Still Feeling Blue

I hope you’re out and happy now
Doing up the town ’cause you know how

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GAME OF THE WEEK

Irlam 2 Parkgate 1

The Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round

Attendance: 68

Gate: £5

Programme: £2

If it had not been for work I would not have been at this game, I would have been over the hills in Parkgate country. But I wasn’t, I was here.

It was only once I made the 5 miles journey home did I fully realise just how long it had been since my last visit to Silver Street, four weeks shy of a year or exactly 100 games. Far too long. Will not be this long again Irlam, I promise.

This ground is my ‘5 minutes journey’. Five minutes to Urmston Station, five minutes on the train, five minutes on the bus and five minutes walk up Silver Street. Easy peasy.

Clubhouse visited, Ian Williams met, hot pot bought, out to the ground to await the 2 teams. This was my 9th visit to Irlam’s home, a 50% win record for the Salford blues in my previous 8 games. My Parkgate record was just the one game, part of the Easter groundhop in 2015, a 2-1 home defeat.

Kicking off on this overcast afternoon, the hosts attacking the ’62’ end started the brighter and looked the more likely to score from the off, the reds from Rotherham just lacking that spark in the final third, the game started to get a bit niggly, something that would increase as the afternoon wore on, the referee failed to act on any of it and therefore made things worse later on.

However, halfway through the half we saw a touch of class as a move down the hosts right wing finished with Mooney coming in off the wing and firing low into the net, 1-0 Irlam. Aside from a Parkgate free-kick, which whizzed past the post the rest of the half did not leave much to remember from an entertainment point of view.

We did though see a red card and Irlam were lucky not to be reduced to 9. Following a set piece and ensuing scramble the referee blew as a visiting player was down with a head injury, with the ball still bouncing around the inevitable melee and handbags ensued. When all had been pulled apart, the blues skipper Mills had received his marching orders. Minutes later the whistle blew for half-time and Morrison’s screaming at the referee could easily have seen him see red too.

It was surely going to be a long second 45 minutes for Irlam, though to be fair they coped very well, and the big wait was for both sides out a good couple of minutes before the officials finally appeared. Give credit where it is due, you could not tell that Irlam were a man down for the rest of the game. Boland and substitute Illidge caused problems, Ledson and emergency defender Holt, looking fairly solid. Dhesi trying his best to drive the visitors forward.

With 10 minutes left the visitors grabbed an equaliser, the ball bouncing around the area, Alali rising above White and nodding in. Was I going to get an extra 30 minutes for the second time in a week? No. With five minutes to go, Irlam were awarded a penalty. No arguments, nailed on. Up step Boland, no nerves shown as he gave Ledger no chance. Game won.

So it was time to head home, courtesy of Ian Williams, First Buses, Northern Rail and my old legs.

ADDED ON

Well what do I know, as I walked along Brantingham Road I thought to myself that I should have given this game a miss. So glad I did not take my own advice. What a cracker. First half bossed by the hosts, should have gone in with a far bigger lead than the 2-1 scoreline, missing 2 great chances, 1 in particular. Totally bossed it.

After the break so did the visitors, who also could probably have finished with more goals than they did. Cracker of a game, one of those that you brag about being at, thanks to both teams.

In Glasgow with work the following day, the only option available to me was Partick Thistle v Glasgow Rangers in the BetFred Quarter-Final. Another end to end game, the 0-0 scoreline at half-time was down to poor finishing and great goalkeeping. After the break the Gers missed a glorious chance before Pena, the guy with the Jake the Snake haircut flicked the ball in with his head, or his ponytails. An equaliser in the 90th minute took us into extra-time.

There was only one team in it from this point and the Blues took a deserved place in the semi-finals.

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 2 Runcorn Town 5

Tues: Partick Thistle 1 Glasgow Rangers 3 aet

FACTS

Games: 418

Goals:  1425

Grounds: 199

Games since a 0-0: 31

Milestone: N/A

SOUNDTRACK

GP – Gram Parsons

I Feel Alright

“Outta my mind on a Saturday night”

GAME OF THE WEEK

Glossop North End 2 Kendal Town 1

The Evo-Stik North

Attendance: 318

Gate: £8

Programme: £1.50

A first for me, a blog over a 2 week period. The reason? The dreaded Manflu. As I have miraculously pulled through in time for this weekend I decided to head out to Glossop, the home of the ‘Pie Fairies’.

