The first thing that you need to know about Barrington Park, Shrivenham's home ground, is that there is no parking available at the ground itself. This is because
it lies at the end of a narrow lane containing private housing. However, there is a car park on the opposite side of the main road through the village and plenty of on-road parking in the streets around the ground. Of course, always take care not to block any of the local's driveways or access roads which could cause all sorts of problems for the football club (even though it wouldn't directly be their fault).
I had last seen Shrivenham play, three years and two days previously, a 4-3 defeat at Thame United's ASM Stadium (The Thaming Of The Shriv), but I had never been to Barrington Park before, so I was very keen to tick off another non-league ground.
The entrance to Barrington Park brings you into the ground next behind one of the goals, looking straight down the ground. The majority of facilities are at this end of the park, the clubhouse, snack bar and players/officials areas are all behind the village end goal. There is a small, covered seating stand to the left of the playing surface as you look from the clubhouse. The dugouts are also on this side of the pitch.
Directly in front of the clubhouse, slightly raised above pitch level, there are several rows of red plastic seats that are also under cover and offer a good view down the round. This seems to be the most popular part of the ground from which to view games.
Shrivenham, in their home kit of blue and white hoops, were kicking down the noticeable slope in the first half, towards on of my personal favourite features of non-league grounds, the goal backed by trees.
Nomads, in the change kit of lime green with a red and black panel on the chest, started with more urgency as may be expected with a Premier League side visiting a Division One team. Twice they threatened the Shriveham goal in the opening few minutes before, with 10 on the clock, Udoka Godwin-Malife opened the scoring with a nice individual effort. Picking the ball up outside the area, he drove into the box, eluded a Shrivenham defender and finished powerfully past Alexander in the home goal. 0-1.
Just over five minutes later Nomads almost increased their lead when a long ball caught out the Shrivenham defence. Alexander raced out of his goal and collided with the onrushing Nomads striker, with both going down under the challenge. The ball meanwhile was cleared off the line by a covering defender. Shriv goalkeeper, Alexander, received quite lengthy treatment, but for the time-being could carry on.
The break in play seemed to unsettle Nomads and perk up Shrivenham, who suddenly started looking quite dangerous as they pushed for an equaliser.
Before the half-hour mark, they really should have been level when Fowler squandered a golden opportunity to score, blasting well over from inside the box. This came just a minute after Stringer, the Nomads stopper, had made a good one-handed save.
After 36 minutes, however, the home side did finally get back on level terms. A long ball down their right-flank was chased down by Lincoln, getting there before Stringer, who had raced out of his goal. Lincoln's cross presented Fowler with a relatively simple finish to make amends for his earlier miss. 1-1.
Then, in first-half injury time, it really should have been 2-1 to Shrivenham when another Lincoln cross was met by Fowler in the six-yard box, but the striker's header went over the bar. A real let-off for Nomads.
HT Shrivenham 1 Oxford City Nomads 1. Nomads were clearly in charge for the first 20 minutes but, to their credit, Shrivenham battled back into the game and could easily have been in front at the break.
At this point, and after moving to the other side of the ground for the second half, I was joined by the Shrivenham Twitter administrator for a while. It's always a pleasure to meet other non-league enthusiasts, and this was no exception. A great example of yet another volunteer who give up their time to make the game what it is.
With the home side having a stand-in keeper between the sticks, I was fully expecting Nomads to be having a pop from all angles early on in the half. However, that was not the case. In fact, Shrivenham fired in the first real effort of the half, Fowler testing Stringer from outside the box. Nomads didn't really stretch Rudman until the 56th minute and the stand-in did his confidence no harm at all with a really good stop.
Nomads, now kicking down the slope, were certainly on top of the game in the second-half. The threat posed by Shrivenham towards the end of the first 45 minutes, seemed have waned a little, although they were still battling away admirably.
It took Nomads until the 70th minute to get their noses back in front and, even then, it was some slightly sloppy Shrivenham play that led to the goal. Shriv managed to lose the ball deep inside their own half and, when the ball was slipped forward, Nomads substitute Henry Landers ran onto the pass, rounded Rudman and slipped the ball into the net. 1-2
Shrivenham heads didn't drop at this point but, from a neutral's perspective, the game did seem to be up. Despite their hard work, the home side didn't look like they were going to get a goal back.
After 83 minutes, Landers made certain of this when he broke clear of the Shriveham back line and lifted the ball confidently over Rudman to make it 1-3.
There was still time fro Landers to complete his hat-trick, after only coming on in the 62nd minute. He latched onto a loose pass and,once again, showed a lot of confidence to place the ball past Rudman. 1-4.
FT Shrivenham 1 Oxford City Nomads 4. Nomads well worth the victory but the hard work shown by Shrivenham, who matched their higher-ranked opponents in the first half, made the final score very harsh on them.
Shrivenham: Alexander, Smith, Hendry, Carson, Little, Rivers, Brown, Lincoln, Prictor (c), Fowler, Milhench. Subs: Bright, Axeford, Rudman
Oxford City Nomads: Stringer, McEachrab, Simms, Godwin-Malife, Knapton, Gibbens, Mattimore, Bestley, Tutton, Collins, Agyakwa. Subs: Landers, Gila, Mulvany, Singh
Ground No. 138
Programme: Included in price