Ground #: 29
Ground: Upcott Field
Competition: Southwest Peninsula Premier League (Level 10)
Kick Off: 3pm
Holsworthy AFC 2
Penry 2’, Parker 82’, Cole s/off 89’
Dartmouth AFC 1
I’ll quote from my last blog report, “Its also unlikely I will get to another game before going back to university…”, well things change. Saving enough petrol during my work experience week with the lovely people at RGB allowed me to get to another match in my last weekend down here before university and Holsworthy was the location I chose. Research was the key here, as finding out that Holsworthy is actually closer to me than my #1 target in N.Devon, Ilfracombe, was great news. So on a sunny day, I took the short drive down to Holsworthy ready for my first dip into the SW Peninsula League. Holsworthy is a tiny market town in West Devon with its main claim to fame is being mentioned in the Domesday Book. It also became a Port Town in 1154 (which means it became a safe trading centre and not a place for ships to dock which is what I first though). A more recent note about the town, is a small World War 2 POW camp was placed here and now the St Peter’s church of Holsworthy has two items that were created by German and Italian POW’s.
Upcott Field is a car friendly ground with ample car parking space on the site behind one of the goals and slightly to the side of the other. In one corner of the ground is the clubhouse, although this was the first time I had encountered a “members only” bar, that to enter, you needed to be signed in by a member. No entry for me then! Thankfully there was a a tea bar in operation selling all the usual suspects, although the woman running it had the most broad Devon accent I have ever encountered and I couldn’t understand her. At all. Down one side of the pitch is a small but adequate enough stand which has room for seating and standing under cover. Then there is basic standing behind one goal and the other lengthways side of the pitch which is railed off. Behind the other goal is just plain grass and a small amount of trees where for the duration of the game, a group of little kids had their own kick-a-bout. Holsworthy AFC had been a fairly decent side until recently, as they won the Devon County League in 2003/4 and finished in the Top 5 another 2 times later before re-structuring of the football pyramid saw Holsworthy become founder members of the SWP Premier. In the two seasons in it, a 16th place (out of 18) and 15th place (out of 19) have been achieved, thus just avoiding relegation both times as the bottom two are relegated. So Holsworthy had not taken that well to being in this league and this season had struggled again as they had only picked up their 1st win of the season on the 14th Sep with a 3-2 win at Clyst Rovers. They sat in 17th position (out of 20) going into this game. The visitors were Dartmouth AFC who had been formed in 1999 between two older Dartmouth sides. They had adapted better than Holsworthy to the SWP league with two 7th places finishes although this season had seen a poor start and sat in 14th place coming into this game. A possible early ‘6 pointer’ then at stake here.
The game kicked off and for the first 120 seconds I was worried as the quality from both sides was laughable as both teams seemed scared to run with the ball or do anything with it except hoof it forward. An early goal came though when a well worked run from a Holsworthy striker slotted the ball through the Dartmouth defence who appealed for offside (which it clearly wasn’t) and Matt Penry jumped to stick out a leg and helped it up and past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0. Holsworthy looked to extend their lead on 11 minutes after a period of scrappy play when a great ball found Levi Landricombe, who had looked far and away the best player on the pitch, but his first time lob shot spun just wide. After this early battering though Dartmouth began to realise that kicking the ball forward wouldn’t hurt and began to create some chances. A freekick fizzed wide on 20 minutes and Holsworthy got clear a few goal mouth scrambles as it looked like this toothless Dartmouth team would fail to score. That all changed though when a ball sent on from the left by Dartmouth’s #11, who had looked dangerous all game, found Lee Johnson and he got in-between two Holsworthy defenders and gave keeper Chris Waring no chance. Cue Waring going ballistic at his defenders who hadn’t put up much of a challenge to win the ball. A carbon copy goal was scored 3 minutes later but this time Johnson had been penalised for climbing on the Holsworthy defender. At half-time it was 1-1, and a very interesting 2nd half ahead. Also, after not entering the last few games, I bought my £1 half-time draw ticket. I didn’t win. (I never have)
For the second half, I moved over to the uncovered, hard standing on the other side of pitch to take a different view of the match as both sides again started slowly with no real action to speak of. The first big chance of the 2nd half, fell to Landricombe again who shot from outside the area but just saw it narrowly miss the bar. The match now though was extremely stretched with both midfields going AWOL as Holsworthy would go on the attack only for Dartmouth to rebuff them and counter themselves. Yet on 63 minutes, Holsworthy should have retaken the lead when a cross from the right missed everyone except the Holsworthy left winger who proceeded to stab the ball in at the far post…however, his stab got underneath the ball and went over the bar from about 3 yards out. What. A. Chance. Dartmouth then went onto have the majority of possession and would have created some real goalscoring chances but a combination of greediness, an awful final ball or not enough options up front for them to capitalize stopped this. Holsworthy then went and snatched victory on 82 minutes when a cleared Holsworthy corner only made its way to the edge of the area where Alex Parker was waiting and smashed the ball through a crowd of players to make it 2-1. Dartmouth weren’t going to give this up easily though as they began to batter the Holsworthy goal and won a late free kick on the edge of the area. (Picture below) Sadly though, Dartmouth decided to play a clever ball rather than just hit it and the striker who had moved into space got the ball stuck under his foot and the chance was gone. There was still time for a Holsworthy player to be sent off, firstly for being booked for a daft challenge and then continued to gob off to the referee who gave him his 2nd yellow. Dartmouth had one more clear chance as a shot from outside the area went over, but no equalizer came and Holsworthy picked up their 1st home win of the season.
A good day out then in Sunny West Devon and although the standard of play in the Southwest Peninsula doesn’t seem great, its still easy to enjoy. One final note for one Holsworthy fan who was only less annoying than the Chippenham drummer. She screamed at the players every 5 minutes with stuff like, “GERRRRT ITTT AWAYYY!” While also giving abuse to one Dartmouth player and the referee. I do like fans being passionate and getting behind their team, but sadly some can fall into the category of being an annoying turd. She fell into the latter. That didn’t let a decent day out down though and I wish Holsworthy all the best this season. Dartmouth should be fine also as they were unlucky to lose this one.
Photos from Holsworthy vs Dartmouth
- Match: 6/10 (just a little bit away from being a great game)
- Value for money: 7/10 (£4 is fine to pay for any football at Level 10)
- Ground: 5/10 (not much here to distinguish it, but still retains some character)
- Atmosphere: 6/10 (for non-league this was good, began to boil over late on though)
- Food: 4/10 (didnt sample any, but a decent list there for ok prices, woman who served us though was far too moody)
- Programme: 4/10 (book of adverts really, but only a £1)
- Referee: Tony Cloake – 4/10 (whistle happy, but got red card decision right)