Horwich Victoria v Chew Moor Brook

30 April 2012
Lancashire Amateur League, Premier Division
Horwich Victoria 5 Chew Moor Brook 0 (att 10)

This was an important relegation encounter, but how Horwich were ever in danger of going down is anyone's guess. They played some good football and created plenty of chances, taking five of them to add to the 18 they'd managed in their two previous league fixtures.

CMB, as Chew Moor Brook are usually known, played their part in an entertaining game which again showed how good the football is in the Lancashire Amateur League's top division.

Two of the home side's goals were in the first half, and although the win was comfortable the scoreline was a bit harsh on CMB, who deserved a goal for their efforts.

Horwich Victoria's official home ground for this season, and for the last few years, is Bolton Arena, part of the sports complex near the Reebok Stadium. But problems with that venue have led them to seek an alternative ground for recent games, and they seem settled on the all weather pitch at Bolton's Essa Academy.

The complex is new, with an enclosed and floodlit pitch at the rear accessed through the academy buildings. The 3G pitch was pristine, and felt a bit like stepping on a new lounge carpet.





Harthill Royal v Blackburn United

28 April 2012
SJFA East Region, South Division
Harthill Royal 2 Blackburn United 4 (att 23)

This game wasn't the day's "plan A", but heading north seemed the best bet given the weather forecast for much of the rest of the UK. Harthill is between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and went into this game bottom of the third, and lowest, tier of the Scottish Juniors East Region.

However, with plenty of games to go in Scotland Harthill can still climb the table, and Blackburn can improve on their current mid table spot. But on the evidence of today's game their places in the league are probably about right.

Blackburn disappointed in the first half, but still led 1-0 at half time against a Harthill side who didn't look too bad. After the break Blackburn upped their game, dominating and scoring three times to establish a commanding lead.

They eased off towards the end, allowing Harthill a couple of goals to give the final score a more exciting look than the game had actually provided.

Although not one of the better Scottish Junior grounds, Gibbshill Park was a nicer venue than I'd expected, having driven past it one or twice previously. The near end has hard standing in front of changing rooms and clubhouse, there's a covered standing area in the centre of the far side, while the remainder is uneven grass standing, banked at the far end.

There's a more detailed match report, and a link to some action pics, at the excellent Not the Pink News website http://www.ultrasoft.hostinguk.com/arniston2/Pink.asp






Old Ashtonians v Old Trafford

25 April 2012
Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur League, Premier Division
Old Ashtonians 1 Old Trafford 1 (att 6)

After reading another hopper's account of a visit here last Wednesday my expectations weren't very high, especially given the foul weather and the state of the pitch, which at any earlier point in the season would surely have been declared waterlogged and unplayable.

But what followed was a really enjoyable 80 minutes - two 40 minute halves after a late start on a gloomy night - with the home side's direct approach, more effective given the awful surface, against old Trafford's slower passing game.

The visitors were ahead thanks to a good finish after six minutes, and stayed in front until 24 minutes into the second half, when Old Ashtonians deservedly levelled.

The home side thought they'd won the game in the final minute when converted a penalty rather harshly awarded for handball. But the referee ruled one their players had encroached into the box and ordered a retake, which was saved.

A draw was a fair result, and both sides deserve credit for an entertaining game in poor conditions. Old Ashtonians have been nomadic in recent seasons, but for now at least play at King George's Playing Fields in Audenshaw, Manchester. A basic venue with two very muddy pitches and a small brick building housing the changing rooms.




Clitheroe RBL v Waddington

24 April 2012
East Lancashire League, Division Two
Clitheroe Royal British Legion 2 Waddington 2 (att 12)

A low key game with nothing at stake other than local bragging rights, as the village of Waddington is just a few miles from Clitheroe.

Although Waddington had more possession, the home side looked better throughout, and led 2-1 until a stoppage time blunder by their keeper allowed a shot from distance to bounce past him and level the score.

The first three goals had all been scored in the first half of a game that was entertaining, if a little lacking in quality.

Clitheroe RBL are based at Roefield, a public park on the outskirts of town. There's several pitches but no facilities, other than pleasant views of the surrounding hills.






Gidlow Athletic v Winstanley St Aidans

23 April 2012
Wigan and District Amateur League, Premier Division
Gidlow Athletic 1 Winstanley St Aidans 1 (att 30)

An entertaining game at Laithwaite Park in Wigan, within sight of the DW Stadium but about as basic a venue as you can get. There's eight pitches in all, although Gidlow did at least play on the one closest to the changing rooms.

The fixture was important to both sides, with Winstanley top of the table and Gidlow battling against relegation.

The visitors almost scored in the opening minute, denied by the the first in a series of good saves by home side's impressive keeper. Had they scored the outcome would probably have been different, but as the game wore on it became an enjoyably well-matched encounter.

An error by the Winstanley keeper, allowing a long range shot to pass him, put Gidlow ahead about 10 minutes before half time. They held out, under plenty of pressure while creating further chances of their own, until 10 minutes from the end of the game. The draw was a fair result.





Cumbernauld United v Girvan

21 April 2012
SJFA West Region, Super League, Division One
Cumbernauld United 4 Girvan 3 (att 44)

Not a final score anyone would have predicted as the game went into its final quarter. At that stage Girvan were leading 3-0 and set for a surprisingly comfortable win in a vital relegation encounter.

