Continental Star 2 Rocester 2

Wednesday 27th February 2013
Continental Star 2 Rocester 2
Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
At: Dales Lane, Rushall
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: mild, dry
Attendance: 25
Duration (45): first-half: 47:15; second-half: 48:10

After taking the lead through a Jack Langston, Rocester needed a late injury-time equaliser from Mensah Kinch to salvage a point with a 2-2 at Dales Lane. Langston converted a 16th-minute penalty then Continental Star bounced back to take the lead with first-half goals from Josh O’Garro and Ibrahim Benjamin. It looked as if Star would gain revenge for the 4-0 defeat at Rocester earlier in the season until Kinch scored the scrambled late equaliser.

Continental Star (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Karl Hunter, 2. Nathaniel Brown, 3. Allando Davis, 4. Matthew Hunt (capt), 5. Rhys Hoyte, 6. Anthony Green, 7. Franklin Hazel, 8. Josh O’Garro, 9. Dan Holgate, 10. Dayion Hamilton, 11. Ibrahim Benjamin. Subs: 12. Aaron Garvey (not used), 14. Shane Paul (for Holgate, 20), 15. Ryan Gough (not used), 16. Shaquille Whittingham (for Hazel, 68). Head Coach: Delton Francis.

Rocester (white/black/white): 19. Richard Froggatt, 2. Joe Rogers, 3. Carl Allen, 4. Dan McLeod, 5. Wayne Johnson (capt), 6. Jack Langston, 7. Ryan Grocott, 8. Adam Swain, 9. Chris Sterling, 10. Darren Bullock, 11. Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah. Subs: 12. Mensah Kinch (for Grocott, ht), 14. Darren Leonard (for Johnson, 68), 15. Karl McLeod (not used), 16. Dean Bromley (not used), 17. Ryan Pirrie (not used). Manager: Dave Langston.

Referee: R. Upton (Walsall).

0-1 Jack Langston (17 pen)
1-1 Josh O’Garro (22)
2-1 Ibrahim Benjamin (45)
2-2 Mensah Kinch (90+3)

Continental Star: Rhys Hoyte (YC, 16)
Rocester: Joe Rogers (YC, 76)

Heath Hayes 2 Tipton Town 4

Tuesday 26th February 2013
Heath Hayes 2 Tipton Town 4
Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
At: Coppice Colliery Ground
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: mild, misty
Attendance: 35
Duration (45): first-half: 45:05; second-half: 48:32

Two goals in the opening 19 minutes did the damage as Tipton Town recorded a 4-2 victory at Heath Hayes.

Heath Hayes (blue and white stripes / blue / white): 1. Adam lane, 2. Brad Grice, 3. John Littler, 4. Andrew Davis, 5. Harry Phillips, 6. Adam Wood, 7. Craig Hancox, 8. Lee Smith, 9. Tom Green, 10. David Waple (capt), 11. Karl Wallis. Subs: 12. Tom Baggott (not used), 14. Joe McNulty (for Davis, 83), 15. Chad Degville-Cross (for Wallis, 68), 16. Leadun Dunlevy (not used), 17. Chris Deakin (for Green, 68). Manager: Simon Davies.

Tipton Town (red and black stripes / black / red): 1. Jack Hayfield, 2. Greg Downes, 3. Graham Ashton, 4. Craig Connor, 5. Richard Huckfield, 6. Adam Wattley, 7. Reuban Wilson, 8. Tom Tonks (capt), 9. Nathan Waite, 10. Nigel Penny, 11. Danny Dudidat. Subs: 12. James Machin (for Dubidat, 87), 14. Mike Wardle (for Waite, 73), 15. Andy Dicken (for Connor, 83), 16. Craig Jones (not used), 17. Wes Cox (not used). Manager: Ian Long.

Referee: Mark Murfitt (Stoke-on-Trent).
Assistants: Ian Wylie and John Wilding.

0-1 Danny Dibidat (12)
0-2 Reuban Wilson (19)
1-2 Lee Smith (50)
1-3 Danny Dubidat (56)
1-4 Nathan Waite (68)
2-4 Lee Smith (90)

Cards: none

Daisy Hill 1 Irlam 2

Saturday 23rd February 2013
Daisy Hill 1 Irlam 2
North-West Counties League Division One
At: New Sirs, St James Street, Westhoughton
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: light snow
Attendance: 29
Duration (45): first-half: 45:08; second-half: 47:52

Just like the game I saw at Rocester on Tuesday, a straight red card to the side holding a one-goal advantage proved crucial as the opponents took full advantage by scoring late goals to win 2-1. Today, Daisy Hill led with an early goal scored after just 61 seconds by Craig Xuereb then had Jake Foster sent-off on the hour for violent conduct. Irlam levelled things up though Dave Castle and won game with an injury-time penalty converted by Ryan McGreevy.

If Wednesday’s trip to Cheadle Town plugged a gap in my football-watching ‘CV’ then this long-overdue visit to the New Sirs filled one of canyon proportions. It meant that a journey that started at Bacup Borough in April 1998 is completed and I can now ‘boast’ to have finally visited all the grounds of the current 40 members of the North-West Counties League.

Daisy Hill FC, as the club history printed in the programme explained, was established in 1894 and folded sometime between the two World Wars before reforming in 1951. They became founder members of the North-West Counties League in 1982 and for five seasons between 1989 and 1994 were known as Westhoughton Town. It is a puzzle to me based on that history that it has taken me so long to visit the New Sirs.

The Daisy Hill and Westhoughton area is located a few miles west of Bolton and, even though Daisy Hill station is only a half mile from the ground, I decided to drive today. On a Saturday afternoon for those using public transport, there are two trains per hour in each direction connecting Manchester Victoria and Wigan Wallgate.

Approaching the ground from Leigh and the outskirts of Atherton along the B5325, I could help but notice the parish church of St James, an impressive brick-built place of worship with bells visible in the bell turret topped by a weathercock. Certainly, well worth a walk back up St James Street for a closer look after I'd parked up.

Programmes were on sale at the turnstile and included a history of both clubs as well as the interesting story of the North-West Counties League. I was indebted to the two officials at the tea bar who, despite being short of numbers, produced the teamsheets for me copy down the lineups – much appreciated.

Through the entrance, the pitch ran lengthways with an interesting clubhouse behind the near goal with seats in front and covered standing down the right-hand side next to the dugouts. I know that work has been carried out to move the pitch barriers and improve the drainage of the playing surface which looked in very good nick. Despite the warnings to keep off the pitch, a stray hen wandered into the penalty area at the far end!

The league table showed that both Daisy Hill (17th with 16 points from 21 games) and Irlam (15th with 18 points from 22 games) both occupied positions in the bottom four. Both sides played in midweek with Daisy Hill winning 2-1 at Oldham Borough and Irlam going down 5-2 at home to Formby. Irlam had a change of manager a couple of weeks ago with Steve Nixon replacing the outgoing Nick Parker.

Though Irlam (in a change kit of red white and black) got the game underway attaching the clubhouse end, Daisy Hill took the lead after just 61 seconds. Captain Craig Xuereb hit a superb unstoppable rising 25-yard right-foot shot into the top left corner of the net, which flew past Jamie Brewer in the Irlam goal.

As the home side continued to threaten, Kyle Hynes crossed from the right and Richard Smith sent a free-header over the bar. Irlam goalkeeper Brewer produced a fine save in the 12th minute to keep out a rising shot from Matty Boland. The opening exchanges certainly provided plenty of entertainment between two sides closely matched in terms of the league table.

