Tooting Bec currently play their games at Grand Drive, the home of Raynes Park Vale. The ground is part of the Prince George's Fields, which apart from Raynes Park Vale's stadium, also hosts may other pitches including the current home of a 5-time FA Cup winning side, Wanderers FC. The ground is accessed via a fairly long service road off Grand Drive and has ample parking, either in the car park to the rear or along the service road, against the fence surrounding the pitch. The clubhouse, bar and tea bar is situated behind the ground, next to the car park. From the outside it appears to look like a couple of portakabins bolted together (it's not). However, once inside it opens out into a bar area and a couple of separate rooms one of which is large enough to accommodate table tennis and table football. It's almost Tardis-like.
The ground itself features a main stand that has covered seating and a small covered standing shelter behind the car park end goal. There is also a unique, tiny covered seating 'shed' at the opposite end of the ground, featuring a single plank as a bench style seat. Another one of those features that make non-league grounds so interesting. Why is it there?
The pitch slopes upwards towards the car park end of the ground and also from the main stand towards the service road side of the pitch.
Only two sides were left in the title chase and the situation could not be clearer. Leaders Sheerwater had already finished their games and held a one point lead over Frimley Green, who had this game left to play. Significantly, Sheerwater also held a 15 goal advantage in the goal difference standings. Consequently, nothing short of a win would give Frimley Green the title. Anything less and Sheerwater would hold on to top spot and take the crown.
Tooting Bec only made the move up from the Surrey Elite League last season and, regardless of the result in their final game, had already exceeded expectations for a first season at this level. Currently sitting in fourth spot, a win in this game would see them climb above Farnham into third.
In a nice piece of symmetry for Frimley Green, the reverse fixture this, their last game of the campaign, was on the opening day of the season. It resulted in a 0-0 draw. The sides also met more recently, a Division One Challenge Cup game in which Frimley Green came away with a 2-0 away victory after Tooting's Jack Martin saw red.
The men to watch up front were Ali Wiltshire for Tooting, with 24 goals in 31 games, and Frimley's Dan Bone who had managed 19 in 33 games.
Kicking up the slope, Frimley Green seemed to settle into the game better than their hosts, looking determined to get the win they needed. Tooting looked to be happier sitting back, allowing Frimley to come on to them and then trying to hit them on the break. As the half wore on, this began to look like a very good tactic because, although Frimley had the majority of possession, Eddie M'bango on the Tooting right-flank, looked extremely dangerous when the home side broke. His pace, power and trickery was a handful for the Frimley defence.
Tooting's back four, who noticeably bonded as a unit just before kick-off, looked assured an, for the most part, were handling Dan Bone and the Frimley attack very well. They had the meanest defence in the league this season and it was clear to see why.
The key point of the half came on 35 minutes. After soaking up quite a bit of pressure, Tooting broke down their right flank again, M'bango causing consternation among the Frimley back-line. The ball eventually found top-scorer Ali Wiltshire who placed a low, hard drive past Borrett's left-hand and into the net. 1-0.
HT Tooting Bec 1 Frimley Green 0.
Frimley switched it around, bringing on a couple of subs and switching their wingers onto opposite flanks. However, nothing they did helped them penetrate the solid Bec defence. They also had to continue to be wary of the break, with M'bango and Wiltshire still causing problems when the ball was cleared to them.
With 5 minutes remaining and Green getting more and more depsperate for a goal, they finally thought they had the breakthrough. A scramble in the Tooting penalty area culminated in the ball ending in the back of the net. However, the referee had spotted an infringement, indicating that the ball had been kicked out of Tooting keeper Whyte's hands before it crossed the line. No goal.
Then, just on the 90 minute mark, a long ball over the top of the tooting defnce caught them out, alloowing a Frimly player to get a touch on the ball, sending it past Whyte, only for it to strike the post and bounce to safety.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, given what was hanging onthe result, the game boiled over during added time, following a fracas just outside the Tooting box. A number of players got involved and it took the officials a minute or so to calm it down. Once they had control back the referee issues a coupel of yellow cards which, in the light of their being just a seconds left to play, seemed to be a very sensible decision whn he coudl quite easily have brandished reds.
The final whistle was greeted by loud cheering from the stand behind the goal which seems to be populated by most of the Sheerwater team. They are crowned Champions of the Combined Counties Division One. Congratulations to Sheerwater but also, well played to Frimley Green. Second place in this league is no mean feat. Finally, mention must also go to Tooting Bec. Regardless of the final result, whether they finish third or fourth, it has been a marvellous first season in the division and, I believe, they may even be heading back to Imperial Fields for their home games next season.
Tooting Bec: Whyte, Parsons, Fernando, Fox, Stone, Thurbon (c), Patel, Ogunmade, Wiltshere, Blenkinsop, M'Bango. Subs: Wheeler, Ogidi, Henery, Martin
Frimley Green: Borrett, Primett, Horkan, Neville, Ward (c), Hamer, Medrado, Miller, Bone, Bowerman, McKinley. Subs: Turner, Carter, Thorogood, Dearlove, Vass
Ground Number: 195