Llançà v Esplais

5pm  28 September 2014

Spain, Tercera Catalana, Group 15
CE Llançà 4 CF Esplais 2 (att 200)

After Saturday's disappointing game at Base Roses, I dropped a division lower, into the Tercera Catalana, for Sunday's game. It may only be the seventh level of football in Spain, but there are no less than 17 divisions at this level in Catalonia alone.

I've not found out whether Llançà have previously played at higher levels, but both their ground and their support was more impressive that I'd expect for this level. The ground is fully-enclosed, floodlit and unusually, has a grass pitch. It's dominated by a large seated stand, flanked on both sides by uncovered terracing.

Llançà maintained their 100% start to the league season with a very entertaining victory over Esplais. The home side were wasteful in the first half, and should have led by more than the 1-0 they managed by half time.

They soon doubled their lead in the second half, but when victory looked to have been secured the visitors struck back, scoring twice. The first was a shot that somehow deceived the home team's keeper, the second a penalty after the keeper bought down forward.

But Llançà recovered from their wobble, and although both sides had chances the home side scored twice more for a win. Great entertainment for just 3eu admission.











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Base Roses v Cassa

3.30pm  27 September 2014

Spain, Segona Catalana, Group 1
CF Base Roses 1 UD Cassa 0 (att 70)

After flirting with La Liga at Espanyol on Thursday it was back to more normal fare for the weekend, starting with a game at the sixth level of Spanish soccer, the Segona Catalana.

Base Roses are one of two sides, in the same league, based in the Catalan seaside resort of Roses. Their grounds are just a couple of hundred yards apart, but AE Roses have the much better venue, with a large stand and sizeable clubhouse.

Bases Roses play at La Vinyassa, a more modest set-up with an all-weather pitch, floodlights, and a few uncovered rows of plastic bucket seats, mostly too wet to sit on thanks to the sprinkler system's efforts to water the pitch being blown off course by an otherwise welcome breeze.

Luckily the surrounding scenery made up of the lack of interesting facilities inside the ground, and there was plenty of opportunity to look at it as there was unfortunately little of interest on the pitch.

I'd resigned myself to a disappointing 0-0 draw until an 88th minute free kick was deflected off the defensive wall and looped over a static Cassa keeper.







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Espanyol de Barcelona v Getafe

8pm  25 September 2014

Spain, Primera Division
Espanyol de Barcelona 2 Getafe 0 (att 14,285)

It was chance rather than design that meant we flew into Catalonia for a short holiday just a day before a Thursday evening game at RCD Espanyol, but it gave me a rare chance to tick a ground in Spain's top league.

Tickets were easy to come by, with the newish Estadi Cornellà-El Prat barely a third full for the visit of Getafe, and we paid a very reasonable 30eu for corner tickets in the upper tier. Being a new ground, sightlines were perfect.

Espanyol were worthy winners, thanks to two second half goals. Getafe had a decent share of possession, but rarely threatened the Espanyol goal.

Despite the many empty seats there was good atmosphere, helped by the tireless efforts of a group of home fans who gathered behind the goal at the same end where we were sat.

All in all an entertaining evening, and with the ground very close to the motorway we were on our way back to our temporary base in L'Escala within minutes of the final whistle.








Banchory St Ternan v New Elgin

2pm  20 September 2014

SJFA North Region, Super League
Banchory St Ternan 5 New Elgin 2 (att 37)

It was a scenic drive from Dundee up to Banchory, although you won't find St Ternan's Milton Park ground in the pleasant town itself, but a couple of miles east in Crathes.

It a typical North Region junior ground, enclosed by a fence, with a railed-off pitch, dugouts and changing rooms in a pavilion with provides some limited cover, but set back from the pitch.

A view from there would be obscured by a portable building which houses toilets, snack bar and a committee room, but on a warm and dry afternoon there was no need to seek shelter.

The game was entertaining, although the home side were always in control. They scored early, and although the visitors equalised Banchory were 3-1 ahead within 20 minutes.

New Elgin reduced the arrears before half time, but after the break it was Banchory who stepped up a gear or two to run out comfortable winners.

New Elgin may claim the match officials cost them, Banchory's third goal followed a challenge that was so late they missed it, and the fourth may well have been offside (I wasn't sure, but I don't think the linesman was either). In truth though Banchory could easily have scored more goals, and New Elgin may be facing a tough season.









Dundee University Medical Students v West End Athletic

10am  20 September 2014

SAFA North of Tay District Cup, First Round
Dundee University Medical Students 4 West End Athletic 5 (att 2)

Only the second time I've watched Dundee Saturday Morning League football, and like last time it followed an overnight stay after a work trip to Scotland on Friday, making the 10am kick off a painless experience.

