South Sefton Borough 1 Sacre Coeur Former Pupils 3

Saturday 28th May 2011
South Sefton Borough 1 Sacre Coeur Former Pupils 3
Liverpool County FA Premier League Premier Division
At: Mill Dam Field, Sefton
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, dry, strong wind
Duration: first-half: 45.00; second-half: 45:30

The Liverpool County Premier League was founded in 2006 with the merger of two established leagues, the Liverpool County Football Combination and I Zingari League. To be honest, the competition up to now hasn’t been one that I’ve been attracted to and I’d previously seen one game – East Villa v Waterloo Dock on Cup Final day in 2008. Many years ago in 1989, I was at an intriguing FA Vase tie between St Dominics (of the Liverpool Combination) and Douglas High School Old Boys (from the Isle of Man).

So, even though traffic reports on the radio suggested delays on the M6 through Cheshire, I decided to end my 2010/11 winter football season venturing into unfamiliar territories – a decision that proved to be a really good idea. The village of Sefton is located to the north of Liverpool and near to end of the M57 and M58. It is also close to Aintree racecourse and has a race over the national fences during the November meeting called the ‘Grand Sefton Chase’.

South Sefton Borough play home games at Mill Dam Field in the village. I knew the ground was behind the Punchbowl through finding the entrance provided tricky and not just for me. After trying to access the ground via the church car park and churchyard, one helpful local told me the road leading up to the ground was in fact round to the right of the pub.

Founded in 2001 and previously a member of the Liverpool Combination, South Sefton Borough have competed in the Premier Division in each of the five seasons of the Premier League – finishing previously 6th (2006/07), 13th (2007/08 and 2008/09), and 7th (2009/10).

This could have been a boring end of season affair between two mid-tables sides, both played, however, with commitment and wanted to win. The strong blustery wind could have but didn’t spoil the game, played on an exposed field. Sacre Coeur took an 8th minute lead through Matthew McKeown and they extended it with a long-range drive by Lee Mullin in the 21st minute. South Sefton quickly halved the deficit through James Demomme. A neat move in the 70th minute completed the scoring when Sacre Coeur substitute Gary Roache ran in to slot home a pass from Matthew McKeown.

0-1 Matthew McKeown (8)
0-2 Lee Mullin (21)
1-2 James Demomme (23)
1-3 Gary Roache (70)

Asker Fotball 1 Mjøndalen IF 1

Sunday 22nd May 2011
Asker Fotball 1 Mjøndalen IF 1
At: Føyka Kunstgras, Asker, Norway
Kick-off: 6-00 pm
Admission: kr 170 (about £20); Programme: free (4 pages)
Attendance: 1260
Weather: rain
Duration: first-half: 47:08; second-half: 48:09

Plan C or was it Plan D saw me take in the Adeccoligaen game between newly promoted Asker and local rivals Mjøndalen. The players’ strike that wiped out today’s entire Tippeligaen programme could have been a real blow, though the only problem it left was what to do with a probable ‘white elephant’ of a ticket for Fredrikstad v Haugesund.

The TV in the Youth Hostel had teletext, which provided two alternative games – a second tier game at Asker or third tier game at Frigg Oslo. Help from home confirmed these two games were unaffected by the strike so I plumped for Asker. Like Moss yesterday, the name of ‘Asker’ meant something to me as I remembered reading a report on Tony’s Non-League Forum and seeing a photo of the ground.

With three hours to occupy between arriving in central Oslo and needing to leave for Asker, I decided to embark on a walking sightseeing tour of the city centre, based around a walk up Kark Johans Gate to the Royal Palace and back down to the station. The National Gallery was free and included in the collection were the 1893 version of Edvard Munch’s Skrik (The Scream) and impressive Winter Night in the Mountains by Harald Sohlberg.

Asker is served by several trains an hour running to and from Oslo Central Station [Oslo Sentralstasjon or Oslo S] with a journey time of around 30 minutes depending on whether a fast or local stopping train. Unlike Moss station, there were left luggage lockers at Asker station though fortunately I’d got no large bag to stash.

