Talysarn Celts v Aberffraw

2.30pm  30 May 2016

Gwynedd League
Talysarn Celts 0 Aberffraw 5 (att 33)

The plan when I set off for an afternoon in north Wales was a visit to Caernarfon-based Waunfawr, but uncertainty over the kick off time was quickly followed by news that the game was off. Talysarn was a worthy replacement though, with warm weather, stunning views and plenty of goals.

It may have been an end-of-season fixture with nothing to play for, but that didn't bother Aberffraw as they took and early lead and never looked back. They played some good football and scored three in the first half and a couple more in the second.

For their part Talysarn may have been second best, but they put in a decent display and were unlucky not to score, even if they never threatened to get anything else out of the game.

Talysarn is a small village on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Other than the football pitch there's not much there; the Celts pitchside snack bar appeared to be the only the shop in Talysarn, limiting locals' access to cans of coke to home fixtures.

Apart from the snack bar, in a building which also houses the changing rooms, facilities include a pair of dugouts on the far side and a short section of railing. There's not a lot else, but you don't need much else on a sunny day with glorious scenery all around.











Newport YMCA v Cardiff Corinthians

2.30pm  28 May 2016

Welsh League, Division Three
Newport YMCA 3 Cardiff Corinthians 3 (att 35)

I allowed what should have been more than enough time for a bank holiday weekend drive to south Wales, but countless delays meant I still missed the kick off at Mendalgief Road.

There'd been no goals when I arrived, and based on on what I saw of the first half (which was most of it) I doubt I missed much. YMCA hit the post and had an effort cleared off the line, but it was a match between two poor sides.

Any lack of quality was understandable, as both sides have been relegated and there was nothing at stake in their final game of the season. Newport YMCA had the additional excuse of playing their fifth game in just eight days.

The home side's opening goal, after 59 minutes, was the cue for the game to spark into life, heralding an amazing final half-hour. YMCA just about deserved to edge in front, but within three minutes Corinthians had scored twice to snatch the lead.

YMCA equalised, Corinthians regained the lead, then YMCA scored a late leveller to make it 3-3. Overall a draw was probably a fair result, and there was enough decent football in the last 30 minutes to suggest both sides are capable of regaining their Welsh League place over the next 12 months.

I liked Newport YMCA's ground. It's very enclosed and has a small but perfectly adequate covered standing area on one side, and some banking behind the near goal close to the YMCA buildings. The pitch wasn't the best, presumably the reason why postponements left the club with a hectic late-season schedule, and the surrounding vegetation is overgrown and looks poised to engulf the whole place.

I was last here 22 years ago, but the pitch used that day was some distance from the old YMCA clubhouse, and has since been covered by a retail park, so this counted as a new ground for me.









Blairgowrie v Kinnoull

2.30pm  21 May 2016

SJFA East Region, North Division
Blairgowrie 4 Kinnoull 4 (att 65)

Blairgowrie needed a win as they're involved in a very tight title race, local rivals Kinnoull were determined to deny them, and between them they produced a late contender for the best game I've seen all season.

The Perth-based visitors shocked their hosts by racing into a 2-0 lead. Blairgowrie took a while to regain their stride, but once they'd done so they battled back and it was 2-2 by half time.

It didn't take much of the second half before Blairgowrie edged in front for the first time, but they couldn't shake off Kinnoull who, despite missing a penalty, fought back to regain the lead at 4-3.

By that stage the hosts were down to 10 men, but the numbers were evened up when Kinnoull also had a player red carded, and a late penalty saved a point for Blairgowrie.

They thought they'd won it in the final seconds, but the referee ruled the ball had gone out of play just before it was crossed for the goal. I couldn't tell if he was correct, but he didn't deserve the vitriol from some home supporters after the final whistle.

Great games are a little better if they're played in great venues, and I really liked Blairgowrie's Davie Park. The ground is dominated by a huge covered standing area that runs the length of far touchline. Apparently the wooden seats were removed in the wake of the Bradford fire, but thankfully the shell of the stand was retained.











Invac v Red Star

10am  21 May 2016

Glasgow & District Saturday Morning League, Premier Division
Invac 2 Red Star 2 (att 2)

With the football season nearing its end I decided it was worth the early start so I could take in an extra game, and tick off an extra ground, while north of the border.

