Stalybridge Celtic 3 Stafford Rangers 2

Saturday 30th April 2011
Stalybridge Celtic 3 Stafford Rangers 2
Blue Square Bet North
At: Bower Fold
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £10; Programme: £2 (44 pages)
Attendance: 583
Weather: hot and sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:00; second-half: 50:38

Stafford Rangers failed in the bid to avoid relegation to the third tier of non-league football, going down 3-2 to an impressive young Stalybridge Celtic side who played some delightful passing football on a decent playing surface. For the first 70 minutes, Rangers looked like dropping to the Evo-Stik League with barely a whimper as goals from Connor Jennings (13th minute) and Arthur Gnahoua (58th minute) looked like being part of a substantial win for the home side. Up to that point the only decent Stafford effort was a Luke Keen shot that rebounded off the bar. But, in the Blue Square Bet North’s ‘Old Firm’ game, Rangers halved Celtic’s lead with an Andre Francis header (63rd minute) and suddenly decided to go on the attack. Gaps at the back allowed Joel Bembo-Leta to restore Celtic’s two goal lead in the 74th minute, only for Marco Adaggio (or possibly a Jan Budtz own goal) to quickly reply for Rangers. Stafford pressed hard and Danny Edwards headed inches over the bar while Celtic should have scored again during an exciting finale. Deep into stoppage time Jermaine Johnson was sent off for a professional foul. In the end, it wouldn’t have matters if Stafford had won as Hyde triumphed 2-1 at Corby to leave Stafford four points from safety in the final league table. Even though I wasn’t a member of the press today, I particularly enjoyed rolling back the years by sitting in the press box and enjoying the company of Gary Hazlehurst.

Stalybridge Celtic (blue with white sleeves / white / blue): 1. Jan Budtz, 2. Glenn Rule, 3. Andy McWilliams, 4. Rhys Meynell (capt), 5. Kristian Platt, 6. Jack Rea, 7. Callum Warburton, 8. Greg Wilkinson, 9. Connor Jennings, 10. Craig Hobson, 11. Lloyd Ellams. Subs: 12 Arthur Gnahoua (for Ellams, 53), 14. Joel Bembo-Leta (for Meynell, 41), 15. Tom Buckley (not used), 16. Adam Kay (not used), 17. Dennis Sherriff (for Hobson, 73).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Lee Evans, 2. Jermaine Johnson, 3. Fabrice Kassiama, 4. Mark Dudley, 5. Craig McAughtrie (capt), 6. Niall Maguire, 7. Andre Francis, 8. Sean Kinsella, 9. Ben Mills, 10. Luke Keen, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Marco Adaggio (for Kinsella, 70), 14. Martyn Naylor (for Francis, 79), 15. Callum Wright (not used), 16. Tyree Clarke (for Keen, 89), 17gk. Tom Turner (not used).

Referee: S. Lucas (Darwen).
Assistants: P. Maxson and D. Underwood.

1-0 Connor Jennings (13)
2-0 Arthur Gnahoua (58)
2-1 Andre Francis (65)
3-1 Joel Bembo-Leta (74)
3-2 Marco Adaggio (76)

Stalybridge: none
Stafford: Jermaine Johnson (YC, 50), Ben Mills (YC, 77), Jermaine Johnson (YC/RC, 90+5)

Wakefield 0 Curzon Ashton 1

Friday 29th April 2011
Wakefield 0 Curzon Ashton 1
Evo-Stik League Division 1 North
At: College Grove, Eastmoor Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7 including 28 page programme (cost £1-50)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 208
Duration: first-half: 47:13; second-half: 48:36

After enjoying the build-up to the Royal Wedding and the first half hour of the marriage service (hearing the next 90 or so minures on the radio), I headed north for Wakefield’s final league game at College Grove before groundsharing at Ossett Town next season. Just like Lutterworth on Monday, the home side was unable to mark the occasion with a victory as Curzon Ashton won with a single goal scored in the 40th minute by Daniel Broadbent. Curzon’s season isn’t over as they visit Chorley on Monday in a one-legged play-off semi-final as they continue their bid to reach the Premier Division and possibly face Stafford Rangers next season. Unlike Lutterworth, there was no celebratory atmosphere at College Grove due to the circumstances of Wakefield’s departure. There were a large number of travellers at the game and it was good to chat with Facebook friend Callum Smith at half-time.

