Warstones Wanderers A Stafford Town A

Tuesday 30th October 2012
Warstones Wanderers A Stafford Town A
(abandoned after 29 minutes due to floodlight failure)
JW Hunt Cup First Round
At: Long Lane, Essington
Kick:-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: none
Weather: mild, dry
Attendance: 14 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 29:27

Just 29 minutes of action was possible as the referee abandoned this JW Hunt Cup tie when the floodlights failed for a second time. Stafford Town were leading 1-0 at the time thanks to an 18th minute volley from Paul McMahon.

Both sides took good form into the game. After a terrible start to their West Midlands (Regional) League Division One campaign in which they lost all of their first five league games, Warstones Wanderers (11th with 15 points from 10 games) had won their last five games scoring 17 goals and conceding just four. Stafford Town (7th with 24 points from 15 games) had lost just one of their last eight league games in the Athium Midland Combination Premier Division.

This was my third visit to Long Lane, Essington, which has a 100-seater stand. Previously I'd seen Wyrley Rangers defeat tonight’s visitors Stafford Town on May Day Bank Holiday in 2005 and the 1-1 draw between Burntwood and Phoenix United in April last year.

Tonight, Warstones (in green and white stripes) got the game underway attacking from left to right in relation to my position stood next to the stand in the company of the Stafford Town Secretary. Town created an early chance when Steve Bennett flicked on a throw from the left by Spencer Gunnell. The ball fell to Paul McMahon, a few yards out, who fired straight at Warstones goalkeeper Andrew Aston.

Then, after 5 minutes and 10 seconds, the lights went out.

Play resumed some twenty minutes later and during the break I got chatting with ‘Mugsy’ who was trying to remember where he’d last seen me.

Warstones created a couple of decent chances. Aston McGinnis drove over the bar from 30 yards out and Stefan Bernard beat several defender on a mazy run into the area but shot weakly at Richard Stone.

Paul McMahon put Town ahead in the 18th minute. Bennett pulled the ball back from the right bye-line and McMahon volleyed home like a striker not afraid to shoot.

Simeon Townend had a great chance to equalise seven minutes later, firing over the bar from 15 yards out.

Once again, Long Lane was plunged into darkness in the 30th minute and three loud blasts of the referee’s whistle signalled a premature end to the tie.

The sides will try again next Tuesday, 6th November, at Stafford Town’s Evans Park ground, kick-off 7-45 pm.

I can only recall having one previous game abandoned due to floodlight failure – a Premier League game between Wimbledon and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on Monday 22nd December 1997.

Warstones Wanderers (green and white stripes / green / green): 1. Andrew Aston, 2. Aston McGinnis, 3. Lee Brown, 4. Curtis Simpson, 5. Ben Whittal (capt), 6. Ravi Sohal, 7. Stefan Bernard, 8. Ade Beckford, 9. Patrick Rafferty, 10. Simeon Townsend, 11. John Charters. Subs: 12. Ashley Justin (not used), 14. Scott Williamson (not used), 15. Mitchell Kerry (not used).

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Richard Stone, 2. Steve Bennett, 3. Darryl Evans, 4. Chris Morris, 5. James Price, 6. Mat Dockerty (capt), 7. Ryan Fox, 8. Jamie Cartwright, 9. Paul McMahon, 10. Darryll Johns, 11. Spencer Gunnell. Subs: 12. Wayne Bailey (not used), 14. Jason Cunningham (not used), 15. Craig Smith (not used), 16. Ishmale Reid (not used).

Referee: Thomas Harty.

0-1 Paul McMahon (18)

Cards: none

Northwich Victoria 3 Lincoln United 3

Sunday 28th October 2012
Northwich Victoria 3 Lincoln United 3
Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South
At: Marston Road, Stafford
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7; Programme: £2 (28 pages)
Weather: cold and dry after pre-match rain
Attendance: 87
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 51:03

Though told I saw some action at both Doncaster’s Belle Vue and Barnsley’s Oakwell grounds at a very young age, I’ve always considered Marston Road in Stafford as ‘ground number one’. Not long after moving from Yorkshire to Staffordshire, I watched Stafford Rangers defeat Sutton Town in an FA Cup Third Qualifying Round on Saturday 23rd October 1971 (2-0 with both goals scored by Ray Williams before a crowd of 2,816). Some 41 years and 600+ visits later, groundsharers Northwich Victoria hosted Lincoln United salvaged a point in a 3-3 draw from the penalty spot with virtually the last kick of an entertaining contest.

Being back at Marston Road for the first time since July last year, I paused at the side of the stand to look at the engraved bricks - and particularly remember those people I knew.

Following yesterday’s games, Northwich (18 points from 11 games) dropped out of the play-off zone from fifth to sixth position in the Division One South table. They’d won their last two games at Marston Road defeating Rainworth Miners Welfare and Romulus.

Visitors Lincoln United (11 points from 13 games) remained in 20th position with just Kidsgrove Athletic and bottom side Hucknall Town below them. In their last match on Tuesday, Lincoln hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a fine 2-1 home victory over leaders Coalville Town.

Line-ups were announced over the tannoy and, with the rain all but stopped, Northwich (in green and white hoops) got the game underway attacking the Shed/Town End in the first half.