I quite enjoy Glasgow's Saturday morning leagues, although most games I go to are in the Strathclyde League purely because its website lists venues. The Glasgow and District League takes a bit of detective work, but I spotted a Friday tweet from Red Star confirming the game and location.

The Glasgow Club Nethercraigs is a small sports centre with an adjacent running track, inside which is a rugby pitch. Footballers, at last those playing on grass, are catered for to the south of the complex, beyond a car park.

There are three pitches, two of which were hosting youth football while Invac and Red Star were on the one furthest from the car park.

For a late season game with little at stake it was a decent game to watch, particularly in an entertaining first half.

Invac (who originated as a side of bank employees and derive their name from the investment accounts department) went in front, Red Star levelled but the home side restored their advantage by half time.

The second period was more low key, and looked like staying goalless until a mix up at the back gifted an equaliser for Red Star. On balance of play a draw was about right.








Farington Villa v Whittle

7pm  17 May 2016

Mid Lancashire League, Division Two
Farington Villa 2 Whittle 1 (att 8)

Worden Park in Leyland is likely to be my final new ground in England this season, at least as far as 'winter' football is concerned. It's been home to various teams over the years, and even in mid May I had a choice of two Mid Lancashire League games on the same evening.

I opted for Farington Villa v Whittle partly because it was between two first teams, partly because a Farington win would ensure a third place finish, and partly because it was quickest to get underway.

For a late season fixture, at a fairly low level, it wasn't a bad game at all. Farington had to work hard to get the win the needed, a second half goal proving decisive. They'd taken an early lead, but local rivals Whittle were level by half time.

I counted nine football pitches at Worden Park, and next door Eagle where at home to Lytham Town's third team. No facilities for spectators other than a few park benches, but you wouldn't expect anything at this level, and Worden Park is a pleasant space.








Lingdale v Boro Rangers

2pm  14 May 2016

Teesside League
Lingdale 0 Boro Rangers 3 (att 15)

Boro Rangers went into this game needing two points from their final three fixtures to win the Teesside League. Anything other than a win at Lingdale was unlikely, but the hosts put up a decent fight before succumbing.

The visitors looked anything but title chasers during the first half, although it might have been different had they taken one of the chances they created early on. To be fair they were playing into a very strong, and very cold, wind.

Boro were better after the break, perhaps helped by the wind at the backs, perhaps stung by a half time talking to, but they broke the deadlock a minute or two into the half. A second goal followed with a quarter of the game to go, and a third 15 minutes from the end.

Lingdale put in plenty of effort, especially as they had nothing to play for, but once they fell behind they rarely looked likely to score.

They play at The Track, part of Lingdale Playing Field. From the small car park (best to park in the road) and changing rooms the single pitch runs lengthways and was roped off along one touchline.

There's a small covered area in front of the changing rooms, and some useful pitchside benches, one dedicated to the memory of those killed in the 1953 Lingdale mining disaster, and two others in memory of Lingdale-born footballers Bobby Smith, part of the 1961 Spurs double winning team, and "Gentleman" George Hardwick, who played for Middlesbrough and England.











Knowsley South v Windle Labour Club

6.15pm  12 May 2016

Warrington and District League, Premier Division
Knowsley South 3 Windle Labour Club 2 (att 10)

A visit to Croft FC last week left me with just Knowsley South to go to recomplete the top division of the Warrington League, and a compliant M62 made it an easier journey towards Liverpool than I'd expected.

I know very little about Knowsley South, other than this season is their first season in the premier division. Their home is the Lord Derby Memorial Playing Fields, close to the M57 motorway which provides a audible backdrop to matches.

It's a basic ground, but at this level you don't any more than somewhere to change, a pitch to play on and, ideally, somewhere to park. The ground has all three, and enough space for the reserves to be at home on a second pitch that's closer to the car park but further from the changing rooms.

The game was very much an end of season occasion, between two sides with nothing to play for. Knowsley took an early lead but it was 1-1 by half time. Two second half goals in as many minutes put the home side back in front, Windle got a late consolation.

It wasn't the greatest of games, too many offsides for one thing, but it was a warm and sunny evening in Knowsley and entertaining enough.