the battle for hag fold

Atherton LR & Daisy Hill

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ATHERTON LR & DAISY HILL

Who is on top with me: 

Atherton LR

Head to Head:

Atherton LR 2 wins

Daisy Hill 1 win

0 draws

My Matches:

23/2/18  Daisy Hill 0 Atherton LR 1

18/4/16  Daisy Hill 4 Atherton LR 2

13/2/15  Atherton LR 1 Daisy Hill 0

Distance:

2.4 miles walk.

I am sure both sides would say that their real rivals are Atherton Collieries, but seeing as ex-LR boss Michael Clegg has now taken Colls up into the Evo-Stik then they are left to battle over Hag Fold, the area that separates the two clubs.

My first experience of these two rivals was on a Friday night in February, an event that was to repeat itself 3 years later. The scoreline was also to be repeated, a 1-0 victory for Laburnum Rovers. Only the venue changed from Crilly Park in 2015 to New Sirs for the most recent encounter.

Sandwiched in-between these 2 Friday night encounters was an impressive 4-2 win for the blues in the 2015/16 season.

As with all local derbies between players who know each other well, this has certainly not been the most bad tempered of rivalries when I have been present. No red cards and only the 1 penalty in the 3 games is quite tame.

Latest Clash:

It was scheduled to be a week where these 2 met twice, Monday in the Cup and Friday in the league. As with so much of the fixture list at the moment, the weather had its say, Monday’s game was off.

There was a quick change, the Friday match was changed from the league to the Division One Cup Quarter-Final. Whilst the cup can be a leveller, LR’s higher league position put them as favourites for this tie.

As with the first time I saw these two play, it was a freezing cold night and a very tight game. Both sides struggled with the strong wind that blew in from Atherton and chances were at a premium. I am sure I am not the only one who thought that they were in for extra-time as we headed towards the last 10 minutes.

Then LR struck, Kidd ran at the home defence, worming his way towards goal, finally getting a shot off, the ball then pinballed around the near post until it fell at the on rushing Giverin’s right foot, the winger swept the ball past Haynes and into the bottom corner. Atherton were through to the semi-final.

 

Next Meeting:

Monday 9 April @ Daisy Hill

Brillo de Facto

We all know
Where he came from
Check this out–
Loves him

GAME OF THE WEEK

Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

The Evo-Stik Southern League Division One West

Attendance: 173

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

As I set off for Bristol nearly 14 hours before I would see home again a fair plan of what was about to pan out had formed in my mind. A peaceful train journey, decent match (hopefully), return peaceful trip and write a blog called ‘Sexy MF’. No. None of it worked out like I thought.

I have abandoned trains in the Manchester area as much as possible, so I headed off into Manchester on the 256 bus and was soon sat on my train to Birmingham New Street, which was absolutely rammed. Changing at New Street, with a little over 10 minutes to spare, I had to get negotiate the ticket barriers with a barcode that didn’t work 4 times, yes 4 times just to move from one platform to another, finally made it to be told it had changed platform, luckily no ticket barrier this time and on to a train full of men off to Cheltenham races.

At least there was a bit of peace once we got past the Gloucestershire spa town, quick change at Bristol and I was soon jumping off at Sea Mills. Bristol Manor Farm’s home is a short walk from the station over the River Trym where it meets the Avon. As you walk to ‘The Creek’ you can see the gem of a ground that awaits.

Entering behind the North goal you are at the highest point of the ground which drops away to the far right hand corner, got to love a sloping pitch. There is open standing behind both goals, to the north you are above the pitch, at the opposite end your feet are below pitch level. To your right upon entering is the River Avon Side, with train track inbetween, this is where the dugouts are and a small covered stand that you enter at the rear of the away bench, love it. Opposite is the Main Stand, where you find the clubhouse, worth a visit, Tea Bar, again worth a visit, three covered areas, yes three. A seated area with standing at the back of it, and two standing only areas.

There are steps down to the pitch from the clubhouse for the players and if you are as lucky as I was, this is where you will find Kevin. Tannoy announcer and pre-match (and h-t) music guy. So many top tunes played. It was through talking to Kevin that I realised I had to change the title of my blog to a The Fall song. Kevin thanks, for your time and inspiration, Manor Farm you have a gem of a man there.

This was a game of two halves, the rule being, kick down the slope you own the ball. To start with it was Supermarine’s turn, from the kick-off to the half-time whistle they were on top, the fact it took them 20 minutes to take the lead was a surprise. The attacks came in waves, winger Selman was a constant thorn in the home defence and was caught late with a couple of tackles, but as all good wingers do, he just dusted himself down and got back on the ball.

