Wednesday 28th May 2008

Girvan 4 Dalry Thistle 3
Stagecoach Ayrshire District League
At: Hamilton Park
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Weather: drizzle

Monday 26th May 2008

Kilwinning Rangers 2 Irvine Meadow 1
Ayrshire Weekly Press Cup Fourth Round
At: Abbey Park
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 325 (headcount)
Weather: Sunny
Duration: first half: 45:18; second half: 48:14

Saturday 17th May 2008 ii

Garswood United 1 Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 3
Cheshire Association League Division 1
At: The Wooders
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Weather: Showers
Duration: first half: 47:02; second half: 50:10

East Villa 3 Waterloo Dock 0

Saturday 17th May 2008
East Villa 3 Waterloo Dock 0
Liverpool County FA Premier League Premier Division
At: Scargreen Complex
Kick-off: 12-30 pm
Attendance: 55 (headcount)
Weather: -

These days, there aren’t too many fixtures on Cup Final day but the ones that are scheduled often provide a variety of kick-off times, where it be morning, lunchtime, afternoon or evening. The night before, I spoke to one of my football friends about travelling together to a game but had decided that I wanted to see what the weather would bring. A warm sunny day and a family trip out or a duller day and football? Saturday morning brought dull and cloudy conditions so off I headed north – and I’m pleased I did!

There were several games listed for the Liverpool County Premier League but the one between runners-up East Villa and champions Waterloo Docks stood out. The latter had an unassailable lead at the top, just as they had twelve months ago. But this time round East Villa still had the opportunity to finish a lot closer that they did at the end of the 2006/07 season when Dock topped the final table by 13 points. Villa were in buoyant mood, having four days earlier defeated Speke 3-2 after extra time to lift the Liverpool County FA Challenge Cup for the first time in almost 20 years. Waterloo went into the game fresh from defeating Collegiate Old Boys 3-1 to clinch the title.

The East Villa website provides an excellent history of the club, which dates back to 1959. They competed in the Liverpool League before joining the I Zingari League in 1971. Villa progressed through the divisions of this competition, winning the Premier Division title in both 1997/98 and 2004/05. They finished the 2005/06 season as runners-up to Old Xaverians. In 2006, the I Zingari League merged with the Liverpool County Football Combination became the Frank Armitt sponsored Liverpool County FA Premier League. As already mentioned, East Villa finished the inaugural Premier League season as runners-up. However, they capped a great 2006/07 season by winning both the George Mahon League Cup and the I-Zingari Challenge Cup. This season they lifted the LCFA Challenge Cup, a trophy last won in 1989/90, for the first time in almost 20 years.

East Villa have played home games this season at Jeffreys Humble Sports Ground, Long Lane, Walton, but the game I saw was played the Scargreen Sports Ground which is the listed home of Roma FC. Apparently, Villa have used Scargreen on other occasions during the season and it was in fact listed as their home ground in this season’s Football Traveller Directory.

There was some confusion as to whether kick-off was at noon or 12-30 pm, which was the time the action got underway at Scarsgreen. East Villa took the field sporting a rather Dutch-looking kit of orange shirts with black shorts and socks. A closer look at the shirt and, yes, there was a Netherlands KNVB badge!

The Scargreen Complex is located, not surprisingly, on Scargreen Avenue in the Norris Green area of Liverpool. No admission was charged and there was no programme. However, the car park entrance is actually off Shottesbrook Green. The pitch, on a larger field, is aligned northwest to southeast and railed off on each side with no cover. The changing rooms are located on the western side at an angle to the pitch and some could argue provides a bit of shelter from the elements. Waterloo Dock wore an all-blue kit.

With the home side attacking the northern end of the ground, there was a well-known surname on the scoresheet when East Villa took a 26th minute lead. Graeme Rooney (yes, he is related) stayed onside to latch onto a defence-splitting throughball and fire low across the keeper into the bottom-left corner. Waterloo should have equalised just before the break so a single-goal lead in favour of Villa was the interval scoreline. Neither side went in at half-time and the match was underway again within three minutes – good news for those wanting to watch the Cup Final and others wanting to get to Garswood United!

It was 2-0 eight minutes into the second half. Franny McIntosh fed Lee Pegram on the left side of the area who send a low shot into the opposite corner of the net. Substitute Paul McGuinness wrapped up the win for Villa late on with a low drive from inside the area.

