Red Star Alma 4 Sikh Hunters 0

Saturday 31st March 2012
Red Star Alma 4 Sikh Hunters 0
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2
At: Bentley Youth FC
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: mild, cloudy, dry
Attendance: 17 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 49:00; second-half: 50:56

I needed to stay close to home this afternoon and, in any case, didn’t fancy travelling too far after getting back from Castleford after midnight. So, as I’d not previously visited Bentley Youth’s ground near M6 Junction 10, this West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2 game chose itself. Both sides occupied the top two positions in last season’s Wolverhampton Combination table and it was champions Red Star Alma who came out on top with two unanswered goals in each half.

Red Star Alma (red/black/black): 1. Paul Birch, 2. Matthew Heaton, 3. Dave Richards, 4. Daniel Percox, 5. James Dinham (capt), 6. Craig Smallman, 7. Alan Perkins, 8. Sam Roberts, 9. Ben Johnson, 10. Daniel Green, 11. Sammy Causton. Subs: 12. Anthony Pennright (for Dinham, 78), 13. Simon Dunn (for Smallman, 90+4), 14. Cleve Belle (for Causton, 59). Manager: Fred Dinham.

Sikh Hunters (blue/white/blue): 1. Amrick Panesar, 2. Bhalwinder Singh, 3. Keiral Lail, 4. Kiran Singh (capt), 5. Mandeep Singh, 6. Amandeep Sandher, 7. Hrindeep Gill, 8. Dwane Battison, 9. Justin Gerguson, 10. Rakesh Mal, 11. Jannder Rahra. Subs: 12. Lembel Singh (not used), 13. Verinder Singh (for Mal, 58), 14. Vinash Karara (for Lail, ht), 15. Ramondeep Jhooty (not used). Manager: Sunny Johal.

1-0 Sam Roberts (14)
2-0 Ben Johnson (25 pen)
3-0 Ben Johnson (77)
4-0 Sam Roberts (90+6)

Red Star Alma: Alan Perkins (YC, 69), Daniel Green (YC, 76)
Sikh Hunters: none

Castleford Tigers 34 Hull KR 30

Friday 30th March 2012
Castleford Tigers 34 Hull Kingston Rovers 30
Stobart Super League
At: PROBIZ Colliseum
Kick-off: 8-00 pm
Admission: £20 + £3 (stand transfer); Programme: £3 (64 pages)
Weather: mild, dry, breeze blowing into main stand
Attendance: 6855
Duration (40): first-half: 43:15; second-half: c43:00

This evening was one of highs and lows – a high that Castleford Tigers had won an exciting game with a very late try and a low of finding out when I got home that my wife’s step-sister had passed away after a long illness.

Castleford Tigers (amber/black/black): 1. Richard Owen; 2. Nick Youngquest, 4. Kirk Dixon, 17. Lee Mitchell, 5. Josh Griffin; 6. Rangi Chase, 7. Danny Orr; 12. Jonathon Walker, 9. Daryl Clark, 22. Nathan Massey, 11. Brett Ferres, 21. Oliver Holmes, 8. Jacob Emmett. Interchange: 23. Ryan McGoldrick, 13. Steve Snitch, 14. Stuart Jones, 20. Grant Millington.

Hull Kingston Rovers (white/white/white): 1. Shannon McDonnell; 29. Liam Salter, 18. Graeme Horne, 3. Kris Welham, 5. David Hodgson; 19. Scott Murrell, 7. Michael Dobson; 8. Joel Clinton, 14. Lincoln Withers, 22. Scott Wheeldon, 11. Constantine Mika, 9. Josh Hodgson, 15. Liam Watts. Interchange: 23. Mickey Paea, 10. Scott Taylor, 13. Rhys Lovegrove, 20. Jordan Cox.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Touch Judges: G. Stokes and P. Grandill.

Castleford: Tries: Youngquest 2, Griffin, Owen, Dixon, Orr; Goals: Dixon 5
Hull KR: Tries: Welham 3, J. Hodgson, Withers; Goals: Dobson 5
0-4 Kris Welham (try)
0-4 Michael Dobson (missed conversion)
4-4 Josh Griffin (try)
6-4 Kirk Dixon (conversion)
6-8 Kris Welham (try)
6-10 Michael Dobson (conversion)
10-10 Nick Youngquest (try)
12-10 Kirk Dixon (conversion)
16-10 Richard Owen (try)
18-10 Kirk Dixon (conversion)
18-14 Josh Hodgson (try)
18-16 Michael Dobson (conversion)
18-20 Kris Welham (try)
18-22 Michael Dobson (conversion)
18-26 Lincoln Withers (try)
18-28 Michael Dobson (conversion)
22-28 Kirk Dixon (try)
22-28 Kirk Dixon (missed conversion)
22-30 Michael Dobson (penalty goal)
26-30 Danny Orr (try)
28-30 Kirk Dixon (conversion)
32-30 Nick Youngquest (try)
34-30 Kirk Dixon (conversion)

Stafford Town 0 Darlaston Town 1

Saturday 24th March 2012
Stafford Town 0 Darlaston Town 1
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Weather: sunny, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:30; second-half: 50:55

