Ball Haye Green 1 Leek Town 4

Friday 15th July 2011
Ball Haye Green 1 Leek Town 4
Pre-season Friendly
At Ball Haye Green Working Mens Club
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: none
Weather: cloudy, odd spots of rain
Attendance: 230 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 44:51

Second visit to Ball Haye Green and it was great to meet up with photographer and videoman Malc Hampton who provided good company pre-match and during the first half.

I’ve said before that one good thing about pre-season, with the rules I have for choosing a game, it does provide me with an opportunity to revisit grounds visited many moons ago – Buxton (2008), Colwyn Bay (2009) and Matlock (2010) all string to mind of places given a second visit after a long absence. More recent was my one and only visit to Ball Haye Green (2003) but on that dark March night I didn’t really appreciated the gem that is the ‘Working Mens Club’ Ground, tucked away to the north of Leek town centre behind a row of terraced houses.

A driveway leads off Ball Haye Green Road past left-side of the Working Men’s Club bluiding from almost opposite The Green Ball Convenience Store and the pitch (orientated south-east–north-west) runs lengthways from the entrace. The most striking feature was the high sided factory building behind the right-hand touchline, with a narrow area of covered standing in front running from the near right corner to halfway. Adjacent to the near right corner was a pavilion style building housing changing rooms and The Green Kitchen tea bar, and another building used as a clubroom. The ground had five floodlight pylons down each touchline; Ball Haye Green the only first team in the Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division to have lights which doesn’t groundshare with a more senior club.

Last season Ball Haye Green enjoyed success both on and off the field. They won the Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division title and secured a short-term extension to their lease of their ground. Following that success on the field, manager Lee Caswell has become the new manager of … Leek Town.

On to the actions and Leek Town of the Evo-Stik League Division One South (and wearing all blue) got the game underway attacking the WMC end in the first half. They went close to taking the lead midway through the first half. From Wayne Corden’s corner, Shaun Turner saw a header blocked in the line and James Brough headed the rebound against the bar.

Home keeper Mark Turner produced a fine save to keep out a volley from Ollie Edwards but couldn’t prevent Leek from taking a 24th minute lead. A low cross from the left was turned into his own net by defender Craig Turner.

Before kick-off I’d bought an ‘Opening Goal’ ticket but alas my time was ‘78th minute’. With the prize unclaimed, tickets continued to be sold and my second attempt – ‘72nd minute’ – fared no better!

The Blues doubled their advantage in the 35th minute against from a move down the left. Shaun Turner did well to head back a deep cross for former Stafford Rangers midfielder Tom Moss to head home.

My entrance ticket doubled up a strip of raffle tickets and just like the goal competition luck wasn’t with me.

After the break, ‘trailist’, a half-time substitute, scored Leek’s third with a spectacular volley in the 58th minute.

With both sides making changes, Ball Haye Green (wearing green shirts with green and white sleeves, green shorts and socks) pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute. Substitute Steve Sayer hooked home from close range after an initial corner wasn’t clear.

Matt Haddrell completed the scoring in the 87th minute, heading home Ricky Bridge’s left-wing cross, to complete a comfortable win for the visitors.

0-1 Craig Turner (24 og)
0-2 Tom Moss (35)
0-3 ‘Trialist’ (58)
1-3 Steve Sayer (73)
1-4 Matt Haddrell (87)