Holbrook St Michaels 2 Linby Colliery Welfare 2

Saturday 29th September 2012
Holbrook St Michaels 2 Linby Colliery Welfare 2
Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League Black Dragon South
At: Holbrook Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: sunny spells
Attendance: 30 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 50:05; second-half: 48:20


Holbrook St Michaels moved up into the Central Midlands League from the Midland Regional Alliance during the summer at the same time as Linby Colliery did the same from the Nottinghamshire Senior League. Both met at Holbrook Park today for the first time in a league game and shared the points; the second half was highly entertaining in contrast to a largely unforgettable first half.

One thing I particularly like when visiting clubs I’m not familiar with is a club history printed in the programme. Holbrook certainly did this and added more information about the area and the nearby hall on whose land I believe the ground is located.

Around 100 years ago, a team called Holbrook Swifts was successful in league and cup games, and it is believed that this team changed its name to ‘Holbrook St Michaels; in 1912. While the early history unclear, what is know for sure (as the minute books survive) is that in early 1932 the local vicar, Rev. Sides, formed a team named after the village church of St Michael to play in the Belper Sunday School League. Holbrook St Michaels moved to their present ground, Holbrook Park, in 1936, where they have played continuously apart from a short period during World War Two. The lengthy list of honours includes the Derby Sunday School League, Derby Senior League and Midland Regional Alliance Premier Division (2003/04) as well as Derby Sunday School Intermediate Cup, Belper Nursing Charity Cup and Belper Jubilee Cup.

Bringing the history bang up to date, Holbrook St Michaels took the bold step to join the Central Midlands League during the summer despite finishing 14th in the Midland Regional Alliance Premier Division table last season, and, to quote the programme, ‘are under no illusions as to the challenges ahead’. ‘From Sunday School football in Edwardian to the Central Midlands League, our footballing journey continues’.

The ground was straightforward to find on the road from Duffield via the village of Makeney and Red Lane.

Fellow hopper Keith from Hammersmith had already arrived and full marks to the man for walking several miles from Duffield railway station to the ground. I’d rarely spoken to Keith, a regular on the Mid-Wales Hops, so it was good to have a chat. Before kick-off, we were joined by ‘Cannock Rob’ who is always a pleasure to meet up with.

Dark clouds hovering to the west of the ground moved away before kick-off so Holbrook (in amber and black) got the game underway attacking the Makeney Road end in the first half.

Linby took the lead with just 100 seconds on the clock. Holbrook goalkeeper Lee Stringer got his hand to Matt Murphy's initial shot from the right. However, the ball ran free and Martin Burke bundled it over the line at close range (not Damian Mann as I originally thought). At the time, all I cared for what the fact that a goal had been scored to extended my run without a 0-0 a step nearer the desired century.

With the visitors comfortable with their advantage, Holbrook needed to up their game and one of their defenders agreed: “Raise it, everyone of you”.

Yet, Linby almost scored a second goal in the 19th minute. Mann delivered a free-kick into the area from the left and unchallenged Ashley Winfield sent a first-time header over the bar from just eight yards out.

“Massive let off”.

Linby kept on creating chances and just after the half-hour mark, Lee Stringer tipped a 20-yard shot from Arron Ryan over the bar. Before the interval, Mann dribbled past a couple of defenders before shooting wide.

The early exchanges at the start of the second half told up two things: Holbrook were looking for improvement in their first-half performance and Linby were looking to hold on to their lead.

Improve they certainly did as Holbrook quickly created a couple of decent chances. Dan Sharp sent a free-kick over the bar from fully 35 yards out and Linby goalkeeper Jack Harvey was forced to make a brave save at the feet of Jamie Stewart.

Holbrook bagged an equaliser around the mid-point of the second half, a few minutes after Mann put the ball in the back on the home net, only to be thwarted by a raised offside flag.

In the 66th minute, Luke Tozar, on the left, played a diagonal ball to the far post which was knocked back by Phil Carson for Sharp to fire home from six yards out (photo right). No doubt, this equaliser was deserved on the balance of the second-half play.

Now in the ascendency, Sharp ran to the end of the Linby area and saw his shot tipped over by Harvey who, a few minutes later, kept out a long-range effort hit by Shane Piggott.

