Road to Bescot

Tuesday 8th October 2013
Stafford Town 0 Tividale 2
Walsall Senior Cup First Round
At: Evans Park, Riverway, Stafford
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: mild and dry


First visit of the season to Evans Park for a Walsall Senior Cup First Round tie where Stafford Town were putting their unbeaten home record on the line against high-flying Tividale.

A quick glance at the Midland Alliance league table highlighted the enormity of the task facing the Reds this evening. Tividale stood second in the table with a 100% record and only kept off top spot because leaders Highgate had amassed an extra four points from the four extra games they had played.

2. Tividale P 8 W 8 D 0 L 0 F 28 A 5 PTS 24

After bigging up the visitors, Stafford Town’s start to the Midland Combination Premier Division season needs bigging up as well – fifth in the table with just two defeats in nine league games. I saw then draw 0-0 at Pelsall Villa seven days ago.

Walsall Senior Cup First Round
Bolehall Swifts v Bolemere St Michaels
Romulus v Wolverhampton Casuals
Stafford Town v Tividale
Walsall Wood v Continental Star
Byes for Bilston Town 2007, Brocton, Chasetown, Heath Hayes, Lichfield City, Pelsall Villa, Rushall Olympic, Sporting Khalsa, Stafford Rangers, Sutton Coldfield Town, Tipton Town and Walsall.

For those of you unfamiliar with the stadium, Evans Park, named after Chairman Gordon Evans, is a relatively new ground which opened in March 2011. All the facilities are adjacent to the entrance including the 192-seater ‘Keith Mottershead Stand’. Keith has been a stalwart of football in Stafford for around 50 years and richly deserved the renaming of the stand in his honour during the summer.

Compared to the Pelsall game seven days ago [Town didn’t have a game on Saturday], the Reds’ starting line-up showed three changes with Alex Barnfather, John Warburton, Morgan Hurley in for Chris McComisky, George Burslem and the boss Adam Cunningham.

Visitors Tividale made no fewer than seven changes to the side that thumped Gornal Athletic 6-0 at the weekend. Andrew Parsons, Tim Jackson, Sam Williams and Ryan Winwood were the four who started both tonight and at the weekend.

Tividale (in all yellow) got the action underway defending the cricket ground end of Evans Park in the first half. Stafford made a “good start” as Adam encouraged his side from the technical area and urged his side to “keep it up”.

Even though neither side created a decent scoring opportunity during the opening 27 minutes, it was none-the-less a decent contest dominated by defences and midfields.

The visitors gradually started to assert their authority and, in the 28th minute, Ryan Winwood cut in from the left and hit a low shot that flashed across the face of the Stafford goal.

Tividale took the lead on the half hour with a goal that provoked much debate. No dispute as to whether it should be awarded or not but who actually should be credited with the goal? Ryan Winwood swung in a corner from the left which went into the net at the near post. My initial reaction was that Karl Edwards flicked the ball into the net [and even tweeted at the time to say so] though at half-time became persuaded that the goal was actually an own goal. Based on what Tividale subsequently tweeted and response from the striker, I’m giving it to Edwards.

Dan Brown responded and fired wide of the right-hand post before the excellent Ben Sturgeon produced two super saves in quick succession to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead. Twice in the 42nd minute, the goalkeeper first did well to push a rising 20-yard snap shot from Andrew Parsons round the left-hand post, then kept out Levi Bailey’s far post downward header from the resulting corner.

Half-time Stafford Town 0 Tividale 1

Sturgeon was again called into action early in the second half, this time to block a well-struck shot from Brett Clark.

Stafford gave a reminder to their fans just before the hour mark that they only trailed by a single goal. A neat passing move set up a chance for Francis Dacres who fired over from 25 yards out.

Sensing an equaliser, manager Adam urged his side to “raise it” and up the “tempo”.

Going into the last ten minutes, extra time still remained a distinct possibility with Stafford trailing to that 30th minute goal [I wasn’t complaining as an extra 30 minutes who have meant that Stafford’s journey on the ‘Road to Bescot’ was still alive.

A bouncing ball down the middle put the Tividale defence under pressure and the harrying Brown forced Luke Paskin to concede a corner. This was swung in from the right by Hurley across the face of goal but no one could apply the finishing touch. Close.

