GAME OF THE WEEK
Cleethorpes Town 2 Kidsgrove Athletic 1
The Evo-Stik South
This visit has been a long time coming, far too long. I ran into Cleethorpes Town on the NCEL Easter Groundhop over 2 years ago at Barton Town Old Boys (now Barton Town). On a fresh Good Friday morning, in the vicinity of the Humber Bridge, the Owls visited in numbers, entertained us on and off the pitch, stealing the show for the weekend. Later that same day we visited Grimsby Borough at Bradley Road. Same nest that the Owls call home.
Finally, I realised plans I made that day and was heading east on a sunny Saturday towards Cleethorpes, or actually, Grimsby. Kind of weird that, use Grimsby station for Cleethorpes Town and Cleethorpes station for Grimsby Town. Off into the seaside air, a short bus ride later I arrived at Bradley Road.
This is a council owned football centre, where Clee Town and Grimsby Borough play at home along with a number of other projects using the facility. Sorry to say but the ground does lack character, the main building on your left after entering houses a bar, toilets and changing rooms does what it needs to, but is very much what you would expect. Food’s decent though.
Unfortunately, there is very little to tel you about, at the far end is a small covered standing area and opposite the main building a larger covered seating area. If only the ground matched the people you meet, it would be a cracker.
Whilst both teams are through to the next round of the cup, their starts in the league have been quite different. Town have won both of their games, whilst Athletic have managed only 1 point from the possible 6. Given that information, any stranger would have thought the teams were in the wrong kits in the opening 45 minutes. An even start gave way to Grove looking the brighter and starting to create more. Town were limited to balls over the top and the odd run from Taylor.
Aside from a moment of madness from keeper Parton, Grove looked fairly comfortable at the back. France and Cocks looked dangerous, though the latter became public enemy number one for going down under a hefty first half challenge. Cropper and Malbon were starting to pull Bloomer and Donald around. It was therefore no surprise when the visitors took the lead. A move down their right side saw Malbon free in the channel, drawing the keeper he fed Cropper who’s outstretched foot poked the ball just inside the post, 1-0 to Kidsgrove.
Kidsgrove looked comfortable for the rest of the half and quarter of an hour into the second period, then the Owls management team had seen enough and three quick substitutes just after the hour mark changed things around, going 3 at the back and giving a bit more oomph up front started to make a difference.
Substitutes Oglesby and Dickens added purpose and a bit of zest, Davis looked a different player. Though Town still could not find a way through, when they did Parton was there for Grove. Until, the 75th minute that is, when an umpteenth corner for the hosts was swung in. Donald rose highest and his header was on target, it looked stoppable, however Parton could only get a hand on it and the ball bobbled over the line at the near post, if only somebody had been stood there. 1-1, game on.
The atmosphere around Bradley Road changed with the equaliser, and it was no surprise when Clee went ahead 3 minutes later. Cooper had had a chance moments before but took to long and the chance passed, he did the same thing here, but it worked out brilliantly for the Owls. His first attempt was blocked, but the ball sat very nicely for him, this time the substitute thumped the ball home from 12 yards giving the keeper no chance. In less than 20 minutes we had seen a complete transformation of the game. Credit to the Town management team.
Game over and I was back off home, another pleasant train journey and a nap so I would be ok for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight.
On Monday I was back at Brantingham Road, again with George Cheetham, he of Manchopper fame and Mark Riding, later on we were joined by the legend that is iBreezeblock. As much as I like these 3 gents, that was pretty much as good as the evening got.
The match was not good, both keepers pulled off a good save, Abbey Hey took the lead with a penalty, Road equalised with a belter from Poxon, though unfortunately this only brought us extra-time. Unfortunately, an injury to Hampshire shortly into the additional 30 minutes led to the game being abandoned.
The following night I was in Tameside to watch Stalybridge Celtic entertain Marine. Relegated last season, Celtic need to steady the ship, judging by this performance it could be a struggle. Second best pretty much all over the pitch and from start to finish, I think the only surprise was that Marine only won 2-0.
Confidence appeared to be draining away as the game went on, things do not look too good at Bower Fold and it looks like another Tameside team will make the drop from the National Leagues to the Evo-Stik North.
Mon: Maine Road A Abbey Hey A
Tues: Stalybridge Celtic 0 Marine 2
Sat: Cleethorpes Town 2 Kidsgrove Athletic 1
Games since a 0-0: 21
Achtung Baby – U2