate Anwar is a keen football fan and groundhopper like me. Normally we go to most Wycombe games, and always meet up for a chat. However we like to do others and last week he suggested that we go to an Aylesbury United game as they were playing at Leighton Town and it would be a new ground. I was too tired from working long hours at work. But this week I had a bit more time off and so we decided to go to the game v Hanwell Town.

On the day I left home at 6.15 and got to Anwar's in Aylesbury by 6.50, the only bit of traffic coming near where I picked him up. As well as the social aspect, the fiver he chipped in for fuel was most welcome, and helped bring the cost of the day down. After a hassle free journey, we got to Leighton around 7.20 and after a few quick pictures of outside, we went in. This was where the costs were not so good, £7 was expensive for this level, but it normally included a programme. Not tonight though, owing to a cock up at the printers. Cheekily, they still charged full whack, but in their defence I later wangled a team sheet from the boardroom, which although not as good, was at least something.

After a walk around the ground and some more pictures, I got some chips for the wallet friendly price of £1 and they were pretty decent, even if there wasn't much choice of sauces. It was soon time for kick off and we picked a place to stand and stared discussing grounds we fancied going to. Possibly coming with us in the future is Ryan Eyre, nothing to do with a dodgy airline, but a good lad banned on false accusations from Wycombe. Corby and Nuneaton were suggestions, and surprisingly it wasn't much extra in terms of miles or journey times to go via Aylesbury and pick Anwar up. Anyway, back to tonight, and below is the report from Aylesbury United's site, as owing to the lack of info I had, I hadn't a clue what was going on.