I felt a real sense of disappointment as I left Evans Park as, before the game, I was sure Stafford Town would mark my Dad’s first visit to the ground (and his first match anywhere this season) with a win. Bottom-of-the-league Darlaston Town took the lead against the run of play and held on to record only their fourth league win of the season despite Stafford creating a host of chances. The win, which followed up one at Bromyard in their last match on Tuesday, lifted ‘Darlo’ off the foot of the table for the first time this season.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Andy LeFeaver, 2. Wayne Bailey, 3. Jordan Bloor, 4. Sam Cowlishaw, 5. Dave Woodvine, 6. Mat Dockerty, 7. Carl Morris (capt), 8. John Kirby, 9. Morgan Hurley. 17. John Gaughan, 11. Matt Buckham. Subs: 12. Sean O’Callaghan (for Morris, 65), 14. Josh Anderson (not used), 15. Rhys Baker (not used), 16. Craig Hulme (not used), 17. Olly Parker (not used). Manager: Steve Dockerty.

Darlaston Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. Andy Aston, 2. Emmanual Guyes, 3. Daryl Westwood, 4. Dale Blackham, 5. Nick Lewis, 6. Aidrian Horton (capt), 7. Dennis Robinson, 8. Ricky Kelly, 9. Kev Mowchow, 10. Steve Mason, 11. Asure Coby. Subs: 12. Lumumba Boniface (for Westwood, 53), 14. Grant Winwood (for Lewis, 58), 15. Rob Elcock (not used), 16. Yanick Riches (for Mason, 74), 17. Dan Gabbidon (not used). Manager: Dave Edgley.

Referee: Trevor Sharratt.

0-1 Kev Monchow (20)

Stafford: Jordan Bloor (YC, 22)
Darlaston: Nick Lewis (YC, 49)

Glapwell 0 Parkhouse 2

Saturday 17th March 2012
Glapwell 0 Parkhouse 2
Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League Black Dragon North
At: Hall Corner
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: Hop ticket (£3); Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: mild, showers
Attendance: 201
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 46:55

On the way back to Stafford from Appleby Frodingham, I deviated off the M1 to watch the 7-30 pm final Bonanza game – my third game of the day. Home side Glapwell were members of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South last season but decided to drop several steps down the pyramid in order to survive. They have struggled this season (currently second from bottom) and went down 2-0 to visitors Parkhouse FC though gained a boost with an attendance of 201 as well as healthy sales of food and memorabilia.

Glapwell (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Jamie Davies, 2. Tim Grundy, 3. Jay Whalley, 4. Jordan Johnson, 5. Alex Marsh, 6. Ross Murcott (capt), 7. Mark Robinson. 8. Callum Green, 9. Ben Carless, 10. Kye Martey, 11. Josh Goodhand. Subs: 12. Tom Robley (for Carless, 58), 14. Richard Preston (not used), 15. Adam Jones (for Martey, 68), 16. Rob Holland (not used), 17. Lee Hole (for Grundy, 81).

Parkhouse (orange/white/orange): 1. Jason Gough, 2. Luke Beatson, 3. Jody Green (capt), 4. Chris Sharman, 5. Carl Whitford, 6. James Gee-Pemberton, 7. John Parsons, 8. James Goodison, 9. Michael Wain, 10. Lee Clay, 11. Ant Lynam. Subs: 12. Danny Gee (not used), 14. Mark Needham, (for Parsons, 56) 15. Danny Bradbury (not used), 16. Jake Tittley (for Green, 50), 17. Nathan Styles (for Lynam, 69).

Referee: Steve Abbott.
Assistants: Roy Hogarth and Andy Bills.

0-1 Lee Clay (23)
0-2 Michael Wain (73)

Glapwell: Ross Murcott (YC, 29), Chris Sharman (YC, 33)
Parkhouse: none

Appleby Frodingham 1 Askern Villa 2

Saturday 17th March 2012
Appleby Frodingham 1 Askern Villa 2
Baris Northern Counties East League Division 1
At: Brumby Hall Sports Ground, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Weather: sunny spells
Attendance: 44
Duration: first-half: 46:02; second-half: 50:22

This Baris Northern Counties East League Division 1 game between Appleby Frodingham, the Steelmen, and Askern Villa attracted me as the home side were rock bottom of the table with just eight points. Could I bring them some luck? Their neat and tidy fully-enclosed Brumby Hall Sports Ground with lights boasts a 49-seat stand as well as additional covered standing in front of a substantial social club building. It is part of a much larger sports/leisure complex with, I believe, connections to Tata Steel. After a scrappy first half, Askern were reduced to ten men before they twice found the net. The Steelmen reduced the deficit but couldn’t find an equaliser and also finished with ten men.

Appleby Frodingham (red and black halves / black / black): 1. Samir Owen, 2. Simon Welton, 3. David Bocock, 4. Richard Girling, 5. Jon-Paul Broughton, 6. Matthew Robinson (capt), 7. Paul Tait, 8. Nathan Millington, 9. Scott McKay, 10. Ben Shipman, 11. James Hare. Subs: 12. Gareth Bailey (not used), 14. Josh Reid (not used), 15. Darren Fogg (not used), 16. Simon Shorthose (not used).

