Stone Old Alleynians 1 Sporting Khalsa 1

Saturday 7th May 2011
Stone Old Alleynians 1 Sporting Khalsa 1
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1
At: Motiva Park stadium pitch (Stone Dominoes FC)
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Attendance: 29 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:50; second-half: 49:48

A familiar venue (fifth visit to Motiva Park), familiar colours (black and white stripes), but unfamiliar home side. Shame on me for not having seen Stone Old Alleynians play either home or away until today, considering I made just a short 13.3 mile trip from home to ground. I found such a welcoming club with the added bonus of a decent programme.

Stone Old Alleynians, according to the club badge and history printed in the programme, were formed 49 years ago in 1962 by a man named Dave Bonnet who was a teacher and former pupil of Alleynes High School. The website history tells an interesting story of how the club received a donation from the Old Alleynians Society to purchase shirts and pay league fees. The team progressed through the Stafford Amateur League (later to become the Mid Staffs League) and eventually joined the North Staffs Alliance League in 1980 and subsequently the Staffordshire County Senior League. Recently a bold switch saw Stone Old Alleynians join the West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2 and gained promotion to Division 1 at the end of the 2009/10 season. They currently groundshare on Stone Dominoes’ stadium pitch at Yarnfield.

Both sides had something to play for in what was their last league game of the 2010/11 season. Visitors Sporting Khalsa (3rd with 55 points from 29 games, goal difference +26) needed to avoid defeat secure third position regardless of what fourth-placed Wem Town (52 points from 29 games, goal difference +21) did at home to champions Black Country Rangers. Third place could be good enough to gain promotion to the Premier Division. The aim of Alleynians (6th position with 46 points from 29 games) was simply to win and leapfrog Hanwood United into fifth position.

Even though Alleynians were missing some of the ‘star’ players like Ismael Reid and Ashley Sheridan, they did include midfielder Jamie Cartwright who played a few games for Stafford Rangers in early 2001 and more recently a regular with landlords Stone Dominoes. Also in the starting line-up was former Stafford Rangers youth player Darryll Johns.

“Yellow kick,” announced the young referee and soon Sporting Khalsa (wearing yellow shirts, navy blue shorts and yellow socks) got the action underway attacking the northern end of the ground closest to the players entrance and car park. Alleynians (in black and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) created early chances and twice Khalsa’s keeper Sunny Dhesi was forced into near-post saves to deny Darryl Johns and Stephen Bennett. However, the visitors took a 20th minute lead against the run of play with their first attempt on goal. Sunny Dhylai fed Satnam Sangha who hit home a rising right foot shot from the right-hand side of the area. Khalsa could have extended their lead just before half-time. Lee Onions’ free-kick forward into the area wasn’t cleared, Faizul Islam saw a shot blocked and Jaswinder Sira fired the resulting loose ball over the bar.

Chances were scarce in the second half until Alleynians got back on level terms in the 73rd minute. Jamie Cartwright delivered a free-kick from the left to the far side of the area. Adam Cunningham knocked the ball towards goal for captain Stephen Millington to fire home.

“Well done, Stone” and “well done, Khalsa” were the verdicts from the touchline at full-time as Sporting Khalsa had the point they needed to secure third spot – Wem lost 4-2 at home to Black Country Rangers. Stone finish the season in sixth position, the highest they have achieved in the pyramid during their 49 year history while Sporting Khalsa have to wait to see if third is high enough for promotion.

0-1 Satnam Sangha (20)
1-1 Steven Millington (70)