Alsager Town 1 Squires Gate 0

Saturday 29th November 2008
Alsager Town 1 Squires Gate 0
Vodkat League Premier Division
At: the Town Ground
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: £1
Attendance: 31
Weather: cold, fog
Duration: first-half: 45:50; second-half: 48:33

For my last press assignment, I chose to return to the Town Ground for a game between two midtable sides separated by just one point. However, fog put the game in doubt before it got underway and came close to forcing an abandonment. In the end, the game took its full course and Alsager won their fourth league game in a row but left it very late to overcome stubborn ten-man Squires Gate. Striker Andrew Whitney emerged the hero in the 89th minute when he got on the end of a pass from Dean Williams to fire home what proved to be the only goal. Earlier in the first half, Alsager skipper Lee Jones had missed a penalty, awarded for a professional foul which resulted in visiting defender Kevan Ford being sent off.

Alsager, who went into the game in 10th position, one position and one point worse off than their visitors, got the game underway attacking from right to left in relation to my seat in the stand. Quickly on the attack, they almost to the lead inside the first minute. Scot Taylor crossed from the left into the area where Vincent Francis fired straight at Squires Gate keeper Andy Speight.

Neither keeper was called into action before Alsager were awarded a penalty in the 19th minute. Up to that crucial moment, the closest the Bullets had come to scoring, in what started as a contest largely confined to midfield, was a well-stuck 25-yard free-kick from Louis James.

Taylor was tripped inside the area by last defender Ford which resulted in a penalty and the inevitable red card. Penalty-taker Jones was forced to wait while Ford slowly left the field and ended up ballooning the ball over the bar.

The visitors replenished their defence by replacing sacrificed midfielder Paul Ryan with substitute Tom Phillips and relied on just one up front.

Squires Gate almost punished the Bullets for the penalty miss. John Cheetman completely misjudged a harmless-looking throughball and allowed Lee Cantlow a clear run on goal. However, keeper Luke Hebblewhite stood firm and kept his side on level terms with a fine block.

A good move down the left set up a good chance for Alsager early in the second half. James got to the left bye-line and pulled the ball back for Taylor to fire just wide.

With the fog growing thicker, Algager Mananger Neil Gill freshened up his side and the introduction of Matt Wooley provided more of a threat. Whitney saw one shot loop off a defender and out for a corner while Wooley saw another 30-yard drive take a deflection.

However, Squires Gate almost took an 80th minute lead when Andy Richards beat Hebblewhite, only to see the ball rebound off the left-hand post.

With the game seemingly heading for a goalless draw or an even an abandonment, substitute Tom Swann fed Williams who got to the left bye-line. The tall striker pulled the ball back for Whitney to fire home the winner. I suppose Alsager were pleased that the two assistant referees could just about see the opposite touchline.

Alsager Town (white/black/black): 1. Luke Hebblewhite, 2. Vincent Francis, 3. Louis James, 4. Nathan Griffiths, 5. John Cheetham, 6. Daniel Gleaves, 7. Kurtis Gill, 8. Lee Jones (capt), 9. Dean Williams, 10, Ashley Whitney, 11. Scott Taylor. Subs: 12. Kurtis McCarthy (not used), 14. Kyle Griffin (not used), 15. Matthew Wooley (for Jones, 71), 16. Tom Swann (for Francis, 57), 17. Dean Clarke (for Taylor, 78).

Squires Gate (red/red/red): 1. Andy Speight, 2. Tom Benfield, 3. Nigel Taylor (capt), 4. Russ McKenna, 5. Tom Bartlett, 6. Kevan Ford, 7. Paul Ryan (Phillips, 23), 8. Andy Richards, 9. Chris Bennett (Hibbert, 79), 10. Lee Catlow, 11. Stuart Horn (Muscroft, 69). Subs: 12. Tom Phillips (for Ryan, 23), 14. Matty Muscroft (for Horn, 69), 15. Steve Hibbert (for Bennett, 79), 16. Andy Harvie (not used).

Referee: R Bartlett.
Assistants: M. Barlow and G. M. Polkey.

