GAME OF THE WEEK
Atherton LR 0 FC Oswestry Town 1
The Hallmark Security League First Division
Forty days before this match I picked the same number of games that Mr Wilks and I could possibly attend. Day by day, one by one they were randomly whittled down until on Friday we had the games at Atherton LR and Parkgate remaining. The said Mr Wilks then picked the Rotherham based club to fall by way side.
So what could have been a day out was just a short trip around the M60 we arrived just as the teams were going back into the changing rooms after their warm up. Paying our money we entered Crilly Park. This was my fifth visit to a ground that I have a fondness for. A weird slope that looks as though it is kind of diagonal from the corner near where you enter the ground down to the opposite one.
Crilly Park itself is a bit weird, the top end is open standing as is the bottom end, though the latter has some kind of shed set back that looks like it was a stand (or part of) once upon a time. The Hag Fold side has a mixture of covered stands for standing along with space either side that is open standing. The Main Stand is a fairly big structure opposite that has the dugouts in front of it, you enter the ground north of this structure, to the south is the clubhouse, although this is accessed via the car park, the changing rooms are part of this building and tucked away in the corner is the snack bar, where a pretty damn decent meat & potato pie is served.
My last visit to Crilly Park was on 26 November last year for the same fixture, 51 weeks later, lightning surely could not strike again. Could it?
LR kicked up the slope in the first half. The floodlights came on midway through the half and LR’s keeper was the victim of a late challenge, to which he said afterwards “it’s a good job I’m fat”. That was really it for the opening 45 minutes. Both teams tried. The pitch was very heavy. Half-time came.
And the second half started in the same vein. A very tight affair, both defences catching the opposition offside a lot. Oh, I nearly forgot, FC Oswestry Town were now kicking up the hill.
Almost suddenly, with about 15 minutes to go, the game started to change. It started to stretch out, half chances were being created. Both sides sniffed the chance of victory and started to go for it. Mr Wilks had accepted a 0-0, I predicted a late winner. For once, my prediction powers were spot on as Town broke away after an LR attack, I announced that this was the winner. Oswestry won a corner, played in, the ball dropped for Morris, he slammed it home giving Hartley in goal no chance. 1-0.
LR poured forward, the game had really sprung into life. The hosts won a corner, Hartley was waved forward by his bench. He waved them off. Had a change of heart and set off. It was too late the corner was already on its way. he started to scamper back as Town cleared their lines, the forward was then tackled by Hartley some 35 yards from goal and looked to launch an attack. Now he was out of goal, he didn’t want to go back, another attack broke down, but then started again. A member of the visitors bench was shrieking at the referee to blow up. He did. Town, for the second year running, left with 3 points.
A different way home, via the M61, and I was home by 5:20. Bonus.
Thursday night in Bacup. Where else in the world would you rather be? Though it did feel at times as though it would never happen. West View or The Brian Boys Stadium as it is now called is not known for its ability to cope with rain, so in the morning when the heavens opened in the north-west the game had to be in doubt. St Helens Town were the back-up.
Then the news filtered through that we were on. Mr Wilks picked me up and we set off, only to spend the next 25 minutes slowly making our way round the M60. Would we make it in time? Just as we got to the M66 the traffic cleared and we gained speed. Parked up, in the ground, buying some of the excellent home made pie made by Debra Connor, the teams came out. If Borough were as good as the pie they would be much higher up the footballing pyramid, a lot higher.
Unfortunately they aren’t and it was AFC Blackpool that pretty much bossed things here at the start. An early error by Price in the home goal gave Duffield an easy chance which he converted in the 10th minute, followed around the half hour by an own goal, I think it was Bryan who gave Price no chance from a corner with a bullet header, 2-0.
Give credit where it is due, Bacup tried everything they could to get back into this. An almighty goalmouth scramble on the stroke of half-time where I think Borough had enough chances to win the game alone. With 10 minutes remaining Bacup got some reward for their efforts, Constantine scoring from outside the box, before all the good work was undone as Banda was sent off and the hosts were reduced to 10 men.
The journey home was an absolute nightmare thanks to the Highways Agency closing so many junctions in the Manchester area. Made it eventually though.
Thu: Bacup Borough 1 AFC Blackpool 2
Sat: Atherton LR 0 FC Oswestry Town 1
Games since a 0-0: 53
Milestone: AFC Blackpool’s 2nd goal was my 150th of the season. Officially given to Billy McKenna, it was an own goal.
Random Fact: FC Oswestry Town kept the 197th clean sheet I have seen
LP – Holy Fuck