However, football can be a cruel game and it was certainly cruel to Stafford in the 87th minute when Tividale scored their match-winning second goal. A bouncing ball played forward into the Stafford area by Tim Jackson caused problems for Sturgeon and Brett Clark touched the ball into an empty net

Tividale advance to the second round along with Walsall Wood who defeated Continental Star 2-1 at Oak Park.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Ben Sturgeon, 2. Alex Barnfather, 3. James Wild, 4. Mat Dockerty, 5. Jon Warburton, 6. Joe Woodward, 7. Francis Dacres, 8. Jake Turner, 9. Morgan Hurley (capt), 10. Dan Brown, 11. Jamie Cartwright. Subs: 12. Jack Milgate (for Barnfather, 76), 14. Matt Oulton (for Cartwright, 63), 17. Adam Cunningham. Manager: Adam Cunningham.

Tividale (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Jack Hayfield, 2. Andrew Parsons, 3. Tim Jackson, 4. Andrew Dicken, 5. Levi Bailey, 6. Luke Paskin, 7. Samuel Wilson, 8. Sam Williams (capt), 9. Brett Clark, 10. Karl Edwards, 11. Ryan Winwood. Subs: 12. Matthew Waite (not used), 14. Stuart How (for Winwood, 89), 15. David Bellis (for Dicken, 72), 16. Thomas Overfield (for Wilson, 79), 17gk. Charles Price (not used). Manager: Stuart Scriven and Ian Long.

Referee: Mark Murfitt
Assistants: Ashley Parry and Matthew Brattley

Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:38; second-half: 47:07

Goals:
0-1 Karl Edwards (30)
0-2 Brett Clark (87)

Cards: none

Thunderbolt

Saturday 5th October 2013
Brocton 2 Bolehall Swifts 1
St Mary’s Hospice Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Silkmore Lane, Stafford
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Weather: dry, sunny spells


As a supporter, I don’t think there is a better feeling than seeing a team you follow score a late winner. I felt a sense of real elation at Silkmore Lane around 4-45pm this afternoon when a 90th-minute David Berks thunderbolt sent Combination leaders Brocton three points clear at the top with a last gasp 2-1 victory. The stunning goal was a fitting end to an absorbing and tight contest between two sides who will be challenging for promotion to the Midland Alliance all season.

The first Saturday of every month normally forces me to look at the fixtures close to home and, today, I didn’t need much persuading to watch a top-of-the-table clash on my doorstep. Both Brocton and visitors Bolehall Swifts have made an impressive start to the season, so much so, they went into this afternoon’s game at the top of the pile level on 22 points.

The Badgers (1st with 22 points from eight games), who won each of their opening six league games, remain unbeaten and were involved in an amazing topsy-turvy game at Nuneaton Griff three days ago. I followed the action on Twitter and Brocton eventually claimed the points by the odd goal in nine.

WON Sat 10 Aug – Brocton 4 Coventry Copsewood 0
WON Tues 13 Aug – Pelsall Villa 1 Brocton 7
WON Sat 24 Aug – Littleton 1 Brocton 3
WON Mon 26 Aug – Brocton 4 Stafford Town 1
WON Tue 3 Sep – Atherstone Town 2 Brocton 4
WON Tue 10 Sep – Brocton 2 Lichfield City 1
DRAW Sat 28 Sep – Lichfield City 1 Brocton 1
WON Tue 2 Oct – Nuneaton Griff 4 Brocton 5

Since the home game against Lichfield, which was covered by Pitch-side Stories, Brocton narrowly lost 2-1 in the FA Cup at Halesowen Town and progressed to the FA Carlsberg Vase First Round with a 5-3 home win over Wolverhampton Casuals after extra time.

Visitors Bolehall (22 points from 10 games) lost top spot on Wednesday and have had also won six league games including their last four.

For those unfamiliar with Silkmore Lane ground, it is the former home of Staffordshire Police and lay derelict until Brocton developed it into their smart permanent new home with two pitches, changing rooms and a hospitality room. The floodlight main pitch boasts a 110-seater stand.

Team news, as always, was provided on the whiteboard displayed in the hospitality room window and showed Brocton lacking Sam Bell and Jack Lees, who had both travelled with Stafford Rangers to Frickley Athletic.

Time for the action to commence, after I had a quick chat with the ever-popular Mick Fox (@backtogoalfox).

While Bolehall (in blue) got the first half underway defending the changing rooms end, it was Brocton who made the biggest impact during the opening minutes. Dan Shore fired wide from 20 yards out and Paul McMahon fed Craig Hulme who shot over the bar.

