Saturday 17th January 2009

Radcliffe Borough 0 Woodley Sports 2
Unibond League Division 1 North
At: Stainton Park Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7; Programme: £1-50
Attendance: 123
Weather: overcast, cold wind
Duration: first-half: 47:07; second-half: 47:54

My good football friend, ‘Addis Neil’ (aka ‘Walsall Neil’), was surprised that I’d never made it to Radcliffe Borough’s Stainton Park Stadium. I suppose I’d always left it to one side with the expectation of making a midweek trip – that obviously never materialised. So on what was an OK day weather wise, I decided to finally pay a visit.

As mentioned in Kerry Miller’s excellent book, The Stainton Park Stadium has been the home of Radcliffe Borough since 1970. Today, there is a large car park on one side of the ground with the entrance next to the clubhouse. Through into the ground itself, the pitch runs widthways with two areas of covered standing on the right of the entrance. Behind the left-hand goal at the top of the slope was a seated stand running the length of the bye-line, containing four rows of modern sky blue individual seats along with a PA/press box. On the touchline opposite was an area of open terracing, complete with a series of crush barriers, and behind the far goal was another area of open terracing with the club shop behind.

Woodley Sports got the afternoon’s action underway, attacking down the slope in the first half towards the goal furthest away from my seated vantage point in the stand.

On a grey day, the lights came on after just three minutes – three pylons down each side.

The game’s first talking point came just before the midpoint of the first half. Radcliffe fans were upset that the referee didn’t give handball against a Woodley defender which, in their option, prevented Ian Fitzpatrick from getting clear. “How you got to catch it first?” said one fuming fan.

A mistake by Woodley keeper Ben Connett in his yellow jersey, who had left his penalty area, gave a chance to Fitzpatrick who blasted over an unguarded net.

Apart from a long range effort from Woodley’s Gareth Morris, it was Radcliffe who had the better chances.

Amazingly, just like last night at Welshpool, the referee awarded a penalty to Woodley deep into first-half stoppage time. Gavin Salmon converted from the spot to put the visitors in front and play continued for barely a second before the first half was brought to a close.

I popped back into the clubhouse at half-time and joined the refreshments queue for some much needed chips and ketchup in a tray, then returned to my seat in the stand.

Woodley were attacking towards my vantage point in the second half but the first action was down the other end where Ian Fitzpatrick lifted a first-time shot over the bar from 18 yards out.

Chances were created by both sides and Radcliffe almost equalised in the 72nd minute. Following a foul on substitute Adam Roscoe by Gary Furnival, Owen Roberts hit a well-struck free-kick which the diving Ben Connett turned round at the expense of a corner.

To my left in the distance I spotted several wind turbines on top of the prominent hills, presumably the same turbine I’d spotted from Elton Vale FC back in July.

Sometimes you hear strange sounds emanating from the neighbourhood around football grounds. To me there is no stranger sound on a very cold January afternoon of an ice cream van’s chimes in a nearly street. Not the weather for an ice-cold snack if you ask me.

“Keep working away,” was the rallying call by Priestley to his teammates after Connett made hard work of claiming a 20-yard volley from Michael Oates. Griff Jones (nicknamed ‘Rhys’ by any chance?) fired wide from the edge of the area with Woodley working hard at the back to protect their lead.

Dramatically, however, the second half ended just as the first half had with a penalty to Woodley. The assistant referee spotted Steve Brockley trip Salmon inside the area and the striker got up to fire home his second injury-time penalty of the game.

0-1 Gavin Salmon (45+2 pen)
0-2 Gavin Salmon (90+2 pen)