The North of Tay Cup is one of several local cups run under the auspices of the Scottish Amateur FA. It's a Saturday afternoon competition, but as the draw pitted these two Saturday Morning League Premier Division rivals they agreed an early start.

It was a great cup tie, livened up by some questionable defending by both sides. DUMS (as the student team is usually known) should have gone ahead in the opening seconds, but it was West End who scored the game's opening goal. By half time the students had scored twice to lead 2-1.

The goals continued in the second half, with the sides looking very well matched. Eventually, in the 83rd minute, DUMS scored to edge ahead 4-3. That looked like the winner, but West End weren't finished, and equalised just three minutes later. Another minute after that and West End were 5-4 in front, and into the second round.

The game was played at the Dundee University Riverside sports ground, just a few yards from the end of the runway at Dundee Airport. Several low-flying planes, incoming and outgoing, swooped over the pitch.

It's one of a handful of venues which stage Dundee Saturday Morning League games. The pristine railed off "show pitch" wasn't used, but as well as this cup tie there were three league games also taking place. All in the bottom division and all managing a handful of spectators, whereas for much of the first half I was the only person watching this game.










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Sheringham v Long Stratton

2,30pm  13 September 2014

Anglian Combination, Premier Division
Sheringham 0 Long Stratton 2 (att 35)

I don't get to Norfolk very often, so we decided to turn this trip into a mini-break, with the football slotted in between some more traditional tourism.

Sheringham is a very pleasant, and busy, north Norfolk seaside town, and a pre-match fresh crab sandwich, eaten on the seafront, was the perfect appetiser for the afternoon's main course at Sheringham Recreation Ground.

To be honest the football was a little disappointing, Long Stratton having no problems seeing off a struggling home side thanks to a goal in each half.

Sheringham have now lost all seven league games this season, including a couple of heavy defeats, and but for the woodwork, some goal-line clearances and good goalkeeping, they'd have conceded more than two in this game.

The Sheringham keeper was in good form for the hour he was on the pitch, but he had to retire injured after Long Stratton's second goal went past him. His stand-in was rarely troubled as the game petered out.

Although the action wasn't up to much the venue was. Sheringham play at the back of the town's leisure centre, and have a fully-enclosed pitch with floodlights and a modern stand. It wouldn't be out of place at a higher level of football, if they could get a team to match.








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Newton Athletic v Newton-le-Willows

6.15pm  9 September 2014

Warrington and District League, Division One
Newton Athletic 0 Newton-le-Willows 2 (att 22)

Quite a low key game for the local derby clash between the Newton-le-Willows rivals, won by the visitors thanks to two second half goals.

Athletic had the better of the first half but were wasteful in front of goal. They should have gone ahead from a penalty, but the 30th minute spot kick was comfortably saved.

Newton-le-Willows went ahead about 12 minutes into the second half, against the run of play. There may have been an offside in the build up, but ultimately the goal owed more to a goalkeeping error than a refereeing lapse.

Having taken the lead the visitors were instilled with more confidence, and their second goal was a great strike from an angle. Athletic pushed hard but couldn't get back into the game.

Newton Athletic play at the King George V Recreation Ground. A basic venue with a changing room block and three pitches.







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West Wratting v Wisbech St Mary

2pm  6 September 2014

Cambridgeshire League, Premier Division
West Wratting 3 Wisbech St Mary 1 (att 35)

It's 10 years since I last ticked off a ground in the Cambridgeshire League, and even longer since I last visited one on a Saturday. It was the obvious league to look at after the morning game in Cambridge, and this fixture stood out thanks to it 2pm kick off, and hour earlier than the division's other games,

The early kick off was because the club's 'A' team had a home game afterwards, and there's only one pitch at the pleasant West Wratting Recreation Ground.

From the car park there's a new-looking clubhouse to the right, while the pitch runs lengthways in front. It's roped off on three sides, the exception being the far end with borders a high hedge. Managers, coaches and subs have benches which are, literally, benches.

This was an okay game which was entertaining enough without hitting any great heights. West Wratting took a while to get into their stride, but when they did so they looked much the better of the two sides.

A goal in each half looked to have sealed a comfortable win. Wisbech St Mary played some nice football, but with no end product. That changed with five minutes left when they pulled a goal back to set up an exciting finish.

In the closing seconds the Wisbech keeper, a lively character who revelled in a bright pink jersey and lively banter with home supporters (earning himself a yellow card for his colourful language), joined the attack for a corner. West Wratting cleared, and with no one in goal the last kick of the game was the home side's third goal.









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