Warley Rangers v Midgley United

6.15pm  31 August 2012

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Warley Rangers 4 Midgley United 4 (att 33)

It may have been a damp and chilly evening in West Yorkshire, but I barely noticed the conditions during a 90 minutes that's likely to rank among the most entertaining games I'll see this season.

Midgley took and early lead, then exploited a suspect home defence to add two more within a minute about midway through the half. Warley kept battling, and suggested they weren't out of it by pulling a goal back before half time.

After the break the home side staged their comeback, even having a penalty well saved as they pulled level, before edging 4-3 ahead. By this stage the game was being played at a tremendous pace, with chances at both ends. Midgley's keeper had a great evening, making some terrific saves to keep his side in the game.

His reward, and Midgley's, was their equaliser which came from the game's second spot kick, awarded after what looked to me like a good tackle. In the end a draw was a fair result, and both sides deserve credit for putting on such a show.

It wasn't just a great game, but an interesting ground. Warley play at the King Cross Cricket, Bowling and Athletic Ground  in Hopwood Lane, Halifax. I don't think cricket is played there these days, although the impressive scoreboard is still in place, there's some cover in front of the pavilion, albeit a distance from the pitch, and the ground is enclosed.







Sandbach United v Golborne Sports

6.30pm  29 August 2012

Cheshire League, Division Two
Sandbach United 2 Golborne Sports 3 (att 48)

Great entertainment at Sandbach United's new ground. The home side started well, creating plenty of chances, and were soon ahead, but they failed to capitalise on their early dominance and were punished when Golborne equalised before half time.

The teams traded goals in the second half, including a penalty for each side, but Golborne's sharper finishing earned them the points, despite the home side creating more chances.

The pitch at the Sandbach Community Football Centre, in Hind Heath Road, looked good and had stood up well to the day's very heavy rain.

Overall the facilities are impressive. A long low building houses the clubhouse, including a snack bar, and changing rooms. Behind it is a floodlit all weather pitch, while the main grass pitch is to the front, and enclosed by wooden fencing. Beyond the far side, and beyond the far goal, are extensive playing fields with further pitches and training areas.





Flint Mountain v Point of Ayr

6.30pm  28 August 2012

Clwyd East League
Flint Mountain 1 Point of Ayr 2 (att 16)

The first time I've seen a game in the Clwyd East League, and it was rather better than my low expectations. The league was only formed last season, when the old Clwyd League was effectively split into two, and Flint Mountain had previously been Clwyd League strugglers.

With that in mind, my money was on an easy away win, which we might have had if Point of Ayr had been more fortunate in front of goal early on. Instead they hit the crossbar, saw several shots narrowly miss the target, and were up against an in-form Flint Mountain keeper.

Against the run of play, it was Flint Mountain who went ahead, shortly before half time. They couldn't hold the lead though, within moments Point of Ayr scored to go into the break level. The visitors secured an expected win the second half, but overall it was an entertaining and hard fought game.

At this level, facilities are always likely to be limited, and Flint Mountain's ground is no exception. It's an open pitch, at the far end of the large playing field behind Flint High School.




Liss Athletic v Hedge End Rangers

3pm  27 August 2012

Hampshire Premier League
Liss Athletic 1 Hedge End Rangers 2 (att 50)

One of those games that wasn't bad, but that wasn't particularly memorable either. Hedge End won thanks to a pair of very well taken goals, one in each half. In between, Liss scored just two minutes into the second half.

The visitors winner came late, and was a blow for Liss who'd recovered well from a poor first half to match the visitors, and looked on course for at least a point, if not all three.

Liss play at the Newman Collard Playing Fields, and the ground is a good example of a club creating a decent set up in what is, in effect a public park. The pitch is floodlit, railed on the three sides, roped on the fourth, and there's some cover for spectators in front of the changing rooms and clubhouse behind the the goal.





Abbey Rangers v Bookham

11am  27 August 2012

Surrey Elite Intermediate League
Abbey Rangers 1 Bookham 0 (att 12)

An early start and a long drive was rewarded with a bright start of the day's groundhopping, amid rain showers at Abbey's ground close to the M25 in Addlestone.

Both sides played some good football, but lacked a cutting edge up front until Abbey broke the deadlock with an 89th minute winner they just about deserved. I'd expected the game to end goalless since before half time, with defences on top, and the home keeper having a great game, denying Bookham whenever they managed a shot on target.

Despite the lack of goalmouth action the game was entertaining, with Abbey's passing game particularly pleasing to watch.

Youth football seems the main focus of Abbey Rangers, which explains the size of the large sports ground they call home. There are three full size pitches, two junior ones and a floodlit training area.

The smart clubhouse has an overhanging roof providing a substantial covered area, albeit with a distant view of pitch number one, with runs lengthways and is separated from the clubhouse by the training area. Both touchlines were roped off, but in terms of facilities that was about it.






Hay St Mary's v Talgarth Town

7.30pm  25 August 2012

Mid Wales League, Division Two
Hay St Mary's 3 Talgarth Town 2 (att 317)

This was the fourth of the four Saturday games on the "Mid Wales Hop", and as the one of the four that I hadn't been to previously the timing suited me perfectly.