Elsewhere, a few miles to the east at the Reebok Stadium, “Bolton [were] three-up already” against Hull City. Three goals during the opening eight minutes I later learnt.

Daisy Hill’s Chris Taylor was also on good form as well and produced a brave save to block a close-range from Ryan McGreevy.

As well as Daisy Hill’s Xuereb, who seemed to be influential all over the field, I was also impressed with Irlam’s captain Steve Mills and the central defender headed just wide of the far post from Conor Braithwaite’s right-wing corner.

As the snowflakes began increasing in numbers and size, Daisy Hill went close again in the 35th minute. James Jordan crossed low from the left to Boland who flicked a shot past Brewer and agonisingly the left-hand post as well.

Into the second half and Irlam had a strong shout for a penalty waived away after McGreevy went down inside the area. Similar appeals by Daisy Hill suffered the same fate when Xuereb’s cross hit Mills.

Boland hit a 35-yard free-kick on target which Brewer could only block but the goalkeeper bravely claimed the ball at the second attempt as two attackers pounced on the loose ball.

After this warning, the visitors were told from the dugout to “step it up, Irlam”.

Arguably, the turning point of this game came in the 59th minute when Daisy Hill’s Jake Foster received a straight red card for violent conduct (photo right). Irlam’s Steve Castle was booked for his part in the incident.

Having a one-man advantage certainly gave Irlam a lift and they equalised 10 minutes in the 69th minute. Castle’s brave header looped over goalkeeper Taylor into the net.

From the dugout, Irlam were encouraged to “push for it” and they forced the home defence to work hard. On the break, Daisy Hill almost took the lead in the 87th minute when the influential Xuereb fired over outside the area.

The side with ten men at Rocester on Tuesday lost the game to a late goal and they same happened this afternoon in perhaps more dramatic circumstances. With the 90 minutes completed and just added time remaining, Liam Duffy went down in the area prompting the referee to point to the spot. McGreevy stepped up and sent Taylor the wrong way to claim all three points for his side.

I know I’m supposed to be concentrating on healthy eating nowadays but I couldn’t resist a portion of chips from the interestingly-named ‘Golden Chopsticks’ before heading home.

As always, this was another a ‘good day out’ at a friendly and welcoming club. I’d certainly recommend a visit.

Daisy Hill (blue/blue/blue): 1. Chris Taylor, 2. Kyle Hynes, 3. Darrell Gavin, 4. Marc Shemwell, 5. James Brooks, 6. Craig Xuereb (capt), 7. Matty Boland, 8. Richard Smith, 9. Danny Gregory, 10. Jake Foster, 11. James Jordan. Subs: 12. Simon Farrell (for Boland, 68), 14. Danny Brookes (for Jordan, 86), 15. Samuel Howell (not used), 16. Kane Duffy (not used), 17. Nicholas Swiran (for Brooks, 52). Manager: Craig Thomas.

Irlam (red with white sleeves / black / black): 1. Jamie Brewer, 2. Conor Braithwaite, 3. Alex Barlow, 4. Jordan Smith, 5. Steve Mills (capt), 6. Dave Castle, 7. Liam Duffy, 8. Tommy Smith, 9. Adam Campbell, 10. Jordan Icely, 11. Ryan McGreevy. Subs: 12. Scott Mason (for Braithwaite, 70), 14. Dean Burgess (for Tommy Smith, ht), 15. Christian Lawlor (for Campbell, 60), 16. Ryan Hutchinson (not used), 17. Liam Pennington (not used). Manager: Steve Nixon.

Referee: C. Porter.
Assistants: V. Evans and T. Haworth.

1-0 Craig Xuereb (2)
1-1 Dave Castle (69)
1-2 Ryan McGreevy (90+1 pen)

Daisy Hill: Jake Foster (RC, 59), Richard Smith (YC, 71), Craig Xuereb (YC, 90+1)
Irlam: Dave Castle (YC, 59)

Brocton 3 Heath Hayes 1

Thursday 21st February 2013
Brocton 3 Heath Hayes 1 (after extra time)
Walsall Senior Cup Quarter Final
At: Silkmore Lane Sports Ground, Stafford
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £6; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Weather: very cold, windy, dry
Attendance: 35
Duration (45): first-half: 46:43; second-half: 48:30
Extra Time (15): first-half: 15:05; second-half: 14:37

On a bitterly cold night, Brocton came from behind to defeat higher-ranked Heath Hayes 3-1 after extra time and earned a lucrative Walsall Senior Cup semi-final away at either neighbours Stafford Rangers or Rushall Olympic. The visitors held a slender one-goal advantage through Craig Hancox at the interval which was cancelled out in the second half by a super goal from the lively Jordan Bloor. Neither side could find a winner in normal time before extra-time goals from Gary Fife and Sam Bell sent the Badgers to within one game of emulating last season’s memorable run to the final when they lost to Rushall.

Three games in three nights – not sure how I’ve got away with it! I couldn’t ignore an important cup quarter final on my own ‘doorstep’, could I?. Both sides were given a first round bye and won their respective second round ties with a clean sheet: Brocton won their ‘away’ tie 8-0 against Warstones Wanderers at Silkmore Lane while Heath Hayes also made good use of home advantage to defeat Chasetown 2-0 at the Coppice Colliery Ground.

Walsall Senior Cup 2012/13…
First Round
Boldmere St Michaels 4 Continental Star 1
Pelsall Villa 0 Bolehall Swifts 1
Wolverhampton Casuals 1 Stafford Rangers 3
Second Round
Bilston Town 5 Bloxwich United 1
Boldmere St Michaels 2 Sutton Coldfield Town 3
Bolehall Swifts 2 Walsall Wood 4
Heath Hayes 2 Chasetown 0
Romulus 0 Rushall Olympic 3
Sporting Khalsa 0 Walsall 4
Stafford Town 1 Stafford Rangers 2
Warstones Wanderers 0 Brocton 8 (at Brocton)
Quarter Final
Bilston Town 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 1 (pens 4-5)
Brocton v Heath Hayes (tonight)
Stafford Rangers v Rushall Olympic (7th March)
Walsall Wood 0 Walsall 2
Semi Final
Stafford or Rushall v Brocton or Heath Hayes
Walsall 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 0

In terms of league positions, this tie pitted step 5 Heath Hayes (21st in the Midland Alliance with 19 points from 22 games) and step 6 Brocton (7th in the Midland Combination Premier Division with 37 points from 22 games). Heath Hayes played two days ago and lost 2-0 at home to Coventry Sphinx while Brocton hadn’t played since Saturday when they defeated Racing Club Warwick 5-0.

As always and much appreciated, teams were displayed on the whiteboard positioned in the hospitality room window. Both sides named a strong starting line-up in a bid to reach the semi finals. I watched the game in the company of some familair faces in Coxey, Cannock Rob and Mugsy.

Heath Hayes (in blue and white) got the game underway defending the changing rooms end in the first half. The Badgers, however, made a bright start and, early on, Jordan Bloor twice went close to opening the scoring. First he drove over the bar then in the next attack forced Heath Hayes goalkeeper to tip over a rising shot at the expense of a corner.

Brocton continued to impress when a nice move ended with a shot from Sam Bell that narrowly missed the target.

Having survived the early pressure, Heath Hayes started to cause problems for the Brocton defence. Dave Waple hammered a first-time shot wide of the near right-hand post. Then, in the 27th minute, a poor clearance by Adam Whitehouse flew straight to Waple who hit a rising shot which the Brocton goalkeeper stopped with a raised hand.

