Warminster's Weymouth Street ground isn't far from the town centre. There is very limited parking at the ground but plenty of on-street parking along Weymouth Street, all within a short walk of the ground, which is accessed via a short service road. Access is through single turnstile which brings you in close to the halfway line, the clubhouse (which incorporates the main stand, is immediately to your right, as is the tea hut. To the left of the goal at the Weymouth Street end there is a small covered standing area which seemed popular with the locals. There was also Jerk Chicken on offer just next to the entrance. I'm not sure if this is a regular occurrence or a one-off, but the smell of it certainly made me wish I hadn't had my dinner before I left. I was sorely tempted to indulge anyway but the fact that I have recently had to move buckle on my belt one hole to the right reminded me not to.
The dugouts are on the far side of the pitch which slopes slightly towards the Weymouth Street end and very slightly away from the main stand towards the dugouts.
I've got to say, I loved the feeling of this ground. It's a proper non-league football ground with atmosphere and a feeling of history to it. Well worth a visit if you haven't been there.
Warminster were coming into the game after a good start to the league season but a disappointing 4-0 FA Vase defeat at Farnham Town last week. Putting that Vase exit aside, five victories and two draws from their opening nine had seen Warminster climb to fifth in the table, six points adrift of the evening's visitors but with a game in hand. Warminster could also boast the joint second lowest (with Sherborne Town) number of league goals conceded.
Welton were coming into the game as league leaders, unbeaten in ten and without a single goal conceded at home. They had also progressed to the next round of the FA Vase with a 4-0 win at Elburton Villa last weekend.
History in this fixture was very much in favour of the visitors and, although Warminster won 2-0 at Welton's West Clewes ground during the 2016-17 season, I found out later that they had not managed a win at home against Rovers since 1996. So, something of a bogey team for the Red & Blacks, especially at Weymouth Street.
Welton's home ground in Midsomer Norton is over 17 miles from Warminster but, the way this game started, you coudl have been esxcused for thinking this was a very local derby. Both sides clearly wanted to make an early mark and there was a frantic pace and edge about the game.
It was Welton who managed to create the first real opening, after 9 minutes. Chris Pile headed a cross down for Jake Slocombe who saw his effort well save by Sam Thompson in the home goal. It was quite breathless stuff in the opening 20 minutes with Welton looking to more likely to score but neither side stretching the opposing goalkeeper.
On 26 minutes there was a really big call from the referee. When a long ball was played into the Warminster penalty area Joe Battrick and home keeper Sam Thompson challenge for it. The Welton striker definitely gets his head on the ball first before being clattered by the goalkeeper. The referee blew immediately and, certainly from where I stood almost in line with incident, it was a clear penalty. However, the referee pointed the other way, awarding a free-kick to the goalkeeper. Would that be a big decision?
Welton continued to look the stronger side for the remainder of the first half. With 38 on the clock, James Batchelor tied his luck from way out, sending a skidding effort towards the bottom corner but Thompson got down well to push it away for a corner which was then headed narrowly over. Thompson was certainly the busier of the two keepers as we drew towards half-time. Having said that, the final chance of the half went to the home side, and it was their best of the first 45 minutes as the ball was squared to McKay inside the box but the nippy winger blazed his shot over Glover's bar.
HT Warminster Town 0 Welton Rovers 0. Not too many clear cut chances for either side. Those that have been created have mostly come the way of the visitors who should also have had a penalty.
It's Warminster's turn to look the more dominant team, quelling any response that Welton may have tried to muster and the visitor's position worsened on 68 minutes when, after a free-kick was awarded to Warminster on the edge of the Rovers' box, Batchelor was sin-binned for his complaints to the referee. That could have spelled the end of the visitors but instead it seemed to give them more impetus. So much so that, five minutes after going down to 10 men, they equalised and it was their two substitutes who made the impact. Jacob Bird did well on the right-wing, his cross was picked up by Kyle Box who managed to squeeze a shot past Thompson into the far corner. 1-1.
It was game on now and, with Welton back to full strength, the game could swing either way. Both sides were trying to win the game but with 4 minutes remaining it was the away side who got their noses in front. Warminster conceded a free-kick way out on the left, some 40 yards or so from goal. The ball was played deep towards the far post where defender Joe Garland was lurking. He managed to guide the ball perfectly into the path of Joe Ellis who, in turn, drilled his shot past Thompson. 1-2.
There was very little time left for Warminster to respond and the late goal proved to be the difference. It's now 25 years since Welton last lost at Weymouth Street.
FT Warminster Town 1 Welton Rovers 2. A strange game in a lot of ways. Rovers were the better side in the first half but failed to score. Warminster definitely the better side in the second half, got ahead but then dropped their guard and conceded an equaliser almost immediately, and then a late second goal killed them off. Welton certainly look like a team that has the momentum that could keep them at or near the top of the table but Warminster also look to be a good side and will almost certainly be up there too. Best wishes to both sides for the remainder of the season.
Warminster Town: Thompson, Bartley, Milburn, Cockerill, De Silva, Churchyard(c), Hiscocks, M.Johnson, Graham, Wain, McKay. Subs: Humphrey, Atkins, L.Johnson, Seviour, Miluk
Welton Rovers: Glover, Wych(c), Savery, Morris, Garland, Ellis, Pile, Bachelor, Battrick, Slocombe, Coleman. Subs: Bird, Parfitt, Box, Smith
Ground Number: 279