Port Glasgow v Newmains United

1.45pm  25 January 2014

SJFA West Region, Central League, Division Two
Port Glasgow 3 Newmains United 4 (att 40)

The main pitch at the Port Glasgow Community Stadium is apparently 4G, rather than 3G. I'm not sure what the difference is, other than it looked newer, as it would do with the ground only having been opened about 18 months ago.

It marked the end of of a long period of exile for Port Glasgow, and hopefully they can overcome some reported issued with the local council, who run the impressive facility, and ensure a bright future at the ground.

As I was still drying out after a soaking at the day's earlier game in Airdrie I was pleased when I arrived to find two sections of covered terracing, which are either side of the a modern pavilion building which incorporates a tea bar.

The opposite side, and behind the near goal, are just flat standing, and there's no access behind the far goal, beyond which is a second all weather pitch.

I hadn't expected much from the game, other than a comfortable home win. It started that way, with Port Glasgow racing into a two goal lead after just 10 minutes. They wasted chances to extend their lead, and paid for it when slack defending allowed Newmains two goals in quick succession to level the game just before half time.

Port Glasgow began the second half on the front foot, and it seemed just a matter of time before they regained the lead, but instead it was Newmains who made the most of their chances, scoring twice more.

Port Glasgow pulled one back, which looked suspiciously offside to me, but couldn't score again and so Newmains managed only their second league win of the season, in a very entertaining and enjoyable 90 minutes.










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AS Airdrie v Dennistoun Vale

11am  25 January 2014

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Premier Division
AS Airdrie 1 Dennistoun Vale 2 (att 13)

Another wet Saturday and another trip to Scotland, although this time I decided to watch two games on synthetic pitches rather than run the risk of late postponements.

The first was on an enclosed 3G pitch at Airdrie Leisure Centre, and while the surface meant the game was never in doubt the torrential rain, particularly in the first half, meant watching it wasn't easy.

Luckily the two teams did well enough in the conditions to provide a reasonable contest. The visitors took an early lead which they held until half time. AS Airdrie were level within a couple of minutes of the second half, but wasted a chance to go in front when a poorly-struck penalty was easily saved.

Dennistoun Vale had looked the better of the two sides, and deserved their late winner, the home side's chances not helped by a red card towards the end.

An all-weather pitch at Airdrie Leisure Centre wasn't a venue that was likely to be very interesting, but it wasn't bad as 3G grounds go. There's a paved standing area the length of the near touchline for spectators, separated from the pitch by a barrier, although most of those watching this game stood on the touchlines on either side of the pitch.







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Keyworth United v Cotgrave

7.30pm  21 January 2014

Nottinghamshire Senior League, Senior Division
Keyworth United 3 Cotgrave 5 (att 56)

New grounds for midweek games are few and far between these days, but Keyworth's newly-installed floodlights added an extra one to my list, and their first floodlit fixture proved to be great game.

The home side took the lead inside the first minute, but Cotgrave soon levelled. By half time Keyworth had gone back in front before once again conceding an equaliser.

The pattern followed in the second half, until, after drawing level for the third time, Cotgrave took control, scoring twice more to win against their local rivals. Judging by some of the goal celebrations, particularly by Cotgrave, there's quite a rivalry between the two clubs.

Although the floodlights and clubhouse are new, Keyworth United have been based at Platt Lane for some time. The railed off pitch, roughly parallel to the road, is apparently different to the former main pitch, but as it was my first visit as I didn't have to worry about whether the old and new playing surfaces overlapped at all.

As well as being railed, the pitch has dugouts and advertising boards, but there's no cover or hard standing for spectators.







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Musselburgh Athletic v Glenafton Athletic

1.45pm  18 January 2014

SJFA, Scottish Junior Cup, Fourth Round
Musselburgh Athletic 1 Glenafton Athletic 4 (att 500)

I always enjoy watching junior football in Scotland, and the Junior Cup is the SJFA's blue riband event, so it was an easy choice to head to the only one of the 16 fourth round ties on a ground I'd not been to previously.

Musselburgh and Glenafton are both comfortably mid table in their respective Super Leagues, East Region and West Region, so I expected a tight game.

There was little to choose between the two sides in the first half. An own goal put the hosts in front early on, and they had chances to increase their lead, but a penalty levelled the game after about half an hour.

