Oxford United v Southend United
Saturday, April 28th, 2012, 3pm
By John Spooner
As we live in North Wales, it was a 170 mile journey to Oxford via motorways M54, M6, M5, M42, M40 and then onto the A34. The journey took over three hours but was straightforward. The ground is well signposted and our satnav was spot on. Arriving before 1pm we found the ground busy with car parks filling quickly and large numbers of fans already making their way on foot. We found street parking on Grenoble Road about 200 yards from the ground.
Before walking to the ground we sat in our car listening to commentary on Southampton confirming promotion v Coventry and enjoyed a picnic prepared by wife/mum. The home fans appeared to be friendly and both sets of fans were mixing freely and happily at The Priory pub outside the ground.
On arrival the ground looks good with a bronze looking figure of a bull which is impressive and offers a good point for photographs adjacent to the car park. Disappointing to find the ground still has only three stands with an open end with no access for fans behind that goal. The pitch looked well cared for and good enough for the highest standards of football. The programme was £3 but with 84 pages offered a good read. A section of the North stand had been cordoned off to accommodate 1,102 travelling Southend fans who were in party mood and many in fancy dress which has become traditional for final away games. The total attendance was 9,356 which is a credit for Oxford United at this level. The ground is modern with cantilever stands offering fans a great view.
The game itself was entertaining particularly as Southend scored twice in the first half to take control. It was a cold and damp day, more like winter than spring and windy, but both sides endeavoured to play a passing game helped by the good standard of the pitch. The atmosphere was obviously good in the Southend section and Oxford fans made themselves heard in the 2nd half as they fought for a goal. The stewards were friendly and willing to direct fans to their seats. The food appeared good but rather expensive compared to other grounds in League Two. The toilets were clean and tidy.
At full time we were allowed to exit the ground at the same time as the home fans and all mixed without any trouble. The journey from the ground was slow initially given the volume of traffic but easier than many other grounds with early signposting for the motorways. So overall a great day out for Southend particularly as results elsewhere ensured we still had a chance of automatic promotion in our last game at home to Macclesfield.
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