Sunday, 14 January 2018

FRIAR LANE AND EPWORTH MISS OUT TO SILEBY

FRIAR LANE AND EPWORTH 1 SILEBY TOWN 3
LEICESTERSHIRE SENIOR LEAGUE PREMIER AT KNIGHTON LANE EAST
13 JANUARY 2018 --- 3PM
FRIAR LANE AND EPWORTH FC
After an early Lewis Sharp goal Friar Lane and Epworth found themselves on the back foot in what was generally a tight game although in the latter stages it was the visitors from north Leicester, Sileby Town who finished the match the strongest to secure the three points.
Friar Lane and Epworth had been on the radar for a while especially with the ground sitting adjacent to the mainline railway line, indeed for any regular travellers south of Leicester you will have probably wondered at the ground.  Today with the opportunity of a visit to a relative nearby there was a few options in play around Leicester and on the Friday night having seen a post from the club that barring rain the pitch would be heavy but playable something they further backed up with on Saturday morning.
FISH AND CHIP EMPORIUM
Down to Leicester then direct and as time moved on towards 2pm a back street dash around Knighton saw me arrive at the highly rated Grimsby Fisheries which worryingly has an Aquarium shop just over the side road not sure if there is any link there!  Todays whopper was struggled with over the main Welford Rd and down Knighton Lane East towards the railway viaduct the other side of which houses today's clubs home ground.  The fish and chips I hear you cry yes they were good and the whole set up also has a sit in restaurant if you fancy a relaxing meal but time was pressing for me and having arrived through the car park and towards the entrance which was nicely adorned with a chalk board advertising todays game and the cost.
MAIN ENTRANCE WITH CHALK BOARD INFO
After paying the £3 entrance fee, no programmes in the LSL, it was great to catch up with a fellow Leicester based ground hopper who I normal see towards the end of the season at a variety of finals. 
Circuit was needed before acquiring todays teams from the referee Aidan Murphy to the immediate right is a small club house area and snack refreshment hatch, the main clubhouse is on the corner of Knighton Lane East but I did not have time to visit.
GROUND SNACK BAR AND CLUBHOUSE
The whole ground has hard standing but in less populated areas is in need of a clean up, towards the main stand which houses a selection of coloured tip up seats and changing rooms behind is a semi caged approach for the players, just before is a newish brick building housing the officials and toilets as part of the building.  Moving past the stand is a 1/3rd pitch length covered terrace which is of the tin sheet and scaffold variety.
THE TWO STANDS SIDE BY SIDE
The far goal has behind it a large net area to save the ball flying over to the allotments and unkempt area, I believe the ground was historically also part of the allotments.  The far touchline is flush to the steep railway embankment with dug outs also housed in this area.  There is quite a lot of room around the other 3 parts of the ground for any future changes, if you like your grounds of 'character' then this is the one for you.  The floodlights appear to be on very low posts but when on in the second half I thought did a remarkably good job for what I expected.  Some of the previous upgrades probably done for the clubs dalliance with the heady heights of Midland Football Alliance something they graced for around 4 years in the early part of the 2000's.
EAST MIDLANDS TRAINS 125 DEPARTS TO THE SOUTH OF LEICESTER
A brief overview saw Friar Lane merge with Epworth in 2004 and two years later they had that gem of MFL football at Knighton Lane East.  Problems though arrived just before the start of the 2011 season with a loss of players and travel expenses in the league being a problem and the club resigned and in the end replaced their reserve side in Division 1 of the Leicestershire Senior League.
Todays murky weather would make pictures a challenge again indeed I did struggle with the obligatory match and train picture and I suppose I will have to undertake a visit again in the lighter parts of the season to enjoy this opportunity.
PLAYERS PREPARE TO EXIT THE CHANGING ROOMS
The club offered a warm greeting throughout their officials and Chairman sadly I had arrived a few minutes later than normal and it was time to take in some match action almost straight away.  Any late comers would have missed the first goal after just 5 minutes the visitors took the lead when Sharp swung in a midriff cross off the left and it flew through a group of players and in at the far post to the bemusement non more so the Sileby number 8. The half was a very even affair with both sides having brief spells of dominance but Friar Lane were perhaps a little lucky to have a full compliment of players on the pitch at the break as just before half time Aiden Kilby on the floor following a tackle was adjudged to have handled the ball with the attacker about to go clean through on goal, the saving grace here was he was 40 yards out and Mr Murphy produced yellow.
