Penncroft 2 Bridgnorth Town Reserves 3

Saturday 29th October 2011
Penncroft 2 Bridgnorth Town Reserves 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1
At: Aldersley Leisure Village stadium, Hugh Porter Way, Wolverhampton
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £2-50; Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Weather: cloudy, occasional drizzle
Attendance: 8 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:53; second-half: 48:05

After much umming and arring, I decided to keep things local today and made the short 15-mile journey to north-west Wolverhampton for a first-ever visit to the stadium at Aldersley Leisure Village, the home of Penncroft FC. They hosted Bridgnorth Town Reserves who came from behind to win by the odd goal in five with an injury-time winner.

A number of football clubs have called the stadium ‘home’ over the years including Ettingshall Holy Trinity. It is a multi-sports venue with a large sports hall (staging a fencing tournament this afternoon) and various outdoor facilities including the stadium which boasts a grass centre surrounded by a six-lane athletics track and banked outer cycle track – home to Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club and the Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club. Beneath the upper floor of the main sports hall building were 497 blue individual tip-up seats in six rows.

The stadium was accessed via the reception and through the left-hand set of double doors (‘outdoor changing & pitches’). I was greeted at the end of the corridor by a club official – the Secretary – who was only too happy to sell me a programme and provide the lineups.

The programme provided a brief history of Penncroft FC, a club formed in 1960 through the merger of Penn Amateurs FC and Castlecroft Old Boys FC. They spent 43 years in the Birmingham AFA league, winning the Premier Division for four consecutive seasons during the late 1960s, before switching to the West Midlands League.

Penncroft (13 points from 11 games) moved up to 10th position in the 16-team league last Saturday thanks to a 6-2 home victory over Blackheath Town. Visitors Bridgnorth Town Reserves (9 points from 11 games) were two places lower in 12th position.

Bridgnorth (in blue shirts with navy blue shorts and socks) got the game underway at the third attempt when Josh Pitt tapped the ball to bearded captain Lewis Ayres. Attacking the north end (right to left from my chosen vantage point in the seats), they took the lead in just the second minute. Pitt took advantage of a slip by defender Craig Jones when latching onto a ball down the left. The forward ran into the area and past another central defender, Matthew Jones, before shooting across the face of goal into the far left corner of the net.

Penncroft (in red shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and socks) equalised in the 19th minute during a spell of pressure. Nathan Jones’s initial shot was only parried by Ben Taylor and Ricky Harrison was perfectly positioned to fire home the resulting loose ball.

The home side edged ahead seven minutes later. Tim Rowley ran into the area on the left past defender Andy Davies and fired an angled shot into the far right side of the net.

It could have been three just before the interval in a brief bit of drama involving two of Penncroft’s four players named ‘Jones’. Nathan Jones fired a 25-yard free-kick against the wall, his shot from the rebound also hit the wall with the ball travelling to Chris Jones whose shot was blocked by teammates Nathan Jones. Finally, in this session of pinball, Chris Jones drove over the bar from just outside the area.

Half-time. I established there were 497 seats and spotted a plaque which paid tribute to Robin Kyte, Chairman on the Wolverhampton Wheelers 1994–2006.

Onto the second half and the visitors made a bright start. Lee Williams fed Tom Whitney who saw a swerving shot well held by Penncroft keeper Remigijus Stanciukas. Gary Joe Smith had replaced Joe Smallman at the interval and quickly left his mark on the game by equalising in the 49th minute. Put through, Smith scored with a low shot past Remigijus Stanciukas from around 12 yards out.

A neat move almost regained the lead for Penncroft. Harrison exchanged passes with Nathan Jones from the left and fed Rowley who fired a low angled shot across the face of goal and inches wide of the far left post.

Stanciukas did well to stop a shot from Sam Mitchell in the 72nd minute and prevent the ball crossing the line at the feet of the challenging Ayres. The keeper excelled again to beat away Williams’s well struck volley hit from the edge of the area and also keep out another shot from goalscorer Smith.

A share of the spoils appeared to be the lively outcome until Bridgnorth stunned Penncroft by grabbing an injury-time winner. John Gaff sent a free-kick forward into the area which fell for Mitchell to hammer home at close range.

The referee played less than a minute of additional added time before blowing the full-time whistle.

0-1 Josh Pitt (2)
1-1 Ricky Harrison (19)
2-1 Tim Rowley (26)
2-2 Gary Joe Smith (49)
2-3 Sam Mitchell (90+2)

Crewe FC 6 Runcorn Town Reserves 1

Wednesday 26th October 2011
Crewe FC 6 Runcorn Town Reserves 1
Cheshire League Division 2
At: Cumberland Sports Ground, Thomas Street
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: none; Programme: free (2 pages)
Attendance: 55 (headcount)
Weather: mild, rain during first half
Duration: first-half: 46:06; second-half: 45:00

A step into the unknown for me and a bit of history at the same time as I saw my first ever Cheshire League Division 2 game which was also Crewe FC’s first home game played entirely under lights. The home side and division leaders marked the occasion in style with an emphatic 6-1 victory against Runcorn Town Reserves who finished with nine men.

Home ground for Crewe FC is the Cumberland Sports Ground (aka Cumberland Arena), a floodlight eight-lane athletics venue with a clubhouse/changing room building and adjacent floodlight 3G court. Portable dugouts were positioned on the near touchline around the halfway line and some overhang at the front of the clubhouse could have provided some shelter from the rain though I’m not sure what sort of view of the game this vantage point provided. Divisional rivals Sandbach share the ground as do the Crewe Railroaders and it was American Football team’s home game on Saturday that forced Crewe FC to play this evening. Gridiron markings were still visible!

I knew Andy from Nantwich (at Brocton last night) would probably be at the game and he was. Also present were ‘Hoddy’ and ‘Zeberdee’ as well. I wasn’t sure about a programme but Hoddy produced two double-sided teamsheet-style programmes in different sizes. A welcome and appreciated bonus!

Crewe FC (wearing an all navy blue kit) got the game started attacking the hammer cage end in the first half, right to left in relation to the dugouts. Even though most of the play occurred in the Runcorn half, it was in fact the visitors who had the first attempt on goal. Kevin Hammond, on the right inside the area, fired a low angled shot which Crewe keeper Wes Newton saved at the near post.

Crewe soon started to create chances and forced Steve Whitfield into a couple of excellent saves to keep out a deflected shot from Simon Everall and another low effort from the same attacker.

It was no surprise when Crewe took a 14th-minute lead. There was no offside when Everall broke into the area down the right and saw a low shot parried by Whitfield. The loose ball fell kindly for Ian Carr to fire home from 12 yards out.

As rain started to fall, Crewe were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out. Newton, the goalkeeper, stepped up and hit a thunderous drive which Whitfield acrobatically punched clear for a corner.

Everall added a second goal from Crewe in the 20th minute. He latched onto a throughball, got the better of defender Robbie Moore and rounded Whitfield before slotting home. Moore picked up a booking which he would regret later in the game. Paul Illidge was also booked six minutes, another one relevant to an incident later in the game.

A couple of goals at the half-hour mark as good as put the outcome beyond doubt even with an hour still remaining. In the 30th minute, Shane Wild delivered a delicious cross from the right which Everall headed home through the hands and between the legs of Whitfield.

Barely 70 seconds later, 3-0 turned into 4-0. This time Danny Lloyd hit a 25-yard drive which slipped through the hands of the diving Whitfield on the way into the left corner of the net.

Runcorn created a couple of chances. Newton did well to keep out a shot from Connor Anderson and Darren Moore headed against the bat from the resulting corner.

Whitfield limped off with a leg injury to be replaced by substitute Neil Owens in goal.

There was a degree of confusion over the scorer of Runcorn’s goal scored in the 45th minute. Kevin Hammond’s free-kick into a packed area ended up in the back of the net via a deflection. An own goal perhaps but officially credited to central defender Darren Moore.

Welcome hot drinks were served from a hatch in the clubroom prior to the second half which was one-way traffic in favour of Crewe. They endured a series of near misses and won a host of corners before adding a fifth goal in the 65th minute. Everall pulled the ball back from the bye-line for Wild to slot home from barely eight yards out.

Runcorn were reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute when Robbie Moore picked up a second yellow card for dissent. The red card got another airing four minutes later though personally I think Mr Taylor should have shown some leniency. This time it was Illidge who picked up a second booking following a foul right in front of our noses – ‘harshly penalised’ was perhaps the phrase to sum up the decision.

From the free-kick on the right that resulted in Illidge’s dismissal, Lloyd delivered the ball to the far post where Harris headed home to make it 6-1.

Straight from the restart, Crewe were awarded a penalty for a mystery foul on Everall. He placed the ball the spot but fired it wide of the left-hand post.

Crewe looked to increase their advantage further against the nine men during the last ten minutes. Ethan Tizzard saw a shot parried by Owens who also got down to hold a left-foot shot from Lloyd. Wild had an even better chance though only succeeded in sending a clear shot straight at Owens.

All in all, decent company to watch the game with and well worth the trip, even though the M6 was playing up between the two Stoke exits which forced a detour through Newcastle.

Referee: Lea Taylor (Northwich).
Assistants: club linesmen.

1-0 Ian Carr (14)
2-0 Simon Everall (20)
3-0 Simon Everall (30)
4-0 Danny Lloyd (31)
4-1 Darren Moore (45)
5-1 Shane Wild (65)
6-1 Craig Harris (76)

Crewe: none
Runcorn: Robbie Moore (YC, 20), Paul Illidge (27), Adam Horrocks (YC, 32), Robbie Moore (YC/RC, 70), Paul Illidge (YC/RC, 74)

Brocton 6 Pelsall Villa 0

Tuesday 25th October 2011
Brocton 6 Pelsall Villa 0
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Old Police Sports Ground, Silkmore Lane, Stafford
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Attendance: 58
Weather: mild, heavy rain early second half
Duration: first-half: 47:02; second-half: 47:54

A first look at Brocton this season and my fifth visit in total since the former Staffordshire Police Sports Ground on Silkmore Lane was transformed into the ‘Old Police Sports Ground’ three years ago.

Pelsall will no doubt be hoping they don’t have to visit the town of Stafford again this season after losing 6-0 tonight to follow-up their 5-0 defeat at Stafford Town in the FA Vase last month, a game I also saw.

Tonight, Ashley Justin and Dan Lomas both scored twice with Gary Fife and Andy Chandler (officially credited to Joe Pickering) also getting on the scoresheet.

I’ve described the Old Police Sports Ground before – a fully railed-off main pitch with hard-standing all round and a seated stand straddling half-way near the paybox on the Silkmore Lane side. Dugouts were on the opposite side either side of the halfway line.

Brocton (9 points from 6 games) went into this fixture game in 11th position in the table with games in hand on every other side in the 17-team division. Visitors Pelsall Villa (8 points from 9 games) stood three positions below The Badgers.

Brocton (in green shirts, white shorts and green socks) got the game underway attacking the changing rooms (or north-east) end. They survived an early scare when a cross from Dan Halls looped over keeper Adam Whitehouse and struck the far left-hand post.

The opening goal came in the 13th minute. Joe Pickering crossed from the right and captain Gary Fife sent a header into the far left side of the net.

I watched the first half in the company of Andy Bates and saw Halls put the ball in the back of the Brocton net after the being flagged for offside before the home side doubled their lead in the 31st minute. Former player-manager David Berks delivered a perfect corner from the right for Ashley Justin to head home at close range.

Heavy rain started to fall during the interval and failed to dampen Brocton quest for more goals. The Badgers made it 3-0 in the 49th minute. Pickering laid the ball off to Dan Lomas in the inside channel who fired home an angled shot via the far right-hand post.

I decided to watch the second half sat in the stand in the company of Andy from Nantwich on his first visit to the ground.

Fife fired across the face of goal from the right as the Badgers continued to press. Pickering forced an excellent save out of Villa keeper Gavin Jones and then blasted the rebound over the bar when a simple sidefoot would have sufficed. Just before the hour mark, Richard Jones crossed low from the right for Lomas to see his shot superbly kept out by Jones.

Back in March, I saw Pelsall win last season’s corresponding league fixture 2-1. Any chance of a repeat victory became remote when Lomas scored his second goal and Brocton’s fourth of the night in the 63rd minute. Lomas evaded a tackle in the area on the left and, just as he did 14 minutes earlier, fired home another angled shot via the far right-hand post.

The rain had eased and eventually stopped by the 70th minute when Brocton added their fifth goal. Pickering’s shot rebounded off Gavin Jones and he put in the rebound.

Brocton had only scored six league goals prior to this evening and doubled their season’s tally in the 80th minute. Sam Bell exchanged passes as he moved upfield from defence and delivered a low cross from the right which Richard Jones fired at keeper Gavin Jones. Berks delivered the resulting corner from the right which Justin headed home for his second goal of the night.

The win lifted Brocton up a couple of places into ninth position, 15 points behind leaders Bolehall Swifts with four games in hand.

1-0 Gary Fife (13)
2-0 Ashley Justin (31)
3-0 Dan Lomas (49)
4-0 Dan Lomas (63)
5-0 Joe Pickering (70)
6-0 Ashley Justin (80)

Pen-y-ffordd 0 Coedpoeth United 1

Saturday 22nd October 2011
Pen-y-ffordd 0 Coedpoeth United 1
Guy Walmsley & Co Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
At: Castle Ground, Padeswood
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (32 pages)
Attendance: 80 (headcount)
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:02; second-half: 48:15

After moving to the Castle Ground at the start of the season, Pen-y-fforrd celebrated the official opening of their new ground this afternoon. Clearly evident was the tremendous amount of work put in to mark the occasion in style and I, for one, was made to feel extremely welcome. On the field, visitors Coedpoeth United ended Pen-y-fford’s unbeaten home league record with a 1-0 win, the goal scored midway through the second half.

After a club official sent me an email invitation earlier in the week describing the festivities and with today’s London Midland £10 vouchers sold out, I decided to head to North Wales in the hope that other football travellers would have the same idea as me – several did including Mike Latham, the Lollipop Man and Len with Ben the dog.

I would like to extend a cordial invite to you & your fellow non league enthusiasts to our official ground opening day this Saturday October 22nd. Pen-y-ffordd FC enjoyed great success last year gaining promotion to the Welsh National League Premier Division as champions of division 1. As a consequence of our success and due to the fact that we needed to meet Premier Division ground criteria, we were forced to move home from Abbotts Lane in Pen-y-ffordd to The Castle Ground at the Hanson Cement Works in Padeswood.
During a very busy close season, we managed to prepare a ground “from scratch” and in July had the ground passed as fit by the Welsh National League Inspection Committee.
We have played a number of home games already; however will be hosting an official opening day on Saturday 22nd October, when our first team host Coedpoeth FC. Festivities will commence at 12:00 when Stewart Jones, Plant Manager of Hansen Cement officially “opens” the ground. We shall be staging a couple of exhibition games in the lead up to the 14:30hrs kick off. The exhibitions will involve our junior teams & a short 5-a-side match for PFC vets against Hanson Cement vets. Complimentary teas & coffees will be on offer along with the sale of match day programmes, club badges, food & non alcoholic refreshments.
We would love to see you and any of your fellow non league enthusiasts at our event.

The village of Pen-y-ffordd is located south-west of Chester and north of Wrexham. The ground at the Hanson Cement Works in Padesford proved to be an easy find on the westbound A5118 from A55 junction 35a; a few hundred yards on the left after passing under the railway bridge.

The pitch was some 100 yards from the clubhouse/changing rooms building beyond the line of tall trees. It was fully-railed off with one dugout on each touchline bang on the half-way line. The playing surface was undulating, though not as extreme as Biggin, and didn’t spoil the flow of the game one bit. Programmes and badges were available from a table adjacent to the clubhouse, with a BBQ and refreshments tent close by. The place had the atmosphere of a groundhop game.

Welsh Cup and Welsh Trophy games played in various numbers by the 16 Premier Division teams had left the league table a bit 'higgledy-piggledy' with some clubs having played just six games and other nine or ten games. Pen-y-ffordd (11 points from 9 games) occupied ninth position, 10 points behind leaders Rhydymymn, with Coedpoeth United (6 points from 6 games) four positions below.

There were no fair-play handshakes and Coedpoeth (in green and yellow hoops, green shorts and yellow socks) got the game underway defending the far railway line end in the first half into the sun.

Chances were scarce in a feisty contest during the opening half hour. In the 34th minute, following a tackle on Coedpoeth’s John Griffiths, Pen-y-ffordd broke upfield through Nathan Lavender who was prevented from shooting by keeper Sam Davies who rushed off his line to block.

Lavender broke clear again six minutes later and this time steered a shot past the advancing Davies and agonisingly wide of the far right post.

Pen-y-ffordd (in red shirts, black shorts and black socks) made a bright start to the second half. Defender Adam Pugh fired inches wide of the left-hand post with Davies hurriedly scrambling to his right and also sent a downward header just wide of the target.

However, Coedpoeth scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 66th minute. Nick McCormick chased a ball down the middle and collided with onrushing keeper Jordan Baxter. The ball ran free for Kevin Breeze to lob into an empty net from 20 yards. Baxter got back but failed to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The home side pressed during the final ten minutes with Lavender, Marcus Davies and Phil Simons going close.

0-1 Kevin Breeze (66)

Stafford Town 7 Stone Old Alleynians 3

Tuesday 18th October 2011
Stafford Town 7 Stone Old Alleynians 3 (aet)
J. W. Hunt Cup First Round
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Attendance: 60 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:31; second-half: 49:51
Extra time (15): first-period: 15:58; second-period: 15:06

A lot for the admission money at Evans Park this evening – a local derby, extra time and ten goals with six scored by Stafford Town’s Sam Agar in a come-from behind victory for the Reds. Visitors Stone Old Alleynians took the lead on three occasions during the 90 minutes and each time Stafford Town got back on level terms through striker Sam Agar. Town raced ahead in extra time with four unanswered goals including three more from Agar and another scored by Craig Hulme.

Tonight was a first for me – the first time I have seen a J. W. Hunt Cup tie! The compeition was named in memory of John William Hunt, the founder of the Chillington Tool Company, who died in 1925. The Molineux Hotel in Wolverhampton hosted the inaugural Hunt Cup meeting when the cup was presented by members of the Hunt family. Short Heath United and Cannon Iron contested the first final at Molineux during the 1926/27 season, won 2-0 by Short Heath. It is a charity competition to raise funds for the sole benefit of the local blind. Stafford Town reached the final in 2010 and this season 32 teams have entered the competition.

Following Saturday 3-2 home win over Cradley Town, Stafford Town (17 points from 11 games) went into this tie in ninth position in the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division table. Stone Old Alleynians (18 points from 9 games) are also enjoying a good season in WM(R)L Division One and moved up to fifth position with a 2-1 win at Shenstone Pathfinder on Saturday.

On the coldest football night of the season so far, and the first one requiring a coat, Stafford Town (in all red) got the game underway attacking the cricket ground end in the first half.

While both sides created chances, Alleynians keeper Richard Stone was the busier with saves from Tom Smith and a couple to deny Sam Agar.

Alleynians (in black and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) had red numbers on the back of their shirts – so the help identify players I needed to note that: ‘9 lime green boots and gloves’, ‘2 orange boot heel, cream boots’, '4 captain’, ‘10 tall wearing gloves’, ‘8 sky blue boots’.

The visitors took the lead in the 42nd minute. Daryll Johns broke into the area down the left and got past advancing keeper Andy Heal who got tangled up with his own defender. Johns fired home from a narrow angle and claimed the goal even though defender Jordan Bloor and striker Matthew Wood could have got a touch on the line.

Town equalised in the 58th minute. Smith was brought down by Ben Henderson and Agar hammered home the free-kick from 25 yards out.

However, Alleynians regained the lead in the 68th minute with Johns on target again. James Cresswell burst into the area from the right and fired a low ball towards goal which Johns turned over the line at close range.

Scores were again level within 103 seconds. Agar latched onto a defence-splitting throughball which the visitors appealing for offside and slotted home at close range.

The goal rush continued three minutes later in spectacular fashion. Wood hit a dipping volley from the edge of the area over the leaping Heal and under the bar to put Alleynians ahead for the third time.

Town, keen to avoid an upset on their own turf, equalised for a third time in the 81st minute. Agar got on the end of a long ball down the middle and lifted it over keeper Richard Stone to complete his hat-trick.

Some 5½ minutes of stoppage time failed to produce a winner so extra time.

Stone got the extra 30 minutes underway attacking the south end of Evans Park. But it was Stafford who took the lead for the first time in first period stoppage time. Morgan Hurley cut in from the left, got past defender Adam Cunningham and fed Agar who sidefooted home at close range.

Now attacking the south end, Town extended their lead in the 108th minute. Agar fed Bloor who embarked on a run to the edge of the area before returning the ball for Agar to round Stone and slot into an empty net – now 5-3 to Stafford.

Alleynians weren’t down and Cresswell forced a good block out of Heal and Wood fired over after the loose ball wasn’t cleared.

Agar rounded off a memorable performance with his sixth goal of the night and 22nd goal for Town since joining Town earlier in the season. He exchanged passes with substitute Matt Buckham before firing home at close range past keeper Stone.

A seventh Town goal in the 118th minute rounded off the evening’s entertainment. Mat Dockerty fed Craig Hulme who fired home low from the edge of the area.

Town go into the hat for the second round draw along with Brocton who defeated Wolverhampton Sporting 4-1 at the nearby Old Police Sports Ground.

0-1 Daryll Johns (42)
1-1 Sam Agar (58)
1-2 Daryll Johns (68)
2-2 Sam Agar (69)
2-3 Matthew Wood (72)
3-3 Sam Agar (81)
4-3 Sam Agar (105+1)
5-3 Sam Agar (108)
6-3 Sam Agar (116)
7-3 Craig Hulme (118)

Hanwood United 2 Wellington Amateurs 1

Saturday 15th October 2011
Hanwood United 2 Wellington Amateurs 1
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1
At: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (32 pages)
Attendance: 65 (headcount)
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:58; second-half: 49:42

I remember thinking with around 10 minutes left that this game was the best 0-0 draw I’d seem for a long while. It was, until the most dramatic of dramatic conclusions which made the decision worthwhile to head again into Shropshire countryside and not continue my ‘Road to Wembley.

Visitors Wellington Amateurs went into the game with nine wins out of nine but looked to be running out of team to preserve their 100% record until Gavin Davies headed them in front in the 88th minute.

However, in stoppage time, Ollie Williams claimed a scrambled equaliser and amazingly Ben Houlston coolly netted the winner for Hanwood to stun the previously unbeaten league leaders.

FA Cup Third Qualifying Round day and my 2011/12 ‘Road to Wembley’ had visited Ascot United, Bloxwich United, Holbrook Sports, Thurnby Nirvana, Romulus (at Chasetown) and Thame United. Amongst the 40 ties today were just five at grounds I’d not previously visited though only one within two hours drive of home. Pondering where to head, I decided to forgo an FA Cup tie in preference for a top-of-the table league game with the added spice of being a local derby.

Wellington Amateurs (27 points from 9 games) headed along the A5 at the top of the West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1 table with a 100% record. Last Saturday they hammered Leominster Town 10-0. Home side Hanwood United (3rd position with 18 points from 9 games) had also made a decent start to the season but lost their unbeaten record last Saturday with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Stone Old Alleynians.

I found the ground without a hitch – on the A488 heading away from Shrewsbury at the western end of the village on the right-hand side just after the low railway bridge. The pitch ran widthways with the village hall behind the right-hand goal that had a two separate small stands in front – one with seats (Wheaty Stand) and the other covered standing (Frudgie Stand). Programmes were on sale inside the hall at the refreshments table and also for a seller walking around the pitch perimeter.

Hanwood (wearing all white) got the game underway in sunshine defending the Village Hall end in the first half. It quickly became clear this derby was going to be a feisty contest and the referee quickly asserted his authority with stiff words with several players as tackles went in and decisions were contested.

Amateurs (red shirts, black shorts and socks) created the early chances and Hanwood keeper Ashley Spittlehouse made a vital block to thwart Jamie Price who had a clear shot on goal. The keeper then produced a fine diving save to keep out a deflected free-kick in the 13th minute (see photo). Dan Beddows later fired straight at Spittlehouse and Danny Walne send a long-range put forward bouncing inside the area and over the bar.

As the interval approached, referee Tim Gregory needed to calm things down and told two offending players in no uncertain terms that “more shenanigans’ would result in cards. He pointed out it was a local derby and he was “trying to keep players on the field”. Certainly sound advice from a match official who, in my opinion, had a superb afternoon in the middle.

Hanwood returned to the changing rooms at half-time while Wellington decamped to the far end for their half-time team talk.

The visitors almost took the lead three minutes after the restart. Steve Faux delivered a deep corner who Gavin Davies fired towards goal and Chris Brownlow headed just wide.

