Anstey Nomads are far from nomadic. They have played their home games at Cropston Road since their formation in 1946. Situated to the North West of Leicester, Anstey is a large village that is separated from Leicester by the city's Western bypass and Rothey Brook - which I believe has been a contributor to more than one postponement at Cropston Road. The ground is yet another fine example of a non-league stadium, much like nearby Quorn and Barrow Town. There really must be something in the water around Leicesterhsire that contributes to excellent non-league stadiums.
The ground is very neat and tidy, benefiting from what looks like fairly new red and white fencing around the playing area. There is a flagpole in each corner bearing the club insignia. Parking within the stadium complex is quite limited, although I found a spot, but there is also a car park adjacent to the ground which is only a stones throw from the turnstiles. The facilities are all on the car park side of the ground. A nicely appointed clubhouse which has a small covered seating area directly in front of it. On the opposite side of the ground there is a low, covered standing area which spans almost half of the ground at the Cropston Road end. Next to this are the team dugouts.
There were no programmes on sale as far as I could see. However, it was very easy to get a team sheet (complete with Sileby Rangers history on the reverse) from the Nomads media man. Much as I like to collect a programme, having the team sheets is just as useful, especially if it is a first visit to a ground.
As far as I can tell, this would be the first competitive meeting between the sides (at least in major competitions). There is no FA Vase or FA Cup history between them and the teams have, until this season, progressed through different league structures, Sileby solely in the United Counties League and Nomads through the Leicestershire Senior League and East Midlands Counties. Both sides were approaching the game from fairly string league positions. In the case of Anstey, a very strong league position. Rangers, in sixth, sat 15 points adrift of leaders Lutterworth Town. Nomads, however, sat second, four points behind the leaders but with two games in hand.
Rangers' league form had been very up and down coming into this game. In the last five they had alternated between winning and losing, with their last outing being a 4-1 victory over Raunds Town. Nomads, up until last week, had won five on the bounce scoring 19 and conceding just 4. However, they did come unstuck at Bugbrooke last Saturday, going down 2-1 their first league defeat since October.
The first thing I noticed after kick-off was that as soon as the Anstey players got more than about 40 yards away it was almost impossible to pick out their black numbers on their red shirts. Maybe that was more down to my ageing eyes rather than anything else?
Nomads started the brighter of the two and the game was just a few minutes old when Cory Armeni produced the first meaningful attempt at goal, flashing a drive just wide of the Sileby goal. We had a small amount of controversy after 15 minutes when Anstery striker James Hicks burst into the box and, after a collision with both a defender and the goalkeeper which produced penalty shouts from the home side, rolled the ball against the post and out of play. The referee was unmoved by the claims for a foul and signalled a goal-kick.
However, Anstey were not to be denied for much longer and, after 20 minutes, they took the lead with a low, driven effort from just outside the box from Ash Day. 1-0.
Seven minutes later Rangers' defence was caught out by a quickly taken free-kick which allowed James Hicks to get in behind the defence and slide the ball home for 2-0.
It was a case of men against boys at this stage. Rangers just were not competing anywhere on the pitch. Anstey were quicker to the ball and sharper of mind. It was, therefore, no real surprise when after 33 minutes the home side extended their lead. This time I actually managed to track the goal-scorer after the goal and see his number as they lined up for the restart. Corey Armeni, who had fired off the opening salvo in the first couple of minutes, with a another low effort past Riley's outstretched fingers. 3-0.
Once again the goal came about through Rangers just not closing the Nomads player down.
There was still enough time for the Sileby coach, during a break in play, to administer some stinging words to his players. A precursor to a much greater rant at half-time, no doubt.
HT Anstey Nomads 3 Northampton Sileby Rangers 0. There really has been only one team in the first half. Rangers just haven't turned up. Nomads have been better all over the pitch and may be disappointed to only be three to the good.
Nice to meet @OllyHFR at half-time. Olly is a Hopeless Football Romantic or at least a Senior Editor for HFR. Click on the link to take a look at their website if you get a chance.
Nomads for their part were probably quite content to sit on their three goal lead, although I think that Rangers had actually raised their standard enough to be preventing Anstey from increasing their tally. If Rangers had applied themselves in the same way during the first half we may well have had a much different game.
As it was, Nomads comfortably saw out the game with no further scoring from either team.
FT Anstey Nomads 3 Northampton Sileby Rangers 0. The game was won and lost in the first half. Nomads were good, Rangers were poor. In the second half it was much more of a 50/50 competition but Rangers couldn't find an early goal that may have shaken the game up. Anstey move to within a point of Lutterworth with a game in hand.
Anstey Nomads: Smith, Ncube, Taylor, Preston (c), Wolfe, Gough, Matwasa, Chitiza, Hicks, Armeni, Day. Subs: McLean, Marshall, Harris, Hartopp, Blount
Northampton Sileby Rangers: Riley, Sweeney, Mocanu, Liburd, Harris, Herbert, Birkelund, Archer, Maisiri, Duffy, Eales. Subs: Halliday, Freeman, Kahan, Westbury
Ground Number: 177