Great Britain Ladies 1 Brazil Ladies 0

Tuesday 31st July 2012
Great Britain Ladies 1 Brazil Ladies 0
Preliminary Round Group E
At: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45pm
Admission: £45; Programme: £5 (68 pages)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Attendance: 70584
Duration: first-half: 45:21; second-half: 47:04

A truly memorable day – lunch at the famous Bridge Cafe and later, coincidently, bumping into Apprentices Adam and Gabrielle in Trafalgar Square, followed a cracking atmosphere at Wembley and a win for Great Britain! A 2nd-minute goal from Steph Houghton was sufficient to defeat the Brazilians and send ‘Team GB’ into the quarter finals with a 100% record. The crowd of 70584 established a record for a ladies match in the UK, shattering the previous best of 53000 set 92 years ago in 1920.

Like Old Trafford, we made a late decision to head for tonight’s game and so ended up paying £90 for two tickets in the north-west corner of the West Stand.

Also, like Old Trafford, the programme was a specific one for ‘Team GB’ and this issue covered both tonight’s game and tomorrow’s men’s match at Cardiff.

Though Brazil (in yellow shirts, white shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the East Stand (old tunnel end), it was Great Britain who took the lead after just 92 seconds. Steph Houghton, who scored in the previous two groups games, fired home from a narrow angle on the right.

Surprisingly, it took just five minutes for the first serious Mexican wave to commence even though the start was far from boring. Call me old fashioned or miserable (or someone who prefers to concentrate on the match) but I can’t stand Mexican waves.

Brazil created the bulk of the first-half chances without success and they hit the post in the 26th minute. A small group of Brazilian fans in the row immediately behind us vocally got behind their team.

Arriving back late after the interval, all but one of those Brazilian fans returned just before Great Britain were awarded a penalty in the 56th minute. I felt the cushion of a second goal was needed but Kelly Smith saw her spot-kick saved by the diving goalkeeper.

The final missing Brazilian fan returned to her seat with less than 15 minutes left. Why?

Brazil didn’t get the goal I feared they would, so Great Britain topped Group A with 100% record without conceding a goal. They now face Canada in the quarter finals at the City of Coventry Stadium.

Having travelled up from central London with ease on the Jubilee Line to Wembley Park, we felt this tube station would be jam packed at full-time so opted for a different and surprisingly quick route back to Euston. Queues weren’t that lengthy at Wembley Stadium station and we were whisked to Marylebone on a fast non-stop 10-minute Chiltern Railways train within 20 minutes of the full-time whistle.

1-0 Steph Houghton (2)

Bradley 3 Coach Rangers 1

Saturday 28th July 2012
Bradley 3 Coach Rangers 1
Summer League Cup Final
At: Mappleton Playing Field
Kick-off: 7-15 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: none
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 60 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:47: second-half: 49:42

Bradley ended Coach Rangers grip on the Summer League Cup with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory. Looking to win the cup for a fifth consecutive season, Coach took an early lead through Callum Woolley and held it until Steve Williams equalised with 18 minutes left. Jez Oborn put Bradley ahead for the first time in the 82nd minute and he put the outcome beyond doubt with his side’s late third goal.

Bradley (white with diagonal blue and black stripe / white / white): Alex Dowling, Jay Twemlow, Mike Twemlow, James Marriott, Richard Gage, Steve Williams, Tom Rushby, James Rushby, Neil Bennett, Ewan Ritchie, Jez Oborn (capt). Subs: Richard Bailey (for Marriott, 61).

Coach Rangers (yellow with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Simon Wint, 4. Martyn Taylor (capt), 16. Craig Richardson, 3. Carl Allen, 6. Paul Godfrey, 7. Kev Millward, 8. Ian Godfrey, 15. Mark Maznenko, 14. Sam Howard, 11. Matt Hackett, 9. Callum Woolley. Subs: 17. Ross Armstrong (for Maznenko, 56), 16. Sean Millward (for Woolley, 68), x. Dan Frith (not used).

Referee: Sam Ritchie.
Assistants: Chris Cope and Kevin Wright.

0-1 Callum Woolley (4)
1-1 Steve Williams (72)
2-1 Jez Oborn (82)
3-1 Jez Orborn (89)

Cards: Bradley: none
Coach Rangers: Simon Wint (YC, 20)

Stafford Town 1 Rocester 1

Saturday 28th July 2012
Stafford Town 1 Rocester 1
Pre-Season Friendly
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Weather: sunny, cooling wind
Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:57: second-half: 49:42

For the first leg of my third ‘double’ in four days, I made the familiar short trip to Evans Park where Stafford Town hosted Midland Alliance side Rocester in what turned out to be an entertaining friendly. Craig Smith put the visitors ahead no long after the half-hour but the Reds equalised in the second half through Francis Dacres.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Karl Smith, 2. Tom Hind, 3. Trialist, 4. Ben Henderson, 5. Dave Ebberson, 6. Wayne Bailey, 7. Francis Dacres, 8. Ismael Reid (capt), 9. Ashley Sheridan, 7. Jason Cunningham, 11. Darryll Johns.

Rocester (white/black/black): 1. Richard Froggett, 2. Ryan Piriee, 3. Carl Allen, 4. Dan McLeod, 5. Joe Rogers, 6. Darren Bullock, 7. Jack Langston, 8. Craig Holland (capt), 9. Craig Smith, 10. Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah, 11. Adam Swain.