In a contrast to the first half, chance after chance kept on being created. Holbrook’s Stringer made impressive saves to keep out shots from Winfield and Jonathon Dakers.

It was Holbrook who made the next breakthrough by taking the lead in the 79th minute. A free-kick by Dave Marlow delivered into the area from half-way looped into the air off Tozar and dropped into the net.

Linby had time to respond and grabbed a point with an 83rd-minute equaliser. Mann drove home a low angled shot from the left into the net via the far right-hand post.

Judging by some of the comments made at the end of the game, Linby goalkeeper Jack Harvey would have scooped the Man of the Match award, had one been presented.

With the train back to Derby from Duffield timed at 17:02, I gave Keith a lift but a degree of bad luck meant he missed it by minutes. On the positive side, I discovered the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs diesel and steam trains to and from Ravenstor near Wirksworth.

Holbrook St Michaels (amber with black sleeves / black / amber): 1. Lee Stringer, 2. Tarik Harvey (capt), 3. Craig Haynes, 4. Andy Symcox, 5. Charlie Holness, 6. Luke Tozar, 7. Shane Piggott, 8. Lewis Mason, 9. Dan Sharp, 10. Jamie Stewart, 11. Josh Morrins. Subs: 12. Phil Carson (for Symcox, 53), 14. Johnathon Pearce (for Mason, 38), 15. Alex Nix (not used).

Linby Colliery Welfare (red/red/red): 1. Jack Harvey, 2. Dave Marlow, 3. Tom Coupe, 4. Duncan Paterson, 5. Matt Ball, 6. Ashley Winfield, 7. Simon Marlow (capt), 8. Arron Ryan, 9. Matt Murphy, 10. Damian Mann, 11. Martin Burke. Subs: 12. Jonathon Dakers (for Burke, 62), 14. Charlie Niblett (not used), 15. Jeremy Millensted (for Coupe, 84).

Referee: Gareth Davis.
Assistants: Dave Williams and Wayne Porter.

Goals:
0-1 Damian Mann (2)
1-1 Dan Sharp (66)
2-1 Luke Tozar (79)
2-2 Damian Mann (82)

Cards:
Holbrook: Luke Tozar (YC, 19), Johnathon Pearce (YC, 41), Dan Sharp (YC, 41), Jamie Stewart (YC, 74)
Linby: none

Central Midlands League (CML) South Division
Belper United – 27/12/11 v Nottingham United (CML South)
Bilborough Pelican – TO DO
Blackwell MW – 9/5/91 v Lincoln Moorlands (CML Premier Division)
Blidworth Welfare – 13/5/08 v Calverton MW (CML Premier Division)
Calverton MW – 28/12/09 v Newark Town (CML Supreme Division)
Clifton All Whites – 15/5/04 v Notts Police (Notts Alliance Senior Division)
Holbrook St Michaels – 29/9/12 v Linby Colliery Welfare (CML South)
Hucknall Town AFC (club) – 29/12/10 v Harworth CI (League Cup First Round)
Hucknall Town AFC (ground) – 13/11/93 Hucknall Town v Eccleshill United (NCEL Premier Division)
Linby Colliery Welfare – 14/11/09 v Clifton (Notts Senior League)
Mickleover Royals (club) – TO DO
Mickleover Royals (ground) – 8/1/05 Mickleover Sports v Eccleshill United (NCEL Premier Division)
Newark Town – TO DO
Nottingham United (club) – 27/10/10 v South Normanton Athletic (CML Premier Division)
Nottingham United (ground) – TO DO
Pinxton – 31/1/09 v Rolls Royce Leisure (CML Supreme Division)
Real Unted (club) – TO DO
Real United (ground) – 14/8/10 Gedling Town v Boston Town (FA Cup)
South Normanton Athletic – 17/4/95 v Priory Eastwood (CML Supreme Division)
Southwell City – 6/11/10 v Parkhouse (CML Supreme Division)
Sutton Town AFC – 1/11/05 v Maltby Miners Welfare (NCEL Premier Division)

Hednesford Town 4 Stone Dominoes 1

Tuesday 25th September 2012
Hednesford Town 4 Stone Dominoes 1
Staffordshire Senior Cup First Round
At: Keys Park
Admission: £5; Programme: none; Teamsheet: free
Weather: rain
Attendance: 92
Duration: first-half: 46:15; second-half: 45:28


A few people I know have started making increasing use of Twitter to share the grounds they visit and games they watch. They’re also using it to check for news of pitch inspections and postponements in bad weather, especially as most clubs now tweet. While I don’t yet have a Twitter account, this form of social media became invaluable this afternoon with all of the rain we’ve had over the past couple of days.