1-0 Andrew Whitney (90)

Alsager: Kurtis Gill (YC, 24)
Squires Gate: Kevan Ford (RC, 19), Andy Richards (YC, 29), Tom Phillips (YC, 63), Nigel Taylor (YC, 75)

Newcastle Town 1 Glossop North End 4

Tuesday 25th November 2008
Newcastle Town 1 Glossop North End 4
Vodkat League Premier Division
At: Lyme Valley Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Programme: £1-50 (32 pages)
Attendance: 64
Weather: freezing, dry
Duration: first-half: 47:21; second-half: 46:52

It got the call earlier today to cover this one, which Newcastle needed to win by two clear goals to replace AFC Fylde at the top of the Premier Divsion. But in freezing temperatures, Glossop, themselves in fifth position, inflicted a heavy defeat on Castle to enhance their own hopes of catching the Fylde side.

As I swithed off the engine in the car park, the thermometer read -1 and inside the ground the pitch was looking a bit on the white side. It was ever a time for a pre-match coffee then this was the time - but I was still cold!

With Secretary Ray alongside me in the Press Box, Newcastle (blue shirts, blue shorts, white socks) got the game underway attacking the south end and took the lead in the 4th minute. Neville Thompson, once of Stafford Rangers, slotted home at close range after the Glossop defence failed to deal with Ian Willis' free-kick pumped forward into the area.

Newcastle looked comfortable until slack marking allowed the visitors to level things up just before the half hour. Unchallenged Martin Parker powered a 10-yard header past Danny Read direct from a left-wing corner.

Tom Bailey put Glossop (wearing all yellow) in front shortly before the interval, beating Read with a deflected 20-yard free-kick.

Poor defending allowed Glossop to further extend their lead in the 53rd minute through Hind. The visitors well and truly put the outcome beyond doubt five minutes later. Parker got clear, rounded Read and slotted into an unguarded net from a narrow angle. It was all over for Newcastle and any hopes of an abandonment went as well with the pitch reverting back from white to a normal shade of green.

Newcastle played some decent football in the closing stages when it was too late. Gillick had the ball in the Glossop net, only to be thwarted by a raised offside flag.

Newcastle Town (blue/blue/white): 1. Danny Read, 2. Ian Willis, 3. Dean Gillick, 4. Steve Elks (capt), 5. Karl Espley, 6. Steve Smith, 7. Alastair Brown , 8. Daryl Wilkes, 9. Andy Kinsey, 10. Neville Thompson, 11. Richard Minor. Subs: 12. Chris Budrys (for Thompson, 60), 14. Ashley Hill (for Smith, 57), 15. Paul Macari (for Minor, 64), 16. Ryan Dicker (not used), 17. Jordan Johnson (not used).

Glossop North End (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Ashlea Gotham, 2. Nick Allen, 3. Kelvin Lugsden (capt), 4. Matt Murray, 5. Jamie Lester, 6. Jason Gordon, 7. Tom Bailey, 8. David Morris, 9. Martin Parker, 10. Sam Hind, 11. Rick Whelan. Subs: 12. Darren Hamilton (for Whelan, 63), 14. Neil O’Brian (not used), 15. Tom Nadine (for Bailey, 78).

Referee: J. D. Stokes (Wirral).
Assistants: R. Abson (Chester) and D. Hitchell (Prenton).

1-0 Neville Thompson (4)
1-1 Martin Parker (29)
1-2 Tom Bailey (45)
1-3 Sam Hind (53)
1-4 Martin Parker (58)

Newcastle: none
Glossop: none

Stone Dominoes 6 Leek CSOB 2

Saturday 22nd November 2008
Stone Dominoes 6 Leek CSOB 2
Vodkat League Division One
At: M-way Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 51
Weather: icy cold wind, dry

For my third visit to the ground, it was a repeat of my first game there 13 months ago when Dominoes and the Old Boys netted seven goals between them. The 2008/09 renewal again produced a hat-full of goals and bags of controvercy.

This time it was eight goals, five of them scored by Dan Brown, four red cards, two uncontested goals and the Stone manager ordered from the dugout. There was plenty of reflect on at full time as I thought about my report for The Sentinel.

After a few family duties in the morning, I arrived to the ground via Old School Wines on the A34 in nearby Tittensor - a Austrian Riesling to look forward to later in the evening.

