Sporting Khalsa 1 Riverway 1

Tuesday 23rd December 2008
Sporting Khalsa 1 Riverway 1
FTL Futbol West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1
At: Abbey Park Stadium, Bloxwich
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:46; second-half: 49:07

I got back to my car after the full-time whistle and wondered how Riverway managed to draw a game they could have won with a sizable scoreline. They created chance after change, won numerous corners, yet managed just one goal for their efforts scored early in the second half by skipper Tom Duffy. However, Manjit Singh grabbed a late equaliser for his side.

Sporting Khalsa, a club I'd never previously seen play before, are based at the former home of Bloxwich AFC, located off Glastonbury Crescent on the Mossley Estate in Bloxwich. The ground is a venue I had previously visited on two occasions and most recently way back on a baking hot July day in 1990.

The club history on their website ( says the club was founded in 1991. They spent one season, 1996/97, in the West Midlands League Division 1 North and rejoined Division 2 in 2004. They were immediately promoted to Division 1 after finishing fifth and this season is their fourth in this division. In 2005, Khalsa became the first Asian semi-professional football club in the country to own its own ground, Abbey Park.

The entrance to the ground is through a (unmanned) turnstile from the car park behind the goal at the southern end of the ground. To the right in the corner are the changing rooms and to the left an area of covered standing with the clubhouse behind. Down the left-hand touchline is the seated stand with five rows of blue seats and benches. On the right-hand touchline are the dugouts and four tall floodlight pylons (two on each side) are positioned level with the edge of each penalty area. No programme was issued.

Both sides went into the game level on 15 points with Riverway in 12th in the 17-team league and Sporting Khalsa two places below by virtue of a worse goal difference. Though Riverway are a Stafford-based side, their home ground is barely a couple of miles away so I suppose this was a local derby!

I opted to watch the game stood on halfway near the seated stand looking across towards the dugouts. While the captain met the match officials in the centre circle, the remaining Sporting Khalsa players held a huddle. Riverway (all red) got the game underway attacking the entrance end with the referee saying, "OK Gents, enjoy it" before he blew the whistle.

Riverway won a very early corner and so did Khalsa (yellow shirts, blue shortsm yellow socks). Visiting keeper Sean Healey got down to hold a low shot from Leon Brown in the 10th minute before the visitors started to create a host of chances. The linesman on my side was a real character and I think he refereed the Wednesbury game I saw back in May against Wolves Development.

Just before the half-hour, Duffy latched on to a ball down the right, cut in and fired low towards the near post where keeper Jaswander Singh blocked at the expense of a corner. Half-time came with the scores level so I popped into the clubhouse for a welcome coffee.

In the 55th minute Stuart Simpson and Carl Grant combined down the right to create a chance for Duffy who forced a good diving save out of Singh. Duffy, however, opened the scoring with a downward header from the resulting right-wing corner delivered by dead ball specialist Matt Rhodes.

Singh produced a couple of further saves as Riverway pressed for a second goal before Hardreer Sidhu fed Gudjinder Ghahan sent a well-struck drive just over the bar. "A warning," said one of the Riverway players to his teammates, perhaps conscious his team had just a single-goal lead. Riverway continued to squander chances and win corners without adding to their lead. "We've still got some hard work to do, Riverway," was the cry.

With time running out, Sporting Khalsa equalised in the 87th minute. Leon Brown's initial shot was blocked by Healey and Manjit Gill forced the rebound over the line at close range.

The final whistle came after four minutes of stoppage time and singled a first league draw of the season for both sides.

Roll on Boxing Day and my 100th game of the season!

Sporting Khalsa (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Jaswandeer Singh, 2. Tirth Singh, 3. Manjit Singh, 4. Gurwinder Deo (capt), 5. Sukhbir Sidhu, 6. Gurminder Singh, 7. Gudjinder Ghahan, 8. Hardreer Sidhu, 9. Charanjir Mannu, 10. Leon Brown, 11. Dharminder Singh. Subs: 12. Bhopinder Singh (for Mannu, 90+1), 14. Jagdit Khale (for Gurminder Singh, 80).

Riverway (red/red/red): 1. Sean Healey, 2. Mitch Green, 3. Matt Rhodes, 4. Rob Tomkinson, 5. Robert Webb, 6. Simon Dawson, 7. Jake Robinson, 8. Ben Bloor, 9. Tom Duffy (capt), 10. Carl Grant, 11. Stuart Simpson. Subs: 12. Jo Owen (not used), 14. Carl Mason (not used), 15. Dean Clegg (for Bloor, 80), 16. Garry Todd (not used), 17. Wayne Spicer (for Green, 73).

Referee: Adam Mullins (Burntwood).

0-1 Tom Duffy (55)
1-1 Manjit Singh (87)

Sporting Khalsa: none
Riverway: Simon Dawson (YC, 90+1)