Sunday, January 28, 2007

Grantham Town 1 Ossett Town 3

A short trip down the A52 today to watch this Unibond Premier League meeting. The Gingerbreadmen play at the soulless South Kesteven Sports Centre, it all looks a bit East German to me.

An athletics track runs round the perimeter of the ground, there are no standing or seating areas behind the goals. One side has a two tier stand whilst the other has a terrace. You need a pair of binoculars to see the pitch.

The ground is on an industrial estate near a Gala Bingo Hall, but there is no chance of a full house, 300 turn up to answer the local paper's rallying call.

Grantham's most famous resident is of course The Iron Lady, we try not talk about her in the Nottinghamshire Coalfields, what's left of it. Martin O'Neil had a spell here once with his spongeman Robbo, wonder what happened to them?

There's a free promotion in the bar on Carling 2% lager I'm bullied into having one, a decision I regret almost immediately when I spot two real ales on show. Ossett Town from West Yorks are the visitors, Grantham are rock bottom, a cricket score is expected.

Garry Marrow, the Grantham Manager has done more wheeler-dealing than Frank Butcher's car lot in recent weeks, most have arrived from his previous club Frickley Athletic.

Grantham surprise me, they keep possession well and get it wide, Mark Ward their forward has great feet, but they lack penetration and pace. They have used over 40 players this season, 17 have since departed.

Ossett are second from bottom in the fair play league, and No.8 Marchant would appear to top the disciplinary points chart, some of his tackling is x-rated and he doesn't endear himself to the home faithful.

Out of the blue and against the run of play Ossett take the lead through Carl Fothergill, a better goal I've yet to see this season, he spins his marker, leaves two defenders for dead, and hits a delicious curler into the right hand corner.

have their tails up, Fothergill causes chaos down the right hand side, fellow striker Walshaw (once on trial at the mighty imps) converts with ease. 2-0.

Grantham are shell shocked, they deserve better. Their No.5 Brett Lovell, a makeshift defender is losing the battle with Walshaw.

At half time I meet Grantham's Ian Robinson's dad in the bar. Both his sons have been professional footballers, his youngest, Steve, played for Birmingham and Swindon. He, like me, has coached junior sides in Notts. He got 6 pros from his team Pheasant Colts, I remember one,Matt Carbon from his time at Lincoln.

Ossett pile on the pressure, the crosses from their left are relentless, goalkeeper Ingham is rooted to his line.

Walshaw and McManus twice fail to wrap the game up, the latter does eventually after Ingham had pushed a header onto the bar.

Mark Ward deservedly scores a consolation goal, he has worked his socks off with no support.

win the midfield battle,Luke Pugh, their No.4 is a class act, always in space, finding a blue shirt with every pass. Grantham create very little and lack pace although debutant sub Tom Byrne impresses out on the left.

Grantham Town 1 Ward Ossett Town 3 Fothergill, Walshaw and McManus.

Man of the Match Luke Pugh, Ossett Town

Crowd 312

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quorn FC 2 Stratford Town 1

FA Vase 4th round, both these teams play in the Midland Alliance, but it's Quorn who rip up the form book. True to form we get lost in the village, my fault again, and end up on millionaires row. Neecey immediately weighs up a painting and decorating contract. It's a beautiful village. We finally reach the ground at 2.30pm and they have already sold out of programmes. By 3.30pm much to Neecey's digust they are also out of pies and gravy. I think the Quorn committee have overlooked the postponement of Leicester City's game which has now put a few on the gate. The clubhouse is modern, I came here some years ago when Frank Clark sent a young Nottingham Forest side. The beer once again is disappointing no real ale or strong lager, "Guinness please Neecey"

Quorn was Prince Charles favourite hunt, another well known fact is that Luke Varney once played for Quorn FC, that shrewd judge Dario Gradi paid £50,000 for his services, but Quorn cleverly put a 20% sell-on clause in the contract and if the rumours are to be believed they should expect a bumper payout soon!