Since the begining of the month (game versus AFC Liverpool), new signs have gone up around the complex to promote a new sponsorship deal which means the ground will be known as the 'M-way Stadium'.

Once again, teamsheets were available in the clubhouse with programmes (£1) at the entrance.

With lights on from the start, Stone got the game underway attacking the car park end (or right to left as I looked onto the pitch from my seat around the half-way line).

The score were level when what looked like being the main talking point occurred.

Play was briefly held up when Stone’s Anthony Marshall required treatment after get in the way of a well-struck free-kick hit by Gareth Rowe. When the action resumed with a drop ball, Leek's Michael Machin took the ball forward unchallenged and slotted past Stuart Pope. After some discussions, Dan Brown was allowed to level things up with an uncontested equaliser. Goals were timed in the 15th and 16th minute. I've heard about this kind of things and seen it on TV but never in the flesh until now.

The Old Boys regained the lead in the 24th minute through Mark Thorley before Stone midfielder Alex Baird was sent off for a second booking just before the interval.

Stone looked to have an unhill task to salvage just a point until they got back level in the 64th minute. Stuart Scheuber deceived visiting keeper Gavin Deaville with a looping cross-cum-shot from the right when went in via the far left-hand post.

Brown looked to have missed a great chance to put his side ahead in a one-on-one with Deaville, but quickly made amends by converting a pass from Liam McKinney.

Both Curley and Hambleton escaped with just a booking after clashing off the ball in the 76th minute. The referee was certainly kept busy in a game littered with free-kicks and cards.

Three minutes later, Brown scored Stone’s fourth goal, latching on to a perfect pass from Curley and confidently firing past the helpless Deaville.

Deaville again denied Brown with another fine save but was furious with his defence when the Stone striker struck again in the 87th minute. Scheuber threaded a measured pass which Brown confidently netted.

As stoppage time approached, Curley committed a high tackle in front of the dugouts and Hambleton retaliated before the referee could take action. Things then escalated out of hand.

Curley and Hambleton were not surprisingly sent off and followed, before play resumed, by both Old Boys skipper for a second booking and manager Hollinshead.

Brown wrapped up a memorable individual performance with a fifth goal in the ninth of ten minutes of injury time. He netted after Chris Rowley’s initial shot rebounded off the bar.

Stone Dominoes (red/white/black): 1. Stuart Pope, 2. Adam Edwards, 3. Liam McKinney, 4. Stuart Scheuber, 5. Matt Bradbury, 6. Alex Baird, 7. Chris Rowley, 8. Christian Dacres, 9. James Curley, 10. Dan Brown, 11. Anthony Marshall (Byrne, 80). Subs: 14. Geoff Basford (not used), 15. James Sufflebotham (for Dacres, 57), 16. Oliver Rabie (not used), 18. Matt Hill (not used).

Leek CSOB (sky blue and white stripes / black / white): 1. Gavin Deaville, 2. Nick Hambleton, 3. Eddie Ellis, 4. Brett Barlow, 5. Adam Brindle, 6. Martin Firth, 7. Danny Hyde, 8. Mark Thorley, 9. Gareth Rowe, 10. Michael Machin, 11. Tony Mantle. Subs: 12. Luke Robinson (for Barlow, 66), 14. Jake McGarry (for Rowe, 79), 15. Greg Johnstone (for Ellis, 88).

Referee: G. Polkey.

Loughborough University 4 Meir KA 0

Tuesday 18th November 2008
Loughborough University 4 Meir KA 0
Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Nanpantan Sports Ground
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 17
Weather: mild, dry

Meir KA put up a good fight as they went down 4-0 away to Premier Division leaders Loughborough University.

The Students broke the deadlock in the 19th minute through James Weedon in an even first half. Meir went close to an equaliser just before the break. Home keeper Robert Webb failed to hold Mark Philcock’s 30-yard free-kick but the ball was cleared for a corner.

