Dundonald Bluebell v Newtongrange Star

2.30pm  19 May 2018

SJFA East of Scotland Cup. Quarter-Final
Dundonald Bluebell 1 Newtongrange Star 1, 5-4 on penalties (att 150)

The last time I tried to watch a game at Dundonald I arrived to find it was off, but no such problems this time and Moorside Park looked a picture in the warm sunshine.

It's a great junior football venue, with three separate areas of cover for spectators, some steep grass banking, a social club and a snack bar from where I enjoyed an excellent steak pie.

There's no shortage of cup competitions in junior football, but the East of Scotland Cup is one of the better ones, and as expected it was a tight and competitive battle between two Super League sides.

We had to wait until well into the second half for the opening goal, a well placed header for the home side. They couldn't hang onto their lead though, and Newtongrange were well worth their equaliser.

No extra time in junior football (except the national Scottish Junior Cup) so it was straight to a penalty shoot out to determine the semi-finalist. Dundonald triumphed 5-4, but not without controversy amid claims their keeper was moving from the goal line before kicks were taken.









Maryhill Thistle v Glasgow Island

10am  19 May 2018

Glasgow Colleges League, Premier Division
Maryhill Thistle 3 Glasgow Island 2 (att 15)

Having had my first taste of Glasgow Colleges FA football a few weeks ago, when I watched Maryhill Thistle lift a cup at Petershill's ground, I visited the champions as I made my debut in its league competition.

I had planned to watched Blochairn Star's Strathclyde Saturday Morning League game, but I arrived to find little sign of life less than 30 minutes before kick off, so I assumed it was off and diverted to this game as a back up.

Blochairn played, so maybe I should have held my nerve and been patient, but as it turned out I was rewarded by an entertaining game on a 3G pitch at the Firhill Complex.

Despite having nothing to play for Maryhill Thistle were good in the first half, and two goals looked to have put them on the road to a comfortable win.

But in the second half they eased off and Glasgow Island - many of whose players come from the Western Isles and are working or studying in Glasgow - scored twice, including a penalty, to level with 30 minutes left.

Not longer after the visitors' equaliser a petty squabble over a throw in quickly escalated to the point where I feared the referee might fail to regain control and abandon the match. It took several minutes, and a red card for Maryhill, before order was restored.

Despite a man advantage Glasgow Island couldn't get in front, and numbers on the pitch were evened up when they had a player red carded in the final minute. Maryhill's stoppage time winner owed much to good fortune, after a clearance by Island's keeper was charged down and ended up in the net.








Silsden Whitestar v Skipton Town at Gargrave AFC

6.30pm  15 May 2018

Craven and District League, Northern Plant Hire Trophy Final at Gargrave AFC
Silsden Whitestar 1 Skipton Town 0 (att 90)

I never visited Gargrave's impressive ground when the village had a team in local football but, fortunately, since the club's demise the venue has continued to host occasional cup finals.

I'm told the final of the Northern Plant Hire Trophy, the Craven League's league cup competition, is always held at Gargrave. It makes sense as not only is it currently guaranteed to be a neutral location, but the facilities are good.

The pitch is enclosed, it's partly railed off, and there's a large covered area for spectators. Tonight that was used by Skipton fans, while those supporting Silsden Whitestar gathered on the opposite touchline, where the ground borders the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The site, on the edge of the village, is shared with the local cricket club, whose own ground is self-contained and right next door.

Premier Division Silsden Whitestar are on track to win the league, but were made to work hard before lifting the trophy by Skipton, who are near the top of division one and hoping for promotion.

It was a close game with few clear chances, settled by an unfortunate goalkeeping error after around an hour's play.










Kello Rovers v Cambuslang Rangers

2pm  12 May 2018

SJFA West Region, Super League, Division One
Kello Rovers 0 Cambuslang Rangers 3 (att 160)

Nithside Park is a bit of an outpost of Scottish junior football, with Kirkconnel-based Kello Rovers the only club in Dumfries and Galloway to play that grade of the game.

It's a nice ground, and a good example of the 'old style' traditional junior venues that help make football north of the border so tempting.

The main feature is a large covered enclosure, which is terraced. There's a small covered area on the opposite side, in front of a building that houses the changing rooms and a tea bar, while the rest of the ground is open, with a mixture of terracing, paved hard standing and grass.

