Match Information

  • Bishop’s Stortford 0-3 Coalville Town (at Aveley FC)

  • When: Tuesday 20th February 2024

  • Kick-off: 7.45pm

  • Where: Parkside, Park Lane, Aveley, Essex RM15 4PX

  • Competition: The Isuzu FA Trophy Fifth Round Proper

  • Attendance: 203

My roaming reporter role for competition sponsors Isuzu has been severely hampered by ongoing wet weather.

We had tried to film a tie in the Isuzu FA Trophy Fifth Round for 10 days overall but were frustratingly thwarted via repeated postponements due to waterlogging. However on Monday at 5.59pm, an unexpected Bishop’s Stortford FC tweet most certainly caught my eye:

“Venue Change For FA Trophy Game. Following a pitch inspection this afternoon we can confirm that tomorrow evening’s Isuzu FA Trophy Fifth Round tie against Coalville Town will now be played at Aveley FC.”

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Stortford would therefore be in action some 36 miles away from their regular home headquarters. But crucially with a 3G artificial playing surface at Aveley, it meant the fixture could definitely go ahead and so it swiftly became my Isuzu FA Trophy match of choice.

I previously visited the £4.8 million Parkside arena when it first opened seven years ago. That was on Friday 25th August 2017 for Aveley 2 Witham Town 1 (attendance 292) in the Isthmian League North Division at Step 4.

Since then, upwardly mobile Aveley have won two rapid promotions and presently hover one point outside the National League South play-off zone.

Anyway, I duly embarked on my one hour journey around the M25 Motorway and down the A13 to meet Isuzu cameraman Chris in the large club car park prior to kick-off.

Ground Description

A fantastic modern day hub for the local community. An imposing main grandstand is backed by plush bar and hospitality facilities. These incorporate an upstairs indoor balcony where I watched the game right beside an invitingly warm radiator!

There is another seated stand on the opposite touchline plus covered terracing sections adorning either end. I spotted a few spectator areas were fenced off featuring foundations laid for further improvements to take place.

Tony Incenzo

Accordingly, Aveley FC chief executive Craig Johnson told me: “A great deal of work is going on at the moment.

“Additional seats and terraces are being installed in the next four weeks to enhance the viewing experience around the ground and to meet Step 2 grading requirements. Everything will look a lot different!”

Programme Details

Excellent 36 page colour production selling at £3 courtesy of an amicable guy manning a table inside the main gate.

Understandably issued for the original postponed date of Saturday 10th February, thoughtful contents included a profile of the only player to ever line up for both Bishop’s Stortford and Coalville Town.

The Match

On a crisp breezy night, the outcome defied online betting patterns as Step 3 underdogs Coalville Town – sitting mid-table in the Southern League Premier Central - toppled more fancied Step 2 opponents.

Bishop’s Stortford are currently struggling at the foot of the National League North enduring nine consecutive league defeats to slumber 18 points adrift of safety.

And matters became much harder for them in this tie once teenage defender Riccardo Di Trolio was sent-off after merely 10 minutes for a last man challenge inches outside the box.

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Coalville shaded possession and chances beyond that yet didn’t break through until the second period whereby Eliot Putman (58 minutes), Luke Shaw (68 mins) and Joe Doyle-Charles (82 mins) supplied clinical strikes to delight their jubilant supporters massed directly behind the goal.

Coalville will now travel to face Macclesfield in the Isuzu FA Trophy Quarter-Finals on Saturday 9th March 2024 at 3pm. Football betting odds might well favour the Leicestershire team for further progress en route to Wembley Stadium on Non-League Finals Day.

The People

Shan Toms, Mike Plume and Hamish Arnold at Bishop’s Stortford were really helpful in arranging our filming at extremely short notice.

It was interesting to see Stortford staffed the game deploying their own stewards who all very friendly and cheerful. I also chatted with Riccardo Di Trolio following his red card.

Riccardo is on loan from EFL Championship outfit Coventry City and was suitably amazed I could pronounce his surname correctly before he realised we mutually enjoy Neapolitan heritage!

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Tony Incenzo*

Tony is an experienced football broadcaster who has worked for Clubcall, Capital Gold, IRN Sport, talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. 

His devotion to Queens Park Rangers saw him reach 50 years without missing a home game in April 2023.

Tony is also a Non-League football expert having visited more than 2,500 different football grounds in his matchday groundhopping.

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo.