Saturday 9th May 2009

Clements '83 1 Kenilworth Town KH 4
Midland Combination Division 3
At: Mackadown Sports and Social Club Sports Field
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Weather: sunny spells, windy
Duration: first half 47:42; second half 47:16

During the season, I’ve read some really good and complementary reviews about Clements 83 FC so I decided to make the shortish journey down the M6 for their final league game of the season at home to Kenilworth Town KH.

Clements 83 are very much a family run club having been formed brothers Keith and Kevin Dutton back in 1983. From the previous Chairman William Barry Dutton (‘Dad’), who passed away recently, every member of the family has or still involved with a Dutton listed amongst the club officials in the roles of Vice Chairman, Secretary, Manager and Physio. This season is their first in the Midland Combination Division 3 as they decided to step up no fewer that ten divisions from the Birmingham AFA Division 9. The friendliness of the people running the club was evident, as other previous visitors had found.

Programmes (£1, glossy cover, colour inside) were available from inside the canteen area of the clubhouse and it certainly included plenty on celebrating Clements’ 2-1 victory last Saturday at Stratford Town FC over Henley Forest to win the Midland Combination Challenge Urn. It was mentioned in the programme that the Urn was the first cup won by the club in their 26 years of existence and there were plenty of photos of individual players proudly showing off the cup.

Around ten travellers had the same idea as me and I bumped into the ‘Tram’ inside the canteen when I popped in for my programme. ‘Northampton JR’ was also there and I hadn’t seen him for what must be at least six years.

I did my homework and found the ground on Mackadown Lane straightforward to find. I approached from the M42 junction 4 and followed the A45 westbound towards the centre of Birmingham. At the lights by the Sheldon pub (with the B425 turn on the left), turn right into Sheaf Lane and continue for around ¾ mile to the next roundabout by a parade of shops. Turn right into The Radleys then left after ½ mile into Mackadown Lane by the Proton/Hyundai garage. The entrance into the Mackadown Sports and Social Club Sports Field was 200 yards on the right opposite Lloyds TSB CarSelect.

There was a spacious car park with the clubhouse on the left. The pitch (orientated south-west to north-east) occupied the far side on an elevated position and was railed off with a red metal posts and rail. The dugouts were on halfway on the near side with a grass training area behind the tall net at the right-hand end. The embankment of the Birmingham to Euston railway line enclosed the pitch behind the left-hand goal (south-west goal) with fenced off open last behind the opposite touchline.

Interestingly behind the right-hand goal was an area of covered standing facing away from the current main pitch which must remain from times where the pitch had a different orientation. There were no lights – not surprising as the ground is short distance away from the end of the runway at Birmingham Airport.

I had assumed there was nothing to play for this afternoon. One of the travellers at the game suggested to the contrary that visitors Kenilworth (fourth with 41 points from 23 games) needed a win to make sure they retained fourth spot in the table which could result in promotion. Clements (seventh in the 13-team division with 29 points from 23 games) were simply looking to finish their final league game on a high to follow-up last week’s Urn triumph.

Kenilworth Town KH (wearing all red) were the first team to emerge from the changing rooms, quickly followed by Clements (wearing all blue) and the match officials.

It was Clements who got the action underway. They attacked the railway end in the first 45 minutes, or from right to left in relation to my chosen spot to the right of the home dugout. I just thought it might be usual to be nearer the goal that the visitors were attacking with black numbers on red shirts.

Barely a minute was up and the Clements net required a bit of attention from the referee. The corner that followed was scrambled clear by the home defence. With the wind gathering in strength, Clements defender David Faulkner got forward from the back and fired a low 30-yard shot straight at Town keeper Gareth Buckley.

Kenilworth took the lead in the 12th minute. Skipper Ricky Lee Moore sent a free-kick forward into the area which was knocked down by T’Challa Greaves for Matt Seeley to fire home from the left. Joy for the visitors who needed a win, relief for ‘Tram’ as he’d seen a goal and for me, well, I suppose it extended my own run without a goalless game to 39 games.

Clements keeper Alan Parker was called into action when he got down to hold a low shot from Matt Landon who had got the better of defender Keith Rogers on the edge of the area. However, Parker couldn’t prevent Landon doubling the visitors’ lead in the 16th minute. The wideman got forward to fire home at close range though the home side felt he had done so from an offside position.

It got a whole lot worse for Clements seven minutes later. Faulkner clashed with Seeley near the right corner flag in the home half and received a straight red card from the referee. I don’t want to get involved in debating refereeing decisions but I did get a clear view of the incident. Faulkner was guilty of an aggressive barge and, in my opinion, harshly treated.