Early in the second half, Adam Coulston beat Webb to a long ball down the middle only to see his shot agonisingly miss an unguarded net. Lawrence Hunter doubled Loughborough’s lead 11 minutes after the restart with a penalty after Meir goalkeeper Richard Amison brought down Matt Allred. Steve Blenkinsop quickly made it three before Amison produced a fine flying save to turn round Lawrence Hale’s volley. Hale added the fourth near the end.

“In the first half we did well,” said joint-manager Gary Woolrich.

“We matched them in every corner of the game.

“Silly mistakes in silly areas cost us but in fairness I couldn’t have asked any more of the players who worked hard.

“You can sometimes work hard but not work clever. Against these top sides, you have to be up and at it throughout.”

Woolrich was frustrated his side picked up more bookings.

“We are not a dirty side and every week we are picking up bookings that could be avoided.”

Saturday 15th November 2008

Saturday 15th November 2008
Market Drayton Town 2 Newcastle Town 1
FA Carlsberg Vase Second Round
At: Greenfields
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 161
Weather: mild, drizzle

This tie stood out for me in the Second Round draw and I needed no pursuading at all to select it as my 'Match of the Day'.

In terms of league positions, there aren't many better sides in the Vase than Market Drayton (five points clear at the top of the Midland Alliance) and Newcastle Town (third in the Vodkat League Premier Divisions). Both sides have ambitions to gain promotion to the Unibond League come next May.

Only 14 miles separate the two towns with Market Drayton just a few miles over the Staffordshire border in north-east Shropshire.

Coincidently, I spent the morning in and the Potteries, visiting Newcastle to purchase (but ended up just ordering) a viola exam music book. The journey from Newcastle to MD was straight forward with directions spot on. Keep on the A53 bypass until the Gingerbread Pub roundabout. Turn left towards the town then right just before the bridge into Greenfields Lane (there is a sign). Continue down the lane to the ground.

I got down to the car park (shared with the rugby club) and was asked: "football or rugby?". "Football," I said. "Football on the right". So I parked my car at the end towards the right-hand side. The conversation with the official does sound a bit 'Carol Beer like' but was anything but. (I can hear Mark Taylor wondering who Carol Beer is).

It is a few minutes walk from the car park to the ground. Programmes were on sale at the entrance for £1.

The ground itself which strectches lengthways from the entrance behind on bye-line is undergoing inprovement to gain a Unibond League grading. All the facilities were on the left-hand touchline - seated stand, refreshments, hospitality, etc. Next to the entrance is a new area of covered standing. Work is in progress to extend the main stand to provide, I guess, 50% extra seats.

I got the teams from the Newcastle Secretary and they were also announced over the tannoy.

The main stand provided the perfect vantage point and I sat on the back row just about on the half-way line.

Newcastle (all white) got the game underway attacking the entrance end (left to right) and took the lead in the 17th minute through Andy Kinsey. The striker headed Daryl Wilkes' long throw towards goal and home keeper Andrew Pryce only succeeded in parrying the ball into his own net.

Further Newcastle goals could have come in the first half though they were comfortable at the break. But the game was turned on its head just after the hour mark and Market Drayton (all red) scored two quick goals. Stuart Ellis levelled things up and, just 41 seconds after the game restarted, Craig Ryan hit the winner.

Wednesday 12th November 2008

Castle Vale 1 Southam United 1
Midland Combination Premier Division
at Vale Stadium
Attendance: 40
Weather: cold, dry

After my failed attempts to watch a Northern Counties East League Cup tie yesterday, it was good to see some action at a ground I'd previously visited in Spring 2000.

Congleton Town 1 Colne 3

Saturday 8th November 2008
Congleton Town 1 Colne 3
Vodkat League Cup Second Round
At: Booth Street
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: press pass; Programme: £1-20p
Attendance: 93
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 48:45; second-half: 46:23

Congleton Town were made to pay for a below-par performance as they suffered a surprise defeat against Colne at Booth Street.

Just as they did against Glossop last Saturday, the Bears conceded a two-goal half-time lead before fighting back in the second half. This time, substitute Darren Twigg reduced the deficit just after the hour mark before Colne were gifted a vital third goal.

The arrival of Twigg at as half-time substitute gave a much needed presence in the Congleton attack and Buckle felt his joint-manager provided an example for others to follow.

