Bellevue v Bradley Park

6.15pm  15 August 2017

North East Wales League
Bellevue 0 Bradley Park 5 (att 50)

Spending my Tuesday evenings in Wrexham is in danger of becoming a habit, but on a warm and sunny evening the town's Bellevue Park is a nice place to visit, even better when there's a game in the fifth tier of Welsh football to watch.

I wasn't alone, with a handful of fellow groundhoppers joined by dozens of locals who were making the most of the town centre park with the added attraction of a football match.

Home side Bellevue are a new club who have attracted local media attention, as they're created to reflect and represent Wrexham's diverse community. Apparently a multinational collection of recreational footballers used the pitch in Bellevue Park, before setting up a team to enter the local league.

So far it's been tough going and Bradley Park, pointless themselves before this, easily became the third side to inflict defeat on Bellevue in as many games. It was a stroll in the (very nice) park for the visitors, who scored three in the first half-hour then two more after the break.

Bellevue threatened the visitors' goal only occasionally, and it could be a tough season for them. Still, it's refreshing that north east Wales is bucking the country-wide trend by gaining more clubs than it loses.

Facilities at Bellevue Park's football pitch are limited, as you'd expect, but there's a good view to be had from the top of a grass bank that runs along one side, several handily-placed park benches, and the pitch itself was roped off.








Cestrian Alexandra v Blacon Youth Club reserves

6pm  14 August 2017

Chester and Wirral League, Division One
Cestrian Alexandra 3 Blacon Youth Club reserves 3 (att 16)

First time I've watched football in the Chester and Wirral League, but as the pool of available new grounds to visit in the north west gets ever shallower it was only a matter of time.

Cestrian Alexandra is a club with a long history, and these days are one of several clubs who play home games at the Cheshire County Sports Club in Chester. The main football ground here is home to West Cheshire League Upton AA, but beyond their enclosed ground is a playing field with a couple of grass pitches.

Goals seem to be following me wherever I go at the moment, and after a slow start this turned into another entertaining goal-filled game. Cestrian were second best in the first half, and despite taking the lead they conceded twice in a minute to trail 2-1 at half time.

The home side levelled in a better second half performance, before a third goal for Blacon took the wind out of their sails. As heavy rain fell towards the end of the match Cestrian's efforts were rewarded with a late equaliser.








De La Salle v The Friendship

11am  13 August 2017

Eccles Sunday League, Division One
De La Salle 6 The Friendship 1 (att 17)

My first and probably only taste of the Eccles Sunday League this summer. I don't generally watch Sunday leagues, but I do watch summer football and the Eccles league switched to a summer season a few years ago.

De La Salle are unusual in this league for having their own ground, rather than hiring pitches provided by Salford City Council. The De La Salle Sports and Social Club, in Lancaster Road, has a large playing field as well as clubhouse, changing rooms and a car park.

On a warm and sunny Sunday morning it was a nice place to watch what was for the most part a decent game. Two first half goals put the hosts in command, but The Friendship - named after a pub in Prestwich - were better after the break and pulled a goal back early in the second half.

They had chances to equalise but didn't take them, then paid the penalty when a third home goal effectively ended the contest. With the game already lost, a late collapse by the visitors allowed De La Salle to add more goals for a harsh final scoreline.








Yarm and Eaglescliffe v Grangetown Boys Club

2pm  12 August 2017

North Riding League, Premier Division
Yarm and Eaglescliffe 3 Grangetown Boys Club 4 (att 13)

Where possible I like to see firsts at this time of year. Usually it's a newly-promoted team playing its first game in a higher league, but in Yarm I was able to watch a newly-formed club playing one of the opening fixtures in a newly-created league.

After struggling to sustain enough clubs, the Teesside League has combined with the Eskvale and Cleveland League to form a new North Riding League. The competition has inherited Teesside's  'step seven' status, and with one or two exceptions the top division is last season's Teesside League.

One of the exceptions is Yarm and Eaglescliffe, a new club baesd at Conyers School in Yarm. I'm not sure why they've been placed in the premier division, but despite the opening day defeat they're likely to be competitive.

Grangetown Boys Club have a more established Teesside League history, although having sat out last season they could be considered a new team as well. Chatting to a Grangetown follower before kick off he felt the club had a recruited a potentially strong side.

I don't know if Yarm and Eaglescliffe's fifth minute opener was the North Riding League's first ever goal, but it was certainly against the run of play. Grangetown looked better from the start, and it was no surprise that they soon levelled, and scored twice more to lead 3-1 at half time.

A home goal early in the second half kept the game balanced, as Grangetown struggled to recapture their first half quality. They eventually scored a fourth to give themselves breathing space, but Yarm weren't finished and a third goal for them set up an exciting final few moments, with the visitors relieved to hang on for the points.

Yarm and Eaglescliffe use a 3G pitch at the school, shared with fellow North Riding League side St Mary's 1947. The ground is typical of its type, although unlike some it does have a proper area for spectators to stand, along the centre section of the touchline where the dugouts are also positioned.








Marchwiel Villa v Offa Athletic

6.30pm  8 August 2017

North East Wales League
Marchwiel Villa 0 Offa Athletic 9 (att 20)

A week ago I watched as newly-formed Marchwiel's first competitive match ended in a 19-1 cup tie drubbing against higher-ranked opponents, so I was intrigued to see how they'd fare in their opening league fixture.