Founded in 1889, Asker gained promotion to the second tier (Adeccoligaen) of Norwegian football at the end of last season as champions of third tier section 2 losing just three league games. In their recent history, they spent five seasons in the fourth tier Third Division between 2002 and 2006 before gaining promotion back to the Second Division at the end of the 2006 season. The season before, 2005, saw Asker remarkably win all 20 league game but missed out on promotion by losing a play-off. Opponents Mjøndalen IF have also moved up two divisions within the last ten years, gaining their place in the Adeccoligaen at the end of the 2008 season.

The set up at Asker’s Føyka Kunstgras was interesting and certain aspects wouldn’t be allowed at step 6 of the English non-league pyramid. It was a synthetic pitch (orientated east-west) located around 200 yards from the changing rooms past an athletics stadium and up an incline. Players even made the long walk at half-time. Like Moss there was no cash at the stadium entrance so tickets had to be purchased from the ticket office next to the changing rooms. Tickets were shown to one of a large number of stewards at pitchside.

Spectators were only allowed on one side of the ground (north side) which boasted a seated stand running along the entire touchline. Most seats were uncovered apart from those ‘VIP’ seats in the central below a small roof. There were 12 rows in eight distinct blocks with around 1440 seats in total. Some spectators stood at the top of the bank at the west end, presumably they had paid for the privilege. A tea bar was located behind block G - waffles come recommended!

Presumably to meet all the rules and regulations of the Adeccoligaen, the place was heavily stewarded and my bag was searched before entering the stadium. I had to finish of my drink and put the plastic bottle in a bin before being allowed in. I had an uncovered seat in block H and of course it not only rained before kick-off but just about through the entire match as well.

Players warmed up on the pitch then made their way back down to the changing rooms shortly before kick-off. They then faced what must be the longest fair play walk in football along the athletics track up to the pitch.

Teams were unchanged after the toss so Mjøndalen (wearing brown shirts, white shorts and brown socks) got the game underway attacking the athletics track end in the first half. Lights were on from the start on such a gray evening through only five of the six pylons were working.

The was excitement right at the start as a 15-yard right-foot volley from Asker’s Armin Sistek hit the top of the bar in the second minute. Even though Mjøndalen dominated, Asker (in white shirts, black shorts and white socks) should have taken the lead in the 27th minute. Fed by Ulrik Arneberg, Sistek had just Anders Rotevatn to beat who produced a fine save.

Mjøndalen took the lead in the 40th minute. Petar Rnkovic, wearing the number 77 shirt, pulled the ball back from the right for Joachim Olsen Solberg to slot home.

At half-time, the players made their way back to the changing rooms and were back on the field within 20 minutes.

Asker got back on level terms in the seven minutes after the restart. Stian Solberg delivered a right-wing corner which Chris Joyce powered into the back of the net with a first-time bullet header.

An incident in the 62nd minute ended up making me wonder if my watch had a problem. Asker’s Stian Rasch (wearing 88 incidently) got in a tackle and the ball flew up and hit the scoreboard, attached to the building on the far side behind the dugouts. A part flew off and several minutes later I noticed the time elapsed displayed was four minutes faster than my watch. One was wrong - fortunately, it was the board not my watch.

Mjøndalen went closest to grabbing a winner as Lars Cramer produced a superb save to turn over a close-range shot from Bjarne Ingebretsen in the 77th minute.

0-1 Joachim Olsen Solberg (40)
1-1 Chris Joyce (52)

Moss FK 1 Tiller IL 0

Saturday 21st May 2011
Moss FK 1 Tiller IL 0
Fair Play Ligaen avdeling 1 (section 1)
At: Melløs Stadion, Moss, Norway
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: kr 100 (about £12); Programme: free (4 pages)
Attendance: 549
Weather: sunny, strong wind
Duration: first-half: 46:12; second-half: 48:06

This was my fifth trip to Norway. On previous trips, in addition to sightseeing, I’d seen football at Lillestrøm (1994), Sogndal (1996), Grorud, Stabaek and Manglerud Star Topf (all 2008) and Sandefjord (2009).

