Barlaston 2 Wolstanton United 6

Saturday 26th April 2008
Barlaston 2 Wolstanton United 6
Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division
At: Springbank Park Pitch 2, Yarnfield
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Attendance: 13 (headcount)
Weather: warm, sunny spells
Duration: first half: 45:20; second half: 45:44

Stafford Rangers' 5-15 pm kick-off initially posed a problem of how to fit in an afternoon game until I spotted Barlaston’s home fixture with Wolstanton. And a bonus turned out to be my first match seen on the elusive pitch 2 at Springbank Park.

Barlaston play their home games at Stone Dominoes Springbank Park in Yarnfield. The club was established in 1998 and previously played under the name of Wedgwood Sports & Social, used until 2006. Last season the finished runners-up in Division One to gain promotion to the Premier Division for the first time. Travelling north up the A34 past Stone, turn left immediately after the Wayfarer Pub and continue up the lane towards Yarnfield with the entrance to Springbank Park is on the left after crossing the M6.

From the car park, there is a turnstile that leads into the first part of the complex. As well as changing rooms and a club house, there are three main pitches, numbered 1 to 3 from right to left away. To the right past the club house is Stone Dominoes recently-built floodlight enclosed stadium which I visited last October. Like Pitches 1 and 3, Pitch 2 is a decent flat surface, railed off with permanent dugouts.

Barlaston are regular programme issuers and the edition for this match was brought round and sold for £1 just after kick-off. It was a 32-pager with plenty of reading material and statistics.

Wolstanton got the game underway attacking the changing rooms end of Pitch 2 and there was soon a controversy. Visiting keeper Douglas Hughes, who was the last man, collided with Shaun Hewitt just inside the Wolstanton area but the referee decided to award a goal kick after consulting his assistant.

Considering the final scoreline, the first goal wasn't scored until the 25th minute. Barlaston keeper Matt Kelter had difficulty in claiming a bouncing ball down the middle and Mark Grice slotted home home from eight yards with a defdender on the line. Midfielder Peter Ford doubled the lead six minutes later when he netted with a close-range looping header.

The home side quickly pulled a goal back in the 33rd minute. Chris Goodall's initial shot was blocked and Lee Goodwin drove the rebound into the top right corner from the edge of the area. In a real turnaround, Barlaston levelled things up five minutes later. Phil McMurdo swung a free-kick into the area and John Marland fired home at close range after Daren Bloor headed the ball on towards the right-hand post. Kelter produced a good diving save from Ford to keep his side on level terms at the interval.

Kelter produced another save less than a minute after the restart to thwart Ashley Moran but couldn’t prevent Wolstanton from regaining the lead in the 50th minute. Mark Grice stayed onside to latch onto a throughball down the inside right channel and fired low into the opposite corner of the net. Barlaston appealed for offside but the referee indicated that the ball had come off a defender on its way to Grice.

Mark Grice completed his hat-trick on the hour when he fired low into the bottom right despite the close attentions of a defender and netted his fourth goal (to make it 2-5) in the 63rd minute. This time Ashley Moran intercepted a pass midway inside the Barlaston half, fed Grice who took the ball forward before slotting past Kelter.

Grice wrapped up the scoring in the 84th minute with his fifth goal of the afternoon. His initial chip was turned round superbly by the flying Kelter but he headed home at close range from the resulting corner.

Barlaston (blue/blue/blue): 1. Matt Kelter, 2. Tom Davis, 3. Phil McMurdo, 4. Chris Stevenson, 5. John Marland (capt), 6. Roger Bird, 7. Pete Birks, 8. Daren Bloor, 9. Chris Goodall, 10. Lee Goodwin, 11. Shaun Hewitt. Subs: 12. Adam Battison (for Hewitt, 68), 14. Chris Baddeley, 15. Lee Moore, 16. Ken Wilson, 17. John Smith.

Wolstanton United (red/red/red): 1. Douglas Hughes (capt), 2. Edward Birch, 3. Martyn Davies, 4. Robert Edwards, 5. Peter Ford, 6. Ross Cope, 7. Daniel Brown, 8. Tom Shaw, 9. Timothy Grice, 10. Mark Grice, 11. Ashley Moran. Subs: 12. John Hancock, 14. Simon Wilshaw, 16. Mark Nolan.

Referee: Paul Stonier.

0-1 Mark Grice (25)
0-2 Ford (31)
1-2 Goodwin (33)
2-2 Marland (38)
2-3 Mark Grice (50)
2-4 Mark Grice (60)
2-5 Mark Grice (63)
2-6 Mark Grice (84)