Ashby Ivanhoe v Desford

3pm  31 August 2013

Leicestershire Senior League, Premier Division
Ashby Ivanhoe 1 Desford 4 (att 54)

Both sides were unbeaten going into this game, but a very impressive Desford won at a canter, scoring twice in each half before Ashby managed a late consolation goal.

The result maintains Desford's 100% winning start, and I think they'll take some stopping in the league this season.

This is Ashby's second season at their new venue, the NFU Sports Ground in Lower Packington Road on the outskirts of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. It is, however, the first season on the current pitch, which is closest to the changing rooms and clubhouse which are behind the goal.

The pitch is roped off, through permanent wooden posts, and there's a pair of dugouts. Recently-erected fencing separates the playing area from the car park, and while there's no cover for spectators it's a neat and tidy ground. It's clearly a work in progress though, and plans displayed in the clubhouse suggest floodlights are on the agenda.






 

Sheffield United U18 v Crewe Alexandra U18

11.30am  31 August 2013

Under 18 Professional Development League, North
Sheffield United U18 0 Crewe Alexandra U18 2 (att 80)

A comfortable and rather unexciting win for Crewe's youngsters, although if the home side had been better in front of goal it might have been a much better match.

United created chances, but never looked likely to take any, whereas Crewe scored a goal in each half, the second a penalty.

I was last at this ground in November 1998, when it was known as the Forgemasters Sports and Social Club and home to Sheffield Lane Top FC. Since then it's been acquired by Sheffield United as a training ground and academy venue.

Back in 1998 I saw Lane Top well beaten by Stocksbridge Park Steels in a county cup match, but the pitch used that day hosted an under 16s match between Sheffield United and Crewe, while the under 18s played on a pitch closer to the Shirecliffe Road entrance.

Viewing isn't ideal, with spectators restricted to areas behind the goal, in front of a building that was the Forgemasters social club and now houses a tea bar, or half of one side.



Sowerby Bridge v Stump Cross

6.15pm  30 August 2013

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Sowerby Bridge 3 Stump Cross 4 (att 70)

The referee's unfounded fears of bad light meant that despite a prompt start this match was reduced to two 40-minute halves, yet no one watching can have had any complaints about the action the two sides crammed into the game.

In front of a large, noisy and partisan crowd (at least by Halifax League standards), the game got off to a feisty start. The referee, who did well despite a testing 80 minutes, had to separate players who were spoiling for a fight within two minutes.

Sowerby Bridge, newly promoted to the league's top division, delighted their fans by going ahead early, but were 2-1 behind by half time.

They started the second half just as well as the first, an early goal putting them level, but Stump Cross always had a slight edge and finished on top as the two sides traded goals. Had it not been for a Sowerby Bridge red card though, and a great chance missed with the game's final kick, they would have got something out of the game.

The ground is unlikely to be suitable for football at any higher level, as the walk from the changing rooms to the pitch is a long one including crossing a footbridge over the River Calder. The pitch is hemmed in on all four sides by trees, giving it a tight and enclosed feel.





Royton Town v Old Altrinchamians

7pm  29 August 2013

Manchester League, Premier Division
Royton Town 3 Old Altrinchamians 0 (att 43)

Not a very inspiring evening's football, although fortunately a midweek game at Royton's new home ground meant there were plenty of fellow groundhoppers here to help pass the 90 minutes.

In fact for most of us it was considerably longer than 90 minutes, as what has been advertised as a 6.30pm kick off first became a 7pm start, and then finally got underway 10 minutes after that thanks to the visitors late arrival.

Royton missed several good chances before finally going ahead with a first half penalty. A second goal followed before the break. The second half was mostly dull, but was livened but a late own goal by Old Alts, a header from the edge of the penalty area that zipped past a stranded keeper.

Royton's new ground, the third home ground I've seen them on, is at least a return to the area of Oldham they take their name from. But it's just a caged 3G pitch at the rear of the brand new Oldham Academy North, and just half of one touchline is taped off as an area for spectators, whose only other option is to watch from outside through the fence.




Huddersfield YMCA v Bay Athletic

6.15pm  28 August 2013

West Riding County Amateur League, Premier Division
Huddersfield YMCA 3 Bay Athletic 0 (att 56)

It's very early days in the West Riding County Amateur League, but local bragging rights were at stake as two Huddersfield rivals clashed at newly-promoted YMCA's pleasant Laund Hill ground.

But with a large crowd gathered to watch, the opening 45 minutes were utterly forgettable. Bay had a shot tipped over the bar by the home keeper, but other than that little of note happened.

The second half was, thankfully, much better. Huddersfield YMCA took control with a couple of early goals, and made sure of the win with a third goal later in the half. Bay had their moments, but once they went behind they didn't look likely to come back.

