Coton Green 4 Loughborough University 3

Wednesday 20th August 2008
Coton Green 4 Loughborough University 3
Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Red Lion Ground, Brereton
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Weather: heavy rain

In appalling wet conditions, with heavy rain falling for much of the game, Coton Green recorded their first win as a Midland Combination side. The evening provided an opportunity to meet up with 'Walsall/Addis Neil' and Belayneh Teshome who is the general manager of Ethiopian Electric Sport Club.

Coton GreenFormed in 1982, Coton Green are based in Tamworth and run a host of teams from under-7s to their all-age team in the Midland Combination. Last season they finished runners-up in Division One and gained promotion to the Premier Division by entering into a ground share arrangement with Brereton Social FC.

Brereton's Red Lion Ground is located on the A51 Rugeley-Lichfield road. Travelling from Rugeley, turn left at the lights next to the Talbot Arms and the ground entrance is less than 100 yards on the right.

The entrance is off the club car park where admission money was taken and the eight-page programme with colour cover was sold for £1. There was certainly a warm welcome from the club official on the gate. Inside the programme were team line-ups, an editorial, brief opposition history and plenty of club contact numbers.

I'd previously twice visited the Red Lion Ground in 1985 and again in 2003, both for pre-season friendlies involving Brereton Social and Stafford Rangers. The ground certainly has been improved since 2003 with the addition of a seated stand on the near touchline six rows of individual amber-colours tip-up seats numbering around 120 seats in total. The club house is next to the entrance and has some additional covered standing. The grass bank behind the right-hand goal at the A51 end would have provided a good vantage point had rain not been falling so heavily.

As the programme editorial pointed out, this home game with Loughborough was Coton Green's first home floodlight fixture of the season. But they went into this match on the back of a 9-1 home defeat the previous Saturday at the hands of a 'very good Massey Ferguson outfit'. According to the programme: "we were 9 normal 1st team players and the Manager Steve Pike short as they were on a stag weekend in Budapest but never the less we should not have conceded so many goals."

Neil found out that visitors Loughborough University were managed by John Duncan, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker whose managerial jobs had included two spells in charge of Chesterfield.

Prior to kick-off, the Loughborough outfield players staged a huddle with the goalkeeper emerging late from the changing rooms to join in. Coton got proceedings underway in torrential rain defending the goal nearest to the A51 and they took the lead in the 5th minute. Matthew Ward delivered a free-kick into the area from around half-way and Damian Charie put away a first-time header.

Loughborough keeper David Coombes produced a smart save to turn round a low shot from Charie before the visitors equalised in the 25th minute. Adam Jones crossed from the right and Anthony Moulds powered home a header. Coton regained the lead in the 40th minute when Remi Williams stabbed home a low shot from the edge of the area.

Loughborough bounced back again in the 62nd minute to level things up at 2-2. Steve Blenkinsop crossed low from the left for Mikel Suarez to hammer a first-time shot into the bottom left corner of the net from 15 yards out. And they went so close to taking the lead when Adam Jones rifled a low drive against the left-hand post.

Coton took the lead for the lead for the third time in the 76th minute. A free-kick from the left into a crowded area was played out to Steven Roberts who drove a low ball across the face of goal which was forced home from a yard out by Mark Adey. Williams struck again in the 85th minute to give Coton a two-goal cushion. He slotted a 15-yard shot past the advancing keeper and defender Moulds couldn't prevent the ball from crossing the line.

That wasn't the end of the scoring. In the second minute of stoppage time, Moulds gave the visitors a lifeline when he fired home a low shot from the left side of the area in between the near post and keeper.

Play resumed and the question from the home bench was "How long?" The referee crossed his arms then blew for full-time as Loughbough took an indirect free-kick for offside. Coton had won their first Midland Combination Premier Division game by the odd goal in seven.