Just after the hour mark, Mr Gregory again needed to remind the players that he wanted “to keep 22 men on the field”.

Hanwood, who had rarely threatened, enjoyed a spell of pressure midway through the second half, winning three corners in quick succession which put the Amateurs defence under pressure. Keeper Chris Worrall hurt his shoulder dealing with one of these corners and was forced out of the game after lengthy treatment. Outfield player Walne took over in goal and quickly produced a decent near post save under pressure to keep out Stewart Owen’s low shot.

With time running out for Wellington to find a goal, Spittlehouse parried a well-struck shot from Jamie Price and the ball was scrambled clear.

Eventually the deadlock was broken in the 88th minute when Wellington thought they’d scored the winner. The ball was played forward into the area from the right for Davies to glance a header into the bottom left corner out of the reach of the diving Spittlehouse.

That wasn’t the end of the drama, far from it.

In stoppage time, Hanwood won a free-kick on the right which was delivered into the area and forced over the line by ??? (see photo right). Was it an own goal or did a Hanwood player get the final touch? After the game I asked a club official who told me that “Ollie Williams recons it was him [who scored]”.

With over three minutes of injury time played, Ben Houlston stayed onside to break into the area and coolly slot home the winner past the helpless Walne. Amazing!

A word about the referee Tim Gregory – top marks from me for sensibly controlling a very competitive contest and for achieving his aim of keeping 22 men on the pitch.

One purpose of our hobby is to watch football on as many different grounds as possible. That was why I made a first visit to Hanwood this afternoon. In recent times I have enjoyed returning to previously visited ground and I’m sure I’ll made another trip to Hanwood during the next couple of years. Wellington Amateurs could do with a revisit as well to see the changes to the ground the retired trainer told me about.

0-1 Gavin Davies (88)
1-1 Ollie Williams (90+2)
1-2 Ben Houlston (90+4)

Goodrich 0 AFC Wulfrunians 3

Tuesday 14th October 2011
Goodrich 0 AFC Wulfrunians 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Goodrich Sports Ground
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Attendance: 80 (headcount)
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 48:16; second-half: 48:5

A second visit to Goodrich this season and this time round visitors AFC Wulfunians took the local bragging rights with three unanswered second-half goals in this Wolverhampton derby.

The win lifted Wulfrunians up four places in the Premier Division table to fifth position and, significantly, to within 14 points of the leaders Black Country Rangers with five games in hand.

I like Goodrich – a friendly club with programmes available at the gate, teamsheets easily obtained and refreshments available from a room at the side of the pavilion. Of course, a feature I really like is the stand!

Looking at the league table, Goodrich (18 points from 12 games) occupied seventh position with the visitors (16 points from 8 games) two positions below.

The referee wrong-footed me by lining up the teams facing the second pitch rather than the pavilion so the best I could do for the handshakes photo was one at the tail end with just a handful of Wulfrunians players still to meet the match officials.

On to the action and AFC Wulfrunians (in yellow and black halved shirts, yellow shorts, black socks) got the game underway attacking the pavilion end in the first half – a wholly appropriate description for this former cricket ground where I recall one playing.

Goodrich (wearing all red) could have taken the lead in the 11th minute Levi Chambers latched onto a forward ball inside the area, got past the advancing keeper Marc Evans before shooting over from a narrow angle.

Few clear-cut chances were created in the first half and I heard one person mention in the resfreshments room during the interval that there hadn’t been a shot on target. He must not have seen Goodrich almost take the lead… a close range header in the 17th minute from Jordan Lee which keeper Marc Evans pushed over the bar – well I suppose it wasn’t a shot! But three minutes later Wulfrunians Nathan Rose-Lang fired a shot on target straight at well-positioned Paul Fryer.

After the half hour, Andy Mitchell got on the end of a delicious left-wing cross from Ashley Burd but fired into the side netting at the far post. And just before the break, defender Graham Ashton was annoyed to have not hit the target with a close-range header from Burd’s corner.

On a mild, dry and windless evening, I saw the majority of the evening stood next to pitch barrier, though a trip to Goodrich isn’t complete without some time sat in the rather aforementioned and photographed unique stand.

Decent entertainment, just lacking a goal.

