Dosthill Colts 1 Fairfield Villa 2

Thursday 23rd April 2009
Dosthill Colts 1 Fairfield Villa 2
Midland Combination Division 1
At: Rene Road (Bolehall Swifts FC)
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Weather: mild, dry, overcast
Duration: first half: 50:11 ; second half: 53:39

After family friend ‘Timperley Roger’ cancelled his visit to us, I decided to head out to a ground – Bolehall Swifts FC – I’d previously visited once some 20 years and 15 days ago.

Back then on Saturday 8th April 1989, it was a Midland Combination Challenge Cup which finished Bolehall Swifts 0 Evesham Town 1 in front of an estimated attendance of 100. This evening, it was also Midland Combination fare with groundsharers Dosthill Colts entertaining Fairfield Villa in an important Division 1 game.

I found the ground without a hitch. I knew my way into Tamworth from the A5 and to Tamworth FC. From the northern of the two roundabouts, close to ‘The Lamb’ ground, I took the road towards Amington, under the railway bridge and eventually past The Amington pub. There was a left turn off Amington Road into Leedham Road, then a right folk into Rene Road. The ground entrance was on the right immediately after passing the school.

From the car park, the entrance to the pitch itself was round to the left of the changing rooms block and a really good full-colour 32-page programme was available for £1.

Looking at the pitch (orientated south-east to north-west) from in front of the changing rooms, it ran widthways with a stand behind the right-hand goal containing several rows of bench seating. On the opposite touchline (the side nearest the railway) was a brick-built area of covered standing with trees immediately behind.

I must admit my recollection of the ground had me comvinced the railway was a lot closer to the pitch on which I saw Bolehall play all those years ago, so I wondered if that previous game was played the other side of the hedge. A local man, with whom I had a good chat during the first half, confirmed that the pitch hadn’t been moved so the one used today was in the very same place as before. He told me the changing room block was built around 1995 to give a short walk to the pitch rather than the previous longer one from the Social Club.

Dosthill Colts (52 points from 26 games) went into the game in second position in the Division 1 table, three points behind leaders Castle Vale JKS who had also played 26 games. So, with four games remaining including this one, Dosthill needed at least a draw to keep the pressure on the leaders. Visitors Fairfield (43 points from 25 games) had the incentive of moving up from ninth to fifth position with a victory.

“Welcome to Dosthill Colts,” was the announcement on the following by the reading of the respective lineups for both Dosthill and Fairfield. Club merchandise, including a pin badge, were also advertised along with a forthcoming club Gala Dinner in the company of Paul Merson. “Enjoy the first half,” concluded the announcer and I thought the use of the tannoy was a fabulous idea.

Fairfield Villa (red and black striped shirts, black shorts and black socks) got the game underway defending the stand end in the first half. They almost took the lead in the second minute when Dean Beagan slipped the ball into the path of the forward-rushing David Rousell who fired just wide.

With Dosthill told to “switch on”, Fairfield continued to threaten and Joe Walsh sent a well struck shot flashing across the face of the home goal from the left. Walsh had another chance in the 19th minute. He got on the end of Duncan Tye’s diagonal forward ball and sent a header no to far away from the top-left corner.

Trains, mostly red pendelino trains heading to and from Euston, hurtled past at frequent intervals.

It took Dosthill 25 minutes to have their first decent attempt on goal. Good work by Jamie Lake set up a chance for Ryan Haddock who fired wide. Liam Rowley then hit a right 20-yard drive which was just a few inches too high.

It was perhaps no surprise that Fairfield took the lead in the 31st minute. Home keeper Paul Hathaway could only parry an initial shot and Scott Walsh was presented with the simple task of slotting home the loose ball at close range.

Fairfield keeper Marc Rogers, wearing a black baseball cap back to front (in the style of tennis player Lleyton Hewitt), had little to do during the opening 40 minutes, until Dave Yorwin finally got a shot on target for the home side. Rogers then produced a good save to turn round a header from Craig Ridsdill as the interval approached.

The referee made sure both sides had 11 players on the field before getting the second half underway. As with the first half, Fairfield continued to create chances. The pacey Beagan stayed onside and raced clear, only to be thwarted by the advancing Hathaway. Tye, following up, couldn’t get in a shot from the loose ball.

Dosthill almost equalised on the hour when Yorwin headed against the bar and sent a follow-up header over. It wasn’t going to plan for the Colts.

However, to make matters worse, it was Fairfield who netted the next goal to double their advantage in the 66th minute. Stuart Hall delivered a free-kick from the left into the area low towards far post where the unmarked and unchallenged Beagan sidefooted home from a few yards out. It was a simple goal and would have had Hall’s namesake purring about it had the great man been at this game to provide one of his trademark radio reports.

With a mountain to climb for Dosthill simply to get a point, substitute Alex Charlton delivered a free-kick into packed Villa area where Anthony Fallon headed wide. Rogers, who had shortly before had up an injury, was unable to continue in the 83rd minute and replaced in goal by substitute Richard Colson, normally a centre-half.

A lifeline for Dosthill? The home side were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute for handball by Atli Coakley and Yorwin gave Colson no chance of keeping out the resulting penalty.

There were still several minutes of stoppage time for Colts to snatch an equaliser – but they couldn’t find one despite late pressure.

0-1 Walsh (31)
0-2 Beagan (66)
1-2 Yorwin (87 pen)

Footnote: When I was previously at Bolehall all those years ago, I didn’t know until subsequently reading his article in Non-League Traveller that Mick Burt was also at the game. In his Burt’s Travels piece (vol. 2 issue 34), Mick described the set up back then in 1989: ‘The pitch is 40-50 yards from the dressing rooms … railed off on three sides with bushes and hedges enclosing the pitch on the side furthest from the clubhouse. There is no covered accommodation at all.’