Rocester 2 Burton Albion 5

Tuesday 19th July 2011
Rocester 2 Burton Albion 5
Pre-season Friendly
At Hillsfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £2 (16 pages)
Weather: cloudy, occasional drizzle
Attendance: 221
Duration: first-half: 45:46; second-half: 45:00

Good to catch up with John Scott (Coach Rangers manager), Andy Bates (Stafford Rangers coach) and Barry Smith (Rocester secretary) at a ground that has always been a favourite pre-season destination for me. In fact, Rocester is such a favourite that tonight’s game was my eight July friendly at Hillsfield.

Visitors Burton Albion from League Two split their squad this evening with one part heading for Alfreton Town and the other heading for Rocester. The side I saw at Hillsfield included 47-year-old veteran keeper Kevin Poole fresh from playing for Derby County in the Central Masters at the weekend.

Rocester’s side featured a handful of names familiar to me – Paul McMahon, Craig Holland, Chris Sterling and Kevin Millward (one of Coach Rangers’ Summer League stars).

Since my visit 12 months ago, when the area surrounding the mill was a building side, the new adjacent JCB Academy has opened. Hillsfield also boasts a new perimeter fence and new goal posts obtained from Chesterfield’s old Saltergate ground.

Programmes were available at the turnstile and Barry provided me with a teamsheet – a copy of which was displayed next to the tea bar and line-ups were announced over the PA.

Burton (wearing a change kit of white shirts with blue shorts and socks) got the game underway defending the mill end in the first half and they took a 3rd minute lead. Jack Dyer delivered a corner from the right and ex-Crewe striker Calvin Zola got in a near-post header which the keeper and a defender couldn’t prevent crossing the line.

The visitors continued to create chances before Rocester (in amber and black striped shirts, black shorts and socks) equalised in 24th minute. The lively Mensah Kinch crossed into the area and, at the same time a shout of “clear” by Poole, former Stafford Rangers and Stafford Town striker hammered the ball home.

The goal seemed to act as a wake-up call for the League Two visitors and, in response, Ethan Phillips fired just wide from well outside the area. Zola had a two ‘goals’ disallowed for offside and Burton regained the lead in the 38th minute. From a throw on the right into the area, keeper Richard Froggatt parried an initial shot from John McGrath and Jimmy Phillips fired home the rebound.

A couple of presentations took place at half-time and Secretary Barry Smith received the 2010/11 Midland Alliance ‘Best Administration’ award, a well-deserved silver salver.

Back to the action and as far as I could see, the sides came out for the second half with no further substitutions. And, as a real help to keep the crowd informed on the comings and goings to and from the pitch, the PA announcer acknowledged virtually every substitution.

The announcement of winning raffle tickets was made around the hour mark. With my well-documented bad luck in these sorts of things, I don’t know why I even thought that my yellow ticket ‘455’ had any chance of being called out. As usual, others with tickets ‘382’ and ‘413’ took away a prize each. Hope for better luck on Saturday!

Tonight’s attendance was 221 – again announced.

Burton scored their third in the 63rd minute. After being tripped in the area, Zola picked himself up to confidently convert the penalty to make the score 1-3.

But Rocester weren’t finished and McMahon scored his second goal of the game three minutes later. The Albion defence failed to deal with a corner and McMahon fired home after Chris Owen’s initial shot was blocked.

Changes were now being made at regular intervals and Millward got his chance in place of Kinch on the right.

Phillips scored his second goal and Burton’s fourth in the 75th minute, firing home into the roof of the net at close range. Substitute Evan Garnett completed the scoring in the closing stages with a spectacular 35-yard drive which flew into the left side of the net.

My next game, on Saturday, should be again at Hillsfield when Stafford Rangers are the visitors.

Rocester (amber and black stripes / black / black): 1. Richard Froggatt, 2. Dan McLeod, 3. Leon Pugh, 4. Chris McComisky, 5. Darren Bullock, 6. Matty Rutter, 7. Mensah Kinch (Smith, 75), 8. Craig Holland, 9. Chris Sterling, 10. Paul McMahon (Martin, 78), 11. Chris Owen. Subs used: 12. Kevin Millward (for Kinch, 75), 14. Trialist (for Rutter, 67), 16. Craig Smith (for McMahon, 78), 4. Trialist (for McComisky, 82), 15. Trialist (for Owen, 87).

Burton Albion (white/blue/blue): 1. Kevin Poole, 2. Tony James, 8. Andy Corbett, 5. Sylvanis Bockarie, 7. Aaron Webster, 9. Ethan Phillips, 17. Jack Dyer, 6. John McGrath, 14. Cleveland Taylor, 10. Calvin Zola, 11 Jimmy Phillips. Subs: 18. Brad Munn (for Ethan Phillips, 58), 4. Evan Garnett (for Jimmy Phillips, 79), 16. Jack Green (for Bockarie, 42), 19, Jason Davis (for Zola, 84), 15. Ryan Pirri, 13gk. Mikey Turner.

Referee: A. Sarginson (Cannock).
Assistants: G. Thomas and A. Mullins.

0-1 Calvin Zola (3)
1-1 Paul McMahon (24)
1-2 Jimmy Phillips (38)
1-3 Calvin Zola (63 pen)
2-3 Paul McMahon (66)
2-4 Jimmy Phillips (75)
2-5 Evan Garnett (88)

Footnote: The only competitive game I’ve seen at Hillsfield was my first visit in May 1989 for a West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division game against Blakenall. Time for to add to this list of competitive games during the coming season I think. My previous pre-season friendlies at Rocester were against Stafford Rangers in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, and last year’s Don Hill Memorial Trophy game against Gresley FC.