Radcliffe Olympic 3 Calverton Miners Welfare 0

Saturday 7th March 2009
Radcliffe Olympic 3 Calverton Miners Welfare 0
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division
At: Recreation Ground, Wharf Lane, Radcliffe on Trent
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 70 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, windy
Duration: first half: 46:15; second-half 48:07

I awoke on a nice sunny March morning still undecided where I would end up. The Football Traveller provided many options so I wrote down the names of six possible destinations on separate small pieces of paper and asked my daughter to randomly select one.

The ticket naming ‘Radcliffe Olympic’ was the one selected which seemed a good choice as the clash with Calverton had all the ingredients of being an excellent match. I was also able to continue my ‘love-affair’ with the Central Midlands League which will go into overdrive with next week’s five-game Bonanza.

Radcliffe’s Wharf Lane ground was easy to find. From the A52 travelling away from Nottingham towards Grantham, turn left at the lights next to the RSPCA centre (into Nottingham Road and signed Radcliffe/Shelford/R.S.P.C.A.) and follow the road to the church. Turn left into Wharf Lane directly opposite the church and the ground was on the 250 yards ahead on the left.

Both 6th-placed Radcliffe, with enough games in hand to climb a lot higher, and leaders Calverton went into the game in good form. Radcliffe had won their last five league games and had 41 points from 18 games, while the leaders, 51 points from 22 games, were on a run of eight league games unbeaten. Last month, the two teams met at the Recreation Ground in the Floodlight Cup with Radcliffe the winners by the odd goal in five.

Radcliffe’s pitch is located on the far side of a public park and a path leads down from Wharf Lane to the entrance where the excellent programme (£1, 40 pages) was sold. Indeed I was warmly welcomed by the officials on the gate. The ground itself is a floodlight railed-off pitch, three pylons on each touchline, with a brick building behind the near goal, at an angle, which houses changing rooms, tea bar and committee room. Behind the goal at the far end was an embankment with the Nottingham-Grantham railway line on top.

In the programme, the editor felt today’s game ‘could prove to be the toughest test of the season in the league’ and also a title ‘six pointer’. He was right.

With plenty of spare time before kick-off, I opted for a tomato soup and spotted Rob Hornby, the CML Clubs Liaision Officer. ‘Colpic’ from Scunthorpe was also at the game as well. There was no tannoy so obtained those all-important line-ups from a club official. One interesting name for me amongst the Radcliffe subs was ‘Steve Bull’, though not the former Wolves striker and Stafford Rangers manager!

Calverton (white shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and socks) got the game underway, defending the railway end and Danny Beattie soon sent a left-foot dipping volley just over the bar.

The visiting keeper, Scott Miles, was the first to be called into serious action. Full-back Danny Johnson took the ball forward and unleashed a well-struck shot from 20 yards which Miles got down to parry.

The home side (wearing all navy blue) took the lead in the 17th minute, direct from the game’s first corner. Aaron Korol delivered an inswinger from the right which flew straight into the net at the far post.

It was certainly a good entertaining game, played at a good tempo, between two teams clearly in form. Radcliffe almost scored again five minutes later when Carl Westcarr fired across the face of goal from the right and just wide of the far post. Calverton’s best chance came in the 37th minute. Craig Boulton hit a 25-yard free-kick which the diving James Mountain pushed clear.

Back to the tea bar at the interval, this time for coffee, and a quick walk round the pitch before the action resumed.

At the start of the second half, Calverton had what they thought was a good penalty appeal waived away by the referee when Warren Hatfield went down inside the area.

However, Radcliffe doubled their lead eight minutes after the restart. Ben Richardson played the ball low to the near post from the right side of the area and defender James Spence flicked the ball home past Miles. Korol then thought he’d scored the third but it was disallowed for a foul on the keeper.

I enjoyed the company of Rob and ‘Colpic’, so time really flew by reminiscing about groundhops gone by. Not that the game dragged as the second half was equally as enthralling as the first. Did somebody once suggest they picked flowers at every game they attended and pressed them in the middle of the programme?

The visitors needed a goal to get back into the game and enjoyed a period of pressure around the hour mark. Both Boulton and Lewis Capewell saw shots deflected for corners while unmarked Barry Payne headed wide.

There was danger for the visitors defence in the 65th minute. Lee Potts chased a low ball down the middle which eluded the advancing keeper but Corey Nightingale got back to prevent the striker from getting in a shot. The ball went quickly upfield and Payne forced a diving save out of Mountain.

Spence should have made it three when he volleyed over from barely eight yards out and Andrew Newton also missed the target at close range, fired across the face when unchallenged. “It could have been 5-0,” and I couldn’t disagree.

Newton made up for his miss by indeed adding a third goal a few seconds before the start of stoppage time. He forced the ball home at close range from a free-kick delivered into the area from the left.

The visitors almost bagged a consolation in stoppage time. Nightingale flicked a shot straight at Mountain who also did well to keep out another well effort from the same player.

All-in-all, a good day out so my daughter did select the right game! And a good day for Radcliffe as well as the three points put them very much in contention to possibly win the Supreme Division title. Harworth CI regained the top spot at the expense of Calverton.