It's almost three years since my first, and only, trip to Stratford Fields, a 2-0 defeat to Bedford back in December 2014. The only discernible change to the ground, as far as I could make out, is the welcome addition of a refreshment hut adjacent to the main stand. On my previous visit, drinks were only available back in the clubhouse, which is outside of the stadium confines and on the opposite side to the main, and only, covered area. Speaking of which, the covered stand was by far the most popular part of the ground this evening with the rain hammering down.
Baldock started the game on the front foot and immediately looked to take the game to their opponents. Within two minutes the pace of Josh Coley left the Athletic back-line treading water but his effort was thwarted by a a good save from Nick Bennion in the home goal.
The away side's momentum was halted somewhat by an injury to The Swans Tom McElroy on nine minutes which, after some lengthy treatment, unfortunately ended the midfielder's evening. Buckingham took the opportunity of the break in play to re-group and shortly afterwards had their first real chance of the game, with Chris Stapleton shooting wide.
Two minutes later the entire ground was plunged into darkness as, presumably, the torrential rain temporarily got the better of the electrics. The referee took the players off the pitch and we waited to see what would happen.
I also managed to have a chat with, what may well have been, the only two Baldock supporters at the game. I hope they enjoyed their curry afterwards.
After a ten minute delay, someone had worked some magic and we were able to get the game back under way and it was the home side who were now having a slight edge in the play. On 25 minutes they won a free-kick just outside the box. Home number 8 Jack Menday struck the dead-ball well, but it went just over Jack Farmer's bar. This was a cue for Baldock to get back into their stride. Three minutes later it was their number 8, Lewis Barker, who curled an effort just wide as Baldock began to take a grip on the game.
with 35 minutes gone there was an almighty scramble in the Buckingham penalty area. Twice Baldock managed to get shots off and twice Athletic defenders managed to get their bodies in the way, with some really good defending.
Baldock winder Josh Coley was, time and again, causing havoc down the left. On 39 minutes he got past his marker again but was, once more, stopped by a good save from Bennion.
HT Buckingham Athletic 0 Baldock Town 0. The away side certainly edged the game as far as clear cut chances went. However, Buckingham had a period in the middle of the half where they were the dominant force. A really competitive game which could go either way in the second half.
The Swans, possibly jolted by this let-off, went on the offence themselves. Just before the hour Jack Menday go clear of his marker and hit a shot from the corner of the box which went narrowly wide. Two minutes later, after a bad clearance from Farmer, the keeper had a defender to thank as a Buckingham effort was hacked off the line for a corner.
Not to be outdone, Baldock then set Coley free again. When it looked like he had been pushed slightly wide he managed to square the ball for Robertson but Bennion made another good save to keep it level. This signalled a ten minute period in which Baldock again looked the more likely to get a winner.
Buckingham responded in the 77th minute when Ben Acyuaye cut inside from the right and tried his luck. His initial shot was well blocked by a defender but the ball came straight back to him and his second effort flew just wide. Baldock went straight down the other end and came very close to scoring themselves, being denied by another good Bennion save and a well placed defender being able to clear the rebound off the line.
Inside the last five minutes. Athletic again pressed for a winner and it was Acquaye again, cutting in from the right and trying his luck only to be denied by a save from Farmer. This was followed by another scramble in the Baldock box, culminating in Menday firing wide of the mark.
FT Buckingham Athletic 0 Baldock Town 0. Both sides went went for the win and played some good football in atrocious conditions. In the end a draw was probably a fair result.
All this leads to the blog title, 180. It's not a darts reference. Instead it points to the longest goal-less streak I have had since I started this blog, 180 minutes. Saturday's (non-blogged) 0-0 draw between Stourbridge and Witton Albion, followed by this evening's game. That's put my cost per goal ratio up a bit.
Buckingham Athletic: Bennion (c), Pike, Kelsey, Hassell, Marsden, Oye, Acquaye, Menday, Stapleton, McElroy, Josh Hooper. Subs: Busby, Skelton, Patrick Hooper, Chew
Baldock Town: Farmer (c), Furness, Coppin, Lee, Kenna, Mordecai, Coley, Lewis Barker, Holland, Alfie Barker, Robertson. Subs: Decker, Gregson, Gilbert, Foley, Bull
Ground Number: A return visit