While not playing well, Congleton created the bulk of the first-half chances without forcing a serious save out of Colne’s James Mann.

The visitors, a lowly 17th in the Premier Division table, stunned home fans by taking the lead in the 39th minute. Liam Garbutt got on end of a long clearance over the Congleton defence and headed past the advancing Rob Hackney.

Garbutt sufficiently recovered from the effects of colliding with the Congleton keeper to score a vital second goal for his side in stoppage time. He scored at the second attempt after his initial shot was blocked by Hackney.

Goal hero Garbutt didn’t emerge for the second half and Congleton also replaced Chris Smith with Twigg at the interval.

James Marrow should have scored a minute after the restart, firing wide from in front of goal after good work by Carl Nesbitt.

Just before the hour mark at the other end, Nesbitt cleared off the line from Jamie Longley after Hackney failed to collect a dangerous corner from the right.

The Bears got back in contention in the 64th minute as they turned improvement into a goal. The assistant referee gave a goal after Twigg’s close range shot was cleared off the line.

Congleton should have gone on to at least force extra time but they were punished for a lapse at the back as Colne restored their two-goal advantage in the 73rd minute.

Unnoticed and unmarked Longley came back from an offside position to receive Steve Hall’s throughball and slotted past Hackney from inside the area.

Simon Robinson was inches away from immediate response, sending a 30-yard drive flashing just wide with Mann diving at full stretch.

Congleton continued to press and threw bodies forward, including Wayne Brotherton as an extra attacker, but couldn’t make inroads into Colne’s lead.

Congleton Town (black and white stripes / blakc / black) : 1. Rob Hackney, 2. Adam Vickers, 3. Andy Bostock, 4. Wayne Brotherton, 5. Mark Fitton, 6. Carl Nesbitt (capt), 7. Ryan Baker, 8. Simon Robinson, 9. James Marrow, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Stuart Tulloch. Subs: 12. Steve Millington (for Tulloch, 86), 14. Ryan Greene (for Vickers, 77), 15. Graham Molloy, 16. Darren Twigg (for Smith, ht), 17. Anthony Buckle.

Colne (red/red/red): 1. James Mann, 2. Danny Craig, 3. Andy Hargreaves, 4. Stephen Throup, 5. Ben Howarth, 6. Michael Cruz (capt), 7. Ted Crockett, 8. Steve Hall, 9. Jamie Longley, 10. Liam Garbutt, 11. James Crorken. Subs: 12. Tom Calvey, 14. Ben Housley (for Garbutt, ht), 15. Andy Pickard, 16. Nigel Coates.

Referee: P Norris.

0-1 Liam Garbutt (39)
0-2 Liam Garbutt (45+2)
1-2 Darren Twigg (64)
1-3 Jamie Longley (73)

Congleton: Adam Vickers (YC, 45+2), Wayne Brotherton (YC, 90+1)
Colne: Danny Craig (YC, 50), James Crorken (YC, 71), Michael Cruz (YC, 77), Steve Hall (YC, 79)

Brocton 3 Meir KA 3

Tuesday 4th November 2008
Brocton 3 Meir KA 3
Midland Combination Premier Division
At: The Old Police Sports Ground, Silkmore Lane
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Attendance: 52
Weather: mild, drizzle
Duration: first-half: 46:42; second-half: 48:14

One of the plus points for me in going to the Old Police Sports Ground was the fact that the ground is within comfortable walking distance (about 20 or so minutes) and downhill for the outward journey.

Walking down Radford Bank and over the river bridge, I could see the lights on to my left which confirmed, what I had already guessed, that the match was on. To my right in the distance, I could also see the white glow of the Stafford Rangers lights and thought before this season that Marston Road would have been my destination (Rangers were at home to Southport in the Setanta Shield).

Programmes were once again sold (£1) at the pay box at the end of the drive which leads from Silkmore Lane to the ground itself. The chap on the gate told me there were several groundhoppers present including a car load from London. So I walked round to the changing rooms/tea bar area and met several familiar faces including the ‘Tram’.

Teams were once again displayed at the window of the hospitality room. Meir’s line-up showed a few of the FA Cup heroes missing including striker Ryan Mizkiel and Mark Philcock, both of whom were suspended I think. Brocton had David Berks on the bench and Matt Sargeant (former Stafford Rangers youth) in goal.

