Stockbridge FC moved to the Recreation Ground, on the Eastern edge of Stockbridge, in 1978 after playing on various fields around the perimeter of the town. The ground is accessed off the High Street via a short service road and sits parallel to the A30. There is limited parking on grass alongside the pitch but also plenty of free parking on High Street with just a short walk to the ground. The access road opens out onto a small area of tarmac behind one of the goals. Immediately to the left is a clubhouse and separate changing areas. On the left hand side of the pitch, where cars are directed to, there is a small covered seating area (currently cordoned off) and the two dugouts. There is hard standing around three sides of the ground with just the area behind the far goal not accessible. The pitch slopes a little across from the dugout side towards the A30 side.
The club has had a fair amount of success in local leagues and cups including the North Hants Senior League title in 1988, three North Hants Senior Cup wins and a North Hants League Cup trophy in 1991. Their best league position came in the 2006-7 season when they were placed 7th in the Wessex Division One table.
Liss Athletic were founded in 1962 and, although they have not got a list of honours to rival Stockbridge, they can lay claim to a Hampshire League Division Two title in 1995. Their best league performance came in the 2005-06 season when they attained a top five finish in the Wessex League Division Two table.
In recent years there have been plenty of goals in matches involving these two sides. Last season they only met once with Stockbridge edging a 7 goal game at Liss. In the 2019-20 season they did manage to play twice, Liss winning 2-1 at home but receiving an 8-2 hammering at the Recreation Ground. The season before that Stockbridge did the double, winning 3-2 at home and 4-3 at Liss. In the 2017-18 season it was Liss who completed the double 3-1 at home and 3-2 in Stockbridge. In all, there have been 41 goals in the last 7 meetings, almost an average of 6 per game. This season Stockbridge have started very well winning their opening three games before drawing at home with Fleetlands and then suffering their first defeat at Moneyfields Reserves last time out. They are, however, unbeaten at home. Top scorer so far is captain Reece Daly with 3 (1 penalty). Liss have won two and lost three of their opening five games, with both victories coming on the road, 4-2 at Winchester Castle and 3-2 3-2 at Denmead. They have suffered two consecutive setbacks in their last two games, conceding four both times. Their captain, Elliott Harrison, is not only their top scorer but is also joint league top scorer with 6 so far.
The omens were not good for Liss even before kick-off when centre-half George Davy had to dash behind the goal during warm-up to throw up, and things were to get even worse for the big defender after only 5 minutes when he was judged to have handled a driven cross in the area. The ball definitely struck his hand but was hit quite hard from a short distance away, so there was little he could do. However, under current rules, there was little alternative for the referee than to point to the spot. Top scorer Reece Daly stepped up and slotted home to make it 1-0.
This set the tone for the first-half. Stockbridge were sharper in every department, quicker to the ball, snappier in the tackle and more precise with their passing. Liss seemed to be, well, listless to be honest.
Lascelles Richardson's pace and willingness to run into the channels was causing a lot of problems to the Liss backline and, with Josh Graham willing to overlap on the left too, Stockbridge were getting in behind the Liss defence at will. However, their final ball or, in a lot of cases, lack of final ball meant that they did not get as many efforts on target as they should have. Consequently, after 30 minutes, it was still only 1-0.
That was until the 37th minute when Stockbridge finally put some clear water between themselves and their visitors. Once again, it came from good work on the left. Graham twisted and turned to give himself room to get a cross in. The ball eventually found its way to Kian Clark towards the back post. He took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and hammered a drive into the net. 2-0
It wasn't until the 43rd minute that Liss managed to get a shot on target and it was top scorer and captain Elliott Harrison with the effort, but his attempted lob was comfortably held by Levente Gonda in the Robins' goal.
Deep into injury time and Davy's eventful evening continued as he went down with an injury. The referee blew for half-time leaving the player still down receiving treatment as the players left the field. Thankfully he was soon back on his feet and able to continue, which is just as well for Athletic as, despite his misadventures, he had probably been their star performer in the first half.
The flow of the game continued to be pretty much one way, towards the Liss goal. However, to give credit to The Blues, they never gave up and continued to play the game to their game plan, which was clearly to play out from the back. This, however, was giving them problems because Stockbridge were able to press them very high up the pitch, forcing mistakes and, to be fair, they were also giving the ball away themselves on numerous occasions. Still, as we approached the last 10 minutes, they were only two goals down and had, once or twice, managed to mount attacks of their own. Would Stockbridge pay for not putting the game to bed?
The answer to that question came on 82 minutes and, again, it was the away side who were the architects of their own downfall, giving the ball away deep inside their own half. Home substitute Finley Belbin applied a glorious finish, lofting the ball over the keeper to make it 3-0.
Five minutes later Clark, who had been so unlucky twice early in the half, made it four with a tremendous effort from way out, giving the keeper no hope as he curled the ball into the top corner. 4-0
FT Stockbridge 4 Liss Athletic 0. The home side dominated the game from start to finish. Their defence restricted the league's joint top scorer to a couple of half chances, their midfield ran the game and their strikers caused problems throughout. I described it as comprehensive in my full-time tweet and that was exactly what it was, a comprehensive victory. On Saturday Liss will try to fix their home record when they welcome Paulsgrove to the Newman Collard Playing Fields. Stockbridge travel to bottom side Lyndhurst who have yet to pick up a point.
Stockbridge: Gonda, N.Abrahams, Graham, Taylor, Coleman, Daly(c), Clark, Savage, Richardson, Carrier, Morgan. Subs: Wilcox, Dusanjh, P.Abrahams, Walsh, Belbin
Ground Number: 277