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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

I Wish I Was James Bond

Don’t take this the wrong way, I know it might sound odd
I’m the next double-0, I’m the right man for the job

GAME OF THE WEEK

Lancaster City 1 Mildenhall Town 0

The Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round Qualifying

Attendance: 242

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

Sometimes you just end up at a game that you had no intention of attending. This FA Trophy cup-tie is a prime example of that.

Originally I had booked tickets for a Virgin Trains first class service to London during one of their sales. Then my much better half said we were going to go away for a cheap weekend somewhere. So for less than £100 we had return train tickets to Lancashire’s County City from Manchester and 2 nights in the local Travelodge. A quick check of fixtures and City were away. So a Saturday off.

George Cheetham made use of the London tickets, though he ended up picking a 0-0er, and I was ready for my break. The weekend before I noticed that the Dolly Blues were actually at home in the Trophy to Mildenhall Town. No, I am not going to go, a weekend off. As we pulled in to Lancaster Station, I was asked as to if there was a local match on so that some peace and an afternoon kip could be had, so I had to tell the truth didn’t I? A little before 2:30pm I set off for the Giant Axe.

It was January 2015 the last time I visited Lancaster’s home and in the nigh on three years the admission price has not gone up, good on you folks. Another memory from that visit was the delicious food served up by Dolly’s Diner. Here was something else that hadn’t changed.

City’s home can be seen from from the northern end of Lancaster Station, and anyone heading to the North of England or Scotland on the West Coast line would have to have their head buried in reading material not to notice the blues home.

Entering behind the goal to the south, this is a gem of a ground. There is open terracing at the South End, opposite is the covered Neil Marshall Legend Stand, a standing terrace named in honour of the club’s ex-skipper who passed away just over a year ago at the age of 31. To the west is the Main Stand, a covered seating area which has the clubhouse attached. Opposite this is the Railway Side with it’s brilliantly weird structure that is made up of the fans bar and sponsors lounge.

As the match started it was soon apparent that a fair few fans had made the 240 mile trip from Suffolk to support their team, and their team did them proud. An even contest that could have gone either way.

In the opening 45 minutes, in which clear cut chances were at a premium, two incidents stood out, one to each side. City had a header by defender Williams from a corner that smashed against the bar with Town’s keeper Roach rooted to the ground. At the opposite end a scuffed clearance by City’s stopper Powell looped straight up into the air and Hall’s Brown was presented with a half chance, surely he would have a go and hook the ball over his head towards the totally unguarded goal? No. The chance went and we finished the half 0-0.

Hot drink bought to keep the cold off the teams were soon back out and we got underway again.

In conditions not helping either keeper, both used a number of lives  and got away without being at fault for a goal, though quite how they managed it for 90 minutes was some feat. As the tie wore on both teams huffed and puffed as the weather played a massive part.

A sublime ball by the Dolly Blues’ Wills playing in Carney was wasted. A hooked effort by the hosts bounced to safety off the top of the bar. Then Town had their big chance, Brown in one on one with Powell and he put it wide. As I, and a number of other fans headed towards the exit we got the winner. As a long ball and flick on saw the ball in the danger area, the last bit of play to put Kilifin in the clear appeared from my angle to be played by a City arm, this didn’t put the substitute off and he finished brilliantly to start the celebrations. Town were not happy. But the goal stood. 1-0.

A few minutes later the final whistle went. I headed back off to my hotel. For the second Saturday on the trot a very late goal had kept my run of games since my last 0-0 going and I was back in the warmth before 17:30. Bonus.

ADDED ON

A late change of plan on Monday due to a postponement. Awful weather actually meant I arrived at Widnes FC before Carlisle City did, but we still started pretty much on time. The travelling nightmare certainly did not seem to do City any harm in the opening 45 minutes as they battered their hosts, went in for the break 1-0 up, but it could easily have been 5 or 6.

After the break it was the hosts that ran the game, though City hung on and on. That was until the 90th minute when Smart equalised. Heartbreak for Carlisle? it was only going to get worse as they then lost 3-1 on penalties. Harsh. Very harsh.

Wednesday, another game and more awful conditions. Though I am not sure which was worse, the weather or the temper of the game. Both were pretty foul. Cheadle Town beating Alsager Town 2-1. Both teams having a player shown red, Alsager’s walking off ever so calmly before slamming things around the changing room, much to the amusement of those of us in the main stand. Good to see iBreezeblock for the first time in a few weeks and a huge nod towards Mr Wilks for the lift and company.

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: Widnes 1 Carlisle City 1 (3-1 pens)

Wed: Cheadle Town 2 Alsager Town 1

Fri: Prestatyn Town 1 Llandudno 3

Sat: Lancaster City 1 Mildenhall Town 0

FACTS

Games: 444

Goals:  1507

Grounds: 209

Games since a 0-0: 57

Milestone: Cheadle Town’s opener, scored by Richard Wyatt, was my 1500th goal.

Random Fact: Monday’s penalty shoot-out was my 5th in 441 games. I can expect my next one in another 88 games or so.