At full-time I headed along the M62 to Marsden for what I hoped was a 6-15 kick-off against Kirkburton. However, there were just two cars in the car park, one driven by Dave Johnson from Leatherhead who told me the game had been played earlier at lunchtime!

Wakefield (blue/blue/blue): 1. Jan Zolna, 2. Luke Danville, 3. Robert Tonks, 4. Marc Roberts, 5. Wes Milnes (capt), 6. Paddy McGuire, 7. Wayne Shooter, 8. Adam Jones, 9. Danny South, 10. Demi Kyriacou, 11. Lawrence Hunter. Subs: 12. James Stansfield (not used), 14. Delroy Ferguson (for Shooter, 81), 15. Jay Edwards (for Kyriacou, 67), 16. Brandon Kane (not used), 17. Aidan Morris (not used).

Curzon Ashton (red/red/red): 1. David Carnell, 2. David Young, 3. Nathan Martin, 4. David Birch (capt), 5. Adam Jones, 6. Tunji Moses, 7. Chris Worsley, 8. Joseph Evans, 9. Chris McDonagh, 10. Daniel Broadbent, 11. Luke Mack. Subs: 12. James Ogoo (for Worsley, 49), 14. Matthew Purcell (for Broadbent, 75), 15. Wayne Cahill (for Mack, 67), 16. Daniel Lyons (not used).

Referee: A. H. Greenwood (York)
Assistants: K. Butler (York) and P. M. Hartley (York)

0-1 Daniel Broadbent (40)

Lutterworth Athletic 0 Aylestone Park 1

Monday 25th April 2011
Lutterworth Athletic 0 Aylestone Park 1
Everards Brewery Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division
At Steve Rendall Park, Dunley Way
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (pages)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance 120 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:05; second-half: 47:24

Lutterworth Athletic’ s badge shows ‘EST 1993’ and for the past 18 years they have been based at Dunley Way. Today, however, the ground hosted the final home league game before the club moves about a mile or so north to the Lutterworth Soccer Centre on Hall Lane. From the start of next season, the first team will play on the grass pitch currently used by Lutterworth Town. I was first aware of the club’s impending move from Dunley Way to Hall Lane a few weeks ago when reading Laurence Reade’s review of his visit to the ground on Facebook. And thanks to a message in the ‘Where are you going’ section of Tony’s Non-League Forum, which read ‘Lutterworth Athletic - Aylestone Park 3.00pm Last league game to be played at Dunley Way Admission £2 Programme £1’, I decided to make one of those ‘now or never’ trips along the A5 to the Leicestershire town. I’d actually been to Dunley Way once before, back in January 2009, more in hope than expectation that the game that day had survived a big freeze. The game was off and I headed instead to the Walkers Stadium.

The ground, known as the Steve Rendell Park and named in honour of one of three founders of the club who passed away late last year, was a pleasant and buzzing place. No covered standing or seats, though the trees down the west side of the ground provided shade for those, like myself, who wanted to avoid the strong sun. The ground was three-sided with no spectator access behind the south goal, hardstanding around the other three sides. The floodlights had been removed though some of the bases still remain. Close to the entrance was the club building which housed a bar, tea bar and changing rooms with patio in front.

For Lutterworth (4th place with 54 points from 29 games), the final home game was also their final league game of the season. Mathematically they still could finish third though in reality they needed to finish off with a win to hold on to fourth spot, not quite enough to earn the promotion spot which should go to third-placed Blaby and Whetstone. Visitors Aylestone Park (43 points from 28 games) occupied ninth position knowing that two wins from their last two games would seem then finish one place higher in the Premier Division table.

A bumper crowd enjoyed the warm April sunshine with several travellers in attendance (from Northampton, Kent and East Anglia, amongst others). The home side got the action underway a couple of minutes before 3 pm by my watch, defending the changing rooms end in the first half. To be honest the first 42 minutes were largely uneventful in terms of scoring opportunities though certain players on both sides were starting to test the qualities of the young referee. Aylestone defender Luke Baston picked up a booking for the second of a couple of fouls in quick succession. The tide then turned in favour of Aylestone Park during the minutes leading up to the interval. Nick Colford rattled the bar and Jack Limbert forced Atheltic keeper Sam Green to leap and palm over a rising 22-yard shot.

After the break, the visitors continued to create chances and they scored what proved to be the winner in the 71st minute. A low cross from the right was fired home at the second attempt by Gaz Seal. The elaborate goal celebration in front of their dugout was perhaps fitting for what will be the last first-team league goal scored at the ground. Kieron Neat’s header was blocked on the line by a defender as Aylestone looked to extend their lead while the closest Lutterworth came to an equaliser was an 81st minute header across the face of goal by Alex Heathcott.