A heavy defeat was as expected, but it was goalless for the first 20 minutes - more due to Offa's wayward finishing than quality defending - and it took a flurry of goals in the closing minutes before the scoreline became truly lopsided.

It's early days though, and hopefully as they get more used to football at this level Marchwiel will become more competitive. A problem for new sides in this part of Wales is that there's no local Saturday league below this, the fifth tier of Welsh football.

I was keen to watch a game at the Station Road ground as I missed the venue when Marchwiel's last Saturday team played here a few years ago. Since they folded I understand it's only hosted Sunday football.

It's a basic but pleasant ground. The pitch isn't railed of roped off but it's tightly enclosed, with changing rooms in a corner near the entrance and a grass bank along part of one side for an elevated view of the action.








Malt Shovel v Kippax

6.15pm  7 August 2017

Barkston Ash FA, Mitre Cup Quarter-Final
Malt Shovel 7 Kippax 5 (att 25)

The Barkston Ash FA's annual cup - called the Templenewsam Cup before sponsors got involved - straddles the line between pre-season warm up and competitive football, and provides opportunities to visit a few extra venues on Monday nights at this time of year.

There are two pitches at Malt Shovel's Denison Road ground in Selby, but with the hosts' Sunday team also at home in a quarter final it was pot luck which one I'd see a game on.

With the occasional exception of summer leagues I don't watch Sunday football, so I was always going to watch the Saturday team, who play in division three of the York League. Slightly frustratingly for me they were on pitch two, so I'll need to return to watch them on the railed off main pitch in the future.

Whenever I return I doubt I'll see a game anything like as entertaining as this one. Kippax play a couple of levels higher than Malt Shovel, in division one of the West Yorkshire League, so by my reckoning they began as favourites.

They were quickly behind though, and while it didn't take them long to equalise they soon found themselves 3-1 down. Kippax pulled one back, then as half time approached seemed to click into gear, scoring three times in quick succession to lead by the unlikely half time score of 5-3.

I thought Kippax might add a couple more second half goals to run out comfortable winners, but they never got going after the break. Malt Shovel did though, they scored twice to make it 5-5 just six minutes after the restart, then went ahead 10 minutes later. A seventh rounded off an amazing game.

While all this was happening Malt Shovel's Sunday side were winning their quarter final, setting up an in-house semi final next week when the Sunday team host their Saturday namesakes. Could be interesting.








Tranent Juniors v St Andrews United

2.30pm  5 August 2017

SJFA East Region, Premier Division
Tranent Juniors 3 St Andrews United 2 (att 150)

There was no particular reason for choosing this fixture other than it was about the right driving time from my morning match in Coatbridge, but it proved a decent choice as Tranent and St Andrews made entertaining starts to their seasons.

The visitors began well but fell behind when they conceded a soft goal after about 15 minutes. That gave Tranent the upper hand, but they failed to extend their lead and St Andrews levelled as they finished the half on top.

Tranent went back in front soon after the break, but I thought they'd need a third to make sure of the points. They eventually got it, and it proved necessary as St Andrews pulled a goal back as the game drew to a close.

Tranent Juniors play at Foresters Park, close to the centre of the East Lothian town. It's a pleasant and well-maintained ground, with a large covered terrace along one side and flat open standing around the rest of the ground, apart from one end which is out of bounds to spectators.











Petershall Villa v Calderglen

11am  5 August 2017

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Cup Qualifying Group 9
Petershall Villa 0 Calderglen 6 (att 25)

This season's Strathclyde Saturday Morning League kicks off with a series of mini leagues to determine qualifiers for its knock out cups, although for some reason there was just this single match today before the rest get going over the next week.

Both Petershall and Calderglen play among the league's three second tier divisions, but there was a gulf between them as the visitors scored three in each half for a comprehensive win. They looked a good side and are likely to do well as the season progresses.

Petershall weren't helped by having to play the last 25 minutes with just 10 men due to injury, although the game was already well of sight by then.

The venue was an artificial pitch at St Ambrose High School in Coatbridge. I'm no stranger to 3G and 4G pitches in schools, but the facilities at St Ambrose are remarkable. There are six pitches, all of them enclosed and four with all-weather surfaces.

Petershall used 'pitch one' with has dugouts and a fenced off area along one side, shared with 'pitch two', for spectators to stand.








Maesgwyn v Marchwiel Villa

6.30pm  1 August 2017

North East Wales FA Challenge Cup, Preliminary Round
Maesgwyn 19 Marchwiel Villa 1 (att 55)

Maesgwyn were promoting this cup tie as the first competitive fixture at their new home ground, but two goals in the first two minutes, and 10 inside 25 minutes, showed that it wasn't very competitive at all.

Credit though to Marchwiel, a newly-formed club who play a level lower than the hosts. Despite trailing 12-0 by half time they continued to battle and their were rewarded with a deserved goal back during the second half.

Maesgwyn are a fourth tier Welsh club, preparing for a season in division one of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area). Marchwiel will be hoping for better fortunes in the North East Wales League.

Maesgwyn had been a bit nomadic during their few years as a senior club, but this season have returned to their roots in the Maesgwyn area of Wrexham. Their narrow pitch, found at the end of Lilac Way, is newly railed-off with dugouts on either side of the pitch.

They looked a good side for the level they play at, although it's hard to judge form in such a one-sided encounter.