Dyffryn Banw 2 Builth Wells 3

Monday 27th August 2012
Dyffryn Banw 2 Builth Wells 3
At: Cae Morfa
Kick-off: 6-15 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (8 pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 181
Duration: first-half: 45:03; second-half: 47:31

We drove past Cae Morfa along the A458 en route from Welshpool to Dolgellau so knew what to expect on our return for this eleventh and final game of the 2012 Welsh Groundhop. The ground had a small stand down the right-hand touchline though it did not appear big enough from a distance to keep 100+ groundhoppers dry in the predicted rain.

Cae Morfa, in a very rural location close to the village of Llangadfan on the A458 west of Llanfair Caereinion, is a relatively new ground opened a few years ago. Previously, Dyffryn Banw played on a pitch behind the nearly school and a few of the hoppers who made an early exit home after Dolgellau may not have realised they’d missed out on a ‘new ground’. Both the pub up the road, curiously named ‘Cann Office Hotel’ with ‘AD 1310’ above the front door, proved a popular pre-match destination as did the mobile van and gazebo behind the near goal. The van’s ‘executive-box style’ window looking out onto the pitch was on offer at a price (tongue in cheek).

The eight-page programme provided a Chairman’s Report and history of the home side, formed in 1990 and proud that ‘most of our players are local lads, all of whom are united in their loyalty…’. During the 2007/08 season, Dyffryn Banw won the Montgomeryshire JT Hughes Division One title and moved up to the Mid-Wales League. The current 2012/13 season is their fifth in Division One and last season finished 14th with 15 points from 28 games.

Before kick-off, I spotted a familiar face, a local who wasn’t a hopper. It was Ivor Owen and his brother from Llanfair and they told me that the naming of the stand on Friday in honour of Ivor was a total surprise. John Holland also got to chat to his ‘mate’ as well!

Builth Wells (in orange) got the game underway attacking the road end in the first half and immediately won two early corners.

Having lost each of their four opening league games this season and failed to win a home league game all last season, Dyffryn Banw got just the start they needed by taking a 7th-minute lead. Tom Molloy got on the end of Chris Davies’ right-wing corner and his 10-yard header sneaked between the bar and defender on the line.

However, Builth got themselves into gear and responded with a brace of goals in quick succession to take the lead on the quarter hour mark. Joasny Williams finished off a nice move with a low shot into the bottom-right corner to equalise and Chris Jones, a strong tall player, scored a “cracking goal” by firing low into the same corner as Williams.

“2-1 let’s settle,” and Builth did for a short while before adding a third goal in the 23rd minute. Steve Morgan got on the end of a left-wing cross to slot home at the far post.

It was Banw’s turn to get some encouragement with a “get it going, Banw”.

The home side responded to score a second goal just after the half-hour mark. With the Builth defence looking for a non-existent offside flag, Guto Lewis fired low past Sam Williams from the right.

And that goal was the 69th and last on this year’s hop.

During the second half, Banw created the bulk of the chances and Rhodri Davies twice forced diving saves out of Sam Williams.

Full-time not only brought the 2012 August Bank Holiday Weekend Welsh Groundhop to a close but ended the Mid-Wales League’s three-year stint in this slot. Knighton Town, whose ground I visited two years ago, may feature on a hop-up in March next year and I’ve just got to visit Aberaeron’s new home to complete visits to each ground in both divisions of the league; perhaps, for completeness, I ought to revisit Llansantffraid Village’s Recreation Ground, as well, as I saw old Llansantffraid/TNS side play there?

I must thank Chris and Laurence for all their hard work (and more specifically Chris for inviting me to stay at Dolforwyn). Thanks also to coach drivers Clive and Alan, Cheryl at the B&B and James who sat next to me on the coach. I’m miss the evening fellowship at Dolforwyn .

New friends made and I look forward to the 2013 Welsh Groudhop when the Welsh Alliance picks up the baton in twelve months time.

Dyffryn Banw (blue/white/blue): 1. Dylan Jones, 2. Hywel Bennett, 3. Dyfrig Jones (capt), 4. Alan Jones, 5. Huw Tudor, 6. Chris Davies, 7. Guto Lewis, 8. Twm Foulkes, 9. Tom Molloy, 10. James Vaughan, 11. Rhodri Davies. Subs: 12. Ross Wolverton (for Vaughan, 69), 14. Allwyn Jones (not used), 15. Guto Dafydd (for Chris Davies, 69), 16. Gerally Evans, 17. Gareth Smith (not used).

Builth Wells (orange/black/black): 1. Sam Williams, 2. Gavin Samuel (capt), 3. Kevin Lewis, 4. Matt Croose, 5. Jamie Molloy, 6. Jack Hammond, 7. Harry Bastable, 8. Jonny Samuel, 9. Steve Morgan, 10. Chris Jones, 11. Joasny Williams. Subs: 12. Neil Davies (for Joasny Williams, 78), 14. Ewan Jones (not used).

Referee: Neil Carpenter.
Assistants: Huw Lewis and Roy Ingram.

Goals: 1-0 Tom Molloy (7)
1-1 Joasny Williams (15)
1-2 Chris Jones (16)
1-3 Steve Morgan (23)
2-3 Guto Lewis (32)

Cards: Dyffyn Banw: Tom Molloy (YC, 38), Chris Davies (YC, 64), Twn Foulkes (YC, 81)
Builth Wells: none

Dolgellau 2 Carno 1

Monday 27th August 2012
Dolgellau 2 Carno 1
At: Y Marian
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (8 pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 206
Duration: first-half: 45:15; second-half: 46:36

For the first time of this Hop, we had to wait over an hour for the first goal. In near constant rain of varying degrees of intensity and a boggy pitch, it was no surprise players of both Dolgellau and Carno struggled to find the net, managing just three between them over the 90 minutes though the visitors hit the woodwork three times. Sion Williams put Dolgellau ahead and then added a second goal from the penalty spot before Andrew Thomas netted a late consolation for Carno.

Though previous clubs have represented the town of Dolgellau, the programme gives ‘1971’ as the foundation date of the present club, Dolegllau Athletic Amateur Football Club. They progressed into the Mid Wales League via the Aberystwyth and District League and last season finished in 12th position with 24 points from 28 games.

Because of the wet weather, it just wasn’t practical to explore the ground which covers part of a larger recreation area that also caters for cricket and the Dolgellau RFC rugby union side. I had to be content with a walk around part of the pitch perimeter from clubhouse to the covered terrace behind the dugouts down one side. Interestingly or should that be unusually, the goalposts were square.

Whereas few games have been played in Division Two, Division One has been in full swing for a couple of weeks though Dolgellau (15th position out of 16 with 0 points from 3 games) may wish it hadn’t with three league defeats out of three to Waterloo Rovers (1-6), Tywyn Bryncrug (1-4) and Four Crosses (1-5 two days ago). The same applied to Carno (14th position out of 16 with 0 points from 3 games) as well with defeats against Four Crosses (0-4), Waterloo Rovers (2-3) and Aberaeron (0-2 two days go).

Dolgellau (in amber) got the game underway defending the clubhouse end in the first half. Carno, in terms of match statistics and possession, dominated the first half with no fewer than ten corners to Dolgellau’s solitary one. The visitors’ Greg Brown hit the bar early on and a shot from Stephen Jones was cleared off the line by Lee Riches in the 13th minute. Jamie Davies then headed against a post four minutes later.

With bar and post hit, Carno looked more likely to score yet nearly conceded just before half-time. Sion Lloyd’s shot lacked power and Chris Brown made a more comfortable save than he was perhaps anticipating.

With the rain arguable at its heaviest during the opening minutes of the second half, Jamie Jones was called into action to push Simon Jones’ mishit right-wing cross.

The programme mentioned that Dolgellau had never picked up a point against Carno. So, imagine the delight when Sion Williams forced the ball home in the 62nd minute after Lloyd’s initial effort was blocked by Chris Brown. One fan took off his shirt and ran on to the pitch – avoiding the yellow card he would have received had he been a player!