Back home, I was surprised to find that, prior to today, I’d only ever watched one previous Leicestershire Senior League game (and that was back in 1989 at Friar Lane Old Boys) and two Tebbutt Brown cup games with an LSL club being the home team (1988 at Stapenhill and 1991 at Anstey Nomads). A few more trips next season to Leicestershire are long overdue.

0-1 Gaz Seal (71)

Aston 2 Northfield Town Reserves 0

Saturday 23rd April 2011 (6-30 pm)
Aston 2 Northfield Town Reserves 0
imosports Midland Combination Division 3
At: thepavilion, Moor Lane
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance 10 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:58; second-half: 46:35

One of the reasons for heading to Burntwood Town at Long Lane this afternoon was the short 17 mile journey to my second game of the day – Aston FC v Northfield Town Reserves. Aston play home games at ‘thepavilion’, a Birmingham City University community, business and sports venue on Moor Lane, located just to the north of the M6 between junctions 6 and 7. They share with fellow Division 3 side J.D.G. Sports who were at home this afternoon which meant Aston had an evening kick-off. The venue boasts ‘12 grass football pitches, a stunning flood-lit full sized all weather pitch, 2 rugby pitches and 2 cricket net lanes’ with Aston playing on the railed-off grass pitch adjacent to the pavilion building. It was not enclosed nor was there any cover or handstanding.

I must admit this place wasn’t the most inspiring, being a railed off pitch on part of a much larger and featureless playing field. Home side Aston still have something to play for – second place – and they totally dominated the whole game. Surprisingly they only scored twice, in the 21st minute through Icse Nelson and at the end in second-half stoppage time through Felix Okome. After I sent him a text earlier from Burntwood, Mike Greaves made his way from Pelsall Villa for a second game of the day, and Paul Kingston was one of two other travellers also at the match.

1-0 Icse Nelson (21)
2-0 Felix Okome (90+1)

Burntwood Town 1 Phoenix United 1

Saturday 23rd April 2011
Burntwood Town 1 Phoenix United 1
imosports Midland Combination Division 1
At: Long Lane, Essington
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: warm and sunny, short heavy rain
Attendance 7 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:02; second-half: 45:39

I needed an afternoon game close to Aston (6-30 kick-off) and a ground with the guarantee of covered seating or standing because heavy rain was forecast. So, with some kind of curiosity after their 22-0 midweek defeat, I opted for a revisit to Long Lane currently used by Burntwood Town where I’d previously seen Wyrley Rangers play Stafford Town in 2005.

Back in October, prior to my visit to New Bradwell St Peter, I wondered how a side (visitors Sport London e Benfica) would react to a 16-0 defeat in their previous game. This afternoon was a similar occasion. How would Burntwood react? Come within seconds of winning the game until Phoenix scored a last-minute equaliser.

Burntwood took the lead through Andrew Highman in the 25th minute and held on despite considerable pressure from Phoenix. It seemed likely they would win their first league game of the seasonwhen Lewis Moseley produced a superb save late on to keep his side in front. However, the Burntwood keeper turned from hero to villain in the 90th minute by needlessly conceding a penalty. Steffan Morrison fired home from the spot to level things up with virtually the last kick of the game to leave Burntwood gutted and still searching for that elusive first league win of the season. And rain did fall heavily midway through the first half so the roof over the 100-seater stand came in useful!

Burntwood Town (maroon and blue stripes / blue / blue): 1. Lewis Moseley, 2. Russell Adams, 3. Karlos Williams, 4. Philip Wright, 5. Paul Jones, 6. Ryan Tait, 7. Simon Parsons, 8. Jake West, 9. Omar Osman, 10. Dan Mortlock (capt), 11. Andrew Highman, Subs: 12. Daryl Higgins (for Highman, 84), 14. Wesley Berrow (not used), 15. Glen Walker (not used), 16. Andrew Saddler (not used).

Phoenix United (yellow/white/yellow): 1. Adam Walker, 2. Martin Peace, 3. James McEvoy, 4. Countney South, 5. Danny Murphy (capt), 6. Tyrone Clarke, 7. Casey Roberts, 8. Leon Sam, 9. Anthony Yeomans, 10. Steffan Morrison, 11. Adan Miller. Subs: 12. Ian Freeman (for Yeomans, ht), 14. Mark Bennett (for Miller, 75).

