The Ostlers Lane Ground is certainly very different from a lot of non-league grounds. It is, as many are, part of a larger community sports complex incorporating cricket as well as football. What makes it very different is the distance that the clubhouse and changing rooms are from the main football pitch. They are separated by a cricket pitch and another football pitch making the total distance, I estimated, well over 100 yards.
Note: All facilities are located in the clubhouse so, if you need to use them, do so before kick off.
On a very blustery day and on a very heavy pitch that hadn't seen a mower in a while, this was never going to be a classic. However, this was grassroots football at it's finest and it was great just to be out watching a game. We were even treated to the age-old tradition of a player on piggy-back to fix the nets before kick-off. This drew my attention to the backdrop to the Ostlers Lane pitch though, a Grade II listed, 17th century chapel that looms over the pitch like a Germanic, Gothic Krankenhaus.
Neither of these teams had set the division alight this season and, before kick-off, both were in the lower half of the table although Aston Clinton had only played 13 games compared to Stratford's 21. For some reason it was the home side that were wearing a changed shirt colour, opting for their yellow away shirt rather than their normal pale blue which clashed with Aston's all blue kit.
It was the home side who were playing with the strong wind at theirs backs in the first half but it was Aston Clinton who got on the score sheet early on. With less than 2 minutes played a right wing cross was turned in at the far post by Clinton's number 9. The early goal encouraged Aston Clinton and, despite playing into the wind, for the next 10 minutes they continued to look the most likely to score the next goal. Then, as we passed the quarter of an hour mark, the home side finally used the wind to their advantage. A long kick from the keeper beat the Aston defence but not the speedy Stony number 9. He collected the ball out wide on the left, took on a defender and then lashed the ball home from a tight angle.
From that point onwards the first half was a fairly even affair with neither side managing to produce any flowing movements or clear cut chances. That is until the 37th minute when the home number 6 produced a dazzling run from the halfway line, beating a few Aston defenders before smashing a shot past the keeper than cannoned off the bar and out for a goal kick.
So 1-1 at half-time and while the home players and officials made the long journey back to the dressing rooms, the Aston Clinton players stayed out and had their half-time talk in the open air.
Unfortunately for Aston they couldn't hang on though. Giving away a needless free kick 25 yards out they gave the opportunity for the home side to strike back. The Stony number 7 didn't disappoint, curling a superb free-kick over the wall and beyond the keeper.
There was no more scoring and the only great surprise in the last 15 minutes was that both sides kept 11 men on the pitch. There were clearly some agendas out there, especially in the second half. One or two players on both sides seemed to have some arguments to settle despite this being the first meeting this season. In the end 2-2 and a point apiece was probably a fair result but really doesn't help either team.
Stony Stratford Town - @stony_fc
Aston Clinton @astonclintonfc
Note: Neither of these accounts seems to be in regular use.