My shortlist of possible games gradually reduced but the closest game of them all, Hednesford Town’s home Staffordshire Senior Cup First Round against Stone Dominoes, survived the deluge as I discovered via Twitter:

Spotted around 1 pm…

From @vikkihtoc to @Hednesford_Town: Will there be a pitch inspection ahead of tonights match??????

Reply by @Hednesford_Town: not at the moment. Pitch was ok at midday.

Later…

From @Hednesford Town: I have just been informed that a local referee is currently carrying out a pitch inspection at the ground. Will post details ASAP

From @Hednesford Town: We can confirm that tonight's match is ON. The pitch has passed an earlier inspection

Thirteen clubs entered this year’s Staffordshire Senior Cup and tonight’s tie got the 2012/13 competition underway. Four further First Round ties will be played next month – Norton United v Stoke City (17/10), Heath Hayes v Rocester (16/10), Stafford Rangers v Leek Town (13/11) and Chasetown v Newcastle Town (15/1). The winners of these ties will join Hednesford Town and the three clubs with byes – Kidsgrove Athletic, Port Vale and Rushall Olympic – in the quarter finals.

The journey across Cannock Chase is a familiar one, though a bit wilder than normal this evening! And, tonight’s trip to Keys Park was my fourteenth visit to the ground. Last Tuesday, Ostrich reported his visit on the Non-League Matters Forum and I agree with his comment about the place: ‘I know new-build stadiums aren’t to everyone’s taste, but this is a superb ground with excellent unencumbered viewing high-up from the seats.’ Keys Park has cover on all four sides with a large seated stand on the main side of the ground, aka the ‘Wimblebury side’, and further seats behind the goal at the ‘Hednesford End’.

Cutting to the league tables, Hednesford Town (3rd in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier League with 17 points from 8 games) and Stone Dominoes (21st in the North-West Counties League Premier Division with 4 points and no league wins from 11 games) were separated by some 61 league positions. On Saturday, the Pitmen won 3-2 at Nuneaton Griff to progress into the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser Third Qualifying Round while Doms lost 3-1 in the league at home to St Helens Town.

Hednesford (in white and black) got the game underway attacking the seated Hednesford End and immediately started to create chances. Michael Lennon and Jamey Osborne both went close to putting The Pitmen ahead as Stone struggled to keep the ball out of their half.

I must confess to not liking the visitors’ red shirts with black numbers so I started to make brief notes on players in case they needed identifying later in the game: no.2 – two white lines on boots, no. 5 captain, no. 7 blue and orange boots, no. 8 lime green on boots, etc.

Almost constant pressure eventually led to a Hednesford goal scored in the 20th minute. John Disney’s initial shot was blocked on the line by a defender and Lennon forced the ball over the line at close range despite another attempted goalline clearance.

Hednesford’s goalkeeper, Sam Hornby, had little to do on his first-team debut, yet remained alert and well positioned to hold a 30-yard shot from Ryan Ball.

I must mention the pitch – a well-drained firm surface that barely cut up despite all of the rain we’ve had over the past 48 hours.

Back to the action and just before the hour mark, Stone's Philip Bruce dived to his left to keep out a well-struck 35-yard drive from Disney at the expense of a corner.

Amazingly, Stone bagged a surprise equaliser in the 35th minute. Hussein Nashar got between the two Hednesford central defenders and fired low past Hornby.

But, the Pitmen took just two minutes to regain the lead. Elliott Durrell delivered an inswinging corner from the left which landed inside the six-yard box for Lennon to flick home past Bruce.

At the interval, with Hednesford creating no fewer than 23 attempts on goal, I shouldn’t have had the remotest thought in my mind about possible extra time and penalties. Yet, Stone trailed by just one goal.