Gary Fife has been scoring goals since I first saw him feature for Stafford Rangers as a 17-year-old back in 2003. And he wasted no time in adding to his 200+ goal haul by putting the Badgers ahead in the 6th minute. Dan Lomas (pictured) provided the assist and Fife got forward from midfield to the edge of the area where he hammered a low shot past Bolehall goalkeeper Tom McNulty.

Brocton needed to thank Adam Whitehouse for keeping them in front a minute after taking the lead. The goalkeeper did well to block a shot from the lively Steve Day with his legs.

As chances continued to be created, an inswinging free-kick from Fife out of the left was headed off the line by a defender. Almost 2-0 but not quite.

Watching the first half in the company of the Reverend Jeff Reynolds, the contest remained a tight one with most of Bolehall’s attempts on goal being shot from outside the area.

McMahon, a recent signing from neighbours Stafford Town, forced Tom McNulty into a raction save.

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Bolehall would get back on level terms before the interval, which they did in the 42nd minute. Day exchanged passes with Chris Sturridge-Packer to get a clear shot of goal and he duly fired home off the hand of Whitehouse.

A half-time score of Brocton 1 Bolehall Swifts 1 was a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes.

Brocton made a change at the interval with Dan Shore replaced by Damien Charie, who I remember playing for Hednesford Town a few years ago.

A nice move down the left led to a decent cross from Terry Carpenter which was inches too high for unmarked Sturridge-Packer.

Brocton had to survive some pressure from Bolehall at the start of the second half and just after the hour mark, Fife forced a diving save out of McNulty who gathered the resulting loose ball at the second attempt.

Amongst the crowd of about 110 was a contingent from Stafford Town, without a game and who should have been playing Bolehall until today’s fixtures were altered to allow Brocton to play one of their games in hand.

Both sides went close to taking the lead midway through the second half. McNulty parried a shot from Fife and Sturridge-Packer drove over the Brocton bar from the edge of the area.

With time running out in a game that could still have three possible outcomes, Brocton mounted a strong finish during the last ten minutes. Berks hit a well-struck long-range drive which beat the diving McNulty and shaved the outside of the right-hand post.

The Bolehall goalkeeper, a minute later, dived to right to hold a low-angled shot from Fife that was heading for the bottom-left corner.

The watch had ticked past 44 minutes of the second half when the game’s champagne moment came. Charie found Berks 20 yards out who sent an unstoppable volley past NcNulty. 2-1 to the Badgers!!!

There still time for Bolehall to move one last attack. Carpenter delivered a left-win corner which Day headed across the face of goal. I didn’t spot it myself but I’m told that Mick Fox’s celebration was on a par with the goal!

At full-time, it was clear that the win meant so much to the Brocton players, supporters and officials.

Midland Combination football in Stafford is buzzing at the moment. Brocton are top of the table and still involved in the FA Carlsberg Vase which Stafford Town sit in fifth position. Both are in action on Tuesday; Brocton host Bromsgrove Sporting in the league while Town hope to make progress in the Walsall Senior Cup at home to Midland Alliance outfit Tividale.

Brocton (green with white sleeves / white / green): 1. Adam Whitehouse, 2. Charlie Jones, 3. Jamie Evans, 4. Matt Skinner, 5. David Ablewhite, 6. Craig Hulme, 7. Dan Shore, 8. Paul McMahon, 9. Gary Fife, 10. David Berks (capt), 11. Dan Lomas. Subs: 12. Damien Charie (for Shore, ht), 14. Liam Haycock (for Hulme, 71), 15. Andy Bourne (for McMahon, 67), 16. Dale Roberts (not used), 17. Jethro Jarrett (not used). Manager: John Berks.

Bolehall Swifts (blue/blue/blue): 1. Tom McNulty, 2. Nick Heath (capt), 3. Brett Larkins, 4. Greg Dickie, 5. Joe Obi, 6. Mick Pollard, 7. Steve Day, 8. Terry Carpenter, 9. Chris Sturridge-Packer, 10. Dave Yonwin, 11. Chris Cowley. Subs: 12. Mitchell Piggon (for Cowley, 64), 14. Kyle Turner (for Sturridge-Packer, 82), 15. Jamie Abbott (for Heath, 72), 16. Lewis Chadwick (not used).

Referee: Dan Westwood.
Assistants: Peter Dobson and Mark Winston.

