Radford 2 Ibstock United 1

Saturday 30th August 2008
Radford 2 Ibstock United 1
East Midlands Counties League
At Selhurst Street
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Attendance: 41
Weather: mostly sunny and humid
Duration: first-half: 47:04; second-half: 48:00

Ten-man Radford displayed some resolute defending during the last half hour to hold on to their 2-1 lead and record their first victory in the newly-formed East Midlands Counties League. All the goals came in the first 31 minutes before Radford were reduced in numbers just before the hour mark.

I found Radford FC such a warm and friendly club to visit. They ground, which has been improved over the past few seasons, was neat and tidy, the programme is a good read, club officials welcoming, and the Secretary was a real star. In fact, I’d say that everyone at Radford was a star! It was also nice to chat with an official from visitors Ibstock as well.

The club was founded in 1964 as Manlove & Alliots FC after an engineering firm and initially played Sunday football. When the firm transferred to Scotland in 1971, the name of Radford Olympics was adopted. The club joined the Central Midlands League Premier Division in 1983 and underwent another name change to Radford FC four years later. Promotion was secured to the Supreme Division in 2003 and after five years in the CML's top flight they became a founder member of the new East Midlands Counties League at the start of the current season.

There are eighteen founder members of the East Midlands Counties League; eight from the Central Midlands League including Radford, eight from the Leicestershire Senior League including Ibstock and two from the Northern Counties East League.

Radford's Selhurst Street ground is located to the north-west of Nottingham city centre. I approached from M1 junction 26. Take the A610 towards Nottingham until the ring road (A6514). Turn left at the lights and almost immediately move into the right-hand lane and turn right into Wilkinson Avenue. Continue to the end of this road and turn right into Radford Road (beware of the trams) before taking the fourth right just before Asda into Selhurst Street. For public transport users, trams run from the centre of Nottingham to Radford and stop on the far side of Asda on the outbound journey (Noel Street stop?) and on the nearer Radford Road for the return into the city.

There is a small car park at the ground. I got chatting to the car park steward who was interesting to hear where I'd come from. He passed on the message as the Secretary greeted me inside the ground. There is one entrance, off the car park, which is near the corner flag behind the goal at the north-eastern end of the ground. Most of the facilities are behind this near goal with bar, changing rooms and 100-seater stand. There is an area of cover on the near left-hand touchline which was recently erected and dugouts, tea bar and club shop along the right-hand touchline. Three floodlight pylons rise up from each side.

The programme, sold for £1 at the turnstile, is a good one with plenty of reading and use of colour. The recently-opened club shop (former Notts County and Stafford Rangers striker Devon White 'cut the ribbon') has a growing stock of programmes, books, badges and souvenirs. Hot and cold refreshments were sold with a smile from the tea bar. I had plenty of time to relax before kick-off and watch the start of the Rugby League Cup Final in the clubhouse while sipping a refreshing blueberry J2O!

Both sides went into the game on one point looking for their first league wins of the season. Radford got the game underway defending the entrance end of the ground and took the lead in the 10th minute. Grant Bailey crossed low from the left and Anthony Gregory smashed the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out. The lead was doubled in the 29th minute. Bailey latched into a thoughball down the inside left channel in plenty of space and slotted it past the helpless keeper from inside the area. However, Ibstock halved the deficit two minutes later when unchallenged Jack Lewis got on the end of Mark Pallett's pass and fired past Keith Henstock. Duncan Osborne quickly got into a good position to restore the two-goal advantage but lifted his shot over the bar.

The home side were reduced to ten men in the 57th minute. Garmston received a straight red card for violent conduct with Ibstock’s Sam Adams booked for his part in the incident. After the sending off, the game certainly developed a competitive edge as Ibstock searched for an equaliser. The best chance fell to Adams who got forward to drive across the face of goal and wide of the far left post.

"It is a bit heart in mouth stuff," said one close-by supporter as Radford were forced to work hard to stay in front. They almost put the outcome beyond doubt in the 83rd minute. Bailey fed Gregory who saw a low goalbound shot blocked by David Smith (wearing distinct yellow boots) and Carl Wainwright forced a diving save out of Stephen Fowkes who may not have actually touch the ball on its way past the post.