The visitors from the higher Midland Alliance continued to threaten and create chances. Just after the half-hour, two corners in quick succession, both delivered by Craig Hancox, almost lead to the opening goal. Brad Grice had a shot cleared off the line by Jamie Evans from the first and Adam Wood headed wide from the second which was initially cleared.

Both sides were forced to make a change with the popular Mick Fox replacing Dave Ablewhite for the Badgers.

The deadlock was broken in the 42nd minute when Hancox hit an unstoppable rising left foot shot past Whitehouse.

Brocton got back on level terms five minutes after the restart. Gary Fife played in the ball into the path of Bloor on the left who confidently fired past Bowen to score his sixth goal of the season.

Bowen produced a decent save from Dan Loams as Brocton looked to quickly take the lead. Chances continued to be created by both sides and Whitehouse did well to stop a close-range shot hit by Waple.

Bloor could have won the game from Brocton in the 82nd minute. Bell beat several defenders on a run into the area from the right and squared a pass to Bloor who fired over from a few yards out.

With the cold wind biting more than ever, we wanted a winner in normal time to save having to go through an extra 30 minutes. With time running out, Bell tested Bowen who did well to hold on a low shot at the second attempt.

Brocton, who got extra time underway attacking the changing rooms end, moved ahead in the tie for the first time in the 98th minute. Bloor went down inside the area and Fife beat Bowen with the resulting penalty. Could the Badgers hang on?

Brocton manager John Berks made his final substitution and replaced first-half substitute Mick Fox with Joe Pickering for the last 20 minutes.

Pickering made an immediate impact by exchanging passes with Bell who put the outcome beyond doubt in the 112th minute. The tall attacking midfielder got into the area on the right and sent a low shot into the far side of the net off the hands of Bowen. Brocton 3-1 up and game over.

Heath Hayes looked to reduce the deficit but the closest they got was a header over the bar.

Brocton (green/white/green): 1. Adam Whitehouse, 2. Richard Jones, 3. Jamie Evans, 4. Andy Chandler, 5. Rob Tomlinson, 6. Dave Ablewhite, 7. Sam Bell, 8. Jordan Bloor, 9. Gary Fife, 10. David Berks (capt), 11. Dan Lomas. Subs: 12. Mick Fox (for Ablewhite, 33), 14. Joe Pickering (for Fox, 100), 15. Charlie Jones (for Lomas, 75), 16. Sam Beech (not used), 17. Matt Skinner (not used). Manager: John Berks.

Heath Hayes (blue and white stripes / blue / white): 1. Mark Bowen, 2. Ben Maddox, 3, John Littler, 4. Andy Davies, 5. Tom Baggott, 6. Adam Wood, 7. Brad Grice, 8. Lee Smith, 9. Chris Deakin, 10. Dave Waple (capt), 11. Craig Hancox. Subs: 12. Harry Phillips (not used), 14. Stuart Simpson (for Maddox, 38), 15. Karl Wallis (not used), 16. Andy McMath (for Littler, 107), 17. Tom Green (for Deakin, 90). Manager: Simon Davies.

Referee: Alan Sarginson.
Assistants: Sam Barnard and James Clements

0-1 Craig Hancox (42)
1-1 Jordan Bloor (50)
2-1 Gary Fife (98 pen)
3-1 Sam Bell (102)

Brocton: Jordan Bloor (YC, 90+3), Gary Fife (YC, ft)
Heath Hayes: none

Cheadle Town 0 Chadderton 0

Wednesday 20th February 2013
Cheadle Town 0 Chadderton 0
North-West Counties League Division One
At: Park Road Stadium, Cheadle Hulme
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: very cold, windy, dry
Attendance: 47
Duration: first-half: 46:41; second-half: 47:24

Stalemate on a very cold night at the Park Road Stadium with few decent goalscoring chances and I think Cheadle will be disappointed not to have claimed all three points.

Cheadle Town (dark green / dark green / dark green): 1. Stephen Piggott, 2. Sam Dee, 3. Ben Roberts, 4. Adam Roberts, 5. Warren Gaskin (capt), 6. Paul Walley, 7. Gage Eme, 8. Andrew Lindon, 9. Ben Brooks, 10. Justin Pickering, 11. Christopher Sherrington. Subs: 12. Jordan Walker (for Sherrington, 79), 14. Scott Clarke (not used), 15. Daniel Doherty (for Eme, 84), 16. Aaron Riley (for Pickering, 75). Manager: Steve Brokenbrow.

Chadderton (orange/orange/orange): 1. Kristian Ventrees, 2. Ben Feltcher, 3. Chris Pauley (capt), 4. John Rogers, 5. Keith Melvin, 6. Andy Bainbridge, 7. Andrew Kremner, 8. Sean Sherwood, 9. Karl Valentine, 10. Josh Lynch, 11. Niall Sultan. Subs: 12. Jon-Paul Lewis (for Kremner, 62), 14. Michael Cheetham (for Rogers, 57), 15. Matt Pownall (for Sultan, 75). Manager: Paul Buckley.

Referee: Abid Hussain (Oldham).
Assistants: L. Lever (Stockport) and P. Rapaport (Stockport).

Goals: none

Cheadle: Andrew Lindon (YC, 56), Jordan Walker (YC, 82)
Chadderton: Keith Melvin (YC, 74)

Rocester 1 Loughborough University 2

Tuesday 19th February 2013
Rocester 1 Loughborough University 2
Midland Alliance Polymac Packaging League Cup Third Round
At: Hillsfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 52
Duration (45): first-half: 47:00; second-half: 48:58

The harsh sending off of Rocester’s Jack Langston around the mid-point of the second half proved crucial in this League Cup Quarter Final. At the time, the Romans led through Darren Alexander’s well-struck close-range just before the interval but the visitors took full advantage of their extra man to earn a two-legged semi-final against Tipton Town with goals from Dominik Mondesir and Sam Cook.

Rocester (amber and black stripes / black / black): 1. Richard Frogatt, 2. Joe Rogers, 3. Carl Allen, 4. Dan McLeod, 5. Darren Bullock (capt), 6. Jack Langston, 7. Mensah Kinch, 8. Adam Swain, 9. Chris Sterling, 10. Darren Alexander, 11. Edwin Asante-Akenkorah. Subs: 12. Wayne Johnson (not used), 14. Karl McLeod (not used), 15. Ryan Grocott (for Kinch, 89), 16. Darren Leonard (not used), 17. Dean Bromley (not used). Manager: Dave Langston.

Loughborough University (white/white/white): 1. Kack Howard, 2. Jordan Barker, 3. Conor Mitchell, 4. George Nash (capt), 5. Tom Peberdy, 6. Daniel Wilkinson, 7. Rory Simmons, 8. Tom Nadin, 9. Sam Cook, 10. Josh Dixon, 11. Alun Webb. Subs: 12. Will Poole (not used), 14. Josh Matussak (for Webb, 90+4), 15. Dominik Mondesir (for Dixon, 59). Head Coach: Stuart McLaren.

Referee: S. Simpson (Stoke-on-Trent).
Assistants: A. Mullins (Burntwood) and P. Hill (Cannock).

