Desborough's Waterworks Field Stadium is situated on the outskirts of the town, easily accessible from the A6. The car park is fairly small but there is plenty of parking available on Baybrooke Road, all within easy reach of the ground. The first thing that strikes you about the ground are the flooodlights, which are proper old-fashioned pylons, all of which seem to have mobile phone masts, or signal boosters attached to them. There is a single turnstile which takes you into the ground at the Braybrooke Road end, to the left of the goal. There is a covered standing area behind this goal. A further covered standing area runs along half of the left hand side. This becomes a covered seating area eaither side of the halfway line. The rest of the ground is given to hard-standing.
This was a first trip to Waterworks Field and a first chance to see Desborough Town. Nirvana, however, featurd in last season's most entertaining match and also picked up the award for best team performance (http://www.botp.co.uk/blog/warwick-to-coventry-a-round-trip) on their way to promotion. I was interested to see if they would be able to continue their free-flowing style of play in a higher league.
From kick-off, Leicester answered my question. The same snappy passing and movement off the ball that they displayed last season but now they have also added a more direct alternative, quickly hitting the front players and getting support in to them as soon as possible. With the home side also looking to get the ball down and pass it around, this promised to be a very entertaining match. And so it proved.
The first 10 minutes of the game were pretty even. Both sides playing some good stuff with Desborough probably edging it on chances. However, Leicester's passing style and ability to switch play quickly, which they did to great effect on a number of occassions, started to push the home side backwards. As the home midfield dropped back to help their defence it created more space in the middle for Nirvana's ball-playing centre-half, Francis Lynch, to step into and take control of the game.
Eighteen minutes in and a through ball set Nirvana through one-on-one with the home keeper. Although the initial effort was blocked, the ball broke loose and Nassor kept his nerve to chip into an unguarded net from 20 yards.
It took another thirteen minutes for Leicester to double their lead but when they did it was a lovely move that created the goal. A pinpoint pass down the right flank was taken to the by-line then pulled back for a cross to the far post. This was met by Lynch with a header back across the goal and into the far corner of the net. Two miutes later and the game appeared to be
over. A similar scenrio to the first goal saw a ball played through and fumbled by the home keeper leaving Reece Morris with the simplest of chances to roll the ball into an empty net.
At 3-0 down with 10 minutes left until half-time, Desborough could have collapsed but, to their credit they didn't let their heads drop and actually created a couple of very good chances. However, Aaron Harris in the Nirvana goal was in no mood to give up his clean sheet easily, producing two top-class saves in the space of 20 seconds to deny Jake Bettles and Stefan Gatting.
The first half ended with the visitors 3-0 up and worthy of their lead. Fourteen years ago to the day I stood on the terraces of the Olympiastadion, mouth open in amazement, as England thumped Germany 5-1. I'm not trying to say that this game was a spectacle of the same magnitude in any way but I did find myself thinking that I would be more than happy to watch 45 minutes of football like this any day of the year.
Despite the slightly one-sided scoreline, both sides had contributed to a really entertaining half of football. I wandered off for a cuppa looking forward to the second half.
An early goal for the home side woudl make it an interesting second half and they almost got it when Bettles shot across the goal hitting the far post before the ball was cleared to safety. In what was the epitomy of the cliched game of two halves, it was all Desborough with Leicester struggling to get hold of the ball.
On the hour mark the home side made the breakthrough. Good work down the right, a superb cross and a powerful header from Jake Bettles made it 1-3, finally running Harris's clean sheet. A few minutes later it should have been 2-3 when the home side missed a glorious opportunity but, with more than 20 minutes left on the clock, they did pull another back when Gatting squeezed the ball home from close range.
At this point all of the momentum seemed to be with Desborough but, urged on by a vociferous bench, Leicester did not panic and set about containing the home side again. Indeed, Nirvana, themselves then struck a post before, in the final minute, delivering the killer blow. With Desborough urgently trying to get the ball forward a move broke down inside their own half.
Jordan Nelson won a 50-50 with a Desborough defender, took a few strides forward and smashed drive past Foulger into the far corner to make it 2-4.
It was somewhat harsh on Desborough after such a spirited second-half display but, over the full 90 minutes, Leicester probably did shade the game. On this showing though, I wouldn't rule either of these teams out for a challenge at the top end of the league.
Once again I left a United Counties League game with the feeling of getting more than value for money and of being entertained throughout the entire match. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you haven't sampled the UCL, get to a match. If you enjoy football, you'll enjoy the UCL.
Desborough Town - @desboroughfc
Leicester Nirvana - @leicnirvanafc