Armthorpe Welfare 1 Arnold Town 2

Saturday 6th September 2008
Armthorpe Welfare 1 Arnold Town 2
Kool Sport Northern Counties East League Premier Division
At: Welfare Ground, Church Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1
Attendance: 36
Weather: showers, sunny spells
Duration: first-half: 45:10; second-half: 48:41

Prolonged rain over much of the country threatened to reek havoc on today’s fixtures and in some areas that was true. The weather forecast suggested that South Yorkshire was the area to aim for and the informative Northern Counties League website gave details of some planned pitch inspections as well as known postponements. According to the website, the game at Armthorpe was due to have a noon inspection, but the status of the game on the website changed to 'match on' well before this time. So off I headed towards the M1 and up to ‘God’s Own County’.

Armthorpe is located in South Yorkshire, a few miles north-east of Doncaster close to the M18, and famous as the birthplace of Kevin Keegan. To reach the ground from the motorway, leave at junction 4 and follow the A630 towards Doncaster. Turn left at the second roundabout into Hatfield Lane and continue to the mini roundabout. Turn right into Church Road and the entrance to the ground is on the left next to the Premier Health & Fitness Health Studio and just before the Netto supermarket. Opposite the entrance are a Jet garage and Golden Cod fish and chip shop.

A short drive leads down to the entrance from Church Road where programmes (£1) are sold. All the facilities are on the near side. On long the near touchline is the Philip Mitchell Stand, a white structure containing three rows of bench seating. In fact there is a lot of white paint at the Welfare Ground which helps to make the place look neat and tidy. Behind the right-hand goal is an area of covered standing.

The programme was certainly a substantial publication containing no fewer than sixty pages with editorial content in the middle. Pen pics and history from Arnold Town were included along with a welcome page, league table and quiz amongst other features. A quick look at the league table showed Armthorpe in 14th position, one place and one point better off than unbeaten Arnold.

Armthorpe Welfare FC was formed in 1926, disbanded in 1974 and reformed in 1976. The post-1976 club progressed through the divisions of the Doncaster and District League to become a member of the Northern Counties East League in 1983. The club have enjoyed continuous membership of the NCEL Premier Division since gaining promotion in 1985.

With time on my hands before kick-off, I paid a visit to the Refreshment Room for a cup of tea and scone and noticed a memorial plaque dedicated to Philip Mitchell (to whom the stand is dedicated) who died in February 1990.

Lineups were announced over the tannoy prior to kick-off. Fair play was again evident as the players of both sides came out together behind the match officials, walked in front of the Philip Mitchell Stand then lined up either side of halfway before exchanging handshakes. Rain actually started to fall as the players came out.

Nearly all the crowd, like me, chose to start watching the game from the shelter of the main stand with a few brave souls dotted around under umbrellas. There were a few visiting fans from Arnold. The visitors, unbeaten in their first three league games, got the action under way attacking from right to left in relation to my vantage points, defending the end with covered standing. Rain was still falling when Arnold (maroon shirts, maroon shorts, maroon socks) took an 11th-minute lead. Harry Roe's right foot shot from 25 yards out took a big deflection on the way into the bottom left corner of the net. The visitors continued to create chances. Tom Watson hit the bar and sent another across the face of goal inches wide of the far left post.

The aforementioned rain eased by the half-hour mark and to, perhaps fit in with the sunnier conditions, an ice cream van in a neighbouring street was heard playing 'The Entertainer' to attract some custom. As the interval approached, Armthorpe keeper produced a diving save to turn round a low left-foot shot from Craig Mitchell. "Should have been 3 or 4" was the verdict of one Arnold fan and the half-time whistle also signalled a return trip to the Refreshment Hut for another welcome cuppa.

Back to the stand for the start of the second half and a positive response from Armthorpe (white shirts, white shorts, white socks). They equalised with just about their first effort on target in the 52nd minute. A free-kick delivered into the area was cleared to Josh Copeland, 20 yards out, who fired into the bottom left corner via the keeper's fingers. There was certainly plenty of action in both penalty areas with the game not at all one sided as the first half had been. In fact I'd say it was a 'cracking second half'. Rain returned midway through the second half and once again rattled the roof of the stand. Into the last ten minutes all square, Armthorpe keeper Leigh Graves produced another diving save to keep out a rising drive from substitute Josh Thornton. But Graves was beaten 40 seconds into stoppage time when Ashley Dyce headed home at close range. Armthorpe were awarded a last gasp free-kick. Liam Muirhead played it forward into a crowded area but the ball was cleared and the ref blew for full time.

"They didn't deserve it, they worked their socks off," said one disappointed Arnthorpe fan and he certainly was right about his side's second-half performance.

Armthorpe Welfare (white/white/white): 1. Leigh Graves, 2. Austin Hallam, 3. David Buck, 4. Liam Murhead, 5. Thomas Dorgan, 6. Daniel Sharpe (capt), 7. Liam Radford, 8. James Walker, 9. Stuart Preston, 10. Joshua Copeland, 11. Henry Sibenge. Subs: 12. Ashley Hunter (not used), 14. James Connor (not used), 15. Daniel Barker (not used).

Arnold Town (maroon/maroon/maroon): 1. Lee Broster, 2. Tom Watson, 3. Ashley Dyce, 4. Mark Clarke, 5. Chris Hudson (capt), 6. Brett Adams, 7. Harry Roe, 8. Nick Hall, 9. Craig Mitchell, 10. Deon Meikle, 11. Mark Brewster. Subs: 12. Tyeisse Nightingale (for Meikle, 69), 14. Simon Hore (for Watson, 85), 15. Josh Thornton (for Roe, 69).

Referee: R. Atkin (Scunthorpe).
Assistants: S. Hawkins and P. Saunders.

0-1 Mark Brewster (11)
1-1 Joshua Copeland (52)
1-2 Ashley Dyce (90+1)

Armthorpe: Stuart Preston (YC, 26), Daniel Sharpe (YC, 33), James Walker (YC, 71)
Arnold: Harry Roe (YC, 51)