Saffron Dynamo play at Cambridge Road on the outskirts of the village of Cosby, some 5 miles South-West of Leicester, adjacent to Whetstone Golf Club. The reasonably large car park runs alongside Cambridge Road and leads to a facility block that houses the clubhouse, players & officials areas, bar (staffed by a very pleasant, friendly gentleman) and the snack bar. As the ground is shared with the cricket club, the clubhouse is a short walk from the football pitch, separated by the cricket pitch. The football ground itself only has two side accessible to the viewing public, behind the goal on the golf course side and on the far side of the ground, opposite Cambridge Road, where the dugouts and the small covered standing area are situated.
This is Saffron's first season at Step 6, having been promoted as runners-up to Rugby Borough from last season's Leicestershire Senior League. They have made a reasonable start to life at this level and, before kick-off, were comfortably mid-table with 29 points. Harrowby, on the back of two pretty successful seasons, finishing 5th and 7th respectively, had also started well again and were sitting in 7th spot with 38 points. This game would be the first league meeting between the teams.
Both sides began the game with some intensity, clearly stating their respective intent not to play for a point.
Just after the half hour mark Harrowby's goalkeeper Yinka Adebowale had to race off his line to meet a long ball. He got to the ball first but was then flattened by the challenge of the onrushing attacker. There didn't seem to be anything malicious in the collision but the attacking player certainly made no attempt to avoid the clash. Even the locals were shocked that the referee didn't show a yellow card, but in the end there was not even a talking to administered. To be fair to the referee this was in keeping with the sort of leniency he showed throughout the game, letting it flow as much as possible, even when he probably should have pulled players up for one o=r two naughty challenges.
There then followed a long delay whilst the physio attended to the keeper. With no reserve stopper on the bench, Harrowby were keen to keep Adebowale on the field, which they eventually managed although the stopper was clearly not very mobile and still in some pain.
After the restart Saffron, as you would expect, showed some urgency to test out the keeper's agility but struggled to muster a shooting opportunity. That was until around the 41st minutes (difficult to say exactly due to the prolonged stoppage) when Mark Foster latched onto a through ball and steered the ball past the stranded keeper and into the far corner. 1-0.
HT Saffron Dynamo 1 Harrowby United 0. Dynamo just about edged a tight half. Harrowby will now have to play the remainder of the game with either an injured keeper, with severely restricted mobility, or put an outfield player in goal.
The biggest threat that Harrowby faced was when their keeper did have the ball in his hands because he was entirely incapable of kicking it clear. Therefore, he had to rely upon throwing the ball out. The Saffron forwards were cutting out his nearest options so a number of times he was forced to throw the ball towards a midfielder giving the home players ample time to cut out the pass.
Whilst Harrowby huffed and puffed looking for an equaliser, it wasn't until the final 10 minutes that they really pushed the home side backwards. Even then it was not a complete siege. Saffron's keeper Phillips did have to pull off one particularly good save from a far post header but, in the main, his goal didn't come under a huge threat.
FT Saffron Dynamo 1 Harrowby United 0. A good three points for Saffron in what was certainly not the most entertaining game of football that I have seen. Having said that, it was good to be back on the road again.
Saffron Dynamo: Phillips, Davies, Noble, Kilby, Tye(c), Lee, Essex, Reaney, Foster, Johnson, J.Brown. Subs: M.Brown, Henry, Butler, Fox, El Hachimi
Harrowby United: Adebowale, Rigby, Thompson, Yenibertiz, Warman, Stubbs(c), John, Hales, Price, Showler, Sylla. Subs: Moulds, Kdapo, Amponsen, Thorpe, McGhee
Ground Number: 226