I was looking forward to this game especially as the first meeting at Meir finished 4-3 in favour of the home side. Would goals be again on the agenda or would the ‘Tram’ have to make a revisit after a goalless draw?

Once again I took my seat in the stand, looking out in a south-easterly direction over the pitch with the lights of the Wildwood Estate in the distance.

Meir KA (amber shirts with black hoop, black shorts and socks) got the game under way attacking from right to left towards the changing rooms end. Just after the quarter-hour mark, Lee Cropper hit a 20-yard free-kick over the wall which hit the top of the bar and over for a goal kick. But Meir took the lead in the 30th minute. Steve Harrison fed Cropper who beat Sargeant with a 30-yard lob which the young keeper got his hands to – a great start for the visitors and a sigh of relief no doubt from the ‘Tram’. Meir doubled their advantage in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Adam Coulston got up after being brought down by Sargeant and converted the resulting penalty.

Speaking after the game, Meir joint-manager Gary Woolrich told me that he had expected Brocton (green and white halves, white shorts, green socks) to fight back in the second half and this is what they did. Gary Fife, ex-Stafford, volleyed home at close range in the 55th minute and Jermaine Bowen equalised direct from a free-kick four minutes later. Chris Baker regained the lead for Meir in the 66th minute, only for Fife to convert a penalty 66 seconds later to level things up again. In the closing stages, Adam McMahon almost won it for Brocton when he fired against the underside of the bar.

At the final whistle, time for a quick quote from Meir’s very approachable Gary Woolrich before setting off on the uphill walk back home.

Brocton (green and white halves / white / green): 1. Matt Sargeant, 2. Ben Harrison, 3. Matt Skinner, 4. Andy Chandler, 5. Dean Crowley, 6. Karl McLeod, 7. Adam mcMahon, 8. Danny McLeod, 9. Lee Scott, 10. Gary Fife, 11. Jermaine Bowen. Subs: 12. Danny Baker (not used), 14. David Berks (for Bowen, 75), 15. Mick Fox (for Scott, 53).

Meir KA (amber / black / black): 1. Richie Amison, 2. Aaron Kelter, 3. Mark Howell, 4. Steve Harrison, 5. Aaron Protaszczak, 6. Darren Reaney (capt), 7. Adam Coulston, 8. Chris Baker, 9. Lee Cropper, 10. Nathan Chin-Shaw, 11. Mick Wright. Subs: 12. Stuart Hannah (for Kelter, 62), 14. Jordan Heath (not used), 15. Nkonds Katongo (not used), 16. Scott Reaney (not used).

Referee: Mr Sutton.

0-1 Lee Cropper (30)
0-2 Adam Coulston (45+1 pen)
1-2 Gary Fife (55)
2-2 Jermaine Bowen (58)
2-3 Chris Baker (66)
3-3 Gary Fife (67 pen)

Brocton: Dean Crowley (YC, 16), David Berks (YC, 89)
Meir KA: Aaron Protaszczak (YC, 58)

Stone Dominoes 0 AFC Liverpool 4

Saturday 1st November 2008
Stone Dominoes 0 AFC Liverpool 4
Vodkat League Division 1
At: Springbank Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: press pass; Programme; yes
Attendance: 183
Weather: cold, dry, windy
Duration: first-half: 47:22; second-half: 47:12

(see also 22/11/08)

I’d been to Springbank Stadium once before. In midweek during last season, just over a year ago in fact, I saw Stone defeat Leek CSOB 5-2 under the lights so this was my first visit for an afternoon kick-off. Of course, I’d also seen a few games on the pitches at the Yarnfield complex.

The venue is located on the Stone to Yarnfield road. Turn off the A34 by the Wayfarer pub towards Yarnfield and the ground is located on the left after crossing the M6. Easy to find for sure.

The Stadium is clearly visible from the car park but the entrance is through Vinny’s Gates, past the clubhouse and round to the left.

Vinny’s gates are named in memory of Vinny O’Connor RIP and were blessed by the Archbishop of Birmingham in April 2005.