Askern Villa (black and white stripes / white / white): 1. Liam Copley, 2. Ryan Watson, 3. Luke Atkinson, 4. Josh Gibbons, 5. Steven Knifton (capt), 6. Bradley Johnston, 7. Adam Deakin, 8. Jamie Sherlock, 9. Mel Cotton, 10. Gary Collier, 11. Ashley Towler. Subs: 12. Matty Holmes (for Towler, 74), 14. Mike Braithwaite (for Johnston, 66), 15. Jordan Irwin (not used), 16. Regis Muanbu (not used).

Referee: Danny Cook.
Assistants: Tom Dalziel and Pattrick Wyatt.

0-1 Mel Cotton (57)
0-2 Luke Atkinson (67)
1-2 Scott McKay (80)

Appleby Frodingham: Simon Welton (YC, 15), Paul Tait (YC, 27), David Bocock (YC, 66), Scott McKay (YC, 71), David Bocock (YC/RC, 90+1)
Askern Villa: Bradley Johnston (YC, 30), Ryan Watson (RC, 48)

Clifton 3 Real United 0

Saturday 17th March 2012
Clifton 3 Real United 0
Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League Black Dragon South
At: Norman Archer Memorial Ground
Kick-off: 10-10 am
Admission: Hop ticket (£3); Programme: £1 (A3 folded to A5 size)
Weather: cloudy, weak sunny spells
Attendance: 267
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 45:00

The ninth Central Midlands League Bonanza commenced last night at Bilborough Pelican and continued with this early 10-10am kick-off, the first of four staggered kick-offs today to attract hoards of groundhoppers. A decent crowd of 267, which included numerous familiar faces, saw Clifton eventually get the better of a well-organised Real United with three unanswered second-half goals.

I made a late decision to purchase an advance ticket, which organiser Rob Hornby posted to me even though I missed the deadline by a day. As the Welsh hop organiser recently wrote in a email to me: ‘One day - one day - you are going to get a ticket well in advance.....!!!’. I’ll try!

My plan today was to watch two Bonanza games – this one at Clifton and the last one at Glapwell – and pick my own 3-00 pm kick-off while the hoppers visited Basford and Dronfield.

I’d visited the Norman Archer Memorial Ground, albeit briefly, once before in May 2004 when the ground was simply named ‘Green Lane’. That Saturday afternoon, Clifton’s home Notts Alliance Senior Division game was abandoned after just 25 minutes due to a serious injury which required the attendance of an air ambulance.

The ground, located to the south-west of Nottingham city centre, was fully railed off with a stand down one side to provide covered standing. At the moment there are no floodlights.

As with most hops there were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd and before kick-off there was time to chat with the likes of Laurence Reade, 'Stourbridge Tim' and Mike Greaves (aka Ancient Wolf) who told me he didn't want a lift to Basford after all. During the first half, I spotted 'Fareham Splodge' being interviewed by a Norwegian TV camera crew!

Going into the game, Clifton (7th with 38 points from 22 games) and Real United (13th with 20 points from 23 games) were separated by 18 points. Clifton were certainly in good form and last Saturday’s 7-1 win at Blidworth extended their current unbeaten run to seven league games. Walking around the ground before kick-off, I overhead the Real manager encourage his side with the fact they were “five matches unbeaten on grass”. True as their last away defeat came back in October at Newark.

“Nice and vocal, we need it today,” were the final instructions to the home side from the dugout and it was visitors Real who got the game underway to the shout of “from the off”. The visitors attacked the clubhouse end in the first half.

Clifton (in all white) made a bright start and could have taken the lead during the opening 12 minutes. Michael Evans, who according to the programme has scored 99 senior goals for the club, sent a 30-yard free-kick straight at Real goalkeeper Dan Argyle who gathered at the second attempt. Argyle produced a diving save to keep out a shot from Chris Atkins and, in the 12th minute did very well to save Will Heath’s header from Craig Anderson’s cross (photo right, Heath wearing 11).

Real’s first chance came on the quarter hour but Kieron Whalin fired a free-kick into the wall.

Though Clifton were the better side, they found Real’s defence well organised and were frequently caught offside, prompting one comment on the half-hour of “boys, how many times are we going to be offside”. When the flag stayed down, Heath shot over the bar from 20 yards out.

Now attacking the changing rooms end, Clifton finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Heath’s left-wing corner, played deep, was headed back towards goal and Atkins headed home his fifth league goal of the season (photo right, note the ice cream van behing the goal).

Real could have equalised five minutes later when substitute Blake Anderson started and finished a move by firing straight at Clifton goalkeeper Joe Parlatt from the edge of the area.

Clifton doubled their lead just after the hour mark through captain Craig Anderson. From 12 yards out near the left corner of the area, he lifted a shot up into the air which dropped into the far side of the net (photo right).

Lively Real substitute Remi Horda forced a save out of Parlatt, and in the 70th minute, saw another shot blocked by a defender.

As the game became littered with free-kicks - Real's no. 11 Whalin picked up a booking for a couple of fouls in quick succession - Ben Richardson dribbled past several Real defenders into the area but couldn’t get in a shot. The announcement of the winning raffle ticket doesn’t usually excite me with my record – today my ticket was a narrow three away from the winner!

In the closing stages, Real tried to reduce the deficit and set up what would have been an exciting finale. Dalton Stephens ended a run into the area by driving over the bar and Alfa Gray fired straight at Parlatt.