THE LANE IN CONTROL
The second period saw Sharp miss an open goal for what would have been his second but it wasn't long, 52 minutes, before Sileby did make it two thanks to Grant Ryder.  The home side deservedly pulled a goal back when substitute Allen got in on a through ball before the Sileby keeper to slot home after 77 minutes.  But moments later it was all over when Mike Noga fed Sileby captain Gus Gnetleman who at the second attempt fired home to make it 3-1.
THE BENCHES IN ACTION
The closing stages did see Allen go close with a fine back post header that was superbly saved by Adam Perry in the Sileby goal.
A frustrating day for the home side on a pitch described as heavy that had held up really well to todays proceedings but for Sileby as the game wore on they became the stronger side and in the final assessment probably warranted their 3 points.
SILEBY TOWN ON FIRE
A prompt departure to the Welford Rd saw arrival back at Leicester station just after 5.30 and after spending horrendous amounts of money on a chocolate bar and drink in that well known newsagents departure north was soon undertaking and an overall return at base station had been helped by obtaining a seat, yes a seat, on the return journey after an enjoyable debut in the Leicestershire Senior League.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

TOWN FALL TO HOLKERS DEFENSIVE RESOLUTION

STOCKPORT TOWN 1 HOLKER OLD BOYS 3
NWCFL 1 @ STOCKPORT SPORTS VILLAGE
6 JANUARY 2018 --- 3PM

STOCKPORT SPORTS VILLAGE
The writing appeared to be on the wall in the first minute when Danny Keenan put Holker Old Boys ahead and when John Paul Stanway made it 2-0 on the half hour mark Town were forever chasing this game.  With the home side having by far the majority of the possession it was frustration city that they couldn't convert this into goals of course this was due to the tremendous work rate of their Barrow based visitors.
Melting snow and then heavy rain had waterlogged many pitches mainly around home base in the East Midlands so most of the week had been taken up possibly planning any new 3g pitches to undertake but in the end the 3g at Stockport Sports Village a ground that had assisted me on quite a few occasions in poor weather was the order of the day.
THE LITTLE BEAUTY WOBBLES OUT OF BREDBURY STATION
Todays departure saw a change in Sheffield station for the all stopping Peak District service to Manchester the two carriage sprinter was filling up very nicely by my time of departure at Bredbury.  Having covered this area previously there were just some small changes waiting at the end of the 5 minute walk to the adjacent Woodley.  With the former snooker hall now demolished the shuttered suburbia shopping precinct in the 1970's style, its sounding like Antiques Roadshow, had now lost its Lloyds Bank much like many small towns no doubt the big wigs would have said falling number but most locals found more queues than ever.  The Post Office now had the shutters down and closed as the local newsagent had taken over its responsibilities, with hair and beauty prominent a bakery, fruit and veg shop, warehouse furniture, charity shop, two bookmakers, tattoo parlour, vape shop and hardware outlet you get the feel for how sadly English suburbia is being lost and the fabric of communities is being lost on the positive side Iceland remains.  The shining star is of course the much visited friend Taylors fish and chips shop with smart restaurant seating its always a pull to any game in Woodley or even Hyde a year ago.  The last few weeks have been taken up by yellow golden arches take-aways that it was good to get back to the research!
RESEARCH RE STARTS
Unbelievably it is just short of two years since I last saw Stockport Town and this was also surprisingly against Holker Old Boys and its not far off the same time since Taylors.  Since then the former, at time current, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron had called in at the shop and undertaken a photo opportunity with owner Ann and her husband.  Today Ann was briefly seen but there was not the chance to renew acquaintances only with her fish and chips which as ever were creditable and as I hope you can see were good enough to eat!