For the first seven minutes, the ball was rarely in either penalty area but that all changed when Jordan Hempenstall sent a 20-yard left-foot shot flashing past the Northwich goal. In the next attack, Ben Garrick broke down the right and crossed to the far post where unmarked Hempenstall headed Lincoln into the lead.

I watched the game from the stand in the company of Peter Baker and Lincoln could have scored again on the quarter hour. Garrick beat Travis Gray on a run down the right and crossed into the area where Northwich goalkeeper Ryan Robinson did well to keep out a close-range shot from George Zuerner.

After the early midfield battle, chances were now being created more frequently and John Hardiker saw a header cleared off the line from a left-wing corner delivered by Conor Roberts.

With floodlights now on and interval approaching, Northwich’s Joe Guest forced a diving save out of Phil McGann. But the Lincoln goalkeeper failed to make contact with the resulting right-wing corner delivered by Roberts and Hardiker headed home the equaliser.

Just before the break, Joe Guest headed against the Lincoln bar when unmarked from just a few yards out.

McGann produced a couple of saves early in the second half to keep out shots from Chris McDonagh and the lively Chris Luby. It was no surprise when Vics went ahead in the 57th minute. Paul Mooney fed Roberts who confidently fired low into the bottom right corner of the net.

However, Lincoln were back on level terms five minutes later. Gray brought down Hempenstall inside the area and Scott Coupland sent Robinson the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

The visitors stunned Northwich by regaining the lead in the 71st minute. Hempenstall intercepted a weak backpass, draw Robinson off his line and slotted into an empty net. Robinson kept Vics in contention with a save to keep out a close-range shot from David Coyde.

Northwich threw on player-coach Adriano Rigoglioso, the much-travelled former Morecambe and Forest Green Rovers striker, and he sent a fierce drive inches over the bar.

I think the Northwich bench were surprised that only three minutes of added time was indicated, though this was extended by treatment for the injured David Hone. Once the midfielder had headed for the touchline, Gray delivered a long throw into the packed Lincoln area where Liam Bull clearly pushed McDonagh and Mr Strain pointed to the spot. Guest stepped up to hammered up the penalty to make the score 3-3.

Play continued for no more than four seconds before the referee blew the full-time whistle. Northwich had extended their current unbeaten home record to eight games while Lincoln can count themselves unlucky not to record back-to-back wins against teams much higher up the table. The point took them out of the bottom three, swapping places with Leek Town.

Northwich Victoria (green and white hoops / white / white): 1. Ryan Robinson, 2. Travis Gray, 3. Joe Guest, 4. Callum Henry, 5. John Hardiker (capt), 6. Christian Peach, 7. Chris McDonagh, 8. Paul Mooney, 9. Chris Luby, 10. Conor Roberts, 11. Michael Connor. Subs: 12. Adriano Rigoglioso (for Mooney 78), 14. David Nolan (not used), 15. Alan Wright (not used), 17gk. Gary Spotswood (not used).

Lincoln United (red/red/red): 1. Phil McGann, 2. Terry Fleming, 3. David Coyde, 4. George Zuerner, 5. Stuart Reddington (capt), 6. Sean Wright, 7. David Hone, 8. Liam Bull, 9. Ben Garrick, 10. Jordan Hempenstall, 11. Scott Coupland. Subs: 12. Ben Clucas (not used), 14. Tom Cowan (for Zuerner, 83), 15. Brendan McDaid (for Garrick, 70), 16. Liam Sharpe (not used).

Referee: D. Strain.
Assistants: C. Behn and D. Rogers.

0-1 Jordan Hempenstall (8)
1-1 John Hardiker (40)
2-1 Conor Roberts (57)
2-2 Scott Coupland (62 pen)
2-3 Jordan Hempenstall (71)
3-3 Joe Guest (90+6 pen)

Northwich: none
Lincoln: Terry Fleming (YC, 51), Scott Coupland (YC, 53), George Zuerner (YC, 78), Liam Bull (YC, 90+6)

Dorking Wanderers 3 Chichester City 1

Saturday 27th October 2012
Dorking Wanderers 3 Chichester City 1
Sussex County League Division One
At: West Humble Playing Field
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £6; Programme: £1 (44 pages)
Weather: cold, showers
Attendance: 35
Duration: first-half: 45:36; second-half: 45:49

Founded as recently as 1999, Dorking Wanderers were initially members of the Crawley & District League and West Sussex League so weren’t on my radar during those early years prior to our move away from the South East. So, during the 11 years since we headed up to the Midlands, they have made great strides both on and off the field to progress into the top division of the Sussex County League. Today they recorded a fine 3-1 victory over Chichester City on a cold and rainy afternoon despite playing the last half-hour with ten men after goalkeeper Paul Williams was sent off for handling outside his area.

The promotion of Dorking Wanderers during the summer had meant I was one ground short of visiting all of the grounds in Sussex County League Division One (see list at the end). Travelling by train, I took the hourly London Victoria to Horsham service (departed 12.31) via Sutton and Leatherhead, alighting at Box Hill & Westhumble station (arrived 13.21) and continued on foot past the Stepping Stones pub currently undergoing refurbishment prior to a ‘grand reopening’ in a few weeks time, and along the A24 towards Dorking. A drive led from the northbound carriageway of the A24 to the ground’s entrance. Arriving very early due to train times, I was greeted by a club official who went out of his way to get me a programme and spent time in the relative warmth of the clubhouse.