There was another goal … and it went to Clifton with just about the last kick of the game. Andy Davies fed Ben Richardson who sidefooted home from 8 yards out (photo right).

Overall, an especially good morning with the camera and a photo of all three goals! The hoppers headed for Basford for the second leg of today’s ‘four in a day’ and Mike quietly headed for Attenborough, though I’d not seen him since before kick-off. I decided to leave Basford for another day and instead headed straight for M1 junction 26 and onwards to the M18, with Appleby Frodingham my preferred destination.

Clifton (white/white/white): 1. Joe Parlatt, 2. Michael Bannister, 3. Lee Torr, 4. Stuart Robinson, 5. Vaughan Harvey, 6. Jake Richardson, 7. Ben Richardson, 8. Craig Anderson (capt), 9. Chris Atkins, 10. Michael Evans, 11. Will Heath. Subs: 12. Dorian Miller (for Atkins, 59), 14. Ryan Stark (for Evans, 71), 15. Michael Holtham (not used), 16. Andy Davies (for Heath, 72), 17. Alex Haughton (not used).

Real United (grey/grey/grey): 1. Dan Argyle, 2. Jake Edwards, 3. Jonathan Ventrella, 4. Justin Pinnock, 5. Matt Ottley, 6. Jamie Charlton, 7. Anton Daniels, 8. Marcus Bulk, 9. Germayne Hunt, 10. Dalton Stephens (capt), 11. Kieron Whalin. Subs: 12. Hisham Cromer (not used), 14. Alfa Gray (for Whalin, 81), 15. Remi Horda (for Hunt, 62), 16. David Smith (not used), 17. Blake Anderson (for Daniels, 53).

Referee: G. Lawson.
Assistants: L. Turner and M. Massingham.

1-0 Chris Atkins (52)
2-0 Craig Anderson (61)
3-0 Ben Richardson (90)

Clifton: Michael Evans (YC, 67)
Real: Kieron Whalin (YC, 77)

Stafford Town 1 Lye Town 4

Tuesday 13th March 2012
Stafford Town 1 Lye Town 4
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Attendance: 42 (headcount)
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 46:13; second-half: 47:22

Stafford Town’s bid to earn a place in next season’s FA Cup suffered another blow as Lye scored two goals in each half to inflict a heavy defeat on the Reds. The visitors scored twice during the opening 17 minutes before Stafford were reduced to ten men just before the hour mark. A spectacular strike from Morgan Hurley reduced the deficit but Lye hit back with two further unanswered goals.

According to the entry requirements of the FA Cup, ‘clubs in Step 6 of The FA National League System finishing in a League position 1-4 of the season just completed’ will be ‘automatically accepted subject to the ground conforming to the minimum standard’. Also, ‘Clubs playing in Step 6 of The FA National League System finishing in a League position below 4th of the season just completed… to be accepted subject to available places and subject to the ground conforming to the minimum standard’. The West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division is a Step 6 league.

So with Wolverhampton Casuals booking a place in this year’s FA Cup by finishing last season in 12th position, both Stafford Town (currently 16th) and Lye Town (18th) still need to pick up points to climb a few vital positions up the table. The Reds last competed in the competition in 2003/04 and reached the Third Qualifying Round in 2000/01. I remember visiting Lye twice with Stafford Rangers in the FA Cup in 1985 and 1989; Stan Collymore played for Rangers in that 1989 tie.

Stafford Town (34 points from 29 games) went into this game looking to end a five-match run in the league and cup. They had also failed to score in each of the last three games though picked up a point with a 0-0 draw at Wednesfield on Saturday. Visitors Lye Town (31 points from 30 games) stood two places below the Reds in the table having played a game more. They arrived at Evans Park looking to extend their two-match unbeaten run.

Tonight was a bit different to the ‘norm’ for me as ‘GroundhopUK Chris’ and ‘Avenue Graeme’ provided good company during the game on what was their first visit to Evans Park. I also chatted to a couple of football travellers from Middlewich in the hospitality room before kick-off, as well as my usual chats with ‘Motty’ and Dave the Secretary whose help I always appreciative. Peter Baker, with whom I watched the first half last Tuesday, must have been elsewhere.

Lye (in a change kit of all white) got the game underway defending the cricket ground end in the first half. Both sides created a chance during the opening four minutes and, for Stafford, Morgan Hurley saw a low angled shot from the left kept out by the boot of Lye goalkeeper Charles Price.

The visitors took a 9th-minute lead with a simple goal. Danny Priest got to the right bye-line and crossed low for Stuart Lewis to clinically slot home at close range. It got even better for Lye when they added a second goal seven minutes later. There were no visible protests after the referee awarded a penalty for a foul by Mark Johnson on Priest inside the area – Damien Whitcombe confidently smashed the ball past Andy LeFeaver from the spot.

Stafford won three corners in quick succession after the half-hour mark as they looked to get back in contention and Hurley got a 30-yard free-kick on target which Price gathered up.

As usual, we headed for the Tea Bar hatch at the half-time where ‘Avenue Graeme’ picked-up an STFC badge – something for badge collectors to know in advance of any future trip to Evans Park.

With a two-goal deficit to overturn, Stafford’s task was made harder in the 54th minute with the dismissal of Jordan Bloor, presumable for something he said to Mr Gould, as Lye weren’t awarded a free-kick.