1-0 Darren Alexander (41)
1-1 Dominik Mondesir (71)
1-2 Sam Cook (87)

Rocester: Jack Langston (RC, 65), Carl Allen (RC, ft)
Loughborough Uni: Tom Nadin (YC, 39)

Redbridge 1 Ilford 1

Saturday 16th February 2013
Redbridge 1 Ilford 1
Ryman League Division One North
At: Oakside Stadium, Barkingside
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7 including 32 page programme
Weather: mild, sunny, dry
Attendance: 93
Duration: first-half: 46:08; second-half: 48:17

A third consecutive Saturday ‘derby’ for me and one quite rightly described as a classic ‘six-pointer’. Local rivals Redbridge and Ilford are both embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation from Ryman League Division One North to the Essex Senior League, so really needed to claim all three points. Both, in the end, had to settle for a draw with a 1-1 draw with The Motormen’s earlier opener from Jason Cleaver cancelled out by a super strike from Ilford’s Daniel Crowie just before the break. Both sides created chances during the second half and Ilford survived late pressure from Redbridge in stoppage time. Nice club, nice people!

Last Saturday at Brocton, one of the Stafford Town officials who reads my programme articles about my football travels, asked me which games I had in mind for today. I didn’t know precisely then other than a trip somewhere by train to London was more than likely. The first post on the Non-League Matters Forum in the ‘Where are you going?’ section for today by Runwell highlighted the ‘Part 2 of the 169 derby... Isthmian League Division 1 North Redbridge v Ilford’. My mind was made up, especially as Redbridge are good tweeters (@TheMotormen) and had replied to my tweets hoping I enjoy my visit.

To some people, it may seem strange to head to London and visit a ground I’d previously visited. Possibly true but my only previous visit to the Oakside Stadium was a dark November evening in 1992 for a Barkingside home game against Southgate in the London Spartan League Premier Division. Ask me what I recall about the ground and all I could say off the top of my head would be ‘situated next to Barkingside tube station’ and not much else.

This morning at the station, I got on and almost immediately off the London Midland train heading for Euston as it was standing room only, presumably packed with travellers taking advantage of LM’s Great Escape promotion. Thankfully, I was able to cancel and replace my original ticket with one for Virgin trains and, after a 40-minute wait, ‘Penny the Pendolino’ arrived at Platform 1 then hurtled down to the capital. The Virgin ticket did have advantages after the match.

Some while ago, I read an article on the Cask Marque app which provides, amongst other things, pub finder listing accredited premises – one of the first apps added yesterday to my new smartphone. So with spare time before heading to the match, the app ‘found’ the Doric Arch near Euston and then the Coal Hole, an old favourite of mine on the Strand near to where I worked during the early 1990s.

The easy option from Coal Hole to the ground was Central Line all the way from Holborn to Barkingside. But arriving on the 169 had an attraction so instead it was Central Line to Liverpool Street then Shenfield-bound Greater Anglia train to Ilford from where I caught the bus from round the corner on Ilford Hill all the way to Barkingside.

Within minutes of walking into the ground, I’d already sensed a really friendly club and one I wouldn’t hesitate to visit regularly if I lived locally; programmes on sale at the gate, badges and raffle tickets on sale immediately inside the ground, a nice clubhouse, Jeanette’s Kitchen refreshments bar, teamsheets from the PA box, etc., as well as a warm welcome everywhere.

‘Redbridge FC’ was known as ‘Ford United FC’ prior to July 2004 and played home games at Rush Green Road, where I saw Ford United host Concord Rangers in a Harry Fisher Memorial Trophy First Round tie which the visitors won 2-1.

Returning to Oakside Stadium, as I predicted, was a good as visiting a new ground. My diagram from 1992 shows just a small seated stand on the railway side, a clubhouse and nothing much else. Now Oakside Park has been transformed to include a larger seated stand on the railway side, covered standing along the length of the opposite touchline and terracing behind the near goal.

The league table in the programme showed just how crucial today’s game was to both sides. Just one point separated bottom side Ilford (22nd with 12 points from 25 games) and third-bottom Redbridge (13 points from 25 games). Interestingly Redbridge had won just one home league game and lost the other 10, while Ilford had one win and one draw on their travels.

Teams changed ends after the toss and Ilford (in blue, white and red) got the game underway defending the entrance end into the low sun. On a “nice spring day” as one supporter remarks, the visitors applied early pressure and Warren Mfulam missed a great chance to give the Foxes the lead, firing over instead at close range.

We didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal which came in the 13th minute. A howler from Ilford goalkeeper Daniel Mbaku gifted the ball to Jacob Cleaver shot home low from 20 yards out via the base of the left-hand post.

Undeterred with plenty of time left, Ilford continued to threaten and Michael Bowditch got down to his left to hold an angled shot from Daniel Crowie.

Following my raffle success at Rocester on Tuesday, confidence was high especially when the winning number of ‘89’ sounded familiar. It was, as I had 90-95! The near misses continue, lol.

Redbridge, who hadn’t won a home league game since end of October, created chances themselves and only the bravery of Mbaku prevented Lee Martin from taking advantage of a great scoring opportunity inside the area.

Ilford certainly didn’t look like a bottom-of-the-table side and got back on level terms in the 40th minute. Crowie, from an acute angle on the left, fired across the face of goal and into the far side of the net. A super strike.

The impressive Jody Banim (wearing ‘8’) saw his initial free-kick blocked, then volleyed a second chance just over the bar as the Foxes finished the first half in the ascendency.

Jody Banim? That name sounds familiar. Yes, he is a former Droylsden and Stalybridge Celtic midfielder who faced Stafford Rangers on several occasions.

During half-time, a fellow supporter who turned out to be ‘Chorley2002’ spotted me taking some photos and introduced himself. He also pointed out the equally legendary ‘Runwell’ and ‘IlfordFox’. Good to meet and chat with you guys!

At the end of last month, Ilford won the first ‘169 derby’ at the Cricklefield Stadium 2-1. Would there be a winner today?

Chances continued to be created after interval as both sides strived hard to bag all three points from this ‘six-pointer’. Crowie saw an angled shot flash across the face of the Redbridge goal and, on the hour, a shot from Ilford’s player-assistant manager Paul O’Shin was booted clear by a defender from in of goal.

I made a note describing ‘Ilford 8’ as ‘influential’. I now know why!

Antony McDonald then missed a great chance after staying onside to latch onto a throughball from Cleaver, only to hit the post with just Mbaku to beat. The Ilford goalkeeper didn’t well to stop a low drive from Cleaver in the 69th minute.

Behind me in the stand, I overheard someone following Ilford comment “that 9 is a dangerous forward, he’s been scoring goals, scored today didn’t he?’. That early goal was Cleaver’s 10th of the season.

The game certainly provided entertainment as the chances kept on coming. Unlucky, Shamrez Darr had a shot blocked in front of goal.

Redbridge made a strong finish and put Ilford under a lot of pressure during the closing stages. Ryan Reed cut in from the right past Crowie aimed a shot towards the far side of the net which Mbaku did well to hold. In stoppage time, the referee had a big decision to make when Reed went down under the challenge of Mbaku but turned down appeals for a penalty. Robbie Ryan saw a shot blocked by a defender and Mbaku saved from Reed shortly before the referee blew for full-time.

The consensus... “good game” and “fair result”.

The draw perhaps did neither side any favours. Ilford remained bottom while Redbridge dropped one place to second bottom as Ware moved above them with a 3-2 win at Chatham Town.

Before heading on my way there was plenty of time to further chat to Runwell and Chorley2002, as well as eavesdrop Dell Robinson’s post-match interview.