Back in 1994, I remember passing through (and probably stopping at) Moss station on the way from Oslo to Gothenburg, noticing the English-sounding place name. Then two years ago on a June Saturday, I met a group of Barnet supporters at Sandefjord who were heading for a game at Moss the following day. So, as I’d wanted to watch a Moss home game at some point, the Melløs Stadion just had to be on the itinerary especially with the town being so close to Rygge Airport. Today’s visitors were Tiller IL from just south of Trondeim making a round trip of some 680 miles!

My plane departed Stansted on time and arrived at Rygge early so there were no worries about remotely missing kick-off. A free hourly shuttle bus provided transport to Rygge station to catch an hourly Oslo-bound train. In no time at all I was alighting at the first stop which was Moss station, with the Melløs Stadion being around 1 mile away to the south-east. One hindrance – no left luggage lockers at Moss station.

The Melløs Stadion, grass pitch inside a six-lane athletics track, was dominated by a huge all-seated stand, holding I guess around 2300 red seats. Dugouts were positioned in front of the stand at pitchside and opposite were uncovered wooded terracing. Four solid new floodlight pylons have been installed in the recent past as Google Streetview images show an older set. Outside the stadium stood a rather rude statue titled ‘DISKOSKASTEREN’ and dated 1939 on a commemorative plaque. No cash at the turnstiles so tickets obtained from the kiosk beneath the yellow and black fabric roof in front of stand.

If relegation to the third tier of Norwegian football was bad enough, last Saturday’s ‘humiliating’ defeat at Kviv Halden was a real low point, Moss’s plight was described on their website as ‘darker than the darkest on the table’ – third from bottom in the 14-team division with 3 points (all draws) from 5 games. All this was a far cry from the halcyon days of 1980s when the club were Norwegian Champions in 1987 which resulted in a European Cup First Round tie against Real Madrid the following year (lost 4-0 on aggregate). Founded in 1906, Moss FK have had several spells in the top division (Tippeligaen), the last ending in 2002, and a eight-season spell in the second tier (Adeccoligaen) came to an end last November with relegation to the third tier and a place in Fair Play Ligaen Section 1 (there are four sections of 14 teams each with just the winner of each section gaining promotion to the Adeccoligaen). So far in 2011, things have not gone well. I was told by one supporter that the club had financial problems and in fact was now owned by the bank. The team were mostly young unpaid players aged under 23 years.

Visitors Tiller IL (in 9th position with 6 points from five games) gained promotion at the end of last season, winning a promotion play-off to return to the third tier for the first time in a while.

Programme and teamsheets were provided by a really helpful volunteer I got chatting to and he also told me a vital piece of information that had serious consequences for my plans for tomorrow. I’d noticed the comment on the Moss’s website that the breakdown in mediation between NISO and NHO would ‘not affect our struggle against Tiller IL [translated from ‘Moss Fotballklubb ønsker å informere om at meklingsbruddet mellom NISO og NHO ikke vil påvirke vår kamp mot Tiller IL’]. At time I didn’t know the significant until the said club official said that all top division games we off, including tomorrow’s Fredrikstad v Haugesund for which I had a ticket. Time to hatch Plan C or even D!

On to the match and it was nice to see that Norwegian football has embraced the fair play walk-on and handshakes, which I think are a nice formal practice prior to kick-off. I opted for a seat in the stand near the front.

Moss (wearing yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks) got the action underway attacking the south end (or left to right in relation to my vantage point). The home side enjoyed plenty of early possession without creating any serious changes but I did think that the strong wind was slightly ruining the game. In the 24th minute, Moss’s Anders Madsen picked up a booking for a foul on Rune Langørgen, which surprisingly was announced on the tannoy. Tiller (wearing all blue) got more into the game though the first half ended goalless with precious few scoring opportunities created.