In the second half Glenafton stepped up a gear and Musselburgh couldn't respond. The visitors scored two fine goals, the first a particularly impressive volley from distance, to put themselves in the driving seat. As Musselburgh pushed forward trying to find a way back into the tie they conceded a fourth.

The scoreline was harsh on the home side, but Glenafton had a decisive edge and deserved their progress to the cup's last 16.

Musselburgh's Olivebank ground was better than I'd expected from the photos I'd seen before visiting. Although it's three sided, with far end is out of bounds to all but the most determined spectators, there's plenty of terracing, cover and some treacherously muddy banking to get a good view even with a large crowd.












Tynecastle AFC v Shawbridge

10am  18 January 2014

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Premier Division
Tynecastle AFC 4 Shawbridge 0 (att 12)

It takes quite an effort to get from Manchester to Glasgow in time for a game kicking off at 10am, but it was worthwhile for the chance to visit an extra ground and to see the side who are top of the league.

Tynecastle have dropped just two points so far this season, and it was easy to see why as they played some good football on their way to a very comfortable win. Shawbridge weren't bad, but they rarely looked like scoring and two goals in each half were enough for the home side.

Saturday morning league grounds are rarely likely to be anything other than the most basic of pitches, and Tynecastle's home, at Lochend Community High School in the Easterhouse area of of Glasgow, lived down to my expectations.

I thought they might use the enclosed 3G pitch, but instead played on "pitch 5" in a large playing field behind the school buildings. "Pitch 3" was hosting a Glasgow and District Saturday Morning League match between Glasgow United and Garnethill Rovers.








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Rutherglen Glencairn v Renfrew

1.45pm  11 January 2014

SJFA West Region, Super League, Division One
Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Renfrew 0 (att 116)

For the second Saturday in a row I headed north into Scotland uncertain which game I'd be watching. I'd hoped it'd be Royal Albert, during their temporary stay at the ground of former junior side Stonehouse Violet, but like last week their game was off.

However, despite the bad weather I still managed to find a game on grass, leaving the artificial pitches for when I have less luck.

Rutherglen's pitch at the Clyde Gateway Stadium was heavy but certainly playable, and the home side made a great start going ahead thanks to a sixth minute penalty. That turned out to be the only goal, and while it wasn't a great game it had its moments, with both sides coming close to scoring but lacking the skill or composure to make the most of their chances.

The ground is fairly new, with Rutherglen vacating their previous home to make way for the M74 motorway, which passes behind the far goal.

It's functional rather than exciting, with a covered terrace on the left touchline, as you look from the entrance, flanked by shallow open terracing either side. The opposite side has a few steps of open terracing, while both ends are just flat hard standing. The near end, at the entrance, has the changing rooms and a tea bar.










Newtongrange Star v Tayport

1.30pm  4 January 2014

SJFA East Region, Super League
Newtongrange Star 3 Tayport 1 (att 210)

One of those days when I left home uncertain which game I'd be seeing. Scotland seemed among the better parts of the UK to head for given the weather, and with the back up of two new grounds with guaranteed games on artificial pitches, at Petershill and East Kilbride.

They can both wait for future bad weather days though, as in the end I had a choice of games on grass. Newtongrange, challenging for the East Region title, confirmed their game was on so I headed for New Victoria Park.

It's a relatively new venue, by Scottish Junior standards, having been opened about 20 years ago. It's among the smarter Junior grounds I've been to, with an impressive turnstile entrance the delivers you behind the goal and close to the changing rooms and tea bar.

To the left is a large covered terrace, with a single row of seats at the front, while to the right and behind the far goal is grass banking. I didn't have time to visit the social club, which is accessed from the car park. It's also one of the few Junior grounds with floodlights, although as midweek Junior games are a rarity they're mostly used by Hearts, who stage their under 20 games at Newtongrange.

Apparently "Nitten Star", as they're known locally, usually issue programmes, but none today due to their printers festive holiday schedule.

I think today's three points took Star top of the Super League, and they were deserved winners despite making hard work of beating the league's bottom team. The home side had the better of a goalless, and disappointing, first half but the game's best moments came after the break.

Star's best moments actually came in a five minute spell in which they scored all their goals, netting after 55, 57 and 60 minutes. They had several more chances, but would have been frustrated to allow Tayport a late consolation, although the visitors deserved a goal for their efforts.








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