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A trip to Buckinghamshire this weekend for Ludgershall United Reserves against Aylesbury Hornets. Ludgershall play at Lower End in Ashendon, about six miles away, at what I imagine is usually a very picturesque ground. Unfortunately, the views of the surrounding Chiltern hills were obscured by an almost constant light drizzle. As opposed to that kind of rain that creeps up and soaks you to the bone without noticing, everything somehow remained relatively dry for Ludgershall’s final home game of the season.
On arrival, the locals were bemoaning the state of pitches in the local area. Apparently, Lower End was one of the better examples, despite one of the most pronounced slopes I’ve seen at a ground.
Ludgershall sit comfortably mid-table, while the Hornets are rooted to the bottom of the Aylesbury and District League’s lowest division. The Hornets had only once all season, and have shipped 11 goals twice in six games since the re-strart, including just last weekend against Preswood Reserves.
And it looked like they’d be in for another long afternoon, when only a couple of minutes before kick-off, they only had eight players. The first few minutes of the game did nothing to dispel expectations of a cricket score, when Ludgershall had a goal had a goal disallowed for offside and scored a nailed-on penalty a minute or two later.
But gradually more Hornets players arrived, and by the time they reached their full complement, they were level, a Ludgershall clearance being deflected from the edge of the area into the top corner.
Ludgershall came back, and a powerful finish just inside the box made it 2-1 to the home side, but it was a game played in good spirits spoiled by a referee who wanted to be at the centre of things, almost literally, as he barely left the centre circle all game.
With the wind behind them and playing downhill, Ludgershall looked to have put the result in no doubt with a strong opening to the second half. A tidy free-kick made it 3-1, but a saved penalty gave the Hornets hope. They nicked a goal back with about 20 minutes to go, but their considerably older legs began to tire, and for all their endeavour, they couldn’t really find a way through a comfortable Ludgershall defence.
The weather wasn’t conducive for photos of the surrounding hills, but it did give a moody moors feeling to the game. At times, it felt like it was above the clouds.