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.








Huddersfield Amateur v Mount St Mary's

6.50pm  11 May 2016

West Yorkshire League, Division Two
Huddersfield Amateur 3 Mount St Mary's 1 (att 16)

This is Huddersfield Amateur's first season in the West Yorkshire League, and promotion remains a possibility with games in hand on their rivals.

They should have had no problems seeing off a Mount St Mary's side who'd done well just get a side together to fulfil the fixture, yet they had to come from behind before securing the points.

To be fair on the home side Mount St Mary's opener was against the run of play, and it was always going to be just a matter of time before Huddersfield Amateur levelled and then went in front.

Despite Mount's best efforts they were 1-2 behind by half time, and the home side scored a third at the start of the second half, but that was as much as they managed. No shortage of chances, but wasteful finishing and some good goalkeeping denied them.

It had a bit of an end of season feel to it but as Mount St Mary's had little to play for, and Huddersfield Amateur have had a hectic run in, it was understandable.

As the name suggests, Huddersfield Amateur have their roots in Huddersfield, but since the 1960s they've played in nearby Elland, at the end of a road with the curious name of Old Earth.

Access to the pitches is via the clubhouse, with the nearest of two pitches railed off and a pair of dugouts nearing completion on the far side. It's a good set up for a club who look well suited to football at this level.










Walton le Dale v Southport Trinity reserves

7pm  10 May 2016

Mid Lancashire League, Division One
Walton le Dale 1 Southport Trinity reserves 2 (att 10)

Once it gets towards mid May the choice of games is thinner, particularly those reachable after a day at work, but the Mid Lancashire League helps by scheduling kick offs at 7pm, making hem manageable even factoring in Manchester's rush hour traffic.

Lucky I made to this one in good time though, as on a damp and dreary evening we got underway about 10 minutes early. And the visitors wasted no time, going in front before the advertised kick off time.

Southport Trinity had the better of a decent first half, and by half time should have led by more than the two goals they managed.

Walton le Dale were better after the break, and pulled a goal back, but they were unable to find an equaliser. Their case wasn't helped by a late red card, after a player reacted badly to being fouled.

The venue, King George V Playing Fields in Higher Walton, on the edge of Preston, is more interesting than it appears at first sight. These days it's a pleasant tree-lined public park, with space for a couple of pitches, but 120 years ago football matches here attracted much larger crowds.

An information board, behind the far goal, explains that it was the home of Victorian-era side Higher Walton, who played in the FA Cup and hosted the likes of Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers in the early days of organised football.