Hednesford, now attacking the Heath Hayes End terrace, continued where they left off and sent several efforts flashing past the Stone goal.

It was no surprise when Stone’s defence was breached for the third time on the hour mark. Osborne curled a shot from near the left corner of the area into the far bottom-right corner. Now I could forget about the prospect of extra time!

The chances kept on coming. Bruce got his legs in the way of Durrell’s well-struck shot and a defender Daniel Counter did well to clear Darren Campion’s cross-cum-shot off the line.

Lennon completed a deserved hat-trick in the 70th minute, glancing a header home from Durrell’s free-kick.

Hednesford could have added more goals with Campion, substitute Aaron Ray and the impressive Durrell both going close.

Hednesford Town (white/black/black): 1. Sam Hornby, 2. John Disney, 3. Darren Campion (capt), 4. Sam Barnes, 5. Ben Bailey, 6. Ben Watkis, 7. Jamey Osborne, 8. Elliott Durrell, 9. Sean O’Connor, 10. Michael Lennon, 11. Nathan Woolfe. Subs: 12. Francino Francis, 14. Alex Melbourne (for Disney, 73), 15. Rico Taylor (for Woolfe, 67), 16. Aaron Ray (for O’Connor, 58), 17. Neil Harvey (not used).

Stone Dominoes (red/white/white): 1. Philip Bruce, 2. Jack Beech, 3. Adam Fulker, 4. Liam Kerrigan, 5. Michael Marren (capt), 6. Daniel Counter, 7. Ryan Ball, 8. Joshua Hadley, 9. Aaron Johns, 10. Hussein Nashar, 17. Tom Laraso. Subs: 12. Stephen Allen (for Nashar, 80), 14. Dwayne Spence (for Ball, 73), 15. Joseph Woolliscroft (for Hadley, 76).

Referee: S. Eagland.
Assistants: M. Randles and M. Cattell.

Goals:
1-0 Michael Lennon (20)
1-1 Hussein Nashar (35)
2-1 Michael Lennon (37)
3-1 Jamey Osborne (60)
4-1 Michael Lennon (70)

Cards:
Hednesford: none
Stone: Dwayne Spence (YC, 87)

Hanworth Villa 4 Dorking 0

Saturday 22nd September 2012
Hanworth Villa 4 Dorking 0
Combined Counties League Premier Division
At: Rectory Meadow, Park Road
Admission: £5; Programme: £1-50
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 73
Duration: first-half: 46:49; second-half: 47:35


My excuse today for being in the south-east for a fourth consecutive Saturday was competing in this morning’s City of London orienteering event. While pleased with the time I took to complete my course, alas a mistake halfway round in the Bourne Estate led to disqualification (a first for me in all the years I've orienteered). Before football, there was only one place to head to console myself – the famous Bridge Cafe in Action – but this had closed early – not my lucky day! I wondered if it had shut because scenes for The Apprentice were being filmed later? At least the trip on the Central Line to West Acton tube station took me nearer to my afternoon destination – Rectory Meadow, home of Combined Counties League Premier Division title contenders Hanworth Villa.

I finished off the journey to the ground from West Acton with a Richmond to Feltham train followed by a 30-minute walk. On the way, a statue caught my eye, more precisely a tall status of a propeller with a plaque that read: ‘This propeller designed and constructed by William Peers commemorates the former use of this site for the manufacture and repair of aircraft in association with Hanworth Airpark (1997)’.

At the ground and in need of food, I quickly found the tea bar where, to the delight of someone who doesn’t eat meat, cheese and tomato toasties were on the menu – freshly made to order by the lady running the tea bar and really nice. Thank you.

While sat in the clubhouse, I noticed a chat noting down the lineups who turned out not to be a fellow groundhopper but a reporter covering the game for local hospital radio.

Perhaps the reason why I’ve not visited Hanworth before is the fact that when we lived in the south-east, the club hadn’t at that stage gained promotion to the Combined Counties League. They did so in 2004 as Middlesex Counties League champions and moved up into the Combined Counties League Premier Division in 2009 as Division One runners-up. Last season, Hanworth attracted attention with an FA Cup run to the Fourth Qualifying Round with wins over Shrivenham, Bedfont Sports, Wembley, Aveley and Slough Town along the way. I do know that a lot of hard work has been put in by club officials, some of whom were with the club when founded in 1976 and playing in the Hounslow League.

