Sutton Coldfield Town 4 Kidsgrove Athletic 3

Saturday 29th December 2012
Sutton Coldfield Town 4 Kidsgrove Athletic 3
Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South
At: Coles Lane
Kick-off: 3-00pm
Admission: £7; Programme: £1-20 (24 pages)
Weather: showers, heavy at times
Attendance: 170
Duration: first-half: 47:00; second-half: 48:50

“That was one hell of a comeback”, said one supporter at full-time after Sutton Coldfield recovered from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Kidsgrove 4-3 with a spectacular winning goal scored by Luke Chapman. Sutton’s four-goal haul included a ‘double’ from Mark Danks who took his tally since joining the Royals to ten goals in eight games. He gave Sutton an early lead before Kidsgrove responded with three unanswered goals including two in four minutes from Andy Kinsey. The Royals fought back through Danks, Jamie Sheldon and Chapman’s unstoppable 35-yard screamer to make it four league wins in a row.

I fancied this game whatever the weather as it pitted a decent and entertaining Sutton Coldfield side against Kidsgrove who I’ve got fond memories of visiting several times during my stint with The Sentinel. It turned out that only a handful of non-league games on grass throughout the Midlands survived the rain and none locally.

As I mentioned on Boxing Day in my blog of the 2-0 win over Halesowen Town, Sutton are chasing promotion to the Premier Division and went into this game in third position with 24 points from 24 games. Kidsgrove, however, found themselves at the wrong end of the table in 19th position with 23 points from 22 games.

Several other familiar faces had the same idea as me with ‘Stourbridge Tim’, ‘Gornal Grumpy Dwarf’, ‘Albion Steve’ and ‘Albion Paul’ also at Coles Lane this afternoon. Teamsheets were available in the clubhouse foyer – much appreciated!

Kidsgrove (in a change kit of all red) got the game underway attacking the car park end in the first half – right to left in relation to my seat in the stand.

The first decent chance came in the 11th minute when a miss-directed pass from the Kidsgrove midfield ended up at the feet of Daryl Taylor on the right. He fed Luke Chapman who saw a low near-post shot kept out by the boot of Dave Dyson. As the game came to life, Kristian Ramsey-Dickson fired low across the face of goal in Sutton’s next attack.

It was no surprise when Sutton took the lead in the 17th minute when Mark Danks beat one defender before firing low past Dyson from 15 yards out.

Like Boxing Day, the Sutton defence looked tight and in no mood to concede. No sooner had I jotted down this comment… a lapse at the back gifted a goal to Kidsgrove in the 34th minute. Liam Shotton, brother of Stoke’s Ryan, crossed low from the right-bye line and unmarked Kinsey fired home the equaliser at close range.

Louis Keenan thumped a 21-yard free-kick inches wide of the right-hand post before Kinsey struck again to give Kidsgrove an unexpected lead. The prolific striker had time to pick his spot before shooting past Lee Evans from a few yards out.

Sutton quickly responded only to have a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside. Taylor’s weak shot rolled into the net past Dyson but Kristian Ramsay-Dickson was flagged offside for interference in front of goal.

Heavy rain before and during half-time kept me firmly in my seat though ‘Albion Steve’ decided to brave the elements to pick up the half-time scores, especially for his Albion at Old Trafford and rivals Villa at home to Wigan.

At 1-2, I felt that the first goal of the second half would determine which side would claim the three points. Shotton went close as he beat Evans with a 20-yard shot which narrowly missed the target.

It was Kidsgrove who scored the next goal six minutes after the restart. Evans needed to leave his line for the edge of the area and prevented Shane Reaney from getting in a shot. The ball, however, was laid back to Dan Skelton who drove into an empty net from 25 yards out.

If my theory was correct, then game over and three points for Kidsgrove.

Wrong. Neil Tooth made a bold change by replacing a defender, Keenan, with a forward, Jamie Sheldon, and the move paid dividends within three minutes of the substitute’s arrival. Ramsay-Dickson found Taylor on the right who crossed to the far post where Sheldon sent a right-foot shot past the partly unsighted Dyson to make it 2-3.

The comeback continued in the 71st minute. A long throw from the right by Ramsay-Dickson into the area wasn’t cleared and Danks’ low shot found the bottom-left corner of the net to make it 3-3.

With their tails up, Sutton won a corner which Sheldon delivered into the area. Ramsay-Dickson powered a first-time header towards goal which Jack Sherratt headed off the line.

Pressure continued and eventually Sutton bagged the winner in the 81st minute. And what a goal. Luke Chapman picked up the ball 35-yards out and hit an unstoppage swerving 35-yarder which gave Dyson no chance whatsoever of keeping out. 4-3 to Sutton.

Sutton made a couple of further changes – including the welcome re-appearance of Stuart McNaught at Coles Lane who has recovered from a broken leg.

With just one other Division One South game surviving the weather – Brigg Town 3 Rainworth Miners Welfare 2 – Sutton took full advantage of their rivals’ inactivity to move level on points with second-placed Stamford AFC.

So that wraps up my 116th and final game of 2012, a year which has brought me a mammoth 524 goals - at an average of 4.5 per game - and just one goalless draw. Local trips have dominated the past two months and I look forward to continuing this next year mixed in with some longer journeys.

Sutton Coldfield Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. Lee Evans, 2. Scott Lycett, 3. Louis Keenan, 4. Lee Parsons (capt), 5. Joel Kettle, 6. Phil Male, 7. Daryl Taylor, 8. Danny Edwards, 9. Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, 10. Mark Danks, 11. Luke Chapman. Subs: 12. Jamie Sheldon (for Keenan, 54), 14. Reece Leek (for Taylor, 86), 15. Carlos Thompson (not used), 16. Stuart McNaught (for Danks, 90), 17gk. Jake Bedford (not used). Manager: Neil Tooth.

Kidsgrove Athletic (red/red/red): 1. Dave Dyson, 2. James Curley, 3. Paul Taylor, 4. Paul Donnelly (capt), 5. Phil Parkinson, 6. Karl Espley, 7. Shane Reaney, 8. Dan Skelton, 9. Liam Shotton, 10. Andy Kinsey, 11. Jack Sherratt. Subs: 12. Alan Nagington (for Reaney, 87), 14. John Johnston (for Sherratt, 77), 15. Ashley Hill (not used), 16. Jordan White (not used), 17. Kevin Street (not used). Manager: Shaun Hollinshead.

Referee: Kevin Andrews.
Assistants: Shaun Willoughby and Andrew Stickley.

1-0 Mark Danks (17)
1-1 Andy Kinsey (34)
1-2 Andy Kinsey (38)
1-3 Dan Skelton (51)
2-3 Jamie Sheldon (57)
3-3 Mark Danks (71)
4-3 Luke Chapman (81)

Sutton Coldfield: Lee Parsons (YC, 82), Phil Male (YC, 85)
Kidsgrove: Karl Espley (YC, 90+2)

Photo on programme cover by Ian Hartwell