Styal 1 Greenalls Padgate St Oswalds 2

Saturday 4th April 2009
Styal 1 Greenalls Padgate St Oswalds 2
Cheshire Building Society Cheshire League Division 1
At: Altrincham Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Weather: Sunny spells, blustery wind
Duration: first-half: 45:57; second-half: 48:38

It was a perfect combination for a day out – a Styal FC home game and a ‘revisit’ for the family to the National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill. And despite the blustery wind, a good day out was had by all.

We’d been to Quarry Bank Mill twice before and previously I’d spotted a ground on the main road opposite the entrance to the Mill. Naturally I’d assumed this was Styal FC so imagine my surprise when I turned up there to see a sign for ‘Wilmslow Albion FC’. Their Reserves were just taking to the field for their 2-00 pm kick-off. On the way from the M56, I’d spotted a right turn into Altrincham Road and wondered why there was no brown sign pointing that way to the mill. Thankfully a helpful Wilmslow official gave directions to Styal and we quickly arrived.

So, from the M56 leave at junction 5 and follow Manchester Airport and Quarry Bank Mill signs. At the junction at the end of Ringway Road, with a petrol station on the right, turn right, then turn right again after around a mile into Altrincham Road. The ground is on the right after passing the Ship Inn.

Styal FC share clubhouse facilities with Styal Cricket Club though there is no overlap between the football and cricket pitches. From the small car park, the football pitch on the left runs lengthways. It was railed off with a white post and rail with dugouts on halfway along the near touchline. There was a small area of open terracing behind the dugouts, adjacent to the cricket pitch, which previously was roofed.

There was no obvious sign of a matchday programme, through I spotted a couple of old editions from February in the clubhouse which were more like Styal FC monthly magazines.

Having won the Division 1 title last season, Styal (41 points from 25 games) remained in fifth position after Wednesday’s defeat at Club AZ. They suffered a good deal of upheaval in the Autumn when the previous manager and several players left for Flixton. Recently, they’ve enjoyed a good run which has taken them from midtable into the top five. Visitors Greenalls Padgate St Oswalds were just below midtable on 35 points from 22 games.

Styal (yellow shirts, blue shorts and blue socks) got the game underway attacking the Altrincham Road end in the first half – right to left from my vantage point on the open terracing. Around me there was chat amongst the locals about the prospects for Manchester City’s at Arsenal.

Home keeper Andy Cowell, booked for dissent early on, was called into action on the quarter hour to turn round a near-post shot from Rob Hanley at the expense of a corner. Greenalls (green shirts, white shorts and green socks) coped better with the windy conditions and could have taken the lead in the 42nd minute. Brendan Hennessey swung in a left-wing corner and Steve Jupp headed wide of the far post.

Styal nearly broke the deadlock before the interval when Paul Marchbank rose at the far post to meet Callum Gardner’s corner and sent a downward header narrowly wide.

I popped into the clubhouse for a tea at the interval and, once the action resumed, Greenalls took the lead in the 49th minute. Hanley sent a well-struck shot across the face of goal and into the far left side of the net.

The visitors continued to threaten as they had during much of the first half. Ian Whitfield got into a good position and hit a rising left footer over the bar. Daz Kinsey’s free-kick flashed across the face of goal and, in quick succession on the hour, both Hennessey and Lee Hughes fired over the Styal bar. Midway through the half, Lee Hughes got past a defender to run into the area from the left. He pulled the ball back to Mark Hughes who fired wide.

I was sure the next goal would be netted by the visitors but Styal got back on level terms in the 76th minute. Skipper Jon Thornton slipped the ball into the path of James Moores for the wing back to fire low into the opposite bottom right corner of the net.

However, luck wasn’t on Styal’s side at the visitors won the game courtesy of an 82nd minute own goal. Following a foul by Cowell just outside the area on the left side, Kinsey drove the resulting free-kick low into the 6-yard box where the unfortunate Marchbank deflected it into his own net.

Styal rallied and keeper Craig Clare produced a fine save in a scramble to keep his side in front. The home side finished with ten men. Gardner fouled substitute Paul Dobson near the dugouts and received a straight red card.