Biddulph Town 0 Redgate Clayton 3

Monday 30th April 2012
Biddulph Town 0 Redgate Clayton 3
Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division
At: Knypersely Sports Club, Tunstall Road
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Programme: £1 (4 pages)
Weather: sunny, dry, strong wind
Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:03; second-half: 46:37

Redgate Clayton maintained their hopes of becoming Premier Division champions with a 3-0 win and at the same time ended Biddulph Town’s title aspirations. Captain Jimmy Garside put them ahead towards the end of the first half and he added the second five minutes after the restart. A late powerful header by Richard Leech from a Garside corner put the outcome beyond doubt.

I just had to watch a game this evening between two sides very much involved in a title race and who both could still win the league. Not that game at the Etihad Stadium but this one at Tunstall Road.

The race to become 2011/12 Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division has been a close one with four clubs still in contention going into the final few days of the season. Hanley Town (69 points from 29 games) moved to the top of the table for the first time on Saturday and just needed to win their final league game on Wednesday to clinch the title. Wolstanston United (68 points from 29 games) and tonight’s two sides – Biddulph Town 67 points from 29 games) and Redgate Clayton (65 points from 28 games) were hoping Hanley would slip up. Tonight, as well as this game, Wolstanton United were at home to bottom side Keele University while on Wednesday, the final day, Redgate Clayton visit Abbey Hulton United and Hanley Town travel to Newcastle Town Reserves.

I’d visited Knypersley Sports Ground twice before (1990 and 2008), also the home of Knypersley Cricket Club. At the top of the slope at the Tunstall Road end was a large stand containing several rows of bench seating as well as covered standing. Looking down the pitch, dugouts were positioned on the right-hand side and the left-hand touchline, adjacent to the cricket pitch was roped off.

I knew that Biddulph Town had no connection with Biddulph Victoria, the previous occupants of the ground who folded at the end of last season. According to their website, Town were formed in 2002.

With lights on from the start, Redgate Clayton (in all navy blue) got the game underway attacking up the slope in the first half towards the stand. They had to contend with the setting sun shining into their faces.

Referee Clive Copeland was quickly forced to make a decision in the 3rd minute when Biddulph striker Keiron Ball was fouled inside the area. A penalty was awarded but Thomas Madden fired wide from the spot.

Redgate had the ball in the back of the Biddulph net on the quarter hour. Wayne Glover used his height to head home from a free-kick, only for the referee to award a free-kick for pushing instead of a goal.

The visitors continued to press for a goal and Rob Ford fired against the left-hand post. Biddulph keeper Jamie McLaren produced a good save to keep out a downward header from the tall Glover. Will Sargeant got on the end of a Richard Leech cross just after the half-hour mark and sent a diving header inches wide.

Eventually, Redgate took the lead in the 36th minute. Defender Kevin Burndred miskicked after a throughball down the right bobbled and allowed Jimmy Garside to drive low into the far right corner of the net.

I watched the first half in the company of ‘Middlewich Martin’ and, just before the interval, Town’s Angelo Errico battled past a couple of defenders before laying the ball back for Madden to volley over the Redgate bar.

Soon after the restart, Biddulph were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out, taken by Ball, from which the leaping Redgate goalkeeper Tom Blackwood pushed round the left-hand post.

The save soon proved crucial as Redgate doubled their lead in the 50th minute. Leech crossed low from the right and Garside smashed home a low right-foot shot from 8 or so yards out.

With Wolstanton kicking off an hour earlier, news came through that they had beaten Keele 5-0 to go top of the table with all their fixtures completed.

Biddulph went close around the hour mark. Ball’s fee-kick rebounded off the left-hand post but hit Chris Boon and out for a goalkick.

A third goal, scored in the 80th minute, put the outcome beyond doubt. Garside swung in a free-kick from the right and Leech got between two of his teammates to power home a close-range header.

Redgate almost added a fourth goal in the closing stages. Ball right-foot shot beat McLaren only to rebound off the left-hand post into the arms of the goalkeeper.

To win the league on Wednesday, Redgate now need to beat Abbey Hulton on Wednesday and hope that Hanley lose to Newcastle Town Reserves.

