Sat 30 March 2013, Cambridge City v Leamington (SPL Prem)

Match Details: Cambridge City 1 – Leamington 4 (SPL Premier Division)cambc (20)

Destination: The City Ground, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1UY
Competition: Evo-Stik {aka Southern Premier} League, Premier Division
Kick-Off: 3pm
Attendance: 366
Admission: £10
Programme: £2.00
Directions: The ground is about 2 miles north of Cambridge City Centre, and a further half mile from the railway station. There are buses which run to the ground, but they ain’t the most direct in the world (takes about 30 mins I think), so if arriving by train it’s probably worth paying a few quid extra for a taxi (cost circa £7).

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Pre-Match Build Up: After 91 years in their current home, Cambridge City will finally be leaving Milton Road at the end of the season. The move has been on the cards for a few years now, but June 2013 sees the end of the lease and with a new housing development in its place imminent, the English non-leagues will lose one of its mainstays. This was one of three grounds I had earmarked for an ambulance-chasing-style visit before the end of the season (the others being Barnet and Worcester City), and after having carefully planned to attend the final home games at Barnet and Worcester in April, this then left a few chances to visit Milton Road beforehand. However, my initially intended game fell to the snowy weather, and with freezing temperatures again in the run up to this game, I was starting to worry I might miss out altogether. Thankfully though, a couple of days beforehand the weather started to warm up a bit, and confirmation was received on Saturday morning that the game against table-toppers Leamington would definitely go ahead. So I made my way down via the East Coast Main line, changing at Peterborough and turning right onto a Stanstead Airport service, for a 1.30 arrival in Cambridge and a fast taxi up to the ground in time for a decent snout around before kick-off time.

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Off The Pitch: With two fairly narrow open end terraces, one side of Milton Road includes some covered terracing, with the main visually striking feature of the ground being the Main Stand along the opposite side. This can accommodate just over 500 spectators, and is split into two sections - with around 400 in the main part, and a second smaller section having been added more recently. The whole structure sits on top of the the offices, funtion and changing room buildings – thus giving a nice elevated view of pitch proceedings. Elsewhere there is a snack bar and a club shop.

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On The Pitch: Cambridge came into this game with faint hopes of making the play-offs still, while Leamington were in pole position and looking to edge closer to the league title and automatic promotion.
As a regular observer of Northerm Premier League football, I was initially struck by how much less physical its southern counterpart seemed. It was a shock not to see players going hell-for-leather into each challenge from the moment the 3pm whistle blew. On the other side of the coin, players in the SPL probably have a slight edge in athleticism and skill based on this evidence. I guess this could also be a mirage down to the pitches though, as the average NPL one seems much heavier and bumpier than Cambridge’s sawdust-clad lawn. And how much is down to adapting to the playing surfaces, and how much down to an actual difference in the style of play is debatable.
A fairly even and absorbing match saw its deadlock broken just before half-time, when Leamington’s Ricky Johnson was knocked over in the box by City keeper Zac Barrett, in one of those ‘some would give it, some wouldn’t’ refereeing decisions. The home side did manage to equalise within five minutes of the restart though, through an Adam Marriott header following a break down the left. But with 15 minutes remaining, things took a decisive turn when Leamington were awarded an even more dubious spot-kick, which once uopn a time would have been more likley to be adjudged ‘ball to hand’ but nowadays often gets given as a handball offence even though not deliberate. Matt Dodd duly stepped up, and got his second goal of the afternoon. Five minutes later and Dodd had bagged a hat-trick of penalties, though this time it was a fairly blatant (but again very soft and silly) trip which won him it. Cambridge were all but done now, but when Stefan Moore scored from open play to put Leamington 4-1 up in injury time, it made doubly sure. The referee needed a tight security escort off the pitch from the lived home fans, though to be fair out of three ‘soft’ penalties, one was definite, one was probable, and the other was arguably more-likely-than-not in today’s climate. So the referee’s assessor would probably have seen no errors in his performance, and once they’d calmed down and watched the video highlights I think some of the Cambridge fans would agree too.

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And now, the end is near: The final curtain (bar a few subsequent local cup final and junior matches in May) comes down after 91 years at Milton Road on April 27th against Redditch United. A fitting send-off including the presence of many ex-players is planned.

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This entry was posted in A-Z by club (home team), Cambridge City, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sat 30 March 2013, Cambridge City v Leamington (SPL Prem)

  1. Kirky says:

    Excellent write-up and pics. Favourite bits: “ambulance chasing tour” and “snout around”. This is what groundhopping is all about. Great close-up of the turnstile too. Bet you felt like a bit of an anorak taking it – but worth it!

  2. Alan Shaw, Wootton Wawen (nr Leamington). says:

    Another great report, but what I want to know is with three pens, how come you didn’t have a pic of at least one?!!

    • Thanks Alan. I was only down the right end for the first one, but was probably taking a picture of someone eating a pie instead (actually I did get one of the taker but it’s not very interesting).

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