To their credit Clements rallied and created some decent chances. Wayne Benton played a free-kick short to Adam Reece who sent a 20-yard right-foot shot curling wide of the right-hand post. A poor headed clearance presented Paul Dutton with the chance to fire across the face of goal and Benton’s free-kick curled around a three-man wall was held by Buckley. In the 35th minute, Clements unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty when Martin Campbell went down inside the area.

With planes swooping low over the pitch moments before landing at the airport and trains flashing past, the Mackadown Sports Field must be heaven for a plane- and train-spotting non-league football fan!

As the interval approached, the sky brightened up again and Paul Dutton saw ‘yellow’ for a tackle on Landon. The Kenilworth wideman, scorer of his side’s second goal, was unable to continue after treatment and replaced by Andy Handley.

Before the half-time whistle, Moore got forward down the left and fired a rising drive towards goal which Parker must have tipped over as the referee gave a corner.

I popped back into the canteen at the interval for another tea – they were serving bacon sandwiches which I do miss being a vegetarian. The players were out several minutes before the match official. For Kenilworth, with a two-goal advantage, it was a case of “final 45, end the season well”.

Now attacking the railway end, the visitors quickly got forward and Greaves’ well-struck shot bounced off Parker’s chest.

Following the injury to Landon towards the end of the first half, Moore was pushed further forward down the left and this prompted the Kenilworth bench, a bit ‘tongue in cheek’, to give him tips on how to play up front. It was just a bit of end of season fun.

Kenilworth made another change and the two subs nearly combined to produce a goal. From Moore’s long throw, Hanley headed towards the far post where Gordon Swain headed narrowly wide.

A couple more home players went into the book both for dissent before Kenilworth did add a third goal in the 67th minute. Swain put Seeley clear down the middle and the striker confidently fired pat Buckley into the bottom left corner of the net. Fourth position secured?

More bookings followed and ten-man Clements went three at the back in a bid to get on the scoresheet. Kenilworth had the ball in the home net again in the 82nd minute though Greaves did so from an offside position.

Clements got on the scoresheet in the 85th minute with the best goal of the game. Paul Haynes hit a first-time volley from the right over Buckley into the far side of the net.

Could the ten men of Clements fight back to snatch an unlikely draw? Well they had a go. Haynes went down just inside the area but the referee said ‘no’. Campbell’s cross from the left was cut out at the near post and Shane Hempenstall curled a shot wide from the resulting corner.

However, Kenilworth rounded off the scoring in the first minute of stoppage time. Greaves’ initial well-struck shot from the edge of the area bounced off Parker and Mark O’Donnell reacted to fire the loose ball home at close range.

As it turned out, Kenilworth needed the win to retain fourth position as fifth-placed Lichfield City thumped Coton Green Reserves 9-0. Clements finished the season where they started the day in seventh place. The Division 3 champions were Hampton who lost just one league game all season and finished 12 points clear of Henley Forest.

Clements 83 (blue/blue/blue): 1. Alan Parker, 2. Shane Hemensau, 3. Francis Bruce, 4. David Faulkner, 5. Keith Rogers (capt), 6. Sean Callaghan, 7. Paul Haynes, 8. Adam Reece, 9. Wayne Benton, 10. Martin Campbell, 11. Paul Dutton. Subs: 12. Nathan Brown (not used), 14. Barry Dutton (for Paul Dutton, ht), 15. Dean Sherington (not used), 16. Michael Sheahan (for Bruce, 72), 17. Thomas Duffy (not used).

Kenilworth Town KH (red/red/red): 1. Gareth Buckley, 2. Hardeep Athwell, 3. Ricky Lee Moore (capt), 4. Adam Thomas, 5. Danny Greer, 6. Mark O’Donnell, 7. Mitchel Lowe, 8. Nicky Playdon, 9. Mat Seeley, 10. T’Challa Greaves, 11. Mat Landon. Subs: 12. Scott Donnegan (not used), 14. Gordon Swain (for Lowe, 54), 15. Andy Handley (for Landon, 44), 16. Fazhan Hussain (for Seeley, 68), 17. Ben Main (not used).

Referee: A Cann.
Assistants: J Woodhouse and B Maydew.

0-1 Mat Seeley (12)
0-2 Mat Landon (16)
0-3 Mat Seeley (67)
1-3 Paul Haynes (85)
1-4 Mark O’Donnell (90+1)