Pinxton 3 Rolls Royce Leisure 0

Saturday 31st January 2009
Pinxton 3 Rolls Royce Leisure 0
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division
At: Welfare Ground, Wharf Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry, icy wind

Some would argue that I plan my football trips like a ‘military’ operation – make sure the game is on, know where I am going and make sure I arrive with bags of time to spare. They (wife and daughter mainly) may well be correct! But today was different – no thanks to the perils of a pay-as-you-go mobile phone which I switched to yesterday from a contract.

I fancied delving into a different league so Pinxton’s home Central Midlands League game was my choice and I assumed it would be on. While filling up with fuel on the A38, I suddenly wondered if Pinxton were, in fact, one of the five teams hosting games as part of the March’s forthcoming groundhopping bonanza. So before continuing (and, yes, I did move away from the pumps), I phoned junior ‘iwf’ who checked the ‘advert’ on The Football Traveller web site and confirmed the five hosts to be Rolls Royce Leisure, Bulwell, Kirkby, Forest and Clipstone. But in the process of establishing this I ran out of credit so couldn’t make my next call to Pinxton to get the ‘green light’.

Thankfully, I found Pixton’s Welfare Ground without too many problems and was cheered to find a pretty full car park including one car load of what I assumed to be opposition players. I approached from the M1 junction 28 and took the South Normanton exit from the roundabout, then first left into Pinxton Lane. The road went over the A38 and on into Pinxton, then right at the lights into Victoria Road. At the ‘T’ junction at end of Victoria Road, turn right, past the Co-op and the Welfare entrance is on the right.

The ground was actually behind the welfare building and orientated roughly south-east to north-west. The entrance was around halfway along the near (right) touchline next to a sign that described Pinxton FC as ‘the home of football’. A nice touch, I thought, and the official manning the gate was equally welcoming. Programmes (£1) were available from this gate.

Through the entrance and the pitch ran widthways, enclosed by a solid white barrier. On the opposite touchline, left of the half-way line was a small stand containing two rows of blue individual tip-up seats and behind the right-hand goal was a grass bank with two ‘park-style’ benches on top – which ended up being populated by five locals girls during the first half. Overlooking the ground on the far side was a 700-year-old church. I spotted steps at the far-left corner which turned out to lead down to a bowling green and the Andrew ‘Crow’ Riley Sports Pavilion from where teas, coffees, snacks, etc. were served.

Pinxton went into the game in a lofty false position in the Supreme Division table as teams below all had games in hand – but Pinxton had the points which these chasing teams still needed to win. It had been a sad and difficult time recently for Rolls Royce as 19-year-old goalscoring midfielder Liam Munn died a couple of weeks ago after a night out in Nottingham and the ‘number 11’ was retired as a mark of respect.

Normally Pinxton wear a blue kit, but the players wanted to use the so-called lucky change kit instead. Before going to the centre circle to meet the match officials, the Rolls Royce skipper encouraged his teammates, shouting: “Let’s start positive lads”.

The visitors got the game underway attacking the southern end in the first half, or left to right from my vantage point sat in the stand – the seat numbered ‘21’ on the back row to be precise.

Pinxton (white shirts, black shorts, black socks) unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty in the 12th minute when Jay Cooper went down inside the area. However, the home side took the lead seven minutes later. A deep cross from the left was headed towards goal and in by Kieran Debrouwer, despite the efforts of a defender to clear.

In the next attack there was almost a second goal. Debrouwer pulled the ball back for Daniel Marriott who saw his shot parried by Rolls keeper Paul Brady.

A 22nd-minute corner did lead to Pinxton doubling their advantage. Cooper delivered the ball into the area, which was cleared back out to the right. It was crossed back into the area and Marriott headed home. Pinxton continued to create chances. Wayne Cooke saw a shot blocked by Brady’s legs after good work by Marriott, then on the half-hour Pinxton had the ball in the net again. Cooper slipped the ball past the advancing Brady and Cooke put it into an unguarded net, only to be flagged offside.

Joey McCormack, the Pinxton keeper defending the goal nearest to me, was rarely troubled by the visitors but had a little local difficulty with the assistant running the Pinxton defence. The official wasn’t happy with the ‘tee’ mound build on the edge of the six-yard box for launching goal kicks and McCormick was ordered to flatten it!

Raffle tickets came round - £1 a strip so I had to have a go with a bottle of wine awaiting the lucky ticket holder.

It was perhaps no surprise when the third goal arrived in the first minute of stoppage time. Copper sent a low right-foot drive across the face of goal into the opposite bottom left corner.

Before the half-time whistle, Ben Bacon almost made it four with a right-foot shot that flashed past the right-hand post.

During the interval, I followed the teams down the stairs to the refreshments hatch in the Andrew ‘Crow’ Riley Sports Pavilion. In the queue I recognised Malc and Kev of ‘On The Road’ fame and it was nice to have a chat. Malc must have spotted my clipboard as he remarked on my ‘copious notes’ on his blog. The lucky raffle numbers were announced and my strip was agonisingly one away from the winning strip. It was none other than Malc who scooped the prize! He and Kev must have been stood near me in the first half!

Back up the steps for the second half and back into my seat, wondering whether Pinxton would rack up a cricket score sized victory. It was certainly well positioned with the home side attacking the goal nearest to me.

Four minutes after the restart, Cooper got down the right and pulled the ball back to Cooke who fired a 20-yard shot which Brady got down well to hold. Bacon then proceeded to blast another shot wide from barely 10 yards out.

The lights came on around the 57th minute and, after the hour mark, Rolls Rooyce (wearing all blue) got forward to create a couple of chances. Matt Cowes had a go for goal from well outside the area while Jack Allen went close when he turned on the edge of the area and fired just wide of the near right-hand post. Cowes also headed straight at McCormack.

To be honest the action on the field wasn’t taking my mind off how cold it was becoming. With Pinxton well on course for the points, there really wasn’t a lot to write about – just as well with cold hands.

The home side threatened another goal in the closing stages. Substitute Aaron Gordon, part of a triple 74th-minute substitution, fired just wide from 20 yards out and Frazer Thomas forced Brady to turn round a 25-yard shot at the expense of a corner. The game’s final chance saw Sean Connor glance a header wide from Josh Parker’s right-foot cross.