YMCA's Laund Hill ground caters for more than just football, but the football pitch is enclosed separately from the rest. It's railed off, with a few advertising boards and a pair of dugouts large enough to house a few supporters alongside subs and coaches.





Egerton v Lostock Gralam

6.30pm  27 August 2013

Cheshire League, Division Two
Egerton 3 Lostock Gralam 3 (att 30)

My third Cheshire League game in as many weeks, and like the previous two a hugely enjoyable game with some good football on show.

The tone for tonight's game was set early, with both sides scoring in the opening 10 minutes. The visitors scored first, and regained their lead before half time.

They couldn't shake off Egerton though, as the home side equalised after the break. And Egerton had to come back for a third time after Lostock Gralam had again gone in front. A draw was just about the right result, although the visitors will be frustrated after having led three times.

Egerton are based in Knutsford, and have a huge complex that includes a sports hall, floodlit 3G pitch and several grass pitches, including the main pitch which is neatly enclosed by a wooden fence and has a pair of dugouts.

No more Cheshire League football for me this season, as that re-completes the league until any new clubs, or grounds, join its ranks.






Fawley v Christchurch

3pm  26 August 2013

Wessex League, Premier Division
Fawley 2 Christchurch 1 (att 68)

The last time I attempted to watch a game at Fawley I arrived about 30 minutes before kick off to be told the away side hadn't turned up and the game was off. I managed a game elsewhere that day, but I was relieved to spot two sets of players warming when I arrived today.

Fawley AFC began life as the Esso sports club, and the company's oil refinery looms over what must once have been the Esso sports ground, but has now been rebranded the Waterside Sports and Social Club

The clubhouse, with a large bar area, is a fair walk to the pitch, which is on the far side of the cricket ground. Thankfully, and presumably to comply with ground regulations for this level of football, the club use temporary buildings to provide changing rooms, a tea bar and hospitality area pitch-side.

Other facilities include a seated stand on one side, and a pair of covered standing areas, flanking the dugouts on the opposite side.

On the pitch the first half was disappointing, and ended goalless with neither side coming close to scoring. After the break things improved greatly, and it was a very entertaining second 45 minutes.

Fawley went ahead, before Christchurch equalised with a spectacular shot from distance that was so good it'll probably be the best goal I'll see all season. I'll be generous and say it was exactly what the player intended, although I doubt he'd be able to do it again. Fawley's late winner was less impressive, but it earned them three points.








Horsley v Bookham

11am  26 August 2013

Surrey Elite Intermediate League
Horsley 2 Bookham 2 (att 38)

Having been in Elgin in Sunday it took quite an effort to get to Surrey for a morning Bank Holiday game, but I was glad I did as this was a good game between two decent sides.

Not only that, but Horsley's home ground, Tom's Field, is a delightful venue that far exceeded my expectations. It couldn't feel more rural, not this close to the M25 anyway, but despite the lack of floodlights or a proper stand, it still felt like a proper football ground.

A wooden fence encloses the two sides of the pitch which have spectator access, while trees and a hedge enclose those which are out of bounds. Additional fencing also provides a welcome, and necessary, boundary between the car park and the area for spectators.

Seating, all uncovered, is a combination of wooden park benches and around 20 plastic seats that look as if they've been salvaged from stand. In wet weather, there's a covered standing area in front of the pavilion, which also houses a bar that also served hot drinks.

It's difficult to judge the relative strength of teams based on just one match, but Bookham looked like a decent side who put in a below par performance, while Horsley's greater effort earned them a deserved share of the points, both teams scoring a goal in each half.






Bishopmill Villa v Ugie United

2pm  25 August 2013

Moray Welfare League, Premier Division
Bishopmill Villa 2 Ugie United 2 (att 35)

Having watched New Elgin at FC Stoneywood on Saturday, I visited their home ground on Sunday, as "Pinefield South", known also as Nicol-Togneri Park, is a regular venue for Elgin-based clubs in the Moray Welfare League.

The ground, like its neighbour "Pinefield North", is a barriered pitch inside a mesh fence. Back before the two pitches were enclosed by fencing, bringing them up to current Junior standards, I'd seen a Welfare League game at what is now the north pitch, so I was pleased to find this game was on what I will consider a new ground.

Ultimately though, groundhopping is about enjoying games of football rather than worrying over details of which pitches are being used, and this was a great match.

Bishopmill looked in command after two first half goals gave them the lead, but they failed to hold onto the advantage during a terrific second half. Ugie pulled a goal back soon after the break, which made the game interesting, and they fully deserved their equaliser, courtesy of a penalty given for deliberate handball as an outfield saved a goal bound shot.

A red card for the penalty incident put Bishopmill on the back foot, but they held out for a draw despite Ugie's best efforts to find a winner.