"Corner flag," was the instruction as full time neared and Radford survived three minutes of added time at the end.

Radford (claret/claret/claret): 1. Keith Henstock, 2. Andrew Jachmann, 3. Michael Sullivan, 4. Matthew Loyley, 5. Anthony Gregory, 6. Dean Taylor (capt), 7. Robert Burton, 8. Darren Garmston, 9. Grant Bailey, 10. Scott Harlow, 11. Duncan Osborne. Subs: 12. Simon Bradbury (not used), 14. Steve Towle (not used), 15. Abbou Mandiang (for Harlow, 62), 16. Carl Wainwright (for Burton, ht).

Ibstock United (red/black/red): 1. Stephen Fowkes, 2. Sam Adams, 3. Chris Lewis, 4. Jason Munn, 5. Richard Wileman, 6. Michael Betts (capt), 7. Anthony Cresswell, 8. Mark Pallett, 9. Richard Lewis, 10. Jack Lewis, 11. Ian Cooper. Subs: 12. Danny Harrington (not used), 14. David Smith (for Cooper, 58), 15. Jack Powney (not used).

Referee: P. Booker (South Yorkshire).

1-0 Anthony Gregory (10)
2-0 Grant Bailey (29)
2-1 Jack Lewis (31)

Radford: Andrew Jachmann (YC, 45+2), Darren Garmston (RC, 57).
Ibstock: Sam Adams (YC, 57).

Manglerud Star Toppf 1 Fredrikstad FK Reserves 0

Monday 25th August 2008
Manglerud Star Toppf 1 Fredrikstad FK Reserves 0
Norwegian 2.div Menn avd 01
At: Lambertseter Match, Oslo
Kick-off: 6-00 pm
Admission: 50kr including 4 page programme
Attendance: 70 (headcount)
Weather: sunny spells
Duration: first-half: 45:04; second-half: 47:59

Even though Vålerenga were at home to Strømsgodset in the Tippeligaen, I decided to stick with my pre-trip plan of watching the third-tier game between Manglerud Star Toppf and second string of Tippeligaen side Fredrikstad FK. And the home side turned in a 'star' performance to record a single-goal victory.

In Norway, there are four third-tier divisions - 2.div avd 1, 2.div avd 2, 2.div avd 3 and 2.div avd 4 - which if combined into one would be equivalent in the Norwegian league structure to England's League One). They have equal status and feed into the Adeccoligaen (equivalent to England's Championship) which sits below the Tippeligaen (equivalent to England's Premiership).

Back in 2005, Manglerud enjoyed a memorable season when they won 2.div Menn avd 2 by a two-point margin to gain promotion from this third tier of Norwegian football to the Adeccoligaen. In 2006, they played home games at the famous Bislett Stadium near the centre of Oslo but finished third from bottom and were relegated back to the third tier after just one season in the Adeccoligaen.

Manglerud is a district of Olso, to the south east of the centre of the capital city, and they play their home games at the nearby Lambertseter Stadion, four stops further away from the city than Manglerud station down the number 4 T-bane line.

The Lambertseter Stadion is less than ten minutes walk from the T-bane station. After leaving the train, double back and exit the station to the road. At the top, turn right and cross the bridge to the traffic lights. Turn right into Langbølgen and continue past the shopping centre. Just after the pelican crossing, turn left into Glimmersvingen, go uphill and the ground is on the left. The tall floodlights are visible. For the return journey, cut the corner to the Oslo-bound platform by going through the shopping centre.

The ground is an athletics stadium with six-lane running track and eight tall floodlight pylons. The entrance is in the corner nearest the 100m start where admission money (50 krona) is taken and the free four-page programme is given away. To the right of the entrance, stretching down the length of the home straight to the PA box next to the athletics finishing line, is an open terrace of nine wooden steps complete with crush barriers. This is the only spectator vantage point inside the ground and there is a good tea bar next to the entrance as well. The clubhouse is located outside the perimeter near the 200m start and this is where I obtained the teams from a helpful club official (they were also read out over the tannoy).