Attendance: 110 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:05; second-half: 47:20

Goals:
1-0 Gary Fife (6)
1-1 Steve Day (42)
2-1 David Berks (90)

Cards: none

Solid point

Tuesday 1st October 2013
Pelsall Villa 0 Stafford Town 0
St Mary’s Hospice Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Bush Ground, Walsall Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: cold and dry [coat needed]


I love nostalgic revisits, especially to places like Pelsall Villa, where my previous trip occurred years or even a couple of decades ago. Walking through the turnstile from the small car park at the Walsall Road end, my first impression, like Boston Town on Saturday, was wow! Emerging into a large seated stand, which once stood as a covered terrace at the old GKN Sankey ground, my eyes initially looked down the slope to the goal and trees at the far end. To my right, straddling halfway, were the dugouts and to my left were an assortment of interesting buildings and structures making up the tea bar, hospitality room, changing room and old stand.

It was good to be back at the Bush Ground after all these years.

The midweek games I’ve seen so far this season have been few and far between. Today, it was a case of pulling out all the stops for a first look at Stafford Town and at the same time made a first visit to Villa’s Bush Ground in 24 years. While the slope from goal to goal is obviously still a natural feature, the ground has undergone much development with the aforementioned large stand at the top of the hill and floodlights. The game itself, watched in good company, was better than the scoreline suggests though most of the key incidents occurred during the final ten minutes.

Apart from the odd blip in both the FA Cup and Vase, the 2013/14 campaign has been a good one for Stafford Town (6th with 17 points from nine games). A win tonight would have taken the Reds up into second position in the table and within two points of current leaders Bolehall Swifts.

Pelsall (13th with 14 points from 12 games) may be in the bottom half of the table but are still on the ‘Road to Wembley’ in the FA Carlsberg Vase following a 1-0 home win over West Midlands (Regional) League side Sporting Khalsa. They face a first round tie against Coventry Sphinx towards the end of the month.

The teams met at Evans Park last month with Stafford running out 4-0 winners.

Attacking down the slope in the first half, Pelsall (in red and black) got the game underway and put Stafford under early pressure with goalkeeper Ben Sturgeon producing a decent save to keep out Mark Woolbridge’s 13th minute shot.

Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during the remainder of the first half. Town’s two chances were a long-range Jake Turner drive and a shot from captain Joe Woodward which looped over the bar off a defender.

Changes started to be created a bit more frequently during the second half. Dan Brown fired wide of the Pelsall goal while Sturgeon remained alert at the other end to block a shot from Woolbridge with his boot.

Pelsall thought they’d taken the lead in the 68th minute. Richard Taudrey’s initial shot was saved by Sturgeon and Alan Wilkes slotted home the rebound from an offside position.

With time running out for both sides, Morgan Hurley powered a close-range shot towards goal in the 88th minute which hit defender James Lewis on the line. Referee Gould pointed to the spot and dismissed the unlucky defender off for handball, a touch harsh I felt but the letter of the law. Up stepped Brown but he sent the spot kick high over the bar. No chance of using Da Vinci Code clich├ęs to describe the winner, no chance of describing the ball as spinning away from Pelsall’s goalkeeper Panasar and my run of 52 consecutive games without a 0-0 at an end. I did, however, have an enjoyable evening.

On the plus side, it certainly was a solid performance from Stafford to earn a point which lifted them into the top five and extended their unbeaten run in the league to four games.

I found Pelsall Villa a welcoming club and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit.

Pelsall Villa (red and black stripes): 1. Amarit Panasar, 2. Scott Summer, 3. John Chambers, 4. Ash Lawley, 5. James Lewis, 6. Richard Taundry, 7. Carl Morris (capt), 8. Michael Murray, 9. Mark Woolbridge, 10. Alan Wilkes, 11. Jordan Gaou. Subs: 12. Andrew Bentley (not used), 14. Kaine Mole (for Wilkes, 73), 15. Alex Parmmenter (not used), 16. Gavin Davis (not used), 17. Kieren Miller (not used). Manager: Craig Timmins.

Stafford Town (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Ben Sturgeon, 2. Mat Dockerty, 3. James Wild, 4. Chris McComisky, 5. Joe Woodward (capt), 6. Jamie Cartwright, 7. George Burslem, 8. Francis Dacres, 9. Dan Brown, 10. Adam Cunningham, 11. Jake Turner. Subs: 12. Morgan Hurley (for Cunningham, 84), 14. Alex Barnfather (for Turner, 76), 15. Dan Stockhall (for Cartwright, 69), 16. Matt Oulton (not used), 17. Jon Warburton (not used). Player-manager: Adam Cunningham.

Referee: Richard Gould
Assistants: Dave Evans and Jonathan Nelson.

