Stanford are based in Stanford in the Vale an Oxfordshire village between Wantage to the South and Faringdon to the North. The village has a history of poets. Pam Ayres was born in the village and William Wordsworth's youngest brother, Christopher, was Vicar of Stanford for 19 years in the mid 19th Century.
The football ground is on Cottage Road, on the Northern edge of the village. Trees line the Faringdon Road end and Cottage Road side, with opposite side open to a park and skate park. The goal at the opposite end to Faringdon Road is backed by some houses. On the Cottage Road side there is a single storey building that houses the changing rooms and, I assume, a small clubhouse (closed at the moment). The pitch, which slopes slightly left to right when standing on the Cottage Road side, looked to be in very good condition.
Visitors Sports hail from the large village of Lambourn in West Berkshire, famous for horse racing with a number of top owners owning stables in and around the village. Aside from notable residents associated with the sport, there are two names that stood out for me. Cozy Powell and Patrick Macnee, star of, amongst many other things, the Avengers where he played John Steed alongside the rather wonderful Diana Rigg who sadly died last September.
The game itself was something of a shootout. Lambourn just needed to avoid defeat to guarantee qualification as table toppers. Stanford, currently in third spot, would take second place above Cricklade Town 'A' with any kind of win but, if they were to triumph by three goals, they would also leapfrog Lambourn and win the group themselves.
The game kicked off a little later thn the scheduled 2pm start but the delay certainly did not affect Lambourn who attacked down the right straight from kick-off and, one low hard cross later, Sam Lourie was wheeling away after being left alone in the middle to tap in the quickest goal I think I have ever seen at a game. 0-1.
I didn't time the goal but I don't think it could have been any more than 15 seconds from the start.
Two minutes later the hosts were shocked again as Sports went two up. This time a break on the left saw Lourie get in a lovely cross which was headed home by Scott Garrett. 0-2.
Stanford were rocking but, to give them credit, they did mange to steady the ship somewhat without ever really threatening the Lambourn goal. However, they were exposed again in the 31st minute when another delightful cross from the right was met by Garrett in the 6-yard box to make it 0-3.
Lambourn were having fun in the sun, especially down both flanks where their wide players were causing all sorts of problems for Stanford's defence.
HT Stanford 0 Lambourn Sports 3. Stanford did well to stay in touch at all after the opening couple of minutes. Lambourn have been completely in charge of the game and the home side will need a massive turnaround to change the outcome of the game.
That thought was almost pie in the sky just 11 minutes into the second period as Sports saw a header crash against the home crossbar from a left-wing corner. A slight reprieve for the hosts, but it didn't last long. Just before the hour mark Lambourn captain, Jamie Stones, produced a sharp half turn and volley inside the Stanford box, sending the ball sailing past the keeper into the far corner to make it 0-4 and put the game to bed.
To give them their due, Stanford never threw in the towel. Urged on by one of their coaches who was also running the line, and led by their captain and main striker, they tried their hardest to make inroads into the Lambourn penalty area.
Of course, the more they tried to push forward, the more they left gaps at the back and it was one of these that Sam Long exploited to drive into the home box. His run was ended illegally and the referee pointe to the spot. Long himself got up to take it, sending the keeper the wrong way to make it 0-5.
There were a lot of tired legs on the pitch on both sides but, with both teams having made all of their subs, the remaining players had to soldier on, even with one or two noticeable injuries. Stanford almost got a consolation when their captain bustled his way into a shooting position only to see his effort hit the side netting.
FT Stanford 0 Lambourn Sports 5. Stanford never really recovered from the initial blast delivered by Lambourn in the opening two and a half minutes. Lambourn showed their higher league status and, after getting in front early on, never really looked like they would let the lead slip.
Lambourn now face a tricky tie against Malmesbury Victoria Development in the last 16 of the Cup competition. Stanford will face Redhouse Vets in the Shield.
Ground Number: 259