Peterborough Sports 1-1 Chester (National League North)
It’s my dad’s birthday today. I’ve driven over to Papplewick to see him and at the same time he’s given me my Christmas present as he couldn’t be bothered to drop it off over the festive period. A set of electric hand warmers which is lucky, as the set my wife brought me last year are just starting to cool down.
I’ve left his house by 4pm as it’s a bit of a commute from the North West side of Nottingham to the South East midlands county of Cambridgeshire, stopping off at Bingham garage to pick up a Waitrose wrap and meal deal, I’m heading down the A52 and A1 where out nowhere the rain starts to storm making visibility tricky, luckily with an ETA of 6pm I’m trudging in cruise control at 50mph so can see well in front, to the annoyance of the lorry behind who keeps flashing his lights for me to go faster.
I’m soon onto the A47 before coming off at the Bourges Boulevard, a left turn onto Lincoln Road before pulling up on a side street where I sit, rest, listen to the radio and ponder on a good time to get out the car, should the heavens ever close?
The rain is falling hard and fast and so much I’ve re-checked Twitter to see if the game is on. An earlier pic posted by Peterborough though has the pitch looking in marvellous nick. I think we’ll be ok.
Finally I pluck up the courage after a good 40 minutes of deliberating and stick my coat and hat on and get out the car, remembering to pick up my new hand warmers straight out of the box. Dad tells me ‘they’re fully charged’.
The walk past the Doctors Surgery and Handy Car Wash is short before angling up the driveway towards PIMS Park where I ask a steward about parking. To my right is a huge space I’ve never previously noticed, he says “Don’t park there as we don’t own that. If you want to park you can head around the back where its free, if there’s enough space”. I tell him “first time I did that my car got hit by a ball”. I think I’m safe on the side street.
On entrance through the turnstile at the corner of the ground you get an instant whiff of burgers cooking in the cabin to the left. The rain is pelting down as a couple of goalies come out to kick balls. A few in the queue I decide to opt out, I’m walking around to the bar where there’s far more people inside than out, it's a little busy for me so I'm thinking I’ll just pull up a pew and watch the rain fall down.
I’m in the Directors Stand which looks opposite the dug outs and changing rooms, the pitch slopes slightly down the left where there’s a couple of new terraced stands and a fancy scoreboard in the corner, the Colin Day Stand is a roofed section around three or four seating rows high between the corner flag and half way, then to the right it’s a bit of a mash up of steel, wood, glass, PVC and brick, a small stand, an office, a scaffold for TV cameras between the changing rooms, toilets and turnstiles, and then a stand to the right behind the goal which is low roofed and cosy. netting above which didn't stop my car once getting hit, It’s all tightly packed in but the pitch feels wide and spacious as both teams now appear for their regulatory warm ups.
I’m joined by an old Posh fan who used to support Wimbledon during the days when he lived in South Norwood. He was a regular at Plough Lane and even went to the 88 Cup Final but told me “I woke up on the Sunday after beating Liverpool and my voice had completely gone from all the shouting and cheering. I didn’t get it back until the Thursday”. He also once stood in between Jimmy Greaves and Ron Atkinson in the Plough Lane Main Stand urinals.
He now supports Peterborough United having moved up here and having not followed the death of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes (although he didn't mind watching them when they moved to Crystal Palace), but he seems to prefer it at Peterborough Sports than Posh where he can park outside, sit where he likes and get a cup of tea which doesn’t cost half his pension.
Ahead of kick-off I’m also joined by a local scout who covers Boston United games and lives in Bourne just north of Stamford. A familiar face he’s chirping that much I hardly notice the match start, Peterborough these days in orange as Chester wear all yellow, the game kicks off at a frantic pace with both sides looking to attack as tackles fly in, rain running down the faces of the young athletes on show, it’ll be a tough encounter to Referee as the Chester lads question his every decision with a scouse twinge of accent, he’s standing firm but issues one early booking which is a good indication to quickly nip things in the bud.