Attendance: 30 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:42; second-half: 48:20

Goals: none

Cards:
Pelsall: James Lewis (RC, 88)
Stafford: Jamie Cartwright (YC, 46), Joe Woodward (YC, 63), Francis Dacres (YC, 90)

"Like watching Chelsea v Dortmund"

Saturday 28th September 2013
Boston Town 5 Harborough Town 1
ChromaSport and Trophies United Counties League Premier Division
At: Tattershall Road, Boston
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny


Let me start with a question. Have the holders of the FA Trophy ever been knocked out by a club who at the time were members of the Midland League? The answer is ‘yes’ and the team that achieved the feat was Boston Town (known at the time as simply Boston FC). After battling through three qualifying rounds in 1979/80 with victories over Heanor Town, AP Leamington and Oxford City, Boston were given a ‘glamour’ First Round tie to Stafford Rangers of the Alliance Premier League, who had triumphed at Wembley the previous May. I saw the tie at Marston Road in which Boston took the lead through Daly and Rangers salvaged a replay with Alf Wood’s second half equaliser. The replay took some playing due to bad weather and ended up being played on a Monday afternoon. Wood gave Stafford a half-time lead but Boston fought back to claim a memorable 2-1 victory thanks to second-half goals from Cox and Mallinder. Boston lost to Mossley after a replay in the following round.

School prevented me from watching the replay though at the time I wasn’t watching Stafford away from home in those days. So, over 33 years since that famous trophy run, I finally made it to Tattershall Road this afternoon at the suggestion of Wellingborough-based and Walsall-supporting groundhopper Neil Morris.

Strange as it may sound, I was actually making the opposite journey to Boston United who were away to Stafford Rangers in the FA Cup. I can’t say my journey was much fun – long delays on the A453 approaching Nottingham and temporary traffic lights at a key junction in Grantham – and instructions in the 2013 Non-League Directory made finding the ground from the A52 a bit of a conundrum.

Try these if approaching from Grantham: on the outskirts of Boston, turn left at the roundabout just past the Hammer and Pinches pub. Cross the railway and turn right at the roundabout that immediately follows and turn right into Sleaford Road. After about one mile take the first exit at the roundabout into Carlton Road then right at the lights into Fydell Street. Continue over the railway level crossing and river then, at the point the road straightens, turn sharp left and double back into Tattershall Road [this bit I missed]. The ground entrance is on the left after 0.8 miles signed ‘Boston Town Football Club’ and ‘Witham Way Country Park’.

The frustrations of the journey were soon forgotten after passing through the turnstile and experiencing a sense of ‘wow!’ with a first look the impressive Tattershall Road ground. A large covered terrace occupied much of the left-hand side, seats behind the far goal and both seats and covered standing down the right-hand side. I liked the fact that two of the three stands were named the Brian Curtis Stand and John Lyon Stand.

I touched on Boston Town’s history and they were formed in 1964 as Boston FC as a result of the temporary withdrawal of Boston United from senior football. They competed in the Eastern Counties League, Midland League, Northern Counties East League and Central Midlands League before commencing in 1991/92 an unbroken 22-season run in the United Counties League Premier Division. ‘Town’ was added to the club’s name in 1994. On thing I'm still in the dark about is this, 'Why are Boston Town nicknamed The Poachers'.

One thing I couldn’t help noticing about today’s match was its so-called billing as second-from-bottom v bottom with both sides still looking for their first league win of the season. The league record of Boston Town (18th with three points from six games) doesn’t tell a complete story as they are unbeaten in their last two games and also defeated Downham Town 6-0 in the FA Carlsberg Vase at the beginning of the month.

While Harborough Town (19th out of 19 with zero points from five games) have had no luck in the league so far this season, they have had some success in cup football. They have reached the FA Carlsberg Vase First Round and face Cleethorpes Town, the side I saw defeat Basford last Saturday.

Boston got the game underway attacking the clubhouse end and took an early 7th minute lead thanks to a lovely bit of skill. Josh Ford cleverly backheeled the ball into the path of Jordan Nuttell who fired low past Josh Carpenter from the edge of the area.

It was “like watching Chelsea v Dortmund in the Champions League” – Boston in blue with white socks and Harborough in yellow and black.

The lead was doubled ten minutes later after Daniel Pegg brought down Ford inside the area. Mr Cusick immediately pointed to the spot and Josh Ford drove home the resulting penalty.

Without wanting to sound unkind to the respective defences, this game continued to have goals written all over it and as someone suggested, “this could finish 7-4”.