Referee: James Scerri (Stafford).
Assistants: Josh Warren and Graham Mitchell.

0-1 Craig Smith (35)
1-1 Francis Dacres (77)

Cards: none

UAE 1 Uruguay 2; Great Britain 1 Senegal 1

Thursday 26th July 2012
United Arab Emirates 1 Uruguay 2; Great Britain 1 Senegal 1
Preliminary Round Group A
At: Old Trafford
Admission: £40; Programme: £5 (68 pages)
Weather: warm, sunshine and showers

A late decision to head to Old Trafford meant a hefty £80 price for two tickets in what turned out to be a sell-out crowd of 72176 at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. We saw a double header with the UAE almost upsetting fancied Uruguay followed by Great Britain being held 1-1 by a very physical Senegal side. Even though it took three hours to get home after full-time, the enjoyment of visiting Old Trafford for the first time in November 1984 was well worth the effort and aggravation.

Getting to the stadium couldn’t have been easier – parked-up near Timperley Metrolink station, took the tram to Old Trafford and walked past the cricket ground. Then the fun started! A long queue to collect our pre-booked tickets and problems at the turnstiles meant we didn’t sit down in our North Stand seats until 10 minutes before the first game kicked-off.

The programme, a specific one for ‘Team GB’, was different to yesterday in that it covered yesterday’s two ladies fixtures at Cardiff and today’s two Old Trafford games.

Coming home was a nightmare – thousands of people queuing for trams at Old Trafford station. I wonder if we should have walked a bit further to Trafford Bar Metrolink instead?

United Arab Emirates 1 Uruguay 2
Kick-off: 5-00 pm
Attendance: 51745
Duration: first-half: 46:07; second-half: 49:17

UAE (in all red) got the game underway defending the West Stand (aka Stretford End) and took a deserved lead in the 23rd minute though Ismail Matar amid huge cheers from the neutrals in the crowd. Uruguay (wearing familiar sky blue shirts, black shorts and socks) levelled things up just before the break when Gastón Ramírez fired home direct from a 28-yard free-kick. Uruguay’s winner came in the 56th minute from Nicolás Lodeiro.

1-0 Ismail Matar (23)
1-1 Gastón Ezequiel Ramírez (42)
1-2 Nicolás Lodeiro (56)

Great Britain 1 Senegal 1
Kick-off: 8-00 pm
Attendance: 72176
Duration: first-half: 45:43; second-half: 49:15

Great Britain (in all navy blue) got the game underway defending the West Stand (aka Stretford End). They look the lead in 19th minute through Craig Bellamy. Senegal (in all white) employed some very physical tactics and Great Britain should have been awarded penalty for an awful late tackle on Bellamy during the second half which the referee didn’t even penalise. The lack of a second goal hit GB hard as Moussa Konaté finished off a nice move in the 82nd minute to net Senegal’s equaliser.

1-0 Craig Bellamy (19)
1-1 Moussa Konaté (82)

Japan 2 Canada 1; Sweden 4 South Africa 1

Wednesday 25th July 2012
Japan Ladies 2 Canada Ladies 1; Sweden Ladies 4 South Africa Ladies 1
Preliminary Round Group F
At: City of Coventry Stadium
Admission: £20; Tournament Programme: £5 (100 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny

The football tournament started two days before the opening ceremony. I booked this ticket in April last year, not knowing which countries I’d be watching. Initially, Japan, Canada, Sweden and South Africa didn’t excite until a bit of research turned up the facts that Japan are the current FIFA Women’s World Cup holders and Sweden finished the same 2011 tournament in third place.

Having not pre-booked any parking, I followed the signs from the M6 to the city centre and a multi-story University car park; nearby a fleet of buses provided an pleasantly efficient ‘park-and-ride’ to the stadium and back after the two games. At the ground, my seat in the West Stand wasn’t too far for the one I sat in on my only previous visit to the ground in January 2010.

Both games provided decent entertainment with the highlights being the enthusiastic support given by their fans to the Japanese teams and Portia Modise’s amazing goal for South Africa.

Japan Ladies 2 Canada Ladies 1
Kick-off: 5-00 pm
Attendance: 14119
Duration: first-half: 45:07; second-half: 48:10

An hour after England and New Zealand ladies got the tournament underway at the Millennium Stadium, Japan (in all navy blue with a vertical pink stripe) kicked this one off attacking the North Stand in the first half. Few chances were created until Nahomi Kawasumi gave Japan the lead in the 33rd minute. Japan’s patience was further rewarded with a second goal just before the interval through Aya Miyama’s header. Melissa Tancredi pulled a goal back for Canada (wearing all white) in the 55th minute, much to the delight of a group of their fans sat in the East Stand.
1-0 Nahomi Kawasumi (33)
2-0 Aya Miyama (44)
2-1 Melissa Tancredi (55)

Sweden Ladies 4 South Africa Ladies 1
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance 18290 (total for the two games)
Duration: first-half: 47:01; second-half: 47:08

The second part of this Group F double header pitted Sweden, 2011 World Cup bronze medallists, against South Africa who had never previously appeared in this tournament. Sweden (in traditional yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks) got the game underway attacking the South Stand in the first half. They hit the woodwork three times before taking a 7th minute lead through Nilla Fischer. After hitting the post again, the Swedes doubled their lead with a shot from Lisa Dahlkvist and Lotta Schelin soon added a third goal. A big Swedish victory looked inevitable midway through the first half but the next goal didn’t come until the hour mark with Portia Modise amazing long-range shot for South Africa (wearing green and white stripes, white shorts and green and yellow hooped socks). Schelin’s second goal restored her side’s three-goal cushion which remained until full-time.