Catching the train into town, across the city and then on to Glossop went swimmingly well and I was soon walking from the station to the ground. It has been a little while since I was last at Surrey Street and things have changed. A change of management team. Peter Hammond, the long time secretary has stepped down and they are building houses right behind the clubhouse end. There is a club shop. Change is definitely afoot. Just make sure you keep the Pie Fairies!

On my pre-match walk aound the ground I overheard a lady say that she was going to stay overnight the next time The Hillmen got to Wembley, Step 4 is probably the hardest level of football to do that from until you get to park level, so I must say I love your optimism or pessimism if you think your team are going down.

The teams came out and the size difference was very noticeable, the hosts resembled a rugby team compared to their opponents. The opening 45 minutes offered very little to be honest. Glossop were the better side, most of what they did came via the old route one method, which by and large Kendal coped with. Meppen-Walters took care of the throw-ins, Gaul caused the hosts a few moments to think about. One of the two Matthew Russell’s that the hosts have smashed an effort against the post.

Surrey Street has a gem of a stand, opposite the turnstile the covered seating structure is a true non-league stand and one of my favourites, close to the dugouts and around the corner from covered standing, this is certainly my favourite part of the ground, apart from the Pie Fairies home that is.

After the teams re-emerged the game kicked into life, mainly due to a fairly bizarre refereeing decision, but the match roused itself. A fairly innocuous through ball by Town was played back to his keeper by Jones, an age later, as he came to a stop on his sliding pass, a forward went over his outstretched leg. The referee gave a penalty. The ball had gone. I could be wrong but it looked a strange one to me. Either way, it was given and dispatched as below.

This stirred the hosts, a double substitution was made, a change of shape, followed a few minutes later by another penalty. No! The liner had flagged Jones’ header from a Chippendale free-kick had crossed the line, 1-1. Probably saved a huge row as to if the visiting defender was going to see red or not. It was a cracking header from Jones and worthy of a goal.

North End threatened to win the game, the visitors settled for a point and that was going to be that, apart from Mr Johnson had not read the script, skillfully controlling a long ball forward he fired past Kitchen from outside the area. With a little over 5 minutes to go the game had been snatched, and whilst Glossop deserved to win, a defeat did appear harsh on Kendal Town.

The journey home was peaceful and over before I knew it.

ADDED ON

Monday night in Widnes? Why the hell not, decent fayre served up to. Widnes taking the lead through the lively Lomax after 20 minutes, followed 5 minutes later by a cracker of an equaliser by Adegbenro. After the break we had handbags, a winner through Lomax and a saved penalty that would have got the hosts over the line more comfortably. Good way to start the week.

The night after, I witnessed Bamber Bridge and in particular Ali Waddecar rip Kendal Town apart. Headlines went to Brad Carsley for his hat-trick, though the second was an own goal if ever I have seen one, it was Brig’s number 7 who ran the show.

A class act, he made the first with a superb cross that Carsley couldn’t miss from, though he did, and then put the rebound away, just. Hit the post from a free-kick. Scored a cracker himself and generally caused Kendal’s left-back the kind of night that does not come along too often. Brig are easily the best Step 4 side I have seen so far this season.

Then the dreaded manflu. Which I thought I had shook off at the weekend, so I toddled off to Brantingham Road to watch a very good Pontefract Collieries team slay Maine Road in the FA Vase. Playing like this they have a chance in this competition, but boy can they moan. Several of their players and staff in the dugout did not stop from start to finish.

As a neutral, yes decisions went against you. They also went against the host. Get over it. The two biggest errors were not sending off your defender for a, quite frankly, horrific diving in tackle. If that had connected it would have broken a leg that might still be embedded in the pitch, Also a member of your bench should have gone too for his foul-mouthed, jumping up and down on the pitch episode. I thought I could moan and whinge, but compared to a handful of this lot, pure amateur.

Bloody good footballing side, awful manners and absolutely no respect for the officials.

GAMES

Mon 4th: Widnes 2 Congleton Town 1

Tues 5th: Bamber Bridge 4 Kendal Town 0

Sat 9th: Maine Road 1 Pontefract Collieries 5

Sat 16th: Glossop North End 2 Kendal Town 1

FACTS

Games: 415

Goals:  1411

Grounds: 198

Games since a 0-0: 28

Milestone: Goal 1400 scored (officially) by Brad Carsley of Bamber Bridge. Big nod goes to Will Kitchen in the Kendal Town goal for somehow making sure it went over the line.