All of the ground’s facilities are either behind the near goal or along the far touchline closest to the railway. Looking at the photos which Laurence and Mishi took on their visit 10 months ago, a new stand has been erected containing 50 seats as well as new area of covered standing in front of the clubhouse. Dugouts have been relocated from the railway side to the far side and floodlights installed as well. At the moment spectators only have access to two sides of the ground.

I mentioned recently, in conjunction with my visit to Holbrook St Michaels, that I like seeing the home side’s history printed in the programme.

Dorking’s programme (Programme Monthly’s Sussex County League Division Two Programme of the Year 2011/12) didn’t disappoint and I read that Wanderers moved to the West Humble Playing Field around 2007 and joined the Sussex County League for the 2007/08 season. The past two seasons have seen the club rise from Division Three to Division One with back-to-back promotions in 2011 and 2012.

One thing the editor wrote jogged my memory of recent events during the summer I’d sketchily read about. Both Dorking (to gain promotion to Division One) and Chichester (to avoid relegation) successfully appealed to the FA at Wembley as part of the controversy surrounding the expansion of the top Sussex County League division to 22 clubs. So today’s game could have been a Division Two clash had things turned out differently.

Dorking’s rookie season in Division One has been them so far pick up 13 points from 11 games and stood in 17th position. After bottom last season, Chichester (20th with 9 points from 15 games) haven’t found things easy in 2012/13 either with just two league wins.

With a northerly wind blowing and rain falling diagonally, Chichester (in white and green) got the game underway attacking the northern end into the elements – right to left in relation to my seat in the stand, which provided a great view of Box Hill all afternoon!

A spectator’s umbrella became the first casualty of the game, rendered useless by a severe gust of wind!

Dorking took just four minutes to take the lead. Jake Hill indirect free-kick, delivered from near the left bye-line, fell perfectly for Rob Osgood to fire home.

Impressed with the start his side had made, one Dorking defender told his teammates to “keep the work rate up,” and they did just that. Glenn Boosey forced a diving save out of Chichester goalkeeper Matt Evans, during a period around the quarter-hour mark when the wind briefly eased and small patches of blue sky started to emerge.

Evans produced a great save in the 24th minute to push a rising 35-yard free-kick against the right-hand post.

While the visitors were creating the odd scoring opportunity, the wind continued to aid Dorking as they pressed for a second goal. Twice Sean Finlay fired against the legs of Evans who later tipped over a header from Boosey.

Chatting to a spectator at the interval, we wondered if Dorking’s one-goal advantage would be sufficient bearing in mind that Chichester would be attacking with the wind during the second half.

To the shouts from the touchline of “C’mon Chi,” the visitors almost equalised five minutes after the restart. Jack Blatchford fed Dom Taylor who saw a rising 30-yard shot tipped on to the bar by Paul Williams, who up to this point had had little to do.

Dorking doubled their lead in the 56th minute. Boosey robbed defender Julian Boniface, got into the area and beat Evans with a deft lob.

The goal proved crucial as Dorking’s hopes looked to have taken a massive blow just after the hour mark when goalkeeper Paul Williams was sent off for handling outside his area, an offence spotted by the nearby assistant. I couldn’t tell if a clear goalscoring opportunity was denied or not. Defender Shane Duffell went in goal and a reshuffle of the nine remaining outfield players resulted in Boosey being substituted. At least the wind had eased and Wanderers had a valuable two-goal cushion to protect.

Goalkeepers handling outside their area has become a hot topic in recent games I’ve seen. Just 11 days ago Heath Hayes’ Adam Lane was sent off for the offence while at Coles Lane on Monday, Rainworth’s Joe McCormack escaped with just one booking even though he twice handed outside his area against Romulus.

Dorking’s two-goal cushion became a one-goal cushion in the 72nd minute. Blatchford delivered a free-kick into the area where Boniface sent a glancing header past Duffell.

Chichester really needed to test the Duffell but the Dorking defence protected their seemingly nervy goalkeeper. Blatchford resorted to a long range shot which flew past the right-hand post.

“At least five minutes,” said the referee to someone in the crowd who enquired how long remained. Whether he followed Dorking or Chichester, I don’t know.

Dorking made good use of the remaining minutes. They put outcome beyond doubt with a third goal scored in the 86th minute by Chris Williams who sent a right-foot shot into the bottom-left corner from 15 yards out. They then won a late corner and kept the ball to themselves to wind down the cock. Boniface gave away a free-kick and picked up a booking moments before the referee blew the final whistle.

I made my way back alongside the A24 and left into Westhumble Street to the station in time to catch the 17.26 train back to London, feeling satisfied to have once again visited all of the grounds in Sussex County League Division One.

"Nowhere in England is richer foliage, or wilder downs and fresher woodlands” George Meredith (1829-1909). Sign spotted at Box Hill & Westhumble station welcoming visitors to the Surrey Hills.

Good day out!

