Killingworth Station v Seaton Delaval Amateurs

2pm  22 February 2014

Northern Alliance, Premier Division
Killingworth Station 3 Seaton Delaval Amateurs 1 (att 25)

This wasn't the best planned of my groundhopping trips. I'd been out on Friday night, which coupled with the continuing weather issues in many parts of the country meant I hadn't really settled on where to go even when I stepped out of my front door on Saturday morning.

First stop was a Manchester Saturday Morning League game, only to confirm my hunch that the home team did use he same pitch I'd seem a game on a few years ago. Rather than staying to watch a low level game on a ground I'd already "ticked" I headed towards the north east, on the basis that the weather had been better there and I'd find games on.

I stopped at a motorway services to check online, and as the club's Twitter feed stated that Killingworth's game was on, and as they'd changed ground, as well as name, since my visit late last season, I headed to the north of Newcastle.

Back in May I saw Killingworth Sporting at Amberley Park, but these days Killingworth Station (renamed following a sponsorship deal with a local pub) are based at the West Moor Community Association. Facilities are fairly typical for the league, just a railed off pitch, with dugouts, behind the community centre buildings which house the changing rooms.

Football here is good value for money though, an admission charge of just £1.50 included a basic four page programme and a free hot drink at half time.

On the pitch it wasn't the most exciting 90 minutes I'll see this season. The first half was particularly scrappy as both sides struggled with the strong wind blowing a across the pitch. Killingworth went ahead thanks to a penalty, softly awarded from my view, but Seaton Delaval equalised before half time.

The second half was an improvement, and Killingworth deserved the win they secured thanks to two more goals, including another penalty.









Leith Athletic v Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale

3pm  15 February 2014

South of Scotland Region Challenge Cup, Third Round
Leith Athletic 3 Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale 3 aet, 5-6 on penalties (att 69)

Edinburgh might seem an eccentric destination in the middle of a weekend break in Newcastle, but the awful weather in the north east meant finding a game was going to be a challenge, and the better weather further north also ensured a more pleasant afternoon around city centre shops for my other half.

It proved to a be a rather longer shopping expedition than either of us had bargained for, as an unexpected late comeback by Leith Athletic, from being two goals down, meant extra time and, ultimately, a penalty shootout that went to sudden death. The tie didn't finish until approaching 6pm.

Lothian Thistle had actually been drawn at home in the cup tie, but agreed to switch it to Leith's 3G surface as their own pitch was unlikely to be playable.

They looked to be coasting after a goal in each half put them 2-0 ahead, and it seemed just a matter of time before they took one of their many chances to score a third. But some slack defending, and a deflected free kick, gave Leith two goals in quick succession to draw level.

Both teams had chances in a exciting finale to the 90 minutes, with Leith's keeper making some great saves to keep his side's hopes alive.

But it was the home side who gained the momentum into extra time, scoring early to go ahead for the first time. The lead was short-lived though, after being reduced to 10 men for a second booking, Leith conceded a third goal.

No more goals in the second period of extra time, and so it went to penalties. Leith's impressive keeper pulled off a fine save to keep out Lothian's first spot kick, and the home side kept the advantage until their 5th penalty, which was saved. It went to sudden death, and a poor Leith effort was easily saved by the Lothian keeper, who then stepped up himself to score the winner.

Leith have fairly recently moved into the 3G pitch at the Meadowbank Stadium complex. There are plenty of club signs around the place, which give it the feel of a proper home ground rather than just a hired facility.

There's a spacious area inside the cage for spectators, although it only runs for about three-quarters of the near touchline. An elevated, but distant view, is possible from a balcony overlooking the pitch from the Meadowbank sports centre buildings.










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North Cave v Hull City

2pm  8 February 2014

East Riding Senior Cup, Quarter Final
North Cave 1 Hull City 4 (att 82)

Officially, at least according to the East Riding County FA website, it's Hull City's first team that enters the Senior Cup, but I doubt Steve Bruce spent too much time worrying about this fixture as he selected his team for today's Premier League game at Sunderland.

Hull's under 18 youth team represented the club at a very windy, but thankfully dry, North Cave Playing Field, and had more than enough skill to see off the Humber Premier League side and book a place in the semi finals.

North Cave took an early lead, which they held for about half-an-hour, but two goals, the second wind assisted, put the youngsters in front. It was a lead they just about deserved, while North Cave had plenty of possession, it was Hull who created more chances, often being denied by the keeper.

