Preston Sector v PSV Preston

7pm  29 May 2013

Catforth and District Summer League, Premier Division
Preston Sector 2 PSV Preston 5 (att 10)

Only one new ground needed this year for me to recomplete the Catforth Summer League, and I ticked it off by watching an entertaining local derby between the two clubs who are both playing there.

Christ the King High School, in the Frenchwood area of Preston, was a better venue than I was expecting. The single pitch is fairly well enclosed, although fussier referee might have had concerns at the state of the pitch markings, with the school running track lanes confusing players along the touchline.

The game was better too. The visitors raced into an early two goal lead, which they held until half time. More goals flowed after the break, with PSV deserved winners.

Summer League football can be a mixed bag, but some of the football was of a high quality, and there was no doubting the players' commitment. In fact, the referee did well to keep control of a game which at times threatened to boil over.





Warwick Wanderers v Mirehouse

7pm  27 May 2013

Cumberland County League, Premier Division
Warwick Wanderers 1 Mirehouse 4 (att 19)

Warwick needed to win this to retain any hope of overtaking Mirehouse and climbing out of the league's relegation positions, but they were well beaten despite a valiant effort.

Mirehouse scored the first half's only goal, and looked to have sealed the win when they added a second not long after the break.

But Warwick Wanderers refused to give up, and deserved the goal back they got with around 25 minutes remaining. They pushed forward looking for an equaliser, and came close more than once, but eventually Mirehouse's superiority showed as they eased to a win.

The result ensures that, with both teams having one match still to play, Warwick will finish in the bottom two while Mirehouse are safe.

Warwick Wanderers play on a partially-roped off pitch at Creighton Rugby Union Club, in a leafy Carlisle suburb.

I visited the same venue last season, to watch Carlisle United Under 18s, but the professionals' pitch is tucked away in a corner of the ground and separate from Warwick's pitch, enough for me to count it as a new ground. Eden Thistle, of the Westmorland League, also play here, presumably on the same pitch as Warwick.






Clark Drive v Stewarton United at Ardeer Thistle FC

2pm  26 May 2013

Ayrshire Amateur FA, James Scott Memorial Trophy Final at Ardeer Thistle FC
Clark Drive 1 Stewarton United 2 (att 150)

A cup final on a Sunday that gave me a handy way of ticking off another Junior ground in Scotland, albeit necessitating a lengthy drive.

I'd like to say I was rewarded with a great game, but although it was certainly competitive it wasn't a classic. It was littered with too many fouls, many resulting in deserved bookings although surprisingly none of the players picked up a second.

Clark Drive started well, but Stewarton hit them on the break for an early lead. A penalty, for handball, was expertly dispatched to level the score, before Stewarton scored what turned out to be the winner in first half stoppage time.

After the break there were chances, but no further goals. Not surprisingly Clark Drive did most of the attacking, but they rarely looked scoring against Stewarton's well-drilled defence.

Ardeer Stadium is typical of a certain type of Scottish Junior venue. The pitch is inside an oval, surrounded by a narrow cinder track. There's terracing around the whole ground, with a small section covered by a low roof. On a pleasant sunny afternoon it was a good place to watch a cup final.








Borth United v Tregaron Turfs

2.30pm  25 May 2013

Aberystwyth League, Division One
Borth United 2 Tregaron Turfs 4 (att 300)

A winners-takes-all title decider in the Aberystwyth League, although a draw would have been enough for Borth who went into the season's final game two points ahead of the visitors.

But it didn't go to plan for Borth, despite the support of a large crowd. They defended poorly, perhaps nervously, at the start and found themselves 2-0 down after just seven minutes. They were the only goals of a first half that was mostly even.

Borth had renewed hope, and neutrals like me had renewed interested, when they pulled a goal back early in the second half. But Tregaron responded with two quick goals to establish a commanding 4-1 lead.

Another goal back for the home side kept things interesting, but despite pressing forward they couldn't score again and Tregaron, who'd bought a fair few fans themselves, saw the game out to win the title.

Consolation for Borth may be promotion to the Mid Wales League, as Tregaron apparently haven't applied for a return to the league they voluntarily stepped down from last year.

Borth's ground, Uppingham Playing Fields, certainly looks good enough for higher grade football. Three sides of the pitch are railed off, just one end is open, and there's a stand, dugouts and a tea bar. The club coped well with the large crowd, and even had a PA system in operation. Add the pleasant seaside location and it's a good afternoon out.







Moorcock Inn v Wardle

6.30pm  22 May 2013

Rochdale Alliance, Premier Division
Moorcock Inn 5 Wardle 3 (att 13)

The closest I've come to barrel scraping as the end of the season fast approaches, with a dead rubber of a fixture at the windswept Firgrove Playing Fields in Rochdale.

Wardle had already won the league with ease, but clearly took their collective foot off the pedal early in this match, conceding three times in the opening 15 minutes. Moorcock added a fourth, an unstoppable strike into the top corner, with 30 minutes gone.

