The ground itself has one main stand, featuring covered seating, just to the right of the turnstile block as you enter. Past the stand is the clubhouse, toilet block and snack bar. There is hard standing, obviously, around the entire perimeter, with the bowls club providing the back-drop behind the left hand goal. The dugouts are, again, on the opposite side to the main stand well away from the main spectator area. This is definitely a trend at a lot of clubs at this level.
As I entered the ground I got some early and, not very promising, team news when I bumped into Glassboys striker Luke Benbow. Still suffering with a hamstring injury, he was being rested so as not to aggravate the injury further. After scoring 8 in the previous 3 league games it must be frustrating to sit on the sidelines.
Barwell had started the season quite badly but had, in recent weeks, showed signs of picking up including a 2-0 away win at early leaders Stamford. The general feeling that this was going to be a tough and close encounter.
Stourbridge started the game kicking up the slope towards a good sized and vociferous away following. The opening 20 minutes was a fairly even encounter, with both sides having chances but not being able to take them. If anything, Barwell were looking slightly more dangerous going forward.
On 29 minutes, however, it was Stourbridge who made the breakthrough. Following a bit of goalmouth pinball the ball dropped at the feet of Kayelden Brown who, despite some fervent claims for offside, stabbed the ball home. I can say that, from my position at the side of the pitch, I had a good view of the offside and Brown was, indeed, beyond the last Barwell defender. However, the supporters behind the goal seemed convinced that the last touch before it got to him was off a defender. Either way, the assistant did not flag, giving the away side the lead and condemning himself to 60 minutes of abuse from the home fans.
So, at half-time, it was the away side who went in 1-0 to the good.
The second half began with Barwell putting the Glassboys defence under increasing pressure and, 17 minutes into the half, it paid off. Stourbridge failed to clear a corner and, when the ball popped up in the air, centre-half Jamie Hood rose highest to head home for the equaliser. To be fair, after the way they started the half, it was no more than Barwell deserved.
Until this point of the half the only Stourbridge policy seemed to be to hoof the ball down the middle. A tactic that was bearing no fruit whatsoever. The two Barwell centre-halves were gobbling up every ball but, frustratingly, Stourbridge didn't seem to have a plan B. This has been a particular annoyance to me every time I watch them play. Stourbridge have some very good ball players in the team, even after the departure of Sean Geddes. The likes of Billingham, Canavan and Fitzpatrick can all cause problems. However, when the goalkeeper gets the ball the first thought seems to be to play it long, completely bypassing the midfield. Why, when the ball is in hand, the two full-backs don't spread wide to give a short ball option, I just do not know. I guess that is why I am not the manager of a football team.
Back to the game. A combination of the Barwell equaliser and two substitutions (Smikle and Canavan coming on) saw Stourbridge suddenly start to play the ball around. This was, by far, the best period of the game that either team had managed. It paid off too. A further 17 minutes after the Barwell equaliser Stourbridge earned a corner. Canavan's cross was flicked on by Brown and Smikle running in at the far post poked the ball home.
Stourbridge continued to hold the upper hand and had a couple of chances to make the game safe. Chances that they would come to regret.
With five minutes remaining a through ball caught the away defence totally flat-footed leaving Sam Brooks with a free run on goal. He calmly placed the ball past Coleman and it was all square again.
The second equaliser fired up Barwell and, but for the fingertips of Coleman, they could have won the game in the last minute. However, it stayed 2-2. A fair result on the balance of play.
So, it was back in the car and another hour drive back to Oxfordshire to end a 16 hour and 6 county round trip.
Barwell FC - @barwellfc
Stourbridge FC - @sfcofficial