Penalty. Supermarine took the lead in controversial circumstances. The visitors had a corner on the left, as the ball came into the box, a shot was saved by Clark in the home goal, the rebound hammered at goal by Gray, now the shot was certainly blocked by Mills, but the liner flagged that he had done it with his arm(s), I am unsure. But if he did he is wasted. To have reactions that fast somebody somewhere must be able to make use of them. he was 3 or 4 yards away from the thumping effort. Anyway it was given. Up stepped Hooper, he finished with ease, Clark was sent the wrong way.

Until the break, Supermarine continued to attack and continued to fire in shots on goal, but they all seemed to be straight at Clark or wildly off target, the half-time whistle must have come as a welcome sound to the home side.

H-T. Bristol Manor Farm 0 Swindon Supermarine 1

Following the restart, the Supermarine Ultras suddenly had massive heads, the balance of play switched and whatever had been said in the home changing room was soon working. The River Trym magnet was doing its magic again.

Flicked Header. On the hour Farm won a free-kick on the left, whipped in by skipper Metters, it was met by the perfectly timed run of Stamp, his header flew past Hill in the visitors goal, 1-1, game on.

The last half hour was a push for a winner, the hosts had the majority of the ball and were working hard at creating chances, but the opposition defence were holding firm, at the top of the hill, Supermarine were breaking away and causing trouble for the Farm defence.

Unfortunately, at times the commitment and effort on both sides boiled over and tempers flared, which took away from what was a good battle between two evenly matched teams. Though my overall memory will be of a good game, where the mysterious River Trym has an impact on who controls the game, I just need to find if the tide was in or out?

F-T. Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

The return train journey was interrupted in the Midlands by their version of the Gallaghers from Shameless. Until they got off at Wolverhampton they ran riot, the parents? Just sat and ignored it all. Ah well.

I will be back at The Creek. Soon.

ADDED ON

Two games, two 2-0 wins.

Over to Ossett on Tuesday, delicious chippy at Park Square Fisheries, finally on to Ingfield on a cold evening. Town controlled the game from start to finish, took a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes through Pembleton and did not look like they would relinquish this grip on the game.

Up until this evening, my favourite goal had been a blast into an open goal from about 3 inches out, all was to change. As a running battle between Town’s Nelthorpe and United’s skipper Hollett threatened to erupt into something more a high looping cross came into the box, the former challenged for the ball with substitute Baxendale, the forward won and sent an easy to deal with high looping header towards the goal and into the arms of Roberts in the United goal. Only the keeper tripped/slipped/crumbled into the back of the net as he reached the place where the ball was going to land into his arms. The ball looped into the empty net. Oh yes, it landed onto Roberts as he was still in a crumpled heap in the back of the net. Priceless. I have a new favourite goal.

Onto Friday and another delicious pre-match chippy. Just up the road from the Widnes Stadium is Paul’s Chippy. Well worth a visit and a big reason as to why I have been to Widnes so often.

Third versus second in the league, a derby of sorts, both looking at Linnets in the distance, even though we are still in January this very much looks like a race for runners-up. This leg of the race was won by Widnes at a canter. Lomax opened the scoring around the 5 minutes mark with a finish from inside the box and player-(joint) manager Towey scored emphatically after the break again around the 5 minutes point.

Widnes moved into third, Town’s season looks like it could be falling apart a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder if a smile or two was raised in the green and yellow half of the town on the other side of the River Mersey.

GAMES

Tue: Ossett Town 2 Skelmersdale United 0

Fri: Widnes 2 Runcorn Town 0

Sat: Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

FACTS

Games: 463

Goals:  1577

Grounds: 218

Games since a 0-0: 75

Milestone: 200th Home Win (Widnes victory on Friday); 75th game without a 0-0 (Saturday)

Performance of the Week: Kevin O’Donohue. Top class tunes, great bloke. Thanks Kev.

Random Fact: The penalty for Swindon Supermarine was the 142nd I have seen awarded and the 96th I have seen converted.

SOUNDTRACK

New Facts Emerge – The Fall

Home Is A Feeling

Washed by the warm tide, dried by the sunrise
It’s time to open your eyes to a feeling, feeling
To a feeling

Oi Oi

If you are in London and ever at a loose end on a Saturday, I truly hope that Fisher are at home. If they are, then get yourself down to SE16 and the St Paul’s Sports Ground.

A day that started out with myself and Mr Wilks on the wrong train to London, I will swear the board at the start of Platform 6 gave our train, finished 11 hours later back in Manchester after a wonderful day.

Thanks to Virgin Trains and another sale we were in First Class, along with BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty for the two and a quarter hours trip down south, the time of which picked our game out of a list of 10. Following a scan of the internet we were off on the Underground heading to London Bridge and as we made good time, including the additional 20 minutes from the train mishap, once we alighted near the Shard we decided to walk to Fisher’s home, a little over 2 miles away.

After  pit stop at Eat, a delicious meal of pie. mash and gravy later, we continued following a path pretty parallel to the south bank of the Thames we arrived at St Paul’s, also the home of the Millwall Lionesses, in good time. A warm welcome and chat to a fellow Mancunian later we made our way to the clubhouse.

