Horwich St Mary's Victoria v Roach Dynamos

6.40pm  30 August 2017

Lancashire Amateur League, Premier Division
Horwich St Mary's Victoria 2 Roach Dynamos 3 (att 16)

Not my first visit to Horwich's Scholes Bank ground, but the first time I've been able to watch a match on the main pitch, which wasn't in use when the club initially opened the facility a couple of years ago.

In September 2015 I watched a game on a pitch on the far side of the modern clubhouse, but senior games are now played on an enclosed area in front of the clubhouse and closer to the car park. There's space for two pitches, and the one used for this game was roped off along one touchline.

The playing surface must have benefited by not being put into use straight away, as it appeared in excellent condition, contributing to an enjoyably entertaining fixture.

Twice Horwich St Mary's Victoria went ahead, and twice Roach Dynamos scored to equalise, once in each half. A draw would have been a fair result between two evenly-matched sides, but visitors Roach nabbed the points with a dramatic late winner.








Junction v Cask

6.15pm  29 August 2017

Huddersfield and District League, Division Three
Junction 1 Cask 1 (att 15)

Not my first choice game but I arrived at where the usually-reliable Huddersfield League website said division one AFC Lindley were playing and found no sign of a game. There's a result online though so it must have been played somewhere, but luckily for me this fixture was just a few yards away.

I wouldn't ordinarily cross the Pennines in the evening rush hour for a game in the third tier of the Huddersfield League, but any port in a storm and it was a better option than heading home without seeing a match.

To be fair, given the level, this was a decent game. Junction took a very early lead, and would have doubled it had a penalty not been saved. Cask scored a good equaliser, but ill discipline cost them before half time when they had a player sent off.

The second period didn't live up to the first, as Junction were unable to make their numerical advantage tell and Cask will, under the circumstances, surely see this as a point gained.

Junction's home venue is a grass pitch at Huddersfield New College. With steep grass banking at one end and part of one side it's quite a nice venue and, unlike AFC Lindley's Celandine Recreation Ground, at least there was a game to watch.










Llangoed v Waunfawr

6.30pm  28 August 2017

Gwynedd League
Llangoed 2 Waufawr 2 (att 40)

Extra time in the day's earlier game at Saltney Town made getting to Llangoed, on Anglesey, more of a challenge than I'd have liked. Thankfully the A55 behaved itself, westbound at least, and I was parked pitchside 10 minutes before kick off.

CPD Llangoed are new to Gwynedd League football this season, having stepped up from the Anglesey League, and in truth they were a little fortunate to get a point against a Waunfawr side who looked better.

The first half was scrappy, and the home side's opening goal just before half time was perhaps the only highlight. The second half was much better, but mainly because Waunfawr were able to put some decent moves together.

They were well on top, and it was no surprise when two goals in quick succession gave the visitors the lead. What was a surprise, to me as a neutral at least, was how Llangoed dug in and refused to be beaten. Their hard work was eventually rewarded with an equaliser.

Llangoed's pitch is just south of the village centre, and is a typically-pleasant Gwynedd League venue. The pitch is railed off, with a pair of dugouts on the far side. The near side has car parking and a small building housing changing rooms and a snack bar.








Saltney Town v FC Queens Park

2.30pm  28 August 2017

North East Wales FA Challenge Cup, Second Round
Saltney Town 4 FC Queens Park 7 aet (att 100)

The two games I've seen in this cup this season have produced 31 goals, and if that wasn't good enough value then this enthralling tie included an extra 30 minutes.

To be honest I was frustrated by Saltney's excellent late leveller that took the game into extra time, as a delayed finish was going to make it tricky to get to my second game of the day. Had it gone to penalties I'd have missed out on an evening game, but Queens Park's superior fitness was crucial in extra time.

Saltney Town, who play one level lower than the visitors, came from a goal down to lead 2-1 by half time. Queens Park's two second half goals looked like being enough to win the tie, but they paid for missing chances to extend their lead when Saltney levelled just minutes from time.

In hot weather the extra 30 minutes might have been a struggle, and the opening period was dull until Saltney edged 4-3 in front in its final seconds. FC Queens Park roused themselves for the final 15 minutes, quickly drawing level before taking control as their opponents tired.

Saltney Town are based in Sandy Lane, on the western outskirts of Chester and on the Welsh side of the border. In 1998 I watched Saltney Community Centre FC play here, but Saltney Town play on a different pitch which they've enclosed.

A small seated stand is a recent addition, and a breeze block construction on the opposite side, in between the dugouts, suggests building work isn't yet finished.









Tweedmouth Rangers v Heriot-Watt University

2.30pm  26 August 2017

East of Scotland FA, Alex Jack Cup, First Round
Tweedmouth Rangers 1 Heriot-Watt University 7 (att 23)

It feels a little odd to have visited one of my remaining senior Scottish non-League clubs without leaving England, but Berwick is no stranger to football north of the border.

Berwick Rangers are of course long-standing members of the Scottish League, and Tweedmouth play right next door, on the league club's former home pitch at Old Shielfield Park. In fact Tweedmouth use Berwick's changing facilities, so can only stage games when their bigger neighbours are away.

The set up is slightly strange, as Tweedmouth have their own dedicated turnstyle, beyond which spectators walk around the back of Berwick Rangers to reach Tweedmouth's neatly-enclosed pitch.

There's no cover, but there's a pair of dugouts and the pitch is roped off between the many advertising boards around the perimeter.

The Alex Jack Cup is for East of Scotland League clubs not eligible for the main Scottish FA Cup, and this is the second season in a row that Tweedmouth have been knocked out by Heriot-Watt at the first hurdle.

It wasn't much of a contest in truth, as the home side had no answer to a fantastic first half performance by the students. By the break they'd scored six, twice hit the crossbar, and came close on other occasions.

Tweedmouth at least had the satisfaction of drawing the second period, reducing the arrears before letting in a seventh.










Manchester Gregorians v Stockport Georgians

6.30pm  22 August 2017

Manchester League, Premier Division
Manchester Gregorians 2 Stockport Georgians 2 (att 26)

Last Tuesday I was at Bellevue Park in Wrexham, this week I was at another Belle Vue, in Manchester, for a fixture that is almost (but annoyingly not quite) an anagram derby - Gregorians v Georgians.

The new complex built around Belle Vue's speedway stadium is called, rather grandly, Belle Vue Sports Village. It's the new home of Manchester Gregorians, and when I arrived both teams were warming up on the artificial pitch inside the speedway track.

Flanked by a pair of huge stands I thought it was going to be a surprisingly impressive venue for a Manchester League game, but apparently the pitch is a little too small for senior football, and so after their warm ups the players headed to the more basic 3G pitch next door.

It's better than some caged 3G grounds, as it at least has proper area for spectators running the length of one touchline, but it's not an interesting ground to visit.

Luckily the game was good enough to compensate. Stockport Georgians took an early lead, conceded an equaliser but scored again to lead 2-1 at half time. The home side scored the only goal of the second half to earn a point, but as the visitors finished the game with 10 men, after a sending off, they'll have been frustrated not to win.







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.