Wick play at The Owl's Nest on Oldbury lane, about half a mile to the South of the village of Wick which, in turn, is around 10 miles North of Bath and 9 miles East of Bristol. The ground is signposted off the A420 which runs through the village. There is a good-sized car park, marshalled for optimum parking which is required because Oldbury Lane is way too narrow for any additional parking and it's a fair old walk from the village to the ground. The club is currently undergoing some additions and improvements to the ground (see The Background), however, they already have two full size pitches and a 3G training/5-a-side pitch with floodlights. The main pitch does not have lighting yet. The clubhouse is off to the right of the car park, tucked away in the corner of the complex. There's a bar and snack bar as well as provision for an outside bar and what looks like a relatively new patio area to the side of the bar, overlooking the smaller of the two main pitches. There is also a larger, newer building, just to the rear of the current clubhouse, presumably part of the club's development scheme. The first team play on the second of the two full-size pitches, situated furthest away from the clubhouse. The playing surface is ringed by what also looks like a relatively new white plastic fence. Dugouts are on he far side of the ground. Currently there is no spectator cover available, not that it was required this Saturday with the sun finally making a show for us. The pitch looked to be in pretty good condition, especially given the recent heavy rain we have seen. The locals seem friendly enough too. Special thanks to supporter Peter Galea who used his contacts at the club to help me get hold of the team sheets, as well as giving me some of the background to the club and what happened after last season's league title win.
All in all, a very nice ground with a distinctly rural feel to it, with trees and open fields as far as the eye can see. A total juxtaposition to my midweek trip to inner city Nottingham a few days ago, where the ground was hemmed in by houses and businesses.
I have become aware that I don't give enough credit to teams who produce programmes. Therefore, from this point onwards, if there is a programme, there will be a review to go with it.
Not too many clubs at Step 7 produce a printed programme but Wick are one of the exceptions and, I have to say, it is a very good example. Eighteen pages with some colour photos and adverts, it's clearly a labour love for editor Matt Davis (who is also the club treasurer, so obviously a sucker for punishment). The pages are packed full of useful information, statistics and player information for both home and away teams, league news and wider non-league news (taken form the content offered by the Non-League Paper. There's a history of both Wick and their visitors and, more importantly, the information (scores, tables etc.) are bang up to date. All of this for just a pound. A great effort which will, no doubt, be an attraction for groundhoppers.
Wick are the current Gloucestershire County League title holders. However, after winning the league last season, they were refused entry to the Western League because of delays in gaining planning permission for their ground improvements. The upshot of this was that they lost their entire squad and management team, who went o to move up the pyramid. The rebuild of the squad has taken some time. It seven games in all competitions for Wick to finally win this season. However, the longer the season has gone on, the more they have started to gel and, with four wins from their last six games, they went into this game in better current form than their second-placed visitors. Rockleaze were coming into the game with an unbeaten away record, having played eight, winning six and drawing two including a very creditable 2-2 draw at leaders Cribbs Reserves last month. Despite being in eleventh at the start of play, Wick had a few games in hand on some of the teams above them, including Rockleaze who had played four more than their hosts. Wick also came into the game with local history firmly on their side. back in February they won 2-1 at Rangers with goals from Liam Towler and Joe Beardwell, Fraser Butt scoring for Rockleaze. Last season Wick did the double over Rangers, winning 2- 0 away and 1-0 at The Nest. Having said that, in the last full season before the pandemic, Rockleaze completed a double over Wick, winning 3-2 at Oldbury Lane and 5-1 at home.
A lively start to the game saw the teams set out their stalls and clearly three pints was firmly on the agenda for both. Six minutes in a Tate Shaw fired in a free-kick for Rangers that wasn't too far wide of Ashton Trott's post. However, as the game settled down, it became quite apparent that Wick were getting on top, playing some very attractive football as they pressed Rockleaze back again and again. The home side came close to breaking the deadlock on 19 minutes when Louie Millard planted a header towards the corner of the goal. However, Henry Trett in the Rangers goal was down very sharply to his right to make a good stop.
Three minutes later the Rangers stopper was powerless to prevent the home side going ahead. With Rockleaze struggling to clear a cross Scott Hatcher was on hand to stab the ball past Trett. Maybe not the cleanest of strikes, but they all count. 1-0.
The Owls were now firmly on top and should have made it two on the half-hour mark when a cross from the right was nodded back into the mix by Millard only for Joe Beardwell to put his finish wide of the mark with only the keeper to beat. Something of a let-off for the visitors who then had their keeper to thank a few minutes later as Beardwell broke from the halfway line and got a shot off only for Trett to make a good save. Credit also to Rangers captain Marcus Williams for getting back to put enough pressure on Beardwell to force him a little wider than he would have wanted. Two minutes later, with Wick really winding up the pressure, their captain Sam Roberts hit a left-foot effort from the edge of the box that beat Trett but crashed back off the underside of the bar and flew to safety. It was all Wick at this point and they could easily have been two or three goals ahead. However, with seven minutes to go before the break and, as so often happens when the team on top don't consolidate their position, Rockleaze grabbed an equaliser. It came from a corner on their right. The ball was delivered into a dangerous area where Jenson Beard climbed highest to power a header past Trott. 1-1
HT Wick 1 Rockleaze Rangers 1. A very good half from Wick who took the game to Rangers from the first whistle. They should probably have been a couple of goals ahead before Rockleaze managed to get themselves back on level terms just before the break.
Chances came and went for the home side but, with just under 20 minutes eft, it started to look as if they may have run out of steam. Rockleaze began to push them back as the momentum of the match started to swing in favour of the visitors. This became more apparent in the 73rd minute when George James got a toe to a low left-wing cross, diverting the ball narrowly over Trott's crossbar. Wick were not lying own though and at the other end Trett had to be at his very best to keep out an effort from Hatcher. As we moved into the final five minutes, Rangers began to throw everything at their hosts in a last ditch effort to take all three points. Trott was called into action on 84 minutes when Tate Shaw nipped in at the near post only to be denied by the reflexes of the goalkeeper. Then with a minute of normal time remaining Trott was beaten when another Shaw effort fizzed past his far post, narrowly missing the target. Right on full-time Rangers went close again when Williams burst clear on the left before feeding the ball to Sam Bailey who slid his effort just wide of the post. Wick, after being on top for much of the game, were suddenly riding their luck and the home crowd was getting nervous.
They needn't have worried as their team went straight back down the other end, attacking down the left flank. the ball was squared across the six-yard box and there was substitute Jacob Saunders to smash the ball into the net for the winner. 2-1
FT Wick 2 Rockleaze Rangers 1. The result drops Rangers from second to fourth following wins for both Bromley Heath United and Gala Wilton. Wick remain in eleventh spot but are now just four points adrift of Little Stoke in sixth. Their games continue thick and fast. They face a trip to Cheltenham Civil Service on Monday with only three points between the teams in favour of the Cheltenham side. They then welcome Little Stoke to the Nest of Wednesday. Rockleaze don't play on Monday but do have a crunch meeting at Gala Wilton on Wednesday.
Wick: Trott, Mansfield, Richards, Roberts(c), Osbourne, Mignott, Millard, Towler, Beardwell, Hatcher, Scott. Subs: Fox, Saunders, Creaney, Troake, Wade
Rockleaze Rangers: Trett, Rook, Perham, Lewis, Grotzke, Boontam, Williams(c), Bailey, Beard, James, Shaw. Subs: Johnson, Elgahmi, Webb, Hargreaves
Ground Number: 359