As well as the home players, the goal was also good news for me, because it meant a 79th consecutive game without a 0-0 draw.

Dolgellau secured their first league win of the season with a second goal, also scored by Williams in the 70th minute. The referee took a few seconds to deliberate before pointing to the spot following Andrew Thomas’ challenge on Ryan Thomas inside the area. Chris Brown dived the right way but Williams’ penalty went in just avoided the goalkeeper’s hand.

Carno responded by hitting the woodwork for a third time – a diving header from Ioan Humphries hit the far right post from Simon Jones’ deep cross. The visitors netted a consolation goal in the 83rd minute. Simon Jones’ free-kick fell to Thomas who fired home via a deflection.

The attendance of 206 was on the low side for a Welsh Hop game. I think the soggy conditions put off a lot of the locals and there wern't many in the stand. Despite the rain, club officials succeeded in making us feel welcome and the home-make cakes on sale before kick-off in the clubhouse deserve a mention!

Dolgellau (amber with black V / black / amber): 1. Jamie Jones, 2. Tom Evans. 3. Dan Roberts, 4. Dafydd Jones, 5. Michael Parkes, 6. Lee Riches, 7. Ryan Thomas, 8. Keith Morris (capt), 9. Gareth Lloyd, 10. Sion Williams, 11. Sion Lloyd. Subs: 12. Joe Ephraim (not used), 14. Richard Roberts (not used), 15. Iwan Kojs (not used), 16. Dan Griffiths (not used).

Carno (green and black stripes / black / black): 1. Chris Brown, 2. David Rowlands, 3. Lee Powell, 4. Ben Richards (capt), 5. Andrew Thomas, 6. Jamie Davies, 7. Stephen Jones, 8. Daniel Pierce, 9. Ioan Humphries, 10. Gregg Brown. 11. Simon Jones. Subs: 12. Andrew Davies (for Jamie Davies, 78), 14. David Jarman (for Jones, 78), 15. Damon Massey (not used).

Referee: John Davies.
Assistants: Elwyn Owen and Gary Davies.

1-0 Sion Williams (62)
2-0 Sion Williams (70 pen)
2-1 Andrew Thomas (83)

Cards: Dolgellau: none
Carno: Lee Powell (YC, 61)

Welshpool Town 3 Llansantffraid Village 5

Monday 27th August 2012
Welshpool Town 3 Llansantffraid Village 5
Spar Mid-Wales League Division One
At: Maesydre
Kick-off: 11-00 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 211
Duration: first-half: 48:24; second-half: 51:02

If we felt that this year’s Welsh Groundhop had set enough records, then we were in for another twist – a goal scored after just 10 seconds. Llansantffraid Village’s Wayne Austin took full advantage of acres of space down the left to slot home past Welshpool’s helpless goalkeeper Callum Hennegan. Austin quickly turned provider as he set up a second goal for Oliver Clarke after just 115 seconds and by the interval another five had gone in, making the half-score ‘Welshpool Town 3 Llansantffraid Village 4’. Llansantffraid Village managed just one more in the second half at this ground I’d previously visited in January 2009.

Welshpool Town (white/black/white): 1. Callum Hennegan, 2. David Williams, 3. Martin Flood, 4. Dan Bowen, 5. Ian Jones (capt), 6. Gareth Watkins, 7. Jack Williams, 8. Dan Dawson, 9. James Langford, 10. Ross Harris, 11. George Mitten. Subs: 12. Mike Bebb (for Watkins, 51), 14. Ben Morris (not used), 15. Carl Phillips (not used), 16. Ben Hendleman (for Harris, 78), 17. Mike Cockram (for Mitten, 68).

Llansantffraid Village (green/green/green): 1. Jimmy Hayns, 2. Neil Prescott (capt), 3. Lewys Williams, 4. Steve Tomkins, 5. Lloyd Council, 6. Matthew Davies, 7. Bryan Jones, 8. Oliver Clarke, 9. Iwan Mathew, 10. Dave Lloyd, 11. Wayne Austin. Subs: 12. Sam Roberts (for Lloyd, 84), 14. Aled Jones (not used), 16. Dave Jones (not used).

Referee: Mike Hughes.
Assistants: Alun Williams and Mike Williams.

0-1 Wayne Austin (1)
0-2 Oliver Clarke (2)
1-2 James Langford (9)
1-3 Wayne Austin (24)
2-3 Ian Jones (31)
3-3 George Mitten (40)
3-4 Iwan Mathew (40)
3-5 Wayne Austin (72)

Welshpool: Ian Jones (YC, 52)
Llansantffraid Village: Steve Tomkins (YC, 45+3), Wayne Austin (YC, 88)

Machynlleth 0 Kerry 4

Sunday 26th August 2012
Machynlleth 0 Kerry 4
Spar Mid Wales League Division Two
At: Cae Glas
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Weather: cloudy, mild, dry
Attendance: 347
Duration: first-half: 47:13; second-half: 51:00

Of the eleven grounds on this year’s hop, I’d previously visited three of them. So while many were savouring a Division Two ‘Champagne’ job here at Cae Glas, I was left to remember my previous visit to the ground in October 1992. I knew it had a small stand which it still present and which now contains 47 seats, but a sneaking feeling nagged me that the pitch had been turned round 90° during the last 20 years. A subsequent check of my notes back home proved this wasn’t the case.

Back on Sunday 18th October 1992, when Machynlleth beat UCW Aberystwyth 5-2 before a crowd of around 75, the Mid Wales League had just a single division (sponsored by Richards the Builders). Since then, Machynlleth had to drop into ‘grass roots’ football before returning at the start of last season to the recently-formed Division Two.

With just three games and barely 17 miles between the first and last grounds, today was certainly more relaxing with plenty of time to ‘chill out’ before kick-off. Just like New Radnor yesterday, I was attracted to a large monument. The one in Machynlleth, a clock tower, was erected around 1874 to mark the 21st birthday of the son of Viscount Castlereagh. I was also attracted to Dick’s Diner nearby on Heol Maengwyn which I was pleased to find offered spicy bean burger, chips and mushy peas!

While the line-ups were prominently displayed on a white board, Machynlleth also decided to sell teamsheets for 20p each, following a trend which I liked on the recent Central Midlands League hop.

One thing, pre-match, which generated a bit of discussion was the likely size of the attendance. Could the Welsh Hop record of 374 set at Llandrindrod Wells two years ago be bettered?

Machynlleth (in blue and white stripes with a blue shirt back) got the game, and indeed their league campaign, underway attacking from left to right in relation to the stand.

Kerry, like the home side, playing their first league game of the season, went ahead just before the half-hour mark. Max Jones brought down Mat Mumford inside the area who got up to drove home the resulting penalty just out of reach of diving Machynlleth goalkeeper Thomas Jenkins.

The visitors, and more precisely Mat Mumford, doubled their lead eight minutes later. He controlled a long ball from halfway and fired past Jenkins from inside the area.

Just before the break, Richard Evans volleyed past the Kerry goal to the shout from the sidelines of “hit it”.

Being twice tempted into buying a strip of raffle tickets, I felt more confident than normal of bagging a prize. Alas, despite a string of winning tickets being pulled out of a bucket, mine wasn’t one of them. None any of the redrawn tickets were any good either.

The attendance of 347 was announced during the interval as well – the second biggest for a Welsh Hop game and just 27 short of Llandrindrod Wells’ record.

Back to the action and Kerry were awarded a second penalty just after the hour mark for a rash challenge by Robert Davies on Darren Holloway which the nearest assistant referee spotted. Jenkings guessed correctly and produced a fine diving save to deny Mat Mumford a hat-trick.

The miss didn’t matter as the visitors scored a third goal in the 70th minute when Luke Vickers burst through and confidently shot past Jenkins.

Kerry wrapped up their sizeable win with a fourth goal near the end. Moments after coming on, substitute Luke Mumford slotted home after Mat Mumford’s attempts to score were thwarted. Luke picked up a booking for a few ‘words of advice’ to the home bench as he celebrated.