Nicknamed the ‘Ranch’, Hanworth’s Rectory Meadow ground boasts two stands, both on the same side as the changing rooms, clubhouse and entrance. One, The Tony Buss Stand, holds just over 100 seats and the other is a covered terrace.

So far, Hanworth (7th with 13 points from 7 games) have made a good start to the season and found themselves eight points behind early leaders Egham Town with two games in hand. Visitors Dorking (17th with 6 points from 8 games) were in need of points to help them climb the table; they moved out of the relegation zone with a win over Colliers Wood United in their last game.

Dorking (in familiar green and white hoops) got the game underway attacking the southern end with the busy A316 beyond the trees. They created the first chance when Pietro Palladino turned and forced a smarty save out of Villa’s goalkeeper Terry Bliss.

Dorking’s David Coles was called into action when he parried a shot from Duane Antonio following a pass from Levi King. “That’s a warning,” shouted the goalkeeper to his teammates.

Hanworth took the lead in the 25th minute. Antonio muscled his way past Dorking defender Paul Davies before squaring a pass to King who sidefooted home into the bottom-right corner of the net.

The home side continued to create chances – James Woods headed straight at Coles from one decent opportunity – before they doubled their lead just before the interval. The Dorking defence failed to clear Ricky Owen’s cross from the left and Antonio fired home the loose ball at close range.

Despite holding a comfortable lead, Villa were urged to “lift it” by the dugout as Dorking looked to reduce the deficit. Biss was called into action to palm clear a shot on the turn by substitute Calvin Headley.

Antonio caused problems for the Dorking defence all afternoon and almost scored his second goal just before the hour mark. He turned on the edge of the area and fired a right-foot shot that looked to be heading for the left-side of the net until Coles produced a diving save.

Hanworth just about secured the points with a third goal scored in the 70th minute. Dorking central defender Paul Davies unfortunately handled inside the area attempting a clearance and tall Adam Baigent confidently sent Coles the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

There was no disputing that Hanworth look a decent side and they wrapped up the scoring in the 79th minute. Coles failed to hold Steve Loveridge’s free-kick into the area and Antonio fired into the top left-corner of the net.

Coles prevented a fifth goal during the closing stages, blocking a close-range shot from central defender Baigent, up in the Dorking area for a free-kick.

After the full-time whistle while walking back to the station along Elmwood Avenue, I noticed a chap waiting at a bus stop, who told me one was imminent and it went directly to Feltham station. So, the 17:02 H25 bus sped me back to the station in plenty of time to catch the 17:16 to Vauxhall and a Victoria Line tube back to Euston.

A group of Stoke City fans, who had seen the Potters narrowly lose 1-0 at Chelsea, provided good natured and occasionally vociferous company on the train back home, though, unlike the person sat next to me travelling to Rugeley, I resisted their invitation to join a game of cards.

Hanworth Villa (red and white stripes / black / black): 1. Terry Bliss, 2. Anthony Oaks, 3. Ricky Owen, 4 Lee Morley (capt), 13. Adam Baigent, 6. James Woods, 7. Jimmy Major, 18. Josh Brooks, 15. Duane Antonio, 20. Levi King, 11. Joe Johnson. Subs: 12. Shaun Preddie (not used), 14. Steve Loveridge (for Woods, 67), 16. Steve Reddings (for Brooks, 67), 17. Paul Burrows (not used), 19. Leeyon Phelane (for King, 76).

Dorking (green and white hoops / green / green): 13. Daniel Coles, 2. Zachary Powell, 3. Jack Murell, 4. Luke Harmsworth (capt), 5. Paul Davies, 6. Alex Seraphim, 7. Jimmy Brazil, 8. Matthw Males, 9. Aaron Gayle, 10. Pietro Palladino, 11. Ryan Stewart. Subs: 12. Calvin Headley (for Murell, 56), 14. Sam Charles (for Powell, ht), 15. Sam Boughedra (not used), 16. Mohammed Mohammed (not used), 17. Will Renton-Rose (for Stewart, 62).