Early arrival at SSV found little changed with the Glossop v Stalybridge Under, I guess, 21 game just coming to an end, having completed a few circuits and obtained the teams, there was time to find a toilet block that did work with most seeming to be out of order luckily the main receptions were not.  With admission paid and programme purchased of which I have to say although £2 this was a really good smart and well produced effort, especially for a club who struggle for attendances today's declared total was 53 but I'm not sure how.
DANNY KEENAN DISAPPEARS UNDER THE CELEBRATIONS OF HIS FIRST MIUTE GOAL
With both clubs sat side by side in the league table it looked like a close game but after just a minute you wondered with Callum Livingstone set up Danny Keenan courtesy of a keeper error to fire Holker into the lead.  Town were having to fight hard to get back into the game with Ben Halfacre forcing Christopher Pearce into an excellent save.
STOCKPORT CAPTAIN BEN HALFACRE TAKES A MOMENT OUT
It was Stanway who added the sucker punch on the half hour mark when he broke away and slotted home to double the visitors advantage.  Again Halfacre was the man looking dangerous for Stockport his next effort flew across goal before on 43 minutes Conor Downes struck home a glorious 25 yard free kick to reduce the arrears and as the home side moved up a gear Aaron Dwyer saw his effort fly back of the base of the post.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
The opening stages of the second half proved a bit tetchy with a halfway push starting a melee before a disturbance that resulted in a four minute stoppage that resulted in the referee consulting both his linesman separately and then taking no action.  But Town player Tyler Devlin has become so upset by what had taken place that he was substituted before he may have got an unnecessary suspension.
HOLKER MANAGER GUY HEFFERNAN URGES HIS SIDE ON
The pressure was all from Stockport now but this Holker side were going to defend their advantage with gusto and so they did displaying a determined side that was to be admired.  As so often happens the second sucker punch arrived as Holker broke on 77 minutes with Nathan Reid slotting past the out coming Dylan Forth.
STOCKPORT MANAGER DAVE WILD POINTS THE WAY FORWARD
Still Town looked for a way back and Dwyer who had become increasingly influential with his passing and willingness to shoot forced Pearce into a wonderful from his 25 yard effort.
HOLKER RIGHT BACK ROBERT PARKER ALSO EXPERT FENCE VAULTER
Holker held on in the latter stages of the 8 minutes of added time fairly comfortably and took away three points from their long trip, although I guess there all fairly long.
GO ON THEN ANOTHER LOOK AT THE EARLIER SOCIALISATION
To tight for the 5.03 train allowed time for a pint in The Rising Sun before just about getting onto the Sheffield bound train one hour later which was now gorged with Manchester City fans on their way back from their home FA Cup game with Burnley.  An excellent re visit and if you want a game on 3g pop along and don't forget to call in for your fish and chips which always make Stockport Town a good experience.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

BEDWORTH KEEN ON THE POINTS AT CORBY

CORBY TOWN 0 BEDWORTH UTD 1
EVOSTIK NPL SOUTH @ STEEL PARK
1 JANUARY 2018 --- 3PM
STAR OF THE SHOW AT STEEL PARK HOME OF CORBY TOWN FC
A goal after just three minutes in from the head of Luke Keen was enough to wrap up the points for the visitors to Northamptonshire and much as Corby tried they could not find their way to the back of the Bedworth net, added to this the frustrating time wasting tactics of Bedworth in the second half this proved a disappointing afternoon for The Steelmen.  That frustration marked a miserable three game festive run that produced no points and no goals for Corby but with a sharper eye for goal things could have been so different but over the couple of games I have seen them the confidence seems to be ebbing away in the last third.
Having seen Corby at Basford a few days earlier and got in conversation with a few people who assured me that the pitch drains well and upon return saw The Steelmen were at home on New Years Day plans were put into action with trains running and no buses available it would just be the trip to base station and back to negotiate. 