Footnote: East Villa won their final game two days later (2-1 at home to Speke) to finish the season in the runners-up spot, just two points behind the Champions Waterloo Dock. In fact they won each of their final five league games.

Blidworth Welfare 1 Calverton Miners Welfare 5

Tuesday 13th May 2008
Blidworth Welfare 1 Calverton Miners Welfare 5
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands Football League Manor Pharmacy Premier Division
At: Welfare Ground, Mansfield Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission:£2; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Attendance: 55 (headcount)
Weather: dry, initially sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:05; second-half: 48:18

Come the middle of May, it can often be difficult to find games with something at stake. So, it was somewhat pleasing to find the outcome of this Central Midlands League game in the Manor Pharmacy Premier Division would have an impact on the final league table.

I wasn't alone as the Blidworth attraction brought in around ten travellers, also keen to watch a match that mattered. A win for Calverton would guarantee them the runners-up spot Amongst those present were Malc and Kev and you can read Malc’s report on his On The Road blog.

Visitors Calverton Miners Welfare went into the game in third position knowing that a victory would guarantee them the runners-up spot on goal difference at the expense of Yorkshire Main. Blidworth were also hoping to win and move into the top half of the table. As it turned out, visitors eased to a 5-1 win with striker Ben Middleton bagging a hat-trick.

Blidworth Miners Welfare FC, founded in 1926 as Folk House Old Boys, play at the Blidworth Miners Welfare Social Club (called The Welfare Ground) on Mansfield Road. Travelling from the village up the hill towards Rainworth and Mansfield, the ground is not visible from the road but the entrance is on the right just after passing the Fire Station. The car park is that used by the Social Centre and cricket club.

From the car park to get to the ground itself, go through the gate in the steel railings to the left of the white building and be greeted by a manicured cricket field. Continue to the left for around 20 yards then follow the direction for visitors to the left of the wooden building.

My arrival was perfectly timed as, less than a minute later, the programmes (a 28 pager) arrived so I joined a short queue of other travellers waiting to purchase the essential reading matter. Programmes, incidentally, sold for £1 and admission was £2. The white cover contained a colour team photo and all the essential match details; team line-ups in the centre. Inside was a variety of articles including opposition history and pen pics, club news and statistics.

Then came the unexpected surprise that is Blidworth Welfare's ground. Nearly always, non-league grounds are entered at pitch level but here the entrance is at the top of the bank with a great view of the playing surface, stands and floodlights several metres below. At this top level is the tea bar and changing rooms. There is a flight of steps down to the near corner of the pitch with a railing down the middle separating spectators from players. There is a stand behind the near goal containing around ten rows of tip-up individual seats. At the far end of the near touchline running from halfway towards the corner flag is a narrow wooden stand containing two rows of bench seating. There floodlight pylons rise up along each side and the pitch certainly had a good covering of grass

Once the action got underway - Blidworth kick-off in sunshine - Calverton (in yellow and blue), attacking the seated-stand end, really should have taken the lead inside the first 30 seconds. Rhys Davies somehow missed the target from a few yards out with the keeper beaten. But the visitors took a 5th-minute lead when Middleton netted with a close-range tap-in.

I began the game sat on a bench but the low sun posed viewing problems so I moved to the opposite side of the ground close to the dugouts. Certainly a better view of the action and Mark Frost did well to block a shot from Craig Boulton at the expense of a corner.

Calverton continued to create chances and doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. Poor defending allowed Warren Hatfield to hammer the ball home low from inside the area. Blidworth pulled a goal back in stoppage time with Shaun Vincent firing low through a crowded area from just outside the area.

Any hopes the home side had of salvaging a point were all but ended within five minutes of the restart when first Boulton and Middleton both find the net to give Calverton an unassailable 3-1 and then 4-1 lead. Middleton wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time at the end. The striker completed a hat-trick latching on to a throughball, slipping past the advancing keeper and slotting into an unguarded net.

Blidworth Welfare (red with black centre stripe / black / black): 1.Mark Frost, 2. Julian Topliss, 3. John Greaves, 4. Leighton Pollard, 5. Michael Clarke, 6. Gary Whitworth, 7. Liam Best (capt), 8. Josh Parker, 16. Shaun Vincent, 10. Murray Campbell, 11. Kier Webster. Subs: 12. Kevin Price (for Greaves, 84), 14. Jason Westwood (for Whitworth, 58), 15. James Wright (for Campbell, 87).

