Lutterworth Athletic 0 Aylestone Park 1

Monday 25th April 2011
Lutterworth Athletic 0 Aylestone Park 1
Everards Brewery Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division
At Steve Rendall Park, Dunley Way
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (pages)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance 120 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:05; second-half: 47:24

Lutterworth Athletic’ s badge shows ‘EST 1993’ and for the past 18 years they have been based at Dunley Way. Today, however, the ground hosted the final home league game before the club moves about a mile or so north to the Lutterworth Soccer Centre on Hall Lane. From the start of next season, the first team will play on the grass pitch currently used by Lutterworth Town. I was first aware of the club’s impending move from Dunley Way to Hall Lane a few weeks ago when reading Laurence Reade’s review of his visit to the ground on Facebook. And thanks to a message in the ‘Where are you going’ section of Tony’s Non-League Forum, which read ‘Lutterworth Athletic - Aylestone Park 3.00pm Last league game to be played at Dunley Way Admission £2 Programme £1’, I decided to make one of those ‘now or never’ trips along the A5 to the Leicestershire town. I’d actually been to Dunley Way once before, back in January 2009, more in hope than expectation that the game that day had survived a big freeze. The game was off and I headed instead to the Walkers Stadium.

The ground, known as the Steve Rendell Park and named in honour of one of three founders of the club who passed away late last year, was a pleasant and buzzing place. No covered standing or seats, though the trees down the west side of the ground provided shade for those, like myself, who wanted to avoid the strong sun. The ground was three-sided with no spectator access behind the south goal, hardstanding around the other three sides. The floodlights had been removed though some of the bases still remain. Close to the entrance was the club building which housed a bar, tea bar and changing rooms with patio in front.

For Lutterworth (4th place with 54 points from 29 games), the final home game was also their final league game of the season. Mathematically they still could finish third though in reality they needed to finish off with a win to hold on to fourth spot, not quite enough to earn the promotion spot which should go to third-placed Blaby and Whetstone. Visitors Aylestone Park (43 points from 28 games) occupied ninth position knowing that two wins from their last two games would seem then finish one place higher in the Premier Division table.

A bumper crowd enjoyed the warm April sunshine with several travellers in attendance (from Northampton, Kent and East Anglia, amongst others). The home side got the action underway a couple of minutes before 3 pm by my watch, defending the changing rooms end in the first half. To be honest the first 42 minutes were largely uneventful in terms of scoring opportunities though certain players on both sides were starting to test the qualities of the young referee. Aylestone defender Luke Baston picked up a booking for the second of a couple of fouls in quick succession. The tide then turned in favour of Aylestone Park during the minutes leading up to the interval. Nick Colford rattled the bar and Jack Limbert forced Atheltic keeper Sam Green to leap and palm over a rising 22-yard shot.

After the break, the visitors continued to create chances and they scored what proved to be the winner in the 71st minute. A low cross from the right was fired home at the second attempt by Gaz Seal. The elaborate goal celebration in front of their dugout was perhaps fitting for what will be the last first-team league goal scored at the ground. Kieron Neat’s header was blocked on the line by a defender as Aylestone looked to extend their lead while the closest Lutterworth came to an equaliser was an 81st minute header across the face of goal by Alex Heathcott.

Back home, I was surprised to find that, prior to today, I’d only ever watched one previous Leicestershire Senior League game (and that was back in 1989 at Friar Lane Old Boys) and two Tebbutt Brown cup games with an LSL club being the home team (1988 at Stapenhill and 1991 at Anstey Nomads). A few more trips next season to Leicestershire are long overdue.

0-1 Gaz Seal (71)