1-0 Nilla Fischer (7)
2-0 Lisa Dahlkvist (20)
3-0 Lotta Schelin (21)
3-1 Portia Modise (60)
4-1 Lotta Schelin (63)

Rose & Crown 4 FC Hulland 2

Monday 23rd July 2012
Rose & Crown 4 FC Hulland 2
Summer League
At: Rose & Crown Ground, Boylestone
Kick-off: 7-15 pm
No admission or programme
Attendance: 14 (headcount)
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration (40): first-half: 39:40; second-half: 42:39

What a contrast to last Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final at the same ground! Tonight, barely a cloud in the sky, sun shining and a playing surface showing no signs of waterlogging. FC Hulland took the lead during the first half and looked to be on course to cause an upset until Rose & Crown turned things about with three in six minutes early in the second half. Joe Mansfield then pulled a goal back for the visitors before Richard Harrison scored Rose’s vital fourth.

Rose & Crown (red and black stripes / red / red): 1. James Archer, 15. Steve Wright, 12. Alex Wright, 10. Jim Hall, 2. Craig Palmer, 8. Ben Smith, 3. Alex McCall, 6. Dan Avery, 11. Richard Harrison, 5. Gav Astbury, 4. Harrison Avery. Subs: 9. Tom Hall (for Steve Wright, 35), 14. Rob Prince (for Harrison Avery, 64), 19gk. Phil Walker (for Archer, 72).

FC Hulland (sky blue with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Charlie Mansfield, 4. Matt Harwood, 16. Martin Bates, 7. Paul McGowan, 5. James Hodge, 2. Karl Russell, 10. Dave Oakes, 14. Ashley Hall, 11. Pete Flint, 12. Joe Mansfield (capt), 9. Connor Hodgkinson. Subs: 15. Richard Massey (for Hodgkinson, 51).

Referee: Sid Attwell.

0-1 Joe Mansfield (15)
1-1 Paul McGowan (45 og)
2-1 Gav Astbury (49)
3-1 Richard Harrison (51)
3-2 Joe Mansfield (62)
4-2 Richard Harrison (64)

Cards: none

Monday 23rd July 2012 Preview

While the discussion rages about how to satisfactorily complete the league, four Wayne Tarbard Memorial Trophy ties take place this evening – one outstanding in the First Round and three in the Second Round. There are also two rearranged league games as well. Kick-off time for all games is 7-15 pm.

Biggin v Bradley
Doveridge v Osmaston
Kirk Langley v George & Dragon

Brassington v The Bridge

Coach Rangers v Red Lion
Rose & Crown v FC Hulland

The outstanding First Round tie sees Brassington host The Bridge at Onslow Farm. It should be a close game between the sides in fourth and sixth place in the table though The Bridge do have five games in hand and trail Brassington by four points. The winners will visit Coach Rangers in the Second Round.

Two sides have the opportunity to bounce back from losing League Cup Semi Finals last Wednesday. Biggin host the side that beat them 5-1, Bradley, at Drury Lane while Doveridge entertain Osmaston. I saw Osmaston beat Wheel 9-1 in the First Round and their performance impressed me. Last but not least, Kirk Langley face George & Dragon at the G. B. Barrington Playing Field. Kirk Langley, ninth in the table with 16 points from 12 games, are two places and seven points better off than their visitors.

In the league, Coach Rangers will move above both Brassington and Doveridge into third position if they beat Red Lion this evening. Red & Crown face FC Hulland at Boylestone knowing they will draw level with leaders Bradley with a victory.

Ince Rose Bridge 22 Thatto Heath Crusaders ARLFC 23

Saturday 21st July 2012
Ince Rose Bridge 22 Thatto Heath Crusaders ARLFC 23
Conference League Premier
At: Pinfold Street, Ince, Wigan
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 175 (headcount)
Duration (40) first-half: 40:16; second-half: 44:22

Once again for a third consecutive Saturday, a competitive Rugby League fixture had more appeal than a football pre-season friendly. I decided to dip my toe into the Premier Division and opted for straightforward trip by train to Ince Rose Bridge after reading a positive groundhopper’s review of a recent visit on the Non-League [Football] Matters Forum. Both sides needed a win this afternoon to keep in touch with the division’s pacesetters and visitors Thatto Heath Crusaders came from behind to claim the points with a stoppage time drop goal.

Ince Rose Bridge (blue): 1. Adam Dwyer, 2. Danny Robbins, 3. Craig Sanby, 4. Wayne Leyland (capt), 5. Matthew Cunningham, 6. Kieron Eccleston, 7. Connah Matthews, 8. David Hoctor, 9. Martin Packingham, 10. Adam Jones, 11. John Clossick, 12. Martin Butler, 13. Kenny Baker. Subs: 14. Matthew Campbell, 15. Jonathan Turner, 16. Michael Houghton, 17. Craig Young.

