As far as I could see, nothing has really changed at the ground i the past 18 months, so no ground description required. Here's a link to my last visit if you fancy a trip down Memory Lane (http://www.botp.co.uk/blog/all-white-on-the-night).
The car temperature gauge was reading 3 degrees when I arrived and, for the first time this season, it was time to deploy the extra-quilted jacket and make a quick trip to the clubhouse for a warming cuppa before braving the night air.
The match started as expected with both sides matching each other stride for stride. However, it only took 5 minutes before the home side started to noticeably get on top. Their passing was crisper, their tackling stronger and each Bugbrooke player seemed to have a yard on his opponent. Raunds, despite their lofty league position, were finding it difficult to get any fluency into their game.
Bugbrooke's pace up front was causing all sorts of issues for the Raunds defence but time and again either the final ball or the finish was lacking.
With thirty minutes on the clock the sides were still locked at 0-0. The Badgers had squandered two golden opportunities as well as a number of promising positions before Raunds had even mounted anything that could be described as a serious attack. Still, The Shopmates were hanging in there and did manage to exert a small amount of pressure for a few minutes just past the half hour mark. Aside from one cross which looped over the keeper and clipped the top of the bar, they didn't really look like scoring.
Bugbrooke finally got the breakthrough in the 44th minute. A break down the left and a driven, low cross was turned into the net by Ashley Eales at the front post. No more than the home side deserved after all their possession.
That's the way it stood at half-time, Bugbrooke St Michael's 1 Raunds Town 0. The only real surprise was that it was only one. Would the home side be made to pay for failing to convert more chances?
The referee and his linesmen, especially the one marshalling the Raunds defensive line, were increasingly getting some stick from the visiting players and, to be fair, occasionally from the home players and staff. I have to say that the officials weren't having their best evening and some of the decisions did seem to be odd at times. Having said that, this is the second game in a row that I have heard officials getting a lot of abuse form players. It's a worrying trend in my opinion. Officiating is a very difficult job and certainly one that most of us would not want to do (even if we all think we could do a better job). Where would we be if the number of people becoming referees or assistants dropped suddenly? I know it is frustrating when decisions go against you and, during the heat of battle, things can be said. I think everyone accepts that, even most referees. The majority of referees will even accept criticism so long as it isn't accompanied by a stream of foul language (they get it all the time and they can never please everyone) but some of the comments are getting out of hand now. I hope this trend does not continue.
Lecture over and on with the game.
With 72 minutes on the clock and the homeside well on top they were awarded a penalty. I didn't have a clear view of the incident but given the lack of argument from the defence, I am guessing it was a c;ear cut decision. Callum Westwood, who had been a thorn in the side of Raunds all game, stepped up and blasted the ball home, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process.
At 2-0, with just over 15 minutes to go, it was pretty much game over. Nine minutes later it really was all over. The Raunds keeper did well to parry a shot but Westwood was on hand to roll the ball into the next for his second and The Badgers' third.
That is how it finished. Bugbrooke St Michael's 3 Raunds Town 0. A comprehensive and deserved win for Bugbrooke who, I thought, looked a very good side. They have a very strong spine to the team. Solid at the back, marshalled impeccably by their captain and my man of the match (sorry, no names. I didn't have a team sheet. I am sure someone at the club will fill in the gaps). Very strong in midfield and very lively up front. As for Raunds, I can only assume this was just one of those nights. Their league position points to them being better than this result would suggest and I am sure they will get back to winning ways soon.
Bugbrooke St Michael's - @bugbrookeucl
Raunds Town - @raundstown_fc