Referee: K. Wright.
Assistants: D. Evans and S. Hale.

1-0 Andrew Highman (26)
1-1 Steffan Morrison (90)


Roman Glass St George 4 Almondsbury UWE 1

Friday 22nd April 2011
Roman Glass St George 4 Almondsbury UWE 1
Toolstation League Division 1
At: Roman Glass Sports Club, Whiteway Road, Bristol
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Mileage: 236.5 miles
Attendance: 72
Weather: Warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 45:29; second-half: 48:15

With Roman Glass St George moving to the Gloucestershire FA ground at Almondsbury next season, I was good to finally watch a game at their current ground on Whiteway Road. The ground may boast a covered terrace though has no lights and minimal hard standing which may explain the decision to move. The pitch is part of a larger playing field and unusually the cricket square was behind one goal rather than adjacent to a touchline.

Several travelled had the same idea as me to watch the third-last home game, including Facebook friend Stephen Jackson and Nigel Pond.

On a warm sunny day, few chances were created during the first half though one of them was headed home by Paul Coles just after the half-hour mark to give Roman Glass the lead. We all headed for the clubhouse at half-time and it was nice to sit down and chat with the other travellers over a hot drink. A mix-up in the Almondsbury defence two minutes after the restart allowed Mikey Gooding to double his side’s advantage. It got even worse for the visitors when Nathan Churchill fired home the third Roman Glass goal and Simon Mansfield the fourth goal in the space of 118 seconds just before the hour mark. The home side looked to be heading for a clean sheet until they conceded a penalty in stoppage time which Simon McElroy duly converted. RGSG came across as a friendly club and I appreciated the help of Secretary Emily Baldwin and the PA announcer for providing the teamsheets.

1-0 Paul Coles (31)
2-0 Mikey Goulding (47)
3-0 Nathan Churchill (58)
4-0 Simon Mansfield (60)
4-1 Simon McElroy (90+3 pen)

Stafford Rangers Reserves 3 Worcester City Reserves 0

Stafford Rangers Reserves 3 Worcester City Reserves 0
Central Conference Cup Semi Final
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £3 including free teamsheet
Attendance: 19
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 45:46

Back to Marston Road less than 24 hours after I left the ground yesterday and this time around there was, at last, some good news for Stafford Rangers! The Reserves, admittedly with just two players who had played for the first team this season, produced a decent performance to defeat Worcester City Reserves and reach the Central Conference Cup Final. Callum Smith opened the scoring in the 10th minute and Adam McMahon doubled the lead in the 38th minute. McMahon scored again in the 82nd minute to put the outcome beyond doubt. The official attendance of 19 (headcount was 29) was the lowest I’ve been part of at Marston Road in any competition. The other Central Conference Cup semi final, between Ilkeston and FCV Reds, will be played next Thursday with the final on Wednesday 4th May.

1-0 Craig Smith (10)
2-0 Adam McMahon (38)
3-0 Adam McMahon (82)

Stafford Rangers 0 Eastwood Town 2

Tuesday 19th April 2011
Stafford Rangers 0 Eastwood Town 2
Blue Square Bet North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £11; Programme: £2
Attendance: 338
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 49:06

The last home league game at Marston Road this season and another defeat. And, it looks like Stafford Rangers will need to win both of their two remaining games to have any chance of avoiding relegation, and hope that Hyde fail to win any of their last three games. Boro’ remain two points from safety with an inferior goal difference after another tame performance allowed Eastwood to ease to a 2-0 victory. With a starting line-up showing five changes from Saturday, they started brightly playing with passion fight and spirit though that all changed when the visitors took the lead in the 15th minute with a Jermaine Johnson own goal. Up to half-time, Eastwood could have scored again as defender David Haggerty twice headed against the bar and man-of-the-match Lee Evans produced a couple of good saves. Rangers’ best effort all game was a well-struck left foot shot from Marco Addagio on the half-hour which was tipped over by John Danby. In the second half, Ben Mills twice went close to scoring an equaliser and Eastwood wrapped up the win with a spectacular strike in the second minute of stoppage time from substitute Peter Knox.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Lee Evans, 2. Andre Francis, 3. Craig Reid, 4. Jermaine Johnson, 5. Craig McAughtrie (capt), 6. Mark Dudley, 7. Niall Maguire, 8. Luke Keen, 9. Ben Mills, 10. Marco Adaggio, 11. Sean Kinsella. Subs: 12. Callum Wright (not used), 14. Danny Edwards (for Adaggio, 62), 15. Martyn Naylor (not used), 16. Fabrice Kasiama (for Reid, 68), 17gk. Tom Turner (not used).