The ground itself is fairly basic, on the side you enter there is a covered seating structure along with the clubhouse building that also houses the dressing rooms and toilets etc., opposite, is a narrow path of open standing that stops at bothe ends just before it meets the dugouts. The East End is open standing, the West has a covered standing area where the ‘Fishtras’ gather and make a noise for 90 minutes.

On a very chilly afternoon we got underway with the hosts kicking towards Canary Wharf. An early free-kick for the hosts whistled just wide, but other than that, the opening 30 minutes didn’t really have much to write home about. The hosts dominated possession without really creating anything clear cut and right winger Ramsamy looked like he’d left his best boots at home, his accuracy especially crossing was off. Maybe, just maybe he was getting his aim in.

As we got to the half hour The Dere had their best moment of the game as a ball from the left found McGinty, his shot on the turn smashing against the bar, though this was a rare goor chance in the first half for the visitors.

Half-time was welcome. If to get in from the cold more than any other reason.

Attacking their shoal of fans Fisher really took the game to their opponents after the break, a shot by Brown was saved by Taylor in the Dere’s goal, Ramsamy sending the rebound wide, he was getting closer. Ten minutes into the half he was put in the clear, a great tackle stopped him this time, minutes later it was a Taylor save that stopped the winger, he was dangerous and the visitors had no answer for his pace and timing of runs. On the hour he had the keeper at full stretch again, forcing Taylor into a great save.

After a brief respite at the other end, Fisher took the lead, it was no surprise that Ramsamy got the goal, another good run, shot (which took a slight deflection) over Taylor and in off the underside of the bar, it was no more than Fisher and Ramsamy deserved. The wingers reward was to be pretty much immediately subbed.

The hosts continued to control the game and doubled their lead with just left than 15 minutes to go Small leaving his marker bamboozled with a flick, going past another defender as though he wasn’t there before finishing past Taylor. The remainder of the game was spent with the teams swapping breakaways and half-chances before the referee blew up and we made our way off into the South London evening.

ADDED ON

Two games over the New Year period, firstly to east Manchester for a derby, Maine Road the visitors on a wet and bitterly cold afternoon where we bumped into Rob McKay for the first time in far too long. Road dominated from the off and should have probably won by more than the 4-0 margin they finished with. The highlight of the afternoon though has to go to the taxi driver who turned up in a minibus and got stuck in the mud at the far end. Really was priceless.

Two days later and in a downpour at Moss Lane Altrincham and Witton Albion shared 7 goals, the visitors taking the lions share, just. Hulme gave Alty an early lead, back came Witton with goals from the brilliant Owens and Foley  before half-time. The rain continued to pour down as the Robins came back with 2 goals to take the lead Poole and White the scorers. In the last 10 minutes Albion shocked everyone as Owens got the equaliser and with a minute or so to go Jones got the winner. What a cracking game.

GAMES

Sat (30/12): Abbey Hey 0 Maine Road 4

Mon: Altrincham 3 Witton Albion 4

Sat: Fisher 2 Erith & Belvedere 0

FACTS

Games: 455

Goals:  1560

Grounds: 215

Games since a 0-0: 68

Milestone: 100th Away Goal of the Season – Thomas Owens (Witton Albion)

Performance of the Week: Mathieu Ramsamy – Fisher. For 20 minutes he was unplayable.

Random Fact: The Fisher game was my 79th at Step 6, during which I have seen 306 goals

SOUNDTRACK

Weather Diaries – Ride

 

Talk About the Passion

Not everyone can carry the weight of the world

GAME OF THE WEEK

Sandbach United 1 Abbey Hulton United 2

The Hallmark Security League First Division

Attendance: 136

Gate: £5

Programme: Not seen for sale

So with the festivities over for another day, time to get out the Christmas coat/scarf/hat/gloves/jumper, you get the picture, and head off to a local derby. Ashton United and Droylsden both called their games off, so as Mr Wilks picked me up there was no plan. I mentioned Sandbach United and we were on our way.

An unexpected new ground, my 214th and the second nearest to my home that I have never been to. That statistic has now gone to their opponents for the day, Abbey Hulton United.

After a quick tour of the streets of Sandbach trying to find a cash machine, we finally got to the Sandbach Community Football Centre, at least a ground without a sponsorship name, but not one that would roll off the tongue for the fans in a song. ‘We are Sandbach, super Sandbach, from…’ Once parked, we made our way in, passing the match board with the visitors name spelled incorrectly, always a pre-match winner for the opposition manager.

What a centre this is, football pitches all over and I am sure that the local community benefit enormously from this facility, just a pity that there isn’t more like it across the country and in particular the region. The main pitch is fenced off  and is only accessible on two sides. The main side where the clubhouse and changing rooms are housed behind is open standing and also includes a nice patio area that I am sure the club use to great effect in sunnier times. Behind the goal to the right of the clubhouse is also available to watch the game from. In addition to the Colin Oakes Stand, a covered seated new structure and then the best is saved for last; there are two wonderfully crafted wooden covered standing areas. Superb folks, superb, love them.

