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)