nervous times

Moments make the difference, a couple in a 60 seconds period here could make a whole season.

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tigers tamed

Moments make the difference, a couple in a 60 seconds period here could make a whole season. As the promotion race gets turned up to red hot; Hyde United, Scarborough Athletic and South Shields are fighting for 2 automatic positions. The dreaded play-offs await for the unlucky team.

As it stands on Easter Sunday, it is disadvantage Hyde United. Take away those 60 seconds and it would have look a fair bit more favourable for the Tigers.

With the clock ticking past the 80th minute Trafford’s Neville burst into the box in a very tight match, the hosts themselves hoping for a play-off spot, Harrison stuck out a foot. Was there contact? From my viewpoint, no. The referee who was about 30 yards closer, yes. Trafford and their fans agreed. Hyde United and theirs didn’t.

Up stepped Frost, the striker had been largely quiet all match, he hit his effort hard and straight. It smashed against the underside of the bar. Down. Back up against the bar. Down again and into Crook’s arms. Frost attempted to get to the rebound (not sure why as he couldn’t put the ball in the net, no other player had touched it). The referee didn’t give anything. The assistant did, he signalled it was over the line. Trafford led.

Was it a penalty? Was it a goal?

At half-time, there was a race across the pitch for several men in costumes. Not sure if the players were looking forward to this or not, but before the event, neither side were at the races.

They must have enjoyed the entertainment because straight after the restart, the game picked up, Trafford’s Palma hit the post, United took control and started to lay siege at Trafford’s penalty box, but Mason et al were holding firm. The final ball was missing. Substitutions were made, final dice thrown. Then those two moments came along.

Advantage Scarborough Athletic. They have Trafford to thank and their fans for the half-time race for waking the players up even more.

little wembley

Monday night. Nelson. Where else? Daisy Hill were there too. Though I am sure if you asked him, their keeper and skipper Haynes will probably wish he hadn’t been. To be fair though the home winger Townsend will have felt the same way too.

A bottom of the table clash that was tight from the off, both sides nervy, giving away possession constantly, it was the hosts who looked to settle a little earlier. They went in at half-time 1-0 to the good, it should have been 3-0. Turner curled in an effort from 25 yards that Haynes should have easily collected, only he thought he could leave it. He couldn’t. 1-0 Nelson. Mr Townsend then did his best to make Mr Haynes feel better, firstly he had a simple nod in chance at the far post, he headed it clear, followed by a complete air kick minutes later with another golden chance.

After the break Nelson grew in confidence as Daisy Hill lost their heads, on the hour the game was pretty much over, Haynes electing to punch a cross, the ball ending up in the back of the net via the head of Wolfenden.

Nelson have now raised themselves above Daisy Hill and off the bottom. I am sure neither can wait for the season to finish and start afresh.

ducks cannot ground the robins

A new manager for Shaw Lane, he must have been fairly pleased at half-time. His side had come back into a game that Altrincham had threatened to dominate from the off, even more so when Peers gave them the lead on 10 minutes.

However, the Ducks slowly but surely got back into it, firstly stopping Altrincham and then getting on the front foot a bit more. When Harris equalised from the spot not long before the break it was more than deserved.

What happened after the restart must not have made pleasant viewing for Chris Willcock. Firstly 3 minutes in, Richmond ran straight through the midfield unchallenged and fired past Wright. Eight minutes left and a cross was flicked in by Hulme, 2 minutes later he had another as he slid in at the far post. The visitors were falling apart.

After a 15 minutes break Altrincham put another one in for good measure, Moult nodding home from all of 6 inches. The second half was all one way.

rot stopped at the grove

After 10 defeats on the bounce you do not really need a team chasing a play-off spot to visit. To be fair, after 10 losses there cannot be too many sides you would like to face full stop.

The Sheffield side turned up late due to an incident on the M6, though they only arrived around 19:20, we only got underway 8 minutes late.

Whilst Stocksbridge were the better side early on there wasn’t a lot to talk about, both sides look to have been affected by Steels late arrival. Finally being on top told for the visitors, the impressive Litchfield cut in from the wing and fired beyond Parton, 1-0 Stocksbridge.

In the second half the ride slowly started to turn, especially after Litchfield had a strike ruled out for offside. With 20 minutes to go Grove equalised, Graves fouled for a penalty and Diskin sent Greaves the wrong way 1-1 game on.