The second half was dominated by the visitors, who added two more goals, as North Cave tired, to complete a comfortable win.

Having read other reports of visits to North Cave I wasn't expecting much from the ground. Facilities are basic, just a roped off pitch on the far side of a cricket square from the welcoming clubhouse, but it's a scenic spot and overall I quite liked it, despite being buffeted by the strong wind for 90 minutes.








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East Mancunia United v Church Inn

10.15am  8 February 2014

Manchester Saturday Morning League, Division Three
East Mancunia United 9 Church Inn 1 (att 11)

Two sides who would both fancy their chances of promotion this season, so while the home win was no surprise the scale of East Mancunia's victory certainly was.

The home side were ahead early, but it didn't take long for Church Inn to equalise from a penalty. The game's second penalty put United back in front and from there they didn't look back.

They added two more goals before half time, and five more in the second. Of the nine, six were scored by one player, Lee Watnough (according to the stats on the league's website). It was only Church Inn's second league defeat of the season, the other by the even more unlikely scoreline of 6-7.

Despite the United suffix, and playing in red, East Mancunia play just across the road from Manchester City's stadium, although Manchester United's pre-Old Trafford grounds, now long gone, were both situated nearby.

Their home venue is the East Manchester Academy in Grey Mare Lane, which so new it only appears partially built on Google Maps. I expected East Mancunia to use the school's 3G pitch, but they play on a grass pitch that's part of the school's playing field.







West of St Julians v Blaenavon Blues at Lliswerry AFC

4.30pm  1 February 2014

Gwent Amateur Cup, Quarter Final at Lliswerry AFC
West of St Julians 0 Blaenavon Blues 5 (att 15)

I knew when heading to South Wales that there was the chance of seeing two games, as the 3G pitch at Spytty Park in Newport, regular home of Welsh League Lliswerry, had been booked for this cup tie in case the clubs' grass pitches succumbed to the weather.

But Blaenavon's ground passed a morning pitch inspection and so the tie was due to take place there. It was only when checking St Julians' Twitter feed at half time at Cardiff Met that I spotted there had been a late postponement, and the game had been moved to Newport.

Just as well it was a synthetic pitch, as I doubt many grass surfaces would have stood up to the deluge that fell during the game. Add some very blustery conditions and you get the sort of late afternoon where the clubs did well to provide any entertainment at all.

West of St Julians currently head the Newport and District League with a 100 per cent record, but they had done well to reach the last eight of the Gwent Amateur Cup, which features sides from the higher ranked Gwent County League.

Blaenavon, from the County League's top division, were far too strong, although the outcome might have been closer had St Julians not had a potential equaliser disallowed when they were only 1-0 down. As it was, the "visitors" scored three in the first half, two more in the second.

The ground, which had staged a Lliswerry home game in the Welsh League earlier in the day (hence the later kick off for this match) isn't the most interesting. It's an enclosed 3G pitch with small stand on one side and dugouts opposite.








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Cardiff Metropolitan University v AFC Llwydcoed

2pm  1 February 2014

Welsh League, Division Two
Cardiff Metropolitan University 3 AFC Llwydcoed 1 (att 40)

My third visit to watch football at the Cyncoed Campus in Cardiff, each time to see the host club on a different pitch and each time with a different name.

In 1990 I saw Cardiff Institute of Higher Education on pitch that is now covered by a hockey pitch, then in 2003 I returned to see a renamed UWIC Inter Cardiff on a pitch that, earlier this season, was converted to a rugby venue, while immediately adjacent an enclosed 3G pitch was developed for the football club.

It was that ground I went to today, tempted by the synthetic surface's guarantee of a game despite the weather, and with the club now known as Cardiff Metropolitan University AFC.

They took an early lead, and the visitors' poor finishing, and good goalkeeping, ensured it was the first half's only goal. The game was played in sunshine, showers and a stiff breeze, but as the conditions worsened in the second half the game became more scrappy.

The home side looked to have won the game when they scored a second goal, but when Llwydcoed pulled one back it set up an entertaining finish. The away side looked capable of equalising, but they ran out of time, and in stoppage time an own goal increased the students' winning margin.

Each football ground at Cyncoed has been an improvement on its predecessor. The first was just a roped off pitch, while the second had a tiny stand. The latest ground is fully enclosed and floodlit, with a seated stand on one side and some welcome shelter provided by the overhanging sports centre roof opposite.