Bugbrooke St Michaels 6 Burton Park Wanderers 2

Saturday 6th October 2012
Bugbrooke St Michaels 6 Burton Park Wanderers 2
ChromaSports & Trophies United Counties League Division One
At: Birds Close, Gayton Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4 including 28 page programme
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 30 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 49:22; second-half: 46:13

Bugbrooke St Michaels recovered from the shock of conceding a goal after just 33 seconds to record an impressive 6-2 victory to maintain what is now the only 100% record in United Counties League Division One.

The blog I wrote after my visit to Rushden & Highham United at the start of 2012 has been thrust into the spotlight over the past 48 hours thanks to a post/link on thediamondsforum in advance of this afternoon’s much-anticipated derby between the Rushden club and AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Bugbrooke St Michaels were the visitors at Hayden Road back in January and today the focus of my latest ‘football’ travels to their own Birds Close ground.

The village of Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire is found to the south-west of Northampton, close to the M1 and the West Coast Mainline to/from Euston runs within 600 yards of the ground. While a tricky place to reach by public transport with the nearest railway station at Northampton, some six miles away, there were no problems reaching the ground by car. Arriving on the B4525 via Kislingbury and continuing through the village centre in the direction of Gayton, the drive up to the ground was easily spotted on the left just past the last house and immediately after the end of the 30 mph zone.

Not unexpectedly, after what I learned on my travels last Saturday, the church in the village was indeed named after St Michael – St Michael All Saints Church – with an impressive spire.

Before reading the club history in the programme, I knew that Bugbrooke St Michaels, founded in 1929, joined the United Counties League in 1987 and have spent all but three seasons (1999-2002) in Division One, which they won in 1999 to gain promotion for their short stint in the Premier Division. While there was no mention of a previous link to the village church, the official manning the paybox suggested there was.

All the facilities were down one side opposite the paybox with an impressive clubhouse complete with a tea bar and stuffed badger (Bugbrooke are nicknamed ‘The Badgers’). The club were awarded a Football Foundation Grant in 2006 to build new changing rooms and improve social facilities, and a plaque commemorates the official opening by John Gregory on 15th September 2006. The stand had three rows of benches with individual numbered positions and there was also an additional area of covered standing.

Programmes were included with admission, also club badges on sale at the tea bar.

A quick look at the league table showed something interesting. Bugbrooke (6 points from 2 games) occupied 10th position in the 19-team Division One table, yet still retained a 100% league record without conceding a goal thanks to victories over Olney Town (2-0) in mid August and Thrapston Town (3-0) two weeks ago. It isn’t that they haven’t been active on the field as four FA Cup ties, two FA Vase ties, one League KO cup tie and a Northants Junior Cup tie highlight.

Visitors Burton Park Wanderers (3 points from 3 games) went into this game at Birds Close in 17th position, their sole league victory came two weeks ago, 2-1 at Bourne Town. Like Bugbrooke, they also progressed last Saturday in the Northants Junior Cup.

Attacking down the slight slope towards the ‘entrance’ end, Burton Park Wanderers (in blue and black) got the game underway and took just 33 seconds to open the scoring. Wayne Brown took the ball to the edge of the area and found unmarked Jedd Whiteman who sidefooted home from 12 yards out. This was the first league goal Bugbrooke had conceded this season, though good news for me as my run without a 0-0 moved on to 91 games.

The visitors certainly impressed and, on the quarter hour, Whiteman headed a free-kick from Duncan Charles wide of the target.

Bugbrooke, with a 100% record to preserve, showed signs of getting into the game when Damon Black (photo right) set up a chance for Brad Janes which goalkeeper Liam Fox saved. Undeterred, Wanderers continued to look for a second goal. Whiteman’s cross from the right had too much pace for unmarked Leigh Chapman who couldn’t get in a shot.

To shouts of “more like it”, Will Briscoe fired into the side netting, then lifted another shot into the visitors’ goal after being flagged for offside.

“We definitely need another goal,” commented one of the Wanderers substitutes, but the goal that came within a few minutes was an equaliser for Bugbrooke.

Lance Allen latched on to a throughball on the left, took it to the edge of the area and got in a shot which looped off defender Mike Tolton into the net. With a suspicion of offside in the build-up, the assistant replied: “not the man who got the ball” and, in my opinion as well, he was correct.

Wanderers regained the lead within three minutes. Chapman beat several defenders in a run into the area to the left bye-line and delivered a perfect cross for Kevin Fox to head home at the far post.

Antonio Aguilar-Rohan produced a diving save to hold Danny Hockridge’s header before Bugbrooke turned their deficit into a half-time lead. A bouncing ball down the middle, in the 40th minute, deceived goalkeeper Liam Fox and presented George Hunt with a simple task of slotting into an unguarded net. And, in stoppage time, Hunt turned provider when he fed Briscoe who fired a low first-time shot into the far bottom left corner of the net.

With a walk around the pitch perimeter completed during the first half, I decided to watch the entire second half from the stand – middle row in numbered position 46.