Referee: Marcus Carmichael.
Assistants: Terry Pusey and Andrew Herb.

Goals:
1-0 Levi King (25)
2-0 Duane Antonio (42)
3-0 Adam Baigent (70 pen)
4-0 Duane Antonio (79)

Cards:
Hanworth: Jimmy Major (YC, 74)
Dorking: Luke Harmsworth (YC, 66), Sam Charles (YC, 79)

Eccleshall 0 Northwich Villa 1

Wednesday 19th September 2012
Eccleshall 0 Northwich Villa 1
North-West Counties League Division One
At: Pershall Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: mild, dry
Attendance: 33
Duration: first-half: 45:40; second-half: 50:34


If I do manage to complete 2012 and/or a century of games without seeing a 0-0 draw then I’m sure I’ll owe a big ‘thank you’ to Northwich Villa’s Kwame Barrett for scoring tonight’s only goal in the second minute of stoppage time. By the time the striker fired low past goalkeeper Stuart Plant, I’d settled for, and felt pleased about, my local side Eccleshall gaining a valuable point to double their tally for the season and keeping a clean sheet at the same time. So, thanks to Kwame, my current run extends to 86 games since the goalless draw at Wolverhampton Casuals on the 27th December.

This was my fifth visit to Pershall Park, found just over a mile to the west of the town centre in the village of Pershall on the B5026 towards Loggerheads. My first visit back in 1987 had been followed by more recent games in 2008 and 2011.

I like the ground with three separate areas of cover. The original stand with a bench at the back is still in situ behind the dugouts and there are around 50 seats in front of the clubhouse, as well as further covered standing in the corner behind the Chester Road goal One thing I noticed tonight was a superb level playing surface, ideal for passing football. As I and others have mentioned before, the chap manning the far paybox gave a friendly welcome. The clubhouse is a good place to relax before the game, complete with the ‘CafĂ© McHenny’ tea bar. Teams were announced over the tannoy, through I’d already obtained the lineups from the Secretary.

On Saturday, Eccleshall (17th with 1 point from 7 games) put their league form behind them and recorded a fine 3-1 win at Midland Alliance side Stratford Town to progress in the FA Vase to the First Round.

Northwich Villa (in green and white) got the action underway attacking the Chester Road end. Play was confined to midfield for the opening nine minutes until Eccleshall’s Ryan Smith hit a rising right foot drive from the right which the diving Villa goalkeeper Niiakai Sonne turned round the far post.

By the midway point of the first half, the only other notable chance was a drive over the home bar by Cameron Clarke from an offside position.

A couple of further chances were created and wasted before Dan Jones, in space, fired against the boot of Sonne. Jones according to the programme was named Man of the Match on Saturday by the Non-League Paper’s reporter at Stratford.

Just before the break, Dylan Norris, wearing the ‘33’ shirt, hit a rising 30-yard drive which Stuart Plant tipped over.

Half-time arrived goalless for the second game running.

Hope of a goal noticeably increased at the start of the second half with a flurry of chances. Kwame Barrett fired into the sidenetting and Smith saw a well-struck shot blocked by Sonne. Eccleshall’s Plant did well to hold another shot from Clarke.

Unlike the last two matches I saw without a first-half goal – Nantwich yesterday and Dolgellau last month on the Hop where, at both, one side had scored before the 61st minute – the second half wore on without anyone finding the net.

Was my run of 85 games without a 0-0 about to end?

Even the referee didn’t help my quest for a goal either by turning down a strong Villa appeal for a penalty when a defender appeared to pull the shirt of Barrett inside the area. The ref was far better positioned than me to make the decision he did!

Plant produced another save to deny Clarke a goal and, on 80 minutes, I settled for a goalless draw which meant that Eccleshall had gained a point and kept a clean sheet.

Substitute Daniel Colclough played a pass into the path of Lee Ratcliffe who got forward from defence and sent a 25-yard shot inches wide of the target.

I really didn’t know what to do when Northwich (13th in the table with 7 points from 7 games) scored the winner in the second minute of stoppage time. Barrett latched onto a throughball and coolly slotted low past Plant. Celebrate as ‘Tram’ would have done or feel for Eccleshall? It was more like the latter.

