Corsham's ground, Southbank, is situated to the east of the town centre, on Lacock Road, and is next to the town's rugby club. It is one of those grounds that you can drive right into, with a lot of parking available around the perimeter of the pitch (if you get a prime spot you could even watch the match from the comfort and warmth of your car. I didn't, of course). The consequences of this are that, if driving, you can pay your entrance fee, get your programme and sign the track & trace form without leaving your car. Facilities are all on the town side of the ground. The clubhouse, snack bar and changing facilities are all part of a building block that takes up one half length of the ground. Just to the side of this, straddling the halfway line, is the main (and currently only) stand which provides covered seating. There is also a small gantry next to the stand, which I presume could be used for media coverage (Corsham currently film their games), although with the threat of rain this evening I noticed that the videographer was set up in the main stand.
It is very clear that the club have taken Covid restrictions very seriously. On both sides of the ground there were areas set aside and cordoned off so that pods of six people can watch the game separately from other pods. The clubhouse had a a one-way system in place and there were frequent reminders over the tannoy about social distancing and groups of six. Excellent work by the club, all making for a very safe environment.
It's also worth mentioning the matchday programme, Southbank Review, which is a very professional looking, excellent read that puts many professional club's programmes to shame and is way above the standard of the average Step 6 club.
Coming into the game it was a case of all fives for Corsham. They had played five games, winning all five. This meant that they ere sitting in fifth position (due to other sides having played more games). even their goals scored and conceded columns reflected the number five, scored 20, conceded 5.
For Oldland the season had not started anywhere near as well. Having played a game more than Corsham, they were down in 17th position with just a single win, 2-1 at home to Bristol Telephones on the opening day, to their credit.
So, current season statistics were well in favour of the home side. However, taking a look back over the past five seasons shows a different story. Last season, as we know, was voided but in the previous eight meetings in the league Oldland have won five to Corsham's three.
The game started at a terrific pace, mainly driven by the home side who seemed very keen to make it six in six. For the first 20 minutes the game was played, pretty much, in the Oldland half of the pitch but, despite all of the pressure, the home side failed to take advantage.
As we got to the halfway point of the opening 45 minutes it seemed that Oldland had weathered the Corsham storm and were beginning to gain a toe-hold on the game. Either Corsham's tempo had dropped a little or Oldland had managed to raise their game. However, if they thought they had quietened the home side, Oldland were in for a rude awakening on 27 minutes. They conceded a free-kick outside the box and to the right of central from a Corsham perspective. Chris Allen stepped up and curled a beauty around the wall and into the top corner (well worth a look on the official highlights. I know that the camera was right behind the shot). 1-0.
Four minutes later Allen almost repeated his trick, this time from a more central position. However, he was matched by Ben Carter in the O's goal this time. The remainder of the half was very much the same pattern, Corsham pushing forward, Oldland holding firm at the back and looking to break when they could, although not really making too much of an impression on the home defence. Just before the half-time whistle went Carter was again called into action, pulling off a superb save to keep his side in the game.
HT Corsham Town 1 Oldland Abbotonians 0. Corsham have been well on top for the majority of the first half but will be wary of only being a goal to the good.
Strangely, going two goals down and losing a player seemed to stir Oldland into action. For a while they even had the home side on the back foot, finally posing some serious threat to Thomson's goal. Maybe Corsham had taken their foot off the pedal a little after the second goal, but the intensity certainly seemed to slip for a short period.
That was until Oldland, once again, hit the self-destruct button. Cash Vinall, chasing a through ball, lunged at the ball but only managed to completely take out Sam Thomson. It was a terrible looking challenger and the the referee wasted no time at all in pulling out the red card. Luckily Thomson was fairly soon back on his feet but it left Oldland down to nine men for the remaining half-hour or so.
Despite having the numerical and possessional advantage it still took Corsham a further 22 minutes to hammer the nail into the Oldland coffin. Once again it was a very good finish. Will Stead this time firing low into the keeper's left-hand corner. 3-0
Five minutes later, after a surging (or should I say Serging?) run from Oldland's left-back and Manchester City striker look-a-like, Harry Pruett, Corsham won the ball back and hit the tiring Abbotts on the break. The ball was fed to James Vincent who slotted home very neatly too make it 4-0.
FT Corsham Town 4 Oldland Abbotonians 0. The Quarrymen continue their 100% start to the season. In all fairness that record never looked to be under any threat in this game. Oldland showed, for a short spell, that they are probably better than their league record currently suggests. On Saturday Oldland travel to mid-table Wells City whilst Corsham welcome Almondsbury to Southbank. A final note about the attendance. A total of 142 for a midweek Step 6 game. Very impressive.
Corsham Town: S.Thomson, Cooper(c), B.Thomson, Allen, D.Shanley, Jones, Vincent, Rogers, Higdon, Stead, Powell. Subs: A.Shanley, Hopper, Chevolleau, King, Sharp
Oldland Abbotonians: Carter, Kendall, Pruett, Mills, Woodman, Boughton, Towler, Vinall, Fudgell, Dempsey(c), Taylor-Fox. Subs: Symonds, Newton, Nash, McCallum, Bebbington
Ground Number: 249