Biddulph Town (yellow/green/yellow): 1. Jamie McLaren, 2. Kevin Burnred, 3. Chris Boon, 4. Lee Horton, 5. Karl Edwards, 6. Matthew Berrisford (capt), 7. Michael Heates, 8. Sean Vincent, 9. Thomas Madden, 10. Kieron Ball, 11. Angelo Errico. Subs: 14. Mitchell Brown (for Ball, 71), 15. Rocky Dunnifox (for Errico, 61), 16. Liam Bennett (for Madden, 75).

Redgate Clayton (navy blue / navy blue / red): 1. Tom Blackwood, 2. Richard Leech, 3. Ian Robinson, 4. Danny Hattersley, 5. Kristofer Hardy, 6. Will Sarjant, 7. Jimmy Garside (capt), 8. Tony Davis, 9. Wayne Glover, 10. Shane Reaney, 11. Rob Ford. Subs: 12. Andrew Sherratt (not used), 14. Tom Winkle (for Leech, 51), 15. Tom Swindells (for Ford, 68), 16. Daniel Steele (not used), 17. Steve Woodward (not used).

0-1 Jimmy Garside (36)
0-2 Jimmy Garside (50)
0-3 Richard Leech (80)

Cards: Biddulph: Kieron Ball (YC, 67) Redgate: Shane Reaney (YC, 65), Will Sarjant (YC, 83)

Wealdstone 3 Concord Rangers 1

Saturday 28th April 2012
Wealdstone 3 Concord Rangers 1
Ryman League Premier Division
At: The Vale, Grosvenor Vale, Ruislip
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £10; Programme: £2 (60 pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 770
Duration: first-half: 46:68; second-half: 49:20

Wealdstone confirmed their place in the Ryman League Premier Division play-offs with a 3-1 win over mid-table Concord Rangers. They took the lead after just 21 seconds but conceded an equaliser and were perhaps fortunate to remain on level terms at the interval. However, encouraged by excellent vocal support, Wealdstone scored twice in the second half without reply to earn a play-off semi-final at Lowestoft Town on Wednesday evening.

From a football point of view, I can’t remember a late April like this one. Normally the only problems I’ve had have been caused by traffic jams and certainly not the weather – apart from a Stafford Rangers game called off at Kidderminster during the 1990s postponed shortly before kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch.

When I decided on today’s trip earlier in the week, I honestly expected no problems with ‘plan A’ let alone having to resort to ‘plan E’ or was it ‘plan F’ which led to an unexpected return visit to Grosvenor Vale some 15 or so years after I was last at the ground. If I’d have known in advance what an enjoyable afternoon I would have, then Wealdstone v Concord Rangers would have been ‘plan A’!

I spent time at Victoria Station phoning various clubs. Some on my shortlist of ‘new grounds’ didn’t answer the phone which I took as bad news, some numbers I had were incorrect and one game I was told was postponed. Then I decided to phone Wealdstone and got the ‘game on’ I needed; the helpful lady I spoke to refreshed my memory on the nearest tube stations – Ruislip or Ruislip Manor on the Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines – and gave me directions.

As I hadn’t planned to watch this game, I wasn’t familiar with the league table and hadn’t done my homework on previous visits to the ground or games involving Wealdstone I’d seen. Walking from Ruislip Manor station, I fondly remembered Monday night games at the ground watching Ruislip Manor when a chap called ‘Victor’ was secretary and programme editor. I also remembered seeing Wealdstone play home games at Lower Mead Station and also at Watford’s Vicarage Road. Stafford unexpectedly won a game at Wealdstone 3-2 in a midweek end of season game at Lower Mead. Oh, as well, I couldn't forget the supporters game been Stafford and SFC Wealdstone at Barnes Road in 1987 which I produced a programme for!

Back home I found I’d seen five previous Ruislip Manor home games (1990, 1992 twice, 1994 and 1996) and additionally seen Wealdstone play a home game at Yeading in 1994, as well twice at Lower Mead Stadium in 1986 and 1998 and once Vicarage Road in 1991. That win I remembered was on 1st May 1986 when Bob Mountain, Peter Carr and Martin Hanchard scored for Stafford in a 3-2 victory for the Rangers.

Wealdstone played their first game at The Vale in 2008, a venue around four miles south-west of the old Lower Mead Stadium. Through the turnstiles, the pitch ran widthways to the left. The first thing I noticed was cover on all four sides of the ground with a substantial seated stand positioned on the far touchline straddling the half-way line. Behind the near goal were the club shop, changing rooms and tea bar, raised covered standing as well as a white board providing team changes. Down the near touch line were more seats, an area of covered standing by the near corner known as ‘Brian Collins Corner’ and open terracing at the far end. Behind the far goal was an area of covered standing and additional open terracing.