Eastwood Town (red/red/red): 1. John Danby, 2. Russell Cooke, 3. Chris Shaw, 4. Michael Simpson (capt), 5. David Haggerty, 6. Adie Hawes, 7. John D’Laryea, 8. Lee Stevenson, 9. Lindon Meikle, 10. Matt Rhead, 11. Andy Todd. Subs: 12. Peter Knox (for Meikle, 76), 14. Anton Foster (not used), 15. Adam Muller (not used), 16. Paul Riley (not used), 17. Emeka Ndwakie (for Simpson, 90+3).

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Ashton-under-Lyme).
Assistants: Simon Mather and John Walton (both Droylsden).

0-1 Jermaine Johnson (15 og)
0-2 Peter Knox (90+2)

Stafford: none
Eastwood: Russell Cooke (YC, 9), Michael Simpson (YC, 43), Lee Stevenson (YC, 73)

Lea Hall 5 Hawkins Sports 0

Monday 18th April 2011
Lea Hall 5 Hawkins Sports 0
Staffordshire County Senior League Division 2
At: Lea Hall Miners Welfare Centre, Sandy Lane, Rugeley
Kick-off: scheduled 6-30 pm, actual 6-55 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Attendance: 15 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Duration: first-half: 41:44; second-half: 39:18

The game got underway 25 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time due to the late arrival of the visitors. While the home side had eleven players plus five named substitutes, Hawkins began with ten men and conceded an early goal. The visitors were reduced to nine men after 11 minutes when their goalkeeper was forced off through injury and conceded a second goal from Frankie Wynn in the 17th minute. A substantial victory looked on the cards for Lea Hall before the arrival eight minutes later of Martin Garbitt took their numbers back up to ten. After the break, Hawkins produced a spirited fightback without finding the net and kept Lea Hall on their toes. Three more goals from the home side, including a brace from substitute Stuart Tupper, made the scoreline sound more of a convincing victory than it actually was.

The evening didn’t show this league anywhere near its best though I did get the impression that Lea Hall are keen to progress to a higher level. Over the next few years, finance permitting, they could become a real gem. Saying that, it was good to watch the game in the company of Dave ‘Veteran’ Woodings and a traveller from Crewe who recalled he’d previously met me at Brocton last season.

1-0 Frankie Wynn (4)
2-0 Frankie Wynn (17)
3-0 Stuart Tupper (61)
4-0 Stuart Tupper (75)
5-0 Ryan Winter (79)

Haughmond 0 Ludlow Town 2

Saturday 16th April 2011
Haughmond 0 Ludlow Town 2 Shropshire County Premier Football League Premier Division
At: Shrewsbury Sports Village competition pitch, Sundorne Road
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (4 pages)
Mileage: 79.8 miles
Attendance: 143
Weather: sunny spells
Duration: first-half: 45:48; second-half: 49:28

Following the disappointment at Marston Road, it was off to Shrewsbury to watch the third and final game of this season’s Shropshire County League hop. The venue was the competition pitch at the Shrewsbury Sports Village which boasts a sports hall, climbing wall, squash courts, a 3G pitch and a large number of grass pitches of which one is a ‘floodlit premier grass pitch with grandstand seating and terrace / patio viewing’ (i.e. the competition pitch). This game pitted two title contenders and it was third-placed Ludlow who came out of top with a 2-0 victory which ended the 100% home record in the league of leaders Haughmond. Nathan Hodge scored both goals in the 24th and 66th minutes.

Haughmond (white/black/black): 1. Anthony Prince, 18. Dan Williams, 3. Andy Reeve, 4. Phil Bates, 5. Tom Hewitt (capt), 6. Nick Thomas 7. Ant Edwards, 8. Dan Perry, 19. Matt Preece, 10. Nick Davies, 11. Alex Johnson. Subs: 12. Will Smithson (for Hewitt, 57), 14. Craig Williams (for Edwards, 71), 15. Ben Matthews (for Thomas, 76), 16. Dan Manders (not used), 2. Phil Jones (not used).

