Ravenshead v Ashland Rovers

7.30pm  19 September 2017

Nottinghamshire Senior League, Division One
Ravenshead 2 Ashland Rovers 2 (att 42)

Midweek games under floodlights are a rarity at this level so full credit to Ravenshead and Ashland for staging their local derby on a Tuesday evening, and by doing so giving me a welcome opportunity to tick off the ground.

Ravenshead Leisure Centre is a curious football venue, as apart from the floodlights there's little in the way of facilities. Part of one side of the grass pitch was roped off, and with trees bordering three sides and and grass bank behind one goal, beyond which is a larger playing field, it at least feels like an enclosed ground.

It's perfectly acceptable for the second tier of the Nottinghamshire Senior League though, and Ravenshead and Ashland produced an entertainingly competitive game that was a good advert for the division.

Ravenshead, newly promoted from division two, started well and took an early lead. Ashland, from nearby Kirkby-in-Ashfield, were level before half time, and it was no surprise when they went ahead with 30 minutes left.

The home side refused to give up though, and were rewarded for a long spell of pressure late in the game when an excellent direct free kick, in stoppage time, levelled the score at 2-2 and earned them a point.








Upton St Leonards v Berkeley Town

2pm  17 September 2017

Stroud and District Charity Cup (Section A), Quarter-Final
Upton St Leonards 1 Berkeley Town 5 (att 25)

The south west of England still has a few local cups, like this, that provide chances to visit Saturday teams for ties on Sundays. Upton St Leonards is a village just outside Gloucester, and so in good range for a day out including a game on a new ground.

The home club are newly-promoted to the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League this season, but as a division two side they proved no match for their first division visitors, who came from a goal behind to win convincingly.

It could have been different though, as Upton St Leonards started well and deserved the early lead they got thanks to a penalty. The spot kick was well saved, but the Berkeley keeper couldn't keep out a follow up shot.

An own goal levelled the score, and Berkeley gradually took control, leading 3-1 by half time. In the second period Upton pushed forward trying to get back into the game, and with more luck might have done, but Berkeley exploited gaps at the back to add two more goals.

Upton St Leonards Recreation Ground is a pleasant spot. A two tier pavilion looks out over  a large sports field, and the football pitch is on the far side of a cricket square. The ground is right next to the M5 motorway, but while traffic noise was audible it didn't detract from what was an enjoyable game.








AFC Macclesfield v Daten

3pm  16 September 2017

Cheshire League, League One
AFC Macclesfield 2 Daten 1 (att 15)

I needed to stay local today, and Macclesfield fitted the bill after I'd failed earlier when there was no sign of the Manchester Saturday Morning League game that should have been played in Ashton-under-Lyne (a result has appeared online so it must have been played somewhere).

No such problems at AFC Macclesfield's new ground at All Hallows Catholic College, where players were warming up on the artificial pitch when I arrived. It's very much a move 'home' for the club, who had been playing miles away in Stockport.

Unfortunately the ground isn't among the the more interesting to visit, it's a typical caged and floodlit 3G pitch, although one good thing is that the entire near touchline is barriered off to provide an area for spectators.

It wasn't the greatest of games, but AFC Macclesfield were just about worth their win. They came from behind, recovering after a long-range punt gave Daten a 27th minute lead. The home team were level 10 minutes later, and won it with a second half goal.

Both sides created plenty of chances, but their finishing was poor, and Daten's constant moaning at the referee became tiresome. He may not have had a perfect game, but neither did Daten, and he wasn't the reason they lost.









Coventry United v Tipton Town

3pm  10 September 2017

FA Vase, First Qualifying Round
Coventry United 3 Tipton Town 1 (att 282)

Coventry United are one of a growing number of clubs created by supporters dissatisfied by the professional game, in this case by frustration at the goings on at Coventry City.

It takes a lot of effort and commitment to get a club like this off the ground, and United have done well to grow a decent fan base and to secure a stadium, which they moved into this season, to match.