Harborough, on a run of ten straight league defeats stretching back to the Saturday 20th April, got right back into contention in the 26th minute. “All the time in the world, Dave,” shouted the visitors’’ manager and Dave Goodman broke clear down the left and accurately placed a low right-foot shot past the dive of Ricky Drury into the far corner of the net.

The attacks continued and Nuttell missed an easy change in the 35th minute. Fed by Callum Stocks, he rounded Josh Carpenter but fired into the side netting rather than empty net. We felt this could prove to be a “crucial miss” wit Harborough back in contention.

Nuttell made amends four minutes after the restart by restoring Boston’s two-goal lead. The striker headed a deep left-wing corner delivered by Stocks towards goal which appeared to take a deflection as it crossed the line.

Drury produced a diving save to keep out a shot from Michael Cirelli before Boston made it 4-1 midway through the second half. Lori Borbely, at the far post, swept home George Stainfield’s low cross from the right.

Now with a match-winning lead, Boston continued to dominate and were denied a fifth goal by a world-class save from Carpenter. The Harborough goalkeeper acrobatically leapt up to his right to somehow turn round a 25-yard dipping volley hit by Frazer Bayliss than seemed destined for the top-left corner.

Boston did wrap up their first league win of the season by scoring a fifth goal in stoppage time. Like the fourth, Stainfield provided the cross from the right and Ford sent a low right-foot shot into the bottom-left corner.

Arriving in such a rush and having not visited the town of Boston since 1988, I just had to spent time exploring the town centre before returning home, especially on a lovely sunny evening. The extraordinarily tall tower on St Botolph’s Church, known as the ‘Boston Stump’ is the stand-out feature. Also catching my eye were the Maud Foster Windmill, Swan Building built in 1877, statue of Herbert Ingram and 109-year-old Municipal Building on West Street. I couldn’t help noticing the number of shops selling produce from places like Poland and Latvia, highlighting the fact that Boston has a very diverse community with more eastern European immigrants than any other town in England.

I headed home with memories of both a ground with a wow factor and pleasant town with the largest parish church in England. Seeing the Poachers' side applauded off the field by their fans told me how much the win meant. Also, it was good to catch up with old friend Neil as well. May be I’ll make a second visit to Tattershall Road if one my local clubs pays a visit in the FA Vase.

Boston Town (blue/blue/white): 1. Ricky Drury, 2. Luke Wilson, 3. Jason Field, 4. Ollie Pinner, 5. Michael Wood (capt), 6. Nick Jackson, 7. Callum Stocks, 8. Liam Bull, 9. Jordan Nuttell, 10. Josh Ford, 11. Lori Borbely. Subs: 12. Ollie Maltby (for Pinner, 79), 13gk. Matt Hocking (not used), 14. Frazer Bayliss (for Nuttell, 81), 15. George Stainfield (for Stocks, 63), 16. Ian Dunn (not used). Player-managers: Ian Dunn and Matt Hocking.

Harborough Town (yellow / black / yellow and black hoops): 1. Josh Carpenter, 2. Ben Easson, 3. Glen Robinson, 4. Chris Piazza, 5. Craig Jacobs, 6. Daniel Pegg, 7. Michael Cirelli, 8. Garry Calrke, 9. Barnes Gladman, 10. Jack Borrows (capt), 11. Dave Goodman. Subs: 12. Clemence Amadelis (for Gladman, 20), 14. Elliott Morgan (for Jacobs, ht). Manager: Chris Church.

Referee: Robert Cusick
Assistants: Chris Giles and David Avison

Attendance: 70 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:03; second-half: 47:31

Goals:
1-0 Jordan Nuttell (7)
2-0 Josh Ford (17 pen)
2-1 Dave Goodman (26)
3-1 Jordan Nuttell (49)
4-1 Lori Borbely (67)
5-1 Josh Ford (90+2)

Cards:
Boston: Luke Wilson (YC, 37)
Harborough: Craig Jacobs (YC, 17), Glen Robinson (YC, 74)

Vase upset at Basford

Saturday 21st September 2013
Basford United 0 Cleethorpes Town 2
FA Carlsberg Vase Second Qualifying Round
At: Mill Street Playing Field, Greenwich Avenue, Basford, Nottingham
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (16 pages + official teamsheet)
Weather: warm and sunny


Today’s football recipe consisted of four ingredients… (a) FA Vase tie; (b) at a ground never previously visited; (c) not a million miles from home; and (d) a decent story to recall whatever the result. Out of the 153 ties being played this afternoon, four leapt off the page of the Football Traveller and I was sent of my way to north-west Nottingham for an intriguing contest between two Toolstation Northern Counties East League sides. Both recently gained promotion – Basford at the end of last season from the East Midlands Counties League to the Premier Division and Cleethorpes in 2012 from the Lincolnshire League to Division One.

