Houghton Rangers v Sileby Town

3pm  30 August 2014

Leicestershire Senior League, Premier Division
Houghton Rangers 0 Sileby Town 3 (att 34)

Houghton Rangers won promotion last season, but they've made a slow start to life in the top division of the Leicestershire Senior League, and were comfortably beaten by Sileby.

The visitors dominated the first half, scoring twice, one a penalty, and having two more ruled out, correctly I thought, for offside.

Houghton were better after the break, but struggled to retain possession as a tireless Sileby put them under continued pressure. They managed just one more goal though, a couple of minutes from the end.

Houghton Rangers are based a few miles east of Leicester in Houghton-on-the-Hill. The Weir Lane ground has a clubhouse and railed-off pitch, complete with dugouts. No cover for spectators, but thankfully the dark clouds with threatened overhead delivered nothing more than a few spots of rain.









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Chesterfield U18 v Scunthorpe United U18

11am  30 August 2014

Football League Youth Alliance Cup, First Round
Chesterfield U18 1 Scunthorpe United U18 0 (att 54)

According to the new season's Football League Youth Alliance handbook Chesterfield play youth team games at a training ground in Whitebank Close, Hasland.

Luckily, I know how unreliable the publication can be, but even so it was late on Friday when I read a preview of this fixture on Chesterfield's website and that it was being played at the "usual" venue of Langer Lane.

Langer Lane is the Chesterfield College sports ground, and has two pitches, a small parking area and a building that houses changing rooms and a kitchen from where teas and coffees were on sale. Like most Youth Alliance grounds, one touchline was roped off as an area for spectators.

Chesterfield scored the game's only goal after about 20 minutes. They should have scored more, and it was a mostly one-sided game for the first hour or so. Scunthorpe made more of a fight of towards the end, and might have equalised but for one outstanding save by the Chesterfield keeper. An enjoyable, but not overly-exciting, 90 minutes.






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Northowram v Copley United

6.15pm  29 August 2014

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Northowram 5 Copley United 7 (att 24)

I shall see plenty of games with more skill than this by the end of the season, but I doubt I'll be lucky enough to watch another game as entertaining.

Northowram won promotion last season, and began life in the league's top flight by kicking down the considerable end-to-end slope at their Recreation Ground. They started well and took an early lead, after which the the goals flowed.

The first half scoring went 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2. After the break it was 3-2, 4-2 4-3, 4-4. 5-4, 5-5, 5-6 and, after a red card for the home team, 5-7. The first time I've ever seen a 7-5 away win.

Facilities can be basic in the Halifax League. Northowram's sloping pitch is tight and uneven. Fences attempt to restrain wayward shots and both ends, and to protect neighbouring houses and gardens on one side.

On a wet and gloomy evening watching a Halifax League game could have been an endurance test, but this was a delight.








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Oswaldtwistle St Mary's v The Ivy

6.15pm  26 August 2014

East Lancashire League, Division One
Oswaldtwistle St Mary's 5 The Ivy 1 (att 34)

The Heys Sports Complex, in Heron Way, is the third home ground I've seen Oswaldtwistle St Mary's play on, and their newest ground is also their best.

It's enclosed, with plenty of space for two pitches, car parking and a clubhouse. There's even some advertising boards attached to the fencing next to the clubhouse, giving the impression of a thriving club.

They were certainly thriving on the pitch, capitalising on mistakes by the visitors but also playing some good football as they raced into a 4-1 lead against the reigning champions. The second half was a quieter affair, with just one more goal added.

Looking from the clubhouse, a pitch to the right was used. It was roped off along the near side, and there's a decent view to be had from grass banking along the far side. Hopefully St Mary's will remain at this ground, as there's certainly scope to develop it if the club are keen to climb the leagues.








FC Stockbrook Rangers v Derby Singh Brothers

6.30pm  25 August 2014

Midlands Regional Alliance, Division One
FC Stockbrook Rangers 5 Derby Singh Brothers 2 (att 23)

So a day which began in south London ended with a match in Derby, on one of the many pitches dotted around the city's sprawling Rolls Royce facility.

The first problem I faced was finding the pitch. I knew the game would on a pitch close to the rugby pitches, but finding it, and then finding the entrance to the adjacent car park, was a challenge that nearly defeated me.

Stockbrook play on a pitch that's close to Merrill Way, although what appeared to be an entrance from that road was closed. Eventually I found a way in via the main Rolls Royce building and its entrance off Victory Road.

The pitch, neither roped nor railed, runs widthways from the changing rooms, which does offer some cover albeit a distance from the action. Beyond the football pitch, are two rugby pitches and a second football pitch.

