Southern Combination League, Division One
Langney Wanderers 2 Lingfield 3 (att 75)
Having stayed in west London on Friday night I'd anticipated a trouble-free journey to one of the trickier grounds added to the ranks of "step six" for this season, but the M25 did it's best to hamper me.
At one stage I thought I'd struggle to get to a game anywhere, but I eventually I made it to Langney Wanderers, on the outskirts of Eastbourne, at about two minutes to three.
I was greeted with a friendly welcome, and news that several Lingfield players had also been stuck in traffic, and so the kick off had been put back 15 minutes, which at least gave me time to move my car nearer the ground. The Shinewater Lane venue is awkward to find, with the Lane itself more of a footpath than a road.
Langney were promoted to this level of the re-named Sussex County League during the summer. Their debut got off to a bad start, as Lingfield made light of their travel problems by racing into a three goal lead in the first 25 minutes.
The home side created plenty of chances though, in a game that was always entertaining. They gave themselves hope by pulling a goal back before half time. In the second half the momentum was with Langney, even more so when the visitors picked up a red card with a quarter of the match still to go.
Langney pushed hard, but it took until the final minute before they got a second goal. Even then, with plenty of stoppage time to play, an equaliser looked possible, but Lingfield held out.
I'm not sure what the ground grading rules are now for teams playing at this level, or how much of a grace period they receive to complete necessary work. Langney's ground must be among the most basic at "step six", and there's surely more to do it they're to remain at this level.
At present it's a partially-enclosed railed off pitch with dugouts, hard standing on two sides, a small area of covered standing, no floodlights and a lengthy walk from changing rooms to pitch. It's not a criticism though, the ground is more than adequate for this level of football, and ground grading should be more realistic.