Manglerud went into the game in sixth position in the fourteen-team division, with 22 points from 16 games. Fredrikstad occupied second-from-bottom. Just before Fredrikstad got the action under way attacking what I'll call the 200m bend end of the ground, the sound of chanting grew louder and louder. And in came four visiting fans, three of whom spent nearly all game chanting, singing and using their megaphone, as well as occasionally waiving their flags. These fans certainly had great fun and, amongst many other songs, sang lyrics relating to their team to the tunes of 'God Save the Queen' and Mike Oldfield's 'Moonlight Shadow'.

It was goalless at half-time so I decided to check out the tea bar – coffee and a waffle for 20 krona comes highly recommended!

Goalless draws don't necessarily bother me but I imagined one well-known football traveller getting more and more edgy as full-time approached without the net bulging. As if the singing fans were enough, a brass band started practicing in a nearby building. Then in the 85th minute, substitute Simen Halsan-Øien swung in a corner from the right and Jonas Rygg glanced a near-post header into the opposite side of the net. Delight for Manglerud!

The win lifted Manglerud over Valdres FK into fifth position, ten points behind leaders Mjøndalen.

Manglerud Star Toppf (green/green/green): 1. Kim Hording, 17. Marius Lie Bratland, 4. Henning Jørgensen, 5. Lorenzo Caroprese, 2. Andreas Thorud, 11. Morten Granum, 7. Jonas Rygg, 3. Lars Sandbu, 20. Stian Kristoffersen, 9. Christian Torp, 23. Trond Haugstad. Subs: 24. Lars Maalen Johansen, 14. Simen Halsan-Øien (for Kristoffersen, 84), 12. Felix Ademola (for Bratland, 61), 16. Edson Da Silva, 8. Eivind Kampen.

Fredrikstad FK 2 (white/red/white): 1. Tommy Runar, 5. Jørgen Hansen, 2. Gardan Mehmeti, 4. Jonas Becken, 28. Christian Halvorsen, 6. Bala Arezou, 10. Faton Hoti, 16. Martin Elvestad, 7. Oguz Sangirogla, 11. Odilon Kashama, 9. Mats Olavesen. Subs: 12 Lars Erik Johannesen, 17. Erlend Thorvaldsen, 19. Martus Flydahl (for Olavesen, 76).

Referee: Anders Gjermshus (Hamar IL).
Assistants: Jaffar Hussein Said (Rælingen) and Jon-Michael Knutsen (Løvenstad).

1-0 Jonas Rygg (85)

Manglerud Star Toppf: Lorenzo Caroprese (YC, 31), Morten Granum (YC, 60), Henning Jørgensen (YC, 68)
Fredrikstad: none

Stabaek 1 Lyn Oslo 1

Saturday 23rd August 2008
Stabaek 1 Lyn Oslo 1
Norwegian Tippeligaen
At: Nadderud Stadion
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Attendance: 5718
Weather: sunny

Grorud IL 2 Nesodden IK 3

Saturday 23rd August 2008
Grorud IL 2 Nesodden IK 3
Norwegian 3.div Menn Oslo avd 05
At: Grorud Match
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 30 (headcount)
Weather: sunny spells

The first leg of a Saturday double in Oslo was the Division 3 (step 4) game between Grorud and Nesodden which the visitors won by the odd goal in five with a late winner.

Grorud IF are based to the east of Oslo city centre and the suburb of the same name is served by T-bane line 5 (pink). The ground is less than five minutes walk to the south of the station and is located on the right on Grorudveien after going over the dual carriageway.

However, I took a different route to get to the ground as I will explain. Having spent the morning travelling up to Holmenkollen and seeing the famous ski jump from a distance (I did the tour in 1992), I look T-bane line 5 from the city centre and got off at Rødtvet so I could have a look at the ground of Groruddalen of 2. Div Menn avd 2. After a quick look round, I had, in theory, plenty of time to walk to Grorud but I decided to take no chances and undertook a sweaty route-march. I had this thought that the Grorud game could be off and I would have to hurriedly return to Grorudallen.

