I used a visit to drop my children off in the Midlands, as an opportunity on the return journey, to visit Woodside Park, home of the Isthmian Premier League’s Bishop Stortford.
Woodside Park holds a capacity of 4525 with 525 seated. It was opened in 1999 when Bishop’s Stortford played Norwich City. The ground benefits from a grass pitch, with seated stands on either side of the pitch, as well as having covered terracing at each end. There is a decent club shop and refreshment stand and high quality floodlighting. 388 fans attended the first home game this season, against Haringey Borough.
Bishop’s Stortford FC have made a positive start, in their opening games of the season in the Isthmian Premier League. They won 2-1 at home to Haringey Borough, followed by a fine 0-1 away win at Potters Bar. Last Saturday saw a narrow 2-1 defeat to high flying Lewes FC, ending the 100% record, but still leaving them in a very positive 7th place.
Cray Wanderers season opened badly, with a 2-1 away defeat to Billericay Town. They then took a home point from a match with early league leaders, Bognor Regis Town, which ended 2-2, before winning their first game of the season last Saturday, with a 1-0 victory at home, in front of 242 fans, against Canvey Island. Neil Smith, Cray’s popular and hugely experienced manager, will be taking heart from the improvements over the three games and tonight’s fixture against a top Isthmian league side in their own backyard, would prove to be a real test of the Cray credentials.
The Friday night fixture attracted a decent crowd of 399, creating a decent atmosphere under the lights.
After a tight opening to the game, where neither side could dominate, in the 15th minute, Bishop Stortford’s Frankie Merrifield found space on the left hand side of the Cray Wanderers box and curled in the opening goal to put the home side 1-0 up.
Within minutes Bishop’s Stortford had a clear cut chance to make it 2-0, when a strike from Ollie Peters shook the Cray Wanderers’ cross bar.
After that chance, the match evened out as both sides had periods of pressure. At the break, however, the sides went in with the home team still 1-0 ahead.
The second half opened with both teams going on the attack. In the 50th minute a bad injury to Bishop Stortford’s Darren Foxley, saw him being replaced by Terrell Egbri, recently of Southend United.
As the half progressed and Cray Wanderers can more and more into the game, it looked like an equaliser was on the cards. In the 70th minute, Cray Wanderers’ Mitch Chapman found an opportunity in the area, from a free kick and fired it home past Jack Giddens, to make the score 1-1.
Bishop Stortford had a golden chance a minute later to regain the lead but Chris Harris fired wide, when one on one with Shaun Rowley in the Cray Wanderers’ goal.
Both sides continues to press until the final whistle but at full time they were still locked together at 1-1. This was a hard fought game where both sides have everything. A point each was on the balance of play, a fair result.