Shimmy Shimmy Ya

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

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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

Still Feeling Blue

I hope you’re out and happy now
Doing up the town ’cause you know how

GAME OF THE WEEK

Irlam 2 Parkgate 1

The Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round

Attendance: 68

Gate: £5

Programme: £2

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.

ADDED ON

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.

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 2 Runcorn Town 5

Tues: Partick Thistle 1 Glasgow Rangers 3 aet

FACTS

Games: 418

Goals:  1425

Grounds: 199

Games since a 0-0: 31

Milestone: N/A

SOUNDTRACK

GP – Gram Parsons