However, the ten men of Stafford creditably halved the deficit in the 58th minute, just four minutes after Bloor departed. Hurley hit a 30-yard volley over the head of Price and straight into the net, a spectacular way to end the Reds’ 398-minute goal drought.

Spirits noticeably lifted amongst the Stafford players though there was a scare when Lewis’s long-range effort from out on the right rebounded off the bar.

Lye restored their two-goal advantage in the 64th minute. Josh Evitts fed Priest who hit the bar with a close-range range and the ball rebounded kindly for Reece Shivlock to slot home his side’s third goal.

Steve Bull was a little fortunate to escape with just a booking for chopping down Hurley which prompted a shout from the sidelines for the visitors to “all of you calm down”.

Lye continued to create chances as they pressed forward. Whitcombe drove over on the run from fully 30-yards out and Shivlock sent another shot flashing past the right-hand post. LeFeaver produced an excellent save to tip Ashley Greenaway’s free-kick onto the bar and over for a corner.

Lewis scored his second goal and Lye’s fourth in the 84th minute. Just like the third, the woodwork played a part as Lewis slotted home a rebound after Kane Haw’s initial shot hit the Stafford bar.

Stafford remain in 15th position while Lye now on the same number of points, move up one position to 16th with the win. League leaders Black Country Rangers visit Evans Park on Saturday.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Andy LeFeaver, 2. Olly Parker, 3. Mark Johnson, 4. Wayne Bailey, 5. Matt Ainger, 6. Rob Tomlinson, 7. Carl Morris (capt), 8. Mat Dockerty, 9. Gary Beasley, 17. Morgan Hurley, 11. Jordan Bloor. Subs: 12. Seaon O’Callaghan (for Parker, 81), 14. John Kirby (for Bailey, 59), 15. Kirtis Monson (not used), 16. Adam Price (not used), 18. Dave Woodvine (not used). Manager: Steve Dockerty.

Lye Town (white/white/white): 1. Charles Price, 2. Lee Jukes, 3. Lawrence Brown, 4. Ian Millward, 5. Ashley Greenaway, 6. Steve Bull, 7. Reece Shivlock, 8. Damien Whitcombe (capt), 9. Stuart Lewis, 10. Danny Priest, 11. Josh Evitts. Subs: 12. Kane Haw (for Evitts, 75), 14. Jake Dickinson (for Priest, 88), 15. Matt Price (not used), 16. Craig Jukes (not used), 17. Darren Goodall (not used). Joint Managers: Darren Goodall and Martin Thomas.

Referee: Richard Gould.
Assistants: James Clements and Simon King.

0-1 Stuart Lewis (10)
0-2 Damien Whitcombe (17 pen)
1-2 Morgan Hurley (58)
1-3 Reece Shivlock (64)
1-4 Stuart Lewis (84)

Stafford: Mat Dockerty (YC, 30), Jordan Bloor (RC, 54)
Lye: Ian Millward (YC, 51), Steve Bull (YC, 67)

New Quay 1 Maesglas 2

Saturday 10th March 2012
New Quay 1 Maesglas 2
Ceredigion League Division 1
At: Parc Athur
Kick-off: 4-10 pm
Admission: Hop ticket (£4); Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: cloudy, dry, mild
Attendance: 276
Duration: first-half: 45:23; second-half: 47:25

On paper, the final game of the Saturday ‘treble’ looked to be the best and it certainly lived up to a billing as a top-of-the-table clash in the Ceredigion League. New Quay is around 7 miles south of Aberaeron, so was calmly reached well in time for a 4-10 pm kick-off. The home side went into the game unbeaten in the league and faced Cardigan-based leaders Maesglas. The crowd of 276 saw both sides score just before half-time. A draw looked the likely outcome until Maesglas scored a very late winner with a freak goal – a free-kick from the half-way line that deceived the New Quay defence and keeper as it went straight into the net. Though a very narrow pitch, Parc Arthur is a decent ground which boasts an area of covered standing in front of the modern changing rooms building.

New Quay (green/black/black): 1. Simon Church, 2. Dave Evans, 3. Eifion Jones, 4. Greg Johnson, 15. Gareth Evans, 16. Jason Thomas, 7. Chris Atkinson (capt), 8. Charlie Dent, 14. Charles Harvey, 10. Jamie Thompson, 11. Craig Richardson. Subs: 5. David Evans (for Richjardson, 63), 6. Wyn Morgan (for Dent, 63), 9. Jonny James (for Thomas, 76).

Maesglas (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Rhodri Jones, 14, Darren Dayiss, 3. Richard Evans, 4. Darren Williams, 5. Dafydd George (capt), 6. Mark James, 7. Chris Morgan, 8. Matthew Smith, 9. Llifon Howell, 10. Peter Almond, 11. Aled Rees. Subs: 12. Dylan Davies (not used), 15. Ricky Holmes (not used).

Referee: Meirion Evans.
Assistants: club linesmen.