The ball finally ended up in the net just after the hour but Lee’s shot came after he was flagged for offside, just before Chris Rabone’s shot took a deflection and flew just wide of the Goodrich goal with Fryer wrong-footed. The visitors thought they’d scored in a scramble but again the flag was raised for offside. Still 0-0.

Eventually, AFC Wulfrunians edged ahead in the 76th minute. A quick throw on the left by Burd allowed Rose-Lang to find Rabone at the far right post. Rabone fed Michael Eagles who slotted home at the near post.

The lead was doubled six minute later. Danny Crudgington crossed from the right and Rose-Lang headed home.

In the closing stages, Evans dived to his right to push away a low shot from substitute James Machin, which could have made injury time interesting had it gone in.

But Wulrunians secured the points with a third goal in stoppage time. Ricky Anslow was bundled over inside the area and Crudgington confidently converted the resulting penalty.

0-1 Michael Eagles (76)
0-2 Nathan Rose-Lang (82)
0-3 Danny Crudgington (90+4 pen)

Wem Town 0 Trysull 4

Saturday 8th October 2011
Wem Town 0 Trysull 4
West Midlands (Regional) League Division One
At: Butler Sports Centre, Bowens Field, Wem
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £2-50 including 16 page programme
Weather: cloudy, dry, blustery wind
Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:49; second-half: 46:18

With plenty of choice today, I drew up a short list of six possible destinations and opted for a relatively short 78-mile round trip into Shropshire to the Butler Sports Centre, ground of today’s home side Wem Town and also Shawbury United.

Suprisingly, this was my first visit to the ground considering it is only 35 or so miles from home and two clubs share the venue.

This West Midlands (Regional) League Division One game pitted Wem, on a run of five league games without a win, against a Trysull side unbeaten in their last two games. And I suppose the game went true to recent form as the visitors won 4-0 even though Wem hit the bar three times.

The ground was located to the north of the town centre at the end of Bowens Field and from the car park the ground entrance was round to the right past the ‘Wem Sports Club’ gate. Programmes was available with admission from the paybox and the pitch ran widthways with the stand being to the left and containing around 114 blue seats in three blocks. Dugouts straddled the halfway line on the opposite touchline.

A plaque at the back of the stand above the players entrance remembers Les Butler, a founder member and devoted chairman 1968–1977. One of two other plaques commemorates that ‘The Centre was officially opened on behalf of Wem Sports and Social Organisation by Mr Billy Wright C.B.E. June 14th 1975. The third plaque remembers a former President.

After a decent start, 13th-placed Wem (6 points from 8 games) have found points hard to come by in recent weeks while Trysull (13 points from 9 games) occupied 7th spot in the 16-team division.

A one minute silence was observed in memory of Terry Davies. Teams changed ends and Wem (white shirts, red shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking what I described as the Town Centre, or right to left in relation to my seat in the stand.

Trysull (yellow shirts with blue sleeves, blue shorts and socks) wasted no time in taking the lead in the 4th minute. A long ball forward landed perfectly for Josh Wright on the edge of the area who lifted it over the advancing Wem keeper Ryan Ford into an unguarded net.

The visitors continued to dominate possession and Ford produced a fine save to keep out Jon Patrick’s 20-yard left-foot drive. Ford also needed to be alert to keep out another long-range effort from Anthony Blakeway.

A 25-yard drive from Steve Pritchard which flashed past the left-hand post was Wem’s best attempt on goal during the first half. However, Trysull doubled their lead in the 39th minute. From a left-wing corner, Daniel Patrick’s header was turned onto the bar but the same player fired home from the rebound.

“Get one back before half-time,” was the shout to the Wem players and Adam Jones almost responded by heading narrowly wide at the far post.

Trysull continued to create chances in the second half and netted a third goal just after the hour mark. Wright flicked home a low left-wing cross at the near post for his second goal of the game.

With all three substitutions made, Wem caused problems during the last 20 minutes. James Astley saw two efforts hit the bar while Jones sent a cross-cum-shot against the bar as well.

The afternoon’s scoring was completed in the 90th minute with Richard Watts’ glancing header and three points lifted Trysull up to fifth position, some nine points behind still 100% leaders Wellington Amateurs.

0-1 Josh Wright (4)
0-2 Daniel Patrick (39)
0-3 Josh Wright (63)
0-4 Richard Watts (90)