Aylestone Park 2 Graham St Prims 2

Saturday 11th August 2012
Aylestone Park 2 Graham St Prims 2
East Midlands Counties League
At: Mary Linwood Recreation Ground, Saffron Lane, Leicester
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 30
Duration: first-half: 45:32; second-half: 51:34

Like most, if not all, Step 6 leagues, the East Midlands Counties League commenced last Saturday so clubs contesting an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie this weekend had at least one competitive game under their belt. As Aylestone Park and Graham Street Prims failed to qualify for a place on this year’s ‘Road to Wembley’, they both had to be content with their second league fixture instead this afternoon. I’m pleased they did as the two served up a decent contest which started with an early converted penalty from Prims’ James Rushby and ended with Kieran Neat scrambling home a stoppage time equaliser for Park. In between, Ross Coxon extended Prims’ lead and Levi Ramsay scored and then missed from the penalty spot during this 2-2 draw.

A trip to newly-promoted Aylestone Park appealed today and became a more attractive proposition when I spotted their Mary Linwood Recreation Ground was a mere 15 or so minutes walk from South Wigston Station. Even better, trains from/to Nuneaton fitted in perfectly with a 3 pm kick-off.

Bizarrely, I approached the paybox from INSIDE the ground having entered through the hedge which separates the club’s new complex from the old one on Dorset Road which is still there minus the relocated stand. The Mary Linwood complex is a large playing field which includes two pitches inside a rail that are so close that the dugouts are doubled side and no spectator can watch the game from that side. As Laurence pointed out on the blog of his visit (http://laurencereade.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/a-game-of-one-half/), ‘the sole spectator accommodation [at the new ground] is still the same unseated Arena stand, salvaged from the old ground, and given a lick of paint’.

By the way, according to good old Wikipedia, Mary Linwood (1755–1845) was a needle woman who exhibited her worsted embroidery or crewel embroidery in Leicester and London, and was the school mistress of a private school later known as Mary Linwood Comprehensive School. The site of said school, now demolished and rebuilt as the ‘Samworth Enterprise Academy’, bordered the football ground bearing her name.

I earlier met Craig Dabbs, the ex-Telford hopper now based in Bedfordshire, at the paybox and, from a vantage point in the stand, we saw Aylestone Park (wearing red) get the action underway attacking the clubhouse end in the first half. I almost forgot to say that just before kick-off we spotted a Vulcan bomber in the diatance to the south of the ground.

Prims took a 6th minute lead. Keiran Neat brought down James Rushby inside the area and Rushby himself confidently converted the resulting penalty (photo right).

In terms of chances created, Aylestone Park dominated the first half but gained no reward in terms of goals for their efforts. Lev Ramsay fired straight at Prims’ goalkeeper Richard Hankey and Lyndon Seal did the same with a header, while Ramsay did the same with subsequent header.

Normally by this point I would have mentioned the teams’ respective places in the league table and record in terms of games played and points. Both Park (at home to Greenwood Meadows) and Prims (away at Gedling Miners Welfare) recorded a 1-0 on the opening day so occupied joint fifth place in the league on three points from one game.

Despite the lack of a goal, the message to Park was “keep going … it will come’. Of we headed back into the clubhouse for half-time – text messages from me giving the half-time score to a few people including my Dad while Craig (@craigdabbs1) kept his followers informed with a ‘tweet’: ‘HT and it's Aylestone Park 0 Graham Street Prims 1 after a 6 min penalty. Can't seeing it staying like this Aylestone are much better.’

Chances were scarce at the start of the second half – Jake Limbert drove wide of the Prims goal from 20 yards out – until the visitors doubled their lead shortly before the hour mark. Liam Oliver, on the right, fed Russ Coxon who fired home a shot with too much power that few in off Park’s goalkeeper Ben Jackson.

“Big ten minutes lads”, shouted one Prims player to his teammates and within a couple of minutes of that second goal, it became a case of “Prims, that was a let off”. The dangerous Ramsay saw an initial shot rebound off the bar and Lyndon Seal sent the resulting loose ball wide of a mostly open goal.

It became ‘game on’ for the home side when they pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute. Hankey brought down Lyndon Seal inside the area and Ramsay sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Park were awarded a second penalty on the 77th minute. This time substitute Matt Shilcott brought down Ephraim Williams but Ramsay agonisingly sent the ball over the bar from the ‘spot’, as the photo below shows.

A couple of final twists awaited in stoppage time – an equaliser and almost a winner for Park. Neat scrambled home an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time after Ramsay’s header hit the post and during the time that remained, Hankey turned round another downward header from Ramsay.

Aylestone Park (red with red and white sleeves / red / red): 1. Ben Jackson, 2. Harry Henery, 3. Karl Towers, 4. Ross Lavin, 5. Kieran Neat, 6. Jake Limbert, 7. Richard Gerald, 8. Nick Colford (capt), 9. Levi Ramsay, 17. Luke Towers, 11. Lyndon Seal. Subs: 10. Gareth Seal (for Colford, 79), 12. Shakir Samuel (not used), 14. Luke Baston (for Henery, 62), 15. Ephraim Williams (for Lyndon Seal, 62), 16. Matthew Banton (not used).

Graham Street Prims (blue/blue/blue): 1. Richard Hankey, 2. Andy Cross, 3. Tom Milner, 4. Michael Simpson, 5. Josh Mycroft (capt), 6. Matt Shilcott, 7. Chris Briggs, 8. Joe Turner, 9. James Rushby, 10. Ross Coxon, 11. Liam Oliver. Subs: 12. Rob Fretwell (for Turner, 70), 14. Ashley Worthington (for Cross, 90+3), 15. Matt Taylor (not used), 16. Paul Heatherington (for Milner, 73).

Referee: M. Gupta.
Assistants: K. Robinson and J. Anderson.

0-1 James Rushby (6)
0-2 Ross Coxon (57)
1-2 Levi Ramsay (62 pen)
2-2 Kieran Neat (90+3)

Aylestone Park: Levi Ramsay (YC, 88)
Graham Street Prims: Richard Hankey (YC, 61)