0-1 Peter Almond (38)
1-1 Charles Harvey (42)
1-2 Richard Evans (88)

New Quay: Dave Evans (YC, 10), David Evans (YC, 69), Jamie Thompson (RC, 86)
Maesglas: Richard Evans (YC, 19), Chris Morgan (YC, 72), Chris Morgan (YC/RC, 90+1)

Aberaeron Town 3 Machynlleth 1

Saturday 10th March 2012
Aberaeron Town 3 Machynlleth 1
Spar Mid-Wales League Division 2
At: The Square
Kick-off: 1-30 pm
Admission: Hop ticket (£4); Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Weather: dry, mild
Attendance: 224
Duration: first-half: 45:15; second-half: 48:26

From Aberystwyth University’s Vicarage Field ground, it was a 16-mile drive down the A487 to the picturesque seaside town of Aberaeron for the second match of the day. Visitors for this 1-30 pm kick-off were Machynlleth and a crowd of 224 saw the home side record a 3-1 victory. The pitch, named The Square, is hemmed in by ‘Ballamory’-style painted houses, and lacked any spectator or player facilities – that really didn't matter in a such a stunning location or a nice dry afternoon.

Aberaeron Town (yellow/black/yellow): 1. Barry Edwars, 2. Simon Bray, 3. Mathew Clarke, 4. Sion Clarke, 5. Rhodri Edwards, 6. Rhydian Davies, 7. Steffan Gruffudd (capt), 8. Richard Thomas, 9. James Hemmings, 10. Ryan Jones, 11. Gareth Lewis. Subs: 14. Simon Maczak (not used), 15. Anthony Tedaldi (for Lewis, 88), 16. Llewellyn Lloyd (for Jones, 88).

Machynlleth ( blue and white stripes / blue / blue): 13. Simon Gates, 2. Sion Williams, 3. Dale Thomas, 4. Max Jones, 5. Rob Davies, 6. Sion Jones (capt), 7. Jack Petri, 8. Mike Price, 9. Kurt Jarman, 10. Simon Davies, 11. Ben Thomas. Subs: 12. Tony Edwards (for Price, 81), 14. Duncan Vaughn (not used).

Referee: Paul Morgan.
Assistants: J. Davies and K. Davies.

1-0 Ryan Jones (20)
1-1 Kurt Jarman (60)
2-1 Ben Thomas (63 og)
3-1 Rhydian Davies (85)

Aberaeron: Steffan Gruffudd (YC, 68), James Hemmings (YC, 75)
Machynlleth: Mike Price (YC, 51)

Aberystwyth University 0 Bow Street 1

Saturday 10th March 2012
Aberystwyth University 0 Bow Street 1
Spar Mid-Wales League Division 1
At: Vicarage Field
Kick-off: 10-30 am
Admission: Hop ticket (£4); Programme: £1
Weather: dry, mild, misty
Attendance: 236
Duration: first-half: 48:22; second-half: 47:14

Three games today and I headed over early on Saturday morning to Aberystwyth for the Spar Mid-Wales League Division 1 game between Aberystwyth University and near neighbours Bow Street, which kicked-off at 10-30 am. The students haven’t had it easy on the field this season and went into this game second-from-bottom in the table. However, they raised their game and, despite being reduced to ten men just before the interval, looked to be heading for a valuable goalless draw. But, Bow Street finished strongly and snatched the points with a late winner by substitute Lee Jones before a crowd of 236. As a rare bonus, I won a prize on the raffle!

During the 1990s, I occasionally saw the students play on a Sunday at places like Machynlleth, Vale of Arrow and Montgomery. I also saw them host Prestigne St Andrews at the Vicarage Field in November 1992. Things change over 20 years and, with the University owning a few playing fields in and around Aberystwyth, I wasn’t sure if the current ground was the same one I’d previously visited. It was, orientated parallel with the road as before though the old stand has been demolished.

Aberystwyth University (14th position with 10 points from 18 games) went into this fixture in second-from-bottom with just Welshpool below them. Visitors Bow Street (24 points from 23 games) were three places higher in the 15-team division, having drawn their last two league games.

The Vicarage Field is a large multi-sport recreation ground catering for football, rugby and cricket. As it was in 1992, the pitch runs close-to and parallel with the main Llanbadarn Road, and now has a small area on covered standing on half-way on the road side.

As with any hop game, the place was buzzing. Badges and raffle tickets were on sale from a table near the entrance. Three students attracted attention selling raffle tickets walking around the pitch!

Briefly, the students were reduced to ten men just before half-time when Gareth Thomas received a straight red card for a two-footed tackle on Neil Evans who had to be substituted.

Winning raffle tickets were drawn at the interval and, surprise, surprise, mine was fourth out of the bag. My prize – a Cheryl Cole poster and head massager!

With ten men, the students continued to battle and frustrate the visitors. However, Bow Street lifted their game in the closing stages and took the points with an 86th-minute winner. Lee Jones finished off an excellent move with a close-range volley to give his side a first league win of 2012.

Aberystwyth University (red/black/red): 1. Phil Draper, 2. Dave Williams, 3. Graham Dyment, 4. Gareth Thomas, 5. Louie Middlehurst, 6. Daniel Moore (capt), 7. Aaron Falmer, 8. Rob Hancock, 9. Steffan Davies, 10. Guto Davies, 11. Robert Maggi. Subs: 12. Ross March (for Falmer, 67), 14. Ben Jenkins (for Maggi, 80), 15. Gavin Stewart (for Guto Davies, 86), 16. Tom Stiley.