Now attacking down the slight slope with a 3-2 lead, Briscoe hit the Wanderers’ bar soon after the restart, then scored his side’s fourth goal in the 52nd minute. Allen, on the left, delivered a low ball towards the far right post, helped on by Black, where Briscoe slid in to net from a yard out. Once again, a hint of offside prompted the assistant to confirm “level in on”.

There were no such suggestions of offside a minute later as Briscoe completed his hat-trick by scoring Bugbrooke’s fifth goal. He broke into the area from the left and slotted home the rebound after Lian Fox saved an initial shot.

With their tails up, Bugbrooke continued to threaten and Hunt sent a rising left-foot drive chasing against the bar.

Aguilar-Rohan produced a double save in the 72nd minute to first keep out a low 25-yard shot from Whiteman and then blocked a follow-up effort from substitute Stef Baillie.

The Badgers wrapped up the scoring with a sixth goal in the 87th minute. Hunt beat the onrushing Liam Fox to a ball down the left to slot into an empty net.

I liked Bugbrooke – pleasant ground on a sunny afternoon, nice people and another eight goals to my tally which has now reached 422 for the year.

The win lifted the Badgers up to seventh position in the table, seven points behind the leaders, with either two or three games in hand on each of the six teams above them.

Leaders Oadby Town drew 0-0 at home to Bourne Town to lose their 100% record while a reported attendance of 1157 saw AFC Rushden & Diamonds win 4-0 at Rushden & Highham United.

Bugbrooke St Michaels (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Antonio Aguilar-Rohan, 2. Ryan Nash, 3. Tom Murfitt, 4. Damon Black, 5. Craig Hyde, 6. Chris Griffin, 7. Pete Smith (capt), 8. Brad Janes, 9. Will Briscoe, 10. Lance Allen, 11. George Hunt. Subs: 12. Lee Wilson (not used), 14. Ryan Waldock (for Black, 73), 15. Jack Lee (for Briscoe, 78), 16. Henry Spears (not used), 17. Adam Frost (for Murfitt, 81). Manager: Pete Field.

Burton Park Wanderers (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Liam Fox, 2. Duncan Charles, 3. Mike Tolton, 4. Chris Davies, 5. Sam Northern, 6. Nathan Chapman, 7. Jedd Whiteman, 8. Danny Hockridge, 9. Leigh Chapman, 10. Kevin Fox (capt), 11. Wayne Brown. Subs: 12. Stef Baillie (for Chapman, 62), 14. John Enymah (for Kevin Fox, 54), 15. Andy Dobbs (not used). Player-Manager: Kevin Fox.

Referee: Captain Don Maclarty MBE BEM.
Assistants: Charlie Ross and Tony Haynes.

0-1 Jedd Whiteman (1)
1-1 Lance Allen (33)
1-2 Kevin Fox (36)
2-2 George Hunt (40)
3-2 Will Briscoe (45+2)
4-2 Will Briscoe (52)
5-2 Will Briscoe (53)
6-2 George Hunt (87)

BSM: Tom Murfitt (YC, 15)
BPW: Mike Tolton (YC, 45+4)

ChromaSports & Trophies United Counties League Division One
AFC Rushden & Diamonds (club) – TO DO
AFC Rushden & Diamonds (ground) – 2/12/87 Wellingborough v Sutton Coldfield (Southern League)
Bourne Town – 2/1/12 v Raunds Town (UCL Division One)
Buckingham Town (Ford Meadow) – 6/9/94 v King’s Lynn (Southern League Midland Division)
Buckingham Town (Winslow) – 26/12/11 v Bugbrooke St Michaels (UCL Division One)
Buckingham Town (Manor Fields) – 6/10/92 Milton Keynes Borough v Harpenden (FA Vase)
Bugbrooke St Michaels – 6/10/12 v Burton Park Wanderers (UCL Division One)
Burton Park Wanderers – 13/11/10 v AFC Kempston Rovers (UCL Division One)
Eynesbury Rovers – 20/9/94 v Wellingborough Town (UCL Premier Division)
Harrowby United (club) – TO DO
Harrowby United (ground) – 21/2/09 Harrowby United v Nettleham (Central Midlands League)
Northampton ON Chenecks – TO DO
Northampton Sileby Rangers – TO DO
Northampton Spencer – 29/4/95 v Desborough Town (UCL Premier Division)
Oadby Town – 20/12/03 v Coalville (Midland Alliance)
Olney Town – 29/1/2000 v Blisworth (UCL Division One)
Potton United – 21/1/97 v Leighton Town (Bedfordshire Senior Cup)
Raunds Town – 25/1/97 v Stafford Rangers (Southern League Midland Division)
Rothwell Corinthians – 3/4/10 v Stotfold (UCL Premier Division)
Rushden & Higham United (club) – 2/1/12 v Bugbrooke St Michaels (UCL Division One)
Rushden & Higham United (ground) – 15/9/84 Rushden Town v Stafford Rangers (FA Cup 1Q)
Thrapston Town – 16/8/96 v Irchester United (UCL Division One)
Wellingborough Whitworth – 23/8/96 v Higham Town (UCL Division One)
Wootton Blue Cross – 18/1/97 v Wellingborough Town (UCL Premier Division)