Ludlow Town (red/black/red): 1. Ian Howard, 2, Alan Williams, 3. Aaron Dovey, 14. Aaron Hodge, 5. Dan Humphries, 6. Jamie Marsh (capt), 7. Jamie Hammond, 8. Alister Carvell, 9. Dale Hodge, 10. Nathan Hodge, 11. Daniel Crowther. Subs: 12. David Humphries (for Marsh, 81), 15. Adrian Marsh (for Dan Humphries, 84), 16. Ben Morgan (not used), 17. Ross Counsell (not used).

Referee: Rick Parker
Assistants: Steve Pugh and Matt Hartshorn.

0-1 Nathan Hodge (24)
0-2 Nathan Hodge (66)

Haughmond: Will Smithson (YC, 69), Alex Johnson (YC, 85), Craig Williams (YC, 88)
Ludlow Town: Nathan Hodge (77)

Stafford Rangers 1 Droylsden 5

Saturday 16th April 2011
Stafford Rangers 1 Droylsden 5
Blue Square Bet North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £13 seat; Programme: £2 (40 pages)
Mileage: 4.1 miles (just to ground)
Attendance: 405
Weather: sunny spells
Duration: first-half: 48:29; second-half: 48:08

Ciaran Kilheeney scored four goals as Droylsden inflicted a moral-sapping thrashing on Stafford Rangers who now face a near impossible task to avoid relegation. The visiting captain and striker netted twice in each half (9th, 44th, 46th and 55th) before Domaine Rouse made it 5-0 in the 69th minute. Substitute Luke Keen pulled a goal back two minutes later but Stafford rarely looked like scoring despite enjoying a lot of possession. Stafford now trail Hyde by two points with three games left after the Tameside club drew 2-2 at Boston United. Can Matt Elliott lift his side for the visit of Eastwood Town on Tuesday?

0-1 Ciaran Kilheeney (9)
0-2 Ciaran Kilheeney (44)
0-3 Ciaran Kilheeney (46)
0-4 Ciaran Kilheeney (55)
0-5 Domaine Rouse (69)
1-5 Luke Keen (71)

Minehead 1 Langford Rovers 2000 4

Wednesday 13th April 2011
Minehead 1 Langford Rovers 2000 4
Errea Somerset County League Premier Division
At: Ireton Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: £1
Attendance: 66
Weather: occasional drizzle, windy
Duration: first-half: 45:14; second-half: 49:58

I hadn’t planned to watch this one and so didn’t print out a map – fortunately the ground wasn’t too difficult to find. Previously one of the top non-league sides in the country during the mid-1970s, Minehead now find themselves a mid-table side in the Somerset County League Premier Division. The main feature of the ground is the large stand which, according to an article in the programme by the Chairman, has been saved from demolition. Last Wednesday, Minehead lost heavily at home and tonight turned in another poor performance as they went down 4-1. Langford scored twice in the first half in the 17th and 29th minutes and put the outcome well and truly beyond doubt with two more goals after the break scored in the 49th and 84th minutes. Minehead pulled a goal back in stoppage time. I took advantage of an elevated view to watch the majority of the game from the stand – position 47 on the second row of the wonderful old stand, still with a nameplace attached ‘NO. 47 A.POUNDER’, no doubt a season-ticket holder from a bygone age.

0-1 Ashley Towler (17)
0-2 Ryan Havard (29)
0-3 Ryan Havard (48)
0-4 Ross Needs (84)
1-4 Luke Bloys (90+3)

Cleeve West Town 0 Burnham United 5

Tuesday 12th April 2011
Cleeve West Town 0 Burnham United 5
Errea Somerset County League Division 1
At: King George V Playing Fields, Meeting House Lane, Cleeve
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Mileage: 20.6 miles
Attendance: 14 (headcount)
Weather: sunny and windy
Duration: first-half: 46:57; second-half: 45:20

Cleeve West Town play in the village of Cleeve on A370, south-west of Bristol, and just a half-hour drive from our holiday base at Cheddar. The pitch is part of a larger recreation ground, railed off down one side and roped off on the other three sides nearest the cricket square. Burnham went into the game in 12th position, two points behind 9th placed Cleeve with three games in hand, and produced a dominant performance to record a 5-0 away victory. They led 3-0 at the break (the giant ‘Peter Crouch like’ Steve Neilson headed home the second goal) and even could afford to have a penalty saved just before half-time. Cleeve rarely looked like scoring in the second half and Burnham went on to add two more goals, both scored by substitutes. Interestingly, the home side were formed about 1965 when Backwell’s third team decided to form their own club under the name of ‘West Town’ and added the prefix ‘Cleeve’ when they moved to the King George V Playing Fields.

