I have described Eynsham Park before but for the uninitiated it is a really picturesque setting, almost on the front lawn of Eynsham Hall and pretty much located in a forest clearing. When in the ground you get the feeling that you have stumbled upon a hidden treasure whilst walking in the woods. If you haven't been to this ground I heartily recommend a trip there.
On this particular evening the visitors were Fleet Town, stranded second from bottom of the division and looking doomed despite a good result at the weekend. North Leigh, on the other hand, are still looking at the playoffs as a distinct possibility. So, I was expecting a comfortable home victory.
Fleet can also boast a former Prime Minister amongst their ranks of ex-players. Whilst at university, none other than Clement Atlee played for the club.
The crowd was sparse, officially 49, but I was surprised how many had made the trip from Hampshire on a Tuesday night.
When the game began, I was again surprised. Fleet certainly did not start like a team at the wrong end of the table. In fact, they were the better team for the whole of the first period, passing the ball around very nicely and making a few chances. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to convert their possession into a lead and this, ultimately, proved to be their downfall. North Leigh, I think by their own admission, were not playing as well as they could. However, they did mange to hit the post twice during the first half, showing that there was more to them than was meeting the eye. The sides went in 0-0 at half-time but I am sure that it was home manager Mark Gee who was shouting loudest in the changing rooms.
Whatever was said at half-time, it seemed to make little difference to either team. Fleet continued to have the lion's share of possession and were denied what I thought was a clear penalty early on. To be fair, the linesman was a little closer than I was and did not flag.
The game changed in 7 frantic second half minutes. In the 68th and 71st minutes North Leigh scored two quickfire goals, the second of which was a superb finsih, and knocked the stuffing out of Fleet. Four minutes later they added a third and it was, in effect, game over.
Fleet did manage a consolation in the 80th minute but never really looked like they were going to manage a storming comeback.
It finished 3-1 leaving North Leigh 3 points adrift of the playoffs and Fleet 6 points from safety. It was a very entertaining game with both teams trying to play football. My overall impression was that it was a good advert for football at this level. Worth the admission fee.
North Leigh - @northleigh_fc
Fleet Town - @fcfleettown