As mentioned, I wasn’t familiar with the up-to-date league table but, while reading the programme (what an impressive 60-page publication), I quickly realised the significance of the game I’d chosen. Six wins and two draws from their last eight games had propelled Wealdstone (4th position with 72 points from 41 games) into the play-off zone. They just needed to avoid defeat against Concord Rangers (13th position 57 points from 41 games) to extend their season with a play-off semi-final at either AFC Hornchurch or Lowestoft Town.

Wealdstone (in blue and white) got the game underway attacking the far end in the first half and got a dream start by taking the lead after just 21 seconds. Scott Fitzgerald’s left-wing cross rebounded kindly off the far post to Alex Dyer who fired home from the edge of the area via the hand of Concord goalkeeper Nicky Eyre. This was the perfect start for the home side to settle any nerves amongst players and fans.

However, Concord (in all yellow) got back on level terms in the 12th minute. Karl Beckford played a free-kick forward into the area where defender Steve King sent a looping header from the edge of the area past Ashlee Jones.

Concord could have gone in front three minutes later. Tony Stokes got the better of Wes Parker on the left bye-line and pulled the ball to unmarked Harry Elmes who couldn’t keep his left-foot shot down from six-yards out.

Nicknamed the ‘Beach Boys’, the visitors continued to pose problems for Wealdstone right up to the half-time whistle.

Before kick-off I’d purchased a couple of badges, including one marking Wealdstone’s recent FA Trophy Semi Final against Newport County. Reading the programme at half-time, I realised that the badge seller was Toby Jackson, a name I remember from the past. From time to time I like to flick through my old copies of the Groundhopper magazine and enjoyed his articles on Wealdstone and badge collecting. The ‘chap called Victor’ I mentioned earlier was also profiled in today’s programme.

Also during half-time I wondered what was happening at the games involving the two sides who could stop Wealdstone finishing in the play-off zone should Concord win my match. Fifth-placed Bury Town were at already-relegated Tooting and Mitcham United while sixth-placed Lewes were at home to Harrow Borough.

It was certainly a packed half-time for me, with a walk to see a lengthy tea-bar queue and I had time to check my goalden goal ticket. It read ’72 30’ so no chance of winning top prize for the time of the first goal but still in contention for the last goal consolation prize.

Attacking down the slope in the second half, a more threatening Wealdstone side regained the lead six minutes after the restart. Dyer found Richard Jolly on the edge of the area to the left of the ‘D’ and he hit a low right-foot shot into the bottom-left corner of the net.

The home side kept up the pressure and Jolly latched on to a pass from Lee Chappell and saw his low shot kept out by Eyre’s boot.

However, with a slender 2-1 lead to defend, Jones produced a couple of decent saves to first deny Stokes and then from Sherwin Stanley.

Wealdstone needed a third goal and I needed it to be timed at 73 minutes and 30 seconds. That time passed but the Stones settled their nerves even more with a vital third goal scored in the 77th minute. Jolly, on the right, played a low diagonal ball towards the far left post which Fitzgerald sidefooted home.

It now didn’t matter to Wealdstone what was happening to Bury Town and Lewes.

I’d noticed that the Concord players had a sponsor’s name on the back of their shirts just below the collar (in the spot where the player’s name would go), something which the PA announcer had also spotted. So when the visitors made their third and final chance, the announcer said something to the effect that ‘ASPECT’ was replacing ‘ASPECT’!

Jones produced another diving save in stoppage time to keep out an angled shot from Stokes which flashed across the face of goal.

Fans celebrated at full-time. Alex Dyer was named Man of the Match and the attendance of 770 was the biggest of the season for a league game at The Vale.

Before travelling back home from London Euston via Pizza Express on the Strand there was time to take a first look at the Emirates Stadium, admittedly just the exterior, around five minutes walk from Holloway Road tube station.

As a postscript, my first choice game was played as was the back up close by. I’m pleased neither club answered the phone to tell me their game was on as I really enjoyed this one at The Vale! The last time I saw a league game in England with a larger attendance was at AFC Telford United in December 2010.