Thatto Heath Crusaders ARLFC (black): 1. Shaun Quinn, 2. Darren Woods, 3. David Hull, 4. Matthew Holding, 5. Adam Walsh, 6. Andrew Stott, 7. Chris Frodsam, 8. Mark Beech, 9. Keiron Maddocks (capt), 10. Martin Shea, 11. Luke Bradshaw, 12. Andrew Lea, 13. Stephen Lucas. Subs: 14. Joshua Lynch, 15. James Clarke, 16. John Hughes, 17. David Lyons.

0-4 Darren Woods (4 try)
0-6 Shaun Quinn (goal)
4-6 Adam Dwyer (14 try)
8-6 Wayne Leyland (21 try)
10-6 Kenny Baker (goal)
10-10 John Hughes (25 try)
14-10 Adam Dwyer (34 try)
16-10 Kenny Baker (40+1 goal)
16-14 David Hull (47 try)
16-16 Shaun Quinn (goal)
20-16 Craig Sanby (61 try)
22-16 Kenny Baker (goal)
22-20 Shaun Quinn (76 try)
22-22 Chris Frodsham (goal)
22-23 Chris Frodsham (80+2 goal)

Doveridge 2 Coach Rangers 4

Wednesday 18th July 2012
Doveridge 2 Coach Rangers 4
Summer League Cup Semi Final
At: Rose & Crown Ground, Boylestone
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: none
Weather: heavy rain during first-half, then dry second-half
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:03; second-half: 46:40

Coach Rangers will face old rivals Bradley in the Summer League Cup Final a week on Saturday after surviving a stiff test from a battling Doveridge side. Goals from Callum Woolley and Jimmy Carter gave John Scott’s side a seemingly comfortable lead in the heavy rain but Doveridge responded through Kev Gadsby and Pat Taylor either side of the interval. Extra time looked a distinct possibility until Mark Maznenko and Dave Shipley scored late winning goals for Coach.

There was a complete contrast in weather during the afternoon between Stafford (blue sky and sunshine) and Uttoxeter (rain during the 16:20 race seen on Attheraces). Indeed, I left sunshine behind me, swapping it for rain, thunder and lightning over south-west Derbyshire. On Facebook, there was no news about postponements of tonight’s two League Cup semi finals though doubts about this one at Boylestone.

Arriving at the pub car park around the same time as the match officials, I was cheered by a positive 7 pm inspection though not by the rain!

The Rose & Crown ground is the second-most southerly Summer League venue (Doveridge being the most southerly). A gate opposite the pub led up to the pitch which slopes from side to side. My only previous visit to the ground was in June 2009 when Doveridge defeated Alton 6-3 to reach the Bill Redfern Final. An omen for tonight perhaps especially as it rained that evening as well?

In terms of the league table, this tie was third (Doveridge; 30 points from 17 games) versus fifth (Coach; 27 points from 10 games).

Coach (in pink shirts, black shorts and black socks) got them game underway in the rain attacking the pub end in the first half but soon lost possession. Doveridge got forward and, with just 24 seconds played, Pat Taylor fired wide of the near-left post.

Callum Woolley has been in fine scoring form this season and he gave Coach a 5th minute lead in controversial circumstances. Matt Hackett, on the left, supplied that pass that Woolley fired past Doveridge goalkeeper Shane Hodgkinson, amid shouts for offside. The goal stood following a chat between the referee and his assistant Chris Cope.

Doveridge responded and Mike Jones fired a 20-yard free-kick into the arms of Simon Wint. Coach received another let off in the 8th minute. Ben Atherton broke down the right and crossed low into the area where unmarked Taylor couldn’t keep his shot down.

Arguably against the run of play, Coach doubled their lead on the quarter hour. Mark Maznenko crossed from the left and captain Jimmy Carter headed home.

Hodgkinson produced a diving save to turn round a low shot from Ian Godfrey which prevented Coach from further extending their advantage.

Midway through the half, the diving Wint parried a shot from Ed White but couldn’t stop Doveridge halving the deficit in the 33rd minute. Stuart Hall delivered a perfect free-kick into the area where unchallenged Kev Gadsby headed home.

Thanks are due to the Doveridge bench for putting numbers and providing missing first names to the line-up I’d taken from the team card. Also, thanks as always to Coach manager John Scott for filling in the odd gap I had in the Coach line-up.

I think I got all the main first-half scoring opportunities recorded – the seemingly continuous heavy rain didn’t make note-taking easy and my aging so-called waterproof coat didn’t turn out to be that waterproof! My woes were nothing to those encountered by those on the field playing on a very wet pitch in the heavy rain.

Thankfully, the rain had eased by the start of the second half and Hodgkinson tipped over a rising shot from Carter hit from the left side of the area.

The Doveridge goalkeeper pulled off a remarkable reaction save in the 50th minute to keep out Woolley’s first-time shot from Matt Hackett’s left-wing cross.

“Doveridge, we need to up it,” was the call and they certainly did that. Gadsby saw a shot rebound off the knees of Wint before the equaliser came in the 56th minute. Taylor got on the end of a deep left-wing cross and fired past Wint from a narrow angle.