When I arrived, Barlaston’s County Senior League game was underway on Pitch 2.

Since my last visit, the clubhouse had been altered and is now quite impressive. A nice lounge area with comfy seating provided a nice relaxing area to sit and enjoy a coffee. Teamsheets were available in this room and programmes (£1; 44 pages) on sale at the entrance to the stadium.

There is a lengthy area of cover down the near touchline for just about the entire length, with two rows of seats on halfway. Dugouts are on the opposite side and the pitch is a lovely flat surface.

By the entrance is a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the new stadium by the Mayor of Stafford Borough in May this year.

While AFC Liverpool don’t have the kind of away following that, say FC United or AFC Wimbledon had, Stone still benefitted for their biggest home crowd of the season.

I must say a word about Dominoes’ welcome. The whole place couldn’t have been more friendly.

There were a couple of presentations before kick-off both for AFC Liverpool with manager Derek Goulding (who I remember playing for Stafford in 1983/84) picking up the Manager of the Month award for October.

Stone (red shirts, white shorts, black socks) got the game underway attacking the far (south) of the ground, left to right from my point of view seated around halfway.

The home side made a bright start and former Stafford Rangers man Christian Dacres headed just over the bar. They created other early chances as well.

However, the visitors (all yellow with red trim) took the lead in the 22nd minute. Defender Ndina Kangana fired a low close-range shot from inside the area.

Just before the interval in first-half stoppage time. Liverpool skipper Ian Johnson received a straight red card for catching Stuart Scheuber off the ball.

With Stone creating chances and the visitors a man short, I felt that they could well become only the second side this season to take league points off AFC Liverpool.

But disaster struck for the home side, less than a minute after the restart, 47 seconds on my watch. Dominoes keeper James Heath raced off his line to meet a long bouncing ball. He failed to make an attempted header and substitute Ryan Wignall was left with the task of slotting home his side’s second goal.

AFC Liverpool further extended their lead on the hour with a third goal. Andy Olsen fed James Croxton who hammered a shot past Heath.

Andy McCoy saw a free-kick rebound off the woodwork in the 81st minute.

Last Saturday, AFC Liverpool scored four at Eccleshall and completed another four-goal haul in mid-Staffordshire in the 87th minute. Stone were caught short at the back. Wignall could have scored himself but instead squared a pass for Martin Smeaton to fire home.

Stone Dominoes (red/white/black): 1. James Hall, 2. Chris Rowley, 3. Liam McKinney, 4. Stuart Scheuber, 5. Mark Bradbury, 6. Alex Baird, 7. Christian Dacres, 8. Niall Maguire (capt), 9. Mark Blake, 10. Dan Brown, 11. James Curley. Subs: 12. Adam Edwards (not used), 14. Michael Byrne (not used), 15. James Shufflebottom (not used), 16. Anthony Marshall (for McKinney, 67), 17. Oliver Rabie (for Dacres, 74).

AFC Liverpool (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Terry McCormick, 2. Ndina Kangana, 3. Craig Cushion, 4. Mark Bloxam, 5. Mark Gregory, 6. Andy Barlow, 7. Ian Sheridan, 8. Ian Johnson (capt), 9. James Croxton, 10. Andy Olden, 11. Andy McCoy. Subs: 12. Kevin Poole (for Olden, 76), 14. Martin Smeaton (for Croxton, 71), 15. Ryan Wignall (for Kangana, 39), GK. Dave Cater (not used).

Referee: -

0-1 Ndina Kangana (22)
0-2 Ryan Wignall (46)
0-3 James Croxton (60)
0-4 Martin Smeaton (86)

Stone: Liam McKinney (YC, 43), James Curley (YC, 79)
AFC Liverpool: Andy Barlow (YC, 28), Ian Johnson (RC, 45+1), Mark Bloxam (YC, 73)

As a footnote…

Aldershot Town managed it. So did AFC Wimbledon and more recently FC United did it was well. If memory serves me right, AFC Telford are on the list as well.

Managed what?

Promotion for a supporter-founded team in their first season.

And the way they have started their first season (ten wins out of eleven league games after this victory at Stone), Division 1 leaders AFC Liverpool are well on course to add their name to that list as well.