Grorud’s ground has a grass pitch (orientated west-east) with a weed-strewn cinder track which presumably had been used for athletics at some time in the past. The club has a large club house building which also contains the changing rooms. At the front of the club house facing the facing the road is a snack bar called Evy's Gatekjokken. Along one touchline (the southern end of the ground) is a small wooden terrace structure with six steps which is OK for sitting in the dry but I guess not in the wet. Dugouts are on the opposite touchline. Thankfully it was dry as the ground has no shelter from any rain. Spectators can watch the game from both touchlines and behind the goal nearest to the road and clubhouse. There are some tall wooden floodlight pylons along each side. At right angles to the main pitch on the southern side is a floodlight artificial surface which I gather is used for first-team games towards the end of the season.

There was admission and spectators had open access to the ground from the car park off Grorudveien. When I arrived there were three club officials stood chatting (two from Nesodden and one from Grorud) and one of them understood my enquiry about teamsheets and club magazines. He turned out to be from the visitors but relayed a message in Norwegian to the man from Grorud who went into the clubhouse and soon emerged with the latest edition of the club magazine and pennant – which I really appreciated. I also copied down the starting line-ups from the team cards but substitutes had not been named.

The teams emerged from the changing rooms and walked together about 20 yards to the pitch before exchanging those fair play handshakes. All this happened while the local church bells chimed.

Grorud (22 points from 14 games) went into the game in sixth position in the twelve team league will Nesodden (27 points from 14 games) were three places higher in third, some nine points behind leaders KFUM.

I chose to watch the first half sat towards the top of the wooden terrace and the game started pretty soon after the players took to the field.

Visitors Nesodden (white shirts, black shorts and white socks) got the game underway but Grorud took the lead after just 115 seconds. Esling Nilsen fired into the bottom left corner from 10 yards after defender Christian Udaes slipped trying to clear the attack.

The equaliser came in the 20th minute. Andreas Giisel bundled over Kim Johnsen inside the area and Kim Viken stepped up to convert the resulting penalty. Grorud (yellow shirts, blue shorts, blue socks) created some decent chances as they tried to regain the lead. Nilsen headed wide and also sent a 20-yard free-kick straight at visiting keeper Arnfinn Rekdal. The home striker continued to pose a threat and just after the half hour got on the end of a pass from Simen Konasbaug and sent a well-struck shot flashing across the face of goal.

At half-time as the players left for the changing rooms, Grorud's Zacaria Magrowsi came over to the wooden terrace to shake hands with a few of his mates who were watching the game.

I moved over to the other side of the ground for the second half, near the dugouts, and spotted that a local resident, whose house overlooks the ground, had set up a table offering some refreshments.

Nilsen should have put Grorud in front in the 49th minute when he lifted the ball over the advancing keeper. Agonisingly for the striker, the ball flew just over the bar. Nilsen was again out of luck just after the hour mark when he saw a penalty saved by Rekdal. In the next attack, Magrowsi nipped past Dennis Ligonja but fired wide much to the frustration of the Grorud defender.

Eventually Nesodden took a 74th-minute lead. An initial shot from Magnus Rønningden was blocked and not cleared, allowing Johnsen to send a sweet strike home from the edge of the area, much to the players delight.

The aforementioned local resident came to pitchside with, presumably, refreshments on a tray covered by a white and yellow towel.

Aniv Nagzouzi fired straight at the Nessoden keeper from 15 yards but he played a part in Grorud's 84th-minute equaliser. He slipped a pass into the path of Simen Konasbaug down the inside right channel who sent a low shot into the opposite bottom left corner of the net.

But just 42 seconds later, including time to get the game restarted, came what proved to be the winner for Nessoden. ‘Number 10’ (aka Kenny Strandberg???), a 54th minute replacement for Sindre Storhaug, slotted into an unguarded net after home keeper Daniel Tomulevski rushed off his line.

For a speedy getaway to commence my journey to Stabaek, I moved round towards the entrance/exit and got a good view of a late 25-yard shot from Nilsen which flew over the bar.

Coton Green 4 Loughborough University 3

Wednesday 20th August 2008
Coton Green 4 Loughborough University 3
Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Red Lion Ground, Brereton
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Weather: heavy rain

In appalling wet conditions, with heavy rain falling for much of the game, Coton Green recorded their first win as a Midland Combination side. The evening provided an opportunity to meet up with 'Walsall/Addis Neil' and Belayneh Teshome who is the general manager of Ethiopian Electric Sport Club.

