The War Memorial Sports Ground is based in the heart of Carshalton. It is a really impressive non-league ground, with bags of character and the staff provided a great welcome. There is a free and extensive car park and once I’d paid the £8 entrance fee for this friendly fixture, I was entering a ground, which like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, appears much bigger on the inside than it appears from outside!
The ground was bathed in sunshine but boasts a 4G pitch and covered standing, all along the length of one side and one end of the ground. There is also a small covered stand at the opposite end and a big grandstand with covered seating. Despite being a friendly, the sun had helped draw a decent crowd of 287.
Carshalton Athletic FC are managed by Steve McKimm , who successfully took Tonbridge Angels FC out of the Isthmian League and into the National League South, during an eight year stint, as manager of the Longmead Stadium club before his departure, at the end of the 2021/22 season. Carshalton Athletic FC currently play in the Isthmian Premier League.
Hythe Town were today’s visitors and they play currently in the Isthmian League (South East Division) under manager Steve Watt, who rejoined the side at the end of the 2021/22 season, hoping the club can put its recent financial issues behind it. This would be a big challenge for Hythe Town today, away at an Isthmian Premier Division club.
The club is well served with a shop, refreshment stand, bar and clubhouse as well as good toilet facilities.
Unfortunately I was unable to access a team sheet for Hythe Town FC.
The first 25 minutes of play was mostly dominated by the home side. Carshalton Athletic’s midfield and forward line, were repeatedly pressurising the defence of the Hythe Town FC team. Whenever they were challenged in this period, the away team’s defence stood up well, however it felt like withstanding that much pressure would eventually take its toll.
Immediately after the heat induced drinks break, in the 28th minute, the home side’s pressure led to a poacher’s goal from Jake Embery, following Bobby Mills’ beautiful cross pass.
Then out of nowhere, on 32 minutes, Hythe Town broke away on the right hand side, through their dangerous attacking wing back. The crossed ball fell to their number ten, Ethan Smith, who calmly headed in, to equalise, against the run of play.
This equaliser seemed to awaken Hythe Town’s confidence, as they then found some rhythm and in the 36th minute their number 9, Johan Caney-Bryan, broke free to smash the ball home high to the Carshalton Keeper’s left and put the away side into what had seemed an unlikely 1-2 lead.
No more goals were added before the break, so at halftime the referee blew the whistle with the score still Carshalton Athletic FC 1, Hythe Town FC 2.
The second half saw the Hythe Town side fade as their energy was sapped and Carshalton Athletic’s substitutions brought drive and aggression at a key point. Unfortunately the final pass to secure goal scoring chances never came and as the half progressed you could see the hope disappearing in the minds of the home team players.
The final whistle blew, with the away side holding on for a narrow victory. This was a good match for the neutral and both managers came away with much promise, but much still to find, ahead of the new season.