Dorking Wanderers (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Paul Williams, 2. Dave Suchy, 3. Sean Smart, 4. Duncan Fraser, 5. Shane Duffell, 6. Jake Hill (capt), 7. Bobby Hooper, 8. Rob Osgood, 9. Glenn Boosey, 10. Chris Williams, 11. Sean Finlay. Subs: 12. Jack Lyons (for Boosey, 64), 14. Martin Marritt (for Osgood, ht), 15. Kevin Bassika (not used), 16. Jamal Okai (not used).

Chichester City (white/green/green): 1. Matt Evans, 2. Dave Knight, 3. Tom Bigwood, 4. Peter Hibbert, 15. Julian Boniface, 6. Dan Smith, 7. Jack Blatchford, 8. James Parsons, 9. Pat Busquets, 10. Dom Taylor, 11. Perry Northeast (capt). Subs: 12. Rob Madden (for Parsons, 55), 14. Oliver Lambert (for Northeast, 72).

Referee: Darren Eaton.
Assistants: Alexander Hall and Anthony Scott.

1-0 Rob Osgood (4)
2-0 Glenn Boosey (56)
2-1 Julian Boniface (72)
3-1 Chris Williams (87)

Dorking: Paul Williams (RC, 62)
Chichester: Julian Boniface (YC, 90+1)

Visits to Sussex County League Division One grounds
AFC Uckfield (as Wealden) – 4/9/99 v St Francis (Sussex County League Division 3)
Arundel – 22/2/92 v Hailsham Town (Sussex County League Division 1)
Chichester City – 3/10/92 v Cray Wanderers (FA Vase Preliminary Round)
Crowborough Athletic – 17/8/94 v Oakwood (Sussex County League Division 1)
Dorking Wanderers – 27/10/12 v Chichester City (Sussex County League Division 1)
East Grinstead Town – 4/10/91 v Midhurst & Easebourne (Sussex County League Division 2)
East Preston – 27/12/93 v Lindfield (Sussex County League Division 3)
Hailsham Town – 26/1/91 v Arundel (Sussex County League Division 1)
Hassocks – 3/12/94 v Mile Oak (Sussex County League Division 2)
Horsham YMCA – 7/12/91 v Stamco (Sussex County League Division 2)
Lancing – 19/4/90 v Hailsham Town (Sussex County League Division 1)
Lingfield – 13/4/98 v Franklands Village (Sussex County League Division 3)
Pagham – 28/11/90 v Hastings Town (Sussex Floodlight Cup)
Peacehaven & Telscombe – 18/8/90 v Three Bridges (Sussex County League Division 1)
Redhill – 30/4/90 v Littlehampton Town (Sussex County League Division 1)
Ringmer – 12/10/90 v Eastbourne Town (Sussex County League Division 1)
Rye United – 28/3/98 v Thames Poly (Kent County League Premier Division)
St Francis Rangers – 26/8/96 v Haywards Heath Town (Sussex County League Division 3)
Selsey – 9/3/94 v Steyning Town (Sussex County League Division 2)
Shoreham – 2/8/90 v Crawley Town (Pre-Season Friendly)
Sidley United – 14/1/95 v Chichester City (Sussex County League Division 2)
Worthing United – 9/10/93 v Mile Oak (Sussex County League Division 2)

Romulus 2 Rainworth Miners Welfare 3

Monday 22nd October 2012
Romulus 2 Rainworth Miners Welfare 3
Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South
At: Coles Lane, Sutton Coldfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £7; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: mild, damp, foggy
Attendance: 46
Duration: first-half: 46:20; second-half: 50:55

Both sides finished with ten men as Rainworth Miners Welfare came out on top of this competitive game by the odd goal in five and made a massive leap up the table from 14th to seventh position as a result. Two goals came within 80 seconds just before the quarter-hour mark with Sean Robinson cancelling out Karl Slack’s opener. Slack regained the lead for the visitors earlier in the second half before Romulus had Robert Evans sent off for violent conduct. A super goal from substitute Jordan Turner increased Rainworth’s lead in the 75th minute. In a late twist, Ryan Goward picked up a second booking for handball inside the area and Dexter Ravenhill converted the resulting penalty to set up an interesting finale.

Romulus (red and white stripes / red / red): 1. Lewis Exall, 2. Robert Evans, 3. Stefan Popovic, 4. Sean Robinson, 5. Liam Francis (capt), 6. Nicky Campbell, 7. Dexter Ravenhill, 8. Nathan Walker, 9. Dan O’Callaghan, 10. Nathan Jackson, 11. Ashley Jackson. Subs: 12. Mykel Beckley (for Campbell, 68), 14. Ray Facey (for Popovic, 68), 15. Peter Folkes (not used), 16. Richard Munday (not used), 17. Keenan Meakin-Richards (not used).

Rainworth Miners Welfare (white/white/white): 1. Joe McCormack, 2. Kieran Walker, 3. Ryan Goward, 4. Mark Camm (capt), 5. Ashley Kitchen, 6. Adam Burton, 7. Callum Lloyd, 8. Danny Bacon, 9. Karl Slack, 10. Jared Holmes, 11. Blair Anderson. Subs: 12. Ewan Clarke (for Slack, 82), 14. Jordan Turner (for Bacon, ht), 15. Lee Cooksey (not used).