Forward came the hosts, Steels hit them on the break, it had really opened up, but neither side could find a winner. Then with 3 minutes to go the hosts won it, a corner was cleared to the edge of the box, Ashman struck the ball and it screamed into the back of the net. A valuable victory for Athletic.

this is football. apparently

An overdue visit to the refurbished Moor Lane has been on the cards all season, Good Friday was the day I finally managed it.

Anybody who puts money into football at grassroots level gets a thumbs up from me, though from my visit, City’s days as a non league club are over in all but name. I understand the ground had to be refurbished, but it is just too much for me. The soul has gone, yes you can still see some of the old fans and those that go now for the right reason, however, like my experience last week at the Etihad, too many people were at Moor Lane to take selfies. The lack of atmosphere with 1500 people in the ground was incredible. This feels like the future of football, as did last week. I’ll keep to my other much more beautiful game thanks.

The match was not the best, whether it was nerves or not I don’t know but City struggled to get going all afternoon. The first half was awful. City lacked composure, Nash looked happy with a point. Neither keeper had much to do, efforts on target were pretty much straight at them.

After half-time, Salford took the lead almost immediately, Dieseruvwe got to the byeline, pulled the ball back, it looked like too much, somehow Maynard hooked his foot around the ball and wrong-footed Mason, the ball bobbling over the line, 1-0 to City.

Until I left the game bang on 90 minutes as I had seen enough apart from Curzon controlling the game more and more the only other thing worth mentioning was Dieseruvwe’s miss, through on goal, Mason stayed on his line, at most 10 yards out, he cleared the stand, that pretty much summed up the match.

Both teams scored in added on. Salford march on. I hope it continues.

stats ‘N’ stuff

games: 5

goals: 15

total att: 2,874

milestones: Altrincham v Shaw Lane; 150th penalty.

totals – all-time

games: 490

goals: 1665

total att: 552,466

female officials: 14

red cards: 102

penalties: 152

0-0s: 13

highlight of the week: Kidsgrove Athletic’s late late winner. A potential relegation saver for the team. Take a bow Mr Ashman, a sweet sweet strike that screamed in from the edge of the box.

ol6 8dy

I have quite some history with this old club. Up to the age of 10 I lived about 500 yards from the ground, though I was still not born when my father made a handful of appearances for the club.

ASHTON UNITED

Hurst Cross, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 8DY

Main Stand: 

Outside the ground is the access to Ashton United’s Social Club, very much the hub of the Hurst Cross community as it has been for a number of years. Entry to the ground is gained by the turnstile(s) at the junction of Surrey Street and Rowley Street, where you will be greeted straight away by programmes and a club draw sellers.

Moving to your right and back along the stand there is the food bar (excellent pies) and club shop before you get to the actual stand. A covered seated area, I’d guess for around 200 people, under which are the changing rooms.

Beyond this is access to the clubhouse and sponsors/VIP suite. On both sides of the seated area there is terracing behind the 2 dugouts. Entry to the ground is currently set at £10 for the league, with no extra cost to sit.

East Stand: incl Roy Donnelly Stand

Behind the goal is an open terrace, with a covered structure at the back of it, named in honour of Roy Donnelly. There is open access all around the ground to freely move around.

North Stand: 

A long terrace, covered in the middle.

West Stand:

Like the East Stand with more room.

Public Transport:

Ashton-under-Lyne has both a Train Station and a Metrolink Stop, with about 200 metres separating the two. Now, it is only a mile or so from these to the ground, but it is pretty much all uphill. And in this part of the world that does not mean a gentle slope either. Get a bus or a taxi. Walking back is much easier.

If you are coming from Manchester, you can always jump on the 231, which drops you pretty much right outside the ground.

Me & Hurst Cross:

I have quite some history with this old club. Up to the age of 10 I lived about 500 yards from the ground, though I was still not born when my father made a handful of appearances for the club.

Aside from walking past the ground every day for years on my way to my junior school up the road, my main memory as a kid was Manchester City sending a ‘youth’ side to pay United as part of a deal when they signed Barney Daniels. This side had many kids who would go on and play for the first team and become Internationals, beating their hosts 8-1. The over-riding memory of the night though is of Joe Corrigan taking a penalty for City, hitting the bar and bouncing back out into open play as he tried to get himself back down the pitch.

Whilst I moved away from the area, I do still have family who live close by and I would bet that a number of old junior school friends are also still neighbours to this old club.

My Stats

My Ground #: 11

Visits: 6

Goals: 23

Female Officials: 0

Penalties: 2 – both scored

Red Cards: 1

Teams Seen: 

Ashton United (6); Altrincham, Colwyn Bay, Northwich Victoria, Ramsbottom United, Stocksbridge Park Steels & Trafford.