Calverton Miners Welfare (yellow with blue hoops / blue / yellow): 1. Lance Walker, 2. Jason Sibers, 3. Jonathan Dakers (capt), 4. Mark Corcoran, 5. Corey Nightingale, 6. Barry Payne, 7. Craig Boulton, 8. Rhys Davies, 9. Ben Middleton, 10. Warren Hatfield, 11. Sam Goodson. Subs: 12. Michael Randal (not used), 14. Dominic Clark (not used), 15. Liam Hatfield (for Dakers, 60).

Referee: Elliott Heward (Grimsby).
Assistants: Mark Eyre and J. Dixon.

Goals: 0-1 Ben Middleton (5) 0-2 Warren Hatfield (42) 1-2 Shaun Vincent (45+2) 1-3 Craig Boulton (48) 1-4 Ben Middleton (50) 1-5 Ben Middleton (90)

Blidworth: none Calverton: Warren Hatfield (YC, 45+1)

Thursday 15th May 2008

Doveridge 0 Alton 1
Bill Redfern Memorial Cup First Round
At: Doveridge Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Duration: first half ; second half

I must admit to making a late decision to watch this Summer League cup game. Rain was forecast and a known road closure en-route put doubts in my mind and it was after 6 pm when I finally decided ‘why not’.

Always being someone who likes to get to the ground in plenty of time, sometimes far too early, I certainly cut this fine arriving barely five minutes before kick-off. Thankfully I knew exactly where the ground was, having taken a detour on the way back from Osmaston last Saturday.

The village of Doveridge is located just off the A50 dual carriageway, a few miles east of Uttoxeter. Travelling east to towards Derby, leave the A50 at the (stating the obvious) Doveridge exit. At the top of the slip road, turn right to the roundabout. Go straight across and the ground is immediately on the left next to the Village Hall.

Entering the large playing field from the Village Hall car park, the pitch is on the near side. Next to the pitch in the far-left corner was a changing room building on one side with ‘DFC’ in grey-coloured bricks on one side. There were benches in front of this building with a good view of the pitch but no one decided to make use of them.

Right on cue, the teams took the field but there were no numbers of the backs of the sky blue shirts worn by the Doveridge players. No such problems with Alton’s yellow shirts with green shorts. I suppose it didn’t matter as I don’t take down the team line-ups at Summer League games. By the way, there was no admission charge or programme.

Both sides had made a reasonable start to the league season. Alton stood in third position with six wins and two draws from eight games, while Doveridge were three places below with games in hand having won five and lost one of the six games. For the first half, I chose to watch the game sat on one of two ‘park’ benches on the perimeter of the field; the other bench was occupied by a couple who clearly supported the visitors. It was still goalless at the end of the first half and the home side continued to create the better scoring opportunities in the second half, despite Alton attacking down the slight slope towards the Village Hall. By this time I had changed positions to one stood on the touchline.

There was a real controversial moment in the 79th minute when Alton thought they’d taken the lead when the ball bounced down after their striker (wearing number 9) headed against the underside of the bar. No goal was the verdict and extra time was a distinct possibility. However, it didn’t matter if the ball crossed the line or not as Alton scored what proved to be the winner in the 82nd minute.

Results: Biggin 3 Weston 2; Wheel Inn 1 Mayfield 1 (after extra time Mayfield won 8-7 on penalties); Osmaston 0 Longford 3; Kirk Langley 1 Bradley4; Coach & Horses 1 Coach Rangers 6; Doveridge 0 Alton 1; Rose & Crown 3 Holly Bush 2; Brassington 1 FC Hulland 2.

The Bill Redfern Memorial Cup first round went largely as expected and the second round draw produced some interesting matches with Osmaston meeting Bradley again plus Alton v Coach Rangers. Mayfield will be happy to have draw FC Hulland whilst the Biggin v Rose & Crown promises an even game.

Osmaston 2 Bradley 5

Saturday 10th May 2008
Osmaston 2 Bradley 5
Peter Young Memorial Cup Second Round
At: Osmaston Polo Ground
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Weather: Warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 45:34; second-half: 45:56

The remaining Peter Young second round tie took place. Osmaston took on Bradley, having beaten them 4-1 nine days earlier, and it looked as though a repeat was on the cards as two goals from Barclay put them 2-0 in front, but in a 20-minute spell in the second half Bradley turned it round with five goals of their own with Grocott scoring twice, to win 5-2.

