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)