Games:

24/02/18 – Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

17/01/17 – Ashton United 1 Northwich Victoria 0

12/01/16 – Ashton United 6 Ramsbottom United 0

31/08/15 – Ashton United 1 Colwyn Bay 2

12/03/14 – Ashton United 3 Stocksbridge Park Steels 2

07/09/13 – Ashton United 2 Trafford 0

My Visits

24 February 2018

Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

The EVO-STIK Premier Division

Attendance: 546

Programme: £2

Just 18 days before this match, the two teams met on the other side of Manchester at Moss Lane, the home of Altrincham. The hosts that night deservedly won 3-2 in a game they pretty much dominated for 80 minutes. Credit had to go to United that night as they still had a go and did not give up, pulling one back from a penalty with just over 5 to go and another direct from a free-kick in added on time.

Less than 3 weeks later, the return game saw the league leaders Alty visit Hurst Cross, having only played 1 game in-between, Altrincham remain unbeaten since New Years Day. United are also in decent form, the loss at Moss Lane being their only league defeat since mid October and they sat, pre-match, in 5th position. The play-offs beckoning them again.

After a few days without rain, the pitch looked mostly in good condition as a bitter wind blew in from the moors. Altrincham brought a fair few with them for this local clash, swelling the attendance to over double any other at Hurst Cross this season, they were in fine voice too. Well, for most of the game.

It was Alty who started the brighter, right winger Johnston causing problems, something he was going to do all afternoon. He was also lucky to escape punishment for pushing Chalmers head first into the advertising wall. It was the start of a bad afternoon for the centre-half, he’d be stretchered off shortly before half-time, speedy recovery lad.

We had played 15 minutes before we came close to a goal, Harop seeing his effort saved by Carnell’s outstretched foot. Alty then started to turn up the heat even more, a goalmouth pinball session was followed by a Hulme backheel being saved, then just after the half hour mark the deadlock was broken. Poole was brought down in the box by Roberts. Johnston converted. Altrincham led. Their fans celebrated.

Those celebrations were short-lived, less than 60 seconds later the game was level, Pritchard picking up a through ball and showing composure in addition to finishing as he kept his cool to fire past Thompson. United were level. The match quietened a little following the equaliser, apart from the aforementioned injury, the game drifted to the break.

Half-Time: Ashton United 1 Altrincham 1

If the end of the first half seemed to drift away, the second 45 minutes did not disappoint. United started the brighter and were slowly creating opportunities, Granite heading wide from a free-kick, errors at the back for the visitors were presenting the hosts with corners and opportunities.

It was from one of these corners that Chadwick had a great chance, his shot though was straight at Thompson, Alty broke, Johnston was flying and after a couple of neat interchanges he finished with class into the top corner. Carnell did not stand a chance. 2-1.

Five minutes later, it was 3-1. A corner won by Johnston, was played in, Jones got a head to it and whilst he might try and claim the goal, it hit a United defender, without whose touch the ball would not have gone in. O G.

Surely game over. No. Another five minutes played and we had another goal. This one to Ashton. Not learning any lesson from the game earlier in the month, Alty gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box, ideal for Pritchard to curl one in. Just like the game at Alty he did that. Just like that night he made it 3-2. Unlike that night there was more than seconds left to play. There was 22 minutes.

United gave it everything, Altrincham weathered the early pressure after the goal, started to look dangerous on the break. Surely they has seen out this one? No. With a little over a minute to go United won a corner, over hit, Granite chased it down, muscled off an opponent and then for a second turned himself into a winger. He played in a great cross, Tomsett got up and flicked a header past Thompson, but it hit the bar, then there was Chadwick. All alone. He nodded into the empty net. 3-3. The noise was suddenly coming from the home fans.

What a game

Full-Time: Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

Post Match Stats:

1600th Goal – Johnston penalty (Altrincham)

25th Penalty of the Season

146th Penalty, 99th scored.

Team Records

Ashton United:

Home: P 6 / W 4 / D 1 / L 1 / F 16 / A 7

Overall: P 9 / W 6 / D 1 / L 2 / F 29 / A 11

Altrincham:

Overall: P 12 / W 3 / D 7 / L 2 / F 21 / A 17

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Pleasantly Disturbed

Think of a colour
Tell me what you see
That colour’s red
You can take it from me

GAME OF THE WEEK

Altrincham 3 Halesowen Town 0

The Evo-Stik Premier Division

Attendance: 808

Gate: £10

Programme: Unsure, forgot to get one

Due to an engagement in the evening, off to watch the excellent comedian Paul Chowdry, I had to stay local. A scan of all the nearby fixtures, I thought to myself that I hadn’t been to Moss Lane for a while, just shy of 8 months, and Alty were hitting a bit of form. No-brainer.

