Windsors lies on the South-Western edge of the town, directly behind the town's mainline station. It is, in effect, part of a sports complex with the town's tennis and cricket clubs being adjacent to the football stadium. The entrance to the ground is also the entrance to the club car park rather than there being a turnstile. All of the facilities at Windsors are on the car park side of the ground. The club shop/stadium announcers hut, the club house and tea bar and changing facilities all run down the car park side which is also covered for half of the length of the playing surface. There are a number of small seating areas and plenty of standing room. As it was still raining quite heavily, I didn't explore the rest of the ground too much. However, there doesn't appear to be any hard-standing on the other three sides of the ground, which is quite tightly hemmed in by red and white fencing. There is a small shelter on the opposite, railway, side of the ground but this seems to be used by a couple of staff members who collect stray balls on that side of the pitch. The whole place has a pretty nice, friendly feel to it, as so many non-league grounds do. An example of this was when I asked at the bar if there was a team sheet available. The stadium announcer happened to be standing next to me so he suggested I went with him to the
hut where I could take a photo of the sheet. More of the stadium announcer later.
This evening's opponents were mid-table Winslow United who I had seen play a couple of times previously, their final home game of the 14/15 season (http://www.botp.co.uk/blog/april-08th-2015) and a Bucks Charity Cup tie the following season (http://www.botp.co.uk/blog/next-round-robins). The sides had not met previously this season but last year Risborough had won the corresponding fixture 3-2 before going down 3-0 at Elmfields Gate.
For some reason the game was quite late to start, the referee finally getting us under way at almost five to eight. Risborough were kicking down the slope in the first half and were quite quickly into their stride. However, despite having the lion's share of the play they were very wasteful in the final third. I lost count of the number of crosses that floated harmlessly into Winslow keeper Bradley Kirkwood's hands.
With 22 minutes on the clock the home side were made to pay for their errors when a clearance fell straight to Michael Reed on the Winslow right. He pushed forward a few strides before squaring to Grant Karwacinski on the edge of the box. The midfielder took a touch before firing a low, hard shot past Midwinter's right hand into the bottom corner of the net. A little against the run of play but you have to take your chances. 0-1.
Cue the stadium announcer again. Much like myself, he had no idea who had scored the goal. Winslow's white numbering on their yellow shirts is pretty much impossible to read from greater than 20 yards away. So the announcer ran over to the Winslow bench to confirm the scorer (which is how I got to know as well).
The game continued in pretty much the same vein as before. Risborough had more of the ball but were failing to make the most of their possession. That was until the 35th minute when we had 90 seconds that changed the game completely. Firstly, a free-kick from the Risborough right-flank was floated into the box. When the Winslow defence failed to clear, the ball dropped to Rangers centre-forward Kevin Mealor who squeezed the ball home despite the efforts of Kirkwood. 1-1.
Straight from the kick-off it was Risborough who won the ball back and, whilst I was still tweeting the equaliser, they struck again. This time some confusion in the Winslow defence allowed Mealor to scramble the ball across the line from inside the 6-yard box. 2-1 to Risborough.
That was how it stayed until the half-time whistle. HT - Risborough Rangers 2 Winslow United 1.
the stadium announcer once again. Fast becoming the star of the evening as he announced the winning number whilst assuring
the crowd that there was no need to check their tickets because the winner was, in fact.......him.
The rain continued to fall and although the pitch looked to be holding up very well, conditions must have been getting worse
by the minute for the players. Winslow were out first for the second half clearly thinking, as did I, that this game was far from over. They had the advantage of kicking down the slope in the second half and made it clear from the first kick that they would try to take advantage it, launching far more long balls than in the first half.
However, it was Risborough who had the chance to put the the game to bed when they were awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute.
Winger Wesley Young was gifted the ball on the right hand side and tried to make his way into the box. He was fouled outside of the box, which the assistant on that side flagged for, the players continued to tussle and Young was fouled once more, this time on the very edge of the box. The assistant at no point indicated a penalty but the referee, from the opposite side of the pitch, awarded it. This was probably a more shocking call than the draw for the 50/50 ticket. The incident happened very close to where I was standing and, although there was clearly a foul, it was not a penalty.
However, the man in the middle makes the decisions and he pointed to the spot, so James Shrimpton stepped up in an attempt to make it 3-1. He fired the ball to Kirkwood's left and into the net only for the referee to order a re-take for some encroachment into the box. The same player stepped up and put the ball in the same place. This time, however, Kirkwood guessed correctly and saved the attempt. Probably justice after the dubious decision to award the spot-kick. So, it stayed at 2-1.
Winslow continued to play the long ball game in the second half but credit has to go to home centre-half Steven Garbutt who marshalled the troops well at the back and mopped up the majority of balls that came his way. The home crowd around where I was standing grew edgier as the half drew on, fully expecting a Winslow equaliser at some point but it was not to be. Risborough saw it out and, in all fairness, probably deserved the three points.
FT Risborough Rangers 2 Winslow United 1.
Every time I had passed Windsors on the train I had thought that it looked to be a ground worth visiting. I was not disappointed. Yet another friendly club where you can watch a decent game of football at a fair price and enjoy a conversation with the locals. I must go back again when the weather is better so that I can fully appreciate the surroundings.
Risborough Rangers - @risboroughrfc
Winslow United - @winslowutdfc