Arriving at the station mid morning on New Years Day all was very quiet, thankfully, and throughout the day trains were on time, early and with seats available, there its not very often I say that!  Like a kid in a toy shop there was an excited anticipation today for Corby as a town never mind its football club would be new territory for me and previously I guess the town had become know as 'Kettering for Corby' on the train boards when it was the largest town in Europe to have no train station in the 70's and 80's.  This would have competed with Mansfield in its station less days when all was covered over by Alfreton and Mansfield Parkway a 25 minute bus ride away from stag town. Talking of Parkway's the first change was made at the East Midland variety of these a station that is dwarfed by the cooling towers of Ratcliffe power station.  Seat secured on the Nottingham to London service enhanced today by an old 125, always the way to travel, departure at Kettering was on time for the adjoining platform service which had a meridian on undertaking the ten minute journey to Corby and back once in the hour.  This was excellent as the previous day its was back to the bus replacement days of old due to engineering works the steady amble into Corby station produced a bright station with just one platform that normally runs hourly services to London.
CORBY STATION EVENING VIEW WITH OBLIGATORY ARTWORK
The station was closed in the sixties like of course many others and made a brief one platform shuttle service appearance from 1987-90 funded by the local council to connect to services at Kettering, however when the grant ran out the services stopped and it would be 2009 before a station was re opened in Corby.  It this point I have to make clear that if corny or Corbyn appear anywhere in this blog it must be the place name I have most mis-typed for ages!
Upon arrival there was time to chunter, again, about the weather forecasters a lovely dry afternoon had been forecast and guess what?  It was raining as I departed from under the canopy and the wonderful forecasters had now changed the prediction to heavy rain for the next 2 hours, of course I was happy!  Years gone by we had a local man forecast the weather by viewing a selection of pine cones and I think maybe we should take the expensive computer equipment of the Met Office and go back to the 'good old days'.  More worryingly while in moan mode neither club at this stage, 1245, had mentioned this fixture on social media for Bedworth who seem to follow this pattern regularly and were the away club I thought no more of it, however for the home side it took them until 1.50pm before ant mention of this game being on appeared on their Twitter feed it never ceases to amaze me that clubs always say they are in need of more fans, are they?
Corby had a remarkable rise to popularity around its steel works of course as previously this was a  small village with the old hamlet adjacent to the railway station on the east whereas the new town, indeed it was declared so in 1950, is built to the north and a nice 15 minute walk from the station.  Overall for todays football ground 45 minutes away and a steady stroll to the town its one of those towns that has an inconvenient railway station although I guess on a standard day when buses are running this may not be the problem it was today.
THE OLD NEW TOWN ON A WET BANK HOLIDAY
Turning left out of the station and passing back over the railway line into the town like many of the new town generation they were superbly modern and functionally built, mainly in concrete, for their time but now have hit the buffers with a full pelt.  All sorts of descriptors have been written about Corby and yes its there if you look for it but to the head of the old precinct is the new, a theatre, library, coffee house under the title of The Cube and bright reflective windowed building within the same complex a new cinema, restaurant and swimming pool but still close by boarded up derelict land awaiting further development.  All this approaches the large parkland area that is central to Corby as a town and with the wet stuff still failing I opted for the big yellow signed restaurant for a comfort stop.
THE NEW NEW TOWN THE CUBE AND STEELWORKER STATUE
Checking on the walk time to the ground at 1.40 I found out it would take 40 minutes with the clubs new ground on the very edge of the town since their move from their historical home occupation Rd which was more central.  Todays destination The Rockingham Triangle Sports Centre houses tennis, rugby and athletics track [which the club used to use as their ground] and now of course Steel Park. 
Departing along the many Scottish named roads Argyll/Clydesdale/Shetland to name but a few gave way to this towns recent heritage and its often given title of 'little Glasgow' after many Scots came down to work in the steel plant, formerly Stewarts and Lloyds, before British Steel after nationalisation.   So much did Corby become a off shoot of Scotland that there were two Church of Scotland's in the town, Irn Bru was the highest selling soft drink in any town outside Scotland including I'm assured the delicacy of Irn Bru and vodka as a required tipple.  Alongside this some shops in the early days posted signs in Gaelic but today the symbols were the occasional Saltire flag on cars and houses plus thistles built into UPVC glass door panels. 
