Lye Town 2 Bartley Green 2

Friday 10th August 2012
Lye Town 2 Bartley Green 2
FA Cup with Budweiser Extra Preliminary Round
At: Stourbridge Road
Kick-off: 8-00 pm
Admission: £4; No programme
Weather: sunny spells, dry
Attendance: 145
Duration: first-half: 46:06; second-half: 48:10

This was one of those nostalgic revisits I do enjoy, as the last of my two previous trips to Stourbridge Road came way back in the late 1990s. Tonight’s game was a cracking contest in front of a sizable crowd and Lye forced a replay with a superb late injury-time equaliser from defender Steve Lodge. Earlier, Scott Gennard had given the home side an early lead before visitors Bartley Green moved ahead with goals either side of the interval both scored by Odane Barnes. And, the ground was as I remembered and justifiably described as ‘wonderful’ in Laurence's text message, especially on a pleasant sunny evening like tonight.

For a while, I’ve been itching to recall my most recent visit to Stourbridge Road – over 20 years ago! And, to comments like “you were out on Tuesday,” I decided to ignore the wrath of the family and pressed on undeterred to tonight’s FA Cup local derby on this season’s first day of fixtures (games also at Ascot, Thrapston and Wootton Bassett).

Back in October 1989, Stafford Rangers travelled away to Lye Town for an FA Cup Third Qualifying Round and included an 18-year-old called Stan Collymore in the starting line-up. Collymore scored his first Stafford goal that afternoon on only his third appearance for the club in a 2-1 win (attendance 757) and just 14 months later moved into the Football League with a £100,000 move to Crystal Palace. From that trip, my second to the ground, I remembered the cricket ground and barrel-roofed stand behind the goal which is still in situ.

Somehow, the ailing car made it through Wolverhampton and Stourbridge to the ground and before kick-off I was joined by Paul the Albion fan, Tim, Leo and Paddy the ‘buncranaboy’, amongst a few other hoppers. No one was seen crying in the car park over the lack of a programme!

Lye and Bartley Green are both members of the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division, as the latter switched from the Midland Combination during the summer. As a form guide, the teams met at Bartley Green last Saturday with Lye winning 4-2. While Lye (9th in the table with 3 points from 1 game) didn’t have a midweek fixture, Bartley Green (16th with 0 points from 2 games) lost 3-2 at Dudley Sports.

“Bartley Green kick, as we are,” shouted referee Neil Faunch and the visitors got the game underway attacking the aforementioned barrel-roofed stand end in the first half.

Soon, the raffle ticket seller came round and she was about to sell me strip ‘141-145’ until the person stood next to me got out his £1 faster than me so I ended up with the following strip. I knew what might happen.

I watched the first half in the company of Albion fan Paul and we saw Lye (in blue shirts and socks with white sleeves) take a 12th-minute lead. An initial shot was blocked from Richard Anslow, a summer signing from AFC Wulfrunians, and Scott Gennard fired home the loose ball via the hands of the diving Bartley Green goalkeeper Aaran Gayle.

Bartley Green (in amber and black) equalised midway through the first half. Courtney Charles found Odane Barnes in front of goal who volleyed home at close range – a well-taken goal!

While the first half was unquestionably decent with both sides looking to attack, meaningful scoring chances were scarce; around the half-hour mark, Daniel Morris drove just over the Lye bar from 25-yards out and Lye’s Kalum Evitts saw a shot kept out by the legs of Gayle.

More by luck than design, I watched the first half close to the ‘Snack Bar’ with its impressive and extensive menu – alas with an understandable dominance of meat – and so barely a minute after the half-time whistle, I had a much needed tea and tray of chips in hand.

Earlier, Paul (Albion fan) told me about his trip to Cheddar last Saturday. He didn’t know he’d missed a goal early in the second half and left at full time thinking the home side had won 3-2 rather than drawn 3-3 (sorry for recalling this but it is relevant). Anyway, I hope he saw the second half start as Bartley Green took the lead just 20 seconds after the restart. Barnes broke down the right into the area past a defender and fired home despite a partial save from Lye goalkeeper Charles Price.

I watched the second half from the side down the side, first sat on one of the blue-painted benches until a foot-tapping youth forced me to move forward a row to a white bench. The tannoy leapt into action to announce the winning raffle ticket – blue 136–140. For a moment I thought the winner was the strip I almost bought, it was the one before the one I almost bought. Phew!

As the half wore on, Lye applied pressure on the hard-working Bartley Green defender and, in the 70th minute, Gayle turned a well-struck low shot from Gennard round the near left-hand post. Gayle produced a vital double save two minutes later to first deny Gennard and then Steve Lodge.

Mark Rollins, the Bartley Green midfielder, suffered a cut head and returned to the field bandaged up like Terry Butcher without the blood-stained shirt.

Into stoppage time, it looked like Bartley Green would survive to earn a home tie against either Boldmere or Bridgnorth in the next round. But, one last twist came in the second minute of stoppage time. Lodge picked up the ball some 35-yards out and sent an unstoppable drive into the top left-corner via the underside of the bar. Not quite Ronnie Radford but not dissimilar to his goal against Newcastle 40 years ago though without a pitch invasion of jubilant fans.

Replay on Tuesday evening at Illey Lane.

Lye Town (blue/blue/white): 1. Charles Price, 2. Ian Millward, 3. Lee Dimmock, 4. Steve Lodge, 5. Ashley Greenaway, 6. Robin Sheffield, 7. Ben Jevons (capt), 8. Scott Gennard, 9. Richard Anslow, 10. Steve Weaver, 11. Kalum Evitts. Subs: 12. Steve Bull (not used), 14. Reece Shilvock (for Weaver, 77), 15. Martin Jennings (not used), 16. Steve Ward (not used), 17. Matthew Blakemore (not used), 18. Chris Poyntz (not used), 19. Lawrence Brown (not used).

Bartley Green (amber and black stripes / black / black): 1. Aaron Gayle, 2. Carl Tromans, 3. Daniel Morris, 4. Gary Knight, 5. Dennis Pickett, 6. Bradley Whitehouse, 7. Mark Rollins (capt), 8. Martin Butler, 9. Odane Barnes, 10. Courtney Charles, 11. Nanu Yukuba. Subs: 12. Kieran Pace, (for Charles, 77) 14. Dan Crawford (not used), 15. Silva Touray (not used), 16. Daniel Butler (not used), 17. Oliver Statham (for Yukuba, 71), 18. Amadou Jallow (not used), 19. Mohammed Ndow (not used).

Referee: Neil Faunch.

1-0 Scott Gennard (12)
1-1 Odane Barnes (22)
1-2 Odane Barnes (46)
2-2 Steve Lodge (90+2)

Lye: Scott Gennard (YC, 40)
Bartley Green: Martin Butler (YC, 37), Carl Tromans (YC, 79)