Thursday 9th July 2009

Brassington 9 Wheel Inn 0
Summer League
At: Onslow Farm Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Weather: sunny, breezy
Duration: first half: 38:53, second half: 35:16

I’d previously considered Brassington to be further north and deeper into the Peak District, even after studying the map. So, with bags of time to make the journey, I surprised to find the village was barely five miles north-west of Ashbourne, just off the B5035 road to Wirksworth.

The ground, a mile to the south of the village near Carsington Water, was easy to miss for a first-time visitor and I drove past it before I realised what I’d actually driven past – even though Aggedor had described the location while chatting at Monday’s game at Alton.

After turning round on the outskirts of the village, I doubled back and parked up on the road outside the ground. Being 40 minutes before kick-off, there just the groundsman marking out the pitch who confirmed I’d got the correct place. Of course, I should have noticed the 2009 Brassington FC fixture list attached to the gate! He suggested parking inside the ground, which I did, next to another early arrival. Soon a black mini arrived quickly followed other cars as well and the place quickly became a hive of summer football activity.

To find the ground travelling from Ashbourne in the direction of Wirksworth, turn left into the lane signed ‘Brassington Only, No HGVs’ (or words to that effect) about 400 yards after passing the Knockerdown Inn. The ground was on the right after 400 yards and an open gate led into the car park.

Cars parked near the entrance next to the changing rooms and the pitch (orientated west-east) ran lengthways on the other side of a wire fence. The sloping pitch was unroped with one bench found on each side; on the left-hand side set into the hedge were individual home and away dugouts (though they weren’t used as such).

Before kick-off there was plenty of time to walk to the far end, around the back of the goal and down the other side. When I got back to in front of the changing rooms, some of the Brassington players through I was somebody ‘official’. “No,” I said and explained I was at the game as part of my bid to visit all the Summer League grounds.

Brassington went into the game occupying seventh position in the table with 29 points from 18 league games. On Monday in the presence of modelhobbies and yorkieexile, they won their home Wayne Tarbard Memorial Trophy tie 3-2 against with a very late winner.

Opponents Wheel Inn (6 points from 17 league games with a goal difference of -79) have found it difficult to field a strong side this season and in their previous three games had lost 12-0, 15-1 and 16-0. However, manager/secretary/lineswoman Sue Bull was more optimistic for this game as she was able to name a full side thanks to a few new players.

Both Mrs Bull and Brassington manager Keith Allsop were most obliging in providing the names of their starting line-up and substitutes.

Wheel Inn (wearing green shirts and shorts with red trim, either red or green socks) got the game underway attacking down the slope towards the near end. Like most of the spectators, I opted to watch the first half on the left-hand side close to the dugouts.

The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges before, in the 4th minute, Brassington created the first of what I recorded as 38 goalscoring opportunities during the game. Shane Torr got into a good position on the edge of the area before firing across the face of goal and wide of the left-hand post.

Wheel were awarded a free-kick 28 yards out (pictured above) which Mark Ridley got on target and home keeper Mick Phillips comfortably gathered up.

With his side creating a few early chances without troubling Wheel keeper Anthony Barton, Brassington manager Allsop urged his side to get shots on target. They responded to the boss’ call and Craig Wheeldon saw a good effort blocked by the legs of Barton who held on to a Wheeldon’s follow-up shot from the rebound.

Barton again did well on the quarter hour to dive to his right to keep out a low drive from Torr and hold on to the ball under pressure from two pouncing attackers.

All the pressure was now coming from Brassington though they were frequently caught offside in their bid to get on the scoresheet. Carl Allsop headed wide, Torr fired over and, in the 19th minute, Barton saved in a scramble resulting from good work by Mick Barclay. However, the keeper made a mess of his attempted clearance downfield and saw the ball rebound off Carl Allsop and into the net.

The lead was doubled two minutes later. Mick Barclay played in the ball into the path of Torr who fired home a low shot which slipped through the hands of the unfortunate Barton.

Brassington’s chances continued… Wheeldon headed over, Barton saved from Wheeldon, Barton parried another shot from Andy Barclay and skipper Mark Alcock fired across the face of goal as well as over the bar.

“They’ll go in if they are on target,” was the verdict on the sidelines though keeper Barton was in good form.

The home side almost scored a third goal in the 35th minute when Torr fired against the bar after Andy Barclay’s corner wasn’t cleared. The score remained 2-0 at half-time and two of the Wheel players shook hands with Barton to congratulate the young keeper on an excellent performance.

Three subs came on for the start of the second half – two for Wheel and one from Brassington – though I needed to note down the formations again to work out who had replaced who.

Brassington got their third goal in the third minute of the second half (which I will describe as the 43rd minute, assuming the duration of the first half was really 40 minutes). Andy Barclay’s pass from the left fell to Torr whose weakly-hit shot ended up in the bottom right corner.

Despite conceding that early second half goal, Wheel pressed forward with their new attacker looking lively. Ryan Clayton set up Matt Laing who fired at the well-positioned Phillips.

The home side were awarded a penalty in the 48th minute for handball by Neil Brown, which was converted by Torr to make the scoreline 4-0.

The advancing Barton deflected Mick Barclay’s shot out for a corner after the striker broke clear into the area. From the corner, Barton’s head got in the way of a shot from Wheeldon and a follow up effort from Mick Barclay was also blocked.

John Tulson was next to go close as his header was cleared off the line after the ball rebounded off the bar, and Mick Barclay fired home only to see his goal disallowed for handball in the build-up.

Brassington’s fifth goal, scored in the 58th minute, was well taken. Craig Allsop scored with a near-post glancing header from Andy Barclay’s corner.

On the hour, Barton excelled again when he did well to push away a rising goalbound shot from Mick Barclay with an outstretched left hand. However, he was beaten again in the 61st minute when Carl Allsop fired home at close range.

A spectacular strike in the 68th minute gave Brassington a seventh goal. Carl Allsop crossed to the far post from the right where Mick Barclay volleyed home.

Tulson had a goal disallowed for offside before Mick Barclay struck again in the 73rd minute. Again Carl Allsop crossed from the right and Barclay volleyed home his side’s eighth via the hand of Barton.

Carl Allsop missed a glorious chance to further increase the gaol tally. However, he completely miskicked in front of goal from a few yards out and Barton gathered up.

Andy Barclay rounded off the scoring in the 75th minute with a low shot from 15 yards, 30 seconds before the referee brought the evening’s entertainment to a halt.

Despite suffering another heavy defeat, I liked the way Wheel Inn never gave up and showed plenty of spirit from start to finish.

Before kick-off I obtained the line-ups from the respective managers and at the end Sue Bull came over, as promised, to confirm the numbers worn by her players.

On the way home, I stopped off at the fish and chip shop on Compton Street in Ashbourne (as recommend by Veteran), coincidently two doors away on the other side of the Police Station was … the Wheel Inn!

While driving through Ashbourne I noticed posters advertising the forthcoming Highland Gathering featuring what I thought were the ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers’. I was puzzled as to why such a well-known rock band would be performing at such an event in a rural Derbyshire town. The group performing ‘have been rocking the world from New York to Beijing with musicianship of the highest order’ (so their website boasts) and called … the Red Hot Chilli Pipers!

1-0 Carl Allsop (19)
2-0 Shane Torr (21)
3-0 Shane Torr (43)
4-0 Shane Torr (48)
5-0 Craig Allsop (58)
6-0 Carl Allsop (61)
7-0 Mick Barclay (68)
8-0 Mick Barclay (73)
9-0 Andy Barclay (75)