Wealdstone (blue/white/blue): 1. Ashlee Jones, 2. Scott McCubbin, 3. Alan Massey, 4. Wes Parker (capt), 5. Sean Cronin, 6. Alex Dyer, 7. Kurtney Brooks, 8. Chris O’Leary, 9. Scott Fitzgerald, 10. Richard Jolly, 11. Tom Pett. Subs: 12. Peter Dean, 14. Lee Chappell (for Pett, 63), 15. Connor Smith (for O’Leary, 81), 16. James Mulley (not used), 17. Tommie Hoban (not used).

Concord Rangers (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Nicky Eyre, 2. Ashley Miller, 3. Arthur Lee, 4. Karl Beckford, 5. Steve King, 6. Lee White, 7. Kurt Robinson, 8. Nicky Cowley (capt), 9. Reece Harris, 10. Harry Elmes, 11. Tony Stokes. Subs: 12. Ben Bowditch (for Cowley, 80), 14. Sammy Knott (for Robinson, 88), 15. Sherwin Stanley (for Harris, 66), 16. –, 17. James Dudley (not used).

Referee: John O’Brien.
Assistants: John Ryan and Roger Wells.

1-0 Alex Dyer (1)
1-1 Steve King (12)
2-1 Richard Jolly (51)
3-1 Scott Fitzgerald (77)

Wealdstone: Sean Cronin (YC, 19), Alan Massey (YC, 34), Chris O’Leary (YC, 69)
Concord: Kurt Robinson (YC, 66)

Wednesfield 0 Bewdley Town 3

Thursday 26th April 2012
Wednesfield 0 Bewdley Town 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Cottage Ground, Amos Lane
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: rain, heavy at times
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:20; second-half: 47:57

All the goals came in the first half as Bewdley Town enhanced their prospects of finishing in third position come the end of the season with a comfortable 3-0 win. Rich Costello and Dan Flowers (two) both found the net on a pitch which had taken a lot of rain and survived an afternoon inspection. Bewdley lost goalkeeper Darren Steadman to injury towards the end of the first half and his replacement Alex Taffe, an outfield player, was rarely tested.

Things didn’t look too hopeful for finding a game on, especially when the two scheduled Division One games at Wellington Amateurs and nearby Wolverhampton United were postponed and all of this evening’s Summer League games also fell foul to the very wet weather. Last night was a blank with the game I fancied, Eccleshall v Norton United, postponed by waterlogging. I knew that an afternoon inspection was due at the Cottage Ground and Garrincha’s Dog provided the good news on the Non-League Matters Forum that ‘WMRL Prem: Wednesfield V Bewdley - have been told that it has passed a 16:15 pitch inspection’.

Even though the Cottage Ground is only around a half-hour drive from home, I’d only previously visited on three occasions: twice during the 1980s for a Wednesfield home game and more recently in 2009 to see groundsharers Heathtown Rangers (now known at Wolverhampton Sporting Community). Through the gates, the pitch ran lengthways beyond an area of grass with the clubhouse, changing rooms and hospitality room all behind the far goal. Down the near left-hand touchline on halfway was a stand containing six rows of benches with individual numbered places marked out. Opposite were the dugouts spaced about 20 yards apart either side of the halfway line. All-in-all, a real place of character.

To keep my end-of-season theme going, this game had something at stake for both sides, more so for visitors Bewdley (4th position with 73 points from 36 games) who trailed third-placed Wolverhampton Casuals by seven points with three games in hand. Wednesfield (6th position with 69 points from 37 games) have had another decent campaign after finishing last season in 4th and need to finish as high as possible to make sure they qualify for next season’s FA Cup.

With lights on from the start, Bewdley (in blue and yellow shirts, blue shorts and socks) got the action underway attacking the clubhouse end in the first half. They took the lead in the 5th minute. Dan Flowers delivered a left-foot free-kick into the area from the right and defender Rich Costello scored with a right-foot volley via the hand of goalkeeper Sam Arnold.

Costello thought he’d scored again three minutes later but his close-range header was disallowed for offside.

Bewdley double their lead midway through the first-half. Sam Watkins got into the area on the left and beat the tackle of defender Ben Sanderson before crossing low to the far post where unmarked Flowers slotted home.

Just after the half-hour mark, Bewdley goalkeeper Darren Steadman was unable to continue through injury and substitute Alex Taffe, outfield player, took over in goal.

Flowers further extended his side lead to three goals in the 41st minute. Watkins played a crossfield ball forward to the right wing. The flag stayed down as Flowers latched on to the ball, took in forward and drove past the advancing Arnold into the far bottom left corner of the net. The two-goal hero then picked up an injury and, like Steadman, had to be replaced.

