Abbey Hulton United 0 Norton FC 2

Saturday 27th December 2008
Abbey Hulton United 0 Norton FC 2
Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division
At: Birches Head Road
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first half: 46:12; second half: 48:04

I didn’t fancy travelling too far on a very cold Saturday 28th December so Abbey Hulton’s home SCSL Premier Division game with Norton FC fitted perfectly. But having been given the ‘game on’ over the phone, I arrived at the ground to find the odd doubt about the pitch which happily turned out to be nothing to worry about.

Abbey Hulton United, founded in 1947, are based at Birches Head Road in Stoke-on-Trent. By car, take the A5009 Leek Road and, if travelling north, turn left by Spoilt for Choice florist (opposite Hulton Abbey ruins) with the ground on the right past the narrow bridge.

The ground was a classic fully railed-off pitch with no cover, hard standing or floodlights though a grass bank along one touchline provides a slightly-elevated vantage point. The changing rooms and clubhouse werere next to the entrance and car park. Hot and cold drinks were available from the bar.

"It's freezing," said one of the Norton players as the teams emerged from the changing rooms and he was not wrong!

Visitors Norton FC (wearing black and white striped shirts, white shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the changing rooms end in the first half.

Norton took full advantage of Abbey Hulton's "slow start" by taking the lead in the 13th minute. Gareth Humphries ran into the area down the inside left channel and drilled a low shot past Ashley Pickins into the opposite corner of the net.

The lead was doubled midway through the second half in the 67th minute. Gareth Humphries squared a pass to David Carruthers who fired into the roof of the net from 10 yards out.

I got the impression that a warm welcome is guaranteed from a club on the road to recovery after suffering at the hands of vandals. It didn't matter that they don't produce programmes.

Abbey Hulton United (orange/black/black): 1. Ashley Pickins, 2. Daniel Bew, 3. Paul Colclough, 4. Ian Sayer, 5. Stuart Park, 6, Stephen Sayer (capt), 7. Adam Holdcroft, 8. Gary Gibson, 9. Richard Simcock, 10. Ben Campbell, 11. Mark Lawton. Subs: 12. Scott Bew (for Park, 69), 14. Anthony Murtagh (for Gibson, 69), 15. Daniel Timmis (for Lawton, 59).

Norton FC (black and white stripes / white / white): 1. Alex Graham, 2. Adam Dawson, 3. Josh Graham, 4. Jason Hulme, 5. Josh Moran, 6. David Carruthers (capt), 7. Kyle Diskin, 8. Danny Williams, 9. Gareth Humphries, 10. Matt Hughes, 11. Phil Dutton. Subs: 12. Sam Humphries (for Hulme, 84), 14. Steve Harrison, 15. Phil Thomas (for Hughes, 84).

Referee: A. Lawrence.
Assistants: P. Smith and S. Simpson.

0-1 Gareth Humphries (13)
0-2 David Carruthers (67)

Abbey Hulton: Stephen Sayer (YC, 26), Gary Gibson (YC, 42), Paul Colclough (YC, 79), Ben Campbell (YC, 90)
Norton FC: Josh Graham (YC, 26)