Coton GreenFormed in 1982, Coton Green are based in Tamworth and run a host of teams from under-7s to their all-age team in the Midland Combination. Last season they finished runners-up in Division One and gained promotion to the Premier Division by entering into a ground share arrangement with Brereton Social FC.

Brereton's Red Lion Ground is located on the A51 Rugeley-Lichfield road. Travelling from Rugeley, turn left at the lights next to the Talbot Arms and the ground entrance is less than 100 yards on the right.

The entrance is off the club car park where admission money was taken and the eight-page programme with colour cover was sold for £1. There was certainly a warm welcome from the club official on the gate. Inside the programme were team line-ups, an editorial, brief opposition history and plenty of club contact numbers.

I'd previously twice visited the Red Lion Ground in 1985 and again in 2003, both for pre-season friendlies involving Brereton Social and Stafford Rangers. The ground certainly has been improved since 2003 with the addition of a seated stand on the near touchline six rows of individual amber-colours tip-up seats numbering around 120 seats in total. The club house is next to the entrance and has some additional covered standing. The grass bank behind the right-hand goal at the A51 end would have provided a good vantage point had rain not been falling so heavily.

As the programme editorial pointed out, this home game with Loughborough was Coton Green's first home floodlight fixture of the season. But they went into this match on the back of a 9-1 home defeat the previous Saturday at the hands of a 'very good Massey Ferguson outfit'. According to the programme: "we were 9 normal 1st team players and the Manager Steve Pike short as they were on a stag weekend in Budapest but never the less we should not have conceded so many goals."

Neil found out that visitors Loughborough University were managed by John Duncan, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker whose managerial jobs had included two spells in charge of Chesterfield.

Prior to kick-off, the Loughborough outfield players staged a huddle with the goalkeeper emerging late from the changing rooms to join in. Coton got proceedings underway in torrential rain defending the goal nearest to the A51 and they took the lead in the 5th minute. Matthew Ward delivered a free-kick into the area from around half-way and Damian Charie put away a first-time header.

Loughborough keeper David Coombes produced a smart save to turn round a low shot from Charie before the visitors equalised in the 25th minute. Adam Jones crossed from the right and Anthony Moulds powered home a header. Coton regained the lead in the 40th minute when Remi Williams stabbed home a low shot from the edge of the area.

Loughborough bounced back again in the 62nd minute to level things up at 2-2. Steve Blenkinsop crossed low from the left for Mikel Suarez to hammer a first-time shot into the bottom left corner of the net from 15 yards out. And they went so close to taking the lead when Adam Jones rifled a low drive against the left-hand post.

Coton took the lead for the lead for the third time in the 76th minute. A free-kick from the left into a crowded area was played out to Steven Roberts who drove a low ball across the face of goal which was forced home from a yard out by Mark Adey. Williams struck again in the 85th minute to give Coton a two-goal cushion. He slotted a 15-yard shot past the advancing keeper and defender Moulds couldn't prevent the ball from crossing the line.

That wasn't the end of the scoring. In the second minute of stoppage time, Moulds gave the visitors a lifeline when he fired home a low shot from the left side of the area in between the near post and keeper.

Play resumed and the question from the home bench was "How long?" The referee crossed his arms then blew for full-time as Loughbough took an indirect free-kick for offside. Coton had won their first Midland Combination Premier Division game by the odd goal in seven.

Walsall Reserves 0 Port Vale Reserves 1

Tuesday 19th August 2008
Walsall Reserves 0 Port Vale Reserves 1
Central League Central Division
At: Banks's Stadium
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Attendance: 188
Weather: drizzle

I've been to watch reserve-team games at a number of League grounds – Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham spring to mind – but I must say this reserve-team game came closest to the real first-team experience.

All the other clubs I recall produced some kind of teamsheet – Walsall's was a single A4 sheet with line-ups and match officials – but here the tannoy was in full operation and the electronic scoreboard at the M6 end was put to good use. Refreshments were also available for fans and a hospitality suite was open as well.