The walk to the ground was very much like Skelmersdale Utd a dog leg after dog leg through housing estates to final depart an footpath opposite an out of town Spoons and walk the footpath on a busy road to the ground.
WELCOME
There is little after the ground and without a car you need to be reasonably fit for the walk its a shame really as the club have a nice part developed ground which would definitely take any future required improvements.
IMPRESSIVE TERRACE AT THE CASTLE END
Entering through the smart turnstile block approach to the immediate right is the club shop housed in a corporate coloured cabin with flat hard standing along this side giving was to the start of the show a cantilever stand proudly displaying 'CORBY' within its seats.  Behind the far goal is an excellent deep terrace with cover and crush barriers offering an excellent view of proceedings the next touchline gives up the dug outs ad for half of its length the back of the athletic stadiums stand which sits adjacent to the new ground.  Coming back to out entry point and the changing rooms and bar area which I only discovered at half time are houses in the building above the changing rooms indeed for new visitors the sign was that small that I missed it, but when I ventured up at half time was a nice sized facility.
TOWARDS THE ATHLETICS STADIUM
The game itself pitted second placed Bedworth, who had leapfrogged Corby after Saturdays results, against a Corby side who had hit a difficult period in their season and it did not get any easier after just three minutes when the visitors took the lead.  Picking the ball up on the right Bedworth's number 7 Kieron Brehon put in a lovely cross for the unmarked Keen to deflect his header into the bottom left hand corner of the Corby goal.
LUKE KEEN [9] CELEBRATES HIS MATCH WINNER
Moments later it could have been worse when Alexander Troke popped up at the far post but his effort was ruled out for offside.  It could have been 2-0 when Keen failed to convert with a low cross again unmarked but this rose Corby from their slumber and Cretu first saw the visiting keeper block his effort before with three minutes to half time he had the ball in the net only for the offside flag to this time deny Corby.
KEEN LOOKING FOR A SECOND
Corby came out with a new gusto and Cretu and Jordon Crawford combined well with the latter firing over, shortly after Ben Bradshaw also saw an effort fly over the crossbar.  Bedworth had little intent in going forward and it was left to Corby to try to break them down as they started the uncomfortable to watch, even as a neutral, time wasting tactics which even the referee seemed unwilling to take action on.  Indeed at one stage he ran 50 yards to tell the visiting number 1 Dan Crane to hurry up taking the free kick but didn't book him and the game probably lost more time than his actions benefitted it.  From a Corby point of view you knew it wasn't going to be their day on 77 minutes when substitute Leon Lobjoit turned on the edge of the box and stuck a post with the ball re bounded to safety with the keeper beaten.  The latter stages saw three cautions in extra time as frustration raised its head 2 to Bedworth and one to the home side and as the referee signalled 5 minutes stoppage time, probably three minutes short of what we should have see, why is blatant timewasting/professionalism not taken action against?
STEVEN LESLIE TEES UP THE CORNER FOR CORBY
Corby threw the kitchen sink at the Bedworth defence but they could not break down a resolute rear guard and failed to score for a third game running against a well marshalled defensive unit, frustrating football all round but the home manager Steve Kinniburgh can sit comfortable that they tried their best to entertain and play an attacking game but of course not the three points he so desired.
A dark walk back along Rockingham Rd towards the old village to cut back to the station followed with strangely street lighting on just one side of the road for the return walk making it appear even darker.  By the time I got back to the Occupation Rd junction it was raining and after a executive meeting with myself I decided against looking at the old grounds offices which are still in use today by of course a new business.