SOUNDTRACK

Damned Damned Damned – The Damned

The View from the Afternoon

And you can pour your heart out.
Around three o’ clock

GAME OF THE WEEK

Trafford 0 Prescot Cables 2

The Evo-Stik North

Attendance: 324

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

On a cold evening in February I saw these two teams play at Prescot. Cables ran out 2-0 winners, one of those goals being from the 12 yard spot. Who says lightning does not strike twice.

A short walk from where I live, Shawe View or the First Point Shawe View Stadium to give it its current moniker. On such a beautiful day, it felt like the opening day of the season in shirt sleeves, I was soon inside and making my way round to the far side near the railway.

A picturesque ground with greenery all around, Trafford’s home is always a pleasure to visit, something I have now done 18 times. To the east the end behind the goal has a small covered terrace, opposite is open with grass banking, that features as part of the main stand end too. It is at the main stand side that you find everything you need at the club. Bar, food hut, covered seating, changing rooms, open terracing, grass banking, dugouts, changing rooms, you get the picture, there is even a press box where the PA guy sits. Opposite this, is another covered seating area along with open standing.

Neither team has enjoyed the start to their season, the hosts have yet to win a game, though to be fair, before today the only side to beat them in the league were the high flying South Shields. Cables have had a slightly better time in the league, but had suffered the ignominy of conceding 8 in the cup against a team from a lower division.

I do not think I am being unkind to either side when I say the opening 45 minutes was not a classic. Trafford struggled to get any kind of game going, whilst Cables toiled too despite being slightly the better of the two sides. In fact, when I tell you the best bit was when Cables forwards Dean and Southworth had to swap shirts, I think you get the picture. Not sure why it was spotted after 10 minutes.

The second half was better, though not for the home fans. Prescot took the lead 5 minutes after the break, a delightful through ball by Faux found Southworth (I think!) who was through on goal and he finished with ease past Shenton in the home goal.

One criticism that cannot be levelled at Trafford is lack of commitment, the only problem though is lack of confidence to go with it. Whilst they huffed and puffed to try and get back in the game, the threat was always at the other end. That was until the 55th minute when the hosts won a penalty. For the second home game in a row they did not take the opportunity, up stepped Williams, his effort was brilliantly saved by Burgess.

Cables were in control the game was over, that was until they brought on Owolabi with less than 10 minutes to go. His running caused Trafford problems at the back and with 2 minutes remaining he won a penalty, though he clearly handled in the build-up. Wynne, who had been impressive all afternoon converted, 2-0 was not a scoreline that flattered.

I am not sure what the answer is, but Trafford need something to add that sparkle, at the moment the team seems flat. The players they have are better than this performance and their league position, I am sure they will soon be heading up the league.

ADDED ON

Unlike most people, Bank Holiday Monday was a write-off for me, work beckoned and unfortunately, I could not say no. Unimpressed.

Tuesday, there was only one game locally worthy of a visit, City of Liverpool FC v Charnock Richard, both scoring goals for fun, surely it had to be a feisty one. For an hour it was a cracker. The ‘Purps’ bossed it, led 2-0, missed a penalty as both teams were reduced to 10 men. A quick nod to Charnock’s Schofield who scored a thumping own goal, sorry lad but it was a belter.

The last 30 minutes just drifted away, the only real sour note though were the antics of CoL’s number 9, McDonald. His play acting bordered on farcical at times and was tiring. Daft thing is, he is a bloody good footballer when he isn’t rolling around.

The following night and it was Cheadle Town hosting Prestwich Heys, another feisty one, without all the histrionics of Mr McDonald, Heys deserved winners, leading 3-0 at half-time, they should have been out of sight. Town gave it a go in the second half but it was all a little too late, Heys running out 4-2 winners. A cracker none the less. Second half spent in part in the company of Ian Williams, always a pleasure sir. The final nod goes to the liner of the stand side, loved the first half chatter.

GAMES

Tue: City of Liverpool FC 2 Charnock Richard 0

Wed: Cheadle Town 2 Prestwich Heys 4

Sat: Trafford 0 Prescot Cables 2

FACTS

Games: 411

Goals:  1395

Grounds: 197

Games since a 0-0: 24

SOUNDTRACK

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys