Monday, 9 May 2016

#24 The Lawns, Cribbs FC

Cribbs 1 Melksham Town 4
Saturday 2nd May, Les Phillips Cup

In an effort to make the most of the dwindling fixtures list as we creep into summer, my old pal Daz was dropping by for a few days to check out the delights of the Western League. We had originally planned to watch Manor Farm attempt to recoup from their dashed promotion hopes by progressing in the league cup at Buckland Athletic but the bank holiday traffic put us off. We travelled to Portishead Town but didn't realize that it was the reserves playing instead of the first team, which seemed anti-climactic. This left us with only one option, the league cup fixture at Cribbs FC.

Cribbs FC are based in Cribbs Causeway, South Gloucestershire, which is basically a massive retail park. I'd always found the idea of a club based at Cribbs a little weird because I never considered it as a place that people actually lived, just one that people went to work and shop. However it must be said that The Lawns was a real find considering we very nearly didn't get to see a game at all. 

The ground is located on an easily missed single track just off Station Road near Henbury. Pitchside there are two small seated stands, one of which is placed curiously far from the touchline up a small hill with a path leading up to it. Perhaps some kind of executive box. The ground seems to be on a pretty large hill because you can see for miles out over Henbury and Catbrain which was nice on the bright clear day we had for it. My favourite bit of the ground was the wonky path of white wooden fences that made up the players tunnel, forcing the teams to amble muddledly onto the pitch like 22 confused Roombas struggling with a stiff bit of polyester carpet.  

Things turned from surprisingly good to actually pretty great when we entered the clubhouse for pints and a chat with the delightful barman Roy. Daz, being from Yorkshire, has a special vocal setting reserved specifically for when he finds bargains which was activated when he clocked a sign advertising "Roy's Rolls" for a mere £1 a pair. After lots of shouting, we retired to the far corner of the room next to some very tasteful artificial flowers and I alternated between watching some unknown European match on the telly and watching Daz eat his discount baps like a malnourished squirrel.

The match began and within 5 minutes Cribbs were one up after the Melksham goalkeeper rushed miles out of his net to clear a stray ball, only to boot it into a Cribbs player, who walked it into the open goal. It was bloody lovely to behold. 

At around 15 minutes a tussle for the ball ended with a player from each team on the floor and Cribbs' George Brimson was shown a straight red for an apparent lashing out after the whistle had blown. 

During the second half Cribbs struggled on manfully and if you'd just arrived you'd be hard pressed to tell that they were playing with 10 men without doing a head count. Seeking a greater challenge, Cribbs defender Josh Jones conceded a penalty in the 65th minute and got himself sent off. Someone from the home bench shouted "you're corrupt!" at the referee, highlighting the near Czech Republic level match fixing problems that plague the Les Phillips cup. Gary Higdon stepped up for Melksham and drew his side even.

Whilst it became clear from this point onwards that this was one Cribbs weren't going to win I would like to give massive props to my man of the match, Cribbs goalkeeper Matt Turner. A 5'9 whirlwind of yelping, swearing, hairy fury that managed to keep his depleted side in the game with 5 (five) world class saves. Instilling leadership, organisation and probably no small amount of fear, he organised his team-mates in a Stalingrad-esque garrison of their net, which left Daz and I in no small amount of awe.

This made it all the more wounding when Dan Kovacs scored a hat-trick in the second half of extra time for Melksham. The dejected figure of Matt Turner will haunt my nightmares as long as I live.

So a scoreline that didn't quite reflect the match we'd seen but Cribbs could take pride in the way their team struggled on and kept things even for the majority of the match. I quite enjoyed my visit to The Lawns and will almost certainly be back someday. In the meantime however, we had two more grounds to visit this week...

and you can read a very similar write-up by Daz here.

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