Saturday 30th May 2009

Denso '07 1 Ketley Bank United 5
Telford Combination
At: Queensway Campus
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Weather: hot and sunny
Duration: first half: 45:00; second half: 46:21

Hats off to ‘Red Hopper’ for originally publicising this Telford Combination game which provided me with my 100th game of the 2008/09 season. And the added bonus of a league game deep into the month of May with something at stake for both sides and with a programme guaranteed, was something too tempting not to miss. It may have been cup final day but that didn’t matter as I’d hadn’t seen one from start to finish since 1994 when I was actually at Wembley to see Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0.

Just two games remained to be played to bring this season’s Telford Combination campaign to a close– this one at Denso which kicked-off a 2-00 pm and a later 4.00 pm kick-off at nearby Atlas who were hosting third-placed Madeley Sports. Fourteen teams began the season but Wrockwardine Wood, Park Inn and Norton all failed to finish and had their records expunged.

My trusty borrowed SatNav got me to the ground without a hitch, located parallel with the main A442 road towards Whitchurch on the Denso complex in the Hortonwood district of Telford. Denso are, according to their website ‘a leading supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components for all the world's major automakers’.

The unroped pitch, orientated north-south, ran lengthways away from the changing rooms/clubhouse building that was located behind the near goal. Down the left-hand touchline were trees with the main road behind and one group of locals had pitched a tent to, no doubt, providing shelter from the sun rather than an unusual holiday destination. A slope down to a road bordered the near right-hand touchline. The factory was to the right as well. There was no cover.

Programmes (an eight-pager for £1) and refreshments were sold from the clubhouse.

In a league that awards two points for a win and one for a draw, Denso (11th and bottom with 6 points from 19 games) and Ketley Bank (2nd with 31 points from 19 games) went into this game, their final league fixture of the season at opposite ends of the table. Denso’s points haul would have been higher had the ‘double’ over Park Inn not been expunged

Ketley trailed leaders Shifnal United 97 Reserves by a point so a win over Denso would give them the title. A draw wouldn’t have been good enough as Shifnal had a superior goal difference. On the other hand, if Denso could end a long run of eight consecutive league defeats then they would move off the bottom at the expense of Impact United Reserves, the team immediately above with a far worse goal difference.

I’m not sure if this was the norm in the Telford Combination but the referee arrived shortly before kick-off at a time when some travellers were seriously worried that a delayed started would scupper the chances for making kick-off at Atlas.

As it turned out, the match started promptly with Denso getting the action underway attacking the changing rooms or northern end in the first half. I took up the suggestion of ‘Leatherhead Pete’ and opted for a vantage point down the left-hand touchline nearest the road.

It took dominant Ketley Bank over half an hour to get on the scoresheet. Chris Martin gave them the lead in the 33rd minute then quickly added a second goal two minutes later. It was fair to say, as the Ketley player-manager did at the interval, that the visitors had turned a rout into a tight game.

Lee Riedel netted the third goal in the 54th minute, only for a mix-up in the Keltley defence to allow Denso to reduce the deficit six minutes later through Aaron Taylor. Taylor's contribution last barely four more minutes as he was shown a staright red card for dissent.

A 74th-minute header by Paddy Kumar restored Ketley's three-goal advanatge and Karl Ainsworth rounded off the scoring in the 85th minute.

Despite the heat, I enjoyed my first taste of Telford Combination and will consider visiting other grounds in the league next season.

Denso ’07 (white/black/black): 1. Naz Duhra, 2. Darren Jones, 3. Kevin Houlston, 4. Mark Hubbard (capt), 5. Waleed Ahmed, 6. Jack Gibson, 7. Stephen Jones, 8. Tom Pittson, 9. Carl Ratcliff, 10. Lee Carline, 16. Aaron Taylor. Sub: 12. Vaclav Soltys (for Stephen Jones, 54).

Ketley Bank United (orange/black/black): 1. Wayne Martin, 2. Ben Bradley, 3. Chris McGivern (capt), 4. Ian Barker, 5. Mark Ainsworth, 16. Pete Brampton, 7. Rob Hitchin, 8. Karl Ainsworh, 9. Paddy Kumar, 15. Chris Martin, 11. Lee Riedel. Subs: –

Referee: Mr Jason Bailey.

0-1 Chris Martin (33)
0-2 Chris Martin (35)
0-3 Lee Riedel (54)
1-3 Aaron Taylor (60)
1-4 Paddy Kumar (74)
1-5 Karl Ainsworth (86)

I gave ‘Boro Mike’ a lift to the nearby 4 pm kick-off, also in the Telford Combination, between Atlas and Madeley Sports and we got there in time while the players were still warming up. But, after a bit of umming and arring, I didn’t fancy clocking up game number 101 with another 90 minutes in the continuing hot sunshine. Mike and an estimated 14 others saw Madeley win 1-0.