After been asked to provide a match report for the local press, I checked Walsall's website for the kick-off time – 7 pm at the Banks's Stadium. I know that quite a few League clubs make use of non-league grounds for their reserves but it turned out that the Banks's Stadium is indeed the new sponsored name for the Bescot Stadium. The ground is easy to find and signed from M6 Junction 9. This route goes past the site of Walsall’s old Fellows Park ground which is now home to a well-known supermarket. For users of public transport, Bescot Stadium station is very short walk away.

Despite having driven on the M6 past the ground literally hundreds or even thousands of time, I've only ever seen one previous game there – on a Friday night in December 1990 for Walsall v Wrexham. The noticeable difference between now and then is the Floors-2-Go Stand.

Before kick-off, I opted for a coffee from the refreshments kiosk next to the Floors-2-Go Stand. The tannoy told of a car (silvery blue Volvo) that needed to be moved.

I decided to take a seat in the press box, located in the TXT 64446 Health Stand block M, rows J, K, L. The press box plan from the previous home game with Scunthorpe United was still visible and the seat I chose was previously occupied by a report following the visitors at that last League One game.

Walsall kicked the game off attacking the M6 end of the ground and did most of the early attacking. They should have taken the lead in the 15th minute when Ishmel Demontagnac missed the target from a few yards out. Netan Sansara's left-wing cross was partially cleared and Richard Davies sent a dipping volley just over from 20 yards.

Looking around the people in the crowd, I noticed a cross-section of people – keen fans who attend every home game they can, parents, girlfriends, scouts – all in the TXT 64446 Health Stand. By the 25th minute, the aforementioned Volvo hadn’t been moved as another tannoy announcement told the crowd.

A handful of chances were created at both ends before Vale scored what proved to be the winner in the 41st minute. Simon Richman exchanged passes with Danny Glover as he got into the Walsall area and fired a powerful low shot which Rene Gilmartin could only help into the net.

The goal lifted Vale and Walsall defender Tom Schwartz was forced to concede a corner as Rodgers challenged. In stoppage time, Luke Rodgers chased a long clearance but Mark Cartwright's tight marking prevented the striker getting a shooting chance.

Port Vale were the first team to emerge for the second half, quickly followed by Walsall. The two assistant referees checked the nets just in case they had been disturbed by the substitutes warming up during the interval.

Troy Deeney got forward down the right at the start of the second half and fired just over the Vale bar. But Luke Prosser headed wide and Grover drove low across goal as Vale looked for a second. Just before the hour mark, substitute Sam Morsey denied Deeney a clear shot on goal with a vital saving tackle.

Walsall almost equalised in the 77th minute. Chris Martin left his line and failed to collect Darryl Westlake's cross but was relieved to see Luke Chadwick’s header rebound off the bar. In the next attack, Martin tipped over a dipping shot from Josh Craddock.

The home side threw men forward in a bid to grab an equaliser in the closing stages, without success.

Just before full time, the scoreboard displayed the attendance and advertised the next two home games – "WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR SUPPORT" said the board – against Southend and Leyton Orient.

Judging by the gap between my first two visits to the Banks's (Bescot) Stadium, I recon 2026 will be the year of my third visit. Somehow I think it will be much sooner than that!

Kentish Town 1 Wellingborough Town 1

Sunday 17th August 2008
Kentish Town 1 Wellingborough Town 1
FA Cup sponsored by e.ON Extra Preliminary Round
At: Copthall Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 179
Weather: warm and sunny, blustery wind

Following on from this lunchtime's game at Kingsbury, this was part two of an amazing Sunday FA Cup 'double' and Kentish Town's first-ever game in the FA Cup.

It took about 15 minutes to get from Kingsbury to the Copthall Stadium, helped by brown signs from the A41/A1 junction. The venue is an athletics stadium with large stand on one side and open seating on the opposite side.

There were various places near the stadium and the spectator entrance was through the reception. In there, admission including ONE programme was £4. Through reception was 'CAFE COPTHALL' which was in full swing serving hot and cold food and refreshments. Teamsheets were made available inside the cafe and teams were also read out over the tannoy.

Kentish Town FC was founded in 1994 when teenagers from across Camden and Islington were brought together. When the first players became too old (presumably for youth football), founder Frank Zanre created 'a fully functioning team whihc has worked itself through the divisions'. The club joined the Spartan South Midlands League Division 2 in 2003 and last season won Division 1 to earn a place in the Premier Division for the first time in 2008/09.

