Brockworth is a village just to the South-East of Gloucester, although looking at a map, it is rapidly becoming a suburb of the city. The football club, along with the rugby club just down the road, are on the outskirts of the village but, as with the village itself, population growth is quickly overtaking the sports teams as the village expands. In fact, after speaking with Brockworth's club secretary (lovely bloke by the way, and thank you so much for helping me get the team sheets), there are plans afoot for the football team to move to a site adjacent to the current rugby club, creating a community sports hub type of scenario. It sounded like a great idea and one that I will certainly keep an eye on.
For now, Brockworth play at the Mill Lane Playing Fields. There's a large car park directly behind one of the goals (so be careful where you park), and a changing facility just off the car park, next to a children's play area. There are toilet facilities in the block and, I believe, they were serving hot drinks at half-time (don't quote me on this, it may have only been for visiting officials). The pitch itself, which is surrounded by a white metal pole fence, looked to be relatively flat, certainly no massive slopes in any direction. As with the majority of grounds at this level, there are no covered spectator areas. There is, however, a lovely vista of the Gloucestershire countryside in the background, including Coopers Hill, famous for the annual rolling of Double Gloucester cheese. Unfortunately, being November, the weather wasn't brilliant but, on a warmer, sunnier day, I can imagine this being a very pleasant spot for watching game (I'll be back to test that theory out I hope).
The situation before kick-off was that Albion were nicely placed in third, five points behind leaders Longlevens Reserves but with two games in hand. Berkeley were three places and three points below their hosts. Recent form for both sides looked good. Berkeley had taken 10 points from the last possible 18 but Brockworth could boast a better record, winning five and drawing one of their last six, the draw being with Longlevens. They were one of only two unbeaten teams, the other being Chalford (who I also visited last season (Civil Uprising).
This season's form for Brockworth was a far cry from last season 12th place finish where they spent way too long around the drop zone and only stayed up by two points. Berkeley, on their way to fifth spot, did the double over Albion last season, 4-2 at Canon Park and 1-0 in this fixture. However, there was a much more recent fixture to point to predictions for today. The sides met just last weekend in a County Cup game at Berkeley. It finished 1-1 with The Hunters coming out on top of a penalty shoot-out by 10-9. Clearly, the sides were pretty evenly matched, so I was confident of a good game this afternoon.
It was the visitors who settled into the game first. Within a minute of the start Toby Waterman called Riddleston into action but the home stopper was equal to it. Two minutes later the keeper had to be on his guard again as Kyle Head tried to curl one into the far corner. It was a good start from Berkeley, keeping Brockworth penned into the own half for much of the opening encounters, even with a fairly strong breeze in their faces. We also had a short break in play when it was discovered that one of the local pooches had used the pitch as a toilet (I think this happened again in the second half). As someone who has to walk the entire kid's pitch every Saturday morning, I find this so annoying. Pick up after your dog please!! (I'm a dog owner too btw).
However, the home side gradually began to show more confidence and began to grow into the game. The lively Matt Cairns looked to be a threat and he was the first Albion player to cause any concern to Peter Dykes on 27 minutes, when he cut inside and fired at goal. A comfortable save for the keeper, but a sign that Albion were starting to pose a threat.
The game was now very much 50/50. Neither side were finding too much in the way of rhythm and both defences looked solid and well organised. The willing running of Kyle head for Town was keeping the Albion backline on their toes but, in general, neither keeper was being stretched. Possibly the biggest and best chance of the half came with the very last kick when Blaine Skuse found the ball at his feet some 10 yards out but could not beat Riddleston.
HT Brockworth Albion 0 Berkeley Town 0. Not the most scintilating of gamesin terms of goalmouth action but interesting nevertheless. Two very well matched sides who are clearly familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses. It was going to require either a piece of great skill or a mistake to separate them.
Berkeley were once again the first to show in the second half. Jake Haynes was presented with a gilt-edged chance inside the Albion box but slid his effort just wide of Riddleston's post with the keeper beaten this time. Three minutes after Berkeley had the ball in the Brockworth net. It came from a free kick on the right hand side. the ball was drifted towards the penalty spot where Jake Haynes rose to glance a header past Riddleston. However, the offside flag was already raised and the goal was chalked off. As it happened I managed to get a pretty good photo of the incident. It shows Haynes about to get his head on the ball and the flag up in the background. My angle was not quite in line with the play but, at the time I thought Haynes was just onside. It was extremely tight though and my angle, as I said, was not quite in line. Whatever the case, it was a let-off for Albion.
With 16 minutes to go The Hunters had a big penalty shout when substitute Tom Bidder appeared to be bundled over in the box. As they say, "I've seen them given", but not on this occasion. The referee waving it away.
With 10 to go Albion substitute Scott Meakin had a golden chance to seal it for the home side when he found himself all alone in the box as a cross arrived from the left. Unfortunately for Albion, he planted his header straight into the welcoming arms of Dykes.
FT Brockworth Albion 0 Berkeley Town 0. In the end a draw was a fair result, although Berkeley probably had the better chances overall. Goals would have been a bonus, but still a good honest contest between two sides who, in my opinion, will both be up there come the end of the season. The result sees Brockworth drop to fourth after Dursley Town's 5-0 win at Cheltenham Athletic. Berkeley climb a place to fifth in light of Charfield's 2-1 defeat to Chalford. Next up for Brockworth is a trip deep into the Foirest of Dean as they visit mid-table English Bicknor. Berkeley welcome newly promoted FC Lakseside to Canon Park
Brockworth Albion: Riddleston, Grieve, Langworthy, White, Williams, Taylor, Gee, Wilkinson, Tasney, Banner, Cairns. Subs: Stevens, Bird, Meakin
Berkeley Town: Dykes, Dwyer, Sumner, Watmough, Gillison, Nelson, Haynes, Jones, Head, Skuse, Waterman. Subs: Bidder
Ground Number: 337