Machynlleth (blue and white stripes / blue / blue): 13. Thomas Jenkins, 2. Dale Thomas, 3. Stuart Roberts, 4. Max Jones, 5. Robert Davies, 6. Sion Jones ( capt), 7. Andrew Page, 8. Michael Price, 9. Richard Evans, 10. Simon Davies, 11. Glyn Howard. Subs: 12. Tom Evans (for Simon Davies, 75), 14. Dafydd Jones (for Max Jones, 84), 15. Iolo Tomlinson (for Howard, 60).

Kerry (white / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Ryan Andrew, 2. Jordan Morris, 3. Tom Jones, 4. Adam Pugh, 5. Liam Andrew, 6. Sam Morgan, 7. Josh Morgan, 8. Jed Renshaw, 9. Mat Mumford (capt), 10. Darren Holloway, 11. Luke Vickers. Subs: 12. Ben Davies (for Vickers, 87), 14. Luke Mumford (for Holloway, 88).

Referee: Neil Rutter. Assistants: Sue Jones and Sam Richards.

0-1 Mat Mumford (28 pen)
0-2 Mat Mumford (36)
0-3 Luke Vickers (70)
0-4 Luke Mumford (89)

Machynlleth: Andrew Page (YC, 68), Sion Jones (YC, 69), Michael Price (YC, 85)
Kerry: Darren Holloway (YC, 38), Sam Morgan (YC, 69), Luke Mumford (YC, 89)

Aberdyfi 6 Bont 5

Sunday 26th August 2012
Aberdyfi 6 Bont 5
Spar Mid Wales League Division Two
At: Penrhos Field
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (8 pages)
Weather: hot and sunny
Attendance: 324
Duration: first-half: 45:32; second-half: 50:05

I left Tywyn Bryncrug wondering if the goals would finally dry up and I couldn’t have been more wrong with another ELEVEN to add to the tally from a game that will long live in the memory of everyone present.

Visitors Bont scored four goals during the opening half-hour to seemingly set up an unassailable lead and substantial victory. In hot sunshine befitting a coastal resort, Aberdyfi reduced the deficit to one before Bont scored what looked like a match-winning fifth goal.

With time running out, an Aberdyfi corner wasn’t cleared and Zac Smith made it 4-5 with a clever overhead kick.

Into stoppage time, and just like Presteigne yesterday, the side trailing 4-5 were awarded a free-kick around 25 yards out. Tim Holt stepped up and curled the ball expertly with his right foot around the wall and into the top right-corner of the net. Another 5-5!

Amazingly, there was time for Aberdyfi to seek a winner. Smith fed unmarked Ben Richards who sidefooted home the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time. We’d just seen the comeback of all comebacks with the celebrations to match.

Amid all the euphoria surrounding the closing stages, I’d completely forgotten there was a personal celebration to reflect on – a Spar Mid-Wales League Division Two ‘champagne’ job a match earlier than most as I visited Machynlleth’s Cae Glas ground 20 years ago.

Aberdyfi (amber/black/black): 1. Bob Blunden, 2. Sam Evenson, 3. Gavin Ebery, 4. Stuart Betts, 5. Tom Harvey, 6. John Horton, 7. Zac Smith, 8. Tim Holt, 9. James Roberts, 10. Sion Evans, 11. Luke Rickard. Subs: 12. Ben Richards (for Evans, 63), 14. Chris Rawson (for Betts, 85), 15. Ian Lewis (for Roberts, 87).

Bont (sky blue and white stripes / navy blue / sky blue): 1. Trevor Jenkins, 2. Ian Lee, 3. Liion Jones, 4. Ryan Hopkins, 5. Trystan Jones, 6. Llewellyn Hughes, 7. Scott Lowe, 8. Ceri Jenkins, 9. Daniel Thomas, 10. Andre Marsh, 11. Michael Lowe. Subs: 12. Jack Page (for Lowe, 85), 14. Gwidion ap Ifan (not used), 15. Sion Jones (for Jenkins, 88).

Referee: Carwyn Jenkins.
Assistants: G. Jones and J. Freeman.

0-1 Andre Marsh (18)
0-2 Daniel Thomas (21)
0-3 Llewellyn Hughes (28 pen)
0-4 Ian Lee (31)
1-4 Tim Holt (43)
2-4 Luke Pickard (46)
3-4 Tim Holt (77 pen)
3-5 Llewellyn Hughes (79)
4-5 Zac Smith (89)
5-5 Tim Holt (90+1)
6-5 Ben Richards (90+4)

Aberdyfi: John Horton (YC, 39), Zac Smith (YC, 77), Ian Lewis (87)
Bont: none

Tywyn Bryncrug 4 Bow Street 0

Sunday 26th August 2012
Tywyn Bryncrug 4 Bow Street 0
Spar Mid Wales League Division One
At: Cae Chwarae Bryncrug Playing Field
Kick-off: 11-00 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (8 pages)
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 267
Duration: first-half: 45:21; second-half: 47:54

What a glorious sunny start to another Groundhop day in a super location! The first leg of today’s treble, with games at Aberdyfi and Machynlleth to follow, saw Tywyn Bryncrug comfortably defeat Bow Street to take the tally of goals on this year’s hop to 38 in just six matches.

We took the scenic route for the last 17 or so miles to the village of Bryncrug, passing the picturesque Llyn Mwyngil (also known as the Tal-y-llyn Lake) along the way.

The home club, who call themselves ‘Tywyn Bryncrug’ without an ‘and’ or ‘&’, play in Bryncrug, a couple of miles inland from seaside resort of Tywyn on Cardigan Bay. Cae Chwarae (which translates to ‘Playground’) is an interesting ground with spectator access only down one side and behind the road goal. It includes a changing room block complete with tea bar and a small stand set at an angle to the pitch containing around 50 red seats. Of course, the views of the hills looking up the pitch from the road end were fabulous.

While today’s attendance of 267 is no doubt the biggest for a league game for some time, Tywyn Bryncrug hosted then Welsh Premier League champions Llanelli in a Welsh Cup tie back in 2008 and attracted an estimated 400-strong crowd.

In a repeat of a game on last year’s hop which Bow Street won 1-0, it was the visitors (in black and white stripes) who got the game underway defending the road end in the first half. They thought they’d taken the lead in the 8th minute when Rhys Llwyd had the ball in the net, only to have the ‘goal’ disallowed for offside.

Mathew Davies sent a free header wide of the Tywyn Bryncrug goal and these early scares seemed to wake up the home side who took a 27th-minute lead. Mark Edmondson, in space on the right drilled a low shot into the far left corner of the net.

I watched the first half behind the goal at the main road end with views of the surrounding hills beyond the far goal – a “beautiful setting” commented one hopper stood near me.

Tywyn Bryncrug doubled their lead in the 42nd minute through Ben Holt’s low shot and by half-time had added a third goal from the penalty spot. Street goalkeeper Dylan Jones brought down Holt and Paul Grant successfully found the right-side of the net from the spot.

Half-time and a real treat. I’m not sure how many ground offer ice cream cones (can’t think of any off the top of my head) so it was just a case of whether to choose ‘cherry’, ‘apple pie’ or ‘passion fruit’. ‘Apple pie won the day!

“C’mon Bryn, same again”, shouted one local at the start of the second half and they did just that by scoring a fourth goal nine minutes after the restart. Aston Heath found Holt in space at the far left post and he made no mistake to score his second of the game.

Edmondson headed against the post as Tywyn Bryncrug looked for a fifth goal. It didn’t matter as the game was over as a contest though Bow Street had a couple of late chances for a consolation, which proved elusive. Ben Wright produced a couple of saves to keep out shots from Mathew Davies and Rhys Llwyd during the closing stages.

Off to Aberdyfi via the town of Tywyn, wondering if the goals would dry up in the seventh match of this year’s hop.

Tywyn Bryncrug (orange/black/black): 1. Ben Wright, 2. Ryan Goddard, 3. Gerwyn Pugh, 4. Arwyn Davies, 5. Paul Grant, 6. Matthew Jones (capt), 7. Aston Heath, 8. Daniel Gwynne, 9. Ben Holt, 10. Mark Edmondson, 11. Nick Williams. Subs: 12. Mike Roberts (for Goddard, 67), 14. Tom Allen Davies (for Holt, 72), 15. James Owen (for Edmondson, 80).

