Castle Vale JKS 2 Bartley Green 0

Wednesday 25th January 2012
Castle Vale JKS 2 Bartley Green 0
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Vale Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1
Weather: mild, showers
Attendance: 53
Duration: first-half: 46:09; second-half: 49:35

This was my fourth visit to the Vale Stadium where, tonight, first-half goals from Alex Henrey and Nathan Thompson gave Castle Vale JKS maximum points against Bartley Green in a game between two sides at the wrong end of the Premier Division table.

The Vale Stadium, easily spotted from the M6 down to the left between junctions 5 and 4, was opened in 1998 as the new home of Paget Rangers. I visited for the first time in March 2000 when Stafford Rangers played Paget and won 2-0. But, two years later, Paget had folded and subsequently the Vale Stadium become home to Continental Star, Castle Vale and Castle Vale JKS. This season, following a move by Castle Vale to groundshare with Boldmere St Michaels, Castle Vale JKS to my knowledge are now the sole Saturday club using the ground.

Before tonight’s game, both Castle Vale (19 points from 22 games) and Bartley Green (13 points from 19 games) occupied 14th and 16th positions, respectively, in the 17-team Premier Division.

Bartley Green (in red shirts, black shorts and black socks) got the game underway attacking the M6 end in the first half and defending into the slanting rain.

No real scoring opportunities were created until Castle Vale JKS took the lead in the 9th minute. Leroy Williams broke down the right on the break and crossed low into the area. Nathan Thompson saw his initial shot parried by Bartley goalkeeper Aaron Gayle but Alex Henrey, who had raced forward from midfield slotted home the loose ball from 10 yards out.

Bartley were awarded a free-kick on the left which Martel McGreevy fired across the face of goal from a narrow angle and just wide of the far post.

The visitors had one last chance for a consolation goal in stoppage time. McGreevy delivered a free-kick from the right into the JKS area where Simon Redhead sent a first-time volley over the bar. I think they deserved a goal for their second-half showing.

JKS almost made it 2-0 in the 19th minute. Williams took full advantage of an awkwardly bouncing ball just inside the visitors half and took it forward. When his path was blocked, he laid the ball off to Thompson who curled a shot just wide.

The home side didn’t have to wait long to double their lead. On the half hour, Williams again fed Thompson who this time finished with an unstoppable right-foot volley from the edge of the area which drew applause and “great goal” comments.

I watched the game in the company of ‘Albion Steve’ who I’d last seen at Brocton back in November. During the first sat behind, on the back row, a young referee was observing the game with, I presume, his coach/mentor who was explaining the decisions by referee on the field. It certainly made interesting listening for me being a former unsuccessful referee and a lot more successful linesman.

Bartley should have pulled a goal back in the 42nd minute and I’m sure that Carl Tromans won’t want reminding about his miss. Put clear on the right inside the area and with Odane Barnes unmarked in front of goal, Tromans went for goal himself and saw his weak shot saved by Mark Hadden.

At half-time, there were two choices – back into the bar area or find the source of cups of tea. The lure of a warm drink won me over and mobile Kinsbury CafĂ© by the turnstile came up trumps with tea and chips!

With a two-goal deficit to close, Bartley Green needed to make a bright start to the second half and did just that. Three minutes after the break, Barnes broke down right, cut-in and fired into the near sidenetting. As the visitors continued to threaten, McGreevy found Anthony Miller on the edge of the area. Miller, with his back to goal, turned and sent a right-foot hsot just wide of the far right-hand post.

JKS responded. Thompson, on the break, looked to get clear until Craig Collingwood’s tackle saved a possible goal.

Around the hour mark, mark Rollins’ header was scrambled clear inside the JKS area and, in the next attack, McGreevy went down under Ricky Willars’ challenge but the referee waived away mild appeals for a penalty.

Shortly after, as Bartley kept pressing, McGreevy tried to catch out Hadden with a ‘banana-like’ curling free-kick but the keeper remained alert to save.

If Thompson’s goal drew comments like ‘great goal’, I wonder what superlatives would Henrey’s effort have attracted had ne scored the game’s third goal in the 69th minute. Found by Phil Collins’ cross, Henrey attempted a Rooneyeque scissor kick (the one from the Man City game last season) which missed the right-hand post by inches.

A minute later, Henrey attempted the shot again, this time from Williams’ cross, but failed to make clear contract with the ball.

As the game headed towards full-time, a club official came round with one of those football cards. I chose ‘Clydebank’ though, as the winner was to be announced after full-time, I couldn’t wait to find out if I’d won. On my past record with raffles and competitions, probably ‘not’!

With the driving rain returning, Bartley Green had one last chance in stoppage time to get on the scoresheet. McGreevy delivered a free-kick into the area which Simon Redhead volleyed over the bar. I think they deserved a goal for their second-half performance.

So, the end of my fourth visit to Vale Stadium and the first time that the home side had taken maximum points after Paget’s defeat to Stafford Rangers (2000), Castle Vale’s draw with Southam United (2008) and JKS’s heavy 6-0 defeat at the hands of Brocton (2010).

1-0 Alex Henrey (9)
2-0 Nathan Thompson (30)