As the sides came out a 135 game run came to an end. At last a female official. Only the 13th I have ever seen and a year, two months and eighteen days since the last one I had witnessed. As the game in this country makes this great public parade about being diverse I think that seeing 11 in 438 games in the four home countries is a pretty poor show, especially when 3 of those are repeat appearances by a previously seen official. For those who cannot be bothered with the maths, I have seen a different female official once every 55 games. Hardly something to brag about is it?

Back to the match and another official made this game. The referee. From the off the hosts were in charge and attacked more and with a little more purpose, but also pretty much from the off the man in charge allowed things to go. He several times signalled he was playing an advantage when there wasn’t an actual foul. That should not detract from a cracking game though.

Sandbach were wasting chances, Abbey were defending manically at times but it took the hosts until the half hour mark for them to take the lead, as Abbey had been attacking the goal came on the break, Jones finishing off a good move. As the half-time whistle came, both sides were starting to turn this derby into a feisty affair. The referee just waved play on.

Out for the second period and we continued as we left the first half, tackles flying in, challenges that make this game, proper football. Sandbach were missing chances, surely they wouldn’t rue them. Abbey got a little more of the ball and looked dangerous on the break, then a moment of pure inspiration. Williams who had been battling in midfield picked up the ball and from 25 yards out unleashed an unstoppable shot, 1-1. Abbey were level. Surely they couldn’t win it.

The equaliser changed the game, Abbey started to boss the game more, Sandbach players were getting riled. Whether it was Abbey’s game plan or not, they had brought Sandbach into a battle and they were winning it. Then with 5 minutes remaining the comeback was complete. Abbey were in the ascendancy and pushing at this point, when Wooliscroft saw his chance he curled it beyond Moss into the back of the net. Abbey’s players celebrated. Abbey’s bench celebrated. Abbey’s fan celebrated.

Sandbach tried to get back into it, but their threat had gone. Abbey Hulton claimed all three points.

ADDED ON

After a great experience earlier in the year at Parkhead, another visit was always on the cards (as will another be). Another road-trip with Mr Wilks. Ducks at Tebay Services are always worth a visit as you pass.

Then onto Glasgow and a chippy lunch. Already pre-selected, we passed close by Hampden Park as we made our way to ‘Hooked’. If you are ever in this area, you must give this chippy a go. Delicious.

The match itself was watched from the lung bursting upper tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand, Mr Wilksy hiding the fact that there is a lift as we walked up countless steps out into the ground and another 30 or so when we emerged into the open. Breathing back to normal the teams came out and we got underway. Until the opening goal in the 40th minute this was an even game, both sides having half chances and looking to create. Boyata lost the ball to Mackay-Steven who then dragged his shot just wide, At the other end, Sinclair shot straight at Lewis when clean through.

Celtic then got their stroke of luck, Lustig’s effort striking Ball on the back and looping into the opposite side of the goal, Lewis had no chance, 1-0 to the Hoops.

After the break it was pretty much Celtic’s, Dembele fired wide, headed over from a corner, fired over. The Dons went close at the other end, a McLean shot taking a deflection and creeping just wide, though that was a rare foray into the bhoys territory. With 20 minutes remaining it was 2-0, a Sinclair cross was headed away, hit Arnason and bounced into Hayes’ path for him to slot home, 2-0. Followed minutes later by the third, clearing a corner the task of playing the ball back to Lewis was McLean’s responsibility. He failed. Ntcham intervened, went round Lewis and scored. 3-0.

The only thing left to do was have a fog effected drive home. We’ll be back soon.

GAMES

Sat: Glasgow Celtic 3 Aberdeen 0

Mon: Sandbach United 1 Abbey Hulton United 2

FACTS

Games: 452

Goals:  1547

Grounds: 214

Games since a 0-0: 65

Milestones: Total attendances over 400k; Season attendances over 200k; 200th Clean Sheet; 200th goal of the season – Stephen Jones (Sandbach United)

Performance of the Week: Abbey Hulton United’s fans. Sang and cheered their team to victory and made a great atmosphere from their temporary home in the Colin Oakes Stand.

Chippy of the Week: Hooked, Glasgow

Random Fact: For the first time in 135 games, or 1 year 2 months and 17 days if you like, I saw a female official.

SOUNDTRACK

Murmur – REM

 

Integral Plot

Remember the cause
Don’t say because
I’ll fight to the end
Tell the truth
The energy’s gone

GAME OF THE WEEK

Ayr United 3 Albion Rovers 2

Ladbrokes League 1

Attendance: 1,426

Gate: £16

Programme: £2

For the second time this season I watched Albion Rovers.

For the second time this season The Wee Rovers provided top class entertainment.

