GAME OF THE WEEK
Irlam 2 Parkgate 1
The Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
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.
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.
Mon: Maine Road 2 Runcorn Town 5
Tues: Partick Thistle 1 Glasgow Rangers 3 aet
Games since a 0-0: 31
GP – Gram Parsons