0-1 Steve Leaf (18)
0-2 Steve Neilson (35)
0-3 Warren Whitfield (39)
0-4 James Vickery (58)
0-5 William Peake (83)

Rugeley Rangers 4 Lea Hall 4

Monday 11th April 2011
Rugeley Rangers 4 Lea Hall 4
Staffordshire County Senior League Division 2
At: Ravenhill Park (Brereton Town FC)
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Mileage: 16.9 miles
Attendance: 72 (headcount)
Weather: sunny, cold wind
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 45:50

Since my trip to Penkridge Town earlier in the month, the grounds of Rugeley Rangers (8.2 miles) and Lea Hall (7.8 miles) have moved to the top of my list of nearest unvisited ground. Both met this evening in a Rugeley derby at Brereton Town’s ground, which Rangers use, and they ended up sharing eight goals, including two own goals. Rangers twice took the lead in the first half only to be pegged back on both occasions. The visitors edged ahead early in the second half but Rugeley hit back with goals in the 61st and 80th minutes. I felt a Lea Hall equaliser was likely and it came in the 84th minute with the best goal of the game – Sam Chandler crossed low from the right and unchallenged Paul Dutton hammered the ball home at close range. The game was played in a good spirit, entertaining and excellently refereed. Both linespersons were female which I think is a first for me. An enjoyable evening spent in the company of Laurence and Lee.

1-0 Dean Watkiss (7)
1-1 Neil Hill (17 og)
2-1 Dean Watkiss (25)
2-2 John Rob Dutton (33)
2-3 Paul Dutton (56)
3-3 Pete Gladwin (61)
4-3 Chris Faulkner (80 og)
4-4 Paul Dutton (84)

Mahal 0 Team Dudley 3

Saturday 9th April 2011
Mahal 0 Team Dudley 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2
At: Hadley Stadium, Bearwood, Birmingham
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Mileage:54.4 miles
Attendance: 8 (headcount)
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 49:44

Though there were other games with more appeal, I felt I had to finally make a visit to the Hadley Stadium in Bearwood, a few miles north-west of Birmingham City Centre, especially as Mahal were hosting their last home game of the season. Over the years several clubs have been based at this athletics venue which boasts 689 seats and floodlights. Craig Edwards put Team Dudley ahead in the 32nd minute during a first-half in which the visitors created the better chances. Mahal improved after the break and gained a lifeline in the 83rd minute when keeper Sandip Bains kept out Steve Bradley’s penalty. However, Ryan Spittle scored twice in stoppage time to give Team Dudley what sounds like a comfortable victory.

0-1 Craig Edwards (32)
0-2 Ryan Spittle (90+3)
0-3 Ryan Spittle (90+5)

Stafford Rangers Reserves 1 Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves 2

Wednesday 6th April 2011
Stafford Rangers Reserves 1 Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves 2
Central Conference League Cup Quarter Final First Leg
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: free teamsheet
Mileage: 0 miles (walked the 8 miles round trip)
Attendance: 27
Weather: sunny spells, mild and dry
Duration: first-half: 45:32; second-half: 47:36

This was the first Reserve team game of the season as this cup competition has changed from round-robin to knockout format due to the severe weather and fixture congestion. Rangers boss Andy Bates named a few first-team squad players and drafted in others from Stafford Town and Stone Old Alleynians including Dave Woodvine and Paul McMahon. Sporting fielded their first team and took lead on the quarter hour mark through Shaun May. Adam McMahon converted a chance created by his brother Paul to level things up in the 38th minute. Joe Brookes regained the lead for Sporting from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute and they held on despite Woodvine heading against the bar. I picked up a copy of last Saturday’s first-team programme and learned the sad news of the death of former Secretary Peter Wall at the age of 67. Rest in peace, Peter.

Stafford Rangers Reserves (yellow/black/black): 1. Tom Turner, 2. Joe Rogers, 3. Craig Reid, 4. Callum Wright, 5. Grant Goodhead, 6. Dave Woodvine (capt), 7. Craig Holland, 8. James Marsden, 9. Adam McMahon, 10. Paul McMahon, 11. Zac Dellicompagni. Subs: 12. Mike Weston (for Dellicompagni, 53), 14. Tom Holroyd (not used), 15. Andy Kirkbride (for Adam McMahon, 60).

Bromsgrove Sporting Reserves (red and white stripes / blue / blue): 1. James Stewart, 2. Danny Lismore, 3. Stewart Brighton, 4. Neil Cooksey, 5. Richard Griffiths (capt), 6. Joe Brookes, 7. Dan Wilkes, 8. James McKeon, 9. Odane Barnes, 10. Sean May, 11. Richie Robinson. Subs: 12. Nick Allen (for Brighton, 64), 14. Chris Bright (for May, 69).

Referee: Terry Holbrook.

0-1 Sean May (15)
1-1 Adam McMahon (38)
1-2 Joe Brookes (53 pen)

Penkridge Town 2 Wrens Nest 5

Saturday 2nd April 2011
Penkridge Town 2 Wrens Nest 5
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2
At: Monkton Recreation Centre
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Mileage: 0 miles (walk, bus train)
Attendance: 10 (headcount)
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 45:28; second-half: 50:51

With no car, I decided to use shanks’ pony, bus and train to visit my nearest unvisited ground (I know it could have run the 5.6 miles, lol). Penkridge’s ground, located on the western side of the village towards Whiston, is simply railed off down the two touchlines with some hardstanding and no cover. I had a good chat with the Wrens Nest Chairman who provided the teamsheets and a copy of one of his club’s regular matchday programmes. During the first half, title-chasing Penkridge twice took the lead and twice Wrens Nest got back on level terms. The visitors then raced into a 4-2 interval lead with goals in the 39th and 44th minutes and added a fifth shortly before the full-time whistle. Penkridge didn’t produce a programme though I picked up a newsletter from earlier in the season.

1-0 Alex Dodds (9)
1-1 Stephen Witton (16)
2-1 Alex Dodds (18)
2-2 Le Witton (22)
2-3 Sam Pearson (39)
2-4 Stephen Witton (44)
2-5 Sam Pearson (87)

Bala Town 2 Aberystwyth Town 1

Friday 1st April 2011
Bala Town 2 Aberystwyth Town 1
Principality Welsh Premier League Play-off Conference
At Maes Tegid
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £6; Programme: £1-50 (36 pages)
Mileage: 91.9 miles (89.5 + 2.4 before car broke down)
Attendance: 223
Weather: mild and dry
Duration: first-half: 46:24; second-half: 48:35

I really enjoyed the drive particularly the stretch on the B4391 between Penybonyfawr and Bala itself. Inside the ground I didn’t expect so many Welsh speakers and for the PA man to make announcements first in Welsh and second in English. On the field, Bala took the lead through Mark Connolly in the 32nd minute direct from a 28-yard right foot free-kick that flew into the top-right corner. But the visitors levelled things up just before the interval. Connolly scored direct from another 28-yard free-kick in the 67th minute to restore Bala’s lead which they held until the final whistle. A daylight visit is recommended to take the views of the surrounding area and hills, and the ground has been improved in recent times with a new stand holding seats obtained from Shrewsbury Town’s old Gay Meadow (going by the STFC stickers). On the way home around 3 miles north of Bala on the A494 , the clutch on my car failed and I didn’t get home until 3 am with the help of a recovery truck sent by the AA. Never mind, at least the car did the decent thing and broke down after the match!

Bala Town (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Terry McCormick, 2. John Irving, 3. Owain Roberts, 4. Danny Williams (capt), 5. Shaun Kelly, 6. Ross Jefferies, 7. Mark Connelly, 8. Mark Jones, 9. Chris Mason, 10. Michael Hayes, 11. Ryan Marriott. Subs: 12. Gethin Edwards (for Mason, 90), 14. Steve Morrison (for Marriott, 85), 15. Mark Powell (not used).

Aberystwyth Town (green/green/white): 1. Steven Cann, 2. Conall Murtagh, 3. Michael Howard, 4. Aneurin Thomas, 5. James McCarten, 6. Anthony Finselbach, 7. Ricky Evans, 8. Bari Morgan (capt), 9. Lewis Codling, 10. Ashley Stott, 11. Adam Pepper. Subs: 12. Craig Williams (not used), 14. Steff Edwards (for Pepper, 69), 15. Cledan Davies (for Evans, 81).

Referee: Matt Bridges.
Assistants: Gareth Jones and J. B. Brookes.
Fourth Official: Mick Pratt.

1-0 Mark Connolly (32)
1-1 Ashley Stott (42)
2-1 Mark Connolly (67)