Bow Street (black and white stripes with white sleeves / black / black): 1. Toby Spain, 2. Neil Evans, 3. Coner Berner, 4. Darren Middleton, 5. Owain James, 6. Ciaran Cotter, 7. Dean Evans (capt), 8. Michael Gornall, 9. Lee Jones, 10. Garmon Hafal, 11. Nicky Smith. Subs: 12. Gwyn Jones (for Lee Jones, 56), 15. Tom Bates (for Neill Evans, 45+3), 16. Hywel Evans (not used), 17. Lee Jones (for Gornall, 67), X. Jon Davies (not used).

Referee: S. Jenkins.
Assistants: T. Bickley and G. Davies.

0-1 Lee Jones17 (86)

Aberystwyth University: Louie Middlehurst (YC, 42), Gareth Thomas (RC, 44)
Bow Street: none

Stafford Town 0 AFC Wulfrunians 5

Tuesday 6th March 2012
Stafford Town 0 AFC Wulfrunians 5
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 46:18; second-half: 48:22

Clinical finishing proved to be the difference between the teams at Evans Park with visitors AFC Wulfrunians completing a double overt Stafford Town with a 5-0 victory. Nathan Rose-Laing scored twice during the first half and went on complete his hat-trick with Ricky Anslow and Ashley Burd also on target.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Karl Smith, 2. Olly Parker, 3. Mark Johnson, 4. Wayne Bailey, 5. Dave Woodvine, 6. Mat Dockerty, 7. Carl Morris (capt), 8. Adam Seward, 9. Morgan Hurley, 17. John Kirby, 11. Matt Buckham. Subs: 12. Rob Tomlinson (for Bailey, 67), 14. Matt Ainger (not used), 15. Sean O’Callaghan (for Hurley, 86), 16. Jordan Bloor (not used), 18. Jon Salt (not used). Manager: Steve Dockerty.

AFC Wulfrunians (black and yellow halves / yellow / black): 1. Danny Tipton (capt), 2. Chris Rabone, 3. Ashley Burd, 4. Mark Tipton, 5. David Asbury, 6. Shawn Boothe, 7. Danny Crudgington, 8. Robin Sheffield, 9. Ricky Anslow, 10. Nathan Rose-Laing, 11. Anthony Collins. Subs: 12. Thomas Piggott (for Sheffield, 67), 14. Adeola Bandele (not used), 15. Leon Taylor (for Rose-Laing, 67), 16. Liam Evans (for Collins, 69), 17. Steven Palmer (not used). Manager: David Thompson.

Referee: Neil Faunch.
Assistants: Steve Castle and Phil Felton.

0-1 Nathan Rose-Laing (18)
0-2 Nathan Rose-Laing (27)
0-3 Ricky Anslow (30)
0-4 Nathan Rose-Laing (67 pen)
0-5 Ashley Burd (76)

Stafford: Wayne Bailey (YC, 13)
AFC Wulfs: none

Riverway (Stafford) 2 Team Dudley 3

Saturday 3rd March 2012
Riverway (Stafford) 2 Team Dudley 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2
At: Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Weather: sunny and showers
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 48:21

A family commitment forced me to stay local today and I couldn’t have got much more local than a five-mile round trip to watch Riverway (Stafford) host Team Dudley at Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club. In a hard-fought and entertaining game, Dudley were two-up by the 32nd minute but Riverway got back on level terms with two goals in seven minutes either side of half-time. Ryan Spittle scored his second goal of the game just after the hour mark and Dudley held on to extend their unbeaten run to three games.

Not to be confused with Stafford Town’s Evans Park, which is close by, Riverway’s current pitch is close to and parallel with the road on the outfield on the Cricket Club’s second pitch. It was roped-off on two sides with dugouts though lacks any spectator facilities. I’d previously seen a game on the pitch way back on Christmas Eve 1988 when Stafford Town beat Audley and District 2-0 in the Staffordshire Senior League.

While looking up that 1988 game, I became curious to know where I’d been in the past on today’s date (surprisingly just six previous games):

1984: Morecambe 0 Stafford Rangers 0
1990: Bognor Regis Town 0 Marlow Town 2
1992: Cove 4 Collier Row 1
1993: Brockenhurst 1 Horndean 1
2001: Cambridge City 1 Stafford Rangers 1
2007: Stafford Rangers 1 Cambridge Utd 1

Back to today’s game and I’ve got a copy of an old Riverway programme from 2003 which includes a potted history. They were formed in 1986 as a Sunday League club and have also played under previous names of Greyhound Yarlet FC and The Lord Nelson. Picking up the story from the club’s website, the Saturday team began in 1999, playing in the Wolverhampton Combination, and joined the West Midlands League in 2002. They spent two seasons in Division 1 North at Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club for two seasons and after league was reorganised in 2004, Riverway retained a place in Division 1 by leaving Stafford to groundshare at Wyrley Rangers’ Long Lane ground.

Continuing with the potted history, in 2010, they took voluntary relegation to Division 2 and returned to Stafford to play home game on a pitch at Staffordshire University. They moved to Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club earlier this season, though on a different pitch to before which is now used by St Leonards Rugby club (the rugby club today used the pitch on the opposite side of the road).

