Dunnington v Huntington Rovers

2pm  27 February 2016

York League, Premier Division
Dunnington 2 Huntington Rovers 1 (att 45)

This was the York League's match of the day, as league leaders Dunnington entertained third place Huntington. The visitors' defeat, thanks to a goal in the final minute, is a major blow to their title challenge.

Dunnington started the game in great style, and could have scored three times in the opening five minutes. Indeed they were convinced they had scored once, but the officials ruled the ball hadn't crossed the line. From where I was standing I couldn't tell, but it must have been a tight call.

The home side didn't have to wait too long before going in front though. A penalty, correctly awarded for a clear foul, was converted after 18 minutes, and they took the 1-0 lead into half time.

Huntington took time to grow into the game, but they were more than a match for the hosts in the second half, and fully deserved the goal that brought them level with about 20 minutes left.

The final quarter of the match was hugely enjoyable, as both sides strove to find a winner. Dunnington always looked slightly more dangerous, and so it proved with their 90th minute winner.

Dunnington is a village just outside York. The Common Road sports ground is very well equipped, the footballers sharing facilities with cricketers, bowlers, tennis and squash players.

The main football pitch is is railed off, with dugouts and a small covered standing area on one side, while on the opposite touchline advertising boards fixed to the railings complete the picture of a "proper" ground.










Brushes Rangers Spartak v North Manchester

10.15am  27 February 2016

Manchester Saturday Morning League, Division One
Brushes Rangers Spartak 2 North Manchester 2 (att 5)

Brushes Rangers Spartak are a bit of a gift to a Manchester-based groundhopper, as they seem to find a new home pitch each season.

Their current home, at Wright Robinson Sports College in Gorton, is the third ground I've seen them on. Neatly, it was also the third pitch I've been to at Wright Robinson, but unlike previous visits here this was on grass.

The college is home to a huge sports complex that's busy on a Saturday morning. As you enter there's a couple of grass pitches to the right of the large car park, while the artificial pitches are way over to the left.

Both these sides are in with a chance of lifting the league title, although visitors North Manchester have a backlog of fixtures to make up. They'll be satisfied to have got a point here, especially as they had to come from behind twice.

Both halves followed a similar pattern, with Brushes scoring first then being pegged back. The home side played the neater football, but North Manchester's direct approach was enough to deserve a point.

The got the draw thanks to powerful header after 86 minutes, coming just three minutes after Brushes' second goal looked as if it'd win the game for them.








St Day v St Just

2.30pm  20 February 2016

Cornwall Combination
St Day 0 St Just 1 (att 30)

Staying in Truro at the end of a few days away, I kept a nervous eye on weather forecasts as already wet pitches were threatened with another soaking on Friday and into Saturday.

Thankfully the weather wasn't as bad as the BBC had predicted, and while a number of Cornish games were off I still had the luxury of a choice of matches by Saturday lunchtime. St Day seemed the easiest place to reach from Truro, so I headed to Vogue Park.

A predictably muddy pitch, and a very strong wind, made good football difficult, but the two sides made the best of the conditions and produced a game that was enjoyable and fun to watch if not high on quality.

St Just are higher in the league, and looked the better side throughout the 90 minutes. They got their deserved win thanks to a solitary goal after about an hour's play. Apparently St Just had scored 14 in their previous match, but were never going to have it so easy against a battling St Day side.

The ground was delightful, and shows it's well worth watching football at this level in Cornwall. The main pitch, one of two, is fully enclosed by railings, with plenty of advertising boards attached, suggesting a thriving community club.

On one touchline a pair of dugouts flank a small covered standing area, but the ground's main feature is a two-tier building behind the near goal. The first floor houses the changing rooms, while upstairs is a clubhouse, incorporating a tea bar, that opens out onto a covered balcony giving a decent view.









Kellingley Welfare v Middleton Park

2.15pm  13 February 2016

West Yorkshire League, Division Two
Kellingley Welfare 1 Middleton Park 1 (att 30)

Late last year Kellingley Colliery made the headlines when its closure marked the end of deep coal mining in Britain. I'm not sure what that means for the long-term future of the football team, but for now they still very much a part of the West Yorkshire League.

Hopefully, like many other miners welfare sides, they'll be able to continue. It'd be a real shame if their ground was lost to football, as there aren't many teams at this level who can boast a proper stand for spectators.

It provided me, and most of the crowd, a good view of a game that scored higher in entertainment value than in skill. The visitors started well, but it was against the run of play when they took a first half lead.

Kellingley's leveller was in opening minute of the second half, and although both sides created plenty more chances there were no further goals. Kelleingley looked slightly the better side, but a draw was probably a fair outcome.

Kellingley's stand has seen better days, and probably better teams, but in a league where basic railed off pitches are the norm it's very much a stand out feature. The rest of the ground, in Knottingley, is more usual West Yorkshire League fare, just a pitch with a rail around it.










Portstewart v Banbridge Town

3pm 6 February 2016

Northern Ireland Football League, Championship Two
Portstewart 1 Banbridge Town 3 (att 50)

The wet and windy weather which blighted the morning's match at Clough was even worse at Portstewart, a pleasant coastal town in County Londonderry.

Fortunately, as a Northern Irish League venue, the ground has a seated stand to shelter from the elements. There's also a pleasant clubhouse, where I settled in ahead of kick off to enjoy the second half of Leicester's Premier League win at Manchester City.

The first half of Portstewart versus Banbridge was a bit of a comedown by comparison, as both sides struggled with the conditions as much as with each other.

Thankfully, the second half was a lot better, as struggling Portstewart, just one place off the bottom of the league's lowest tier, broke the deadlock. Their lead didn't last long though, and Banbridge ran out deserved winners.

I liked Portstewart's ground. The stand may be a prefab, of the sort seen at so many venues these days, but it's a decent size, while opposite a good-looking modern building houses the changing rooms and clubhouse.









Clough Rangers v Glenravel

10.15am  6 February 2016

Ballymena Saturday Morning League, Division One
Clough Rangers 4 Glenravel 2 (att 15)

For me, the main attraction of the Ballymena Saturday Morning League is as an entertaining way to pass the time between an early morning arrival at Belfast International Airport and my main game in the afternoon.

But that's not to say it's a league that wouldn't be worth watching otherwise. The playing standard, especially in the top division, is decent, and while most clubs use parks pitches there are some reasonable venues to visit.

Landing in a wet and windy Northern Ireland I thought I might struggle to get a morning match, but the pitch at Clough's Cloughwater Road ground was in good condition so I needn't have worried.

The weather wasn't kind for watching football, but Clough and Glenravel provided enough entertainment to take my mind off being cold and wet. All the goals came in the second half, Clough scoring three times in the opening 15 minutes to take control.

They should have been ahead before half time, but missed chances and found Glenravel's keeper on fine form. Glenravel's hopes unravelled shortly before the break, when they had a man sent off for lashing out at an opponent.

The visitors pulled a goal back about 15 minutes from the end, after which there was time for Clough to score a fourth and, in the final minute, for Glenravel to get a second.

Cloughwater Road, south of the village of Clough (or Clogh, neither maps nor road signs seem to agree) is a new facility, and is above average for a Saturday Morning League ground. The single grass pitch is fully enclosed, with dugouts on the far side and the near side fenced off with hard standing for spectators.