Because of my Virgin trains ticket, the day didn’t end with a just a trip back to Euston and the last London Midland train home. So, I hopped on a Central Line train at Barkingside to nearly Fairlop and a walk from that station to Hainault via the New Fairlop Oak and Old Maypole both on Fencepiece Road. And, a quick half of Hogs Back T.E.A. in the Royal George near Euston Station before catching the train home. The Ale Trail is underway.

Fab day out and I can’t wait for my next football trip to London!

Redbridge (red/black/black): 1. Michael Bowditch, 2. Danny Hayes, 3. Charlie Rolls, 4. Antony McDonald, 5. Shane Lemard, 6. Sam Holloway (capt), 7. Stephen Ikumelo, 8. George Monger, 9. Jacob Cleaver, 10. Lee Martin, 11. Jay Porter. Subs: 12. Charlie Portway (for Ikumelo, 68), 14. Ryan Reed (for Martin, 59), 15. Robbie Rees (for Porter, 81), 16. Jon Green (not used), 17gk. Dean Neil (not used). Managers: Dell Robinson and Steve Portway.

Ilford (blue and white hoops / red / red): 1. Daniel Mbaku, 2. Justin Hounkpatin, 3. Shawn Gardiner, 4. Paul O’Shin (capt), 5. Josh Coulson, 6. Nirydeem Kallon, 7. Daniel Crowie, 8. Jody Banim, 9. Shamrez Darr, 10. Warren Mfulam, 11. Lee Flavin. Subs: 12. Isa Bangoura (for Banhim, 87), 14. Usama Hamdan (for Mfulam, 68), 15. Luke Francis (not used), 16. Harry Sintim (not used), 17. Ebrimu Isidizech (not used). Manager: Kevin Lucas.

Referee: T. Brooks.
Assistants: T. King and M. Nicholson.

1-0 Jacob Cleaver (13)
1-1 Daniel Crowie (40)

Cards: none

Rocester 2 Kirby Muxloe 3

Tuesday 12th February 2013
Rocester 2 Kirby Muxloe 3
Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
At: Hillsfield
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £5
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 56
Duration: first-half: 47:13; second-half: 48:38

Forget the result for a moment, which was disappointing from a Rocester point of view, as I WON THE RAFFLE! A run of countless tales of bad luck that stretched back to the first to the first game on last March’s Mid-Wales groundhop finally came to an end with an announcement made early in the second half. On the field, Kirby capitalised on errors to open up a crucial advantage during the first half with two unanswered goals from Endlioma Chikaka and Tom Hill. It made the scoreline identical to when this game was abandoned back in November. An own goal from Hill just after the hour mark gave Rocester a lifeline but Chikaka quickly restored his Kirby’s two-goal lead. Jack Langston’s injury time penalty was merely a consolation with no time left to find a dramatic late equaliser.

Rocester (amber and black stripes / black / black): 19. Richard Froggatt, 2. Ryan Pirrie, 3. Joe Rogers, 4. Dan McLeod, 5. Darren Bullock (capt), 6. Jack Langston, 7. Mensah Kinch, 8. Adam Swain, 9. Chris Sterling, 10. Darren Leonard, 11. Edwin Ahkenkorah. Subs: 12.Chris McComisky (for Akenkorah, 81), 14. Wayne Johnson (for Bullock), 15. Dean Bromley (not used). Manager: Dave Langston.

Kirby Muxloe (blue/blue/blue): 1. Elliott Shilliam, 2. Richard Phillips, 3. Mitchell Warner, 4. Richard Darlison, 5. Elliott Pacey, 6. Sam Wilson, 7. Karl Wilson, 8. Tom Hill (capt), 9. Endlioma Chikaka, 10. Brett Darby, 11. Aaron Preston. Subs: 12. Gavin O’Keefe (for Preston, 89), 14. Chris Goodman (not used), 15. Ryan Seal (for Chikaka, 90+1), 16. Nathaniel McIntosh (not used).

Referee: Trevor Sharratt (Burton-on-Trent).
Assistants: Roy Burton and Craig Dolman.

0-1 Endlioma Chikaka (29)
0-2 Tom Hill (35)
1-2 Tom Hill (64 og)
1-3 Endlioma Chikaka (65)
2-3 Jack Langston (90+4 pen)

Rocester: Darren Leonard (YC, 55), Ryan Pirrie (YC, 63), Jack Langston (YC, 84)
Kirby Muxloe: Richard Darlison (YC, 70)

Brocton 1 Stafford Town 1

Saturday 9th February 2013
Brocton 1 Stafford Town 1
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Silkmore Lane Sports Ground, Stafford
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 96
Duration (45): first-half: 47:00; second-half: 49:31

Just seven days after the rather tame affair at Evans Park, which Brocton won 3-1, the rematch at Silkmore Lane certainly had all the attributes of a ‘blood and thunder local derby’. The Badgers took the lead towards the end of the first half through Gary Fife but the Reds hit back after the break and earned a deserved point through Joe Woodward’s equaliser.

Brocton (green with white sleeves / white / green): 1. Adam Whitehouse, 2. Richard Jones, 3. Jamie Evans, 4. Andy Chandler, 5. Rob Tomlinson, 6. Charlie Jones, 7. Sam Bell, 8. Jordan Bloor, 9. Gary Fife, 10. David Berks (capt), 11. Dan Lomas. Subs: 12. Joe Pickering (for Bloor, 43), 14. Michael Fox (not used), 15. Dave Ablewhite (for Berks, 73), 16. Sam Hollinshead (for Lomas, 66), 17. Sam Fleming (not used). Manager: John Berks.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Matt Challinor, 2. James Cresswell, 3. James Wild, 4. Mat Dockerty (capt), 5. Ben Henderson, 6. Ryan Fox, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Steve Hopkinson, 9. Paul McMahon, 10. Ishmale Reid, 11. Joe Woodward. Subs: 12. James Price (not used), 14. Liam Evans (not used), 15. Wayne Bailey (not used), 16. Steve Bennett (for McMahon, 77), 17. Darryl Johns (for Woodward, 80). Manager: Adam Cunningham.

Referee: Jon Walker.
Assistants: Stuart Hale and Kevin Williscroft.

1-0 Gary Fife (36)
1-1 Joe Woodward (58)

Brocton: Jordan Bloor (YC, 16), Charlie Jones (YC, 54), Richard Jones (YC, 73), Sam Bell (YC, 89)
Stafford: James Cresswell (YC, 28), Chris Morris (YC, 44), Ryan Fox (YC, 75), James Cresswell (YC/RC, 82)

Local teams in action: 9th February 2013

NEW FIXTURE*** JW Hunt Cup Second Round Wyrley v Willenhall at 3G pitch, Saredon Road, Cheslyn Hay, WS6 7JQ 01922 417790

FA Carlsberg Vase

Fourth Round
Walsall Wood v Hanworth Villa OFF

Fifth Round
Bodmin Town v Gornal Athletic

Evo-Stik League Northern Premier

Premier Division
Ashton United v Hednesford Town
Chorley v Rushall Olympic
Stafford Rangers v Frickley Athletic

Division One South
Chasetown v Loughborough Dynamo OFF
Kidsgrove Athletic v Market Drayton Town
Newcastle Town v Sutton Coldfield Town
Romulus v Northwich Victoria
Sheffield FC v Leek Town

