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.

The View from the Afternoon

And you can pour your heart out.
Around three o’ clock

GAME OF THE WEEK

Trafford 0 Prescot Cables 2

The Evo-Stik North

Attendance: 324

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

On a cold evening in February I saw these two teams play at Prescot. Cables ran out 2-0 winners, one of those goals being from the 12 yard spot. Who says lightning does not strike twice.

A short walk from where I live, Shawe View or the First Point Shawe View Stadium to give it its current moniker. On such a beautiful day, it felt like the opening day of the season in shirt sleeves, I was soon inside and making my way round to the far side near the railway.

A picturesque ground with greenery all around, Trafford’s home is always a pleasure to visit, something I have now done 18 times. To the east the end behind the goal has a small covered terrace, opposite is open with grass banking, that features as part of the main stand end too. It is at the main stand side that you find everything you need at the club. Bar, food hut, covered seating, changing rooms, open terracing, grass banking, dugouts, changing rooms, you get the picture, there is even a press box where the PA guy sits. Opposite this, is another covered seating area along with open standing.

Neither team has enjoyed the start to their season, the hosts have yet to win a game, though to be fair, before today the only side to beat them in the league were the high flying South Shields. Cables have had a slightly better time in the league, but had suffered the ignominy of conceding 8 in the cup against a team from a lower division.

I do not think I am being unkind to either side when I say the opening 45 minutes was not a classic. Trafford struggled to get any kind of game going, whilst Cables toiled too despite being slightly the better of the two sides. In fact, when I tell you the best bit was when Cables forwards Dean and Southworth had to swap shirts, I think you get the picture. Not sure why it was spotted after 10 minutes.

The second half was better, though not for the home fans. Prescot took the lead 5 minutes after the break, a delightful through ball by Faux found Southworth (I think!) who was through on goal and he finished with ease past Shenton in the home goal.

One criticism that cannot be levelled at Trafford is lack of commitment, the only problem though is lack of confidence to go with it. Whilst they huffed and puffed to try and get back in the game, the threat was always at the other end. That was until the 55th minute when the hosts won a penalty. For the second home game in a row they did not take the opportunity, up stepped Williams, his effort was brilliantly saved by Burgess.

Cables were in control the game was over, that was until they brought on Owolabi with less than 10 minutes to go. His running caused Trafford problems at the back and with 2 minutes remaining he won a penalty, though he clearly handled in the build-up. Wynne, who had been impressive all afternoon converted, 2-0 was not a scoreline that flattered.

I am not sure what the answer is, but Trafford need something to add that sparkle, at the moment the team seems flat. The players they have are better than this performance and their league position, I am sure they will soon be heading up the league.

ADDED ON

Unlike most people, Bank Holiday Monday was a write-off for me, work beckoned and unfortunately, I could not say no. Unimpressed.

Tuesday, there was only one game locally worthy of a visit, City of Liverpool FC v Charnock Richard, both scoring goals for fun, surely it had to be a feisty one. For an hour it was a cracker. The ‘Purps’ bossed it, led 2-0, missed a penalty as both teams were reduced to 10 men. A quick nod to Charnock’s Schofield who scored a thumping own goal, sorry lad but it was a belter.

The last 30 minutes just drifted away, the only real sour note though were the antics of CoL’s number 9, McDonald. His play acting bordered on farcical at times and was tiring. Daft thing is, he is a bloody good footballer when he isn’t rolling around.

The following night and it was Cheadle Town hosting Prestwich Heys, another feisty one, without all the histrionics of Mr McDonald, Heys deserved winners, leading 3-0 at half-time, they should have been out of sight. Town gave it a go in the second half but it was all a little too late, Heys running out 4-2 winners. A cracker none the less. Second half spent in part in the company of Ian Williams, always a pleasure sir. The final nod goes to the liner of the stand side, loved the first half chatter.

GAMES

Tue: City of Liverpool FC 2 Charnock Richard 0

Wed: Cheadle Town 2 Prestwich Heys 4

Sat: Trafford 0 Prescot Cables 2

FACTS

Games: 411

Goals:  1395

Grounds: 197

Games since a 0-0: 24

SOUNDTRACK

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys

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