To me on paper, progressive Basford United looked to have the pedigree to move through several rounds or even make it all the way to the final at Wembley, especially after they found their goalscoring touch on Tuesday with a 5-1 against Heanor Town. On the other hand, I’d noticed Cleethorpes Town had made an impressive start to their second campaign in Division One. Who would prevail?

Had things turned out differently on one March Saturday last year, I would have already visited Greenwich Avenue. But I decided to miss the middle two games of the four-game Central Midlands League ‘Bonanza’ (Basford and Dronfield) in favour of a visit to Appleby Frodingham after the opening game at Clifton and before the final game at Glapwell.

Looking at photos from that Bonanza game on Laurence Reade's blog (link here), improvements have been made a plenty at Greenwich Avenue in the intervening 18 months. A new perimeter fence for starters, seats in the stand near the dugouts as well as an extra area of covered standing behind one goal and of course floodlights. Another new facility nearing completion is the pitch-side changing room block.

Arriving early, as is my preference, a club official kindly opened up the paybox – admission with souvenir match ticket (£5), programme (£1) and lapel badge (£3). Subsequently teamsheets were provided free of charge for those who purchased a programme, a nice and most welcome touch.

The current league table shows Basford sitting 11th with 14 points from 11 games. Goalscoring looks to be a problem this season with no more than two scored in a game until a thumping 5-1 home win over Heanor Town on Tuesday (watched by On The Road’s Malc and Kev http://ontheroad2013-2014.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/basford-utd-5-1-heanor-town.html).

Before the game I got chatting to an Ilkeston-based groundhopper wearing a Llandyrnog Summer League top who was making his first visit to the Mill Street playing fields for donkeys years.

One of Northampton’s finest, Mr John Revitt esq, also arrived for his second visit to the ground having seen a 0-0 draw a few years ago played over 40 minutes each way. He assured me that he’d not morphed into his mode of transport – the Tram! [a joke for groundhoppers and one no doubt totally lost on those not familiar with ‘Garstang Bob’]. I was good to meet up with John again.

The Basford United website (http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/basfordunitedfc/a/club-history-21149.html) provides an informative history of a club that had only come to my attention over the past couple of years.

Basford United's birthplace was the Old Pear Tree Inn in 1900. It wasn't long before they moved to the Dolly Tub pitch, which is now part of the Highbury Estate. In 1903 they moved to Catchems Corner where they stayed for 27 years until they moved to Vernon Avenue. A few years later they moved to Mill Street and in 1990 to Greenwich Avenue.

To their credit, Basford have risen from the 'lower reaches of Notts Alliance Division One' to Step 5 in little over 10 years. In recent times following a spell in the Notts Amateur League, they joined the Notts Senior League in 2006, then won the 2011/12 Central Midlands League South title at the first attempt after moving up a step and following this up by winning the East Midlands Counties League last season, also at the first attempt.

Five wins and two draws from their first nine league games is a pretty good return and enough to put Cleethorpes in third position in the Division One table. Defeated 2-0 at home by current leaders two weeks ago, they have bounced back with back-to-back wins over Hall Road Rangers in the league and most recently over Hallam in the League Cup.

Referee James Thornhill (injured refereeing the Walsall Wood v Wigan Robin Park Vase tie I saw back in January) led the teams out from the soon-to-be-old changing rooms and Basford (in amber and black) soon got the action underway. The visitors won the toss and decided to attack the far railway end in the first half with the sun on their backs.

Basford suffered an early blow when Ash Dyce picked up an injury around the nine-minute mark which forced the skipper out of the game.

The home side created a decent chance to take the lead midway through the first half. Jamie Walker on the left threaded a path to Tyeisse Nightingale who saw his low shot held by the diving Cleethorpes goalkeeper Scott Drury.

At this point, Cleethorpes had certainly been on top and they turned their dominance into an opening goal scored in the 28th minute. Luke Mascall on the left inside the area found Brody Robertson at the far post who fired a low angled shot across the Basford six-yard box. The ball rebounded off the far post and Nathan Emson slotted home the rebound to score his fourth goal of the season.

Having been forced to adjust following the earlier departure of one central defender, Basford lost their other to injury as well when Jack Davies limped off. The home side certainly faced an uphill task, a goal down and just one substitution remaining.