On a unseasonally warm afternoon the 245 carried me from Urmston to the centre of Altrincham and a 10 minutes stroll later I was at Moss Lane. I had been here 6 times before and quite incredibly for the run of form they have had in this period, I had yet to see them lose at home.

A ground for the those of us who love the older things in life. Well most of it is. The main side with it’s fairly brand new hall, less new main stand and family/sponsors stand looks fairly ok. Going in an anti-clockwise direction there is an open terrace, followed by my favourite part of the ground. The Popular Side Terrace is covered. A mixture of posts, scaffolding and anything else they could lay their hands on, it is a gem. Love it. The final end has covered standing and the home fans can make a fair noise when they get going from here.

So, on to the first half. Only there is not much to say at all. It was pretty shocking if I am honest. Best forgotten as quickly as is humanly possible.

Right, on to half-time, which although nothing happened was more bearable than the opening 45 minutes.

Whatever was said at half-time, in particular to the home team, worked. Straight from the off there was pace and purpose, this wasn’t the same team I had seen 15 minutes earlier. In less than a minute the Robins were 1-0 up. Neat play on the right, Hancock played in, finished low and hard into the far corner. That is why Alty are flying.

With that, the game sprang into life, the reds were bossing the game, Poole went close before a strange penalty decision. A Yeltz defender was caught ball watching in the area as a forward pinched the ball off his toes and was tripped by another defender, only the ball went out to the wing. The official signalled advantage. Yes, advantage. As the whole ground thought ‘What?’ He realised his error and correctly gave the spot-kick. Johnston tucked it away.

A pattern of play had been established now and continued until the final whistle, Alty controlling the game, creating chances whilst Town were left to breaking away, that said, if it wasn’t for two good stops by Thompson in the home goal they would have rather unfairly been back in the match.

Finally with just under 10 minutes remaining it was 3-0 as Poole finished with ease as Alty toyed with the Yeltz back line. What a difference half-time made.

ADDED ON

I took my pal James to Maine Road on Monday for his first ever visit. It was my 21st. After Road hit the post early on it was Padiham who then took control. Taking the lead just after the quarter of an hour to a goal officially scored by Boyle. Looked like an own goal by the keeper to me.

The teams swapped chances and went close a couple of times before the interval. In the second half the Storks took control, Craig missed a glorious chance with a header before he slotted his sides second. With the visitors in total control the hosts pulled one back with a dozen or so minutes left. A cross from the left was turned into his own goal by Holden,

Step up Hart, picking up a ball around the halfway line, he ran 20 or so yards before chipping the keeper to perfection. Absolute class. Take a bow son. 3-1 game over.

For the second Friday in a row I was starting the weekend the right way. Over to Prestwich with the father-in-law on a windy evening. Both teams went for this one and to be fair I cannot think of a time when I have seen either in anything less than an entertaining match. Chaddy smashed one against the bar early on with the keeper beaten all ends up, Heys were slightly the better side when they took the lead on the half hour through Bruce.

A second followed through White from the penalty spot, a fairly soft award from the officials handing the hosts a 2 goal advantage at the break. Chaddy did have the ball in the net at the end of the half but it was ruled out for offside, coming in a spell where the visitors were on top.

Following the break Heys continued to dominate, Baguley put them 3-0 up on the hour and then Chaddy sprang into life. Son of the England International Scholes thumped a header home 3 minutes later, Iloube added a second for the visitors 5 minutes after that, Chaddy were flying.

For the next 10 minutes it only looked like a matter of time before Chadderton equalised, chances were coming, one had to be taken, surely? No. Heys added a fourth and could breathe again, Bruce claiming his second.

Most of the second half was spent in the company of Alan and Mark Riding, father and son combo from 1874 Northwich, who tried (and failed) to find a successful manager who has played under Fergie. Don’t try, there isn’t one.

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 1 Padiham 3

Fri: Prestwich Heys 4 Chadderton 2

Sat: Altrincham 3 Halesowen Town 0

FACTS

Games: 427

Goals:  1459

Grounds: 202

Games since a 0-0: 40

Milestone: 750th Home goal – Bruce (Prestwich Heys)

SOUNDTRACK

Life in a Day – Simple Minds