One look at Rovers away record in the programme has your mouth watering. Prior to this their statistics on the road were P6 W4 D1 L1 F22 A12. Not many teams can match that record, especially when sitting 7th in a 10 team league.

Their opponents, The Honest Men, are in form. Sitting top of the pile they have won their last 6 games on the bounce and unbeaten since early September.

So the scene was set and the two sides did not disappoint.

As the two sides looked to find an opening there was little difference between them until the quarter of an hour when United took the lead, a flick over the top from Shankland played in Moffat who selflessly played in Moore, he was left with the easy chance of tucking the ball home, 1-0.

Rovers came back at their hosts, and 10 minutes later it was all level, a long ball down the left wing by McLaughlin should have been dealt with by Ayr’s Higgins as keeper Hart came out to assist, unfortunately for Ayr he just did nothing, the loose ball was presented to Rovers’ Higgins, who pirouetted and curled the ball over Hart from 25 yards out and near the wing. Absolute class strike. 1-1.

United looked to get control back, but 5 minutes later Rovers should have been ahead and Higgins’, the Ayr variety,  nightmare continued, he slipped 25 yards from goal, Trouten was in on goal, surely, no! he blazed over with only Hart to beat, what a chance. Now it was Ayr’s turn to try and make the most of a defensive error as Marr got all tangled up, Moffat took the ball away from him and hit the post with his shot, Albion broke and after a flowing move Shields fired well over from a good position, what a 15 minutes this had been.

As the clock ticked towards half-time United hit the post again, Ross’ header bouncing back out of the upright with Potts beaten, and right on the whistle Hart had to get down to stop an effort from Davidson.

I was off for a pie and a hot drink.

We were just getting started.

A driving run from Fisher ensured Hart had to start the second half as he finished the first with a decent save low down. United’s substitute McGuffie went through and pulled his shot wide from a tight angle. Hart pulled off a fantastic block from a close ranger header by Marr, who injured himself in the process.

With just under 20 minutes to go we started one of the best 5 minutes of football I have ever seen. United’s Forrest was played in on goal in the left inside forward position, his effort on goal was parried by Potts and as the loose ball ran across the goal Shankland was going to tap in, United fans celebrated. Only somehow his effort was blocked on the line by McLaughlin, Rovers fans celebrated. less than a minute later a burst of pace down the right from McDaid gave him space and time to pick out a pass to Shankland who this time made sure the ball hit the back of the net, United fans celebrated. 2-1

We were going now.

A neat move down Rovers right two minutes later, Vitoria’s ball gave Shields space to pick out his pass across goal, Trouten unmarked tapped into the empty net. Rovers fans celebrated. 2-2

We were cooking with gas now.

Straight from the kick-off the hosts attacked and won a corner, taken quickly a ball was played into the box by Forrest and Higgins of the Ayr variety arrived, a flick of his head and United were back in front. They celebrated, their fans did. 3-2

And that was that folks. Absolutely brilliant.

United’s home, Somerset Park, is a gem to fans of the old grounds. Unfortunately, covered terracing behind the goal to the east is closed off, as is a fair portion of the open north terracing. This stand sweeps round to the west where it becomes covered. On the South Side is the Main Stand. What a treat this stand is, a warren underneath it, finding the toilet is a task in itself. As on Rovers fan who was trying to get from the seats to the small terracing below inquiring as to how, he received the instruction “Down the stairs”, brilliant reply, but not all that simple.

I know there has been talk over the years of United moving to a new home. Please folks, stay at Somerset Park.

I normally comment on my journey to and from the grounds. Their was an issue with overhead lines near Watford. What I don’t get, is why when they know, don’t they stop the trains at the last stations they can use and bus in-between? Then trains won’t get stuck. That’s all I am going to say as Ayr United and Albion Rovers deserve my words after a great match.

ADDED ON

Finally I made it to Stockport Town.

The mantle of the nearest ground I haven’t been to now passes to Buxton.

What a match to visit. Derby Day. The hosts took the lead in the opening five minutes as debutant Pickering somehow scrambled the ball over the line from a Dwyer cross. Both sides had a number of chances in the opening 45 minutes as myself and Mr Wilks were joined by the excellent company of Rob York and Mr i B Block. Thanks for the hospitality Rob.

In the second half everything changed on a refereeing decision. Cheadle’s Whyatt was put through on goal and he managed to toe poke the ball past Forth in the Lions goal and the pair collided. Penalty? Oh yes. Red card? Very very harsh. Looked to me like the keeper made a genuine attempt to play the ball and under the new ‘double jeopardy’ rules I am not sure a sending off was the right call. Shevington converted the spot kick.

Unfortunately, the match became a bit bad tempered from here on in, as the visitors looked to make the most of their one man advantage. Step up Dwyer. The best player on the park then scored a divine chip to give Stockport the lead with 15 minutes remaining, the winger was a constant threat to the visitors all night. With 2 minutes remaining the hosts were pegged back again as Gardiner levelled the scores. 2-2. A decent game.

