Uffington United v Appleton Stars

7.30pm  22 September 2012

North Berkshire League, Division Five
Uffington United 12 Appleton Stars 0 (att 188)

The fourth, and final, game of the day. It was always going to be a matter of just keeping count of how many goals Uffington would score, and despite missing a few along the way they managed six in each half.

Appleton did well to keep going, and this result was three goals better than their only other league game so far this season.

Quite why Uffington have floodlights at their impressive home ground is anyone's guess, they won't often be required in the bottom division of the North Berkshire League, but it allowed us a rather quirky game to round off the day's entertainment.




Stanford-in-the-Vale v Blewbury

4.30pm  22 September 2012

North Berkshire League, Division Three
Stanford-in-the-Vale 1 Blewbury 1 (att 178)

Back onto the official North Berkshire League hop for match number three. Another club who'd organised their big day well, and who were rewarded with a bumper crowd.

The game wasn't the greatest, Blewbury took a first half lead before Stanford levelled in the second half. Other chances were created but the finishing wasn't great, and all too often players were caught offside.

Still, at this level it's about endeavour and effort rather than great skill, and it wouldn't be fair to criticise the standard, especially as the day's final match, at Uffington, was a further two divisions lower.





Horspath v Chalgrove

2pm  22 September 2012

Oxfordshire Charity Cup, First Round
Horspath 2 Chalgrove 4 (att 22)

Having already visited the North Berkshire League hop's second venue, Faringdon Town, I headed elsewhere for an afternoon match. The 2pm kick off at Horspath was ideal, although I was banking on the tie being settled in 90 minutes if I was to make it to match number three at 4.30.

For while it looked in doubt, as Chalgrove clung onto a 3-2 lead under increasing pressure from the home side. Then with two minutes remaining the visitors broke away to score their fourth goal and win the tie.

They'd been the better side, despite playing a division lower in the Oxfordshire Senior League than their hosts. Chalgrove had taken a lead, but conceded twice in a minute after losing their composure and discipline.

They had good reason to be frustrated though. Hospath's equaliser was a penalty and, while it was clearly a foul, it was also clearly, to everyone but the referee, outside the penalty area. They were still bothered by that decision moments later when Horspath went in front.

The home side dominated as half time approached, but couldn't score again. Chalgrove regained their composure in the second half and were soon level, before going ahead about about 20 minutes to go and, despite pressure, and chances, for Horspath winning the match.

Horspath used to be based at the Rover Sports Ground in Oxford, but have now moved across the road to the Horspath Athletics Ground. Disappointingly, the the pitch isn't within the floodlit athletics arena, which has a seated stand, but on an open pitch in the large adjacent sports field.

The pitches are very well maintained though. Next door to Horspath's pitch was a match in the Chiltern Churches League, while on another pitch, some distance away, The Riverside played Oxford Irish in an Oxfordshire Senior League game.





Coleshill United v Ardington and Lockinge

10.30am  22 September 2012

North Berkshire League, Division Two
Coleshill United 2 Ardington and Lockinge 5 (att 171)

The first of four games in one day ... a bit of a daunting prospect and the first time I'd seen so many matches in just a day.

Fortunately it was an entertaining and goal filled start. The visitors raced into a commanding 3-0 lead before Coleshill pulled one back before half time. They got a second back after the break, but were undone by a red card for a dangerous tackle, and with a man advantage Ardington scored twice more.

Coleshill's rural ground is a very pleasant place to watch football, and the club was well organised to cope with the influx of groundhoppers attending the North Berkshire League "hop".






Lydd Town v Crockenhill

3pm  15 September 2012

Kent Invicta League
Lydd Town 1 Crockenhill 4 (att 29)

Lively game with a scoreline that didn't flatter the visitors, who on another day, and without some goal line clearances, would have scored a few more.

Crockenhill took a grip on the game by scoring twice in the first half. A third goal, after the break, extinguished any hopes the home side had. Lydd got a consolation in stoppage time, although a sharper eyed referee could have ruled it out for handball, and should have ruled it out for offside.

After that, and even deeper into stoppage time of a game which started late and didn't finish until 5pm, there was still time for Crockenhill to get a fourth.

The visitors played some good football. The game was very competitive, although the constant moaning at the referee, by both sides, became tiresome. Okay, he didn't have a great game, but then neither did some of the players.

I liked Lydd's ground, although as it was windswept on a pleasant afternoon I wouldn't fancy watching a game here in winter. The only cover is a small shelter in one corner, and there's nice clubhouse, with bar and tea bar, behind the goal. On one side some banking provides a slightly elevated view, not just of the pitch but also of Dungeness and its distant power station.