I made my way around to the stand and spent the latter stages of the first half in the company of the aforementioned Mr Revitt. Checking Twitter at half-time, I was left in admiration of the couple sat in front of me for their detailed account of the first half.

Here’s how they saw the goal… 27' 0-1 #NoMoreTeletext: Fantastic switch ball by J. Oglesby to @Mascall17, he passes one player, squares the ball to @brody_robertson.... who's shot hits the post and rebounds into the path of @NathanEmmo who smashes the ball home

The Basford tweeter had also been busy as well… Utd behind on 27 as really slack play allows a Cleethorpe forward to net off the post.

Elsewhere in the Vase, of particular interest to me,…Stafford Town losing 4-0 at Bromsgrove and down to ten men and Wolverhampton Casuals leading Brocton 2-1 at Silkmore Lane in a Staffordshire derby. March Town United, the club I visited seven days ago were losing 1-0 at home to Godmanchester.

No joy with raffle as my ticket no-so-lucky strip of 946–950 yellow turned out to be a million miles away from the winning 316–320. Tea from the hatch near the paybox was a good cuppa.

It got worse for Basford in the 52nd minute with a second goal for Cleethorpes. Home goalkeeper Alessandro Barcherini got down to cut out Jonathan Oglesby’s low cross into the area from the left, succeeded only in presenting Emson with a gift of a chance which he duly slotted home. Two goals for Emson! Could the home side respond?

“Any idea of the Forest score,” someone asked me. “Sorry, no,” I replied to an Italian-sounding man who couldn't be faulted for his vociferous support of the home team. Great to see characters like him watching non-league football.

With a two-goal deficit to close simply to force extra time, Basford needed to show some urgency and, to their credit, started to do so. Perhaps their best chance was a late 25-yard shot by Tyeisse Nightingale which flew past the goal. Even Barcherini went up for a corner near the end. The well-organised Cleethorpes defence did their job.

Disappointment for Basford at full-time and joy for Cleethoropes, winners in their first-ever FA Vase tie. Wonder who they’ll get in Monday’s First Round draw?

Elsewhere, according to Twitter, nine-man Stafford Town endured an FA Vase exit to forget with an 8-0 defeat at Bromsgrove while Brocton scored two late goals to snatch a 3-3 draw against the Cassies and force extra time [Brocton ended up winning 5-3]. Late goals were popular in Stafford as Rangers netted a winner in the 95th minute to defeat FC United of Manchester at Marston Road.

It was a pleasure to visit Basford United. Good luck to them for the rest of the season. Also good luck to Cleethorpes on the 'road to Wembley' and I'll be avidly following the tweets of #NoMoreTeletext. I'm sure I'll see both clubs again at some point during the season.

Basford United (amber/black/amber): 1. Alessandro Barcherini, 2. David Boafo, 3. Jamie Walker, 4. Ash Dyce (capt), 5. Jack Davies, 6. Martin Holt, 7. Theo Smith, 8. Jermaine Hollis, 9. Cashel Walters, 10. Tyeisse Nightingale, 11. Courtney Hastings. Subs: Martin Carruthers (for Smith, 63), 14. Lee Morris (not used), 15. Wayne Jones (not used), 16. Robert McCormack (for Davies, 28), 17. Kieren Kenton-Bradshaw (for Dyce, 15). Manager: Darren Saunders.

Cleethorpes Town (red/red/red): 1. Scott Drury, 2. Daniel Grant, 3. Lawrence Howard, 4. Richard Peck, 5. Matthew Coleman, 6. Alex Flett, 7. Luke Mascall, 8. Darren Hanslip (capt), 9, Nathan Emson, 10. Brody Robertson, 11. Jonathan Oglesby. Subs: 12. Mark Sawyer (for Oglesby, 83), 14. Marc Cooper (for Robertson, 59), 15. Matthew Oswin (for Hanslip, 88), 16. Lee McFarland (not used), 17. Reece Newell (not used). Manager: Marcus Newell.

Referee: James Thornhill
Assistants: James Oldham and Peter Bailey

Attendance: 74
Duration: first-half: 46:55; second-half: 48:06

Goals:
0-1 Nathan Emson (28)
0-2 Nathan Emson (52)

Cards:
Basford: Tyeisse Nightingale (YC, 67)
Cleethorpes: Alex Flett (YC, 62)

Footnote: Basford manager Darren Saunders resigned three days later after three successful years in charge and Cleethorpes were drawn away to Harborough Town in the First Round draw.