A comfortable 20 minutes to spare at Corby station allowed a dry down before connecting at Kettering for a direct service back to base station just after 8pm and enjoyable journey to a new ground and new town completed I shall watch out for Corby and hope they can get their promotion push back on the rails.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

BASFORD 21 POINTS CLEAR AT THE TOP OF THE TABLE

BASFORD UTD 4 CORBY TOWN 0
EVOSTIK NPL SOUTH @ GREENWICH AVE
30 DECEMBER 2017 --- 3PM
WELCOME TO BASFORD UNITED FC
Basford Utd completed a 4-0 victory over second placed Corby Town and the three points took them 21 points clear at the top of The Evostik South table, a lead that barring a major problem must surely see them claim the title sooner rather than later. The experience of the home side probably proved the difference because even though the score line suggests an easy victory for much of the game it was far from this as Corby's young side stood toe to toe with the leaders.  Indeed as half time approached a score less affair looked to be the call of the day except for 2 goals in two minutes from Deon Meikle and Kieran Wells that gave Basford the advantage.  The second period proved the same apart from the fast breakaways from Utd and former Alfreton Town frontman Liam Hearn and Aidan Austin doubled the advantage by the end of the game.
LIAM HEARN IN WARM UP MODE
With a weather affected week in the East Midlands and snow lying and the melting fast call offs were to the fore and 3g had been sorted out as a rescue measure.  Here an early mention to Chairman Chris Munroe and Basford Utd who had signalled no problems with the 3g with snow or anything of the like and with other clubs often failing to use their social media accounts until it was too late the decision was made to re visit Greenwich Ave.  The last visit had been for a Community game on one of the outfields here at the clubs complex at the end of last season, before this there had been a few visits to the main ground but this would be the first time to see a game since the club had installed its new 3g pitch.  Under the superb guidance of the Chairman Basford Utd had risen from CMFL were I had first come across them to a step 4 club with what appears a sensible approach.  Building up the aged sides, developing the grounds, involvement with educational opportunities and now of course improvements to the ground.  With a fair selection of recognisable faces in the clubs officials it all goes for the club having a stable footing under the guidance of Mr Munroe.
MAIN STANDS AND NEW PORTACABIN HOSPITALITY
Attractions around the ground are few so there is nothing of the area really in todays blog as the whole complex is within a housing area but needless to say the usual route to Nottingham was applied with a change a Alfreton onto the Rainbow 1 passing the required stop to go onto Bobbers Mill Macs.  Returning for the five minute journey a short walk of ten minutes would bring me to Greenwich Ave admission paid and a warm welcome from programme seller and raffle purveyor who could resist a purchase?
A CLUB EMBLAZONED PROGRAMME SELLER
The obligatory circuit showed some alterations and without going into full ground descriptor mode, as this has been done on a previous visit, here are the noticeable changes.  Below the changing room area the double Atcost stands now have a double decked Portacabin which I guess was for hospitality although I did not venture, the far side and Higbury Vale end remain much the same as does the Greenwich Ave end except to say the whole complex is now smartly edged off with high green meshed fencing and the pitch barrier is of a white variety as opposed to green.  The players enter the arena by an astroturf walkway which is emblazoned with the Basford Utd badge for an extra nice touch.  All in all a creditable development and as I guess plans for further developments come out this ground will take on the feel of I hope for the club a ground that will continue to match their undoubted ambitions, a real credit to all involved.
THE FOUNTAINS OF BASFORD
Upon entry and during the build up to the game there was obviously a concern that the 3g is not growing because even after all the rain the club were watering the surface!  I believe it helps the Basford Utd play with the ball zipping off the surface but it was a strange site to see, Mr Storer of the local parish also advises it keeps the rubber crumbs in place.  Having completed the circuit there was the chance to get into a few conversations before popping into the clubhouse for a soft drink, of course.  Moving along to the players entrance a selection of Basford players were having the pictures taken for the website when I believe the kit official for Corby Sandra Kyle, I hope I have this correct as I didn't ask at the time[!], said 'I didn't get my picture taken'.  Opportunity of course for somebody with a camera and picture duly taken, thanks Sandra!
SANDRA KYLE CORBY TOWN
The home side have a glut of experience and this has shown in their undefeated season so far indeed between these 2 club their season had only produced one 0-0 game that was Basford visit to Stocksbridge.  Corby Town had on loan from Mansfield Town goalkeeper Sam Wilson and Cameron Healey both starting, thanks to Mr Waite of the Retford parish for this tip.