The visitors pulled a goal back before half time, and got a second from a penalty early in the second half. A fifth home goal, another great strike from distance, was followed by another converted penalty for the visitors.

Both sides could have scored more, in a game that was surprisingly entertaining despite the cold wind, and although at times it verged on farce it remained largely competitive.

Firgrove Playing Fields has at least four football pitches and two rugby pitches, with possibly more out of sight. On a Saturday it's a busy place, used by several Rochdale Alliance sides, but tonight was hosting just the one game.




AFC Emley reserves v Halifax Irish Club at Overthorpe Sports Club FC

7pm  20 May2013

West Riding County Amateur League, Division One Cup Final at Overthorpe Sports Club FC
AFC Emley reserves 1 Halifax Irish Club 4 (att 90)

Four goals in a storming first half performance earned Halifax Irish Club a deserved trophy at the expense of Emley's second team

AFC Emley actually the began the game well, but they had no answer once Halifax Irish had found their stride. They were first to every lose ball, more committed with every challenge and looked like the team who cared about winning the cup the most.

In fact, Emley's keeper had pulled off at least three great saves before Halifax Irish got in front. By half time the lead was 4-0 and the contest was effectively over.

The second half could have been a non event, but an early goal back gave Emley brief hope of a comeback. Although it didn't materialise there was still much to enjoy, as they pushed forward trying to save the game while remaining vulnerable on the break.

The choice of venue was a good one for me, as Overthorpe's newish home was the only West Riding County Amateur League Premier Division ground I'd not visited. It's a work in progress, although the pitch is railed off, and being high up the far side offers a fine view towards Dewsbury.







Kings Stanley v Taverners at Southmead CS Athletic FC

1pm  19 May 2013

Gloucestershire County League, Les James League Cup Final at Southmead CS Athletic FC
Kings Stanley 1 Taverners 0 (att 150)

Some cup finals are classic games that live long in the memory, but this season's Gloucestershire County League cup final wasn't one of them, at least not for the neutral.

The deciding goal, which appeared to me to be scored direct from a corner, maybe connecting with the Taverners keeper's ineffectual hand on its way in, came after about an hour.

It was tough on Taverners, who'd looked the better of two poor sides up to that point. They'd missed their big chance to go in front when a first half penalty was weakly struck and well saved. They also hit the crossbar, while Kings Stanley rarely threatened.

Too often both sides relied on long and high balls, which was a shame as at times they both showed they could play a bit.

The venue was the Bristol home of Southmead Community Sport Athletic, to give the league newcomers their full and rather lengthy title. There's a modern pavilion, housing a bar that was predictably busy for a game such as this, while the pitch is fully railed off, with hard standing all around and floodlights.






Ilkley Town v Hunslet Club

2.30pm  18 May 2013

West Yorkshire League, Division One
Ilkley Town 1 Hunslet Club 2 (att 48)

I recently saw Hunslet surprisingly held to a draw at home by Old Headingley, one of several drawn games that had hindered them in their quest to win the West Yorkshire League's second tier.

Today was their final league game of the season, and they knew that only three points at Ilkley Town would be enough to leapfrog Shelley, who'd completed their fixtures, to claim the title.

In keeping with their recent form, Hunslet did it the hard way, coming from behind after conceding a first half penalty. Their two second half goals, the winner with 15 minutes left, were greeted with understandable joy by their supporters, who made up more than half the crowd.

Ilkley had nothing to play for, but couldn't be faulted for the effort and determination, which helped make it absorbing, and good quality, game to watch.

Ilkley's home is the Ben Rhydding Sports Club, on the eastern edge of the town. Facilities are sparse, surprisingly for the West Yorkshire League, with the pitch just partly roped off. But pitch railings and functional identikit stands don't determine how enjoyable or worthwhile a club is to visit, and an immaculate pitch, decent game and a great view of the looming Ilkley Moor ensured this was a Saturday afternoon well spent.






 

Winnington Avenue v Cuddington

6.30pm  15 May 2013

Crewe and District League, Premier Division
Winnington Avenue 4 Cuddington 0 (att 27)

On Monday night I watched Cuddington win at home to move level on points with league leaders Winnington Avenue, and with a superior goal difference put themselves in the driving seat.

But they'd been lucky to beat Rudheath's reserves, and another lacklustre performance tonight saw them soundly beaten by their fellow title challengers.

Winnington scored twice in each half, and could easily have added more. Cuddington, seemingly feeling the effects of a hectic end-of-season schedule, rarely threatened, and seemed to know the game was out of reach once the home side scored their second goal.

Winnington played some good football, but the game was too one-sided  to be truly entertaining. Both teams play their final league games on Saturday, and Winnington would seem unlikely to slip up away to bottom-of-the-table Malpas reserves.

Nor surprisingly, Winnington Avenue's ground, Jubilee Field, is found on Winnington Avenue, in the Winnington area of Northwich. Changing rooms and a car park are at the entrance, from where the large main pitch runs lengthways. There are two smaller pitches, and two small dugouts, though they could scarcely be described as a pair as one is positioned by the main pitch, and the other faces it but from the far side of the second pitch.