The evening before I was at Jenner Park, the home of Barry Town United, for the Wales v England C international fixture. That was special as we had two players from The New Saints in the starting line-up, and that’s why I was there, to cover the game from the perspective of Connell Rawlinson and Aeron Edwards.
I thoroughly enjoyed it but from a groundhopping angle it wasn’t a new ground, as I’ve been there a couple of times before for domestic games. Twenty-four hours later though, I did add a new one to the list when I visited Phoenix Park for the West Midlands Regional Premier League encounter between Shifnal Town and Dudley Town.
I was at Park Hall, the home of The New Saints, until about 6.30 p.m. so it was very convenient to take in the game as the ground is just a few minutes diversion on the way home. It’s a nice set-up and first impressions as you pull into the car park are the floodlights and the main stand with the words Shifnal Town Football Club proudly displayed.
By the time I got to Phoenix Park the teams were doing their pre-match routines and shortly afterwards the game got underway. Shifnal started the brighter of the two but fail to capitalise on your chances and you give your opponents an opportunity. That’s exactly what happened, as a good shot from just outside the box gave the visitors the lead at the break.
With a well-executed free-kick early in the second period doubling the advantage, a Shifnal goal in the final ten minutes ensured a nervy finish for both sides. It was the visitors who scored right at the death though, ensuring the journey home along the A41 was a happy one for Dudley Town.
I was particularly impressed with the Dudley number 8, who looked very comfortable on the ball and always looked to play. His confidence was evident, when even in tight situations, he would call for the ball to his feet. I don’t know his age or background – or even name – but you could see real potential for coaching to take his game on.
Phoenix Park is the 39th new ground this season. Check out my groundhopping page here.