Thursday 14th April 2016 ko 19.45
Essex Senior League
BOWERS & PITSEA 3 (Hilton 45 Manor 55 Portway 86)
I’m not sure why I made a beeline for a floodlit game in Essex, when there was no lack of earlier unlit kick-offs a good deal closer to home. That’s a tactic I picked up from the groundhoppers with thousands of grounds ticked off. The theory is that there are around 1500 floodlit grounds in the UK, so use those winter midweek evenings making use of those lights. You then visit the unlit grounds during the light evenings and on Saturdays, allowing you to stretch the finite number of floodlit grounds as far as possible.
The theory should mean you should get a good mix of bigger and smaller grounds as you meander though the country’s football grounds, and therein lies my issue and my reason for breaking my own rule- my contrary nature! Perhaps I just wanted a more established stadium!!
And the Len Salmon Stadium certainly is that! In fact the real surprise is that the club, including precedents Bowers United have never played any higher than the Step 5 Essex Senior League, to my untrained eye the ground looks easily capable of making the step up, presumably to the Isthmian League. Nevertheless, its the unusual features that appeal, the shipping container stand behind the goal, or the little cafe by the entrance, the ground really is a little gem.
Of course it’s the club’s appearance in the FA Vase semi-final that caused this unusual Thursday evening game. That and a rather waterlogging-prone pitch have given the club a massive fixture backlog to make up and with the title and promotion within their grasp this game had plenty riding on it too.
They won this one easily, despite some Takeley pressure early in the second half, which evaporated after Paul Tiffen’s rather rash challenge on Bowers’ keeper Martyn Guest. Tiffin had to be carried off, and Takeley’s main threat was gone.
In the end it made little difference, Bowers title challenge continues and Takeley will enjoy the comparative luxury of not having to look over their shoulders. The Essex Senior League has no Step 6 league to relegate into.