That all changed within a minute of the restart. Moss keeper Kristian Bjerke did well to keep out a close range shot from Arnstein Buøy. At the other end Tiller’s keeper Ørjan Bøe Thygesen produced a fine double save to first deny Martin Holmen and then Håkon Evensen.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 64th minute as Moss scored the only goal of the game. Martin Reier delivered a deep cross from the left and Vegard Edelsteen headed home at the far post. Could they hang on for a morale-boosting first league win of the season? The Moss fans on the fans side found their voices.

It could have been two eight minutes later. Henning Johannessen fed goalscorer Edelsteen who hit a rising drive which Thygesen juggled and eventually held. Tiller weren’t finished and Arton Ademi forced Bjerke into a diving save at the expense of a corner.

I was grateful to the person sat next to me for providing the attendance of 549 and Man-of-the-Match Marius Henriksen – my Norwegian wasn’t to enough to know what was being announced on the tannoy.

Tiller finished the game with ten men. Ademi, as the last defender, was shown a straight red card by the Swedish referee in the second minute of stoppage time for bringing down Edelsteen 10 yards inside the Tiller half.

At full-time the Moss players celebrated in front of their fans on the far side and the three points took them out of the relegation zone.

1-0 Vegard Edelsteen (64)

St Martins 1 Malvern Rangers 2

Saturday 14th May 2011
St Martins 1 Malvern Rangers 2
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2
At: St Martins Playing Field
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £2 (20 pages inc free raffle ticket)
Attendance: 60 (headcount)
Weather: sunny and showers, strong wind
Duration: first-half: 47:07; second-half: 48:24

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not Premier League games should be played on Cup Final day. Four games – at Blackburn, Blackpool, Sunderland and West Brom – had lunchtime kick-offs and I felt that these top-flight games should have been played on another day. While listening to comments on the radio, there was me driving to a 3 pm kick-off which was played at the same time that Manchester City faced Stoke City at Wembley! Hypocrite? Not me as I don’t think I’ve watched an entire Cup Final from first whistle to full-time since 1990 and I don’t think there is anything wrong with lower non-league clubs without floodlights taking advantage of a spring Saturday to complete their fixtures.

Whether planned or a coincidence, the final day of West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2 fixtures included a ‘winner takes all’ top of the table clash in north Shropshire between St Martins and Malvern Rangers. With around 100 miles separating the two clubs in terms of mileage, the game just couldn’t have been scheduled at any time other than 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon.

As John Smout, the St Martins FC Manager, explained in programme notes: ‘After a long and hard first season in the West Midlands Division Two league this weekend is what is comes down to. A win for us and we are league champions, lose or draw and Malvern take the honours. Going into the final game, visitors Malvern (54 points from 23 games) topped the table by a point from their hosts (53 points from 23 games).

Home side St Martins, reformed in 1948, have enjoyed two recent promotions first as Shropshire County League Division 1 champions in 2007/08 and last season as Premier Division champions to move up into the lowest of the three West Midlands (Regional) League divisions. As the league tables highlights their first season in Division 1 has been a highly-successful one which could have ended in a third championship in four seasons. Incidentally, the village of St Martins is located five miles north-east of Oswestry and my journey via Whitchurch and Overton took me briefly into Wales and back into Shropshire.

The pitch, orientated roughly north-south and located behind Stans Superstore and the Jet petrol station, fits into an awkwardly-shaped sloping field and mostly railed-off with a large fence behind each goal to prevent off-target shots from flying over the hedge. There is now covered standing and the dugouts straddle the far touchline (west side), furthest away from the changing rooms which are 20 yards from the nearest corner in a community centre.

According to the programme, the home side were missing suspended duo of Andy Webb and Paul Hughes as well as holidaying Chris Smout. Leading scorer Tim Nunnerley was in the side and the visitors had their top marksman Lee Hooper starting as well.

Teams changes ends after the toss and to an audible shot of “Rangers, from the off boys”, it was St Martins (wearing yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks) who got the action underway attacking the south end in the first half. The aforementioned Nunnerley had the ball in the back of the Malvern net in the 11th minute but raised offside flag ruled out the ‘goal’. Malvern’s Edward Lyons, wearing pink boots (and blue shirts, shorts and socks), fired against a post, also from an offside position, and as the interval approached Nunnerley had another ‘goal’ disallowed. Goalless at half-time and everything to play for in the second half with rain visibly on the way from the north and west! Just about the only shelter when the rain did fall on the ground were trees and hedges at the north end.