It’s end to end is this, Chester look the better side but Peterborough’s nature is every time their opponents attack, to quickly counter with numbers forward, Weeks has a shot cleared off the line as McCammon goes straight up the other end and forces Stanway into action. Gash then clips a post with a header from a corner and despite the away teams possession advantage, the home side have the better chances in a half that could easily have gone either way.
Nil nil at the break I discuss the fact in two years I’ve not seen a goalless draw, the old boy is impressed with the action though, he says “both teams are having a go and there’s none of this tippy tappy sideways crap”. Just full-bodied committed football where the objection is to score at one end and keep it out the other. We agree that “Coaches these days over complicate a very simple game”.
It’s touch and go as to whether we’ll get a goal as the scout sitting besides me says ‘I’ve cursed it’. Suddenly my mobile phone has frozen and I can’t work out why? A cheer goes up and Peterborough have scored. Apparently McCammon nets but I’ll be honest I didn’t see a thing.
It takes a good five or six minutes to sort my Google Pixel but finally I’m all eyes on the football again as the home team look to see the match out, it seems Chester have blown out of puff since the goal, a 1-0 win is on the cards, but I never fancy Sports to see matches through, they don’t seem to have that defensive resilience even though they’ve shown it tonight, and true to a word a last minute corner is off the post causing panic and a player is fouled inside the area, a penalty to Chester, I’m not entirely ensure why? But no doubt that Elliott Whitehouse dispatches to level.
That see’s a share of the spoils that ahead of the game both teams might have been happy about. Peterborough in the end disappointed they couldn’t hold on, Chester relieved as it could have been worse.
My first viewing of Chester and there was a lot to be impressed about. A team in the playoff zone and one who play good football, no nonsense from the back but in the final third they come alive. Number 7 Tom Peers a real silky talent, was the one who mainly made things happen, George Glendon in midfield was a solid competitor who had a touch of quality, but a mouth that couldn’t half get him in trouble. He had one yellow, he could have had three.
I liked the no-nonsense defending of Matty Williams at centre half and Stanway in goal who came to ‘the Seals’ rescue on a couple of occasions.
In fact both goalkeepers played well as Peter Crook dealt with the conditions too. For Peterborough I was impressed in parts with Kaine Felix who as he raced past Chester left back Joel Taylor someone shouted ‘you’re having him for toast’.
On a wet and cold filthy Tuesday night in Feb though it was those who got stuck in who shone best. Josh McCammon is a true warrior who I always enjoy watching and if he could pass the ball better he would certainly be a player worth looking at in the levels above, just for the sheer work he gets through, a combative central midfielder who’s committed, intelligent and always leading from the front.
Elicha Ahui, Michael Gash, skipper Ryan Fryatt all getting stuck in for the Turbines cause, which unfortunately couldn’t be seen fully through, but a point against the drop will certainly head them in the right direction.
Chester are safely one the teams to beat and they’ll be a nuisance in the playoffs to the likes of Scunthorpe who might fancy themselves to be the best of the rest below leaders Tamworth.
Peterborough should be ok, if they keep doing what they are doing, which is playing attractive ‘proper’ football with only one intent, to score more than the opposition, which is refreshing to see, the way they attack teams and have a go, is after all, what it’s all about! A good score draw and one for the coupon.
Peterborough Sports: Peter Crook, Elicha Ahui, Ryan Fryatt, Ben Fowkes, Josh McCammon, Dan Jarvis (Jordan Nicholson 79), Hugh Alban-Jones, Ashton Fox, Kaine Felix, Michael Gash, Rory McAuley.
Chester: Wyll Stanway, Nathan Woodthorpe, Joel Taylor, Declan Weeks, Harrison Burke, Matty Williams, Tom Peers, George Glendon, Charlie Caton, Elliott Whitehouse, Ollie Heywood (Iwan Murray 79).
7:45pm Kick Off. Tuesday 6th February 2024, Lincoln Road, Peterborough (att 400est).