Butts Park Arena is primarily a rugby ground, but with a large seated stand running the length of one side it's certainly one of the best venues in the Midland Football League, even if only the stand and one uncovered end are open for football spectators.

There was plenty of room for the 282 crowd, boosted by a large number of groundhoppers, like me, making the most of a chance to visit a new ground on a Sunday, the FA Vase tie having been switched after clashing with a rugby fixture.

It was little surprise that United progressed to the next round, and as they're going well in a step five league they might have their sights on the Wembley final (clubs at step four and above compete instead in the FA Trophy).

Tipton Town, who play two levels lower, gave them a tough test. They led 1-0 at half time, although it was a howler by the home keeper that presented with the simplest of goals. Coventry United equalised early in the second half, before a second goal put them ahead.

Near the end Tipton threatened to take the tie into extra time but were unable to take the half chances that came their way, then a late third goal sealed the home side's win.









Llanllyfni v Bontnewydd

2.30pm  9 September 2017

Gwynedd League
Llanllyfni 0 Bontnewydd 12 (att 18)

I missed visiting Llanllyfni when they were a Welsh Alliance side, so after they resigned from that league just before the end of last season I was pleased to see them reappear in the Gwynedd League.

It's been a struggle for them so far though, and they remain pointless at the foot of the fledgling table after a defeat that was every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.

At times it was little more than shooting practice for Botnewydd, and had their shooting been more accurate they'd have scored plenty more. Llanllyfni weren't helped when injury reduced them to 10 men with 30 minutes left, but they'd already conceded half the dozen by then.

Hopefully Llanllyfni will come through this difficult patch, and they'll have easier opponents to play as the season progresses.

Their ground, just off Rhedyw Road, is a railed off pitch with a dugout on each side. From the entrance the village community hall is behind the near goal, and houses a snack bar as well as changing rooms.

When not used by footballers I assume the building is home to a children's playgroup, as it's adorned by colourful pictures designed to help local youngsters learn to spell ... and gave me a chance to learn a few words in Welsh.









Jubilee Sports v Oughtibridge War Memorial

6pm  6 September 2017

Sheffield County Senior League, Premier Division
Jubilee Sports 3 Oughtibridge War Memorial 2 (att 28)

It says much for the commitment people have for football at this level that by 6pm on a Wednesday, with the Sheffield rush hour still in full swing, two full teams, three match officials and a sprinkling of spectators were all ready for kick off.

Not surprisingly more spectators made their way to the taped off pitch in the grounds of Chaucer School as the match progressed, and saw a decent if unspectacular game that was turned on its head in the final moments.

Until then Oughtibridge had just about been the better side, and after a goal apiece in the first half a fine goal after around an hour had put them 2-1 ahead.

It looked enough to win the game, but Jubilee never gave up and were rewarded for their efforts not just by an equaliser a minute into stoppage time, but by an unlikely winner two minutes later. Seconds after Oughtibridge restarted the game having gone behind the referee blew for full time.

Jubilee Sports share their home venue with fellow County Senior League side Ecclesfield Red Rose. It's a basic venue, a grass pitch behind modern school buildings and next to an athletics track inside which is a caged artificial pitch. The most striking feature is the Asda store next door.











Immingham Town v Heckington United

3pm  2 September 2017

Lincolnshire League
Immingham Town 8 Heckington United 2 (att 50)

From Barnetby it was easy drive to Immingham, where the recently-revived club is settling into its new home ground.

It's been a few years since I've watched a Lincolnshire League match, but hard work by league officials, and clubs no doubt, have been rewarded by the FA granting it 'step seven' status, and a place in the National League System.

Immingham will doubtless need to work on what is, at present, a very basic ground if they're going to climb to step six and beyond, but on the playing side they already look capable of playing at higher level.

They were 6-0 ahead by half time against Heckington, although the visitors had a better second period which including scoring the game's best goal, although ultimately they couldn't reduce the deficit.

At the moment Immingham Sports Complex consists of a large playing field with a pitch that's taped off, and changing rooms and a tea bar in a building nearby. They're getting good support though, and hopefully the venue has the scope they need to develop a decent and permanent home ground.