St Martins made a vital breakthrough in the 51st minute to take the lead. Guy Culliford crossed low from the left and Ian Heathcock sidefooted home at close range. Needing a goal Malvern gradually showed more urgency and created opportunities to equalise with Bryon Craven glancing a header wide and Lyons firing past the near right post. Hooper also headed over the bar from Joseph Leighton’s corner. Eventually in the 78th minute, Paul Edwards fired home a right-foot shot into the bottom left corner to level things up and, as things stood, gave Malvern the point they needed to become champions. Almost unnoticed, one of their unused subs was booked before the restart, presumably for something he did during the goal celebrations.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute. Several players got involved in a flare-up after Oliver Endacott brought down Nunnerley just outside the Malvern area. Ednacott and St Martins’ goalscorer Heathcock were both shown a straight red card.

The destination of the title was put beyond doubt a minute later when Malvern scored the winner. Lyons latched onto a long ball and slotted home from inside the area. The visitors had turned things around with two goals in six minutes. Now needing to score twice in five minutes plus stoppage time, St Martins faced a uphill task but the closest they went to a consolation equaliser was Shaheen Miah’s 20-yard free-kick which hit the outside of the left-hand post.

A presentation of the winners and runners-up shields, and medals took place after the final whistle and Malvern Rangers can now look forward to next season in Division One. I do hope that St Martins, as runners-up, can go up as well.

1-0 Ian Heathcock (51)
1-1 Paul Edwards (78)
1-2 Edwards Lyons (84)

Coalville Town 2 Whitley Bay 3

Sunday 8th May 2011
Coalville Town 2 Whitley Bay 3
FA Carlsberg Vase Final
At: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: £4 (52 pages)
Attendance: 8778
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:10; second-half: 49:05

This was my first visit to the new Wembley Stadium for one of the highlights of my 2010/11 season.

I decided to take the train and had lunch at Leon on Regent Street before a quick bit of sightseeing at Westminster.

The stadium was a lot bigger than I imagined and the seat (a padded cinema-style seat with drinks holder in front) was impressive. On a Stafford Rangers theme Coalville named two former heroes from the 1999/2000 Dr Martens League Western Division in the bench – Richard Williams (sub) and Leigh Everitt (not involved) – so I suppose I wanted them to win for that reason alone (no disrespect to Whitley Bay as seeing them celebrate winning the final for a third consecutive season will be a lasting memory of the day).

The game was a classic – twice Whitley Bay took the lead (Paul Chow 28th minute and Lee Kerr 61st minute) and twice Coalville equalised (Matt Moore 57th minute and Adam Goodby 80th minute). Extra time looked likely until Chow scored the 86th-minute winner.

Back in September 2007 I saw the Vase trophy at Kirkham and Wesham and they won it the following May. Last August I again saw the Vase trophy at Ryton when Whitley were the visitors and they went on the win the competition the same season. Could this work for one of my local sides next season?

1-0 Paul Chow (28)
1-1 Matt Moore (57)
2-1 Lee Kerr (61)
2-2 Adam Goodby (80)
3-2 Paul Chow (86)

Stone Old Alleynians 1 Sporting Khalsa 1

Saturday 7th May 2011
Stone Old Alleynians 1 Sporting Khalsa 1
West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1
At: Motiva Park stadium pitch (Stone Dominoes FC)
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Attendance: 29 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Duration: first-half: 45:50; second-half: 49:48

A familiar venue (fifth visit to Motiva Park), familiar colours (black and white stripes), but unfamiliar home side. Shame on me for not having seen Stone Old Alleynians play either home or away until today, considering I made just a short 13.3 mile trip from home to ground. I found such a welcoming club with the added bonus of a decent programme.