Referee: Mike Bingham (Leamington Spa).
Assistants: Richard Cutts and Kenwin Hughes.

0-1 Karl Slack (14)
1-1 Sean Robinson (15)
1-2 Karl Slack (52)
1-3 Jordan Turner (75)
2-3 Dexter Ravenhill (89 pen)

Romulus: Robert Evans (YC, 67), Robert Evans (RC, 74)
Rainworth: Joe McCormack (YC, 57), Ryan Goward (YC, 72), Jordan Turner (YC, 82), Ryan Goward (YC/RC, 88)

FC Cavaliers 0 Kimberley Miners Welfare 0

Saturday 20th October 2012
FC Cavaliers 0 Kimberley Miners Welfare 0
Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League Senior Division
At: Carrington Sports Ground, Mapperley Park Drive, Nottingham
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 12 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:25; second-half: 45:23

Needing to be in Nottingham at lunchtime today, my attention turned to the Nottinghamshire Senior League in search of a ground I’d not previously visited. And, as luck would have it, FC Cavaliers’ Carrington Sports Ground off Mapperley Park Drive was less than two miles from the precise part of the city I needed to be in. They faced Kimberley Miners Welfare in a Senior Division fixture and despite finishing goalless, this feisty contest proved to be a good choice. We had two disallowed goals, a missed penalty, a sending off and several decent saves, not forgetting the friendliness of the welcome I received.

The Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League was formed at the start of the 2004/05 season and today it boasts a top Senior Division with 16 clubs and lower Divisions One and Two. FC Cavaliers, under their previous name of Caribbean Cavaliers, were Senior Division champions in 2007/08 and last season finished runners-up to Bulwell. Previously, I’d seen Linby Colliery Welfare host Clifton in the competition almost three years ago in November 2009.

The Carrington Sports Ground was easily found just off the A60. Travelling north away from the city centre on Mansfield Road, turn right into Mapperley Park Drive, just after passing St John’s Church, then first right into Alverstone Road to the ground. It is a large playing field which caters for cricket and football, with the main football pitch at the far southern end running lengthways, roped off down the touchlines. A bank provided a higher vantage point behind the goal at the east end.

I must say I received a really warm and friendly welcome on arrival at the ground around 40 minutes before kick-off. Line-ups for both sides were easily obtained and a home club official tempted me into having a Caribbean pasty for lunch from the tea bar inside the pavilion. FC Cavaliers don’t issue programmes at the moment but this may not be the case in future.

Going into the game in 5th position, FC Cavaliers (15 points from 8 games) had suffered just one league defeat – 4-2 at home in early September to leaders Bulwell who still retained a 100% record from eight games.

There was some kind of symmetry to Kimberley Miners Welfare’s record of four wins and four defeats. They stood in 8th position with 12 points from 8 games.

Last Saturday, FC Cavaliers drew 2-2 at home to Clifton at the same time as Kimberley lost 4-1 at Ruddington Village.

I forgot to mention that the usual Saturday kick-off time in the Notts Senior League during October is 2-30 pm though next week's fixtures appear to kick-off at 2-00 pm.

FC Cavaliers (in green and black) got the game underway defending the aforementioned ‘bank end’ in the first half. Despite plenty of positive intentions, the first chance didn’t come until the 9th minute when Andre Koziello drove just over the bar from fully 30 yards out.

The home side were awarded a penalty a minute later when Kimberley’s goalkeeper Matt Walsh brought down Vladimia Farrell inside the area. Chris Joseph sent Walsh the wrong way but the ball ended up the wrong side of the right-hand post (photo right).

Goalscoring opportunities started to be created more frequently and a nice move from the home side ended with Ricky Cross firing into the sidenetting. Just after the midpoint of the first half, Karl Beecham crossed deep into the Cavaliers area where Gavin Powell headed wide.

Eventually on the half-hour mark, FC Cavaliers had the ball in the back of the net, only to be ruled offside. Jayford Henry ran on to a defence-splitting throughball from Farrell and confidently sent a first-time shot past Walsh. However, celebrations were cut short as the assistant had raised his flag with the comment “when the ball was played”, confirming Henry was offside when Farrell released his pass.

The same assistant was centre stage againseven minutes later when Cavaliers through they'd ‘scored’ for a second time. He spotted that Ricky Cross controlled Henry’s deep ball from the right with his hand before Stefan Cross fired home.

Kimberley were reduced to ten men in the 39th minute when Beecham received a straight red card for a challenge on Koziello around the half-way line. A few minutes later, as they walked past me on the way to the clubhouse, a couple of spectators asked for my view on the sending off. I tried to ‘sit on the fence’ with my opinion, without knowing at the time that the league’s Referees’ Secretary was stood close by! However, privately I thought the sending off was a correct decision by the referee.

Now a man down, the visitors almost scored just before the interval. Cavaliers defender Andrew Danylyzyn sliced a clearance towards his own goal and David Martt produced a diving one-handed save to keep the ball out.

The referee had a chat with both captains before the start of the second half of what was a really feisty contest.

Both goalkeepers produced a decent save each during the opening nine minutes of the second half. Martt turned round a right-foot shot from Jake Fisher at the expense of a corner (photo right), then Walsh dived to his left to keep out a far-post header from Joseph.

