Llantwit Major v Tredegar Town

2.30pm  30 March 2013

Welsh League, Division Three
Llantwit Major 2 Tredegar Town 0 (att 27)

Second time I've seen Tredegar Town in the month, and just like their match at Cardiff Grange Harlequins it was another toothless performance.

Once again they lost 2-0, this time to a goal in each half, and it was a comfortable win that Llantwit Major richly deserved.

But after a slow start Tredegar were handed the ideal opportunity to win the game in the 21st minute, when the home side lost a player to a straight red card for an off the ball incident. I didn't see it so I don't know if the sending off was justified, but it made little difference to Llantwit Major who dominated the game from start to finish.

Llantwit Major is a pleasant town, although the football ground, off Windmill Lane, isn't among its most attractive spots. The mill that lends its name to the address is clearly visible, now minus its sails, but the railed off pitch, with dugouts and a covered standing area, has a utilitarian feel.

Changing rooms are housed just beyond the ground itself in a rather grim-looking building, but when I ventured inside in search of half time refreshments I found a nice clubroom complete with bar and tea bar.







Meridian v Orpington

3pm  29 March 2013

Kent Invicta League
Meridian 1 Orpington 2 (att 35)

I enjoyed this game, which was just about good enough to make me forget how cold it was in south east London.

Meridian belied their lowly league position, bottom but one, by dominating the early exchanges. They played some very good football, and fully deserved their 20th minute lead, as Orpington struggled to get a foothold into the game.

But before half time the visitors were ahead, two good goals in quick succession giving them an advantage they somehow held onto until the end.

The second period was goalless, despite chances at both ends. Most chances fell to Meridian, who at the very least deserved a draw. If they had a forward capable of scoring, they'd have won the game.

This wasn't my first visit to the Meridian Sports and Social Club. Nineteen years ago I saw Bridon Ropes play Clapton Villa in a late season game, but the pitch used that day doesn't overlap the newly railed off pitch now shared by Bridon and their landlords Meridian ... enough for me to count this as a new ground.

The pitch is railed on three sides, the exception being the side bordering Charlton Park Lane. There's a pair of dugouts and hard standing, but no cover for spectators. The clubhouse is impressive though, housing a bar and tea bar with hot meals available.







Allexton and New Parks v FC Khalsa

7.30pm  19 March 2013

Leicestershire Senior League, Division One
Allexton and New Parks 3 FC Khalsa 0 (att 25)

A return to Allexton and New parks just a month after my previous visit. On that occasion floodlight problems meant the game was switched to the 3G pitch at New College in Glenfield, but tonight's went ahead as planned on grass.

The game was much like the last one. The superior home side leading 2-0 at half time, before adding a third in the second half. Allexton weren't as dominant as they had been against Ratby though, and Khalsa were just a saved penalty away from reducing the arrears to 2-1 during the second half.

That was one of three spot kicks. The other two were both awarded to Allexton, one saved in the opening minute, the second scored before half time.

The ground held few surprises, having seen it, albeit in the dark, from the adjacent 3G pitch. It's just a railed off pitch with dugouts and plenty of hard standing, but no cover for spectators. A club on the up though.





St David's University College v Bargod Rangers reserves

2.15pm  17 March 2013

Ceredigion League, Division Two
St David's University College 2 Bargod Rangers reserves 3 (att 12)

Last Sunday this ground staged a match in the Ceredigion League "hop". I couldn't make that match, but this week's alternative gave me the chance to sample a more normal matchday at College Fields in Lampeter.

With no admission charge, no rope around the pitch, and no programmes, refreshments or other groundhoppers to distract me I was able to concentrate on the football. I don't know what last week's game was like, but what today's lacked in skill it made up for in entertainment.

Bargod went ahead after two minutes and increased their lead just before half time. A third goal soon after the break appeared to put them on the road to an easy win, but a pair of late goals for the students, the second in the final minute, made the outcome closer.

SDUC should have had a point though. In the first half, while only 1-0 behind, they had a shot from distance which squeezed under the crossbar and beyond the Bargod keeper's reach. At least that's what most people thought.

Not the referee though, the ball had escaped through a hole in the back of the net, and the ref ruled it must have gone over the bar rather than under it, resulting in a Bargod goalkick. I guess goal-line technology is never likely to make it to the Ceredigion League, and credit to SDUC for getting on with the game after the briefest of, entirely justified, moans.






Millmoor Juniors v Handsworth

3pm  16 March 2013

Sheffield County Senior League, Premier Division
Millmoor Juniors 3 Handsworth 1 (att 58)

These are two of at least five sides closely bunched at the top of the league, and they produced a very entertaining and high quality game.

Millmoor established their supremacy during a first half in which they went 3-0 ahead. They had clinical finishing to thank for the lead, and Handsworth's unjustified complaints about the match officials (a young linesman in particular) became tiresome.

Handsworth set up a good second half by scoring soon after the break, but surprisingly there were no further goals, despite chances for both sides, and Millmoor claimed the points.

The ground, Grange Park, is a credit to the club, who as their name suggests have a thriving youth set up. The clubhouse, housing changing rooms, club room and tea bar, has a covered overhang in front, although it's some distance from the main pitch.

The pitch is partly railed off and partly roped, with a grass bank on the far side giving a good view. There's a second, smaller, adult pitch (which today staged  a local league cup semi final), and a couple of small junior pitches. It has the feel of a club who are on the up.





