Wednesday 28th January

Tipton Town 3 Rocester 1
Aspire Midland Alliance
At: Tipton Sports Academy
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 86
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first half: 47:02; second-half 54:06

When I visited Goodrich about 14 months ago, I wondered which floodlight football ground I hadn’t visited was now the nearest to home. Since them Brocton’s ground in Stafford has opened and been visited so I suspected Tipton Town was the nearest, until tonight that is!

The Tipton Sports Academy stadium is located on Wednesbury Oak Road, about a quarter of a mile west of the junction with A4037 (Bilston Road / Gospel Oak Road). Completed, I think in 1998, it replaced a previous stadium (where I saw Tipton play over 20 years ago) on a site now occupied by the Sports Academy building (opened by none other than John Prescott in June 1988). The athletics stadium, also the home of Tipton Harriers with their famous green and white hooped vests, boasted a seated stand on the nearside, containing about 200 individual blue tip-up seats in four rows and two blocks either side of the players’ tunnel. The is banking over on the far side outside the stadium perimeter with ASDA ‘looking down’ from the top and to the right. Programmes (£1) were sold at the entrance on one side of the stand and ended up selling out. Two refreshments outlets were available – one either side of the stand – and I opted for the one on the far side in a temporary building where tea and coffee were sold by really friendly club helpers.

Tipton and Rocester went into the game at opposite ends of the table, with the visitors looked to climb further away from the relegation zone having won their last two league games.

The team line-ups showed each side included one former Stafford Rangers player. Tipton had Nicky Campbell on the bench while Rocester started with tall midfielder Christian Dacres who joined the Romans from Stone Dominoes a short while ago. I saw Christian play twice for Stone back in November against AFC Liverpool and Leek CSOB.

Rocester (yellow shirts with white shorts and socks) got the game underway, attacking to ‘ASDA’ end or, in other words, from left to right from my seat in the stand. Early on, it appeared clear that central defender Darren Bullock’s long throws could cause a problem or two for the Tipton defence during the course of the evening.

Tipton (black and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) took the lead in the 23rd minute. They won a corner when defender Chris McComisky cut out a right-wing cross delivered by Ryan Mosedale. The corner was partially cleared to Mosedale, lurking 25 yards out, who hit a sweet right foot shot into the roof of the net – “cracking goal” and who was I to disagree.

It got better for Tipton four minutes later when they doubled their advantage. Nathan Jones sent strike partner Chris Morris clear with a ball though the visitors’ defence and the latter gave the helpless Richard Froggatt no chance of keeping out a low shot.

Three minutes after that second goal, Tipton went close to a third. Morris tried his luck from fully 30 yards out and sent a rising right-foot shot inches over the bar.

To their credit, Rocester got back into the game with a goal scored in the 36th minute. A long ball forward fell nicely for Tommy Smith on the right inside the area. And what a finish! Smith fired across the face of goal and in at the left-hand post. There was an audible roar from the Rocester fans in the crowd.

I mentioned Bullock’s long throws and another one just before half-time almost led to an equaliser. The ball was cleared to Ashley Sheridan who hit a well-struck shot through a crowd which was parried by the diving Wes Cox and cleared for a corner by Nicky Pugh.

At half-time, it was nice to get another warm cup of tea and have a chat with Rocester fan ‘Roman’ before the action continued. I felt that the visitors were capable of gaining a point.

However, Tipton restored their two-goal advantage seven minutes after the restart. Mosedale was on target again with a low drive across the face of goal into the opposite bottom-right corner.

“Get your heads up, c’mon,” was the cry from one of the Rocester players and the team looked to respond.

Raffle tickets, £1 per strip, came round early in the second half but I was out of luck yet again.

Rocester pressed forward and Smith headed Sheridan’s deep corner across the face of goal. In the 75th minute, Cox produced a fine save to tip over David Williams’ rising right-foot shot and from the resulting corner the ball was cleared off the line.

Perhaps the biggest talking point was the double sending off that occurred around the 80th minute. Over on the far side, near the dugouts, things flared up between the players and benches of both sides. Once order was restored, the three match officials held a conference to work out what had happened and the referee shouted, “Five please” in the direction of the Rocester central defender. Bullock was despatched to the changing rooms with a straight red card and followed by unused Tipton sub John Hill.

Tipton with their man advantage pressed for another goal. Nathan Jones sent a dipping shot just over the bar and Nicky Pugh forced Froggatt into a near-post save.

In stoppage time, Rocester appealed for a penalty when Matt Redshaw appeared to be held back but the referee waived play on.

Footnote: I’d completely forgotten about Aldersley Stadium, used this season by Penncroft, so Tipton wasn’t my nearest floodlight ground still to be visited.