Congleton Town 3 Maltby Main 0

Saturday 20th September 2008
Congleton Town 3 Maltby Main 0
FA Carlsberg Vase Second Qualifying Round
At Booth Street
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 102
Weather: warm and sunny

I'd previously visited Booth Street on two occasions. The first was over 20 years ago in April 1988 when Congleton recorded a 1-1 draw over Farsley Celtic in the Northern Premier League Division One, and the second was for a pre-season game in 2003 when the Bears defeated a Stafford Rangers XI 1-0. With Congleton winning this Vase game as well, I suppose I am a lucky omen for them!

The Booth Street ground (or the 'Bears Den' as described in one place in the programme) is tucked away and hemmed in by houses to the south of the town. There certainly is a substantial feel to the place, not surprising when you consider that Congleton Town were members of the Cheshire League (top non-league competition at the time) from 1920 until 1965. All the facilities are on the near side of the ground next to the entrance. Located on halfway is a modern seated stand with five rows of individual tip-up seats - predominately blue with a group of red seats and occasional the green one. Behind the stand is the club house and refreshments hatch, and to the left is an area of covered standings. There is more covered standing at the left (northern end) of the ground with a grass bank behind the right-hand goal. Dugouts are located on the opposite touchline.

Even though the place is known as 'Booth Street', SatNav users be warned - the ground is past the end of Booth Street and off Crescent Road. I travelled up the A34 from the Potteries and turned right at the roundabout junction with the A534 and A54. At the next roundabout, I went straight on into West Street and took the second right, after passing the Fire Station and Farmers Arms, into Booth Street. At the end of the road, turn right into Crescent Road then first left into Ivy Gardens to the ground. Parking is limited at the ground so the best bet may be street parking on one of the nearby roads. An alternative route is to take the first right off West Street (by the church and just past the Fire Station) into Astbury Street then left at the first crossroads. Either way the ground is signed by brown football signs or white 'Congleton Town FC'.

I was met at the gate by the Vice Chairman who took me into the clubhouse where I was made to feel most welcome. Programmes (£1-20) were sold inside the ground by the turnstile. Reading matter was good, plenty of articles, statistics, quiz, reports, tributes to Peter Hallett, and opposition history, plus 'Colliedog...who's barking' penned by one of the people I met in the club.

The FA's fair play initiative was again in evidence after the teams emerged from the changing rooms. Congleton got the game underway attacking down the slight slope towards the covered standing end of the ground.

Early chances were created by both sides with Stuart Tulloch driving low across the face of goal and wide of the far left-hand post. Chris Smith (in distinctive orange boots) sent another shot wide and Tulloch finished another move by firing straight at Maltby keeper Daniel Heald. In the middle of all this action, Rob Hackney beat down a well-struck shot from Scott Sommerville.

Raffle tickets were brought round duringthe first half and I decided to buy a strip. Once again I was out of luck when the winning numbers were announced.

Midway through the half, Sommerville tried to find the top right corner of the net from a narrow angle on the right side of the area. However, Hackney did well to turn the ball over at the expense of a corner.

Congleton almost took the lead on the half hour. Ryan Baker, Carl Nesbitt and Ryan Greene all saw shots blocked inside the area in the space of a few seconds, but home fans didn't need to wait long to cheer a goal. In the 33rd minute, Tulloch saw a shot rebound off the Maltby bar and Baker hammered home the rebound from the the inside right channel inside the area.

As the interval approached, Congleton had another opportunity when Smith's 20-yard right-foot volley flashed past the right-hand post. Fancying something different at the interval, I opted for carrot and coridander soup -very nice!

The Bears continued to create chances in the second half and doubled their lead on the hour mark. Found by Greene on the right, Tulloch squared a low ball to Smith who made mistake from a few yards out to round off a superb move. Maltby faced an uphill task to force extra time, especially when Tulloch forced a save out of Heald.

Despite trailing by two goals, Maltby responded and went close tried to respond and almost reduced the deficit. They won a corner when Sommerville's shot took a defelction off a defender. The resulting corner from the right was headed off the line by Adam Vickers and Carl Nesbitt got in the way of a follow-up shot from Sommerville. The visitors threw on an extra attacker.

The third goal came in the 78th minute. In a delightful move started by Carl Nesbitt, Andy Bostock got forward from the back to latch onto a pass from substitute Graham Molloy and slot into an empty net after skipping past a challenge from the advancing keeper.

Congleton Town (black and white stipes / black / black): 1. Rob Hackney, 2. Adam Vickers, 3. Andy Bostock, 4. Wayne Brotherton, 5. Steve Millington (capt), 6. Carl Nesbitt, 7. Ryan Baker, 8. Simon Robinson, 9. Stuart Tulloch, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Ryan Greene. Subs: 12. Graham Molloy (for Smith, 75), 14. Matt Woolley (for Robinson, 53), 15. Matt Quinn (for Greene, 67), 16. Anthony Buckle (not used).

Maltby Main (red/white/red): 1. Daniel Heald, 2. Jonathan Wragg, 3. Paul Staniforth (capt), 4. James Ellis, 5. Scott McDonald, 6. Daniel Patterson, 7. John Beggs, 8. Simon Hickey, 9. Matthew Wragg, 10. Scott Sommerville, 11. Daniel White. Subs: 12. Michael Baker (for Hickey, 53), 14. David Shephard (not used), 15. Nick Hancock (for Beggs, 73), 16. Robert Branagan (for White, 64), 17. Sean Lee.

Referee: D. P. Meeson.