Their lead came thanks to a first half penalty and two second half goals, the first an own goal and the second an amazing first time strike from the half way line, which found the net perfectly, well beyond the Cumbernauld keeper who was stranded out of his goal having made a mess of a clearance.

Cumbernauld's fightback began with a fine goal after 76 minutes, and by the 90th minute the visiting keeper allowed a long range shot to slip underneath his body to put the home side 4-3 ahead. Girvan picked up two red cards along the way, one after a rather soft penalty for Cumbernauld.

The quality of football wasn't always the best, both teams resorting to the long ball too often, but there was no doubting the entertainment, especially in the second half. The sides meet again next week, at Girvan, should be an interesting afternoon.

Like many Scottish Junior grounds, Cumbernauld's Guys Meadow stadium is impressive. Terracing runs the length of the right hand side, with the central section covered, although there's no access to the opposite side.







CGB Humbertherm v Skegness United

17 April 2012
Lincolnshire League
CGB Humbertherm 1 Skegness United 2 (att 24)

Skegness can no longer win the league title, but they still have second place to battle for, and took control of this game in the first half. As well as scoring twice, they had a goal ruled out for handball and a penalty saved.

If the home side had seemed a bit too laid back in the first half, the same wasn't true in the second. Humbertherm battled well, and the visitors eased off, allowing the home to get a goal back with about 20 minutes remaining.

Humberthem rarely threatened to level though, and Skegness finished the stronger without adding a third goal. As the game wore on, the contest became ever more niggly and bad tempered.

I'd expected Humbertherm's home to be sports ground somewhere in Grimsby, but in fact they play on a playing field in the small village of Fulstow. A surprisingly rural location for what I assume is, or was originally, a works team.

The ground is very basic, just changing rooms and a couple of pitches. Tonight's game was played on the pitch furthest from the changing rooms, which roped off along the near touchline and behind the left hand goal, with the other sides enclosed by hedges.

After a weekend in the Pyrenees, it was a bit of a change to spend an evening in the flat landscape of  Lincolnshire.






FC La Seu d'Urgell v CE Artesa de Segre

5pm  15 April 2012
Segona Catalana, Group 5
FC La Seu d'Urgell 1 CE Artesa de Segre 1 (att 150)

With second place FC Andorra having dropped three points on Saturday this was a chance for the sides in third and fourth to close the gap in the chase for a promotion play off spot, so the Andorrans will probably be the most pleased that it ended a draw.

If anything they had the weather to thank. The game started in sunshine, but during the second a half a very cold wind was coming in from the north, and with the conditions in their favour the home side laid siege to the Artesa de Segre goal as they chased an equaliser.

The goal finally arrived in stoppage time, cancelling out the visitors' first half opener, and just moments after La Seu had been reduced to 10 men following a red card.

Onc again admission was free, although I spent a few Euros on raffle tickets, unsure if I won how I'd get the prize, a huge basket of food donated by a local store, onto my Ryanair flight home.

La Seu d'Urgell is a pleasant town about five miles south of the Andorran border. The municipal stadium seemed to be the hub of local activity on a quiet Sunday afternoon. It has an impressive, if ageing main stand, and the only other area available for spectators is a small standing area to the side of the stand.

As I drove back to my hotel in Andorra the strong winds brought first rain, and then snow. No problems getting back to Andorra la Vella, but I discovered later that my alternative game for the afternoon, an Andorran second division game in Ordino, had been abandoned in the first half due to the snow.




UE Sant Julia v UE Santa Coloma

12 midday 15 April 2012
Andorra, 1a Division, title play-offs
UE Sant Julia 1 UE Santa Coloma 2 (att 44)

Having watched "Spanish" game in Andorra on Saturday, I spent the early part of Sunday afternoon watching Andorran match in Spain.

The Centre Esportiu d'Alas, on the edge of the small Catalan village of Alas i Cerc, is one of three venues currently used for Andorran League games (the others are Aixovall and Ordino). As far as I can tell, Alas itself has no club, and the ground, which looks new, is used purely for Andorran football.

It has a seated stand the length of one side, with a roof over a few seats in the centre. The changing rooms, toilets and an office, complete with a vending machine for hot and cold drinks, are in a building behind the near goal. There's no spectator access at the far end, and the side opposite the stand is just flat standing. Admission was free.

The four teams in the Andorran title play-offs could hardly be closer. The result of this game, coupled with the draw between Lusitans and FC Santa Coloma at Aixovall, means just one point separates all four ahead of next weekend's final matches.

With that in mind, the small crowd was surprise, although Alas is a good few miles from Andorra itself, and the game at Aixovall, at the same time, would be easier for most neutrals to get to.

I'd heard reports that the standard of Andorran football, both on and off the pitch, was poor, but this game was much better than I'd expected. Both teams played good football, and there wasn't much difference in quality between this and the previous day's game at FC Andorra.

There was little to choose between the sides. UE Santa Coloma were ahead at half time, but Sant Julia deserved their second half equaliser. With so much at stake, each goal was treated with rapture by players and the small number of supporters alike, none more so than Santa Coloma's late winner.