REFEREE ROBERT DADLEY PRE MATCH WITH HIS TEAM
Top of the table clashes often disappoint for the neutral as both sides cancel one another out and to be fair the endeavour and effort in this game was top notch but for the first 40 minutes this was the case here so much so that I'd disappeared to the snack bar for some merchandise just after the half hour mark.  Then it all changed two quick goals first on 40 minutes Meikle headed in from a right wing corner and then from the opposite side a couple of minutes later Wells saw his first close range effort blocked before the follow up was planted in the back of the net.
SAM WARBURTON COMES AWAY WITH THE BALL FOR CORBY
The Steelmen would have felt hard done by at the break because there was little between these two sides and the second half started with Corby battling hard to get back into the game.  The speed of Basford on the break though would prove clinical in sending this game away from Corby who overall were struggling to provide the threat up front.  On a better day Hearn would have had a second half hat trick but he did secure a goal with a sweet left foot strike from just inside the box after he had controlled the ball and turned on the edge of the box after 79 minutes.
FILMING FOR MATCH OF THE DAY
Then just four minutes later substitute Austin with possibly his first touch nearly went over under a last gasp challenge just over the half way but having stayed on his feet before coolly slotting past Wilson as the two approached one another to make it 4-0.
TODAYS NON LEAGUE DOG RESPLENDANT IN PURPLE
Its all about goals and although this score line felt harsh on Corby who drop to third in a very tight play off chasing pack it is what Basford did today with the ability to keep their remarkable season continuing unbeaten.  Corby have a nice mixture in their side and its a learning curve and if it continues to connect and develop in the second half of the season they should be ok for a play off spot and then maybe they can start their ascent back up to previously visited heady heights that Basford United also so clearly desire.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

BENTLEY HIT FESTIVE FIVE

AFC BENTLEY 5 RENISHAW RANGERS 2
CMFL NORTH @ THE AVENUE
23 DECEMBER 2017 --- 2PM
ACTION FROM AFC BENTLEY V RENISHAW RANGERS
An early Christmas present for Bentley as they saw off their Derbyshire rivals with a five goal haul that was enough to take them to second spot in the CMFL North.  The pace of their build up and finishing ability of Brad Maddison proving the difference the home frontman certainly got a hat trick and the debate continues over whether he secured four in this impressive display.  All this after trailing 2-0 at half time Renishaw had drawn level with 2 goals in a minute early in the second half but the home side awoke from their half time respite to power home three more goals to earn a comfortable victory in the end.
By design or not I had spent around 25% of my season watching games involving these two clubs Bentley of course by virtue of three consecutive new grounds where they just happened to be the opponents and Renishaw in a slightly different mode but overall both clubs are friendly and welcoming which makes todays return trip to The Avenue a bit of a must.
THE PAVILION IN THE PARK
With a 2pm kick off in place the train travel was all fairly reasonable and civil standing to Sheffield before a seat on the direct service to Bentley.  Decamping in todays destination just a few miles north of Doncaster there was a plan, fish and chips of course, to visit Fish Bits and todays delicacy was a good offering.  The streets of Bentley really don't offer too much I'm afraid but having peered in at the writing on the former Coop which still just about gave up Doncaster Cooperative Chemist in its stonework and the hall above the former premises which proudly still stands on the main A19 a testimony to the influence of the Coops in many a northern community.  A small walk around the local park took in The Pavilion a semi art deco feel about the building which was now a community hall facility but added a smart touch to the park after its regeneration.  Indeed it had a sad start in life due to open on 20 November 1931 and paid for by a penny donation from the miners wages an disaster struck the colliery just 8 days early in which 45 men lost their lives and the opening was respectfully delayed.
THE ROW OF SHOPS THAT GREET THE AVENUE
Bentley was of course a mining area and the villages former pit site was next on the to do list heading towards The Avenue, which must be the longest 'Avenue' in the country, headed up by an arc of shops featuring yet another former Coop building this time the Doncaster Industrial and Mutual Coop we head off past the football club and towards the row of former terraced pit houses that stood at the approach to the former colliery which closed in 1993.  Unlike some areas that await renewal this former site is now awash with trees and is the Bentley Community Woodland.  Its all rather a disappointment whereas other former mining villages have a display board remembering their proud past here there is nothing to tell of the proud history.