Stone Old Alleynians, according to the club badge and history printed in the programme, were formed 49 years ago in 1962 by a man named Dave Bonnet who was a teacher and former pupil of Alleynes High School. The website history tells an interesting story of how the club received a donation from the Old Alleynians Society to purchase shirts and pay league fees. The team progressed through the Stafford Amateur League (later to become the Mid Staffs League) and eventually joined the North Staffs Alliance League in 1980 and subsequently the Staffordshire County Senior League. Recently a bold switch saw Stone Old Alleynians join the West Midlands (Regional) League Division 2 and gained promotion to Division 1 at the end of the 2009/10 season. They currently groundshare on Stone Dominoes’ stadium pitch at Yarnfield.

Both sides had something to play for in what was their last league game of the 2010/11 season. Visitors Sporting Khalsa (3rd with 55 points from 29 games, goal difference +26) needed to avoid defeat secure third position regardless of what fourth-placed Wem Town (52 points from 29 games, goal difference +21) did at home to champions Black Country Rangers. Third place could be good enough to gain promotion to the Premier Division. The aim of Alleynians (6th position with 46 points from 29 games) was simply to win and leapfrog Hanwood United into fifth position.

Even though Alleynians were missing some of the ‘star’ players like Ismael Reid and Ashley Sheridan, they did include midfielder Jamie Cartwright who played a few games for Stafford Rangers in early 2001 and more recently a regular with landlords Stone Dominoes. Also in the starting line-up was former Stafford Rangers youth player Darryll Johns.

“Yellow kick,” announced the young referee and soon Sporting Khalsa (wearing yellow shirts, navy blue shorts and yellow socks) got the action underway attacking the northern end of the ground closest to the players entrance and car park. Alleynians (in black and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) created early chances and twice Khalsa’s keeper Sunny Dhesi was forced into near-post saves to deny Darryl Johns and Stephen Bennett. However, the visitors took a 20th minute lead against the run of play with their first attempt on goal. Sunny Dhylai fed Satnam Sangha who hit home a rising right foot shot from the right-hand side of the area. Khalsa could have extended their lead just before half-time. Lee Onions’ free-kick forward into the area wasn’t cleared, Faizul Islam saw a shot blocked and Jaswinder Sira fired the resulting loose ball over the bar.

Chances were scarce in the second half until Alleynians got back on level terms in the 73rd minute. Jamie Cartwright delivered a free-kick from the left to the far side of the area. Adam Cunningham knocked the ball towards goal for captain Stephen Millington to fire home.

“Well done, Stone” and “well done, Khalsa” were the verdicts from the touchline at full-time as Sporting Khalsa had the point they needed to secure third spot – Wem lost 4-2 at home to Black Country Rangers. Stone finish the season in sixth position, the highest they have achieved in the pyramid during their 49 year history while Sporting Khalsa have to wait to see if third is high enough for promotion.

0-1 Satnam Sangha (20)
1-1 Steven Millington (70)

Church Warsop 1 Pinxton 0

Monday 2nd May 2011
Church Warsop 1 Pinxton 0
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division
At: The Alley, Wood Lane
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: none
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Weather: Sunny, strong cold wind
Duration: first-half: 47:20; second-half: 47:32

Kick-off had been put back to two o’clock and no programme, the familiar and welcoming face that is Rob Hornby told me as I arrived at The Alley. He also gave me some tips on the best places to park. I suppose I expected no programme but the put-back kick-off time had good and bad points. Good in the sense that I had time to visit the old ground of Welbeck Welfare and the village of Church Warsop itself, bad that I’d miss the last 15 minutes of the first half and half an hour of the second half at Kirkby Town on my way home. The lack of programme didn’t bother me, unlike some others who headed elsewhere with the ‘bad’ news.

Church Warsop village in Nottinghamshire is a few miles east of Shirebrook and around five miles north of Mansfield. It was built in the 1930s by the Staveley Coal and Iron Company to house colliery workers and their families who worked at the nearby Warsop Colliery. The football club joined the Central Midlands League in 2008 and last season, 2009/10, won the Premier Division by a massive 10 points to gain a place in the Supreme Division. But joy turned to nightmare as off-the-field problems led to the title-winning side going elsewhere.

