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Ware Sports v Wormley Rovers

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AFC Blackpool v Bamber Bridge at Mill Farm Sports Village

7.45pm 28 June 2022 Pre-season friendly at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham AFC Blackpool 2 Bamber Bridge 1 (att 65) Another pre-season match at a ground that isn't used for first team football on a regular basis. Mill Farm is home to AFC Fylde , and as well as the main stadium there's a 4G pitch where this game was played. There's spectator access along one side, and behind one goal if you're prepared to watch through a fence. All perfectly adequate for a low-key warm-up fixture like this one. As far as I could tell both teams had trialists in their line ups, which might account for the surprise outcome. That said, despite losing, Bamber Bridge, who play two levels higher than AFC Blackpool, had more than enough chances to have won. AFC Blackpool twice hit Bamber Bridge on the break, once in the first half and then just a few minutes after half-time. The visitors (although a neutral venue it was effectively an AFC Blackpool home game) were continually denied by wayward

Sublime Athletic v FC North Manchester at Droylsden Academy

12 midday 26 June 2022 Manchester Summer Cup, Group A at Droylsden Academy Sublime Athletic 1 FC North Manchester 5 (att 16) The Manchester Summer Cup has become a regular source of local close season games in recent years. It's open to Saturday and Sunday teams, and all matches are at neutral venues. This year most games are at Astley Sports Village, a ground I visited in 2019 , but a handful of fixtures are on a 3G pitch at Droylsden Academy. It's a standard caged artificial pitch, but there were no problems standing inside the fence. Assuming nothing has changed since last season, Sublime Athletic are a Saturday side, playing in the Lancashire Amateur League, whereas FC North Manchester play Sunday football. The Sunday team came out on comprehensively on top. They took an early lead, and extended their advantage to 3-0 by half time. After the break a penalty made it 4-0 before Sublime pulled a goal back. A fifth for North Manchester rounded off the scoring.

Bolton United v Prestwich Heys at Thornleigh Salesian College

2pm 25 June 2022 Pre-season friendly at Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton Bolton United 1 Prestwich Heys 2 (att 42) I only spotted this game, or more precisely the unusual venue, earlier in the day. So instead of a rare Saturday afternoon at home I decided to begin my 2022/23 season a little earlier than planned. The start and end dates of a season are the subject of much discussion among groundhoppers. I usually consider July to be the start of a season, but it's flexible depending what games I'm watching. It might still be June, but this was a pre-season friendly so it seems a logical point to draw a line under the old season (well, it's actually a border on an Excel spreadhseet these days), and begin the new one. It's no surprise that pre-season games are starting earlier each year, with many non-league teams playing their opening competitive fixtures before the start of August. Bolton United haven't had much of a break, as it's only three weeks since I saw

Sir Tom Finney v JD Blackpool South

7pm 22 June 2022 Catforth and District Summer League, Division One Sir Tom Finney 1 JD Blackpool South 8 (att 14) For the second successive Wednesday I watched as JD Blackpool South comfortably beat Sir Tom Finney in the Catforth Summer League. Last week's game finished 10-2. The Preston-based team did a little better in the return fixture, but were still on the wrong end of a thrashing. They played their part in an entertaining game though, and scored the game's best goal, an 18th minute equaliser shortly after going behind. Parity didn't last long, and JD Blackpool South extended their lead to 4-1 by half time. Four more away goals followed after the break. The home side could have scored one or two themselves, and despite being one-sided it was an enjoyable evening. Sir Tom Finney, who also play winter league football, have a focus on youth and community initiatives. Their usual home venue is the UCLan Sports Centre, also named after Sir Tom, but the lack of an available

Inver v Helmsdale United

4pm 18 June 2022 North West Sutherland Amateur League Inver 1 Helmsdale United 2 (att 70) Helmsdale United's celebrations at the final whistle were testament to just how challenging this game was, as well as how important the three points may prove by the end of the summer season. The win means they keep pace with leaders Lairg Rovers, being two points behind and with a game in hand. To achieve it they had to come from behind, overcoming difficult conditions as well as the opposition. A very strong wind dominated the game, and Inver had it at their backs during a first half in which they scored the opening goal. It was no surprise that Helmsdale dominated the second half, but they didn't have it all their own way. Inver defending solidly, even after losing their goalkeeper to injury. His replacement could do nothing about the penalty that levelled the scores soon after he came on. With the clock ticking it looked as if Helmsdale would be frustrated. But eventually their pressur

Craigellachie v FC Fochabers

7.30pm 17 June 2022 Moray and District Welfare League Craigellachie 0 FC Fochabers 4 (att 44) The Moray Welfare League used to have two divisions. These days it's down to just one, and for its 2022 summer season that has just six teams. It's a sad decline, but one bright spot this year is the appearance of a new team from Craigellachie, near Aberlour. I've driven past the village football pitch many times, and always wondered if there was once a local team. It's been a tough start for Craigellachie FC. They've managed one cup win, but are yet to pick up a point in the league. They put up a decent fight against Fochabers, but two goals in each half settled the outcome comfortably in the visitors' favour. There was a good turnout of locals to support Craigellachie though, lining a narrow pitch that's alongside the junction of the A95 and A941 roads.