Uxbridge vs Barton Rovers, Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central, 15/04/17, Honeycroft
With a four day weekend ahead, I made the decision to take the wife and kids down to London to visit my parents. Now as much as I wanted to see my parents, there was an ulterior motive to my visit, as in the Hayes & Yeading blog I wrote this season I mentioned that I didn’t feel like I could count my visit to Honeycroft as I hadn’t actually seen Uxbridge play, so with Uxbridge at home to Barton Rovers this was going to be the perfect chance to tick Honeycroft officially off of the list.
Following a morning spent in Uxbridge town centre, marvelling at the brand new Primark, I set off for Honeycroft at 14.25, and arrived at 14.30, it really is that close to my parent’s house. I was meant to be joined at this game by my dad, however he made the sensible decision not to join me, as he had worked a night shift on Friday night, and was working another night shift on Saturday night, and as much as he loves football, he needs to sleep.
I’ve mentioned this before that my love of non-league grounds started at Honeycroft, but today’s visit once again reminded me of why I love the non-league game. The same faces are still at the club many of whom I remember from my childhood, and the aviary is still around the clubhouse, this is a ground that will always contain good memories for myself, as to be fair I spent a large number of Saturdays there. So once again Alex “Big Alex” Maltman, thanks for the memories.
With the sun shining, I decided to sit outside the clubhouse and enjoy a pint of Strongbow. Once my pint was finished, I headed to the turnstiles and paid £8 for entry and a further £1.50 for a programme, I was overjoyed to find that Uxbridge provide teamsheets for free, and I celebrated this by purchasing £2 worth of raffle tickets.
I’ve visited Honeycroft once this season already, as many of you may already know, so I’ll link to that blog here, nothing around the ground has changed, and in all honesty nothing needs to change at Honeycroft. For this level, Honeycroft is a fantastic ground, and the only work that I would do if I had the money would be to level the pitch. With the weather having been so warm, the pitch seemed to be on the dry side, which would affect the bounce of the ball today, but the conditions would be the same for both sides.
Uxbridge FC were formed in 1871, and the team started off playing friendly games. They entered the FA Cup in 1873, but folded in 1874 due to financial difficulty. Five years later in 1879 the club were reformed, and for the next ten years they enjoyed success, with the Heron brothers gaining full international caps for England, whilst playing for the club. In 1894 the club became founder members of the Southern League and finished in mid-table of Division Two. In the 1897 to 1898 season they reached the final of the FA Amateur Cup but lost in the final to Middlesbrough. The club only stayed in the Southern League for five seasons, before dropping out for financial reasons to join the Middlesex League, however they only survived a single season in the Middlesex League before folding again, this time with a debt of £130. After two seasons the club was reformed and joined the West Middlesex League, two seasons later they joined the Great Western Combination League and remained there until the First World War. After the First World War, the club joined the Athenian League, but were relegated to the Great Western Combination League at the end of the 1919-1920 season. Uxbridge returned to the Athenian League four seasons later, and stayed at this level until the 1936 to 1937 season, when they failed to be re-elected. They then moved to the Spartan League and finished top, however they were denied the championship, as it was discovered that the club had played an ineligible player, so they finished third after having six points were deducted. This prompted the club to join the London League, and then they rejoined the Great Western Combination League during World War Two. Uxbridge then rejoined the London League for the 1945 to 1946 season, before joining the Corinthian League. In 1948 they bought a ground on Cleveland Road for £5800, with this ground bearing the name Honeycroft, after a large house which stood on the ground. The 1959 to 1960 season was a successful one as Uxbridge won the Corinthian League, a league in which they remained until restructuring in 1963, when the club were placed in Division One of the Athenian League. The club were relegated at the end of the 1966 to 1967 season, and joined Division Two, this relegation led to financial difficulties and they mortgaged their ground, however the continued and met a full strength England side at Wembley Stadium in 1976 as part of World Cup preparations, with