I’m pleased I had time to briefly visit nearby Welbeck Welfare’s old ground at Medan Vale, though alas the backdrop that was the Welbeck Colliery has now been demolished. Looking at Google Streetview, I can see why the ground found its way onto other travellers’ favourite grounds list. With time on my hands, St Peter and St Paul Church was also well worth a visit. A couple of information boards provided plenty of interesting information and facts about the church, mining and the local area. A church has stood on the site for about 1000 years and mining in the 1930s resulted in the church showing cracks with a real danger of falling down.

Back to the ground and during my ‘sightseeing’ tour, a few familiar faces had arrived. Some subsequently headed for Ollerton before returning for Welbeck’s 5 pm kick-off at The Alley. Unlike Church Warsop, Welbeck were producing a programme with a print run of just 20 copies!

The pitch (orientated just about west–east) was fully railed off with a small area of covered standing near the dugouts. It was enclosed with tall concrete fence panels and the changing rooms were located outside the perimeter.

Looking at the league table (teams play 34 games), Pinxton (3rd position with 75 points from 32 games) could finish no lower than first and had an outside chance of catching Blidworth Welfare (79 points from 31 games) the team immediately above them to snatch runners-up spot. Church Warsop (15th position with 25 points from 32 games) stood fourth from bottom with no chance of moving up or down. Could Pinxton heep pressure on Blidworth with a win at The Alley?

After the teams changed ends, Pinxton (wearing white shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking down the slight slope into the strong wind and defending the changing rooms end. The hard dry pitch combined with the aforementioned pitch wasn’t conducive for entertaining football. Perhaps the best chance of the first half came fell to Pinxton’s Frazer Thomas who saw a deflected shot parried by Warsop keeper Craig Tansley.

After the break, Pinxton applied pressure with Thomas again going close to breaking the deadlock. However, it was Church Warsop (wearing all navy blue) who had the ball in the back of the net in the 63rd minute. Liam Marsden headed home Robert Camm’s cross only to see the goal struck off by a raised flag for offside. While there was nothing controversial about the disallowed goal, there perhaps was surrounding the goal that was to settle the game in Warsop’s favour. Jamie Renshaw was harshly adjudged (by the nearby assistant) to have handled Adrian Smith’s cross in the area and Craig Cantrell converted the resulting penalty in the 73rd minute.

Sadly, Church Warsop will be folding at the end of this season and Nottingham United are reportedly taking up residence at The Alley next season.

At full time I made my way to the Summit Centre to catch the last 13 minutes of Kirkby Town v Dronfield Town, which finished 3-1 to Kirkby – it would have been 15 or 16 minutes had I not been held up at a level crossing! All four goals had been scored by the time I’d arrived and it was good to spend some time in the company of Malcolm Storer (a pleasure to give an APTCOO donation), Kev Goodman, ‘Pontecarlo’ (aka Eddie Fogden) and ‘FredKirkbyTown’.

Church Warsop (navy blue / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Craig Tansley, 2. Adrian Smith, 3. Liam Middleton, 4. Craig Charlesworth, 5. Brett Crew, 6. Robert Camm, 7. Sam Ward, 8. Craig Cantrell, 9. Lee Eason (capt), 10. Liam Marsden, 11. Jordan Claxton. Subs: 14. Luke Cower (for Crew, 71), 15. Alex Marsh (not used), 19. Richard Preston (not used).

Pinxton (white shirts with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Dave McCarthy, 2. Josh Parker, 3. Ryan Kerlin, 4. Joe Riley, 5. Jamie Renshaw, 6. Liam Collins, 7. Frazer Thomas (capt), 8. Sam Hutsby, 9. Blake Vincent, 10. Martin Jones, 11. Martin Newman. Subs: 14. Jay Cooper (for Newman, 48), 15. Lewis Fantom (for Hutsby, 55), 17. Rory Davis (for Kerlin, 79).

Referee: Stephen Hall.
Assistants: Gareth Carlile and Martin Jones.

1-0 Craig Cantrell (73 pen)