Bow Street (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Dylan Jones, 2. Neil Evans, 3. Jac Williams, 4. Gwion ap Dafydd, 5. Owain James (capt), 6. Gwyn Jones, 7. Ciaran Cotter, 8. Michael Gornall, 9. Rhys Llwyd, 10. Lee Jones, 11. Mathew Davies. Subs: 12. Nicky Smith (for Gywn Jones, ht), 14. Liam Button (for Cotter, ht), 17. Danny Evans (for Neil Evans, 72).

Referee: Mark Farington (Newtown).
Assistants: William Owen and Gwilym Lewis.

1-0 Mark Edmondson (27)
2-0 Ben Holt (42)
3-0 Paul Grant (44 pen)
4-0 Ben Holt (54)

Tywyn Bryncrug: Ben Holt (YC, 38)
Bow Street: Dylan Jones (YC, 43)Neil Evans (YC, 55)

Hay St Marys 3 Talgarth Town 2

Saturday 25th August 2012
Hay St Marys 3 Talgarth Town 2
Spar Mid Wales League Division Two
At: Forest Road Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: dry and sunny
Attendance: 317
Duration: first-half: 48:19; second-half: 49:00

Though I don’t definitely know the answer without using some formulae on my ‘Games Seen’ spreadsheet, I suspect that the 24 goals already scored today must be a record for the most number of goals I’ve seen on a single day. The day that could get closest is probably May Bank Holiday 1992 when, as part of a treble, I saw Becketts Sporting beat Stapenhill Reserves 13-0. Chris pointed out that the Welsh Hop record was 24 goals scored on Saturday 27th August 2005.

The question I therefore pondered was: would someone find the net to set a new record or could our ‘goalden’ day end with a 0-0?

Ask Talgarth’s Gavin Perry for the answer as he took just seven minutes to find the net for the visitors before Hay St Marys bounced back to lead 3-1 early in the second half. Steve Goodwin scored two of those three goals and that looked like being the final score until Lee Brooks pulled back what turned out to be a late consolation for the visitors.

Hay St Marys (green and white hoops / green / white): 1. Josh Davies, 2. Adam Finn, 3. Stuart Sweden, 4. Chris Preece, 5. Sam Bradley, 6. Stuart Davies, 7. Steve Goodwin, 8. Lewis Pritchard, 9. Kevin Jones, 10. Philip Davies, 11. Tom Wilkes. Subs: 12. Roly Hackett (not used), 14. Brendon Hackett (for Wilkes, 64), 15. Wilf Ratcliffe (for Jones, 77), 16. Gavin Williams (not used), 17. Jamie Howard (for Goodwin, 64).

Talgarth Town (red and black stripes / red / red): 1. Luke Bowen, 2. Jordan Baker, 3. Austin Mellor, 4. Tom Phillips, 5. Jamie Smith, 6. Spencer Cleeve, 7. Scott Powell, 8. Rob McNamara, 9. Lee Brooks, 10. Gavin Perry, 11. Harry Sharman. Subs: 12. Andrew Morgan (for Phillips, 70), 13. Stephen Potter (not used), 14. Sam Powell (for Powell, 64).

Referee: Rob Evans.

0-1 Gavin Perry (7)
1-1 Kevin Jones (27)
2-1 Steve Goodwin (44)
3-1 Steve Goodwin (47)
3-2 Lee Brooks (89)

Hay St Marys: Chris Preece (YC, 12)
Talgarth: none

Presteigne St Andrews 5 Rhosgoch Rangers 5

Saturday 25th August 2012
Presteigne St Andrews 5 Rhosgoch Rangers 5
Spar Mid Wales League Division Two
At: Llanandras Park
Kick-off: 4-30 pm
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 260
Duration: first-half: 47:31; second-half: 53:50

After the two Mid Wales League South games, it was back to the Mid Wales League for a game at a ground I’d previously visited back nearly 20 years ago in May 1993. This return visit allowed me to do something I didn’t do last time – watch the game from pitch side – as I was pressed into action as a replacement linesman!

This afternoon, we were treated to a ten-goal thriller which included a comeback by visitors Rhosgoch from a three-goal deficit and the most dramatic of dramatic equalisers deep into stoppage time. Some at the game had never seen a 5-5 draw before – for me it was my second of the year after the Staffs County Senior League game at Bradeley back in April.

Presteigne St Andrews are a long standing member of the Mid Wales League. In recent times, however, they have had to endure a lean spell and fortunate not to suffer relegation to the Mid Wales League South at the end of last season. Adriano Girolami returned to the club during the summer for a second spell as manager having previously led Presteigne to the league title in 2007. He certainly impressed me with the way he organised and coached his side on the field this afternoon.

Llanandras Park boasts a decent stand with the players tunnel through the middle and a tea bar at the back. Lights were installed during the 2006/07 season.

Presteigne (in red and black stripes) got the game underway attacking the entrance end in the first half with the sun on their backs. Christian Rogers soon hit the left-hand post during a dominant start by the home side in which they scored twice during the opening nine minutes. Ieuan Crow headed home from Daniel Williams long throw and player-manager Adriano Girolami fired home at close range after the Rhosgoch defence failed to clear Danny Evans’ free-kick.

Playing their first league game of the season, Presteigne scored again in the 17th minute. Joel Layton’s corner caused problems for the visitors’ defence so Williams hooked the ball across the face of goal into the far right side of the net.

Dreamland for Girolami and his side, despair for Rhosgoch who lost their opening game last Saturday 2-0 at Llanfair United.

Rhosgoch, featuring on the hop for the third-consecutive season, hit back when Trefor Lloyd smashed home a low shot. The visitors gained confidence and suddenly Presteigne were on the back foot with what was now just a two-goal lead.

That two-goal lead became a one-goal lead when Lee Doman sent an unstoppable 25-yard drive into the top-left corner of the net.

Just five minutes after restart, Rhosgoch completed their comeback with an equaliser and Presteigne’s three-goal lead had evaporated. Tom Ammonds’ long throw ended up at the feet of Lee Davieds who forced the ball home at close range.

Amazingly when it looked as if Rhosgoch would go on and win the game, Girolami lifted his side and the score became 5-3 by the 64th minute. On the hour, Williams crossed from the left and Roberts, a couple of minutes after missing an easy chance, fired home from a few yards out. Minutes later, Sam Lloyd handled inside the area and Evans converted the resulting penalty.

Back came Rhosgoch. Lloyd had a shot cleared off the line and Johnny Bird headed home only to be denied a goal by a raised flag for offside. Then, from a neutral point of view, came a fantastic finale…

Substitute Jordan McQueen rifled home a low shot following a patient build-up to make it 5-4 before, in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Spencer Napolitino fouled Liam Jones 30 yards out in a central position. Jones, himself got to his feet and curled the free-kick expertly to the right of the wall and into the bottom right corner of the net.

Williams, earlier substituted, picked up a booking for something he said from the dugout, and play resumed for barely a second before Mr Bodenham blew the final whistle.

Presteigne St Andrews (red and black stripes / black / black): 1. Simon Washington, 2. Danny Evans, 3. Tom Watkins (capt), 4. Adriano Girolami, 5. Spencer Napolitino, 6. Daniel Williams, 7. Russell Jones, 8. Adrian Bennett, 9. Joel Layton, 10. Ieuan Crow, 11. Christian Roberts. Subs: 12. Alan Stocker (for Crow, 64), 14. Thomas Hooper (for Williams, 74), 15. Robin Baker (not used), 16. Iohan Hughes (for Evans, 67).

Rhosgoch Rangers (amber/black/black): 1. Adam Jones, 2. Chris Price, 3. Rob Bird, 4. Tom Ammonds, 5. Paul Morgan, 6. Sam Lloyd (capt), 7. Lee Doman, 8. Trefor Lloyd, 9. Liam Jones, 10. Johnny Bird, 11. Lee Davies. Subs: 12. Geraint Lloyd (for Davies, 67), 14. Matthew Lloyd (not used), 15. Callum Davies (not used), 16. Jordan McQueen (for Doman, 67), 17. Andrew Lloyd (for Bird, 67).

