As I head towards Petersfield, today’s destination I can’t help but thinking that it seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to the fictional town of Newton Haven in the new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film The World’s End. Archetypal market towns with easy on the eye architecture and an abundance of well-tended flower beds, but harboring a dark-side, in the case of Newton Haven robots oozing blue blood, or in the case of Petersfield Friday night punch-up’s in Oscar’s the town’s only nightclub and general anti-social after dark behavior – at least that is according to the accounts of my ex-girlfriend Katy who grew up in Petersfield. It is with her that I first walked along Love Lane, past Petersfield’s ground and thought to myself that I’d have to drop by and watch a game sometime. Ten years later and I’m back.
Katy is, of course, long gone. Like many of Petersfield’s youth, led by ambition, she seized the first opportunity to get out of town and headed for the lights of the big city. And it’s ambition which has also led Petersfield’s top striker , 36 goal Callum Coker, to exit the club over the off-season though in his case it’s the not-so-bright lights of Downton somewhere between Fordingbridge and Salisbury. Petersfield Town themselves though do not lack in ambition. In his programme notes manager Ian Saunders sets out his stall by stating that “promotion is the priority for us” adding that “We’ve kept last years squad and added some experience so we hope to push on and get this club where it deserves to be – the Wessex Premier Division.” as if he has been enviously casting an eye over the Jonses at Horndean and AFC Porchester.
Standing in the way of those grand plans today are Hythe and Dibden, last season’s bottom club, but who like a failing restaurant are under new management. As I walk round to the main-stand – which has been, rather impolitely, described as “worse for wear” (I prefer characterful) – the smell of freshly cut grass fills my nostrils with its pleasant sweetness. Its a smell of renewal.
The million mile march towards promotion sees it’s first tentative step around ten minutes when Petersfield take the lead with a glancing header. Its a lead which they never relinquish though Hythe and Dibden threaten at points to snatch a goal for the kind of point which would please them infinitely more than the home side.
A nerve-calming second goal is scored, around sixty minutes, by Petersfield’s new-signing winger Mike Asare, who seems to possess a neat touch, pace and control in abundance. It’s a joy to watch as in the sun he skips past his opponents. At one point leaving four defenders flummoxed, though frequently his team mates are similarly flummoxed not quite yet on the same wavelength when it comes to reading each-others intentions.
Things get a little hairy when Hythe close the deficit soon after Asare’s goal, and the stretched-out play sees chances at both ends, but Petersfield dig-in and manage to restore their two goal cushion with a well-worked team goal late-on. 3-1 at the end a fair result for what was a good team performance. Katy and Callum don’t know what they’re missing.