Sutton Coldfield 1 Blyth Spartans 0 (5/3/2016).
I decided to let the train take the strain for this journey. I travelled with a fellow Blyth fan using a two-together railcard. This certainly makes train travel a little more sustainable with reduced fares. It was direct to Birmingham New street and a quick change there for the train to Sutton Coldfield. From the station it was a 15 minute walk to the ground.
The train passed through the stop for Aston Villa ground and I think Sutton Coldfield has a large proportion of Villa fans living there.
The club was formed in 1879 and for a time after World War 11 were known as Sutton Town. For many years the club played in the Southern league but in 2010 they transferred to the Northern Premier league South division. In the FA cup they have reached the 1st round proper twice. In 1980 they lost at home to Doncaster Rovers 2-0 and in 1992 they lost away to Bolton wanderers 2-1. In the Trophy they once battled through to the third round proper where they lost 2-1 at Morecombe. That run also seen Sutton beat Blyth 3-0 at Croft Park in the previous round.
Central Ground is tucked away behind some residential houses. The main stand is narrow and tall with not that many seats available. It appeared slightly odd as there was large spaces at both ends where there could have been extra seats but the areas were fenced off. The rest of the ground had a few covered areas which seemed to be supported by scaffolding materials. Behind the goal was a social club and grub shop. Opposite the shop sat a table with salt, tomatoes sauces and forks etc. This area was surround by further scaffolding and there probably should have been a roof on it but there was not anything. There was a bit covered accommodation down one side of the ground and another covered area behind the goal. Both goals had those huge nets behind them to obstruct your view. The ground has a few Aston Villa boards surrounding the pitch as I believe the ladies team play here.
Sutton seem to have a few resident musician supporters. They had a couple of drums and a trumpet. The drummers sounded like the usual standard you hear at grounds but the trumpet player was actually quite good. The only criticism I had is that the trumpet player did not play long enough.
The game kicked off on this 3G artificial pitch. The first half Blyth seemed hardly able to get off the starting blocks. Spartans had a few chances in the first half and after only 20 minutes Sutton took the lead. It was fairly even throughout the first half but we never really had one shot on target. In some respects it was almost like an end of season game and Blyth looked far from convincing as a top of the table team. Every team has those days when it does not go according to plan and unfortunately today was one of them.
The second half was an improvement for Blyth in the quality of their game but just could not break Sutton down. I had a feeling of the home side got another goal that was it and curtains for us. I felt we could get an equalizer and a draw would have been a fair result. As the game went on I had a feeling it was not to be our day. Even the singing Spartans fans could not urge the team onto a goal. Those singing Blyth fans appear to commandeer a recycling bin now at each game as a makeshift drum. The lid slammed down at regular intervals gives a marvellous percussion sound! Win, lose or draw these lads are behind the team no matter what happens on the pitch.
Sutton has a population of 110,000 and it’s a shame to see a small gate as such- 256. There was little atmosphere at the ground although a small number of ‘singers’ from both sides tried to get things going to make the game sound like a competitive football match.
We lost and Darlington had gained ground on us without even kicking a ball. One defeat though is not the end of the world and we need to come back stronger in our next match. This coming Saturday against Halesowen is a new match and we have to put the last result behind us..
The end of the season is fast approaching and there are plenty more points to play for. There will be twists and turns for all clubs in this league or in any division. Next trip for me to a new ground on my ground hopping travels is Stamford in a few weeks time.
Blyth team- McHugh, Nicholson (Reid), Watson, Buddle, Hutchinson, Hooks (Wearmouth), Richardson, Robinson (Mullen), MaGuire, Kneeshaw and Dale
Subs unused- Parker, Cartwright.