Hartford Heath ground share with Eastern Counties Division 1 East side St Margaretsbury, based in the village of Stanstead Abbots, which is also St Margaretsbury's original name. The ground is part of village recreation ground, located just a short hop from the A10. It is accessed via a long service road which runs alongside another football pitch, used by the teams to warm-up before the game. There is plenty of parking available on site and a good-sized sports and social club just beyond, alongside the tennis courts. The football ground is behind and to the left of the social club, accessed via a lit pathway. Entrance to the ground is through a single turnstile/gate which brings you in almost on the halfway line. There is a snack hut a covered standing area and a covered seating stand on this side of the pitch, all raised a good ten foot above pitch level, giving a really good view of the game. The dugouts are directly below the spectator standing area. Although you can walk down to pitch level, most spectators chose to stay up higher to get a better view.
The pitch, it has to be said, looked to be very bumpy in places. This was backed up by some bad bobbles during play. However, it is pretty much flat from end to end.
Hertford Heath were promoted back into the Herts County Senior Premier League after winning Division One last season. Until last Saturday it had been an exceptional start to life back in Step 7, with an unbeaten league run stretching over their first 13 games. However, that was ended by this evening's opponents when they came from behind to beat Heath 3-2. Stachys Scott put Heath ahead early on, a lead they held until half-time. However, goals from Mark Ajayi and top-scorer Kaci Anthony Gardner Henry put Cuffley in front. Gardner Henry then added another goal with ten minutes to go. Peter Reilly pulled one back from Heath but it wasn't enough to prevent them losing for the first time.
At the start of play on Wednesday Heath sat in third spot, three points adrift of Chipperfield Corinthians in second and a further three behind leaders Bush Hill Rangers but with a game in hand. Cuffley were in sixth spot, six points adrift of Hertford Heath
Having been unable to get the team sheets, I could only record player numbers and can't tally them to names at this point. Therefore, it is a very much shortened match report.
Heath started the brighter of the two and were the first team to test the opposition keeper. However, Cuffley showed they could cause issues too, forcing the home keeper to make a decent block with only around ten minutes played. Heath continued to apply a high line forcing errors from the visitors. Cuffley were their own worst enemy at times. Credit to them for sticking to their style of playing out form the back but, be it the pitch or just a lack of concentration, they consistently managed to give the ball away in dangerous positions. They were very lucky not to have handed the hosts a goal on a plate.
Gradually, as the half progressed, you could sense the Cuffley were starting to get into the game more, but still looked vulnerable when playing out from the back. In fact, goal kicks looked to be more threatening than conceding a corner at times.
HT Hertford Heath 0 Cuffley 0. A good start from the hosts but, as the game wore on, the visitors started to get a grip on proceedings a little more.
There was a little tit for tat at the start of the second half. Cuffley started with a decent attack and a shot just over. Hertford responded with a strike of their own, which went straight into the goalkeeper's arms. Ten minutes into the second period Cuffley came very close to taking the lead. A free-kick from way out on the right side was played into the area. Several players challenged for the ball with the final touch coming off a defender. The ball beat the keeper but crashed against the far post and bounced to safety.
There was an immediate response from Heath. First of all they forced a tremendous flying save from the visitor's keeper before going ahead just before the hour mark. It was a lovely little move, resulting in a flicked pass setting the number 9 free in the box. He calmly slotted past the keeper to make it 1-0.
Once ahead Hertford proceeded to manage the game very well in my opinion. They concentrated on blunting the Cuffley attack and did a very good job of it overall, restricting the visitors to very few efforts.
Ground Number: 348