My thoughts turned to Eccleshall and whether they had enough time to bag an equaliser. They won a free-kick on halfway which Plant booted into the area and was cleared for a corner. Plant went forward, Colclough delivered the resulting corner and Jordan Flattley saw a volley blocked.

All in all, I enjoyed my fifth trip to Pershall Park and hope they have a few more Wednesday evening games during the season.

Eccleshall (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Stuart Plant, 2. Bradley Cooper, 3. Lee Ratcliffe, 4. Michael Davies, 5. Jack Warren, 6. Nathan Hunt (capt), 7. Ryan Smith, 8. Jordan Flattley, 9. Dan Jones, 10. Calum Hassall, 11. Jordan Foster. Subs: 12. Lee Summerfield (for Jones, 80), 14. Daniel Colclough (for Foster, 68), 15. Gary Gibson (for Waren, ht), 16. Mitchell Lovatt (not used).

Northwich Villa (green with white sleeves / white / green): 13. Niiakai Sonne, 2. Anthony Lloyd, 33. Dylan Norris, 4. Matthew Carr, 5. Lee Lloyd (capt), 6. Philip Clorley, 7. Romeio Gray, 8. Patrick Nolan, 9. Chris Peach, 10. Kwame Barrett, 11. Cameron Clarke. Subs: 12. Sean Rushe (for Gray, 56), 14. Martin Rushe (for Nolan, 73), 15. Lee Garwood (for Clarke, 80), 16. Oliver Bell (not used), 17. Wale Ajet (not used).

Referee: P. Ince (Bolton).
Assistants: N. Burke and A. Waring.

Goals:
0-1 Kwame Barrett (90+2)

Cards:
Eccleshall: Lee Ratcliffe (YC, 87)
Northwich: none.

Nantwich Town 0 AFC Fylde 3

Tuesday 18th September 2012
Nantwich Town 0 AFC Fylde 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
At: Weaver Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £9; Programme: £2 (28 pages)
Weather: cold, dry after heavy rain before match
Attendance: 274
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 47:46


The 18th of September is perhaps one of the more significant dates as far as my football-watching is concerned. From the list of ten games I’ve previously seen on today’s date, one from 29 years ago stands out, as does another of, perhaps, particular interest to Laurence.

1984: Stafford Rangers suffered one of their most humiliating FA Cup exits at the hands of Rushden Town in a First Qualifying Round Replay. Rushden were helped by referee Mr L. L. Watson who, I recall, made some strange decisions which always seemed to go against Rangers. At full-time, fans invaded the pitch and surrounded the referee, resulting in a slap on the wrists and a fine from the FA. A few years later, Mr Watson ran the line at Wembley in the 1990 FA Cup Final.

1991: The first of two visits to Oxford United’s old Manor Ground. In this game, Peter Shilton played for visitors Derby County and conceded twice as Oxford won 2-0 with goals from Trevor Aylott and David Penney.

Added now to that list of games I've seen on 18th September is a first visit to Nantwich Town’s relatively new Weaver Stadium, opened in 2007. I’ve kept a visit to the Weaver Stadium up my sleeve and, for some unknown reason, it has taken five years to finally visit the ground. Their old ground at the end of Jackson Avenue, which I visited on a couple of occasions, has now been redeveloped into a housing estate.

Found to the north of the town centre, the stadium has a 300-seater stand on the near touchline, known as the ‘Baker Wynne & Wilson Stand’, complete with the ‘Dabber Diner’ hatch at one side by the turnstile and bar at the rear. Opposite is the ‘Whitby Morrison’ covered terrace with a TV gantry on the roof.

Both sides went the game on the back of a decent result at the weekend. Nantwich (8th with 13 points from 7 games) won 2-1 at FC United of Manchester while AFC Fylde (9th with 12 points from 7 games) thumped Buxton 5-0 with James Dean netting a hat-trick.

Thankfully, the heavy rain stopped and the wind eased just in time for kick-off but the cold weather persisted. Nantwich (in green and white halved shirts) got the game underway attacking the eastern end of the ground, left to right in relation to my seat on row 4 of the stand. They started positively without seriously testing Fylde’s goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe. At the other end, I don’t think Nantwich’s Jon Brain touched the ball before making an 15th-minute punch.