The Quorn keeper is under pressure from the start, and looks nervous, luckily for him ex Coventry City youth player Vijay Sidhu breaks the deadlock on 2 minutes with a deft lob over the Stratford keeper, while his defence fail miserably with the offside trap.

The linesman pulls a hamstring trying to keep up with Sidhu, who is replaced by the 4th official who turns out to be none other than Ian Richardson, the Notts County legend.

Stratford Town are truely woeful in the opening half and fall further behind with a 25 yard wonder strike from young Irishman Gavin O'Toole who also hails from the Coventry City youth ranks.

Shortly before half-time, Stratford's best player, forward Tony Robinson, reduces arrears after tiptoeing through the Quorn defence. 2-1. Quorn are strong, led by Robert Betts another ex Sky Blue, the right back is also impressive. Robinson has the miss of the season, this is reminiscent of Ronnie Rosenthal's howler for Liverpool at Villa Park some years ago. He leaves the defence for dead, rounds the keeper, but somehow contrives to hit the underside of the crossbar from 4 yards. He is inconsolable.

The second half is a scrappy affair, Stratford fail to expose the Quorn keeper's shortcomings. Robinson is still haunted by that miss and is well shackled by the Quorn 5 jacket. They are narrow, a matter that is not addressed quickly enough, although the left back pushes on later in the game. They create very little. Their manager Dennis Mullholland should feel confident in winning gold for England in whinging and whining, the referee feels the wrath of his tongue, his swearing is tiresome. As a finally throw of the dice he puts on his assistant manager Ian Mitchell 39 years of age to chase the game, this man's best days have clearly not been in this century, bless him. Another sub is tossed into the fray, name of Leon. He doesn't belong in this company and the young Quorn sub left winger beats him for fun with his rare touches.

It is Quorn who deservedly reach the last 16 with Retford Town being the only other East Midlands representative.

Quorn 2 Sidhu and O'Toole Stratford Town 1 Robinson

Man of the Match Vijay Sidhu, Quorn FC

Monday, January 15, 2007

Gresley Rovers 1 Bamber Bridge 2

A 29 mile trip today to Church Gresley, South Derbyshire, population 5000. Its a proper ground, in the heart of the town, surrounded by terraced houses.

The pitch looks to be on a slope, Gresley have wind advantage first half. They have just sold leading scorer Aaron O'Connor to Conference side Grays and have yet to sign a replacement.

Bamber Bridge, from Preston, are a young side, and one or two of their boys look like they have been on Max and Paddy's sunbed at the The Phoenix Club. We stand behind the dugout, Bamber's manager, Phil Entwhistle is of razor sharp wit. He spends most of the first half exchanging banter with Rovers coach Tony Hemmings.

The first half is a lacklustre affair, both teams keep it on the deck, but there is no cutting edge. We are amused by Gresley forward Liam Hebberd, son of Trevor, the Derby and Southampton midfielder. He only seems to come alive with the ball at his feet. I've seen more movement from Nelson's Column! He is complaining of back pains, and resembles something of a Sunday morning pub player, shirt out his shorts and socks rolled down the obligatory blond bleached hair. Poser I think they call it.

0-0 at the break. Gresley are proud of their history, they played at Wembley back in 1991 drawing 4-4 with Guiseley, only to lose the replay. It's because I'm reading all this that I miss the game's opening goal scored 15 seconds from the restart by Gresley forward Edwards.

The game comes to life, Bamber are hanging on and survive a few scares. Gradually they inch there way back into the game, they are stronger, Mahoney is bossing the midfield and never wastes a ball. A quick exchange of passes leaves Bridge striker Salmon in the clear, his drive is beaten away by Rovers keeper Whittle only for the sun tanned winger Porter to slam in the rebound. 1-1.

Ryan Salmon, the Bamber forward, oozes class and it is he who heads home the winner following terrific skill by Porter on the wing.

A comedy moment to end, when Gresley's Woolley is sent off following a swallow dive in the Bamber box. Gresley can consider themselves unlucky, but Bamber finish the stronger..