With Cavaliers in the ascendency, Henry hit a 25-yard shot from the right of the ‘D’ which flew wide of the far post. Substitute Damion Powell hit the post and Walsh again excelled with a diving save to stop Henry’s 25-yard free-kick.

However, Kimberley weren’t out of it and, before Powell’s near miss, Alex Sheffield drove low just wide of the target past the diving Martt.

Controversy reigned again in the closing stages. Reece Powell brought down Damion Powell inside the area but the referee waived play on even though both myself and the person stood next to wondered if the close-by assistant had tried to indicate a penalty. We’ll never know.

Cavaliers created one last chance to break the deadlock moments before the final whistle. Henry did well to get into the area and fed Marcus Anthony who fired straight at Walsh (photo right).

To be honest, it doesn’t matter anymore that there weren’t any goals after my long run without a 0-0 ended 11 days ago at Sutton Coldfield Town. I made my way to the car after the final whistle with memories of a keenly-contested game and really friendly club officials from both sides.

Other commitments permitting, I hope to visit Kimberley’s Digby Street ground in April next year when they host the final match of the inaugural Notts Senior League Bonanza.

FC Cavaliers (green/black/green): 1. David Martt, 2. Marcus Anthony, 3. Ashley McPherson, 4. Robert Faulkner, 5. Andrew Danylyzyn, 6. Stefan Cross, 7. Jayford Henry (capt), 8. Winnie Brown, 9. Ricky Cross, 10. Chris Joseph, 11. Vladimia Farrell. Subs: 12. Orlando Grindley (for Joseph, 67), 14. Jack Barnes (for Ricky Cross 67), 15. Shane Turner (not used), 16. Israel Swaby (not used), 17. Damion Powell (for Farrell, 61). Manager Everton Richards.

Kimberley Miners Welfare (red and black stripes / white / white): 1. Matt Walsh, 2. Alex Sheffield, 3. Reece Powell, 4. Matt Barrett, 5. Danny Chaplin, 6. Michael Murphy (capt), 7. Karl Beecham, 8. Andre Koziello, 9. Jake Fisher, 10. Red Willmot, 17. Gavin Powell. Subs: 12. Leon Roberts (for Fisher, 67), 14. Andrew Tinsley (not used), 15. Tom Tearney (not used). Manager G. Hulley.

Referee: Greg Stuart.
Assistants: David Johnson and Michael Allen.

Goals: none

FC Cavaliers: Jayford Henry (YC, 23), Winnie Brown (YC, 35)
Kimberley MW: Karl Beecham (RC, 39), Michael Murphy (YC, 78)

Heath Hayes 2 Rocester 0

Tuesday 16th October 2012
Heath Hayes 2 Rocester 0
Staffordshire Senior Cup First Round
At: Coppice Colliery Ground
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 38
Duration: first-half: 45:12; second-half: 51:14

Ten-man Heath Hayes joined neighbours Hednesford Town in the quarter finals of the Staffordshire Senior Cup after a 2-0 victory over Rocester with both goals coming from midfielder Lee Smith. Leading with a 27th minute penalty, the home side had goalkeeper Adam Lane harshly sent-off for handling outside his area just after the midpoint of the second half. The ten-men kept out the Romans and wrapped up the win with a sweet low strike in the closing stages.

I’ve been waiting for a midweek game involving Rocester for seven weeks since I saw the impressive 4-0 win over Continental Star at Hillsfield. Tonight the Romans travelled to fellow Midland Alliance side Heath Hayes whom I’ve visited far too infrequently considering they are a really friendly club just ten miles from home.

The pitch at the Coppice Colliery Ground runs lengthways from the entrance with two separate seated stands, additional covered standing and changing rooms all down the left-hand side. Arriving early, just in case the game had fallen victim to a waterlogged pitch (I should have worried), I met ‘Cannock Rob’ who I’d last seen at Holbrook St Michaels a few weeks ago. A teamsheet was prominently displayed outside the changing rooms though Barry Smith, the Rocester Secretary, read out the line-ups.

Both sides went into the tie in good form. Heath Hayes (17th in the league with 10 points from 10 games) were unbeaten in the last four games while promotion-chasing Rocester (6th with 18 points from 10 games) had lost just one of their last nine league and cup games.

Heath Hayes (in blue and white stripes) got the game underway attacking from right to left in relation my seat in the ‘white’ stand alongside Steve Davies, Dan Bishop and Barry.

Played at a frantic pace from stand to finish, Heath Hayes created all of the early chances and Rocester goalkeeper Richard Froggatt was twice called into action to save a header from Tom Baggott and shot from Tom Green.

Referee Stuart Eagland, who took charge of the Hednesford v Stone tie I saw last month at Keys Park, awarded a penalty to the home side just before the half-hour mark when Lee Smith went down inside the area, Smith got up to confidently blast the spot kick past Froggatt to give his side the lead.

Rocester immediately responded and almost equalised when Chris Sterling’s rising drive hit the underside of the bar and bounced down the wrong side of the line from the visitors’ point of view.