However, much like my afternoons game at Henbury, it was a revisit of sorts. I saw Hay St Mary's play at home back in 1991, but then they played on the outfield of the adjacent cricket ground. Their home venue has had quite a makeover in the intervening years, with two new enclosed pitches, both with spectator accommodation, and one fully floodlit.

Being a "hop" match their were plenty of familiar faces among the large crowd, and a chance to catch up with people at these events usually provides enough entertainment to make up for any lack on the pitch.

But this game was well worth watching, with some well taken goals. Talgarth took an early lead, but Hay fought back to lead 2-1 at half time. A third goal for the home side looked to have made the points safe, but Talgarth reduced the arrears, and came close to equalising as the game reached a dramatic conclusion.





Henbury v Tuffley Rovers

3pm  25 August 2012

Gloucestershire County League
Henbury 3 Tuffley Rovers 2 (att 45)

The standard of football in the Gloucestershire County League rarely disappoints, and this cracking game more than lived up to my high expectations.

Even at this early stage in the season, Henbury and Tuffley look likely to be among the league's better sides. Henbury inflicted Tuffley's first defeat of the campaign after coming back from 2-0 down. Remarkably, all five goals were scored within the first 30 minutes.

Although there was no further scoring, the two sides continued to play good attacking football, with chances at both ends. By the final whistle, I thought Tuffley were unfortunate not to come away with a point.

I last visited Henbury, a Bristol suburb, in 1998. Back then they were known as Henbury Old Boys, and played on a roped off pitch close to the main Henbury Road. Although the ground address remains the same, Arnall Drive Playing Field, the new first team pitch is parallel to the old one, but on a plateau and much closer to the clubhouse. As the old and new pitches don't overlap, by my rules another visit was required to "tick" the ground.

The pitch was good condition, and coped well with the first half downpour that accompanied a thunderstorm. The pitch is fully railed off, with dugouts, but there's no cover for spectators, apart from a shelter for smokers immediately outside the clubhouse and with a very restricted view of the pitch.






Digmoor v Wigan Rovers

6.15pm  23 August 2012

Wigan Cup, Group 7
Digmoor 4 Wigan Rovers 1 (att 11)

Both these Wigan League rivals lost their opening group games, so victory tonight was crucial to have realistic ambitions of reaching the knock out stages of this early season cup.

Digmoor, who play a division higher than the visitors, started well and were soon in front, apparently suffering no ill effects from a hectic schedule that had them playing a league game just 24 hours earlier. Wigan Rovers had chances though, and equalisd before half time thanks to penalty.

In the second half Digmoor moved up several gears and took control, scoring some great goals on their way to a comprehensive and deserved win.

Digmoor are based at the Glenburn Sports College in Skelmersdale. As a football ground it's basic in the extreme, just an open pitch in a very large playing field, and a lengthy walk from the college buildings and car park.



Storthes Hall v Golcar United

6.30pm  22 August 2012

West Riding County Amateur League, Premier Division
Storthes Hall 4 Golcar United 0 (att 60)

The opening round of matches in the West Riding County Amateur League and a comfortable victory for Stothes Hall at their new home ground.

Having played for many years at the Police sports ground in Huddersfield, they've now moved to the Warrenside Sports Complex, a newly-developed ground at what was once the home of Northern Counties East League Bradley Rangers.

Apart from the pitch, I couldn't see any evidence of the ground's former existence. The changing rooms and clubhouse are housed in a modern building, set back from the pitch but with a overhanging roof providing some cover for spectators.

The pitch runs widthways, tightly hemmed in both ends, and is railed off. The railings are so new that many sections were still covered in their plastic wrapping.

Storthes Hall took control of the match during a first half in which they scored three times. After the break Golcar were much better, or perhaps Storthes Hall eased off. The visitors were unable to reduce the arrears though, and Storthes Hall managed a late fourth.





Congleton Vale Rovers v Malpas

6.40pm  21 August 2012

Cheshire League, Division Two
Congleton Vale Rovers 3 Malpas 1 (att 30)

Congleton Vale Rovers are another club to have changed leagues during the summer, having competed in the Staffordshire County Senior League before moving across the Cheshire League. The change of league coincided with a change of home ground, so a visit to Congleton High School, in Box Lane, was in order.

The ground is basic, even by Cheshire League standards. A rope around the pitch and a pair of temporary dugouts are put in place for each match. A mobile snack van provided welcome pre-match refreshments, necessary after a rather tortuous journey left too little time to find a shop, although I guess they cater mainly to those using the very busy five-a-side pitches.

The game was good enough to make the effort of competing with rush hour traffic worthwhile. Two great strikes gave the home side a comfortable first half lead, before Malpas scored just before half time.

The second half started with a flurry of cards show by a referee who, if I'm kind, had an eccentric evening. Both sides lost players to extremely harsh red cards following separate incidents within moments of each other, as if the ref was attempting to even things up after his first error.

After that the game petered out somewhat, before the home side scored a third goal to make the points safe.