Upon reaching the reasonably sized car park at Roade's Hyde Road ground, my first impression was that it was way above and beyond most Step 7 venues. Further inspection proved me to be absolutely correct. The facilities at Roade FC are, not to put too fine a point on it, superb for a club playing at this level. There is a recently renovated clubhouse and bar which also shows matches on large screens. Pitch side there is also the Halfway Line snack bar which serves hot and cold drinks and snacks. The club also provides football from under 6 level through to adult and is a Wildcats Centre (something close to my heart as a former Wildcats and now girl's league coach). The club appears to be an extremely well run and professional outfit, from the logoed signage to the majority of club officials wearing clubwear.
I'll be honest, I loved the feel of the place. The club, I believe, want to be an integral part of the community and, to me, it felt as though they were achieving this rather well. For any groundhoppers out there who have not been to Roade, I heartily recommend it (although try to pick a day with better weather than Saturday).
This game pitted together the runaway league leaders, Roade, with one of the chasing pack, third placed Moulton. I guess it was also something of a local derby with Moulton only having to travel just over 11 miles.
The home side had a ten point gap at the top of the table having only lost twice in fifteen games, the most recent being a 2-1 home defeat to third-placed Blisworth a month ago. Moulton, despite being 11 points shy of their hosts, came into the game having also only having suffered two defeats all season and having three games in hand of Roade. Tellingly, however, one of those two defeats had come just over a month ago when Roade had beaten them 4-0 on their own patch.
Apologies for the lack of names, especially on the Moulton side. I didn't manage to get a look at the team sheets. More than happy to re-edit the blog and apply names if/when I get them.
Roade started the game well but it was the visitors from who opened the scoring on 6 minutes, with their first effort on goal. Their number 3 (or possibly number 2. My eyesight is not what it was) curling a beautiful left-footed effort around the home keeper from just outside the box. 0-1
It took Roade a few minutes to recover from going behind but, with only 11 minutes on the clock they levelled the game. A near post cross from the right was contested by the visitor's goalkeeper and a Roade striker. Both missed it but following in behind, to stop and nod the ball over the line, was Roade's number 9. 1-1.
The game had opened now with both sides looking to get their noses in front. The game was also getting quite feisty. A combination of the conditions and the competitive nature of both teams, leading to some crunching tackles. Fair play to both teams though, it never looked like it would get out of hand.
Roade, kicking down the slight slope, were certainly getting more of the ball then their visitors, but neither side could muster another goal. That is until the 34th minute when Roade completed the turnaround. Moulton's keeper was down well to parry an effort from Number 10 but Number 9 was once again Johnny on the spot to snap up the rebound. 2-1
HT Roade 2 Moulton 1. Cracking first half with all the ingredients for a proper game of football. The home side are just about on top but this could still go either way.
Just as we approached the hour mark Roade gave themselves some breathing space. A corner form the left was swung towards the back post where their Number 10 planted a practically unchallenged header back past the goalkeeper. 3-1
Ten minutes later the same player almost repeated the trick but this time could only watch as his header came back off the bar. However, in the 88th minute with Moulton sending as many forward as they could, Roade caught their opponents short at the back. Number 7 played in Number 10 who calmly slotted home his second and Roade's fourth goal. 4-1
FT Roade 4 Moulton 1. From a neutral's perspective, a great game to watch and certainly nowhere near as one-sided as the score line might suggest. Two good teams who were fully committed for the full 90 minutes.
Looking at the fixture list as it stands, Roade now don't have a scheduled game until, the first weekend of January when they travel to Corby Pegasus. Meanwhile, Moulton make the journey to mid-table Woodford United next Saturday.
As you may have gathered I loved my first trip to Roade. A proper football ground, clearly a well run club and a thoroughly entertaining game between two good sides. I didn't manage to work out how to stop my girl's team shipping goals, but we have a few weeks before our next game so I'm sure something will come to me.
Merry Christmas to all at Roade FC and Moulton FC, best wishes for the New Year and the remainder of the season.
Roade: Abrams(c), Faulkner, Healey, Hogben, Joyce, Lewis, McDonald, Mcadoo, Roberts, Seaton, Torto. Subs: Healey, Kirby,
Ground Number: 294