The League’s Full-Time website showed that Riverway (8th position in the 14 team division with 25 points from 17 games) had only played two league games during the past six weeks, both at home with a 6-3 win over Tenbury followed up by a 1-1 draw against Ettingshall Park Farm. Visitors Team Dudley (11th position with 21 points from 18 games) had been less active in the league with just two games during the past three months – a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Sporting Community Reserves (7th January) and 5-1 home win over Malvern Town Reserves last Saturday.

Team Dudley were making a swift return to Stafford after facing Riverway in the Division 2 Cup just two weeks ago. Riverway won the tie 4-0 with Tom Duffy bagging a hat-trick and Matt Rhodes also scoring.

Team Dudley (in a change kit of all blue) got the game underway attacking the ‘Sea Cadets hut’ end in the first half. They made an impressive start and Riverway keeper produced a superb save to palm over Casey Pole’s angled shot across the face of goal from the right.

Playing with the wind in the first half, Dudley took the lead in the 7th minute. Pole launched a long throw in to a packed area from the right which Myles Nettleford flicked into the far corner of the net.

Nettleford, wearing distinctive red boots, should have doubled Dudley’s lead when got on the end of James Ward’s cross from the right but couldn’t keep his shot down.

On the quarter hour, Tom Duffy got down the right for Riverway and got in a shot from an acute angle which deflected off defender Rob Elvins into the Liam Jones’s hands. Duffy soon went close again as, this time, his shot was cleared from in front of goal by Lee Corners. Duffy got a second bite as was the ball wasn’t cleared and fired wide.

Riverway won a free-kick near the left corner of the area from which Earl Grant headed over, while good defending on the half-hour by Chris Knight prevented Duffy from breaking clear.

Both sides were looking to extend their current two-match unbeaten run in the league and, in the 32nd minute, Team Dudley did their chances of doing so a power of good with a second goal. Ryan Spittle, who played for Gresley FC in 2009, sent an angled shot from the left into the far corner of the net.

I felt that Riverway needed a goal before the interval to give themselves a chance and they did just that in the 44th minute. Martin Wheeler took a quick throw-in on the left to Dave Wilcox on the edge of the area who slipped a pass for leading scorer Duffy to slot home from 10 yards out.

While the Riverway players and bench stayed on the field, most of the crowd, including myself, and Team Dudley players headed for either the Function Room in the cricket pavilion or changing rooms. As before half-time, tea and coffee were amongst the drinks on offer!

Sunshine had been replaced by rain for the start of the second half. Now attacking the ‘Sea Cadets hut’ end with the aid of the wind, Riverway levelled things up six minutes after the restart. Matt Rhodes curled a left-foot free-kick from the right into the far left corner of the net with Birch claiming the goal with a feint touch.

With rain stopping, albeit briefly, Wheeler crossed deep from the left to the far post where unmarked Duffy stretched to head straight at Jones.

Riverway were in the ascendency and Duffy cut in from the left and and sent a low well-struck shot straight at Jones.

It was Team Dudley, however, who scored the next goal in the 62nd minute. Spittle latched on to a perfect pass through the Riverway defence and finished with a low left-foot shot into the bottom right corner past the diving Ryan Woolridge.

Bright sunshine replaced the showers for the last 20 or so minutes and Jones, who had made several decent saves, almost gifted Riverway an equaliser. He allowed Matt Bickley's over-hit forward ball to slip through his hands though the keeper recovered to prevent the ball going in – I think the ‘shot’ was missing anyway.

Time was running out for Riverway to snatch an equaliser. Rhodes delivered a delicious corner which Chris Hall headed over.

Deep into stoppage time, the referee said it was “20 seconds [left] when the ball [comes] back in” before Jones took a goal-kick. But there was really no time for Riverway to mount one last attack.

Riverway FC (red/red/red): 1, Ryan Woolridge, 2. Jamie Lowman, 3. Martin Wheeler, 4. Alex Birch, 5. Steve McCabe, 6. Chris Hall, 7. Matt Rhodes, 8. Dave Wilcox (capt), 9. Tom Duffy, 10. Earl Grant, 11. Ryan Pugh. Subs: 12. Ryan Brown (for Birch, 71), 14. Chris Jones (not used), 15. Alex Peatfield (not used), 16. Dave Abelwhite (for Pugh, 56), 17. Matt Bickley (for Lowman, 56). Manager: Jake Robinson.

Team Dudley (blue/blue/blue): 1. Liam Jones, 2. Casey Pole, 3. Lee Corners, 4. Matt Simmons, 5. Rob Elkin, 6. Chris Knight, 7. James Ward, 8. Jay Hawthorne (capt), 9. Ryan Spittle, 10. Myles Nettleford, 11. Steve Whitehouse. Subs: 15. Nathan Jones (not used), 16. Damon Rogers (for Ward, 87), 17. Simon Rogers (not used). Manager: Stewart Holmes.

Referee: A. Hall.

0-1 Myles Nettleford (7)
0-2 Ryan Spittle (31)
1-2 Tom Duffy (44)
2-2 Alex Birch (51)
2-3 Ryan Spittle (64)

Riverway: Dave Abelwhite (YC, 65), Alex Birch (YC, 67)
Team Dudley: Matt Simmons (YC, 70)