this game finishing 8-0 to England. In 1978 the club bought their current home in Yiewsley (Some people will say West Drayton, but it isn’t on the other side of the railway tracks, so in my opinion it stands in Yiewsley!) and named this ground Honeycroft, the club spent over £170,000 on ground improvements, and drew 1-1 with Arsenal in 1981 as the floodlights were switched on for the first time. In 1982 the club were elected into the Isthmian League, the club finished second in Division Two South in 1985 and were promoted to Division One where they remained for twenty years. George Talbot took the reigns in the early 1990s, and his fifteen years at the helm saw varying degrees of success. With the club winning the London Challenge Cup in 1994, 1997 and 2000, with the club finishing as runners up on two occasions in 1998 and 1999. Uxbridge picked up the Middlesex Senior Cup in 2001.The club moved to the Southern League in the 2004 to 2005 season, and their debut in the new league saw them finish in fourth place, and they reached the Play Off final but lost on penalties to Maldon United. Poor performances on the pitch saw the departure of George Talbot, during the 2005 to 2006 season, with Tony Choules taking over. Under Choules’ stewardship Uxbridge have reached the Play Off Final in 2008, losing to Oxford City. The club then switched to the Division One Central for the 2010 to 2011 season, where they have remained ever since. Uxbridge also won back to back Middlesex Charity Cups in 2013 and 2014.
Barton Rovers were formed in 1898, and played village football until the Second World War. After the Second World War, Barton joined the Luton & District League for the 1946 to 1947 season, where they played until 1954 when they joined Division Two of the South Midlands League. They won the Division Two title at the first attempt and were promoted to Division One. The following season saw them finish as runners-up in Division One, resulting in promotion to the Premier Division. Barton finished bottom of the Premier Division in 1963 and were relegated back to Division One, however they were to return to the Premier Division just two seasons later, after winning the Division One title in 1965. This saw the start of a decade long spell of success for the club, their first five seasons back in the Premier Division saw them finish third on four occasions and runners up once. They then went on to win three successive titles between the 1970-1971 and 1972-1973, and following a third placed finish in 1973-1974, the club went on to win five successive titles in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. Barton Rovers joined Division Two of the Isthmian League in 1979, league restructuring saw them moved to Division Two North in 1984 before Division Two was restored in 1991. After finishing as runners-up in 1995, Barton were promoted to Division One, where they remained until they finished bottom of the division in 2001. After returning to Division Two, league restructuring saw them placed in Division One North in 202, before they were transferred to the Eastern Division of the Southern League in 2004. Further restructuring saw them join Division One Midlands in 2006, before finally being placed in Division One Central in 2010, where they have remained since. In 2015 the club finished fifth and qualified for the play offs, where they lost to Bedworth United in the final.
Uxbridge came into this game sitting in 17th place in the league, with their last five league games ending in two wins and three defeats. Barton Rovers sit in 3rd in the league, and their last five league games have resulted in four wins and one defeat, with one of their wins being an 8-0 victory over Petersfield Town.
With the sun high in the sky, the two sides took to the pitch, with Uxbridge in their red shirts, and Barton in their yellow. Both sides attacked well during the first half, and Barton could have found themselves 1-0 on the 16th minute, as the capitalised on an opportunity and fired the ball home. They began to celebrate but the referee had other ideas and after discussing it with his assistant, the goal was ruled out for offside.
Barton did put themselves into the lead in the36th minute, as their number 7, Scott Sinclair, fired home an absolute thunderbolt of a shot from just outside the area. His shot gave the Uxbridge keeper absolutely no chance, and the ball nestled in the back of the net nicely.
Half Time: Uxbridge 0-1 Barton Rovers (Sinclair 36)
At half time I walked round to the refreshment hut, and purchased a can of Diet Coke and a Kit Kat for the total of £1.65, with my drink in hand I walked back round to the pitch, and watched as the subs warmed up. Once the two sides were back out on the pitch I took my place next to the crooked little stand opposite the main stand.
