Bremhill View has been the home of Calne Town since the early 1960s. Entrance to the ground is through a single turnstile at the Bremhill View end which brings you in near one of the corner flags. Unlike many non-league grounds, all of the facilities are on the far side of the ground rather than next to the entrance. There is a good-sized covered seating area which can house 150 spectators. Alongside that is the players and officials changing areas, a tea bar and a small hospitality suite. The dugouts, which were featured in David Bauckham's book Dugouts, are opposite the main stand. I particularly liked the rural feel given by the row of trees that backs the far goal.
Having spent two hours battling with the Slough and M4 traffic, I was more than ready for a cup of tea so I the tea bar was my first stop. It turned out that the man behind the counter was also the programme editor and we ended up having a little chat about football in general, finding programme content and this website (so maybe look out for some BotP content in the programme in future).
Vics were coming into the game on a four game unbeaten league run which had seen them move up to fourth place. Calne had lost three out of the last four in the league and sat 12 places and 12 points behind their visitors.
In a fairly evenly contested first 15 minutes it was Vics who looked marginally the sharper, a little quicker to the ball and moving the ball a little quicker than The Lillywhites. However, neither side posed any major threat to the goalkeepers.
This changed, as did the pattern of the game, in the 17th minute when Vics left-winger Shane Bumphrey rattled the Calne bar with a stinging snapshot from the left side of the box. The ball bounced clear and within two minutes Calne had produced the best move of the match so far to take the lead. Some good passing down the right flank saw striker Ollie Webb being played in behind the Vics defence. Webb took a touch and let rip from just outside the box, beating the Vics keeper all ends up with an absolute belter into the top corner.
What a difference a goal makes! Suddenly it was the Calne players who were first to the ball, who only needed one touch, who could spot a pass straight away. Malmesbury, after having the edge and almost taking the lead, were now being pushed back more and more by the home side.
The attacks did not stop and after 34 minutes another Calne raid down the left culminated with a ball into the box. Some hesitant defending allowed Ollie Webb to nip in and tuck away his second and The Lillywhite's third. Within 17 minutes of hitting the bar themselves, Malmesbury suddenly found themselves 3-0 down.
The cries of 'embarrassing' from the away dugout spurred the away side back into action and, to give them their due, they did not let their heads drop. With three minutes to go before half-time, Bumphrey engineered a great opportunity for himself but, once again, his shot cannoned back off the bar and away to safety.
This turned out to be brief respite for Calne however. Two minutes later a vicious Vics drive from the edge of the box was matched by a splendid one-handed save by home keeper Lewis Potter. The ball dropped loose and Bumphrey finally managed to get one below the bar as he smashed it into the net to reduce the arrears.
There was still time for Calne to have an opportunity to score again before the referee drew a close to a breathless first half.
HT Calne Town 3 Malmesbury Victoria 1.
The second half was never going to be as full of action as the first but, after 13 minutes, we had the incident that probably ended the game as a contest. Following a clash in midfield in which, it has to be said, an arm was swung the referee dished out a red card to Malmesbury's goalscorer Shane Bumphrey ending his eventful evening. From my viewpoint I thought the card was justified but, I will say, although the arm was swung I couldn't tell if there was any contact. However, the referee was much closer and had a better view than me. Needless to say that the Vics players and management were not particularly happy with the decision which was not the first the referee had made that had wound up both sides.
The referees performance wasn't the best that I have ever seen but I certainly didn't think he deserved the amount of abuse he got, especially in the second half. Two minutes after the red card another decision was met with a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse from Vics players, especially their goalkeeper, who received a yellow card (which could easily have been red). To be fair, the Vics bench immediately made it perfectly clear to their players that they needed to calm down and refrain from making comments to the referee, presumably worried about another red being shown.
The message got through to the players and the team got some shape back, resorting to three at the back and leaving all of their attacking players on the pitch. There were some periods in the middle of the second half where Malmesbury actually looked more effective with 10 men than they had with eleven in the first half. However, they were always susceptible to a Calne break and there were several occasions later in the half where the home side could have put the game beyond doubt. They brought on a speedy forward in George Heard who gave the Vics defence plenty to worry about, and Allinson and Dolman both missed gilt-edged opportunities.
Malmesbury never gave up the game though and it was actually the 10-men who were attacking when the referee blew for full-time.
FT. Calne Town 3 Malmesbury Victoria 1.
A well deserved three points for the home side who, once they had taken the lead, looked the better side for much of the game. Vics can console themselves with the fact that they never gave up, still managed to create a few chances after going down to 10, and contributed a great deal to a thoroughly entertaining game of football.
This was my first view of Western League football. It certainly won't be my last.
Calne Town - @calnetownfc
Malmesbury Victoria - @malmsvicsfc