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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

See It Through

“Its gettin’ better,
One day its gonna happen and we’ll see it through …”

GAME OF THE WEEK

Sheffield FC 0 Ossett Town 2

The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round

Attendance: 229

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

After visiting the oldest ground in the world in the oldest competition in the world, I decided to go for the oldest club in the next round, so on a quite autumnal afternoon in the middle of August I was in Dronfield, south of Sheffield.

I had a lift to this cup-tie, surprisingly a well known internet search engine’s map routing system took us along the A6 before pulling off to go through Stoney Middleton and close to the wonderfully named Unthank.

Paying the £1 car park fee, we parked, made our way to the entrance and entered ‘The Home of Football’ or the Coach & Horses Ground as it is otherwise known. Not much has changed since I last visited a couple of years ago. Two sides are open standing with a scoreboard in-between them, the East Side has a partial covered terrace along with the ‘Wall of Football’, where celebrities names appear, though, the one time top of the list, a certain Mr Sepp Blatter, is now covered with a sticker. Behind the goal to the south is where the club has their buildings, committee room, club shop, changing rooms etc alongside a covered seated area.

As the ever changing weather went about its business the sides came out and got the game underway. As the game was still settling down the hosts were forced into a change as Gascoigne limped off, both sides tried to take control but neither keeper was getting particularly tested. An evenly matched half was being played out and it looked like it would take something special to break the deadlock. Five minutes before half-time we got it.

Though different and special, spectacular it was not. Town won a corner on the right wing. Swung in by midfielder Gregory, Sheffield’s keeper came out to clear and punched the ball into his own net. Souter chased the referee claiming he had been impeded, the decision was not going to change (it never does), Town were 1-0 up.

Another enforced substitute for the home side before the break looked to confirm that this was not going to be their day.

Ossett Town took control after the break, looking the more dangerous and creating good chances, Hancock started to pull the reds defence more, Curtis threatened from deep and their passing became more crisp. Unfortunately for Town, target man and skipper Peterson was not having his best day. A clear chance at the far post was somehow skewed wide followed shortly after by finding himself totally unamrked on the edge of the box, his effort was straight at Souter.

With 15 minutes to go, Town finally found another way through and kill off this tie. Again the goal came from a corner, though this was more conventional, centre-half Snowden rising well above the rest and finding the back of the net.

Sheffield tried their best to get a foothold in the game and pressed forward, but all too often either failed to pull the trigger or deliver a decent final ball. Ossett Town deservedly find themselves in the draw tomorrow. On another day it might have been different.

ADDED ON

Monday evening I was at Maine Road, meeting up with fellow hopper George Cheetham. The hosts were entertaining Congleton Town in the NWCFL Premier Division. Three and a half years earlier I had seen these two play in the same fixture, Road winning 2-0.

For 65 minutes, this match was pretty awful. Some of the passing would have shamed pub sides, but all of a sudden it woke up in the 65th minute with a penalty for the Bears. Carey converting past Livesey, who can count himself very lucky to still be on the field after conceding the spot-kick with a foul.

Five minutes later and a huge game changer, the visitors were reduced to 10 when Mbowe was sent off for pulling back a Road striker who was through on goal. Once it was clear the assistant had seen it then there was only going to be one outcome. Doon after 2 goals in 2 minutes from Mason and Williams turned the match on its head.

Twenty Four hours late and I was at Stormy Corner to watch Skelmersdale United entertain Trafford. A game of two halves, the visitors on top in the opening 45, United the better team after the break.

Linwood opened the scoring for Trafford on the quarter hour mark, though Dean tried his best to claim it and looked to be offside, Owens left Mason for dead to fire the deserved equaliser shortly after the break. Fair result in the end.

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 2 Congleton Town 1

Tues: Skelmersdale United 1 Trafford 1

Sat: Sheffield FC 0 Ossett Town 2

FACTS

Games: 406

Goals:  1380

Grounds: 196

Games since a 0-0: 19

SOUNDTRACK

The Charlatans – The Charlatans