Baker Joiner Midland Alliance

Alvechurch v Rocester (confirmed as on after inspection)
Boldmere St Michaels v Heather St John OFF
Causeway United v Studley
Continental Star v Heath Hayes OFF
Ellesmere Rangers v Stratford Town
Gornal Athletic v Dunkirk OFF
Highgate United v Coleshill Town OFF
Kirby Muxloe v Stourport Swifts OFF
Loughborough University v Tipton Town
Tividale v Bridgnorth Town OFF
Westfields v Coventry Sphinx

Athium Midland Combination

Les James Challenge Cup sponsored by Endsleigh
Feckenham v Archdale 73 OFF

Premier Division
Bolehall Swifts v Pershore Town
Brocton v Stafford Town
Bromsgrove Sporting v Nuneaton Griff
Coventry Copsewood v Walsall Wood OFF
Earlswood Town v Pilkington XXX OFF
Lichfield City v Castle Vale JKS OFF
Littleton v Blackwood OFF
Pelsall Villa v Southam United OFF
Racing Club Warwick v Atherstone Town

Division One (2-30 pm)
Alvis v Stretton Eagles
Aston v Droitwich Spa
Cadbury Athletic v Hampton
Greenhill v Chelmsley Town OFF
Knowle v Coton Green
Northfield Town v West Midlands Police OFF
Shirley Town v FC Glades Sporting

Division Two (2-30 pm)
Alcester Town v Inkberrow
Barnt Green Spartak v Polesworth OFF
Clements ’83 v Henley Forest OFF
Enville Athletic v Leamington Hibernian OFF
FC Stratford v Sutton United
Kenilworth Town KH v Burntwood Town OFF
Perrywood v Barton United
Rugeley Rangers v Coventry Spires OFF

West Midlands (Regional) League

Premier Division
Bewdley Town v Willenhall Town OFF
Bromyard Town v A F C Wulfrunians
Bustleholme v Darlaston Town
Dudley Town v Dudley Sports OFF
Pegasus Juniors v Cradley Town
Shawbury United v Wednesfield OFF
Sporting Khalsa v Lye Town OFF
Wolverhampton Casuals v Bartley Green OFF
Wolverhampton Sporting Community v Black Country Rangers OFF
Wellington v Shifnal Town

Division One
AFC Wombourne United v Leominster Town OFF
Mahal v Warstone Wanderers (2-00 pm)
Penncroft v Shenstone Pathfinders
Stone Old Alleynians v Wolverhampton United OFF

Division Two (2-30 pm)
Bartestree v Wolvergampton Sporting Community Res
Hereford Lads Club v Team Dudley
Ledbury Town v Red Star Alma
Malvern Town Res v Mahal Res OFF
Newport Town v Penkridge Town
Sikh Hunters v Ettingshall Park Farm
Tenbury United v Malvern Rangers
Wrens Nest v Riverway OFF

North-West Counties League

Premier Division
Maine Road v Stone Dominoes
Norton United v Colne OFF
Stockport Sports v Alsager Town

Division One
Holker Old Boys v Eccleshall
Leek CSOB v Chadderton

Kick-off time 3-00 pm unless stated.

Wolverhampton Casuals 5 Black Country Rangers 0

Tuesday 5th February 2013
Wolverhampton Casuals 5 Black Country Rangers 0
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Brinsford Lane, Coven Heath
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: cold and wet, torrential rain at times
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 47:34; second-half: 45:56

Wolverhampton Casuals stormed into second position in the Premier Division table with a ‘five-star’ performance against title rivals Black Country Rangers. On a horrible wet night just off the A449 at Brinsford Lane, Cassies never looked back after scoring twice during the opening 15 minutes through Mark Bellingham and Sean Williams. Tom Maydew added a third before half-time before substitute Dan Pilgrim and Sean Williams with his second goal wrapped up the win for the 'green and whites' in the second half. A clean sheet by goalkeeper Todd Henderson was an added bonus.

With just three months of the season left, the race to become 2012/13 West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division champions is turning out to be an intriguing contest. Prior to tonight’s fixtures, the top five were separated by eight points: Lye Town (1st with 54 points from 22 games), Black Country Rangers (2nd with 52 from 22), Shawbury United (3rd with 51 from 22), Wolverhampton Casuals (4th with 50 from 23) and AFC Wulfrunians (5th with 46 from 21).

Poster courtesy of @353photo

Tonight, both sides needed a win at Brinsford Lane, especially Casuals who surprisingly lost at home to Pegasus Juniors on Saturday; Lye and AFC Wulfrunians looked favourites to win their respective games against Wolves SC and Pegasus tonight.

Twitter, as it often does nowadays, gave me the news earlier this afternoon that the game was going ahead, though a heavy downpour on the way around nearby Penkridge made me wonder about any last-minute hitches. As I arrived a club official was busy forking the pitch. Thankfully the referee was satisfied with the playing surface.

There are a lot of things I like about Casuals from the welcome at the gate, ease of obtaining the line-ups, Julie’s tea bar and announcements throughout the match confirming lineups, goalscorers and substitutions. All things we appreciate and the stand is a nice place to watch the match from, especially on a wet night like tonight. A couple of familiar faces in ‘orange-hat Coxey’ and ‘Cannock Rob’ had the same idea as me.

Black Country Rangers (in red) got the game underway attacking the east [entrance] end of Brinsford Lane, knowing that a win for themselves and defeat for leaders Lye at home to Wolves SC would see then regain top spot lost on Saturday through inactivity.

Casuals, with the incentive of moving up to second with a win, took the lead in the 11th minute. Mark Bellingham latched on to a ball down the left and thumped a low shot past Jamie Wood from inside the area.

A perfect start and it got even better for the Cassies with a second goal four minutes later. Matthew Bailey played the ball into the path of the pacy Sean Williams down the left who hit a low shot past Wood into the bottom-left corner of the net.

Daniel Lloyd headed wide from Craig Love’s corner while Black Country were working hard to get back into the game. When they went close, the visitors found Todd Henderson in fine form. Alec Roberts crossed deep from the right where Craig Gregg’s header looked set for the net until the Cassies goalkeeper acrobatically kept the ball out with his legs.

In relentless rain, often heavy, Casuals further increased their lead with a third goal scored in the 40th minute. Sean Williams crossed deep from the right to the far post where Tom Maydew fired home. Bellingham looked to apply the final touch but Maydew was credited with the goal by the announcer. The referee checked with his assistant for possible offside but the goal stood without complaint.

Julie’s tea bar was the obvious place to head during the interval. Tweets told me that leaders Lye were 2-1 up against Wolves SC at half-time and AFC Wulfrunians 2-0 up against Pegasus. Of interest to ‘Cannock Rob’, Hednesford were losing 2-1 at home to Alvechuch in the Birmingham Senior Cup.

No fewer than three substitutions were made for the start of the second half with Black Country replacing Roberts and Liam Hughes with Paul Oakley and Adrian Lloyd.

The rain continued to vary in intensity as the visitors applied pressure from the restart with Oakley firing just wide of the target. Just after the hour mark, Gregg laid the ball back to Scott Stevenson who sent a well-struck 25-yard shot flashing past the net.

Casuals survived to score a fourth goal in the 65th minute. The visitors were caught with just three defenders back as Bellingham got down the right and crossed low for Dan Pilgrim to sidefoot home at close range. Pilgrim had only been on the field for a couple of minutes after replacing Dean Clarke.

Not throwing in the towel, even with a mountain to climb to just salvage a point, Black Country continued to threaten and Henderson produce a reaction save to keep out a header from Stevenson’s cross. The goalkeeper, determined to keep a clean sheet, also tipped over a rising shot from Lloyd.