Off the pitch all the discussion focussed on the resurgent Bring the Ducks Home campaign, but on it Aylesbury put in an excellent all round performance – probably their best in the league this season to date – to beat Hanwell Town 2-0 and complete a very good day for the club.
Kevin Gallen and John Mulholland were both back in the starting lineup, and both had storming games – veteran Gallen showing all his class in attack, whilst Mulholland was the rock at the back United needed and capped his performance with his first goal of the season.
As early as the opening seconds Stacey Field – a constant threat for Hanwell all night – got in behind a floundering defence but couldn’t get proper contact on his attempted lob and the ball ran through for Charlie Fanner in goal.
Having been reprieved from relegation over the summer, Hanwell visited under new management and with a squad reassembled with a number of players signed from Southern League teams, but they visited Bell Close without all-time leading goalscorer Keith Rowlands and struggled without presence in the final third.
The first twenty minutes were all Aylesbury as Field stung the palms of Fanner with a well struck shot having rolled his marker, before Gallen flicked the ball into Paul Edgeworth’s path but his shot was well blocked at close range.
It was Field’s turn to next set up an opening as he scampered away before unselfishly squaring for Gallen who saw his effort charged down, when Field might have been better shooting himself, before Field glanced a header wide just a minute later from Wood’s cross.
A glorious opportunity was spurned by Lee Bircham after 18 minutes whose effort from 4-yards was somehow blocked by Fanner after the keeper had saved Ben Butler’s initial effort. The ball rebounded as far as Ben Baines outside the box who could only let fly with a shot well over the bar.
Bircham was found marauding down the right flank again soon afterwards, and this time he crossed for Jack Wood who couldn’t quite get high enough to get over the ball and only succeeded in heading over.
It took until the half hour mark, but the visitors finally produced their first spell of sustained pressure with a couple of miss-hit shots fired in at the Aylesbury goal, and Lewis Ochoa hit a free-kick straight at Jack Sillitoe – who had been doing his best to keep warm to that point on a chilly night at Bell Close.
The Ducks were still having the game’s meaningful chances, as Edgeworth toe-poked the ball just wide, a moment of magic 25-yard mid-air volley from Gallen nearly beat Fanner but dropped just wide of the target and Field’s early shot was well saved down low by the visiting stopper after he had yet again bamboozled the defence.
As the half drew to a close, Hanwell had their first decent attempt on goal when Douglas Kisuule laid the ball back to Luke Kenny who fired just wide, and it remained goalless at the interval.
Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Hanwell
United came out for the second half determined to build on their good work of the first half, and despite forcing an early corner it was actually Hanwell who should have taken the lead early on when a cross from the right was side footed wide by Pither when he should have buried it.
The miss proved costly and two minutes later United were ahead. A quickly worked move had Baines help the ball through for Field, who sprung the suspect looking offside trap, as he’d been threatening all game, to go clean through and finish with aplomb. 1-0 Aylesbury
Aylesbury were boosted by their goal and a flurry of chances followed, as firstly Gallen latched onto a misplaced defensive header but went for a first time effort which he didn’t get hold of and the ball was gifted back to Fanner.
Seconds later Field burst through again onto a long ball but fired over on the volley, and then Steve Hatch placed a shot just wide from the edge of the box after a corner kick broke down to him.
Field was then guilty of an epic miss when Bircham cleverly set him away just inside his own half, and with no defenders anywhere near catching him and just Fanner to beat he seemed to have too long to think about things, and although he managed to get past the keeper the ball was slotted wide to everyone’s disbelief.
Hanwell tried to respond through Kisuule who thundered in a cross-shot which Sillitoe had to beat away, and Pither wasted a chance by shooting well over having been played in as the visitors broke with numbers.
Both sides made changes as Aylesbury’s Greg Williams was introduced to steady the midfield, and Hanwell made a double change replacing forwards Pither and Kisuule with Molloy and Clements.
United got the second goal their dominance deserved from a corner kick, not the first of which had been cheaply conceded by Hanwell. Paul Edgeworth produced a peach of a delivery which was met by a bullet header from Mulholland that nearly broke the net. 2-0 Aylesbury
Aylesbury’s goal had rarely been threatened before that point, and that continued to be the case after the goal which more than decided the contest for the Ducks.
The best the visitors could muster in the closing stages was a free-kick which was smashed straight into the wall, and a dangerous cross in from Chris Mills – who had re-signed from Chalfont St. Peter earlier in the week – which Sillitoe did well to hold onto at his near post.
By contrast, the Ducks had further chances to extend their lead. Wood slammed a shot wide after great hold up play by Gallen, before Wood’s fabulous raking pass over the defence was latched onto by Field only for Fanner to save well with his legs.
In stoppage time substitute Michal Korpala found Baines with a square pass who fired in a well struck long shot, but again Fanner got down low to make a good save.
As a result of the win Aylesbury climb to second place in the table, and though it might not have been the most convincing of starts to the season they are still well placed in the league. United will be looking to kick on now after two home wins on the bounce – starting at Leverstock Green – familiar ground for many of Aylesbury’s squad – on Saturday.


Overall, despite the pricey entry it was a good night. To be honest it felt like an away game for both sides with no Aylesbury signage or presence around the ground. I can only hope that Aylesbury return to the town soon, as they would attract excellent support and had a smart facility at their old Buckingham Road ground. And I have a soft spot for the club after doing work experience there in 1996, a very friendly club and my most enjoyable job ever. Anyway, after a nice journey home I was back by 10.30 and after a quick look on the net and watching Corrie, I went to bed as I was up early again.

BELL COSE is a fairly decent home for Leighton Town, but really doesn't feel like home for Aylesbury United, despite the fact that they have been sharing there. There is a nice club bar which hasn't really got much in the way of real ales or ciders which is a shame. There is no club shop for either club to my knowledge. The tea bar is good however, with a range of nice food at reasonable prices.

As for the main ground, 2 sides are open to the elements. Firstly behind the goal where the bar is. And then part of the side to the left, although most of it is closed due to the local cricket club sharing the ground. The other side has a small seated stand holding around 150, with the rest open standing. At the other end is a full covered terrace, holding at a guess around 600.

The ground is nearby the town, and that is probably your best bet if you want a good drink, there is a Morrisons with a cafe opposite the ground.













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