Forest Town 2 Harrowby United 1

Saturday 14th March 2009
Forest Town 2 Harrowby United 1
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division
At: Forest Town Welfare
Kick-off: 4-15 pm
Attendance: 237
Weather: sunny, windy
Duration: first half: 45:43; second-half 47:45

With today’s two Premier Division games done and dusted, the Bonanza dipped into the Supreme Division for the final two matches on grounds less than two miles apart to the east of Mansfield. – first at Forest Town and then under the lights at Clipstone Welfare.

I’d driven past Forest Town Welfare a couple of times so knew the pitch was situated on a larger expanse of grass with a cycle track running round the perimeter. Previously it was used for cricket (hence the size) with football being played due south at the back on what is known as ‘The Clod’. It was on ‘The Clod’ that Forest Town previously staged a groundhop game back in April 2005 when they drew 0-0 with AFC Barnsley in front of a crowd of 252.

Since then, Forest Town have moved from ‘The Clod’ into the ‘Arena’, and so can join a small band of clubs who have hosted more than one groundhop game.

The ground was located on Clipstone Road West, B6030, adjacent to the crossroads with Old Mill Lane and Oak Tree Lane. From the lights follow signs to Clipstone past the ground before doubling back to the car park by turning first right into Main Avenue then first right again into First Avenue.

The entrance was round to the right of the Welfare building and pitch (orientated north-east to south-west) ran widthways inside an impressive bowl enclosed by a black tarmaced cycle track. Between the elevated building and pitch on the near touchline was an area of open seating, roughly on halfway, consisting of four rows of red individual tip-up seats, numbering around 128 (4 x 32). To the left of the seats was an area of opening terracing – eight steps in total. Behind the right hand goal was the changing rooms building, a one-story white pavilion-style structure, and tea bar known as the ‘Arena Cafeteria’. Over in the far right corner was a relic from the ground’s previous use – an impressive cricket scoreboard.

The present day Forest Town FC began life back in 1981 as a Mansfield and District Sunday League team called Village FC. That club changed its name two years later to Smith Street FC and then to Mansfield Colliery FC when they moved to the Forest Town Welfare in 1986. Two years later, the name Forest Town Welfare FC was adopted when the colliery closed. The club eventually moved into Saturday football and joined the Central Midlands League in 2000, moving up from the Premier Division to Supreme Division in 2007. There is a more comprehensive history on Forest Town’s website. It is interesting to note that ‘Forest Town’ is the name of the village rather than ‘Town’ being a traditional football team name suffix.

Forest Town have enjoyed a great 2008/09 campaign and went into this game in third position (48 points from 22 games) with games in hand on the top two. Harrowby, in contrast, were third from bottom in the 18-team Supreme Division with 14 points from 28 games.

Just like the games at Rolls Royce, Bulwell and Kirkby, the line-ups were prominently displayed. Here, they were written on a white board and also announced over the tannoy.

Before kick-off, I spotted good friend ‘Boro Mike’ and I decided to watch the first half from the open seating – back row in seat 24 to be precise.

The teams turned round after the toss with Forest Town defending into the low sun and attacking the pavilion end – left to right from my vantage point. The home side (wearing red shirts, red shorts and white socks) got the action underway and created a couple of early chances. Mark Carter’s close-range shot was parried by Chris Bennett and cleared for a corner, from which Carter glanced a header wide.

Harrowby wore their change kit (blue and white hooped shirts, blue shorts and blue socks) with red numbers which, to be honest, were difficult to decipher especially for players over on the far side.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 13th minute. The ball was played across the face of goal from the right and Kyle McAllister slotted it home at the far left post.

Things were all square again seven minutes later. Danny Tighe curled a right foot free-kick from the right towards goal and Carter stayed onside to fire home from barely a couple of yards out. I initially credited the goal to defender Ryan Gregory, who also went for the ball, though the YouTube footage showed it was Carter who applied the finishing touch.

Forest Town then took a 32nd-minute lead. Craig Jackson hit a first-time right-foot shot over the keeper from the edge of the area. “Excellent goal,” was the comment and I agreed.

My first-half seat wasn’t available – it didn’t matter – so I moved to the third row back and into seat numbered 40.

The home side dominated the second half through they didn’t put the outcome beyond doubt until the third minute of stoppage time at the end. Jackson was on hand to score his second goal of the game. This time he fired a right-foot drive wide of the diving Bennett into the far right side of the net after his initial shot was blocked.

Forest Town (red/red/white): 1. Jason Johnson (capt), 2. Adie Hall, 3. Jamie Batty, 4. Danny Tighe, 5. Ryan Gregory, 6. Jack Townrow, 7. Mark Robinson, 8. Craig Jackson, 9. Louis Grougher, 10. Mark Carter, 11. James McCann. Subs: 12. Dominic Elliott, 14. Lee Bowler (for Hall, 78), 15. Gary Castledine.

Harrowby United (blue and white hoops/blue/blue): 1. Chris Bennett, 2. Paul Chappell, 3. Ben Newton, 4. Lee Winters, 5. Niall Cartwright, 6. Jim Neil, 7. Rob Mills, 8. Simon Bolland, 9. Jamie Gyory-Hales, 10. Aaron Conboy, 11. Kyle McAllister. Subs: 12. Matt Chappell (for Mills, 72), 14. Martin Proctor, 15. Kelvin Couchman.

Referee: Mark Senior.
Assistants: Roger Evans and James Hall.

0-1 McAllister (13)
1-1 Carter (20) YouTube
2-1 Jackson (32)
3-1 Jackson (90+3)