Bridgerule v Pensilva reserves

2.30pm  2 October 2016

Launceston and District Cup, Preliminary Round
Bridgerule 3 Pensilva reserves 2 (att 25)

I was in Devon for non-football reasons, so I was pleased when one of the south west's many local cup competitions provided a couple of Sunday matches to choose from while I was in the area.

Bridgerule is about as deep into Devon as you can go. The village is actually on the 'Cornish' side of the River Tamar, but at a point where the county border veers away from the waterway.

The football ground, Vinnicombe Park, is east of the village centre, and firmly on the Devonian side of the Tamar. There's a small car park and changing rooms, beyond which the pitch is tightly-hemmed in and runs lengthways.

On the left hand side a pair of dugouts flank a small covered standing area capable sheltering a handful of spectators. The opposite side is fenced in, not so much to keep fans off the pitch than to protect players from a precipitously steep ditch which runs just beyond the touchline.

The pitch itself was very heavy, and the game might have been in doubt had there been any rain. It made good football difficult, although sides from the fourth tiers of the North Devon League and the Duchy League were never likely to play a delicate passing game.

Bridgerule should have had the tie won by half time. They led 1-0 at the break, but had missed enough chances to be out of sight. Pensilva rallied in an entertaining second half, equalising twice before a decisive late Bridgerule goal saw them progress to the next round as 3-2 winners.

AFC Denton v Broadheath Central

3pm  1 October 2016

Cheshire League, League Two
AFC Denton 1 Broadheath Central 8 (att 15)

This is AFC Denton's debut season in adult football, and going straight into the Cheshire League, even it's third tier, was always likely to be a tough baptism. They're yet to earn a point, but there were encouraging signs despite a heavy defeat against the league leaders.

The first half was closer than I'd anticipated, and it took around 30 minutes before Broadheath scored to edge in front.

Sadly for AFC Denton, the second half was a different matter. Broadheath netted three in just five minutes soon after the restart, and with better finishing could easily have pushed their final tally into double figures.

The home side did score the game's final goal, and it was a good one. Overall they looked good in possession, but crumbled defensively when attacked with any pace. That said, they'll come up against weaker sides than Broadheath and if they can replicate their first half performance then I'm sure they'll start to pick up points.

AFC Denton play at Martin Fields, home of youth side Denton Youth. The senior pitch, the largest of three grass pitches, is taped off along one side and one goal. The other two sides are enclosed by the playing fields boundary fence, beyond which is a footpath and the back gardens of surrounding houses.

Hardwicke v Stonehouse Town

2.30pm  25 September 2016

Stroud and District Charity Cup, First Round
Hardwicke 0 Stonehouse Town 3 (att 64)

Newly-promoted Stonehouse have made a strong start in the Gloucestershire County League, and they had few problems seeing off fellow county leaguers Hardwicke in this local cup tie.

The Stroud Charity Cup - actually several cups for teams at different levels - is a good source of Sunday matches, and it was an ideal opportunity for me to visit Green Lane in Hardwicke, just south of Gloucester.

The ground is behind the village hall, and consists of a pitch enclosed by a plastic post and rail barrier, which is presumably removed during the close season, or even between matches. There's a pair of permanent dugouts on the far side, with houses beyond.

The Royal British Legion club sponsors Hardwicke AFC, and its social club is behind the goal, providing a source of alcoholic refreshment for some spectators during the match.

In truth it wasn't the most gripping 90 minutes of football I've seen. Two goals in the final five minutes gave Stonehouse a comfortable winning margin, but if they'd not scored those then their 11th minute opener always looked enough to win against a disappointing home side.

Swarthmoor Social v Hurst Green reserves

3pm  24 September 2016

West Lancashire League, Division Two
Swarthmoor Social 2 Hurst Green reserves 1 (att 16)

To be honest this wasn't a fixture that filled me with anticipation. I was a little disappointed when the West Lancashire League's third tier was diluted by reserve sides, and neither Swarthmoor nor Hurst Green's second string had made great starts to the season.

But a visit to Park Road fitted in well following the morning's game at Myerscough, and Swarthmoor was the final venue I needed to recomplete the full set of West Lancashire League grounds.

Swarthmoor is a small village just beyond the outskirts of Ulverston, and the club's Park Road ground is a good one for this level. The pitch looks fantastic, and is enclosed by a rail, with dugouts and advertising boards.

On the pitch it wasn't a bad game to watch, even if the quality was a little lacking at times. All the goals came in the first half, the home side went ahead a little against the run of play I thought, and it was no surprise when Hurst Green equalised.

Swarthmoor's second goal proved decisive, but the sides were evenly-matched and a goal for either team always looked likely during an entertaining second half.

Blackpool U18 v Bury U18

11am  24 September 2016

EFL Youth Alliance, North West
Blackpool U18 1 Bury U18 0 (att 60)

My seemingly never-ending quest to watch a game at every professional youth team venue took me to Myerscough College, not far from Garstang in Lancashire.

In two previous visits to the college I've watched Catforth Summer League football, but Blackpool's youngsters have moved in this season and play on a pitch that's in a different part of the campus to the ones I 'ticked' previously.

Typically for a Youth Alliance venue, one side of the pitch was roped off as the designated area for spectators. A handful of scouts were restricted to a corner, away from others watching the game.

I imagine the scouts saw plenty that interested them, as both sides played some good football and had some promising players. Had a I been a scout I'd have been taking notes on Bury's keeper, he had a fantastic game, making a series of excellent saves to keep the home side at bay until well into the second half.

The only goal cam with about 20 minutes left, and was well deserved as Blackpool continued their unbeaten start to the league, while at the same time denting Bury's perfect 100% record.

Burghclere v Wallingford Town

5pm  17 September 2016

North Berkshire League, Charity Shield Group A
Burghclere 2 Wallingford Town 2 (att 169)

Burchclere were staging the day's final 'hop' match, with a cup tie against a Wallingford Town side who I'm more used to seeing at higher levels prior to their drop into local football.

They were second best against Burghclere, falling 2-0 behind after conceding a goal in each half, but managed an unlikely comeback late on thanks to two goals in quick succession.

The North Berkshire Charity Shield is organised on a group basis, so the drawn game meant a point each rather than extra time and/or penalties. Just as well, as the game finished quite late after being held up due to a nasty-looking injury to visitors' goalkeeper, who left the ground in an ambulance.

Both Burghclere and Wallingford are in the top division of the North Berkshire League, and the standard of football was noticeable higher than at the morning's game at Blewbury.

Burghclere Sports Club has the feel of a proper football venue, helped by advertising boards and dugouts on the far side of the pitch. The near side was roped off, making it essentially a one-sided ground for spectators.

Mortimer v Marlow United

2pm  17 September 2016

Thames Valley Premier League, Premier Division
Mortimer 1 Marlow United 6 (att 25)

The afternoon's North Berkshire League hop match was at Compton FC, but I fancied something different and 2pm kick offs in the Thames Valley Premier League allowed me to see a game and still get back for the final hop match at 5pm.

League leaders Marlow United went into this fixture with a 100 per cent record, and its continuation was never in doubt as they went scored early and raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening 25 minutes.

The second half was tighter, two more goals for the visitors and one back for Mortimer, but it was easy for Marlow who looked a good side. The only blot on their afternoon was ending the game with 10 men after a late red card.

Mortimer is a small village roughly south west of Reading. The ground, in West End Road, is perfect for this level of football, and has scope for improvements should the club want to climb the football pyramid.

The pitch is partly enclosed by metal barriers, and partly by rope, there's a cosy clubhouse and changing rooms behind the goal, a pair of dug outs and plenty of car parking.