Chesterton play their home games at Siddington Playing Field just West of the village of Siddington not a million miles away from The Corinium Stadium, Cirencester Town's ground. It is a public space which has no covered spectator areas. There are, however, a couple of benches nearby that give a perfect vie of the pitch. Alternatively, you could bring your own fold-up chairs, as the local, former referee, I bumped into before the game had. The pitch looked in magnificent condition. It has a slight slope from the changing room side across the pitch but overall is a fantastic surface for a public ground.
This game was a Group E fixture in the Cricklade Supreme Trophy and Shield between Stroud & District Division 1 side Chesterton and Jovial Monk from Swindon Sunday League's Division Two. The competition is being run by Cricklade Town, featuring teams spread over 5 counties and 7 leagues. It features eight groups of four teams, the top two of each group go into the Cup knockout phase , the bottom two into the Shield. It's a fantastic idea which gives 32 grassroots teams the opportunity to get playing again in a competitive manner after such a long layoff.
Coming into the game one team in the group, Swindon Centurians, had already forfeited their games, opting to play in the Shield section of the knockouts. As is the competition rule, their games were awarded as a 10-0 win to their opposition. Therefore, before kick-off, Jovial Monk led the table with four points after a 2-2 draw with second placed Hatherop last week. Chesterton were in third spot on three points following their 10-0 walkover award. All this meant that a win for either team would see them qualify for the knockout stage of the Cup competition.
I just had time for a quick chat with Chesterton's manager and Twitter admin before leaving him to get on with the important job of coaching his team.
After an initial bit of sparring and sizing each other up, we didn't have too long to wait until the first goal, and it was the away side who sprung a surprise on their hosts. There didn't seem to be too much danger when their number 7 (sorry, I didn't get the player's name) picked the ball up some 25 yards out but he unleashed a superb effort which dipped over the home keeper's outstretched hand into the top left corner. A fantastic strike to make it 0-1.
Unfortunately for the player, and Jovial Monk, it was his last action. It seems that he was already carrying a knock and the act of scoring obviously exacerbated it.
The Sunday League team were in front for just over 7 minutes before Chesterton won a corner on the left. When it was swung in towards the near post the visiting keeper, under pressure, spilled the cross unfortunately for him, straight to the feet of Chesterton's number 9 Scott Smith who was able to stab the ball home. 1-1
Chesterton were now bossing possession but not quite able to find the final ball into the front men. Having said that, they could not relax at the back because Jovial Monk always looked capable of hitting them on the break with both their number 2 and number 9 showing they had the pace to cause problems.
Just past the half hour mark Chesterton got their noses in front for the first time when a cross from the left evaded everyone in the box, including the keeper, and came back off the far post. Once again Scott Smith was Johnny on the Spot to slot the lose ball home. 2-1
HT Chesterton 2 Jovial Monk 1. A good response from the home side after going behind early on. They had the lion's share of possession for most of the half but, all in all, a pretty even game.
10 minutes after the double-save, the home keeper's good work paid dividends as his team-mates took a two goal lead. Smith again was the scorer, slipping in between two defenders, beating the offside call and sliding the ball past the onrushing keeper for his hat-trick. 3-1.
Kudos here to the Jovial Monk linesman who kept his flag down despite calls from his defenders. It was a narrow decision which many a club linesman would have been tempted to raise his flag for. Great sportsmanship, in keeping with general spirit of the game.
At 3-1 down Monk were on the ropes but certainly not beaten. There was still plenty left in the game. However, on 67 minutes, Smith effectively put the game to bed. It was four for him and Chesterton as he struck a low, driven, left-footed effort which the Monk keeper got a hand to but couldn't keep out. 4-1.
It was all starting to come apart for Jovial Monk at this point. After losing two more payers through injury, they then had a player sin-binned for a comment to the referee (at least I believe it was something he said) and had not got their latest substitute on, leaving them temporarily down to 8 outfield players. They did soon get the sub on but, of course, had ten minutes to wait to get back up to full strength. Credit to them, however, they did not concede a goal during the time that they were a player short.
As the game drew to a close, Chesterton did still have enough time to make it five when, with almost the last kick of the game, Smith was presented with a tap-in to make it 5-1 for the home side and cap a great day for him personally.
FT Chesterton 5 Jovial Monk 1. By the time the full-time whistle blew it was bitterly cold on the touchline but absolutely fantastic to be back out watching football again. The scoreline makes it sound as if this was a one-sided game but, in truth, until the fourth goal went in Jovial Monk were not out of the game. All in all, a great afternoon out watching the game I love certainly not made any worse by having to drive through beautiful places such as Barnsley and Bibury twice.
Good luck to both sides for the rest of the competition and many thanks for providing a great return to live football.
Ground Number: 256