Game on! The holders were in trouble though they almost regained the lead just after the hour mark. From Ian Godfrey’s corner, Ross Armstrong saw a volley cleared off the line and Dave Shipley fired the resulting loose ball over the bar.

Midway through the half, the battling Taylor fired wide of the right-hand post though assistant Chris Cope spotted a bit of shirt-pulling by a Coach defender. However, Taylor hit the resulting free-kick against the wall.

The pitch denied Woolley a second goal. His low shot beat Hodgekinson but fortunately for Doveridge the ball stopped just short of the line in the waterlogged goalmouth.

With the scores still level, extra-time looked a distinct possibility until Coach regained the lead in the 79th minute. Ian Godfrey saw his initial drive hit the far left-hand post and Mazkenko slotted home the rebound.

Doveridge weren’t finished and won a couple of corners in quick succession. At the other end, Hodgkinson tipped over a rising shot from Carter.

However, a late fourth Coach goal settled the tie when defender Dave Shipley, up for a corner, fired home.

There was still time for Hodgkinson to impress again, this time he stuck out a hand to keep out a shot from Carter.

Doveridge (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Shane Hodgkinson, 16. Mike Jones, 37. Sam Chadfield, 12. Lee Bloor, 7. Stuart Hall, 14. Ben Atherton, 8. Ed White, 4. Danny Chadfield (capt), 18. Charlie Hannibal, 5. Pat Taylor, 10. Kev Gadsby. Subs: 17. James Roobotham (for Hannibal), x. Stuart Hoptroff (not used), 15. Dom Slim (for Thomas, 78), 6. Ian Thomas (for Jones, 49).

Coach Rangers (pink/black/black): 1. Simon Wint, 16. Craig Richardson, 5. Dave Shipley, 6. Paul Godfrey, 9. Ian Godfrey, 15. Jimmy Carter (capt), 14. Mark Maznenko, 12. Ross Armstrong, 8. Tom Donnelly, 2. Callum Woolley, 11. Matt Hackett. Subs: 10. Sean Millward (for Hackett, 74), x. Phil Dawson (not used), x. Sam Howard (not used).

Referee: Jason Glanville.

0-1 Callum Woolley (5)
0-2 Jimmy Carter (15)
1-2 Kev Gadsby (33)
2-2 Pat Taylor (56)
2-3 Mark Maznenko (79)
2-4 Dave Shipley (89)

Doveridge: Ed White (YC, 35)
Coach: none

Coventry Bears 40 Bristol Sonics 18

Saturday 14th July 2012
Coventry Bears 40 Bristol Sonics 18
Conference League Three
At: Butts Park Arena
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: sunny spells then cloudy
Attendance: 100 (headcount)
Duration (40) first-half: 43:46; second-half: 43:19

I fancied taking the train rather than driving, and thought a ground with a roof a good idea so I decided to watch Coventry Bears, the opposition at Warrington last Saturday, play a home game at the Butts Park Arena. Visitors today were winless bottom side Bristol Sonics and, as form suggested, the Bears ran out comfortable 40-18 winners.

Coventry Bears (sky blue and navy blue): 10. Ashley Johnson, 2. Tawanda Chipadza, 3. Andy McGrory, 22. Tanaka Chamunokara, 5. Tobias Rochester-Bremmer, 6. Tim Leishman, 7. Scott Clendenning-Fenton, 8. Michael Venn, 9. Luke Srama, 20. Rhidian Booth, 11. Brad Massey, 12. Elliot Hurst, 21. Steve Coleman. Subs: 13. Tom Tsang, 14. Mark White, 17. Tyrone Rowe, 18. Tom Davies.

Bristol Sonics (maroon and amber): 1. Mike Gatson, 2. James Raymond, 4. Marcus Brooker, 9. Harvey Marson, 6. Dom Swann, 12. Tom Verber, 13. Joe McKenna, 8. Daniel Brooker, 11. Josh Sampson, 10. Wes Rodgers, 2. Mike Norman, 3. Andre Savva, 20. Elliot Nightingale. Subs: 15. Joe Singleton, 16. Wijand Wormhoudt, 17. Curtis Asante, 18. Jake Robertson.


4-0 Steve Coleman (4 try)
6-0 Scott Clendenning-Fenton (goal)
10-0 Tobias Rochester-Bremner (7 try)
14-0 Andy McGrory (11 try)
16-0 Steve Coleman (goal)
20-0 Andy McGrory (25 try)
24-0 Tanaka Chamunokara (28 try)
26-0 Scott Clendenning-Fenton (goal)
26-4 Elliot Nightingale (31 try)
30-4 Mark White (36 try)
30-8 Elliot Nightingale (39 try)
30-12 Mike Gatson (53 try)
34-12 Ashley Johnson (81 try)
38-12 Tom Tsang (85 try)
40-12 Tim Leishman (goal)
40-16 Curtis Asante (80+2 try)
40-18 Dom Swann (goal)

Osmaston 9 Wheel 1

Monday 9th July 2012
Osmaston 9 Wheel 1
Wayne Tarbard Memorial Cup First Round
At: Osmaston Polo Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
No admission or programme
Weather: mild, sunny spells
Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 43:38; second-half: 46:06

Most of my previous trips to the Polo Ground have been for either cup semi-finals or the Bill Redfern Final, so it was a refreshing change tonight to see Osmaston in action at the iconic Summer League venue. The home side proved too hot to handle, particularly in the second half, and eased to a 9-1 victory with substitute Andy Bull bagging a quick 13-minute hat-trick.