The rain that persisted since the morning's match at Battersea continued for another 90 minutes, but despite the damp and gloomy conditions this was another lively game. Stockbrook in particular played some good football, and Singh Brothers will reflect on two missed penalties which cost them a chance of getting anything from the game.







Leamington Hibernian v Redditch Borough

3pm  25 August 2014

Midland Football League, Division Three
Leamington Hibernian 3 Redditch Borough 2 (att 29)

From my morning game in south London it was a challenge to reach Leamington Hibernian's new ground in time for  3pm kick off, but once I was free of the capital I made swift progress up the M40 and arrived at Bishop's Tachbrook Sports and Social club with 15 minutes to spare.

It was just as well I arrived on time, as the first half was an all action affair. The sides traded goals and by half time it was 2-2. The second half was more sedate, but continued to be entertaining, and after Redditch lost a player to a red card the hosts seized their chance and scored a winner.

Leamington Hibs have a nomadic history and were on the move again during the summer to a new venue at Bishop's Tachbrook, just outside of Leamington Spa. The ground has a nice social club, behind which the pitch is merely roped off.









Battersea Ironsides v AFC Cubo

11am  25 August 2014

Surrey Elite Intermediate League
Battersea Ironsides 2 AFC Cubo 3 (att 14)

The first leg of an ambitious trio of Bank Holiday matches brought me to the south London home of Battersea Ironsides.

I arrived only a few minutes before kick off, after making slower than anticipated progress through the capital once I'd left the M3 motorway. Luckily I was able to squeeze into one of the two remaining spaces in the car park, as the surrounding streets were lined with expensive parking meters.

Within seconds of the game getting underway visitors Cubo were ahead. A shot from distance beat the keeper but came back off the crossbar, before the rebound was pounced on for the goal. Cubo doubled their lead before half time, an advantage they deserved for clinical finishing and an all round greater appetite for the match.

Ironsides rallied after the break, but they had conceded a third by the time two late goals, one a penalty, gave them hope of possibly snatching a point. They came close, but ran out of time as the visitors held on to win.

Battersea Ironsides play in Earlsfield, between Wimbledon and Balham. It's a private sports ground, catering for other sports as well as football. The football pitch is roped down one side, effectively rendering a one-sided ground for spectators, and appeared well looked after, which was just as well as it had to cope with a downpour that accompanied the match.







Nantlle Vale v Amlwch Town

6.30pm  24 August 2014

Welsh Alliance, Division Two
Nantlle Vale 3 Amlwch Town 0 (att 345)

Nantlle Vale's Maes Dulyn ground, in Penygroes, was the only venue I needed on this year's Welsh Alliance "hop", so the Sunday evening kick off was an ideal excuse for an afternoon out amid some great scenery.

The views from the ground didn't quite match the best of what we'd driven through to get there, but they still provided a wonderful backdrop to an entertaining game at a well-equipped venue. The enclosed ground has a seated stand and covered standing area on one side, and a raised bank given a good view opposite.

The club were well-organised to cope with a much higher than usual attendance, and on the pitch they were well organised to comfortable see off a poor Amlwch Town.

The home side took and early lead thanks to a quickly-taken free kick, and had the luxury of failing to score a penalty before they doubled their lead in the first half. After the break they scored a third, and it was a surprise they couldn't add more. Amlwch threatened occasionally, but were never really in the game.








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Oxenhope Recreation v Leeds City

2.30pm  23 August 2014

West Yorkshire League, Premier Division
Oxenhope Recreation 3 Leeds City 3 (att 45)

I had a frustrating trip to Oxenhope towards the end of last season, having battled my way through early evening rush hour traffic I arrived at the Recreation Ground to find it deserted and a sign informing me that the game was being played a few miles away in Keighley.

Evidently Oxenhope were having some teething troubles with the drainage of their new pitch (and it was my fault for not phoning ahead to check the game), but they're now back in the village, and despite the occasional light shower the rain was never going to be an issue today.

The club's former pitch, still used by the third team, and possibly the reserves, is next to the new one and has what must be steepest end-to-end slope of any "proper" pitch I've seen. The club needed a better ground to progress, and the relatively flat Centenary Pitch is the result, and it's a very nice place to watch game.

Essentially it's two-sided for spectators, who can choose to stand along one side, where a footpath runs, or from the top of a steep bank behind the goal.

Leeds City will be wondering how they didn't win this, although in a frantic final few minutes they nearly lost it. The visitors were ahead in the opening seconds, and doubled their lead in the first half's final minute. Two excellent goals putting them in the driving seat.

In the second half Oxenhope pulled a goal back, but a third goal, from a corner, gave Leeds City a 3-1 lead and they looked to be coasting to a win. But with around 10 minutes left Oxenhope responded by scoring twice in a minute, to draw what was a very entertaining game.