Both these sides were in need of points at opposite ends of the table, and it was Cambuslang who took all three to keep their promotion challenge on track. Kello may go down, although I think restructuring is planned for West Region football next season and I'm not sure what effect that might have.

Cambuslang's win was comfortable in the end, but the first half was goalless and quite tight, with both sides coming close to taking a lead. The visitors stepped up a gear after the break, and their 48th minute opener changed the game.

They doubled their lead after an hour, and added a third with five minutes left. Kello picked up a late red card, after the third goal.









Southside White Cart v Barshaw

10am  12 May 2018

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Championship B
Southside White Cart 2 Barshaw 0 (att 8)

Overlee Playing Fields in Clarkston was busy with parents and players for junior football matches when I arrived, making me wonder if my game might have been moved elsewhere until I spotted some adult footballers among the youngsters.

There's a pair of full-sized pitches at Overlee. They're next to each other and enclosed at the far end by a high fence designed to limit the number of balls that would otherwise disappear down the steep drop beyond.

The near end is bordered by a steep grass bank, complete with flowering daffodils, which leads up to the changing rooms. It's one of Glasgow's better amateur football venues, particularly on a warm and sunny morning.

Neither side had much to play for on the pitch, and it was a game of fluctuating quality. Southside White Cart - named after the river that borders Overlee, or perhaps a pub that's named after the river - were the better side, and hit the crossbar three times before going ahead after 70 minutes.

Their second goal was in stoppage time, and scored into an empty net as Barshaw had pushed everyone forward, including their goalkeeper, for a corner.









Huntington Rovers v Tadcaster Magnets

6.30pm  9 May 2018

York League, Premier Division
Huntington Rovers 5 Tadcaster Magnets 1 (att 20)

Not much to play for, but Huntington's comfortable win, in their final league game, was the result they needed to guarantee a third place finish.

After an even start the home side got lucky with their opening goal, but once in front it was mostly one-way traffic. They were 3-0 up by half time, and added two more early in the second period.

Tadcaster's efforts were rewarded with a well-taken late goal, but the match was well beyond them by the time they scored it. It was an enjoyable game, despite its end-of-season feel.

Huntington is a pleasant suburb of York, and the sports field where the football club plays is a typical York League venue. The pitch is roped off, there's a pair of permanent dugouts, and a social club is next to the pitch.










Heywood Irish Centre v Linthwaite Athletic

6.15pm  8 May 2018

Huddersfield and District League, Division One
Heywood Irish Centre 5 Linthwaite Athletic 0 (att 12)

League leaders Heywood Irish Centre saw off Linthwaite's title challenge with an easy win at the Leeds Road Playing Fields in Huddersfield.

The hosts, unbeaten in the league, dominated for the entire 90 minutes, and had scored all five of their goals inside an hour's play. Linthwaite weren't that bad, but they were no match for a rampant Heywood.

Despite beating the team in second, Heywood aren't yet confirmed as champions, although it's surely just a matter of time. By my reckoning three more points will do it, with Holmbridge now their only potential challengers.

The ground was much better than I'd expected. Leeds Road Playing Fields is a large expanse with space for plenty of football pitches, but Heywood's pitch, pitch number six apparently, is separate and feels quite enclosed.








Rock Rovers v Bewdley Town reserves

3pm  7 May 2018

West Midlands Regional League, Division Two
Rock Rovers 0 Bewdley Town reserves 8 (att 35)

I've spent plenty of bank holiday Mondays driving hundreds of miles and getting frustrated by heavy traffic as I chase two or more games in a day, but increasingly these days a leisurely journey for a single match is more appealing.

A late season mid table clash between Rock Rovers and Bewdley reserves may not have been the day's most enticing fixture, but it was an easy and pleasant drive to Shrewsbury, and the town has enough going for it to provide an afternoon out for my other half while I'm watching the football.

Rock Rovers are based at the Mereside Community Centre, south of the town, and use a pitch set in an attractive park. The playing area is a short walk from the changing room building, and is railed off with a pair of temporary dugouts erected for each match.

The grass could have done with a cut, which may have hampered the players, but the game proved to be a stroll in the park for Bewdley, who scored four in each half. They could easily have netted more, with better finishing and a better understanding of how not to be offside.

It felt a bit end-of-seasonish for Rock Rovers, perhaps understandable in the heat. They still have more games to play though, but as they're comfortably in mid table they will surely consider their first season at this level as a success.