North Midlands Development League
Espial U19 4 Collingham U19 1 (att 47)
Not the sort of fixture that I'd normally consider, but new grounds midweek are few and far between these days, and the under 19 side is the most senior that Chesterfield-based Espial have, having formed two years ago as a academy for young players.
According to the match programme (included free with the £3 admission they charge) Espial was set up "when it became clear there was a demand for high quality football coaching within an academy framework but without the constraints of a football club academy structure".
I've no idea what the "constraints" of a club set up might be, but on the evidence of the 90 minutes I watched Espial have players capable of performing to a good standard. They had this game won by half time, scoring three first half goals without reply. Collingham had their moments, but the biggest difference was finishing.
The second period brought just a goal apiece, Collingham's consolation in the closing moments thanks to a howler by the Espial keeper.
Espial's home venue for under 19 games, and the reason for my visit, is Chesterfield Panthers rugby union ground. It's newish, with a nice clubhouse and a main, floodlit, pitch that's fenced on the near side, with dugouts opposite and some grass banking. The football goals are placed in front of rugby posts for Espial games,
As for the name, my dictionary defines as Espial as "the act of being seen or discovered". Whether any local professional or semi-professional clubs notice Espial's youngsters remains to be seen.