Chesterton AFC 2 Wolstanton United Reserves 3

Saturday 30th March 2013
Needing to stay within an hour of Longton today, I did as instructed and opted for a first visit to Chesterton AFC’s Red Street Community Centre ground. Not really an ideal location at the top of a hill on a cold afternoon but that didn’t matter as Chesterton and Wolstanton Reserves served up an entertaining game between two evenly-matched sides. The lively Kyle Cooke scored twice for Chesterton but ended up on the losing side as the visitors won by the odd goal in five when two-goal Tom Bisson scored an 87th minute winner. The added bonus of a tea bar open before the game and during half-time was much appreciated, as was the help of the two respective managers!

Chesterton AFC 2 Wolstanton United Reserves 3
Staffordshire County Senior League Division One
At: Red Street Community Centre, Talke Road, Red Street
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none; Hot Drinks: 50p
Weather; cold, dry, sunny spells

Like yesterday, I decided again not to drive to Yorkshire to attend the second and final day of the 2013 Northern Counties East League Groundhop which featured games at Bridlington Town, which I visited over 20 years ago, Pickering Town and Tadcaster Albion. Instead, a family commitment in Longton to celebrate a friend’s birthday meant, ideally, I needed to find a match in North Staffordshire or South Cheshire. Knowing I had 3-00 pm backups at both Alsager Town and Kidsgrove Athletic, I headed to the Red Street Community Centre ground for a first-ever visit where Chesterton AFC were entertaining Wolstanton United Reserves, kicking off half an hour earlier at 2-30 pm.

I didn’t think for one second that the game could be in doubt until the piled snow by the side of Talke Road made me wonder if it was. At the top of the hill, the sight of cars parked in the community centre car park reassured me, as did the players warming up on the pitch. Snow was still evident on the extremities of the playing side though nothing to threaten the game.

The football pitch, which sits on a larger playing field, was roped off on three sides with no spectator access being the top goal. Dugouts were positioned on half-way on the right-hand side. Chesterton don’t issue programmes but an added bonus was a small tea bar open both before the game and during half-time.

Before going any further, I must say "thank you" to the respective managers for going out of their way to let me have the lineups – much appreciated.

The league handbook mentions that Chesterton AFC was formed in 1969 and honours include being the 2005/06 Staffordshire County Senior League Division 2 Champions and 2011 Presidents Trophy Runners Up.

A quick look at the league table showed Chesterton (18 points from 18 games) in 12th position and Wolstanton (30 points from 17 games) four places higher in the 17-team Division One. Leaders Uttoxeter Town topped the table by one point from MMU with three games in hand.

After the getting the game underway attacking the far end, Chesterton (in all blue) made a good start and took an early lead in the 6th minute. Kyle Cooke dribbled into the area down the right and fired a low shot which Wolstanton goalkeeper Alastair Grainger could only fumble into the bottom right corner of the net.

The home side continued to impress and Sean Vaughan powered a header just side from Dan Beardmore’s deep corner. Dean Beardmore then burst through in the 17th minute, got free into the area and drew Grainger off his line only to see his low shot narrowly miss the target.

Wolstanton got back on level terms in the 19th minute, arguably against the run of play. Joe Humphries delivered a perfect diagonal lofted ball forward to the left side of the area where unmarked Chris Darlington headed the equaliser past Craig Wilson.

The visitors quickly threatened again straight from the restart. Darlington fed Chris Tatton who got forward to fire a low shot straight at Wilson.

Both goalkeepers kept their side on level terms with decent saves before in the interval. A nice Chesterton move on the left in the 26th minute saw Shaun Morgan find Cooke who crossed into the area where Dean Beardmore had a close-range header pushed round the post by Grainger.

The diving Wilson got down well to show “good hands” as he held a low 20-yard drive from Bisson while, at the other end in the 41st minute, an initial shot from Matt Clowes was blocked by a defender and Grainger turned round Dean Beardmore’s rising follow-up shot from the resulting loose ball.

Cooke, looking for his second goal, with a header and Marc Holmes with a rising 30-yard drive both went close at the start of the second half before Dean Beardmore forced a near-post save out of Grainger and Chris Tatton cleared the loose ball before Cooke could get to it.

It was Wolstanton who made the breakthough by taking the lead just before the hour mark. Chesterton failed to clear an attack allowing Joe Humphries the time to set up Bisson who clinically fired low into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Chesterton quickly bounced back four minutes later to level-up the scores once again, just after Dean Beardmore sent a first time volley crashing onto the left-hand post. In the next attack, Cooke, fully 30 yards out, hit a rising 30-yard right-foot drive which flew over Grainger and dropped into the net via the underside of the bar.

With a 2-2 draw looking the likely outcome, Wolstanton scored what proved to be the winner in the 87th minute. A long ball forward into the area caused confusion between Wilson and a defender, allowing Bisson to slot home into an empty net.

Chesterton still had time to respond and an angled shot from Dan Beardmore was saved at the near post by Grainger and booted out for a corner.

In stoppage time, substitute Liam Shaw crossed from the right and Wilson produced a great save to keep out a header from Bisson and deny the striker a hat-trick.

Chesterton AFC (blue/blue/blue): 1. Craig Wilson, 2. Darren Howells, 3. Shaun Morgan, 4. Luke Sinclair, 5. Sean Vaughan (capt), 6. Tom Gibson, 7. Simon Dale, 8. Dan Beardmore, 9. Kyle Cooke, 10. Dean Beardmore, 11. Matt Clowes. Subs: 12. Oliver Swann (for Sinclair, 64), 14. Andrew Smith (for Dean Beardmore, 84), 15. Rob Hanning (for Clowes, 72), 16. Ashley Doney (not used). Manager: Carl Gibson.

Wolstanton United Reserves (red/red/red): 1. Alastair Grainger, 2. Chris Tatton, 3. Marcus Thorp, 4. John Smith, 5. Matt Rogalski (capt), 6. Joe Humphries, 7. Lee Hughes, 8. Lee Ratcliffe, 9. Tom Bisson, 10. Chris Darlington, 11. Marc Holmes. Subs: 12. Liam Shaw (for Ratcliffe, 67), 14. Ryan Lockyer (for Hughes, 79), 15. Chad Martin (not used). Manager Stephen Killeen.

Referee: Jonathan Maskery.
Assistants: John Powner and Jack Armstrong.

Attendance: 20 (headcount)

Duration: first-half: 46:47; second-half: 46:57

1-0 Kyle Cooke (6)
1-1 Chris Darlington (19)
1-2 Tom Bisson (59)
2-2 Kyle Cooke (63)
2-3 Tom Bisson (87)

Chesterton: none
Wolstanton: Marcus Thorp (YC, 22)