Eastern Senior League, Division One South
Little Oakley 1 Halstead Town 3 (att 100)
Groundhopping in winter weather can take you in unexpected directions, sometimes literally. I was planning to go Scotland, but pitch inspections even for games on artificial surfaces put me off, whereas Little Oakley tweeted early that their game was definitely going ahead.
So instead of a 400 mile round trip north I made a 500 mile round trip south, to the outskirts of Harwich and one of the few 'step six' venues I was yet to visit.
Having made the long journey I was relieved when I arrived that temperatures were above freezing and players were on the pitch warming up. Late postponements on days like this are becoming too common, often with no thought to those whose have travelled to watch (not that groundhoppers should get any extra consideration, no one forces me to drive hundreds of miles in poor weather).
I got a friendly welcome at Little Oakley, and after a welcome pre-match coffee I eventually left the warmth of the clubhouse to stand pitchside in the cold. The weather might have impacted the first half, which wasn't great.
Halstead, second in the league, were the better side. They went ahead with a well taken goal, then doubled their lead with a penalty. By half time it was 10-a-side, as well as 2-0, after a bad challenge, and the reaction to it, earned a red card for each side.
The second half was better, and Little Oakley pushed hard to get back into the game. The visitors held firm though, and got a third goal to put the points out of the home side's reach. Little Oakley did get a late consolation.
The Memorial Ground is a basic venue but a pleasant one. There's a small seated stand on one side, a small covered area behind the goal nearest the clubhouse, and a path that provides hard standing on two sides.