After scratching the nearest ground off my list, on Wednesday, the sixth nearest went as myself and Mr Wilks headed over to Eccleshill United. After a visit to the excellent Bolton Junction Traditional chippy we made our way over to the Mitton Group Stadium. United are on form, 9 games on the bounce have been won and tonight it was Ollerton Town’s task to put a stop to it. On a freezing night they gave it their best shot and for 50 minutes were very much in the game. An opener midway through the first half when Irving somehow beat Town’s keeper Brooks to a through ball, took it round him and tapped into the empty goal.

In the 50th minute it was if Harrop had seen enough, he just took the game by the scruff of its neck, claimed it, owned it, stamped all over it and then strutted off. His first was an easy finish after a through ball. Fifteen minutes later a through ball was taken round Brooks with apparent ease and finished off. He saved his best for last though, running through the midfield with the ball like he owned them both he slammed an effort into the top corner from 25 yards. 4-0 and welcome to the Luke Harrop Show! United’s run was extended to 10 as they went to the top of the table.

I started my weekend in Wales. At Prestatyn Town. Though i am not sure if I will be welcome for much longer. This was my third visit. This was their third defeat in these games. Though things are improving slightly, at least they finished the game with 11 men this time.

Llandudno were on top early on and deservedly took the lead, but this was the cue for Town to come back into the ‘Seasiders Derby’. Chances were being created but going begging until early in the second half when the visitors extended their lead twice in the awful weather. Town got a late consolation which was the least they deserved, personally 3-1 was a very harsh scoreline, and they had a claim for a draw.

The day after the Lancaster City match as we wandered through the City Centre, we were treated to Scouting for Girls doing a small set as the city lights were turned on. All glamour here you know!

GAMES

Mon: Stockport Town 2 Cheadle Town 2

Wed: Eccleshill United 4 Ollerton Town 0

Sat: Ayr United 3 Albion Rovers 2

FACTS

Games: 447

Goals:  1520

Grounds: 212

Games since a 0-0: 60

Milestone: 60 games since my last 0-0 draw.

Performance of the Week: Albion Rovers. I had intended this to be for an individual, but when you are 7th in the league and you go to top of the table, a team who are winning every game they play and you have a damn good go at them, then you win.

Chippy of the Week: Bolton Junction Traditional Fish & Chips, Bradford.

Random Fact: I have seen 199 Clean Sheets in total, who will keep #200?

SOUNDTRACK

Scared to Dance – Skids

I Wish I Was James Bond

Don’t take this the wrong way, I know it might sound odd
I’m the next double-0, I’m the right man for the job

GAME OF THE WEEK

Lancaster City 1 Mildenhall Town 0

The Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round Qualifying

Attendance: 242

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

Sometimes you just end up at a game that you had no intention of attending. This FA Trophy cup-tie is a prime example of that.

Originally I had booked tickets for a Virgin Trains first class service to London during one of their sales. Then my much better half said we were going to go away for a cheap weekend somewhere. So for less than £100 we had return train tickets to Lancashire’s County City from Manchester and 2 nights in the local Travelodge. A quick check of fixtures and City were away. So a Saturday off.

George Cheetham made use of the London tickets, though he ended up picking a 0-0er, and I was ready for my break. The weekend before I noticed that the Dolly Blues were actually at home in the Trophy to Mildenhall Town. No, I am not going to go, a weekend off. As we pulled in to Lancaster Station, I was asked as to if there was a local match on so that some peace and an afternoon kip could be had, so I had to tell the truth didn’t I? A little before 2:30pm I set off for the Giant Axe.

It was January 2015 the last time I visited Lancaster’s home and in the nigh on three years the admission price has not gone up, good on you folks. Another memory from that visit was the delicious food served up by Dolly’s Diner. Here was something else that hadn’t changed.

City’s home can be seen from from the northern end of Lancaster Station, and anyone heading to the North of England or Scotland on the West Coast line would have to have their head buried in reading material not to notice the blues home.

Entering behind the goal to the south, this is a gem of a ground. There is open terracing at the South End, opposite is the covered Neil Marshall Legend Stand, a standing terrace named in honour of the club’s ex-skipper who passed away just over a year ago at the age of 31. To the west is the Main Stand, a covered seating area which has the clubhouse attached. Opposite this is the Railway Side with it’s brilliantly weird structure that is made up of the fans bar and sponsors lounge.

As the match started it was soon apparent that a fair few fans had made the 240 mile trip from Suffolk to support their team, and their team did them proud. An even contest that could have gone either way.

In the opening 45 minutes, in which clear cut chances were at a premium, two incidents stood out, one to each side. City had a header by defender Williams from a corner that smashed against the bar with Town’s keeper Roach rooted to the ground. At the opposite end a scuffed clearance by City’s stopper Powell looped straight up into the air and Hall’s Brown was presented with a half chance, surely he would have a go and hook the ball over his head towards the totally unguarded goal? No. The chance went and we finished the half 0-0.

Hot drink bought to keep the cold off the teams were soon back out and we got underway again.

In conditions not helping either keeper, both used a number of lives  and got away without being at fault for a goal, though quite how they managed it for 90 minutes was some feat. As the tie wore on both teams huffed and puffed as the weather played a massive part.

A sublime ball by the Dolly Blues’ Wills playing in Carney was wasted. A hooked effort by the hosts bounced to safety off the top of the bar. Then Town had their big chance, Brown in one on one with Powell and he put it wide. As I, and a number of other fans headed towards the exit we got the winner. As a long ball and flick on saw the ball in the danger area, the last bit of play to put Kilifin in the clear appeared from my angle to be played by a City arm, this didn’t put the substitute off and he finished brilliantly to start the celebrations. Town were not happy. But the goal stood. 1-0.

A few minutes later the final whistle went. I headed back off to my hotel. For the second Saturday on the trot a very late goal had kept my run of games since my last 0-0 going and I was back in the warmth before 17:30. Bonus.

ADDED ON

A late change of plan on Monday due to a postponement. Awful weather actually meant I arrived at Widnes FC before Carlisle City did, but we still started pretty much on time. The travelling nightmare certainly did not seem to do City any harm in the opening 45 minutes as they battered their hosts, went in for the break 1-0 up, but it could easily have been 5 or 6.

After the break it was the hosts that ran the game, though City hung on and on. That was until the 90th minute when Smart equalised. Heartbreak for Carlisle? it was only going to get worse as they then lost 3-1 on penalties. Harsh. Very harsh.

Wednesday, another game and more awful conditions. Though I am not sure which was worse, the weather or the temper of the game. Both were pretty foul. Cheadle Town beating Alsager Town 2-1. Both teams having a player shown red, Alsager’s walking off ever so calmly before slamming things around the changing room, much to the amusement of those of us in the main stand. Good to see iBreezeblock for the first time in a few weeks and a huge nod towards Mr Wilks for the lift and company.

I started my weekend in Wales. At Prestatyn Town. Though i am not sure if I will be welcome for much longer. This was my third visit. This was their third defeat in these games. Though things are improving slightly, at least they finished the game with 11 men this time.

Llandudno were on top early on and deservedly took the lead, but this was the cue for Town to come back into the ‘Seasiders Derby’. Chances were being created but going begging until early in the second half when the visitors extended their lead twice in the awful weather. Town got a late consolation which was the least they deserved, personally 3-1 was a very harsh scoreline, and they had a claim for a draw.

The day after the Lancaster City match as we wandered through the City Centre, we were treated to Scouting for Girls doing a small set as the city lights were turned on. All glamour here you know!

GAMES

Mon: Widnes 1 Carlisle City 1 (3-1 pens)

Wed: Cheadle Town 2 Alsager Town 1

Fri: Prestatyn Town 1 Llandudno 3

Sat: Lancaster City 1 Mildenhall Town 0

FACTS

Games: 444

Goals:  1507

Grounds: 209

Games since a 0-0: 57

Milestone: Cheadle Town’s opener, scored by Richard Wyatt, was my 1500th goal.

Random Fact: Monday’s penalty shoot-out was my 5th in 441 games. I can expect my next one in another 88 games or so.

SOUNDTRACK

Scouting for Girls – Scouting for Girls

Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Ooh, baby, I like it raw
Yeah baby, I like it raw

GAME OF THE WEEK

Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2

The Evo-Stik South

Attendance: 291

Gate: £8

Programme: £1.50

Sometimes, just sometimes, things work out for the best.

I had planned to go to Pontefract Collieries. Then they won in the FA Vase. Whoever made the draw picked them out of the bag for an away draw. My buddy Mr Wilks let it be known he was up for a trip. A look at the fixtures, and there was one place that I kept coming back to. Gresley.

So on an overcast Manchester Saturday lunchtime we set off for the East Midlands. Down the M6, off at Junction 16, past Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the Potteries and on to Uttoxeter. A planned stop for lunch. Cods Corner chippy. If you are ever in the area give it a go, delicious. Food eaten. On to Church Gresley and Moat Ground the home of Gresley FC.

What a place Moat Ground is. I love it. Gresley have been here for 111 years, a couple of the areas look as though they are still original parts, but what character. If you have never been here it is an absolute must. Entry is either on Moat Lane or Church Street, if you use the latter you will miss the pair of club guys selling programmes and golden goals, quite a duo.