SOUNDTRACK

Scouting for Girls – Scouting for Girls

I Feel Alright

“Outta my mind on a Saturday night”

GAME OF THE WEEK

Glossop North End 2 Kendal Town 1

The Evo-Stik North

Attendance: 318

Gate: £8

Programme: £1.50

A first for me, a blog over a 2 week period. The reason? The dreaded Manflu. As I have miraculously pulled through in time for this weekend I decided to head out to Glossop, the home of the ‘Pie Fairies’.

Catching the train into town, across the city and then on to Glossop went swimmingly well and I was soon walking from the station to the ground. It has been a little while since I was last at Surrey Street and things have changed. A change of management team. Peter Hammond, the long time secretary has stepped down and they are building houses right behind the clubhouse end. There is a club shop. Change is definitely afoot. Just make sure you keep the Pie Fairies!

On my pre-match walk aound the ground I overheard a lady say that she was going to stay overnight the next time The Hillmen got to Wembley, Step 4 is probably the hardest level of football to do that from until you get to park level, so I must say I love your optimism or pessimism if you think your team are going down.

The teams came out and the size difference was very noticeable, the hosts resembled a rugby team compared to their opponents. The opening 45 minutes offered very little to be honest. Glossop were the better side, most of what they did came via the old route one method, which by and large Kendal coped with. Meppen-Walters took care of the throw-ins, Gaul caused the hosts a few moments to think about. One of the two Matthew Russell’s that the hosts have smashed an effort against the post.

Surrey Street has a gem of a stand, opposite the turnstile the covered seating structure is a true non-league stand and one of my favourites, close to the dugouts and around the corner from covered standing, this is certainly my favourite part of the ground, apart from the Pie Fairies home that is.

After the teams re-emerged the game kicked into life, mainly due to a fairly bizarre refereeing decision, but the match roused itself. A fairly innocuous through ball by Town was played back to his keeper by Jones, an age later, as he came to a stop on his sliding pass, a forward went over his outstretched leg. The referee gave a penalty. The ball had gone. I could be wrong but it looked a strange one to me. Either way, it was given and dispatched as below.

This stirred the hosts, a double substitution was made, a change of shape, followed a few minutes later by another penalty. No! The liner had flagged Jones’ header from a Chippendale free-kick had crossed the line, 1-1. Probably saved a huge row as to if the visiting defender was going to see red or not. It was a cracking header from Jones and worthy of a goal.

North End threatened to win the game, the visitors settled for a point and that was going to be that, apart from Mr Johnson had not read the script, skillfully controlling a long ball forward he fired past Kitchen from outside the area. With a little over 5 minutes to go the game had been snatched, and whilst Glossop deserved to win, a defeat did appear harsh on Kendal Town.

The journey home was peaceful and over before I knew it.

ADDED ON

Monday night in Widnes? Why the hell not, decent fayre served up to. Widnes taking the lead through the lively Lomax after 20 minutes, followed 5 minutes later by a cracker of an equaliser by Adegbenro. After the break we had handbags, a winner through Lomax and a saved penalty that would have got the hosts over the line more comfortably. Good way to start the week.

The night after, I witnessed Bamber Bridge and in particular Ali Waddecar rip Kendal Town apart. Headlines went to Brad Carsley for his hat-trick, though the second was an own goal if ever I have seen one, it was Brig’s number 7 who ran the show.

A class act, he made the first with a superb cross that Carsley couldn’t miss from, though he did, and then put the rebound away, just. Hit the post from a free-kick. Scored a cracker himself and generally caused Kendal’s left-back the kind of night that does not come along too often. Brig are easily the best Step 4 side I have seen so far this season.

Then the dreaded manflu. Which I thought I had shook off at the weekend, so I toddled off to Brantingham Road to watch a very good Pontefract Collieries team slay Maine Road in the FA Vase. Playing like this they have a chance in this competition, but boy can they moan. Several of their players and staff in the dugout did not stop from start to finish.

As a neutral, yes decisions went against you. They also went against the host. Get over it. The two biggest errors were not sending off your defender for a, quite frankly, horrific diving in tackle. If that had connected it would have broken a leg that might still be embedded in the pitch, Also a member of your bench should have gone too for his foul-mouthed, jumping up and down on the pitch episode. I thought I could moan and whinge, but compared to a handful of this lot, pure amateur.

Bloody good footballing side, awful manners and absolutely no respect for the officials.

GAMES

Mon 4th: Widnes 2 Congleton Town 1

Tues 5th: Bamber Bridge 4 Kendal Town 0

Sat 9th: Maine Road 1 Pontefract Collieries 5

Sat 16th: Glossop North End 2 Kendal Town 1

FACTS

Games: 415

Goals:  1411

Grounds: 198

Games since a 0-0: 28

Milestone: Goal 1400 scored (officially) by Brad Carsley of Bamber Bridge. Big nod goes to Will Kitchen in the Kendal Town goal for somehow making sure it went over the line.

SOUNDTRACK

Damned Damned Damned – The Damned