Just before the break, Wednesfield twice went close. Tom Horton played the ball forward down the right to Paul Sullivan. The joint player-manager could get in a shot and instead found Keith Thomas who shot wide. In stoppage time, Thomas fed Lee Butler who hit a rising shot which stand-in keeper Taffe pushed over the bar.

I watched the first half from Nelson’s seat – Row C position 111 – and opted for 112 after the restart.

Throughout the second half, Bewdley’s well-organised defence protected their lead and Taffe was rarely troubled. Rain, heavy at times, made the pitch slippy though perfectly playable. Wednesfield were restricted to a couple or three long-range shots when Ian Boswell fired well wide from fully 30 yards out and also sent another well-struck effort flashing past the goal. In stoppage time, Connor Scott drove over the bar.

Wednesfield (orange/black/black): 1. Sam Arnold, 2. Lee Butler, 3. Lee Warner, 4. Richard Palmer, 5. Tom Horton, 6. Ben Sanderson, 7. Tom McCrystal, 8. Ian Boswell, 9. Keith Thomas, 10. Anton Johns (capt), 11. Paul Sullivan. Subs: 12. Brad Lewis (for Thomas, 66), 14. Danny Blackwell (for McCrystal, 71), 15. Connor Scott (for Warner, 69), 16. Ramone Henry, 17. Danny Carter. Joint managers: Robert Morris and Paul Sullivan.

Bewdley Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. Darren Steadman, 2. Dan Jones, 3. Mike Hyde, 4. Sean Wright (capt), 5. Rich Costello, 6. Craig Webb, 7. Sam Watkins, 8. Rob Orme, 9. Chris Hough, 10. Rich Burgess, 11. Dan Flowers. Subs: 12. Dan Gittens (for Jones, 75), 14. Dan Sinton (for Flowers, 43), 15. Alex Taffe (for Steadman, 35), 16. Russ Godfrey (not used), 17. Simon Rudd (not used). Joint managers: Craig Payton and Brian Laley.

Referee: Tom Keady.
Assistants: C. T. Lunn and S. J. Rodgers.

0-1 Rich Costello (5)
0-2 Dan Flowers (24)
0-3 Dan Flowers (41)

Wednesfield: Ian Boswell (YC, 15), Lee Butler (YC, 33), Anton Johns (YC, 35)
Bewdley: none

Stafford Town 3 Bustleholme 0

Tuesday 24th April 2012
Stafford Town 3 Bustleholme 0
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: cold, dry, brief shower
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:36; second-half: 50:26

Morgan Hurley scored a hat-trick and goalkeeper Andy LeFeaver kept a clean sheet as Stafford Town finished off their 2011/12 home league fixtures with 3-0 victory over Bustleholme. The striker put the Reds ahead in first-half stoppage time and added two more near the end to take his season’s tally to 14 goals.

Continuing my theme of finding end-of-season games with something at stake, there was one on my doorstep this evening with relegation-threatened Bustleholme arriving at Evans Park, as the programme editor highlighted, ‘requiring points to avoid finishing in the bottom two’.

Stafford Town have produced some indifferent performances at Evans Park this season from impressive victories in the FA Vase and a draw against likely runners-up Black Country Rangers to defeats at the hands of Lye Town and Darlaston Town.

I can’t say I bring the Reds much luck, so out went the yellow-trim trainers, beige NY hat and a seat behind the home dugout in favour of my blue-trim train, blue English Heritage hat and a seat behind the away dugout. As the result suggests, my changes did the trick!

Both sides went into the game in the bottom five with Stafford Town (18th in the 22-team division with 43 points from 38 games) two positions higher than Bustleholme (20th with 23 points from 39 games). Bottom club Darlaston and either Bromyard or Bustleholme could be relegated from the Premier Division to Division One at the end of the season.

As usual, there was a warm welcome at Evans Park. As I’d lost track of fixtures, there wasn’t a ‘Pitch-side Stories’ article in the programme. Instead, the editor paid tribute to Stan Robinson, a real supporter of non-league football in the Stafford area who passed away earlier this month.

Bustleholme (in yellow shirts, green shorts and socks) got the game underway defending the cricket ground end in the first half.

Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during the opening 25 minutes in which Bustleholme enjoyed plenty of possession. While Town were told to “raise it all round”, the visitors were urged to “turn it up” and they did just that by almost taking the lead in the 27th minute. Danny Hill crossed deep from the right and Darrell Francis headed against the left-hand post.

Stafford had the ball in the net soon after the half-hour mark. Paul McMahon hooked the ball home from Matt Buckham’s corner but was adjudged to have impeded Bustleholme goalkeeper Matt Martin.

As the interval approached, Spencer Lloyd fed Hill who saw a dipping right-foot shot from the edge of the area superbly tipped over by Andy LeFeaver.

Town responded with a strong finish to the half. From another Buckham corner, Morgan Hurley saw an initial shot saved by Martin and a follow-up blocked on the line.

Hurley wasn’t to be denied in stoppage time. He got clear to latch on to a throughball from McMahon and lifted an accurate chip over the advancing Martin into the net to put the Reds in front at the break. My half-time cuppa was a lot more enjoyable because of that goal which extended my personal sequence without a 0-0 draw to 38 consecutive games.

Now attacking the cricket field end, Bustleholme had a penalty appeal waived away when a shot from Lloyd hit a defender inside the area. The visitors' bench told their side to “get the ball moving quicker” and on the hour, from a free-kick by Matthew Harris, Town’s John Kirby headed against his own bar.

Sensing Bustleholme were raising their game, Town manager Steve Dockerty wanted his side to “pick it up, all of us” and moments later a chip from Hurley dropped just over the bar.

Both sides were now creating chances. Francis sent a free-kick just wide of the Stafford goal and at the other end McMahon forced a diving save out of Martin.

Stafford were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute when Hurley was brought down by Tom Hyatt inside the area. Buckham stepped up only to see his spot kick superbly saved by Martin diving to his right.

Would the miss prove costly? It did a couple of minutes later when Jamie Clews fired home at close range, only for the Bustleholme striker to be denied by an offside flag. The visitors weren’t impressed with the decision.

Town took full advantage of the reprieve by doubling their lead in the 81st minute. Mat Dockerty played a free-kick forward into the area from which Hurley scored with a glancing header into the far left-side of the net.

Hurley completed his hat-trick in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Buckham fed McMahon who saw his initial shot saved by Martin but Hurley put in the rebound to score his 14th goal of the season.

While the win lifted Stafford up three places into 15th position, the defeat left Bustleholme needing to win one of their last two games to make sure they don’t slip into the bottom two. Stafford now face three away games at Malvern Town (28/4), Bromyard Town (5/5) and Shawbury United (tba) to complete their fixtures while Bustleholme have a home game against Shawbury (2/5) followed by a trip to Goodrich (5/5) remaining.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Gornal Athletic won 2-1 at Malvern to move three points clear of Black Country Rangers at the top and at the same time pass the 100 point mark. They need just one point from their remaining two fixtures to secure the title and promotion to the Baker Joiner Midland Alliance.

Results (24/4): Bewdley Town 2 Pegasus Juniors 1, Bromyard Town 2 Dudley Town 6, Malvern Town 1 Gornal Athletic 2, Stafford Town 3 Bustleholme 0, Wolverhampton Casuals 2 Cradley Town 1, Wellington 3 Darlaston Town 2.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Andy LeFeaver, 2. Sean O’Callaghan, 3. Adam Price, 4. Wayne Bailey, 5. Mick Davies, 6. Mat Dockerty, 7. John Kirby, 8. Dave Woodvine (capt), 9. Paul McMahon, 17. Morgan Hurley, 11. Matt Buckham. Subs: 12. John Salt (for O’Callaghan, 86), 14. Carl Morris (for Price, 63), 15. Tom Cunningham (not used), 16. Matt Ainger (not used), 18. John Gaughan. Manager: Steve Dockerty.

Bustleholme (yellow/green/green): 1. Matt Martin, 2. Conor Deeley-Brewer, 3. William Hutt, 4. Matthew Harris, 5. Phillip Ellerby, 6. Tom Hyatt, 7. Darrell Francis, 8. Spencer Lloyd (capt), 9. Jamie Clews, 10. Danny Hill, 11. Max Whitehouse. Subs: 12. Adam Morton (for Hill, 65), 14. Steve Yates (for Lloyd, 89), 15. Tom Jeavons (not used), 16gk. Steve Wibberley (not used), 17. Jamie Bedford (not used). Manager: Mark Foster.

Referee: Paul Wainman.
Assistants: Gareth Morris and Greg Smith.

