Integral Plot

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

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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

Can’t Stand Me Now

If you want to try
If you want to try
There’s no worse you could do

GAME OF THE WEEK

Bedworth United 2 Cleethorpes Town 1

The Evo-Stik South

Attendance: 193

Gate: £9

Programme: £2

Back to the home of football.

The wonder that is Google Images Search picked this one for me, as soon as I saw the Main Stand I couldn’t resist. So on a sunny autumnal morning I headed off on my adventure.

Two trains later I was at Manchester Piccadilly and then off to my next stop Stoke-on-Trent, another change and I was off to Nuneaton. A final change and I was finally at Bedworth. United’s ground is a short walk from the station, past the boarded up British Queen and Mayor’s Cafe, a left turn into the Miners Welfare Park and you are at the turnstile.

Money paid, I came to a gent selling 50/50 tickets. Now here is a new concept, buy 2 and get another free, he told me they sell quite a few more that way. Certainly worked on me. The Oval, home of Bedworth United awaits down the incline. The two ends are open standing, one backing onto what looks like the local leisure centre with a waterslide coming out of it. It is the two sides that are the gems. Where you come in is the clubhouse. This is where the food hut is. On top of the the clubhouse are what can only be described as lookout viewing areas. Give the clubhouse an added touch. Also there were some people watching the game from the roof. Different.

Opposite is the main stand. An absolute gem. Best leaving it to the pictures below to describe it. Love it.

Bedworth started the game on the front foot and an early header by McAteer from a corner was headed off the line as they threatened to swamp The Owls. But slowly but surely it was the visitors who took control of the game. Generally tight as the half wore on, Town were the ones looking dangerous. Crane in the home goal was the busier and had to pull off a couple of smart stops to keep the game 0-0 as we headed into half-time.

After the restart the match carried on the same, and then a moment of magic, Oglesby, Clee’s left winger turned on the skill and burners, left a couple of defenders for dead, pulled the ball back for Drury. He remained as calm as anything and his finish wrong-footed Crane, 1-0 to Town.

For a while Town looked in control, but again slowly, the balance of play seemed to switch, in no small part down to Bailey-Nicholls. His running was causing the defence problems all afternoon. His equaliser with 20 minutes to go was class. On the break he cut in from the left wing and gave Walton no chance. 1-1. Game on.

Williams came on for the Greenbacks and also started causing the defence problems. With five minutes to go we had a big turning point, Town’s number 8 Flett was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on his opposite number Blackmore. It was late and clumsy. Definitely. A straight red? Not sure about that. As we moved into the last couple of minutes a Williams cross was thumped against the post by Bailey-Nicholls, the ball was partially cleared, was worked back to Williams, his cross was this time put in by the number 2 wearing striker. United’s players went mad. They had won 2-1.

On the way home a different journey waited for me. To start I headed off to Coventry, then it was Wolverhampton and finally Manchester. A great day.

A nod this week to the musical enigma that is Pete Doherty who went to school in the town.

ADDED ON

Normally I would mention the 6 days prior to my Saturday match, however, the timing of my Polish trip stopped that. The Tuesday before that I went to AFC Emley v Eccleshill United in the NCEL League Cup 1st Round along with Jimbo Wilks.

If I carry on this kind of record at Emley I am going to find myself barred. Second visit, second defeat. After an early defeat on an Easter Groundhop weekend a couple of years ago, they lost by 2 goals again in this game. Again I saw 2 penalties, this time both scored (last time both were saved) as United ran out comfortable winners. Once again though, an enjoyable place to visit and a warm welcome.

GAMES

Tues (25/10): AFC Emley 0 Eccleshill United 2

Sat: Bedworth United 2 Cleethorpes Town 1

FACTS

Games: 435

Goals:  1481

Grounds: 208

Games since a 0-0: 48

Milestone: None

Random Fact: 93rd red card

SOUNDTRACK

The Libertines – The Libertines