This was my first visit to Station Road, which is part of a large sports complex comprising of the football ground, rugby club and cricket. The football stadium lies behind the rugby and cricket pitches, a few hundred yards off Station Road itself. There is limited car parking available outside the sports club as well as some off-road spots on Station Road itself. However, on busy days, the club advises parking at the rail station a few hundred yards down the road. On this evening I managed to find a spot on the verge outside the rugby club on Station Road and walked across the rugby ground to the football stadium. Entry was £6 with an extra £1 for the programme, a 20 page black & white affair with pretty good content.
Long Buckby is quite unusual in that, when you pass through the turnstile, you actually enter a sort of courtyard rather than the ground itself. To your left is a tea and snack bar and a toilet block. Beyond that is the players and officials only area. Directly in front of you is the entrance to the ground which runs down the side of the main, and only, covered area. This is a three row, seated stand that runs along half of the playing surface. The rest of the ground is surrounded by hard-standing with the dugouts directly opposite the main stand.
The plastic moulded seats in the seated area are bolted directly to concrete steps, reminding me of an Eastern European style ground, specifically the Tehelné pole stadium in Bratislava. Thankfully, in Long Buckby, there were no menacing, balaclava sporting, armour plated, baton wielding police present.
To the game itself. Even at this stage of the season, just into the New Year, this was undoubtedly a relegation six pointer. Long Buckby were to win a home game this season and were 4 points adrift of second bottom, Sileby Rangers. Oadby, only four places off the bottom, were 10 points better off than their hosts and coming into the game on the back of two consecutive home defeats in which 9 goals had been conceded. A crowd of 68, a fair portion of which had travelled from Leicestershire, gathered to see the action unfold.
The importance of the game seemed to be apparent in the first 10 minutes. Both sides struggled to get a grip on the game and the conditions. However, in the 13th minute, the home side were awarded a penalty for a hand ball offence. Despite the Oadby keeper getting a strong hand to Nduna-Ndlovu’s spot kick he couldn’t prevent it going in. 1-0 to Long Buckby. The home side’s joy was very short-lived though. Oadby came straight back at them and after a shot was saved by the home keeper the rebound hit the bar only to fall for Sam Taylor to force home the equaliser.
There was no more scoring during a reasonably even first half. The home side probably had the slight edge on possession but were constantly let down by the final ball. All to play for in the second half.
Thirteen minutes into the second half an Oadby free-kick from just outside the box was parried by the home keeper and Sam Taylor gobbled up the rebound to put Oadby 2-1 up. At this point, with Long Buckby’s record this season, it looked like a case of how many goals Oadby would score. I’m not sure that even the home supporters were expecting a comeback. The players, however, had different ideas and instead of letting their heads drop they upped their game and tried to take the match to their opponents. Just eight minutes after going behind they got their reward with possibly the best move of the game. An Oadby attack was broken down inside the home half. A long diagonal ball found the Bucks right-winger who beat a player and hit a low cross for Nduna-Ndlovu to finish neatly for his, and Buckby’s, second goal. Nine minutes later and a deep left wing corner was powerfully headed home at the far post by Elliott Herbert to make it Long Buckby 3 Oadby Town 2. The Bucks rode out a couple of Oadby chances in the closing minutes and secured only their second win of the season, their first at home. With Sileby Rangers also winning against Harborough and Harrowby losing at Deeping, it has closed up the bottom five so that only 8 points separates the teams now. It could be a tense end to the season for all of these teams. Oadby entertain leader Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday whilst Long Buckby are at home to mid-table Deeping Rangers.
Oadby Town - @oadbytownfc