Holt JCB 2 Ashbourne United 0

Saturday 18th April 2009
Holt JCB 2 Ashbourne United 0
Staffordshire County Senior League Divsion 1
At: JCB Lakeside Club, Station Road, Rocester
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Attendance: 11 (headcount)
Weather: warm and sunny. blustery wind
Duration: first half: 47:04; second half: 49:07

As we were celebrating my Dad’s birthday in the evening, I didn’t want to travel too far. With the lower divisions of the Staffordshire County Senior League providing options, I decided upon the Division 1 local derby between Holt JCB and Ashbourne United, who actually groundshare at the JCB Lakeside Club. With Holt in with a real shout of winning the division, the added bonus was something at stake rather than simply an end-of-season fixture.

On the way to the game, I thought about any previous occasions when I’d seen two teams who shared the same ground face each other. The only one I could recall was a fixture back in 1989 when Newport AFC hosted their landlords Moreton Town in a Hellenic League game. I’m sure there must be one or two others.

I’d driven past the ground on many occasions. The JCB Lakeside Club was on the left when travelling north on the B5030 from the A50 towards Ashbourne. After passing the lake and playing fields, turn left into Station Road, signed ‘Hollington’ and also ‘JCB Theatre, Corporate Events, I. T. C.’, and the car park entrance was 200 yards on the left.

The changing rooms were round to the left of the plush club building looking out over a large playing field from an elevated position. The pitch sued for this game was on the far side from the changing rooms, parallel with the road and one of three available. It was roped off down each touchline with dugouts facing each other on opposite sides of the halfway line. There was no covered accommodation and an artificial cricket pitch provided a bit of hand standing.

No admission money was taken and the club didn’t issue a programme.

Home side Holt JCB went into the game in third position (39 points from 19 games), four points behind leaders Barton United who had played four games more and two points behind second-placed Northwood Town who had played six games more. With four-placed Manor Inne also having several games in hand on the top two, it appeared the Division 1 title race was really a straight fight between Holt and Manor.

Opponents Ashbourne were 12th in the 14-team division with 21 points from 22 games. Following success in the Midland Regional Alliance, they spent four seasons between 2002/03 and 2005/06 in the West Midlands League, sharing at RocesterFC, before joining the Staffs County Senior League.

Ashbourne (wearing blue and white striped shirts, blue shorts and blue socks) got the game underway attacking the Station Road end. I opted to watch the game from the far side, the one nearest the road and the Holt JCB dugout.

The game’s first attempt on goal came in the 7th minute. Sam Lambert hit a low shot from near the right corner of the area aimed for the far corner which the diving Holt JCB keeper Andrew Cooper comfortably claimed.

It wasn’t long until the deadlock was broken in the 12th minute by Holt JCB (wearing all green). A fortunate rebound allowed Steven Brentnall to carry the ball forward into the area on the right. He delivered it low to Chris Mason who slotted home at close range. Someone in the Ashbourne defence was annoyed: “We’ve given them a goal, now we’ve got to start.” It was a perfect start for Holt.

The home side continued to push forward in search of a second goal. A poor headed clearance by Richard Naylor inside the area fell to Tony Hulse on the left who sent a low shot across the face of goal. The ball hit the inside of the far right-hand post and, fortunately for Ashbourne, rebounded clear across the face of goal.

In the next attack, Mason saw a shot turned round the right0-hand post by the diving keeper Will Naylor.

In the 42nd minute, Mason got down the left and squared a pass to Robert Barker, a few yards out, who miss hit his shot and the ball was cleared by a defender.

Ashbourne went close to an equaliser just before the interval. They won three corners in as many minutes and from the first of them Holt keeper Andrew Cooper tipped over a rising shot from Sam Lambert.

With a long walk back to the changing rooms, both teams stayed out during half-time and spent it on opposite sides of the pitch near their respective dugouts.

The interval lasted around seven minutes and soon after the restart Lambert fired into the sidenetting.

Ashbourne continued to threaten as they had done in the closing stages of the first half and the vast majority of the chances.

I started watching the second half from near the Ashbourne dugout, through quickly moved back round to the other side which, as it had in the first half, provided more shelter from the wind.

Just after the hour mark, Richard Naylor got on the end of a forward diagonal ball and forced Cooper into an excellent diving save to keep out a diving header. Within a minute, Naylor headed against the right-hand post and Mark Robinson fired the resulting loose ball straight at Cooper. The keeper was kept busy and he gathered up David Shipley’s long-range shot at the second attempt. Cooper also did well to turn round another header by Naylor, this time from Nick Birds’ free-kick.

Ashbourne’s pressure deserved a goal and they were dealt a real blow when Holt JCB scored against the run of play in the 71st minute. Holt were awarded a free-kick for handball just outside the Ashbourne area. The referee initially tried to play advantage but brought the ball backwhen Holt were flagged offside. Thomas Poole free-kick was parried by Will Naylor and Mason was on hand to slot home the loose ball at close range for his second goal of the game.

With a two-goal cushion, Holt were in the diving seat and the lively Mason almost completed a hat-trick with a shot that flashed across the face of goal.

“Five minutes left fellas,” said the referee 90 seconds before the start of injury time, though Ashbourne’s challenge had petered out.

1-0 Chris Mason (12)
2-0 Chris Mason (71)