In Rocester’s programme against Bewdley on Saturday, the editor (aka Barry) mentioned that they ‘now have an official Twitter account @rocesterfc1876’ so those not at the game were given the bad news…

Heath Hayes 1 Rocester 0 - 27th min penalty. Chris Sterling almost equalises straight away but shot hits underside of bar

Froggatt kept his side in contention in the 39th minute. The flag stayed down at Chris Deakin latched onto a defence-splitting pass and looked to place a shot in the far right corner of the net. However, the Rocester ‘number one’ [wearing 19] dived to his left to push the ball to safety.

A galvanised Rocester side came out on the attack in the second half. Adam Lane got down to save a near-post shot from former Ajax player Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah, then a defender to thank for hooking the ball clear after an initial save from Sterling.

A potentially-game changing incident occurred in the 71st minute. Lane left his line to meet a ball down the right as Mensah Kinch raced forward. Both met the ball on the edge of the area and the nearby assistant raised his flag to indicate a free-kick to Rocester. The referee stopped play and consulted his assistant before awarding a free-kick to the Romans and producing a red card in the direction of Lane for handling outside his area. Harsh, in my opinion, as I’m not certain the goalkeeper actually denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Barry gave the Rocester fans some hope…

20 mins to go, Heath Hayes GK sent off handled outside area, Rocester still trailing 1-0

Deakin donned the yellow jersey and gloves for several minutes before being replaced by substitute Ben Maddox, who I was told knows how to keep goal.

Heath Hayes who scored a second goal to book their place in the quarter finals. Smith hit a sweet low drive past the diving Froggatt from the edge of the area.

Heath Hayes 2 Rocester 0 - the 10 men double their lead. Into the last 10 mins

As I mentioned, Maddox knew how to keep goal and produced a top drawer save in the 86th minute to keep out a low long-range shot hit by Joe Rogers. He also kept out a header from Kinch as well.

Full credit to Heath Hayes who never let their heads drop after Lane was sent off. I suppose a home tie against Hednesford is the one they will be wanting when the quarter final draw is made.

Such a friendly club certainly deserves to not be ‘visited far too infrequently’ by myself. I must return sooner rather than later. Badges on sale at the tea bar.

Heath Hayes (blue and white stripes / blue / white): 1. Adam Lane, 2. Brad Grice, 3. John Littler, 4. Lee Smith, 5. Tom Baggott, 6. Adam Robinson, 7. Craig Hancox, 8. Stuart Simpson, 9. Tom Green, 10. David Waple (capt), 11. Chris Deakin. Subs: 12. Adam Wood (not used), 14. Karl Wallis (for Hancox, 90+6), 15. Leadrun Dunlevy (not used), 16. Kieran Northwood (for Green, 90), 17. Ben Maddox (for Deakin, 75).

Rocester (amber and black stripes / black / black): 19. Richard Froggatt, 2. Dan McLeod, 3. Joe Rogers, 4. Wayne Johnson, 5. Ryan Pirrie, 6. Mensah Kinch, 7. Jack Langston, 8. Rob Perks, 9. Chris Sterling (capt), 10. Edwin Ahenkorah, 11. Adam Swain. Subs: 12. Chris McComisky (for McLeod, 72), 14. Darren Bullock (for Pirrie, 79), 15. Carl Allen (not used), 16. Ryan Grocott (not used), 17. Craig Holland (for Perks, 81).

Referee: S. Eagland (Lichfield).
Assistants: R. Gould and B. Butler.

1-0 Lee Smith (27 pen)
2-0 Lee Smith (82)

Heath Hayes: Adam Lane (RC, 71)
Rocester: Rob Perks (YC, 50), Ryan Pirrie (YC, 61)

Marske United 0 Dunston UTS 2

Saturday 13th October 2012
Marske United 0 Dunston UTS 2
Ebac Northern League Division One
At: G. E. R. Stadium, Mount Pleasant Avenue
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (60 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 170 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:54; second-half: 46:41

Once I’d decided to mark Non-League Day 2012 with a game in the ‘second oldest league on the world’, my choice was akin to standing at the counter of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe faced with over 100 jars of different sweets. Today, ‘sweets’ were ‘fixtures’ and I’d got a choice of a number of Northern League games at grounds I’d not previously visited as well as a few FA Vase ties. Train times played in my decision and I opted for Markse-by-the-Sea, a village I can’t remember previously visiting, on the railway line to Saltburn-by-the-Sea I’d never previously travelled on. Visitors to the G.E.R. Stadium were FA Vase holders who scored a goal in each half without reply through Danny Craggs and Andy Bulford to take all three points back to Tyneside.

As well as being the second oldest league in the world (founded in 1889), the Northern League can also boast to being the birthplace of the ‘Groundhop’ with 41 games staged at different grounds over five seasons between 1992 and 1996, as well as one game in the Wearside League. So, virtually all of the Northern League games I’d previously seen were either designated hop games or sandwiched in between.

Today didn’t start well as the cancellation of the 09:01 train to Manchester Piccadilly meant a slightly earlier departure and a change onto a Virgin Pendolino at Stoke-on-Trent. As a result I arrived later at Picaddilly and, even though I had missed my preferred connection to Darlington, I did bump into John Holland at the timetable racks who had, by coincidence, missed his connection to Bangor. It was nice to have a chat with John, who I got to know on August’s Mid-Wales League hop, before heading 20 minutes later than planned to Darlington and onwards to the coast.

