Still, not having been to Hanwell before either, it was almost like killing two birds with one stone.
Reynolds Field is situated just off the A40 in Perivale. There is a decent sized car park from which turnstiles take you into the ground itself. All of the main facilities, bar, snack bar, toilets, our housed in a quite impressive two-storey white building in the corner of the ground towards the car park end. On the A40 side of the ground, next to the clubhouse, is the main stand, a covered seating area. There is also covered standing behind the car park end goal and a small covered standing area and toilets opposite the main stand. The dug-outs are also opposite the main stand. The pitch has a slight slope from the car park end towards the Argyle Road end.
I have to say that my first impressions of the people involved at Southall were very good indeed. Quite often my first port of call will be the snack bar to get a cup of tea. I was met by a very cheerful lady who was more than happy to pass the time of day as well as make a very nice cuppa. Next I spoke to a gentleman near the turnstiles, who was clearly a Southall official, just to clear it will them that I could use my GoPro. Again, he was a very cheerful gent (turns out that it was the club secretary) who was perfectly happy to chat about the recent Vase game and football in general. These people deserve recognition for giving such a pleasant public face to their club. First impressions count for a lot.
This was the first meeting of the sides this season. However, last year the two games produced 12 goals and six points for Broadfields. They won 4-3 in the corresponding fixture and 3-2 on their own patch. Despite their head-to-head dominance there was little choose between them in the final league placings, with Broadfields in eleventh and Southall one place and two pints below them. Again, this season, there is not much between the teams. Southall currently have the edge in seventh spot on 50 points. Broadfields are two places worse off and four points adrift of tonight's hosts.
Despite having all of the ball and making one or two pretty good chances, Broadfields could not find the goal that may have been a game changer. Instead, as so often happens, they ended up going behind to a classic sucker punch.
A rare Southall foray into the Broadfields half was repelled but when the ball was hoisted back in it was flicked on allowing Southall striker Ryan Debattista to beat the offside trap and produce a very neat lobbed finish past the stranded Frankie Atwell. 1-0 to Southall against the run of play.
The goal did little to redress the balance of play in the short term though. Broadfields were immediately back on the front foot looking for an equaliser, which was till very much illusive. This allowed Southall to slowly get a foothold and, by the end of the half, they had managed to play themselves back onto a level footing with the away side.
HT Southall 1 Broadfields United 0. The away side, no doubt, feeling very hard done to on the balance of play over the first 45 minutes.
The second half began with Broadfields looking to get the ball to the feet of the aforementioned Smith as much as possible and six minutes into the period, it came to fruition. Smith got the ball out wide on the left and drove into the box, evading a couple of challenges but then being held back as he tried to fashion a shooting opportunity. Despite the protestations of the Southall defence, the offence happened right in front of me and it was a clear pull back on Smith. I think the Southall complaints were borne ore out of the fact that Smith had, on a number of occasions, gone down very easily under challenge and they felt that he was guilty of simulation.
Whatever the case, the referee pointed to the spot and Smith got up, dusted himself down, and smashed the ball home to make it 1-1.
Southall made a change at the back to try to nullify the threat from Smith, who immediately changed flanks. However, the next real talking point was around the Broadfields defence, namely their left-back, rather than the Southall back-line. After getting a silly yellow card for kicking the ball away Aiden Callanan then went in late on a Southall player, a challenge that probably would normally have deserved a second yellow. On this occasion, however, the referee decided not to brandish a card. A minute later the Broadfields bench, clearly knowing that they had got away with one, substituted the player.
Both sides had very good chances to win the game. Southall had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line and, after another mazy Smith run and cross, Southall keeper Michael Power-Simpson made a very good point blank stop.
FT Southall 1 Broadfields United 1. Probably a fair result on the second half showing but Broadfields will probably feel that they deserved more than a point for their display over the 90 minutes. An enjoyable game for the neutral and, as always, great to be out and about watching proper football. Good luck to both sides for the rest of the season. I don't think there will be many places between them come May.
Entry - £6 (including a very professional programme)
Tea - £1
Pies eaten in the dugout - 0
Southall - @fcsouthall
Broadfields United - @broadfieldsutd