Cardiff Grange Harlequins v Tredegar Town

7.45pm  13 March 2013

Welsh League, Division Three
Cardiff Grange Harlequins 2 Tredegar Town 0 (att 34)

The Cardiff International Sports Stadium is a terrific resource for the Welsh capital, but while it may been fine for athletics it's a fairly dispiriting place to watch a football match, especially one with such a small crowd.

It was built to replace the old Leckwith Stadium, which had been home to Harlequins before it was demolished to make way for Cardiff City's new stadium, but watching football from a distant stand and across a running track is rarely fun.

The home side have enjoyed a revival in recent weeks, having appeared candidates for relegation earlier in the season. They continued their good form with two first half goals, against a Tredegar side who offered little.

In the second half the home side were content to sit on their lead, and there was never any suggestion Tredegar were capable of doing anything about it. Not great to watch, but a professional performance from Harlequins.





Kingston University v Brunel University II

2pm  13 March 2013

BUCS South Eastern 3A
Kingston University 2 Brunel University II 4 (att 9)

University football can be a good way of filling a blank afternoon, and getting a new ground into the bargain, and although there was little at stake in this fixture it was a decent and competitive match.

The BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues are regionalised, and cover a spread of teams ranging from professionally-coached sides from institutions specialising in sports to teams who take part for the social side rather than the sport.

When I do watch BUCS matches I aim for the higher sides, and Kingston and Brunel (well, Brunel's second eleven) played some reasonable football as well as providing a few goals.

Another attraction was the venue. Kingston University don't play in a Saturday league, but their Tolworth Court Sports Ground is home to Nottsborough FC in the Southern Amateur League, a league in which I've been to quite a few of the grounds.

The game was played on "pitch 1", immediately in front of the impressive two storey pavilion. The pitch wasn't roped or railed off, but there's a pair of dugouts and a good view to be had from a balcony on the first floor of the pavilion.

Kingston started the game well, scoring in the opening seconds, but Brunel were the better side and led by half time. In the second half they snuffed out a Kingston revival to run out comfortable winners.

The game's only unsavoury incident came in stoppage time when, out of keeping with the spirit of the previous 90 minutes, a minor looking incident resulted in two players trading punches. As the referee tried to restore order other players entered the fray, and so he blew for full time.





AFC Totton v Frome Town

7.45pm  12 March 2013

Southern League, Premier Division
AFC Totton 2 Frome Town 0 (att 243)

It's rare for me to see games at this level these days, and all too often I'm underwhelmed by the experience when I do, but this was decent contest that had enough in it to take my mind off the very chilly conditions.

I was heading a few miles up to road, to Hythe and Dibden, but once I knew their game was off I took the chance to recomplete the Southern League's top division at AFC Totton's new(ish) Testwood Stadium.

As new grounds go it's not bad. The main stand is a decent size, and smaller seated stand opposite looks as if may have been transported from their previous home ground, in which case I'd last have seen it back in 1986.

The remainder of the ground is uncovered terracing, but unlike some new venues the terracing is steep enough to provide a decent view even if there's more spectators than braved the cold for this game.

One the field AFC Totton were hugely fortunate to lead at half time. Frome created all the chances in the first period, but failed to take one and were undone by a 44th minute strike that gave the hosts an undeserved advantage.

Totton were better after the break, and the game continued to be lively, until the home side wrapped up the win with a second goal after 81 minutes.

The referee may well have been thankful Totton added a second goal, as had Frome levelled it'd focused more attention on a Totton "goal" he'd earlier bizarrely ruled out. Having waved play on as his assistant flagged for offside Totton forced the ball over the line. The assistant was behind play, have stopped to give the offside, but both he and the referee signalled a goal. Cue protests from aggrieved Frome players, a conversation between referee and linesman, and the referee eventually awarded Frome a free kick for the offside.







Marston Saints v Oxford University Press

2.30pm  9 March 2013

Oxfordshire Senior League, Premier Division
Marston Saints 4 Oxford University Press 4 (att 23)

I picked this game largely for its location. Travelling from Manchester to London I needed a match that was on the way, ideally somewhere where I my other half could happily spend a couple of hours while I was at the football.

Oxford ticked all the relevant boxes, and Marston's Boults Lane ground, in Old Marston, is just a short drive from the city centre.

As a ground, there's not much to enthuse about, but as a game this was among the most entertaining 90 minutes I've seen all season.

OUP are challenging to regain the league title they won last season, and might have expected an easier ride against mid table Marston. The visitors started very poorly, and were soon a deserved goal down.

Two goals in quick succession put OUP in front, but Marston came back again. The sides traded more goals and by half time it was 3-3. Needless to say, both teams were much better going forward than at the back.

The second half was unlikely to follow the pattern of the first, and it took a while before Marston scored the game's seventh goal. OUP then lost a player to a red card, and as the 90th minute approached lost their keeper to a nasty-looking injury.

But despite the numerical disadvantage, deep into the extended stoppage time it was OUP who scored the game's final goal, earning a deserved draw.

Boults Lane is a cul-de-sac with the football club based at what is basically a recreation ground at its end. From the car park and clubhouse the pitch runs lengthways, and was roped off behind the near goal and up to around the half way line on either side.