The ‘top’ or Oxford Street end is inaccessible for supporters, though you can regularly see a ballboy shimmying precariously along the top of the wall behind the goal. Moving anti-clockwise is the Queen Street Side. The area is quite narrow, but still has room for a  covered seated area and a couple of covered standing areas. Carrying on round, behind the goal at the Church Street end is both open and covered standing in, again, a quite narrow area. Finally, on to the gem that is the Moat Lane/Main Stand side. A raised supporters clubhouse, mini terrace areas either side of the Main Stand, which in itself is a deep and quirky structure. Includes the changing rooms, press box, food hut. All finished off with a covered standing area at the top near the Oxford Street end.

Prior to the match getting underway there was a presentation to home captain Barrett for a club record number of appearances (over 600), followed by a mark of respect silence on Remembrance Day, observed by all apart from those coming out of the supporters clubhouse. Once the match kicked off the hosts looked to push forward on a very heavy pitch that looked to hamper the visitors who are used to their flat 3G pitch. Chances were at a premium early on, but slowly the game started to open up.

The hosts had a couple of half chances before the visitors very nearly took the lead in the 28th minute, noted because it was Mr Wilks’ golden goal time. A cross from the left was turned goalbound by home defender Eggington, who must have been relieved to see Hawkins change direction and pull off a very good stop. Back came Gresley, but they just didn’t appear to have that cutting edge up front. At the opposite end, Christie and Keen weren’t getting the service, until the 37th minute, Christie slicing an effort in the air, he picked up the loose ball and after tantalising the home defence, he found Keen in space who gave United the lead, 1-0.

After the break, we continued in the same vein, nice build up play from Gresley, but without a decent final ball, Bedworth looking dangerous up top, but all too often the pass up to their forwards was wayward. On the hour it was 2-0. A ball in from the right somehow found its way to Keen at the far post and he finished easily, the Greenbacks lead had been doubled.

Ten minutes later it should have been 3-0, last weeks star Bailey-Nicholls had come on as a substitute had a glorious chance at the far post and somehow put the chance wide. With a dozen minutes left the hosts got back into the match, as United cleared a home attack the ball ricocheted into the path of the hard working Melbourne and he remained composed to finish past Crane, 2-1.

A couple of minutes later, encouraged by the home fans, Gresley poured forward, a defleced effort looped onto the bar, the rebound gave Manship a glorious chance. He missed. He ballooned it.

A free-kick from 25 yards out for United was hit well by Rowe forcing Hawkins into a brilliant save. Before we moved into added on time, 5 minutes, as a loose ball was cleared by a United defender into a neighbouring garden, we found out that Gresley had run out of balls. Finding a replacement took up the majority of the time they had.

That was that. Bedworth United left with 3 points. Two weeks running I have seen them win 2-1. I had better stay away from The Oval next week or Lincoln United might get upset!

As Mr Wilks drove us back to Manchester as we planned next week and marvelled at Gresley’s home. It really is a gem.

ADDED ON

Derby week.

After being moved from the Friday to the Wednesday it was off to the Cross Border Derby, Chester v Wrexham. Bit of a weird one this as most of Chester’s ground is actually in Wales, including where I was sat with Mr Wilks for the evening.

A delayed kick-off, minutes silence, the worst playing of ‘The Last Post’ I have ever heard later and we finally got underway. Chester were let down by a lack of composure in the frantic opening 45 minutes, having the better chances, but it was the visitors who went into the break in the lead, Pearson nodding in from a free-kick swung into the box.

For the half hour after the break, until the blues took Akintunde off, they were the better side, the tricky midfielder ran at the Wrexham defence and caused problems, he clipped the top of the bar, after Dawson had smashed an effort against the post. Chester couldn’t find a way through. Once the substitution had been made, Chester really lost all their threat and the reds were comfortable towards the end, 1-0 to the team from Wales.

Friday and another derby.

This was not just another derby. What a cracker. Fourteen months ago West won 6-0 at Irlam on a Friday night. This could easily have seen a similar difference for the away team. In fact West were lucky it wasn’t double figures. They just could not cope with the pace and directness of the Irlam attack.

Goals came in flurries in the 1st half. 17,20,22 minutes saw Irlam go 1 then 2 up and West pull one back. Just before half-time in the 41st minute it was all level, by the time the teams had gone in Irlam had restored their 2 goal lead. What a first half, 4-2 to Irlam.

Straight after the break came the goal of the night, Tinkerfor West letting leash from distance after a long run, on the hour the 2 goal lead was reestablished in style by Boland. Irlam continued to have chance after chance, West the occasional one.

What a match. And on a night when England ‘held their own’ in a 0-0 friendly draw against Germany. Hmm, I know where I would rather be.

GAMES

Wed: Chester 0 Wrexham 1

Fri: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3 Irlam 5

Sat: Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2

FACTS

Games: 438

Goals:  1493

Grounds: 209

Games since a 0-0: 51

Milestone: 50 games since my last 0-0.

Random Fact: 1st time since May I have seen 3 away wins on the bounce.

SOUNDTRACK

Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version – Ol’ Dirty Bastard