Fylde thought they’d taken the lead in the 21st minute. Janes Dean dummied Richie Allen’s low cross from the left and Michael Barnes fired home at the far post, only to see the flag raised for offside.

That was the nearest either side got to breaking the deadlock in the first half and being not used to having a goalless first half, I did wonder if my run of games without a 0-0 stretching back to the end of December was going to end.

During the interval, Nantwich Cricket Club paraded the trophy for winning the Chapel Press Cheshire County League Premier Division.

As the players came out for the second half, the PA announcer described the home side as the ‘mighty Dabbers’. According to http://www.dabbersnantwich.me.uk/dabber.htm, ‘a Dabber is someone born within the town's ancient boundaries. It's a little like being a Cockney because you were born within the sound of Bow Bells in London. However, since the sound of the eight bells of St Mary's Parish Church in the centre of town travel several miles, you could be born within the sound of Nantwich bells but not qualify as being a Dabber’.

Back to the action and the hope for a goal.

Barely two minutes after the restart, Hinchliffe leapt to his right to tip over a 25-yard free-kick from Sean Cooke that looked destined for the net.

Much to the displeasure of the home fans, the goal I wanted came in the 53rd minute and stemmed from a difference of opinion. A lofted ball into the area flew off the head of a ‘player’ and ended over the byeline. The assistant flagged for a goal-kick but the referee said ‘corner’. Joe Booth delivered it from the right to the near post where Michael Barnes flicked the ball into the far side of the net. “Well done ref”!

With few Nantwich chances being created, Manager Jimmy Quinn threw caution to the wind and made all three substitutions at the same time in the 73rd minute. The changes almost paid off as Lewis Short headed a Cooke chip into the area straight at Hinchliffe.

Brain, once of Port Vale, produced a decent save to keep out Michael Barnes’ shot but couldn’t prevent Fylde doubling their lead in the 80th minute. Dean saw an initial shot blocked and Jack Dorney drove home through a crowded area.

Hinchliffe, arguably, secured the points with a superb diving save to keep out Darren Moss’ free-header and a third Fylde goal in the 85th minute made sure. The visitors swiftly broke upfield through Allen who found Michael Barnes in space on the right with a crossfield ball. Barnes’ shot hit defender Chris Flynn and flew into the net past a helpless Brain. My first thought was ‘own goal’ but the PA announcer credited Barnes with the goal.

So, with the Weaver Stadium finally ‘ticked’, just a trip to Whitby Town’s Turnbull Ground remains to once again complete visiting all of the grounds in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Nantwich Town (green and white halves / green / green): 1. Jon Brain, 2. Darren Moss, 3. Zack Foster, 4. Christian Smith, 5. Mat Bailey (capt), 6. Rob McDonald, 7. Sean Cooke, 8. Niall Maguire, 9. Mark Beasley, 10. Will Jones, 11. Lewis Short. Subs: 12. Chris Flynn (for Smith, 73), 14. Josh Lane (for Jones, 73), 15. Fraser McLachlan (not used), 16. Casper Hughes (for Foster, 73), 17. Matt Lowe (not used).

AFC Fylde (red and blue stripes / blue / blue): 1. Ben Hinchliffe, 2. Steve Haslam, 3. Adam Sumner, 4. Matty Hughes, 5. Michael Taylor, 6. Bradley Barnes (capt), 7. Joe Booth, 8. Jack Dorney, 9. James Dean, 10. Michael Barnes, 11. Richie Allen. Subs: 12. Paul Jarvis (not used), 14. Adam Farrell (for Dean, 81), 15. Jimmy McCarthy (not used), 16. Glenn Steel (for Dorney, 84), 17. Adam Tennant (not used).

Referee: Nicholas Barnard (Warrington).
Assistants: Clive Brown and Matt Rickard.

Goals:
0-1 Richie Allen (53)
0-2 Jack Dorney (80)
0-3 Michael Barnes (85)

Cards:
Nantwich: none
AFC Fylde: Steve Haslam (YC, 17), Jack Dorney (YC, 76)