With seven of the fourteen Summer League clubs yet to feature in a Pitch-side Story this season (Biggin, Brassington, George & Dragon, Osmaston, The Bridge, Weston, Wheel), the Wayne Tarbard first round draw threw up two ties of particular interest – Brassington v The Bridge and Osmaston v Wheel. When Ellie Greenshields Jack posted on Facebook that Brassington’s game was off, the Osmaston tie chose itself.

I’d arranged to meet Chris Berezai and he was already in situ along with Dan Bishop and ‘FredKirkbyTown’ by the time I arrived – the players were seconds away from kick-off. I had to take a detour off the closed A515 (flooding near Cubley) along a small track near Somersal Herbert the SavNav chose, until I met another flood, and so made it to the ground in the nick of time via Marston Montgomery, Thurvaston and Edlaston.

Despite all of the rain, the freshly-cut playing surface looked in a decent (if not perfect) condition on a rare mild evening of sunny spells – no need for coats or umbrellas!

Osmaston (in yellow shirts, blue shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the car park end and took a 9th minute lead. Sam Lambert found Chris Pointon inside the area who sent a right-foot volley past Wheel goalkeeper Sean Jones.

The home side doubled their lead within two minutes. Jones failed to hold a right-wing cross and Sam Lambert slotted into an empty net.

An acrobatic clearance from inside the six-yard box kept out Sam Lambert’s shot before Wheel enjoyed a spell of pressure which almost lead to a goal. Jack Carter headed wide and, on the half-hour, Tom Weston leapt up to his right to tip over a 25-yard free-kick hit by Sam Wareing.

Osmaston survived no fewer than four Wheel corners and added a third goal in the 39th minute. Rob Austin held off the challenge of Aaron Bowler on the right and sent a low shot into the far-left corner of the net.

At this point, I need to thank a couple of people from Osmaston and the Wheel ‘bench’ for putting names to the numbers of the field. Much appreciated (and sorry it has taken so long to get the match blogged).

‘Po’ (aka Chris Pointon) scored his second and Osmaston’s fourth goal four minutes after the restart. He got on the end of a deep right-wing cross from Rob Austin and headed home via the hands of Jones.

Not that the game was boring, far from it, I started to think about my previous visits to the Polo Ground – an Osmaston v Bradley cup tie, a Coach Rangers v Coach & Horses semi final and four Bill Redfern Finals, plus a qualifying night last month in the Ian Gallimore six-a-side competition.

Anyway back to the game and Wheel, to their credit, pulled a goal back. Liam Jackson showed great persistence inside the area to fire low into the bottom-left corner after his initial shooting chance was thwarted. I did think that a second Wheel goal would make things interesting.

Jones produced a decent save to keep out a shot from Jake Smith but couldn’t prevent Osmaston scoring their fifth goal in the 74th minute. Substitute Andy Bell converted a low cross from the left.

Again, Jones denied Smith with another save before Osmaston’s sixth goal went in. The unlucky Tony Woodrufff could only clear Charlie Wibberley’s low shot into his own net.

Osmaston completed the scoring with a further three goals scored in five minutes at the end to make the final score 9-1. Bell hammered home a loose ball after Jones fumbled Charlie Wibberley’s initial shot and completed his hat-trick by poking the ball home from Wibberley’s cross. Smith finally got on the scoresheet in stoppage time, nipping in ahead of Jones to convert a forward ball into the area.

Osmaston face a trip to Doveridge in the Second Round, with the tie scheduled for Monday 23rd July, kick-off 7-15pm. The other ties are: Kirk Langley v George & Dragon, Biggin v Bradley and Coach Rangers v Brassington or The Bridge.

First Round Results: Osmaston 9 Wheel 1; Brassing v The Bridge OFF; Bradley 2 Rose & Crown 0; Kirk Langley 5 Weston 2 (played at Weston); Red Lion 2 George & Dragon 3 (played at Mayfield after extra time); Biggin 6 FC Hulland 0.

Osmaston (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Tom Weston, 15. Tim Dixon, 4. Ryan Austin, 10. Glen Barlow, 2. Jordan Lambert, 11. Dan Wright, 9. Rob Austin, 8. Toby Tucker, 7. Sam Lambert, 12. Chris Pointon, 14. Scott Sears. Subs: 5. Jake Smith (for Wright, 49), 16. Andy Bell (for Pointon, 63), 17. Charlie Wibberley (for Scott Sears, 78).

Wheel (claret and amber stripes / claret / claret): 13. Sean Jones, 7. Scott Galvin, 8. Jack Carter, 4. Carl Cheshire, 5. Aaron Bowler, 10. Jordan Campbell, 9. Steve Millward, 12. George Taylor, 16. Liam Jackson, 15. Sam Wareing, 2. Sam Wibberley. Subs: 6. Craig Upton (for Millward, ht), 3. Tony Woodruff (for Galvin, 61).