The reason for the Sunday date was quite straightforward I think. Yesterday the stadium was used for British Athletic League Division 1 fixture with Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers (who have their base at the Copthall) being one of the clubs taking part.

"I am very proud that our club will be playing its first FA Cup match and that we have been drawn at home," wrote the Chairman in the matchday programme. "I feel great pride in this fact. It was always a dream for the club to reach this stage and we are finally here." And the fact that Kentish Town earned a replay, with a late equaliser, will no doubt have made the Chirman even prouder.

The teams came out together in true fair play tradition. Line-ups were announced over the tannoy with cheers when the names of the Kentish players read out. With a good following for the visitors, the Wellingborough players got equivalent cheers when their names were read out.

I took a seat in the main stand and saw Wellingborough get the game underway attacking from right to left. With the Wellingborough drummer and chanting from some visiting fans as well, there certainly was a good sound emanating from the stand.

After 8 minutes, Tom O'Brien got into a good position inside the area and fired straight at the keeper. "Wellingborough, we are in a match here, let's win it," was the cry from one platyers to his teammates. O'Brien tried to chip the advancing keeper who raised his arms to claim the ball.

Wellingborough arguably made the better start and took the lead in the 32nd minute with a goal out of nothing. Daren Frost hit an inch perfect shot from a narrow angle on th eright-hand side of the area which looped over the keeper into the opposite side of the net.

Kentish Town responded with their first real sustained spell of pressure. They won three corner in quick succession and Karim Essigaguie volley over after the third one wasn't cleared. I was sat near the Wellingborough fans and I scenced there were a little nervous. "We don't wasnt to invite them back into the game," was one comment. "If we give them enough options then they'll take one," was another.

As the interval approached, a 30-yard shot from Paul Butler flashed past the Wellingborough goal and Aaron Hutchins headed just wide. As they players came off, I couldn't hear what the home fans had to say but "well done lads" was the Wellingborough verdict.

I changed positions for the second half and moved into the area of the stand occupied by home fans. Kentish Town made a positive start to the second half and, just like the end of the first half, were creating the bulk of the chances. On the hour, Matt Finlay punched out a free-kick from Butler at the expense of a corner. Time ticked on without an equaliser. Jonathan Donogue glanced a header across the face of goal. No one got on the end of Sarfraz Pivano's dangerous cross. The visitors got forward and won a couple of corners. "we want Dan" chanted the WAGs - presumably they wanted number 17 to come on?

Eventually the equaliser came in the 87th minute. Javier Rivera netted with a near post glancing header from Pivano's corner. Cue huge cheers, cue huge celebrations. Five minutes of injury time failed to produce a winner though Kentish Town appealled for a penalty just 13 seconds before the final whistle.

The full time whistle brought cheers and applause from the Kentish Town fans and Wellingborough man banged his drum. Replay on Tuesday at the Dog and Duck.

Kingsbury Longdon Tigers 1 Eton Manor 0

Sunday 17th August 2008
Kingsbury Longdon Tigers 1 Eton Manor 0
FA Cup sponsored by e.ON Extra Preliminary Round
At: Silver Jubilee Park, Townsend Lane
Kick-off: noon
Attendance: 108
Weather: warm and sunny, wind

Kingsbury London Tigers, playing their first-ever FA Cup tie, made a winning start thanks to Edson Cata's goal scored early in the second half.

Kingsbury "Fancy a trip to London to visit the British Museum?" was my suggestion and barely twelve hours after making it, we were on our way down the M6.

After dropping off the family at Hendon Central, I made it to the ground with plenty of time to spare. Initially parking in the car park off the lane that leads to the ground off from Townend Lane, I opted avoid possible queues getting away from the game so parked on the road instead. With another game to follow at Kentish Town, there was bound to be a groundhoppers invasion and I was correct!

At the ground entrance, I got chatting to the club official who was selling programmes (£1-50 and containg amonst other things some really good information about the club). He asked who I was going to support - "London Tigers, of course," was my reply even though I was a neutral. I told him Stafford when he asked where I came from and reply that Stafford is near Uttoxeter. Not looking like an follower of National Hunt racing, I went on to say he had been coaching at a college in Staffordshire and knew Stafford Rangers wore "black and white stripes like Newcastle". Programmes sold out 35 minutes before kick-off.