Saturday 10th May 2008 i

Wednesbury Town 2 Wolverhampton Development 5
Sport Italia West Midlands League Division 1
At: City Ground, Darlaston FC
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: -
Weather: Hot and sunny

Friday 9th May 2008

Barrow 1 Stalybridge Celtic 0
Blue Square North Promotion Play-off Final
At: Pirelli Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 2530
Weather: -
Duration: first half ; second half:

Henney 58

Barrow regained their place in the Blue Square Premier after a nine-season absence thanks to Matt Henney’s second-half winner at the Pirelli Stadium.

The victory completed a remarkable rise up the table from the relegation zone since the appointment back in December of joint player-managers Darren Sheridan and Dave Bayliss.

But the Cumbrians needed a big slice of luck when referee James Adcock failed to award Stalybridge a late penalty for a clear handball inside the area by goal hero Henney.

“You can hear the fans out there and how much it means to them,” said a delighted Sheridan.

“It was a bit scrappy in the first half.

“We had a few scares at our end and it was a bit of a scrappy goal. Things like that win games and we kept the 1-0 lead, defending superbly.

“Everyone was stunned when the four minutes went up (at the end) but I knew we would hold out.”

Bayliss agreed it was a tight affair. He said: “It was a final so it wasn’t going to be 3-0 or 4-0.

“We didn’t play particularly outstandingly but, as we have on a lot of occasions this season, we were gritty and determined.

“At the end, there were lads with cut eyes and missing teeth and that will do for me.

“The lads were proud to wear the shirt and clubs like Barrow deserve to be in a higher league.”

Stalybridge manager Steve Burr was, as expected, bitterly disappointed by the defeat.

“The prize at stake was massive for these lads.

“It is hurting. We have worked very hard this year and I feel for them.

“We have played better this season. Both sides were very tense and showed it.

“It was a good exciting final and very close. For the goal, the ball has dropped for them at the right time. That was the rub of the green (for Barrow) you ask for in a final.

Burr felt his side should have been awarded a penalty.

“Sometimes you get these decisions. Our lads felt it was a clear handball.”

Looking ahead to next season, Burr relishes the challenge of having another go for promotion.

“We need to dust ourselves down and get over this. Football carries on.”

The first half wasn’t pretty with neither keeper called into serious action. Alex Meechan sent an early header over and Mark Boyd almost caught Martin Pearson off guard with a long-range free-kick.

In contrast, the second half didn’t disappoint.

Tim Deasy produced a good diving save to deny Chris Hall before the massed ranks of Barrow fans got a perfect view of what proved to be the winner in the 58th minute.

Following a clumsy foul on the Barrow right by Simon Garner, the resulting free-kick, delivered into a populated area, was headed goalwards by Steve McNulty. Henney was perfectly placed made sure the ball crossed the line from barely a yard out to score arguably the most vital of his 18 goals this season.

Andy Bond had a chance to quickly double his side’s advantage but put his shot took close to Pearson who got down well to block.

Pearson again came to his side’s rescue to block Paul Brown’s low effort from Nick Rogan’s clever back heel. Jason Walker was also denied by the Celtic keeper who kept out a close-range chance also created by Rogan.

Stalybridge threw bodies forward and felt aggrieved not to be awarded a 78th minute penalty when Henney appeared to handle Terry Barwick’s header.

With time running out, Ashley Winn slipped a pass to substitute Matty Barlow who saw his shot first hit Deasy and then the right-hand post before rebounding to safety.

Barrow (4-4-2): Deasy 7, Woodyatt 7, McNulty 8, Jones 8, Elderton 7, Henney 7, Bond 6, Boyd 6, Brown 6, Walker 7 (Tait 75), Rogan 7. Unused subs: Nelson, Thompson, Sheridan, Bayliss.

Stalybridge Celtic (4-4-2): Pearson 7, Wooliscroft 6 (Keeling 90), Payne 6, Sykes 7, Garner 6, Meechan 6 (Barlow 66 6), Barwick 6, Winn 6, Torpey 6, Hall 7 (Dean 66 7). Unused subs: Burke, Wilkinson.

Star Man: Paul Jones (Barrow)
Entertainment: 3 out of 5
Attendance: 2530
Ref Rating: James Adcock 6/10

Shots on: Barrow 4 Stalybridge 4
Shots off: Barrow 7 Stalybridge 10
Corners: Barrow 5 Stalybridge 2
Offside: Barrow 3 Stalybridge 1
Fouls: Barrow 12 Stalybridge 9
Yellow cards: Barrow 2 Stalybridge 2
Red cards: None