1-0 Morgan Hurley (45+1)
2-0 Morgan Hurley (81)
3-0 Morgan Hurley (90+5)

Stafford: Morgan Hurley (YC, 65), Mat Dockerty (YC, 70), Dave Woodvine (YC, 84)
Bustleholme: Darrell Francis (YC, 80)

Phoenix United 2 Bromsgrove Sporting 11

Saturday 21 April 2012
Phoenix United 2 Bromsgrove Sporting 11
Athium Midland Combination Division 1
At: Vale Stadium, Farnborough Road, Castle Vale, Birmingham
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission and programme: £3 (8 pages)
Attendance: 63
Weather: sunny spells and showers
Duration: first-half: 45:09; second-half: 46:07

Bromsgrove Sporting rewrote their own record book with a biggest victory since being founded in 2009 and Chris Conway became the club’s first player to score five goals in a game. After three Sporting goals during the opening 11 minutes including two penalties, it quickly became evident it would simply be a matter of ‘how many’. Sporting led 7-1 at half-time and 10-1 just before the hour mark, yet managed one further goal during the final half hour. Well-known and much-travelled former Rushden & Diamonds midfielder Justin Jackson scored one of Phoenix’s two goals. There were a couple of firsts for me with a ‘new scoreline’ for the second consecutive Saturday with this 2-11 and I’ve now seen four different teams play a home game at the Vale Stadium.

Like yesterday’s trip to Llay Welfare, I was looking for a game today with something at stake. While no longer able to win the division, Bromsgrove Sporting still needed to pick up a few more points to secure third spot and probable promotion to the Premier Division. Phoenix United had the incentive of moving off the foot of the table with a win; to do so they would have to score their first league goal in two months.

I’ve described the Vale Stadium before – previously visited for home games involving Paget Rangers, Castle Vale and Castle Vale JKS. Located near the Tyburn Roundabout and M6 junction 5, about five miles from Villa Park, it is dominated by a large stand containing around 300 amber or black seats (Paget’s colours).

Programmes were available at the turnstile from a very welcoming and cheerful lady and the eight-pager included a history of both clubs. Phoenix United were formed in 2002 and I was under the impression they were previously known as Thimblemill Rec. However, there was no mention of ‘Thimblemill’ who first joined the Midland Combination in 1989. So, a bit of further research is needed. Bromsgrove Sporting are a ‘phoenix’ club formed in 2009 during the demise of Bromsgrove Rovers.

Going into the game Bromsgrove (3rd with 58 points from 31 games) knew they couldn’t win the title but third place could be good enough to earn promotion should the Premier Division be expanded in numbers from the present seventeen clubs. They held a four-point advantage of fourth-placed Lichfield City who also had three games remaining.

Getting off the foot of the table was the aim of Phoenix United (18th position with 21 points from 31 games). However, they had lost six of their last seven games and hadn’t scored in any of those seven games. Second-bottom side were Droitwich Spa, one points better off with a far better goal difference having played two games more.

Phoenix hosted Bromsgrove back in November and won a Smedley Cooke Memorial Trophy First Round tie 9-8 on penalties after the tie finished 4-4 after extra time.

Phoenix (in all blue with red trim) got the game underway defending the railway/M6 end in the first half – attacking from right to left in relation to my seat in the stand.

Bromsgrove (in a change kit of all yellow with green numbers) scored twice goals during the seven minutes, both from the penalty spot. Dwight Linton brought down Carl Fellows in the third minute and former Phoenix striker Chris Conway confidently scored from the spot. The same defender felled Dan Wilkes four minutes later and this time Joe Brookes hammered the ball past Phoenix goalkeeper Sean Burrell.

The visitors found the net again in the 11th minute. Keith Draper junior found Carl Fellows on the right who hit a well-struck right-foot shot which slipped through the hands and thighs of Burrell and into the net. The game was over as a contest and it was just a question of how many goals Bromsgrove would score.

Bromsgrove goalkeeper Tom Savage was called into action on the quarter hour to gather up a low shot from striker Stefan Morrison, who I believe played for Stapenhill in the past.

Turk should have made it 4-0 when unmarked in from of goal six yards out but his shot flew over the bar (photo right).

By this time I’d vacated the stand and stood behind the goal Bromsgrove were attacking and I got a good view of the fourth goal in the 26th minute. Conway got into the area on the right and squared a pass for Dan Wilkes to sidefoot home.

