The County Ground
Swindon Town v Notts County
Saturday, April 2nd 2011, 3pm
By James Spring
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground?
I suppose you could say I wasn’t really looking forward to the game. Saying that, previous Tuesday Notts had ended a 9 game losing streak with a battling 1-0 win at Tranmere that had kept us in with a chance of survival. This was now a relegation 6 pointer for both sides, Swindon came into the match second bottom, while Notts were lying 19th, 2 points above the drop zone. A win for Notts would give us a real boost in the relegation scrap. However the ground looked like one of the better ones in the league.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
Being a Notts county fan living in Weymouth, our journey wasn’t as long as the rest of the Notts fans traveling down from Nottingham. We caught the train from Weymouth, swapped at Bath and arrived in Swindon for just after 2pm. We had looked on Google maps when we booking train tickets, so were able to find our way from the station to the County Ground easily, and arrived at the stadium for around 2:20pm.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
Having arrived in Swindon just an hour or so before kick off we didn’t really have time to go and eat. Brought a match programme outside the ground for £3 (excellent quality) and made our way into the stadium. Buying a programme would prove costly for me, as while I was strolling along flicking through, my mate turned to me saying "did you see him?" "what? who?" I answered. turns out, Notts county's manager had walked past us saying hello and I had missed him!
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
From the station, you approach the ground from the 'Town End'. We had brought tickets for the game (£18 each) so didn’t have to worry about paying extra on the day. We stood right at the back, so our view of the town end goal was slightly blocked by a pillar. There is a small food outlet under the stand, but it was a day too warm for hot food!
Away supporters are located in one end of the Arkells Stand. This stand is an older one, opposite which is the more modern and pretty impressive Rogers Stand. The Town End looked like something you would expect to see in the conference though! Overall though the ground was one of the better ones I visited that season.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
Being a game between two relegation candidates, the atmosphere was pretty tense but the game was quite open from the start. Notts had the ball in the net after just three minutes but it was ruled out for offside. From that point the game was pretty tight. Then on the half hour mark came the vital first goal, and it fell to Swindon thanks to some slack marking from Notts following a corner.
Just moments into the second half, we all thought Swindon had gone 2-0 up from another corner but a stunning volley from the edge of the area smashed against the crossbar, and Notts had had a lucky escape. The game remained very tight, and the score remained 1-0 until 12 minutes from time, when Alan Judge's cross found its way into the back of the net for a Notts equaliser. Swindon, having been on the bad run they had been on, began to look very shaky, and Notts sensed blood.
Then, just three minutes from time, a defensive error allowed Lee Hughes to receive the ball, beating the off side trap, one on one with the town keeper. He rounded the keeper before calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net, bringing delight to over 500 traveling Notts fans. Notts had stolen it 2-1, and it pretty much condemned Swindon to League Two next season, while Notts could confirm safety with a win over Brentford on Easter Monday.
The stewards were pretty much unnoticeable which is always a good thing and didn’t stop us standing up.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Had no problem getting away from the ground. Stopped at an off licence on Manchester road for two ice cold cans of coke on the way back to the station, at which we arrived around 20 minutes after the match, just minutes before our train arrived. Got talking to a Swindon fan on the train back to Bath, who seemed resigned to relegation but wished us good luck for the rest of the season.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
Overall, despite the reasonably long train journey, it was a brilliant day out, and what would turn out to be a vital 3 points for Notts that would keep us up come the end of the season with us picking up two more points from our remaining 3 games. A nice stadium, hope to return one day.
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