KingsburyI'd previously visited Townsend Lane around 18 years ago - 15th March 1990 to be precise when Kingsbury Town drew 0-0 with Woking. The pitch is orientated north-south and the entrance is near the south-east corner of the pitch. All the facilities are along the near touchline - large clubhouse, changing rooms and seated stand containing around 150 mainly yellow seats with black ones for officials. Behind the near goal is an area of covered standing set back, with two rows of terrrace steps next to the pitch barrier. Behind the far goal, at the bottom end, were two terrace steps running the width of the penalty area.

Kingsbury London Tigers are a relatively new club in their current form when Kingsbury Town FC and London Tigers decided to merge in 2006, with the Silver Jubilee Park as the venue for home first team games. They decided to enter the FA Cup for the first time this season and claim to be the first new entrant into the competition from West London for 100 or so years as well as the the first Asian team in west London to take part in the FA Cup.

The programme gave some background to the club and tie. KLT are a diverse club with over eight nationalities represented. "This is a proud moment for our players as they come from a disadvantaged background with no professional support," wrote the Chief Executive.

Teams were annouced over the tannoy and also pinned up in the clubhouse.

KingsburyKingsbury London Tigers went into the game in fourth place in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, having gained four points from their opening two games. In contrast, this tie was Eton Manor's first compeitive game of the season as they were yet to start their Essex Senior League campaign.

Before kick-off a minute silence was observed for a young player who recently died after celebrating a goal while playing in a recent tournament. The programme paid tribute to 18-year-old Daniel Craig.

Tigers kicked-off attacking up the slope towards the covered terrace into the wind. It was a lively start by both teams and after about 9 minutes a couple of fans (one in a blue shirt and the other in a khaki shirt) under the covered terrace started to sing and chant - "We love you Kingsbury, etc." and other songs as well. Eton created the best chances during the opening half hour. Junior Odasi-Ukueku volleyed over from 25 yards and Liam Allen had a shot cleared off the line in the 14th minute by Marcus Lansiquot who collided with a post in the process.

Singing continued through the half and Eton created another decent chance nine minutes before the interval. Allen took the ball forward to the edge of the area and he laid the ball off to Odasi-Ukueku who sent a left-foot shot curling wide.

KingsburyHalf-time came without a goal and I joined others inside the large function room inside the clubhouse for a tea from the tea bar and sandwiches from a buffet laid on by the club. Those without programmes were cheered to hear that extra copies were being printed off.

I resumed my seat in the stand for the second half and Tigers scored what proved to be the winner in the 49th minute. Skipper Joel Pardal crossed low from the right bye-line to the far post where Edson Cata fired home at close range. The celebrations showed how much the goal meant!

Tigers kept on the attack and Sirak Beyene sent a shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post, followed by the sound of "ooohhh!" from a few fans. Eton Manor found it difficult to create decent shhoting chances as Tigers threatened to score again. In the closing stages, Beyene broke clear down the right into the area but fired staright at the keeper. Stoppage time at the end was a nervous time for all connected with the home side - "how long, 10 minutes extra time?" as the full time whistle still didn't come. Deep into stoppage time, Eton Manor had one final chance and they went close toa dramatic late equaliser. Alinani Mountor's cross-cum-shot from the right hit the top of the bar with the keeper beaten. That came so close to forcing a replay.

The full-time whistle came after five minutes of stoppage time and, fom many, signalled the start of the exodus to watch the second part of an FA Cup 'double'.

Parkgate 1 Norton United 2

Saturday 16th August 2008
Parkgate 1 Norton United 2
FA Cup sponsored by e.ON Extra Preliminary Round
At: Roundwood Sports Complex
Kick-off: 3-00pm
Attendance: 43
Weather: sunny

Hamworthy United 0 Wimborne Town 1

Wednesday 13th August 2008
Hamworthy United 0 Wimborne Town 1
Sydenhams Football League (Wessex)Premier Division
At: The County Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 325
Weather: sunny