Referee: Chris Bodenham.
Assistants: Jack Watkins and Steve Bradford.

1-0 Ieuan Crow (7)
2-0 Adriano Girolami (9)
3-0 Christian Roberts (17)
3-1 Trefor Lloyd (24)
3-2 Lee Doman (45+1)
3-3 Lee Davies (50)
4-3 Christian Roberts (60)
5-3 Danny Evans (64 pen)
5-4 Jordan McQueen (89)
5-5 Liam Jones (90+7)

Presteigne: Adriano Girolami (YC, 70), Spencer Napolitino (YC, 90+7), Daniel Williams (90+9)
Rhosgoch: Trefor Lloyd (YC, 56)

Radnor Valley 2 Newcastle 3

Saturday 24th August 2012
Radnor Valley 2 Newcastle 3
Watson Financial Services Mid Wales League (South)
At: School Lane
Kick-off: 1-45 pm
Admission: pass; Programme: £1 (8 pages)
Weather: sunny spells and showers
Attendance: 212
Duration: first-half: 45:05; second-half: 48:09

From Penybont, it was a short trip further along the A44 to New Radnor and a second game in the Mid Wales League (South). Home side Radnor Valley hosted last season’s champions Newcastle at a scenic ground on School Lane surrounded by greenery, hills and sheep. Scott Oxford scored twice in four minutes midway through the first half to put the visitors in control. However, to their credit, Radnor Valley fought back to level things up before the interval. Newcastle scored what proved to be the winner a couple of minutes after the restart and held on to take all three points back across the border to Shropshire.

Radnor Valley (green and white halves / green / green): 1. Andrew Kettle (capt), 2. Mark Bufton, 3. Paul Jones, 4. Craig Pigot, 5. Kyle Slaven, 6. Elliot Morris, 7. Ieuan Price, 8. Shane Griffiths, 9. Jamie Layton-Morris, 10. Oliver Jones, 11. Callum Matthews. Subs: 12. Tate Evans (for Morris, 59), 14. Tom Underhill, 15. Edward Hamer (for Kettle, 73; Bufton in goal), 16. Mike Lewis (for Griffiths, 59).

Newcastle (black and white stripes / black / black) :1 . Ben Harvey, 2. Huw Williams, 3. Tom Bright, 4. Richard Williams (capt), 5. Richard Jones, 6. Craig Morris, 7. Sam Windsor, 8. Carl Price, 9. Scott Oxford, 10. John Batesan, 11. Jimmy Thomas. Subs: 12. Callum Evans (for Windsor, 59), 14. Zac Thrivilas (not used), 15. Owen Morris (for Oxford, 78), 16. Paul Williams (for Batesan, 74), 17. Todd Thrivilas (not used).

Referee: Paul Kirkham.
Assistants: Steve Bradford and Jack Watkins.

0-1 Scott Oxford (22)
0-2 Scott Oxford (26)
1-2 Jamie Layton-Morris (33)
2-2 Callum Matthews (41)
2-3 Carl Price (47)

Radnor Valley: Ieuan Price (YC, 65)
Newcastle: Craig Morris (YC, 52), Paul Edwards (YC, 81), Callum Evans (YC, 90+3)

Penybont 8 St Harmon 1

Saturday 24th August 2012
Penybont 8 St Harmon 1
Watson Financial Services Mid Wales League (South)
At: Racecourse Ground
Kick-off: 11-00 am
Admission: ticket; Programme: £1 (4 pages)
Weather: sunny and showers
Attendance: 257
Duration: first-half: 46:04; second-half: 45:12

Today’s four-game marathon commenced with a groundhop first – the first time a game in the Mid Wales League (South) had ever featured. Penybont, a village on the A44 to the north-east of Llandrindrod Wells, had the honour and they ‘celebrated’ in style with an 8-1 victory over St Harmon. With a 6-0 lead and barely 30 minutes played, both groundhop and personal goalscoring records looked set to tumble but the plucky visitors responded and only lost the last hour by the odd goal in three. The stand was an unexpected and amazing bonus, as was the walk from the coach over the river bridge to a pitch inside a trotting track!

Penybont (blue/blue/blue): 1. Barry Evans, 2. James Morgan, 3. Alan Evans, 4. Eddie Hammond (capt), 5. Emrys Thomas, 6. Adam Stephens, 7. Phil Ruell, 8. Jimmy Goodwin, 9. Gavin Johnson, 10. Jake Bufton, 11. Dan Farmer. Subs: 12. Chris Kemp (for Johnson, 59), 14. Kevin Bufton (for Jake Bufton, 68), 15. James Thomas (not used), 16. Tom Evans (for Goodwin, 77), 17. Dave Corfield (not used).

St Harmon (amber/black/amber): 1. Liam Addison, 2. Brian Lewis, 3. Tom Evans, 4. Gareth Earp, 14. Mark Evans, 6. Alan Bates, 7. Nick Leaky (capt), 8. Liam McKie, 9. Edwin Powell, 16. Rowan Wilson, 11. Mike Fowlie. Subs: 5. Ben Evans (for Wilson, 49), 10. Adam Martin (for McKie, 30), 15. Matt Dwyer (not used), 17. Adam Jones (for Powell, 73).

Referee: Steve Fisher.
Assistants: Dave Bywater and Dai Evans.

1-0 Phil Ruell (5)
2-0 Jake Bufton (10)
3-0 Adam Stevens (21)
4-0 Dan Farmer (22)
5-0 Dan Farmer (25)
6-0 Adam Stevens (29)
6-1 Adam Martin (45)
7-1 Kevin Bufton (76)
8-1 Kevin Bufton (79)

Cards: none

Llanfair United 4 Abermule 1

Friday 24th August 2012
Llanfair United 4 Abermule 1
Spar Mid Wales League Division 2
At: Mount Field
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: groundhop ticket, programme: £1 (12 Pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 261
Duration: first-half: 46:34; second-half: 48:47

Llanfair United, based in Llanfair Caereinion, had the honour of opening the eleven-game 2012 Welsh Groundhop and the evening proved a success both on and off the field, despite the rain. They recorded an impressive 4-1 win over neighbours Abermule, which took them top of Division Two, after officially opening their new stand shortly before kick-off.

I’m sure you know the format of groundhops by now and the format of the 2012 August Bank Holiday Groundhop was not dissimilar to that used in mid Wales in 2010 and 2011 – a Friday evening game (here at Llanfair) followed by further games on tomorrow (at Penybont, Radnor Valley, Presteigne St Andrews and Hay St Marys), Sunday (at Tywyn Bryncrug, Aberdyfi and Machynlleth) and Bank Holiday Monday (at Welshpool, Dolgellau and Dyffryn Banw). Eleven games in 72 hours over a long weekend of football, expertly organised by Chris and Laurence. Couldn’t be better!

The modes of transport this evening to get from the Hop HQ hotel at Dolforwyn to the ground were novel for me – ‘hop’ coach to Welshpool in time for the 17.05 narrow gauge stream train to Llanfair Caereinion before returning to the coach for a quick trip through the tight streets in the village centre and up the hill to the ground. I can’t recall ever travelling to a ground by steam train before!

Chris mentioned on the coach that Llanfair would be opening their new stand prior to the game and they did – it certainly got good use on a wet and gloomy evening! First, a tarpaulin was removed to reveal the name ‘The Ivor Owen Stand’ and a white-haired balding gentleman wearing a brown coat cut the ribbon at the foot of the stairs. His name – Ivor Owen! More on him later and also in the Dyffyn Banw report.

For what it is worth, the embryonic Division Two league table showed Llanfair United (3 points from 1 game) in second position after a 2-0 win at home to Rhosgoch Rangers. Abermule (0 points from 1 game) were thirteenth and bottom following their 6-2 defeat at home to Hay St Marys, also played last Saturday. Seven of the 13 teams had a record of ‘played 0’, ‘points 0’.

Thankfully, the rain had (temporarily) eased just in time for kick-off and visitors Abermule (wearing red and black striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) got the game underway defending the Mount Road end in the first half.

Llanfair dominated the opening exchanges and created several chances before taking the lead in the 13th minute. Geraint Jones picked up a throughball from Chris Gethin on the left inside the area and fired a well-struck low shot into the far corner of the net.

A right-wing corner delivered into the area from the right by Paul Griffiths led to Llanfair’s second goal just after the midpoint of the first half. The ball fell to Gethin at the near post who slotted home from barely six yards out.

It was all going well for the home side though Abermule were becoming more competitive and halved the deficit on the half-hour mark with the aid of some luck. Dave Anthony blocked a clearance from goalkeeper Lee Andrew and the ball flew into the empty net.

During the latter stages of the first half, I started to walk round to the gazebo housing the lineups, which I’d not properly noted down before kick-off, and got chatting to John Holland (aka the ‘Lollipop Man’). We mentioned the stand opening and John wondered who ‘Ivor Owen’ was. Little did he know that ‘is’ rather than ‘was’ applied to the said gentleman who was very much alive and stood next to us! All good fun! The website mentioned that Mr Owen had ‘put in over 60 years service at the club and naming the new stand was a way of saying thank you for all his hard work’.

Llanfair created chances at the start of the second half. Richard Ainsley hit the bar from the kick-off and both Ross Frame and Gethin sent shots over the target.

The visitors, however, were very much in the thick of the action and almost equalised just before the hour mark. Anthony hit the post and Stuart Emberton’s follow-up shot was headed overt by a defender. Anthony was determined to score again and saw another effort booted off the line.

Frame had a goal disallowed for offside before Llanfair scored a crucial third goal in the 74th minute. Paul Griffths fed Gethin who bear Ryan Edkins with a low first-time shot.

Substitute Andrew Hughes broke down the left and crossed into the area for Geraint Jones to fire his second and Llanfair’s fourth goal into the bottom left corner.

I watched the closing stages from the new stand with views of the village and surrounding hills in the gathering gloom. The stand, with five terrace steps, is certainly impressive at this level of Welsh football and also new hard-standing laid in front at pitch-side.

So, this was a decent start to the hop with five goals. I was asked by my Dad to predict the number of goals scored over the whole eleven games and guessed 37; he texted back 40 goals. Let’s see how accurate our predictions will be.

Llanfair United (navy blue / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Lee Andrew (capt), 2. Robert Bumford, 3. Robert Bennett, 4. Paul Griffiths, 5. Llion Davies, 6. Daniel Jones, 7. Geraint Jones, 8. Richard Ainsley, 9. Ross Frame, 10. Chris Gethin, 11. Matthew Spencer. Subs: 12. Aaron Warwick (not used), 14. Matthew Jones (for Ainsley, 84), 15. Andrew Hughes (for Spencer, 65).

Abermule (red and black stripes / black / red): 1. Ryan Edkins, 2. Kurtis Smith, 3. Neil Lloyd Jones, 4. Ashley Williams, 5. Steffan Rowlnds (capt), 6. Robert Bayliss, 7. David Anthony, 8. Scott Jones, 9. Mark Hughes, 10. Huw McGrath, 11. Stuart Emberton. Subs: 12. Dyfrig Rees (for Hughes, 90), 15. Sam Swinbourne (for Anthony, 62), 16. David Laird (not used), 17. Leon Williams (for Neil Lloyd Jones, 75).

Referee: Gwilym Lewis (Caersws).
Assistants: Sue Jones and Sam Richards.

1-0 Geraint Jones (13)
2-0 Chris Gethin (24)
2-1 David Anthony (31)
3-1 Chris Gethin (74)
4-1 Geraint Jones (81)

Cards: none

Rocester 4 Continental Star 0

Tuesday 21st August 2012
Rocester 4 Continental Star 0
Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
At: Hillsfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: mild, dry
Attendance: 118
Duration: first-half: 45:04; second-half: 51:01

Plenty of choice tonight, unexpectedly, with the car no longer ‘ailing’ after its successful service and MOT. While my two nearest clubs Stafford Town (away at Bloxwich United whose ground I last visited less than a year ago) and Brocton (at home to Atherstone) both had games tonight, I fancied the Midland Alliance clash at Hillsfield which pitted fourth-placed Rocester against third-placed new boys Continental Star. It turned out to be a good choice as Rocester played some exciting passing football with Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah bagging a brace in an impressive 4-0 win for the Romans which lifted them into the top three.

Looking closely at Continental Star, they won the Athium Midland Alliance Premier Division title last season to earn promotion to the Midland Alliance. They are managed by Delton Francis, a former Stafford Rangers player who scored 9 goals in 15 games during the 2001/02 season – six of those goals came in the 15-0 win over Kidsgrove Athletic! Assistant Manager Darren Wright also played for Stafford Rangers and leading the attack tonight was Dan Holgate, another former Rangers player who predominately played for the County League side as a defender.

Both sides made a decent start to the season. Rocester (7 points from 4 games) won their opening two league games and, after winning in the FA Cup at Stone Dominoes, lost at home to Dunkirk last Tuesday and drew at Bridgnorth Town three days ago. Unbeaten visitors Continental Star (7 points from 3 games) drew with Dunkirk on the opening day then recorded win at Heath Hayes and at home to Studley as well as winning their FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie.

Continental Star are considered a real title contender and, with their strong start to the season, so should Rocester. This was my 13th visit to Hillsfield, though a bit of a rarity as only two of the previous twelve have been for competitive games – May 1989 v Blakenall and last November against Chasetown. Teams were announced on the tannoy and pinned up near to the tea bar though Barry Smith, the Secretary, did let me have a teamsheet. Thanks Barry. Good to read my ‘Pitch-side Stories’ article in the programme!

Continental Star (wearing red shirts with blue shorts and socks) got the game underway defending the Arkwright Mill (now JCB Academy) end in the first half.

The first decent chance came in the 11th minute. Jack Langston received a short free-kick and crossed into the area where Carl Allen headed across the face of goal. In a decent contest between two positive passing sides, Rocester continued to create all the chances and, just before the half-hour, Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah forced a smart near-post save out of Star goalkeeper Karl Hunter.

A nasty challenge by Aaron Garvey on Jack Langton 30 yards out led to Rocester taking the lead in the 35th minute. Ryan Grocott sent the resulting free-kick past the helpless Hunter into the top-right corner.

With an unbeaten run in league games stretching back to last Christmas, the visitors looked to quickly get back on level terms and almost equalised just before the break. Richard Froggatt raced to the edge of his area in an attempt to head clear a throughball. Rikardo Reid picked up the loose ball and sent a lob towards the seemingly unguarded goal but a defender got back to brilliantly head clear.

Wayne Johnson could have doubled Rocester’s lead early in the second half but sent a close-range header straight at Hunter. At the other end, Dan Holgate saw a header cleared off the line amid appeals for handball.

I felt that the team which scored the next goal would go on and win the game and it was the Romans who found the net in the 56th minute. Hunter failed to hold Allen’s left-wing cross and the ball dropped into the net off the challenging Asante-Ahenkorah.

“Tonight’s attendance is 118”, the biggest of the season for a league game.

I thought the quality of football at times was superb and Rocester put the outcome beyond doubt just after the hour mark with a third goal. Chris Sterling sent captain Craig Holland who dribbled clear into the area and slotted home from a narrow angle.

I watched the second half sat in the stand, close to a group of Continental Star officials/fans who despite the scoreline retained plenty of optimism for the last half hour. “If we get one, we’ll get three,” said one and another replied, “25 minutes to get three goals”.

But Rocester’s night got even better just after those comments with a fourth goal. Grocott found Asante-Ahenkorah inside the area on the left and the pacy striker slipped a low shot ‘through’ Hunter into the net.

On the field, the Continental Star players shared the optimism of their officials and they kept on plugging away for a breakthrough. Froggatt was kept busy with diving saves from Jason Powell and Davion Hamilton. “Even if a consolation, we want a goal,” commented one of the Star officials.

In the closing stages, Langston almost scored a fifth goal for Rocester. He spotted Hunter off his line and hit a dipping shot on target from halfway which the goalkeeper somehow got back to push clear.

Perhaps the only frustrating thing all evening for Rocester occurred in stoppage time when Sterling needlessly picked up a second booking for blocking a quick free-kick. Hunter, already booked, was fortunate not to head to the changing rooms as well for handling outside his area.

I drove home buzzing about the performance I’d seen from Rocester, wondering how Stafford Town had got on at Bloxwich. Alas, the Reds went down 1-0 at the Red Lion Ground. Brocton lost 4-1 at home to Atherstone Town.

Rocester (amber and black stripes / black / black): 1. Richard Froggatt, 2. Chris McComisky, 3. Joe Rogers, 4. Wayne Johnson, 5. Rob Perks, 6. Carl Allen, 7. Jack Langston, 8. Craig Holland (capt), 9. Chris Sterling, 10. Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah, 11. Ryan Grocott. Subs: 12. Adam Swain (for Johnson, 76), 14. Craig Smith (for McComisky, 71), 15. Darren Bullock (not used), 16. Nick Ward (for Perks, 76), 17. Johnathon Baker (not used). Manager: Dave Langston.

Continental Star (red/blue/blue): 1. Karl Hunter, 2. David Stewart, 3. Natty Brown, 4. Aaron Garvey, 5. Franklin Hazell, 6. Tony Green, 7. Davion Hamilton (capt), 8. Ezekiel Thompson, 9. Dan Holgate, 10. Rikardo Reid, 11. Dwayne Robinson. Subs: 12. Ibrahim Benjamin (for Reid, 64), 14. Waza Mutambirwa (for Brown, 71), 15. Jason Powell (for Green, 62), 16. Ricardo Swaby (not used), 17. Lewis Wright (not used). Manager: Delton Francis.

Referee: Trevor Sharratt (Burton-on-Trent).
Assistants: P. Brown (Rugeley) and J. Conde (Cannock).

1-0 Ryan Grocott (35)
2-0 Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah (56)
3-0 Craig Holland (61)
4-0 Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah (67)

Rocester: Jack Langston (YC, 44), Chris Sterling (YC, 64), Craig Smith (YC, 84), Chris Sterling (YC/RC, 90+1)
Continental Star: Natty Brown (YC, 11), Aaron Garvey (YC, 34), Ezekiel Thompson (YC, 50), Karl Hunter (YC, 86)

Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 3 Radford 1

Saturday 18th August 2012
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 3 Radford 1
East Midlands Counties League
At: Warwick Road, Whetstone
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: dry, lengthy sunny spells
Attendance: 36
Duration: first-half: 45:53; second-half: 48:48

You may wonder if I’m on a mission to complete the ’19 club’ by visiting every current ground the East Midlands Counties League (see end of report). After ‘ticking’ Aylestone Park last Saturday, it was the turn of their near neighbours Blaby & Whetstone Athletic to have the ‘pleasure of my company’ this afternoon. In what was an absorbing contest, Radford looked to put their troubled summer behind them and held a half-time lead through Tristan Whitman’s opener. However, Blaby & Whetstone capped a strong second-half performance with three unanswered goals from Lee Barrett, Liam Reed and Danny Wheeler to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

With no thanks at all to the V-Festival congestion around Stafford Station which caused me to miss the 11.21 train and a subsequent full car park at Rugeley Station which stopped me catching a later train, the 'ailing' car was forced to made it all the way in 20°C+ temperatures, including the last 1.1 miles from Narborough Station to ground which I’d planned to walk. Tuesday’s service and MOT can’t come quickly enough!

At the ground I was warmly greeted by the club official manning the paybox and, later, kindly took the trouble to reunite me with the newly-purchased BWAFC badge I’d dropped on the way to the tea bar. Thanks. I also got chatting to Radford’s Secretary who writes the ‘Day Trip to Paradise’ blog – thanks for the letting me note down the lineups.

Through the paybox into the ground, the fully railed off first team pitch occupied the left-hand side of a larger playing field. Down the left-hand side was a small stand containing three rows of benches and opposite an interesting structure which provides covered standing for both the main and second pitch. Due to ongoing ground improvements there was no access behind the far goal.

Blaby & Whetstone Athletic is the name of the men’s first team, which is part of a much larger club called Blaby & Whetstone Boys Club which boasts numerous junior sides from age 7 to 18 as wells as a youth centre and social club.

Blaby & Whetstone (10th with 1 point from 1 game) have made a great start to their second season in the East Midlands Counties League. After drawing their opening fixture two weeks ago at Borrowash, last Saturday they marked their FA Cup debut with a fine 2-1 win away at Spalding United.

As I learnt, Radford (15th with 0 points from 0 games) had a troubled summer with the manager and backroom staff moving to Arnold Town. New joint managers Iain McCulloch and Alf Staley were appointed a month ago and have assembled a completely new playing squad. The new side played their first league game this afternoon.

Blaby & Whetstone (in navy blue shirts with white V, navy blue shorts and white socks) got the game underway defending the clubhouse end in the first half and immediately started to create chances.

As early as the third minute, Radford’s Latvian-born goalkeeper Martins Apenitis pushed over a close-range header from Tom Orton. Apentis soon denied Orton again with a diving save at the expense of a corner. Adam Blanchard fired over the bar while the diving Apenitis kept out another shot this time hit by Ryan Hawker.

However, Radford started to grow in confidence and took the lead just after the half-hour mark. Reece Campbell, on the right inside the area, received a pass from Ndricim Krasniqi but couldn’t get in a shot. Instead he found Tristan Whitman who fired home via the inside of the right-hand post. A case of Blaby & Whetstone being punished for missed chances, perhaps, and/or Radford being rewarded for Apenitis’s saves.

The home side were stunned: “a long way to go, put the effort in”, put the 110% in”, a bit more urgency getting the ball, a bit more urgency on the ball”.

Just before the interval, a mice move by Radford almost led to a second goal. Kyle Crofts played the ball down the left to Campbell who held it up and found Whitman who fired over the bar.

Blaby & Whetstone made two changes at half-time and both substitutes made an impact during the second half. But Radford created the half’s first chance which Whitman fired across the face of goal.

After Lee Barrett and Jordan Wakeling went close, it was Barrett who levelled things up in the 53rd minute. Apenitis could only get a hand to a right-wing corner and Barrett smashed home the loose ball at close range.

Buoyed by the equaliser, Blaby continued to threaten. Barrett headed over, Gordon fired over and Chris Anastarsi curled a free-kick just wide. The Radford defence were made to work hard with the tall central defender Richard Dean a massive presence at the back.

Radford resistant was eventually broken in the 80th minute when Blaby& Whetsone took the lead. Barrett delivered a free-kick from near the right corner of the area and Liam Reed headed home.

Apenitis produced another fine save to push over Anastarsi’s dipping 25-yard shot but couldn’t stop Blaby & Whetstone scoring a decisive third goal in the 86th minute. Substitute Danny Wheeler headed home from a right-wing corner via the keeper’s hands (photo right).

At full-time, I thought about Radford’s contribution to the game, bearing in mind their troubled summer. They certainly had plenty to be encouraged about in defeat to a Blaby & Whetstone side that is likely to spend the season in the upper reaches of the table, if not challenging for the title. Bettering last season’s third from bottom could well be achieved by the new Radford management team.

Blaby & Whetstone Athletic (navy blue with white V / navy blue / white): 1. Luke Hall, 2. Jamie March, 3. Matthew Howarth, 4. Clive Jacobs, 5. Jordan Wakeling, 6. Ryan Hawker, 7. Tom Orton, 8. Lee Barrett, 9. Adam Blanchard, 10. Liam Reed, 11. Jermain Gordon (capt). Subs: 12. Thomas Hodgson (not used), 14. Chris Anastarsi (for Blanchard, ht), 15. Leon Doughty??? (for Jacobs, ht), 16. Andrew Morris (not used), 17. Danny Wheeler (for Hawker, 73).

Radford (claret with sky blue side / claret / claret and mauve hoops): 1. Martins Apenitis, 2. Roberto Labbate, 3. Kyle Crofts, 4. Adam Mahl, 5. Richard Dean (capt), 6. Conor Naylor, 7. Callum Gilmartin, 8. Ndricim Krasniqi, 9. Tristan Whitman, 10. Jarrod Russell, 11. Reece Campbell. Subs: 12. Stuart Marshall (for Gilmartin, 87), 14. Richard Derby (for Krasniqi, 87), 15. Kevin Lusamba (for Campbell, 67)

Referee: M. Scriven.
Assistants: C. Banks and K. Allan.

0-1 Tristan Whitman (31)
1-1 Lee Barrett (53)
2-1 Liam Reed (80)
3-1 Danny Wheeler (86)

Blaby & Whetstone: Jermain Gordon (YC, 25)
Radford: none

Today’s East Midlands Counties League results: Aylestone Park 7 St Andrews 1; Basford United 8 Ibstock United 0; Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 3 Radford 1; Borrowash Victoria 2 Lutterworth Athletic 1; Gedling Miners Welfare 3 Ellistown 1; Graham Street Prims 6 Bardon Hill 2; Holwell Sports 7 Anstey Nomads 2; Radcliffe Olympic 3 Holbrook Sports 7; Thurnby Nirvana 0 Barrow Town 1.

EMCL ’19 Club’
Anstey Nomads: 19/8/91 v Barwell Athletic (Tebbutt Brown Cup)
Aylestone Park: 11/8/12 v Graham Street Prims (EMCL)
Bardon Hill: 12/9/09 v Barton Town OB (FA Cup)
Barrow Town: 16/1/10 v Heanor Town (EMCL)
Basford United: To be visited
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic: 18/8/12 v Radford (EMCL)
Borrowash Victoria: 29/8/09 v Ouorn (FA Cup)
Ellistown: 31/8/09 v Gresey FC (EMCL)
Gedling Miners Welfare: 15/8/09 v Blackstones (FA Cup)
Graham Street Prims: 2/5/09 v Kirby Muxloe (EMCL)
Greenwood Meadows: 31/10/09 v Heanor Town (EMCL)
Holbrook Sports: 3/9/11 v Louth Town (FA Cup)
Holwell Sports: 17/8/10 v Gedling MW (FA Cup)
Ibstock United: 31/8/09 v Hinckley Downes (EMCL)
Lutterworth Athletic (old): 25/4/11 v Aylestone Park (Leicestershire Senior League)
Lutterworth Athletic (new): To be visited
Radcliffe Olympic: 7/3/09 v Calverton MW (Central Midlands League)
Radford: 30/8/08 v Ibstock United (EMCL)
St Andrews: To be visited
Thurnby Nirvana: 17/9/11 v Barrow Town (FA Cup)

Coach Rangers 4 Brassington 2

Thursday 16th August 2012
Coach Rangers 4 Brassington 2
Summer League Division One
At: Ashbourne Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
No admission or programme
Weather: cloudy, dry
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Duration (40): first-half: 40:52; second-half: 41:46

By my reckoning, Coach Rangers will need to win their last league game away to Bradley on Monday to retain the title, even though they extended their 100% record in Division One to five wins out of five with a 4-2 victory over Brassington. Arch rivals Bradley also maintained their 100% record with an impressive 8-1 win over Osmaston to move to the top of the table on goal difference.

Tonight, goals from Sean Millward (two), Kev Millward and Mark Maznenko seemingly gave Coach a comfortable advantage. However, Brassington fought back through Joe Beech and an Ian Godfrey own goal.

Since the league fixture I saw towards the end of last month, the League Council had to take the difficult decision to suspend the original 14-team league due to the high number of postponements. Instead, two divisions of seven-teams each (One and Two) were formed with each team playing each other once. Prior to this evening, five of seven rounds of matches had been played and the races to become Division One and Division Two champions will still very much alive.

Going into tonight’s game at Ashbourne Rec, Coach Rangers (12 points from 4 games) topped Division One on goal difference from old rivals Bradley (also 12 points from 4 games). Unfortunately, Brassington (7th position with 0 points from 4 games) had lost all four fixtures since the new divisions were established.

Coach (in pink shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game underway defending the Town End of the Rec. They, however, survived an early scare when Tom Batterley sent a rising right-foot shot flashing past the net.

After Mark Maznenko twice went close to putting Coach ahead, Sam Howard hit the far-left post with an angled shot and the loose ball rebounded into the hands of Brassington goalkeeper James Orme.

Brassington posed a threat and Phil Dawson, in goal for Coach tonight, produced a diving save to hold a long-range drive from James Slater.

The save proved vital as Coach took the lead in the 16th minute. Maznenko fed Sean Millward and the striker ran into the area from the left and fired low past Orme.

Coach doubled their lead nine minutes later direct from a Kev Millward right-wing corner which somehow squeezed in despite a defender guarding the near post (photo right).

Orme parried a well-stuck shot from Kev Millward before Coach were awarded a penalty for a foul on Tom Donnelly just after the half-hour mark. Ian Godfrey stepped up but saw his spot kick brilliantly saved by Orme. However, the ball ran free and Maznenko drove home the loose ball. Tough luck on the goalkeeper.

With goal different likely to prove crucial if Monday’s title decider at Bradley finishes as a draw, Coach added a fourth goal at the end of a nice move. The Millwards combined with unchallenged Sean slotting home a low right-wing cross from Kev.

To their credit, Brassington kept plugging away and pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time. Joe Beech took full advantage of some poor defending and fired low past Dawson at close range.

So at half-time, Coach held a comfortable lead but I wondered if Brassington’s goal would prove costly if the title is decided on goal difference.

Coach almost had a dream start to the second half as Maznenko shot just wide just 30 seconds after the restart. He also fired over from a Kev Millward corner and just before the hour mark, unmarked Sam Howard couldn’t keep his header down from a few yards out.

I watched a good portion of the second half in the company of Coach striker Callum Woolley who missed the game through injury.

One moment I enjoyed and sticks in my mind from the second half occurred in the 75th minute. Kev Millward broke down the left, vocally encouraged by the overlapping and pacy Maznenko. Kev kept going into the area and shot just wide.

I mentioned earlier about goal difference and Coach conceded a second goal in stoppage time. I didn’t get a perfect view of what happened (so apologies for any incorrect description) though I think Ian Godfrey headed into his own net.

Straight from the kick-off, Jimmy Carter sent an audacious shot towards goal to try and catch out Orme. The keeper was alert to produce a fine save which kept out what would have been one of the goals of the season.

So with Coach winning 4-2 and Bradley winning 8-1, the two sides are level on 15 points with one game to play. I think I’m correct in saying that Bradley have a goal difference of +18, three better than Coach’s +15. So Coach need to win on Monday otherwise Bradley win the league.

Coach Rangers (pink/black/black): 1. Phil Dawson, 9. Tom Donnelly, 5. Martyn Taylor, 6. Paul Godfrey, 14. Jimmy Carter, 7. Kev Millward, 8. Ian Godfrey, 2. Sam Howard, 4. Mark Maznenko, 11. Matt Hackett, 10. Sean Millward. Sub: 15. Jordan (for Sean Millward, 68).

Brassington (yellow and black stripes / black / black): 1. James Orme, 3. Ben Ormsby, 12. Paul Alsopp, 4. Tom Coley, 2. Steve Abbrell, 8. Joe Beech, 16. James Slater, 5. Mark Alcock, 7. Tom Batterley, 10. Joe Redfern, 9. Daniel Wagstaff. Subs: 6. Steve Jack (for Beech, 62), 15. Tim Coupe (not used).

Referee: ???

1-0 Sean Millward (16)
2-0 Kev Millward (25)
3-0 Mark Maznenko (32)
4-0 Sean Millward (34)
4-1 Joe Beech (40+1)
4-2 Ian Godfrey (90+2 og)

Cards: none