Despite all of the rain, the pitch held up well which I suppose was good news for the referee who didn’t appear to have any thoughts towards abandoning the game. A bit of squelching from players’ boot was about as bad as it got.

However, one person sat behind me in the stand wondered “where does the rain keep coming from?” Good question, as a hell of a lot of rain had fallen during the previous three hours.

Cassies wrapped up what was a ‘five-star’ performance with a fifth goal scored in the 89th minute. Sean Williams intercepted a miss-directed pass 40 yards out and raced to the edge of the area. Faced by a couple of defenders, the forward drilled a low shot into the bottom left corner of the net out of reach of the diving Wood.

As I said earlier, Casuals suffered a surprise home defeat on Saturday so this 5-0 victory was an emphatic way keeping the pressure on the sides around them in the table. Ten-man Lye retained top spot with a 3-2 win over Wolves SC while AFC Wulfrunians defeated Pegasus 3-0. So Cassies moved up to second.

Finally, I’d like to go back to the 82nd minute and a nice bit of sportsmanship. Sean Williams collided with a defender inside the Rangers area and went down clearly hurt. As the forward lay on the ground, Leigh Pardoe went back to check his opponent was OK. Nice gesture.

Wolverhampton Casuals (green and white stripes / white / green): 1. Todd Henderson, 2. Carlo Franco, 3. Dan Rolfe, 4. Dean Clarke, 5. Daniel Lloyd, 6. George Williams, 7. Tom Maydew, 8. Craig Love (capt), 9. Mark Bellingham, 10. Matthew Bailey, 11. Sean Williams. Subs: 12. Dan Ware (not used), 14. Dan Pilgrim (for Clarke, 65), 15. Adrian Jones (not used), 16. Barry Evans (for Rolfe, ht), 17. Chris Henry (for Bellingham, 75). Manager: Carl Abbott.

Black Country Rangers (red with white hoop / red / red): 1. Jamie Wood, 2. Adam Fincher, 3. Adam Harris, 4. Russell Garner, 5. Wayne Brown, 6. Sam Wilkinson, 7. Alec Roberts, 8. Leigh Pardoe (capt), 9. Liam Hughes, 10. Craig Gregg, 11. Scott Stevenson. Subs: 12. Jozess Jackard (for Gregg, 63), 14. Paul Oakley (for Roberts, ht), 15. Adrian Lloyd (for Hughes, ht), 16. Alex Hammond (not used), 17. Jamie Hurdman (not used). Manager: Paul Garner.

Referee: M. Pearson.
Assistants: D. J. Andrews and C. Dolman.

1-0 Mark Bellingham (11)
2-0 Sean Williams (15)
3-0 Tom Maydew (40)
4-0 Dan Pilgrim (65)
5-0 Sean Williams (89)

Casuals: Dean Clarke (YC, 4)
Black Country: Russell Garner (YC, 21)

Local teams in midweek action

Tuesday 5th February 2013 (7-45 unless stated)

Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South
Chasetown v Romulus

Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
Gornal Athletic v Loughborough University
Heath Hayes v Rocester OFF
Kirby Muxloe v Bridgnorth Town
Stourport Swifts v Ellesmere Rangers
Tividale v Stratford Town (match ON according to Tividale's Twitter)

Athium Midland Football Combination Premier Division
Southam United v Pershore Town OFF
Walsall Wood v Lichfield City OFF

Athium Midland Football Combination Division One
Aston v Feckenham

West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
AFC Wulfrunians v Pegasus Juniors
Bewdley Town v Dudley Town
Cradley Town v Darlaston Town
Lye Town v Wolverhampton Sporting Community
Wolverhampton Casuals v Black Country Rangers (match ON according to Casuals' Twitter)
Wednesfield v Sporting Khalsa OFF

West Midlands (Regional) League Division One
Haughmond v Mahal
Shenstone Pathfinders v Bridgnorth Town Res (at Darlaston)
Wem Town v AFC Smethwick

West Midlands (Regional) League Division Two
Malvern Town Res v Malvern Rangers

Birmingham Senior Cup
Hednesford Town v Alvechurch (Quarter Final)
Studley v Sutton Coldfield (Second Round at Coles Lane)

MFA Polymac Packaging League Cup Third Round
Boldmere St Michaels v Continental Star OFF

Dootson Sport Cup Fourth Round
Rushall Olympic v Northwich Victoria

Stafford Town v Stafford Rangers (7-30 at Evans Park)

Wednesday 6th February 2013 (7-45)

Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
Heath Hayes v Rocester (new date)
Tipton Town v Westfields

Athium Midland Football Combination Premier Division
Nuneaton Griff v Brocton OFF

West Midlands (Regional) League Division Two
Team Dudley v Riverway

Local Results: Saturday 2nd February 2013

Come on Folks..Get down and support your local Non League Football Club Today whilst the sun is out..You never may just enjoy it!! Rob Hornby

FA Carlsberg Vase Fourth Round
Gornal Athletic 4 Wisbech United 2 (aet)
Rocester 1 Runcorn Town 2
Walsall Wood v Hanworth Villa OFF

Evo-Stik League Northern Premier League Premier Division
Hednesford Town 3 Nantwich Town 0
Ilkeston 0 Stafford Rangers 2
Rushall Olympic 1 Stocksbridge Park Steels 1

Evo-Stik League Northern Premier League Premier Division One South
Belper Town 3 Chasetown 0
Carlton Town 4 Kidsgrove Athletic 2
Gresley FC 0 Romulus 1
Newcastle Town 0 Rainworth Miners Welfare 0
Sutton Coldfield Town 4 Sheffield FC 0

Baker Joiner Midland Alliance
Alvechurch 0 Causeway United 3
Bridgnorth Town 1 Loughborough University 0
Coleshill Town 2 Kirby Muxloe 1
Coventry Sphinx 1 Tividale 2
Dunkirk 1 Tipton Town 2
Heath Hayes 1 Westfields 1
Heather St John’s 2 Highgate United 0
Stourport Swifts 3 Continental Star 1
Stratford Town v Boldmere St Michaels OFF

Aspire Midland Combination Premier Division
Bolehall Swifts 3 Pilkington XXX 2
Bromsgrove Sporting 1 Littleton 3
Castle Vale JKS 0 Earlswood Town 2
Coventry Copsewood 2 Pershore Town 1
Pelsall Villa v Racing Club Warwick OFF
Stafford Town 1 Brocton 3

Aspire Midland Combination Division One
Droitwich Spa 2 Coton Green 1
FC Glades Sporting 2 Northfield Town 1
Shirley Town v Cadbury Athletic OFF
Stretton Eagles 1 Knowle 2
West Midlands Police 4 Greenhill 1

Aspire Midland Combination Division Two
Barnt Green Spartak 5 Enville Athletic 1
Burntwood Town 0 Alcester Town 2
Coventry Spartans 1 FC Stratford 4
Henley Forest v Kenilworth Town KH OFF
Inkberrow 3 Coventry Spires 3
Perrywood 3 Leamington Hibernian 1
Polesworth v Barton United OFF
Rugeley Rangers 3 Clements ’83 3

West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
AFC Wulfrunians 0 Lye Town 2
Bartley Green v Sporting Khalsa OFF
Bromyard Town 1 Shawbury United 3
Bustleholme 0 Wolverhampton SC 1
Cradley Town 0 Wellington 1
Wolverhampton Casuals 1 Pegasus Juniors 3
Wednesfield 1 Shifnal Town 3
Willenhall Town v Dudley Town OFF