Brighton & Hove Albion U18 v Ipswich Town U18

11am  15 September 2012

Under 18 Professional Development League 2, South
Brighton & Hove Albion U18 1 Ipswich Town U18 1 (att 57)

The last time I visited the Sussex University Sports Ground in Falmer for a Brighton youth team game the main pitch was out of action, and instead they played some distance away on "pitch two".

As I'm pedantic about such things I wanted to return to see a game on the "main" pitch, although the effort of driving from Manchester to Brighton in time for an 11am kick off meant it's taken a while to get round to it.

With that in mind I was grateful to find the players warming up on the correct bit of grass when I arrived. The pitch is immediately in front of a 1960s pavilion, which has a balcony for an elevated view, as well as some cover for spectators at ground level.

The game was evenly matched. Brighton shaded the first half, and scored its only goal, while Ipswich were better after the break, and got a deserved equaliser.

This was the first time I've seen a game in what is the second tier of the newly restructured Under 18s academy system in English football. Brighton have effectively moved up from the more physical Football League Youth Alliance, while Ipswich were previously a level higher in the Premier Academy League.



Sutton Athletic v Rusthall

3pm   8 September 2012

Kent Invicta League
Sutton Athletic 2 Rusthall 0 (att 45)

Two excellent goals, one in each half, gave Sutton a deserved win against a disappointing Rusthall side who rarely looked like scoring.

The heat must have made playing difficult, but while the game wasn't a classic it was entertaining enough. Rusthall's keeper played particularly well, making some fine saves to keep his side in contention.

Sutton are settling into their new home, on the outskirts of the nearby village of Hextable. Apart from not being in Sutton at Hone, it's an improvement on their previous ground, and has scope to be developed.

At present the pitch is railed off, with dugouts and some hard standing around the perimeter. There's no cover, although the only need for it today would have been to provide shade from the fierce sun. The changing rooms and a bar are housed in a clubhouse in the corner, and refreshments are available from a mobile snack bar.









Stevenage U18 v Northampton Town U18

11am  8 September 2012

Football League Youth Alliance, South East Conference
Stevenage U18 3 Northampton Town U18 1 (att 48)

Stevenage were worthy winners and took control with two first half goals. Northampton rarely threatened in the first half, but were better after the break and pulled a goal back, before a third goal for the hosts made the game safe.

Stevenage's youth team have been nomadic since they joined the Youth Alliance, but at last they seem close to settling on a permanent home.

Before long they should be playing at the club's new training ground. However, despite the club's official website suggesting they're already there, instead games are currently staged at the Shephalbury Sports Academy, just along the road from the the Broadhall Way stadium.

Chances are I'll be returning for a Stevenage youth team game later this season, once they've taken up residence at the training ground.



Trawden Celtic v Rolls

6.30pm  6 September 2012

Craven & District League, Premier Division
Trawden Celtic 1 Rolls 1 (att 13)

Despite bright sunshine, a cold wind blew across Trawden Recreation Ground this evening, to the extent that I really wouldn't fancy standing here for 90 minutes in the depths of winter.

The compensation for braving the elements at a ground high in the east Lancashire hills is the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The match wasn't bad to look at either. It was bit scrappy, as the sides battled with the conditions and the undulating pitch, but it was a well contested game.

The two moments of real quality resulted in the goals. A fine finish from a tight angle put Trawden ahead in the 43rd minute, while Rolls scored an unlikely equaliser at the end of a good passing move four minutes from time.

Trawden had most chances, and the Rolls keeper made some good saves to keep his side in the game. The visitors had rarely looked like scoring before their late goal, but came closest to winning in a frantic final few minutes with the scores level.

There are two pitches at Trawden Recreation Ground. Celtic played on the one furthest from the changing rooms, while Barnoldswick Barons staged a Craven League Division Two game on the other.





Freehold v Millhead

6.15pm  5 September 2012

North Lancashire & District League, Division One
Freehold 4 Millhead 2 (att 17)

Not the final scoreline I expected after the opening 30 minutes or so. Freehold were awful at the start, and were lucky that Millhead took advantage by scoring only twice.

They had a third ruled out for offside, but the game's turning point was a goal back for Freehold just before half time, thanks to a error by the Millhead keeper who left a soft shot slip underneath him.

After the break the home side got into their stride and were soon level, but although they had the better of the football that followed the sides remained level until five minutes from the end, when two goals for Freehold earned the win.

Overall it was rather scrappy 90 minutes, and the venue was a bit uninspiring as well. Freehold's home is "pitch two" at King George's Playing Field, Slyne Road, Lancaster. It's a pleasant enough park, but it wasn't that long ago that I was here to watch TIC Dynamos play on "pitch one", so I was returning for some pitch hopping.