Up in the north-east, with a bit of time to spare, I alighted the Saltburn-bound train early at Redcar East station and walked into Markse along the coast road via the ground of Wearside League side Redcar Athletic where I picked up a copy of their regular programme. They faced Cleator Moor Celtic in a Shipowners Cup tie.

Before going any further, I must make reference to Marske’s programme, a hefty 60-pager full of comment, articles, reports and statistics – a real credit to those who contributed, edited and printed. A three-times past winner of National Non-League Programme of the Year (in 2007, 2009 and 2010), last season the ‘Yellow Pages’ finished runner-up to Chelmsford City. The 2012/13 edition is certainly going to be a strong contender for top honours again.

Programmes were on sale at the paybox before a small flight of steps led up to pitch-side where a prominently positioned white board gave this afternoon’s line-ups. Apart from the dugouts, all the facilities were found on this side with a new 102-seater stand (which replaced an old yellow and blue stand) and adjacent covered standing with changing rooms, clubhouse and Shell’s Kitchen behind at a lower level. The ground also had additional covered standing at the near right-hand corner and some terracing on the far side behind the dugouts.

A few sentences from the programme sum up perfectly the season so far for Marske (18th with 10 points from 11 games) and Dunston (16th with 11 points from 11 games).

At Marske, ‘last Saturday [6th October] Ted Watts and John Boswell took immediate charge of the team after being appointed the previous night, and quickly brought success with a 2-1 win against a very good Celtic Nation side’. The new manager drafted in two new loan signings from Whitby Town, striker Jordan Hugill and defender Callum Wilson, ahead of last Tuesday trip to Whitley Bay where Marske suffered a 4-0 loss against an in-form side.

Dunston ‘have made a slow start to the season … they were bottom of the league after losing all of their opening five games but have gradually picked up some form of late and are now four games unbeaten’.

Having faced the 2009, 2010 and 2011 FA winners on Tuesday, today Marske found themselves hosting the 2012 winners.

In lovely warm sunshine, Marske (in yellow and blue) got the game underway attacking the ‘new houses’ end – right to left in relation to the stand. Dunston must have opted to defend into the sun during the first half.

Dunston created several early chances and, in the 13th minute, defender Chris Swailes headed against the bar from Lee McAndrew’s corner.

It was no surprise when the visitors took a 33rd-minute lead. McAndrew crossed from the left and Danny Craggs powered a header past Marske goalkeeper Scott Wheatley.

Marske almost equalised just before the interval. Liam Connell produced a decent save to block a well-struck left-foot shot from Chris McGill.

I certainly enjoyed the first half and headed down the steps to join the queue at Shell's Kitchen.

A 35-yard drive from Anth Ormerod seven minutes after the restart drew applause after the ball flew just wide of the target. The diving Connell then pushed clear a shot by Kevin Charlton.

Dunston survived and doubled their lead in the 74th minute. Craggs, out on the right, crossed to the far left post where Andy Burford ran in to head home past Wheatley. Burford scored both goals in the 2-0 win over West Auckland Town in May’s FA Vase Final at Wembley.

In the closing stages, new signing Jordan Hugill fired across the face of the Dunston goal.

The outcome may had been different had Marske managed to equalise early in the second half. As one fan said to his mate, a goal “would have given them such a lift”.

I took the short cut back to the station and continued my journey to Saltburn before heading immediately back home. On the way back, I couldn’t have had more of a contrast – a luxurious deregulated first class carriage on the Grand Central service from Eaglescliffe to York and a packed TransPennine Express to Manchester seemingly full of racegoers returning from an afternoon on the Knavesmire – at least I got a seat between Dewsbury and Piccadilly!

Great day out, though tiring, with thoughts about which other unvisited Northern League grounds I can easily reach on a Saturday by train.

Marske United (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Scott Wheatley, 2. Callum Wilson, 3. Jonathan, 4. Anth Ormerod, 5. Adam Wheatley, 6. Leon Carling, 7. Chris McGill, 8. Tommy Marron (capt), 9. James Magowan, 10. David Onions, 11. Kevin Charlton. Subs: 12. Danny Brunskill (for Wilson, 76), 13. Jordan Hugill (for Ormerod, 77), 14. Derek Bradley (not used), 15. Kieran Edwards (not used), 16. Lewis Tidy (for Burton, ht).

Dunston UTS (white/black/black): 1. Liam Connell, 2. Stephen Gibson, 3. Terry Galbraith, 4. Ian Herron, 5. Chris Swailes, 6. Ben Cattanach (capt), 7. Danny Craggs, 8. Michael Dixon, 9. Lewis Teasdale, 10. Steve Goddard, 11. Lee McAndrew. Subs: 12. Steve Pickering (not used), 13. Jack Burns (not used), 14. Andy Bulford (for Goddard, 37), 15. Michael Robson (not used), 16. Steve Preen (for Teasdale, 77).

Referee: Geoff Liddle (Darlington).
Assistants: Kevan Howe (MIddlesbrough) and Robbie Dunn (Berwick Hills).

0-1 Danny Craggs (33)
0-2 Andy Bulford (74)

Cards: none.