West Midlands (Regional) League Division One
AFC Smethwick 4 Wolverhampton United 1
Blackheath Town 1 Warstones Wanderers 2
Leominster Town 4 Penncroft 3
Mahal 4 St Martins 4
Stone Old Alleynians 1 Bilston Town 2
Wyrley v Shenstone Pathfinders OFF

West Midlands (Regional) League Division Two
Ettingshall Park Farm 3 Mahal Reserves 0
Hereford Lads Club 2 Penkridge Town 1
Ledbury Town 1 Tenbury United 0
Malvern Town Reserves 3 Sikh Hunters 1
Red Star Alma 0 Bartlestree 1
Team Dudley 3 Wrens Nest 3

Stafford Town 1 Brocton 3

Saturday 2nd February 2013
Stafford Town 1 Brocton 3
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: sunny spells, icy cold wind
Attendance: 130
Duration (45): first-half: 46:26; second-half: 48:49

Brocton retained the upper hand in recent games against local rivals Stafford Town with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Evans Park. A header from captain David Berks gave the Badgers an early lead which was extended before the interval by Sam Bell. Spencer Gunnell gave Town a chance of grabbing a point during the second half but Bell's second goal ended those hopes in stoppage time.

After those long train trips over the past three Saturdays because of bad weather around here, I couldn’t have asked for anything more local today that a tasty derby between Stafford’s two Midland Combination Premier Division sides, Town and Brocton.

Rather surprisingly, they hadn’t met in a league game for over 20 years – the 1992/93 season in the Staffordshire Senior League – as Town decided to progress down the West Midlands League route and Brocton down the Midland Combination route. After the end of last season, Town moved across the pyramid to the ‘Mid Comb’ and today we had the first of the two league derbies with the second being played at Silkmore Lane in seven days time.

Evans Park was the usual welcoming place it always is. Once again I was indebted to Town’s Secretary for providing the lineups (thanks Dave) – a team sheet was also displayed on the tea bar window.

In the table, there was little to separate today’s two teams – Town (31 points from 20 games) occupied 7th, one place and one point above Brocton (30 points from 19 games). Bromsgrove Sporting (44 points from 24 games) topped the Premier Division table, seven points clear of second-placed Littleton who have five games in hand. The top two met at Bromsgrove this afternoon.

Teams changed ends after the toss and Brocton (in green and white) got the game underway attacking the cricket ground end (or should that be rugby end with St Leonards pplaying today), defending into both the icy wind and low sun.

The Badgers couldn’t have got off to a better start with an opening goal in the 7th minute. After his initial corner was only partially cleared, Gary Fife was allowed to get to the left bye-line and deliver an inch-perfect corner for David Berks to head home at close range.

Perhaps due to only playing two games since the second Saturday of December, Town made a slow start and were encouraged “all of you, up it”, as well as told to “get stuck in”. However, it was Brocton who created the chances and former Town captain Carl Morris saw a shot blocked after good work on the left by another ex-Town player Jordan Bloor.

Stafford upped their game and nearly equalised in the 27th minute. Craig Hulme got into the Brocton area down the right and hit a well-struck rising right-foot shot which Adam Whitehouse tipped over at the expense of a corner.

However, a meat move down the left led to Brocton’s second goal two minutes later. The diminutive Jamie Evans crossed low into the area where Sam Bell put away a stretched volley past Town goalkeeper Matt Challinor. Town’s last win against Brocton came 21 years ago in 1992 and the chances of breaking that sequence suddenly became an awful lot harder.

Stafford could have reduced the deficit in the 41st minute. Chris Morris got the better of three defenders on a run to the right bye-line and set up Hulme who shot over the bar from 10 yards out.

There was time before the interval for one further Brocton chance. Richard Jones fed Bell who saw a near-post shot turned round by Challinor.

The lively Bloor took advantage of a slip by a Town defender soon after the restart and sent a low shot past Challinor from a good position but just wide the left-hand post.

To salvage at point or better, Town needed to show some urgency and did just that. A free-kick from Chris Morris from the right into the area was flicked on at the near post and out of a defender. The resulting corner was partially cleared to Chris Morris who fired over the bar.

Adam Cunningham made the first chance, replacing Hulme with leading scorer Paul McMahon.

Bloor then crossed deep from the left to Bell who fired a low angled shot against the near post. Just before the hour, a decent Stafford move set up an opportunity for Chris Morris who saw his shot held by Whitehouse - “Much better, keep it up”.

Brocton certainly weren’t satisfied with just a two-goal lead. Bell crossed low from the right into the area where both Fife and Dockerty attacked the ball at the near post, leading to another Brocton corner. Cunningham then brought on Steve Hopkinson who, like McMahon and several others on the pitch, used to play for Stafford Rangers.

A 28-yard free-kick from Berks flashed past the Stafford goal and a low shot from the excellent Bloor just missed as well.

Town got back into the game with a goal in the 77th minute. McMahon fed Spencer Gunnell who fired home past Whitehouse at close range.

As the game entered the last ten minutes, Brocton were awarded a free-kick on the left 25 yards out which Fife fired against the left-hand post.

Brocton wrapped up the win with a third goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Joe Pickering looked as if he was going to wind down the clock by taking the ball into the corner. Suddenly, he got free of his two markers and crossed low for Bell to clinically slot home from a few yards out.

The win moved Brocton up one position to 7th while Town slipped down to 10th in the table. Littleton won 3-1 at leaders Bromsgrove Sporting to close the gap at the top to just four points. Today’s Premier Division results: Bolehall Swifts 3 Pilkington XXX 2 (att 40); Bromsgrove Sporting 1 Littleton 3 (att 271); Castle Vale JKS 0 Earlswood Town 2 (att 15); Coventry Copsewood 2 Pershore Town 1 (att 35); Stafford Town 1 Brocton 3 (att 130).

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Matt Challinor, 2. Steve Bennett, 3. Joe Woodward, 4. Mat Dockerty (capt), 5. James Wild, 6. Ryan Fox, 7. Ishmale Reid, 8. Chris Morris, 9. Spencer Gunnell, 10. Craig Hulme, 11. Darryll Johns. Subs: 12. Steve Hopkinson (for Johns, 64), 14. Paul McMahon (for Hulme, 51), 15. Liam Evans (not used), 16. James Price (for Woodward, 90), 17. Darren Alexander (not used). Manager: Adam Cunningham.

Brocton (green with white sleeves / white / green): 1. Adam Whitehouse, 2. Richard Jones, 3. Jamie Evans, 4. Andy Chandler, 5. Rob Tomlinson, 6. Carl Morris, 7. Sam Bell, 8. Jordan Bloor, 9. Gary Fife, 10. David Berks (capt), 11. Dan Lomas. Subs: 12. Joe Pickering (for Bloor, 89), 14. Charlie Jones (for Morris, 77), 15. Michael Fox (for Fife, 84), 16. Sam Hollinshead (not used), 17. Dave Ablewhite (not used). Manager: John Berks.

Referee: Mark Wharmby.
Assistants: Jon Wilding and Mark Winston.

0-1 David Berks (7)
0-2 Sam Bell (28)
1-2 Spencer Gunnell (77)
1-3 Sam Bell (90+2)

Stafford: Chris Morris (YC, 64), Ryan Fox (YC, 79)
Brocton: Jordan Bloor (YC, 26)