Gresley Rovers 1 Edwards Bamber Bridge 2 Porter and Salmon.
Man of the Match Daniel Mahoney, Bamber Bridge No.8

Monday, January 8, 2007

Shepshed Dynamo 3 Warrington Town 2

It's 20 years since I visited The Dovecote, when I watched the mighty Lincoln City in a pre season friendly, not surprisingly we got lost on this visit and had to ask two kids where Butt Hole Lane was, very embarrassing!! Shepshed are now called Dynamo, in my day they were Charterhouse. The ground looks pretty much the same, tree-lined with a nice setting.

The game is on despite relentless rain, they have had their last few home games postponed, the pitch is heavy but playable. Warrington Town are the visitors, I saw them a few months ago in the 1st round of The FA Cup at Long Eaton and they looked more than useful, so I'm surprised to see they are as low as 19th whilst glancing at the league table.

Shepshed win a corner in the 1st min from which midfielder John Lambert powers home a header to put the home side in front. Ten mins later and Shepshed are two to the good after Nick Hawkins drills one home following good work by forward Daryl Thomas (ex Dunkirk FC)

Warrington are on the ropes, and missing leading scorer Phil Mitchell, their defence is struggling to cope with the pace of Thomas and his partner Richie Saunders. Right on half-time Shepshed keeper Noon makes a great save from Graeme Mitchell to preserve their two goal lead.

Warrington are straight out the blocks early in the second half and it was no surprise when Mitchell made amends for his earlier miss with a fine goal on 48 mins, following a mazy run, to reduce the deficit.

It's Shepshed who are now on the back foot, but totally against the run of play they increase their lead through Saunders, after Warrington keeper Mottram had saved bravely from winger Banks.

Dave Tickle, the Warrington right winger, gave his side hope in the 64th min, with a smart finish from the right hand side of the 18 yard area. Despite a frantic last 10 minutes Town couldn't convert the numerous chances they created and paid the price for a poor first half showing.

Shepshed were impressive on the attack and have in centre midfielder Jordan Lambert and right winger Robbie Banks, two fine young players. We retire to the bar to watch the final scores and were disappointed to find that only Carling and Worthington's are on tap.

Shepshed Dynamo 3 Lambert, Hawkins Saunders Warrington Town 2 Mitchell G, Tickle.

Man of the Match Warrington No.6 Matthew Farrell could surely play at a higher level.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Hucknall Town 0 Alfreton Town 2

New Years Day, but not feeling too bad, I was a little too Captain Sensible last night. I was looking forward to this one, there is no love lost between these two Nationwide North local rivals. Met Neecey in the pleasant Byron Suite, where he'd already lined the drinks up, our 4 young sons have travelled today.

We opted to stand in the covered terrace behind the goal which Alfreton attacked first half. Their fans were mainly of good humour, bar the moron next to me, who managed to berate, moan, contest and swear at every decision the referee made. He also found it amusing to racially abuse goalkeeper Beattie and defender Legge. Shame on you!!

Alfreton were much improved from my last viewing, when they were extremely fortunate to grab a point versus Kettering a few months ago. Tiday was unsettling the home defence, and went close early on. Burbeary forced Hucknall defender Tom Cowan to clear from under his bar as Alfreton took advantage of the windy conditions. It was 0-0 at the break and Hucknall offered little, with Alfreton's Winder and Hannigan marshalling the Hucknall forward line.

The second half began under atrocious weather conditions, but Alfreton continued their confident start, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 56th minute through Nathan Winder, following hesitation in the Hucknall defence.

Mark Rawle, the powerful ex Southend striker doubled their lead on 65 minutes, after once again Hucknall had failed to clear their lines. Only two great saves by Hucknall keeper Beattie kept the score to two. Late in the game substitute Akers squandered a good chance of a consolation goal.

On this showing expect Alfreton to climb the table, strong in defence, incisive in the middle with good movement in forward areas they played with balance and style. Hucknall on the other hand Ricketts apart, are not the biggest side, and look lightweight. Maybe they have a few injuries but they are narrow and lack pace.

Man of the Match: Alfreton 7 Danny Mayman