1-0 Chris Pointon (9)
2-0 Sam Lambert (11)
3-0 Rob Austin (39)
4-0 Chris Pointon (49)
4-1 Liam Jackson (70)
5-1 Andy Bell (74)
6-1 Tony Woodruff (78 og)
7-1 Andy Bell (86)
8-1 Andy Bell (87)
9-1 Jamie Smith (90+1)

Cards: none

Warrington Wizards 36 Coventry Bears 16

Saturday 7th July 2012
Warrington Wizards 36 Coventry Bears 16
Conference League Three
At: Wilderspool
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: £4 including programme; Extra programme: £1
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 120 (headcount)
Duration (40): first-half: 40:12; second-half: 40:36

My interest in Rugby League has developed over the past couple of years, first due to Sky TV and then through watching the odd Super League game at St Helens (groundshare at Widnes), Salford City Reds (old Willows ground), Crusaders (at Wrexham), Widnes Vikings and Castleford Tigers. I recently became aware by reading the Rugby League section of the Non-League [Football] Matters forum that Conference League games were played during the summer mostly on Saturday afternoons. So, today, with the football friendlies on offer not appealing, I decided to study the Conference fixtures and found that Warrington Wizards played home games at Wilderspool, the former home of the Warrington Wolves. The Wizards built up a 20-point first-half lead and ran out 36-16 winners.

Rocester 0 Stafford Rangers 5

Tuesday 3rd July 2012
Rocester 0 Stafford Rangers 5
Pre-season Friendly
At: Hillsfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Attendance: 165
Weather: showers
Duration (45): first-half: 45:28; second-half: 44:58

Former Crewe and Nantwich striker Simon Everall marked his first appearance for Stafford Rangers by scoring four second-half goals as Greg Clowes’ side recorded an impressive 5-0 victory at Hillsfield.

0-1 Chris Morris (11)
0-2 Simon Everall (54)
0-3 Simon Everall (59)
0-4 Simon Everall (85)
0-5 Simon Everall (89)

Pitch-side Preview: Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Just 48 hours after the Euro 2012 Final brought the 2011/12 season to a close, Rocester and Stafford Rangers begin their preparations for the forthcoming 2012/13 season.

I don’t know whether the same is true for Rocester but I’m certain that a game on the 3rd July is Stafford Rangers’ earliest-ever pre-season friendly.

Heading to Hillsfield during pre-season is something of a tradition for me and this evening’s game will be my eighth Rocester v Stafford Rangers pre-season friendly. Add to that a couple of other friendlies against Gresley FC and Burton Albion.

03/08/2002 - Rocester 3 Stafford Rangers 7 (att 205)
19/07/2003 - Rocester 0 Stafford Rangers 1 (att 150 hc)
13/07/2004 - Rocester 0 Stafford Rangers 2 (att 200 hc)
09/07/2005 - Rocester 1 Stafford Rangers 5 (att 120 hc)
11/07/2006 - Rocester 1 Stafford Rangers 1 (att 174)
10/07/2007 - Rocester 0 Stafford Rangers 1 (att 221)
23/07/2011 - Rocester 1 Stafford Rangers 0 (att 155 hc)

There are a few friendlies I missed and I also didn't go to the league game between Rocester and Stafford Rangers during the 1999/2000 season, refereed by Facebook friend Mr S. R. Davies!

Last season, at the start of Greg Clowes' reign as Stafford manager, Rocester recorded a 1-0 victory with a late Jack Langston goal.

Kick-off this evening is 7-45 pm.

Note to self: I must get to a Rocester home league game this coming season!

Coach Rangers 3 Rose & Crown 0

Monday 2nd July 2012
Coach Rangers 3 Rose & Crown 0
Summer League Cup Second Round
At: Mayfield Playing Field
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
No admission or programme
Weather: Showers, sometimes heavy
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 46:03; second-half: 44:08

Holders Coach Rangers continued their bid to win the League Cup for fifth successive season with a 3-0 victory over a well-organised Rose & Crown side. Callum Woolley continued his fine form in front of goal by bagging a hat-trick.

A few weeks ago, James Archer asked me if I’d report a Rose & Crown game for the blog. Last Monday, I ran out of time and couldn’t make kick-off so missed their win over Red Lion. Tonight it was second time lucky, though without James (aka Jimmy) Carter’s update on Facebook about the change of ground, I may well have turned up at a soggy and no doubt deserted Ashbourne Rec - then headed to meet up with Chris and Laurence at Red Lion.

I’d visited tonight’s venue, Mayfield Playing Field, on one previous occasion back in August 2009 – Rose & Crown were the visitors that evening as well but they went down 4-2 to Mayfield.

Looking at the league table (I know this was a cup game), Rose & Crown (28 points from 11 games) went into this tie in second position, three points behind leaders Bradley with a game in hand. Hot on their heels were third-placed Coach Rangers (24 points from 9 games). Rose & Crown inflicted Coach’s only league defeat of the season, winning 1-0 at the Rec back in April.

The ‘man in the middle’ tonight, Jim Conway, needed no introduction and coincidently refereed that Mayfield v Rose & Crown game I mentioned.

Rose & Crown (in yellow shirts, navy blue short and socks) got the game underway attacking the village end, right to left in relation to my vantage point near the car park.

Coach created plenty of early chances including a header from Carl Allen and a shot from Kev Millward blocked by a defender amid appeals for handball. Rose & Crown goalkeeper James Archer produced a decent save to keep out Sam Howard’s header.