Unfortunately the Barton goalscorer, Scott Sinclair, went down injured in the 52nd minute, and was replaced by number 14, Elliot Bailey. Sinclair had played well, and deserved the goal he had scored, it was a shame to see him leave the field as there was part of me that wanted to see him score another goal of the same calibre.
Barton made their second change in the 56th minute, as their number 15, Victor Osubu, came on to replace their number 11, Phil Draycott. Barton made their final change in the 69th minute, as their number 10, Connor Calcutt, was replaced by their number 16, Danny Watson.
Strangely despite naming a full subs bench, Uxbridge didn’t make a single substitution, my only guess can be that they had one eye on their game on Bank Holiday Monday against Potters Bar, as at this point of the season they must be tight on players.
Barton doubled their lead in the 74th minute, as Victor Osubu latched onto a loose ball in the box to fire home. The ball had been whipped in from a corner, and was flicked on inside the box, where Osubu found himself in plenty of space, and he made no mistake with the opportunity.
Final Score: Uxbridge 0-2 Barton Rovers (Sinclair 36, Osubu 74)
Leaving the ground I felt disappointed, as I had wanted to see Uxbridge win this game, I’ve got a soft spot for them, and keep an eye out for the results. It’s been a disappointing season in a way for Uxbridge, however mathematically they are safe this season, and can look forward to next season now. Going forward they were creative, and I was impressed by their number 10, Jon-Jo Bates, as well as their numbers 8 and 3, Abobaker Eisa and Andrew Dean, as they were all hardworking, creative players. Unfortunately Uxbridge seemed to lack that finishing touch in front of goal. With two games remaining the lowest Uxbridge could drop to would be 20th, however they would have to lose both of their remaining games, and Northwood would have to win both of theirs, on the other hand Uxbridge could climb to 14th if results go their way and they win their remaining fixtures.
It seems unlikely to me that Barton Rovers won’t be playing in the play-offs, as they currently sit in 3rd in the league on 74 points, if they were to lose their last two games, and Egham were to win theirs, as well as 4th and 5th winning their two games, Barton would drop to 6th which would see them drop out of the play-off spots. With their last two games being against Kempston, who occupy 5th, and Egham, Barton’s fate is very much in their own hands, and if they continue to play like they did today, I would certainly expect to see them in the play-offs.
In my Vlog for this match, I mentioned the back pass rule, as I’m sure Uxbridge should have been awarded an indirect free-kick in the first half. As it happened the ball was played to the Barton Rovers’ keeper who was put under pressure, he then used his hand to push the ball away to safety, however during this no other player had touched the ball, which in my opinion is a back pass. The rules state: “The ball is kicked by a teammate of the keeper, this action is deemed to be deliberate, rather than a deflection or miskick, and the keeper handles the ball directly (no intervening touch or play of the ball by anyone else).” In my opinion all of the above were met, the ball was deliberately played back to the keeper, who was under pressure, the keeper then handled the ball, however he only used his hand to push it away, he didn’t pick the ball up. In my opinion this would have been an indirect free-kick, but the referee made his decision and we’ve got to respect that, as without the referee we wouldn’t have had a game of football, and what would you rather have? A referee that makes mistakes but you get to watch a game of football or no football? It’s an easy decision for me.
After another Saturday spent watching Uxbridge, I’ve no idea where I’ll be going on Bank Holiday Monday, although Uxbridge are at Potters Bar, and that isn’t too far from my parents’ house, although there are plenty of other teams in the London area that I’d like to see play. I’m going to resort to pulling names out of a hat, aren’t I?
Thanks for reading.
Movember Total: £28 (£1.50 from Ashton Athletic vs Radcliffe Borough and £1 from today’s match)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 1
YouTube: https://youtu.be/nUaRyfshpVw (Reminder the gaming videos on this channel contain NSFW language and those that are offended by swearing or violence should avoid these. The groundhopping videos are clean however, mostly clean anyway.)