The same combination were involved in the fifth goal just before the half-hour. Conway fed Wilkes whose powerful shot went in via the hand of Burrell.

A slip by Linton let in Brookes who forced a decent diving save out of Burrell at the expense of a corner.

The sixth goal same in the 33rd minute. Aaron Roberts burst into the area and fired low into the near left-corner as Alex Smith tackled. Conway should have made it seven almost immediately as he sent a rising shot flashing past the Phoenix goal.

The Bromsgrove goal was rarely threatened yet Phoenix reduced the deficit with a 35th-minute goal. Hesitancy at the back allowed former Rushden & Diamonds midfielder Justin Jackson to nip the ball past Savage and into an empty net. The goal was Phoenix’s first in over 11 hours of football since the 4-3 win over Knowle on Saturday 18th February.

The home side soon had another chance. Morrison fired a free-kick against the wall and Asher Blake shot wide from the rebound.

Bromsgrove scored a seventh goal as the interval approached. Fellows delivered a delicious cross from the right for Conway to head home from six yards out.

Linton was replaced by Ben Main at half-time but Morrison did not reappear so Phoenix played the whole of the second half with just ten men.

Conway completed his hat-trick within a minute of the restart. Wilkes fed Roberts who crossed low from the left for Conway to sidefoot home unchallenged at close range.

Someone shouted “I want to see it 14-1,” and that scoreline looked a distinct possibility when Conway scored his fourth goal and Bromsgrove’s ninth in the 55th minute. Turk chipped the ball into the area to the far right post when the red-hot striker fired an angled shot low into the opposite corner.

“Double figures and more lads,” and soon the tenth goal came two minutes later. Substitute Robbie Hendry got on the end of Nicky Martin’s crossed and fired past Burrell.

I felt certain I’d see a side score more than 14 goals in a game for the first time but Bromsgrove added just one more during the final half hour – I shouldn’t have been so greedy!

The referee must have had some sympathy for the home side when Burrell brought down Conway inside the area. He decided not to award a penalty which would have been followed by a red card for the goalkeeper.

Despite having already conceded ten goals, Burrell produced a couple of decent saves around the hour mark to twice deny Roberts a second goal. Conway narrowly missed the target with an acrobatic overhead kick.

In the 70th minute, Phoenix got forward. Blake beat two defenders and got in a low shot which Savage kept out with this boot. From the resulting corner delivered by Shane Tait, James Azamgarthi powered a header into the back of the net to make the score 2-10.

Burrell produced further saves to keep out shots from Conway and James Azamgarthi as hopes of a record win for me faded.

The thirteenth and final goal of the afternoon came in the 84th minute. Draper forced a save out of Burrell and Conway slotted home the rebound at close range.

Phoenix United (blue/blue/blue): 1. Sean Burrell, 2. James Azamgarthi, 3. Aldean Walters, 14. Dwight Linton, 5. Alex Smith, 6. Shaun Smith, 7. Aaron Brannon, 8. Justin Jackson (capt), 9. Asher Blake, 10. Stefan Morrison, 11. Shane Tait. Subs: 12. Daniel McIntosh (not used), 4. Ben Main (for Linton, ht).

Bromsgrove Sporting (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Tom Savage, 2. Carl Fellows, 3. Aaron Roberts, 4. Nicky Martin (capt), 5. Mike Thurbon, 6. Joe Brookes, 7. Keith Draper junior, 8. James Turk, 9. Chris Conway, 10. Dan Wilkes, 11. Kevin Banner. Subs: 12. Robbie Hendry (for Wilkes, 51), 14. Jonathon Rogers (for Thurbon, ht), 15. Peter Jenvey (not used), 16. Chris Bright (not used), 17. Keelan McNally (for Roberts, 64). Manager: Keith Draper senior.

Referee: K. Carroll (Acocks Green).
Assistants: B. Murray and C. Baugh.

0-1 Chris Conway (3 pen)
0-2 Joe Brookes (7 pen)
0-3 Carl Fellows (11)
0-4 Dan Wilkes (26)
0-5 Dan Wilkes (30)
0-6 Aaron Roberts (33)
1-6 Justin Jackson (35)
1-7 Chris Conway (43)
1-8 Chris Conway (46)
1-9 Chris Conway (55)
1-10 Robbie Hendry (57)
2-10 James Azamgarthi (70)
2-11 Chris Conway (84)