With Coach were applying most of the pressure, Rob Prince got forward for the visitors and stand-in goalkeeper Simon Wint needed to dive to his right to keep out a resulting low shot.

James Carter had a goal disallowed for offside around the quarter hour mark.

With the scores still level, Rose & Crown felt they were “getting into it” and the tricky Harrison Avery fired across the face of the Coach goal.

The deadlock was broken in the 22nd minute by Callum Woolley who scored no fewer than 11 goals in Coach 27-1 First Round win over The Bridge. Woolley intercepted a weak backpass from Steve Wright, drew Archer and fired an angled shot which covering defender Jim Hall could only help into the net.

The goal coincided with the rain stopping (at last) and it did remain dry for the remainder of the first half.

Archer produced another decent save to keep out a well-struck shot from Kev Millward (photo right) as the visitors were urged to “dig in”. At the other end, the dangerous Harrison Avery again drove across the face of the Coach goal.

Up to now I’d got a list of Rose & Crown numbers but no names other than ‘7 = Harrison, 14 = Ozzy and 13 = John’. So I was thankful to Mark Walker for providing the names to go with the numbers.

In the minutes before the interval, Millward drove inches wide and Howard’s lob landed just over the bar.

Elsewhere, Laurence and Chris were watching Red Lion host Wheel and I received a text saying it was 1-0 to Red Lion at half-time.

The Rose & Crown half-time teamtalk was a positive one and, quite rightly at just 1-0 down, felt they could still get something out of the game. Harrison Avery was certainly a lively presence in attack and posing a threat. The visitors made a bright start to the second half and Alex Wright’s quickly-taken free-kick almost caught out Wint.

At this point, I felt that whichever side scored the next goal then that side would go on and win the game – Coach would either have a decisive two-goal lead or Rose & Crown would be back level with their tails up.

The next goal came in the 56th minute and it was Coach's second. Again Woolley was on target with a well-struck shot which flew in via the hands of Archer.

While pleased with the goal, manager John Scott felt the game was “far from won [so] plenty of hard work”.

Well-positioned Archer again thwarted Coach by saving Millward’s low free-kick and, on the hour, kept out a header from Craig Richardson.

Coach added a decisive third goal with 15 minutes remaining to confirm their place in the semi finals. Paul Godfery played the ball forward from the left and Woolley sent a first-time header past Archer.

Over at Longford, Red Lion defeated Wheel 3-0 to record their first league win of the season. Read Laurence's report called 'A little tucked away corner in Derbyshire' on his excellent blog.

League Cup Second Round Results: Doveridge 9 Weston 1; Biggin 4 Brassington 0; Coach Rangers 3 Rose & Crown 0; Bradley 9 FC Hulland 1

Semi-Final Draw: Doveridge v Coach Rangers and Biggin v Bradley

Coach Rangers (pink/black/black): 1. Simon Wint, 15. Craig Richardson, 5. Dave Shipley, 6. Paul Godfrey, 8. Dan Frith, 7. Kev Millward, 9. Ian Godfrey, 16. Jimmy Carter (capt), 3. Carl Allen, 2. Callum Woolley, 11. Sam Howard. Subs: 10. Matt Hackett (for Allen, 66), 14. Ross Armstrong (for Carter, 70), 4. Thomas Donnelly (for Woolley, 75).

Rose & Crown (yellow / navy blue / navy blue): 1. James Archer, 5. Steve Wright, 4. Jim Hall, 15. Alex Wright, 13. John Anders, 2. Rob Prince, 10. Alex McCall, 8. Dan Avery, 6. Gav Astbury (capt), 14. Matt Osborn, 7. Harrison Avery. Subs: 12. Paul Forrester (for Wright, ht), 11. Richard Harrison (for John Anders, 66), x. Lewis Snape (not used).

Referee: Jim Conway.

1-0 Callum Woolley (22)
2-0 Callum Woolley (56)
3-0 Callum Woolley (75)

Cards: none

Pitch-side Preview: Monday 2nd July 2012

The Summer League Cup takes centre stage this evening with four Second Round ties to be played weather permitting (all with a 7-30 pm kick-off).

Doveridge v Weston
Biggin v Brassington
Coach Rangers v Rose & Crown
Bradley v FC Hulland

I’m hoping it will be second time lucky for me as I try to keep a promise and blog a game involving Rose & Crown (having failed miserably to make last Monday’s 2-0 win over Red Lion).

Tonight, Rose & Crown visit Ashbourne Recreation Ground to face Coach Rangers in arguably the tie of the round between the second- and third-placed teams in the league. Third-placed Coach suffered their only league defeat so far when they lost 1-0 at home to Rose & Crown back in April.

Of the other three ties, Biggin v Brassington looks intriguing with the visitors in fourth position and eight points better off than Biggin who do have three games in hand.

Both Weston and FC Hulland will be looking to cause an upset when they visit sides higher up the table.

In addition to these League Cup ties, two previously-postponed league games have been scheduled for this evening. The bottom two sides in the table, Red Lion and Wheel meet at Longford while Osmaston will go fourth if they can win at Kirk Langley.

MONDAY JULY 2nd (Kick-off 7.30pm)
Re-arranged league matches
Kirk Langley v Osmaston
Red Lion v Wheel