THE MAIN STAND
With an hour to go to kick off the ground beckoned and with the former entrance now closed to allow development of the new changing facilities and clubhouse the club now use the changing facilities of Bentley Colliery Cricket Club just over the road and access the pitch by an adjacent mini gate which also serves as a spectator entry point.  There was thankfully still time to say hello to Martin Baxter Renishaw Chairman and todays hosts in the shape of home secretary Nigel, James Irwin and Dave Hughes.  The temporary changing area also supplies warm drinks and having paid my admission and obtained a programme all was well with even the team sheets gained.
NEW FACILITIES UNDERWAY AT AFC BENTLEY
This would be the third visit to The Avenue but the first time it will be blogged so here goes, the surrounds of the ground sit higher than the road with the pitch in a lower setting offering good views the near side has hard standing and although railed off the other viewing areas are grass only.  The main stand is of the style and design often seem around former mining villages but with the departure of the former cabins used for changing rooms is the clubs new development.  A large changing room and club house area is under development and hopefully will be in use for next season a great move by the club and hopefully one that will help Bentley no end in their desires to enhance the ground further.
By kick off time their was approaching double figures in hoppers including John McClure from the superb Your Football Ground page and with these visitors paid in the crowd sat around 32 at kick off time.  It is of course a recurring factor that with a village the size of Bentley and the ground surrounded by houses hardly any locals come along for £3 its a bargain and with good endeavour and football on show today what does it take to get people along?
THE PLAYERS TUNNEL
So to the game with Bentley high flying and Renishaw struggling, but much improved from their disastrous start to the season it looked as though it could be an interesting game.  By half time the home side led 2-0 and the score line seemed a little harsh from an even affair.
MADDISON MAKES IT 1-0
It was a superb opener when Maddision hit a 20 yard free kick that left all standing including Stephen Booth in the visitors goal.
RENISHAW CLEAR OFF THE LINE FROM MADDISON [10]
Moments later Renishaw cleared off the line as the lively Maddison looked to double the score at the other end home keeper Dom Senior held well under his bar from a Tommy Walker effort.  With five minutes to go to the break Maddison converted with a smart finish after good work from Matty Hughes on the left to double the advantage.
The second period started at a right old pace with four goals in eleven frantic minutes it was Renishaw who pulled level with two in a minute first Paul Sherbourn ran across Brandon Ashmore who promptly dusted himself down and converted from the penalty spot.  It was Ashmore again doing the damage down the left he skipped past three tracking defenders his low cross was laid back to Lewis Price whose shot took a deflection past Senior in the home goal.  Renishaw had gained parity but this only remained for four minutes as Bentley sensing the steamroller was about to devour them woke up and re took the lead Maddison broke down the left took the ball round the out coming Booth and with the visitors goal exposed his effort was sliced into this own goal by a despairing attempted clearance from Adam Powell, own goal or the frontman's hat trick you decide.
MATTY HUGHES ONCE AGAIN INFLUENTIAL FOR BENTLEY
Bentley had the bit between their teeth now and a lovely goal from Hughes put them 4-2 up pace took him down the inside left channel and as he drew the visiting keeper he slotted home with a cool finish.
With seven minutes remaining and Renishaw now tiring Maddison got his hat trick or fourth whichever way you look at it he had a superb afternoon and influence on this game with a wonderful move that flowed down the left hand side before Alex Irwin supplied the perfectly weighted assist that set up the number 10 for his finish.
DUG OUTS IN VIEW WITH DAN SHORT RENISHAW MANAGER TO THE FORE
A victory that takes Bentley into a challenging second place and with some quality young players and a little more experience this is a side who will challenge for the top spot while Renishaw wait the arrival of a three new signings that they need to kick start their previous revival to start to get away from the basement dog fight again.
A comfortable return to Bentley station and a return journey that was on time allowed a 40 minute wait in Sheffield before a speedy return to base from an afternoon of good entertainment and a friendly welcome once again from both clubs.