St Dennis v Foxhole Stars

2pm  18 April 2014

South West Peninsula League, Division One West
St Dennis 1 Foxhole Stars 2 (att 150)

After the previous night's match in Torquay I headed west into Cornwall for one of the few Good Friday games on grounds I needed, and a local derby in the South West Peninsula League.

Apart from local rivalry the fixture didn't have a huge amount to recommend it, with the home side comfortable in mid table and the visitors bottom of the division, but it was a surprisingly exciting game.

Foxhole looked much better than a side at the foot of the league, and although second best for much of the first half they scored the half's only goal, much to the delight of their fans who'd travelled up the B3279.

The game's most crucial moment came after the break and led to Foxhole's second goal. The St Dennis keeper was beaten by a bouncing ball, but he made sure Foxhole didn't benefit by leaping into their forward, flattening him, conceding a penalty and earning himself a red card.

With the penalty converted Foxhole set out to defend their two goal lead. If St Dennis had got one back it seemed they might have scored more, but when their goal came, via deflection for an own goal, there was barely a minute remaining and no time for an equaliser.

St Dennis's ground, Boscawen Park, is neat and tidy and gives the appearance of being home to a thriving club who are on the up. A stand, or covered standing area, is in the process of being built, and there's a busy clubhouse. The pitch is fenced off, while another enclosed pitch, perhaps the former main pitch, runs parallel.










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Watcombe Wanderers v Ivybridge Town reserves

6.30pm  17 April 2014

South Devon League, Premier Division
Watcombe Wanderers 6 Ivybridge Town reserves 1 (att 64)

Torquay's Watcombe Wanderers have enjoyed phenomenal success in the few years since they were formed. A series of successive promotions have taken them to the South Devon League's top tier, where they currently have a 100% record and are on course to win the league, albeit with a fixture backlog to overcome.

Prospects of further promotion are limited by the club's home ground. The King George V Playing Fields, in Easterfield Lane, is just an open pitch in park, and has one of the steepest slopes I've ever seen. I can't see this ground ever being made suitable for a higher level of football, so Watcombe would probably need to relocate if they want further progress.

Ivybridge started the game brightly, but one they went behind there was no threat to Watcombe's perfect league record. The home side scored three times in each 40 minute half, with the visitors consolation coming after the home side's sixth.

I was just grateful the game finished, as a nasty injury sustained by a Watcombe player just before half time meant a lengthy delay and an ambulance being called. For a while it looked as if the match might be abandoned, but sensibly the referee blew for half time while the unfortunate player received treatment, allowing the second half to begin once he was off the pitch.









Hartlepool v Stockton Town

6.30pm  16 April 2014

Wearside League
Hartlepool 1 Stockton Town 4 (att 55)

Bottom at home to top in the Wearside League and so the comfortable away win was no surprise, but Stockton had to come from behind and benefited from some luck along the way.

Hartlepool survived a couple of scares early on, but played better than a side at the foot of the table, taking the league just inside the half-hour. Going behind galvanised a sluggish Stockton though, and the home side's lead lasted barely five minutes.

Hartlepool then missed  great chance to go back in front when a poorly-struck penalty was easily saved, before Stockton edged in front.

But the game's key turning point came in first half stoppage time, when a Hartlepool player was harshly red-carded for what looked an instinctive, rather than calculated, handball on the line, just a second or so after a terrific, and legitimate, goal line clearance.

With the penalty scored, and the home side down to 10 men, the second half was much easier for Stockton. The only surprise was that they managed just one more goal, despite Hartlepool picking up a second sending off during the half.

Hartlepool play at the "Grayfields Enclosure" which is, logically enough, the enclosed pitch at Grayfields, which also boasts a number of open pitches in a large playing field. It's fully fenced in, and the pitch is railed off with dugouts.









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Burntwood Town v Barton United

6.20pm  15 April 2014

Midland Combination, Division Two
Burntwood Town 6 Barton United 0 (att 41)

News that Burntwood Town are likely to be leaving their current home at, Burntwood Leisure Centre, at the end of the season put a trip to Staffordshire high on my agenda, and with a few days off work I had plenty of time to make the tortuously slow journey south through rush hour traffic jams.

Turns out that Burntwood's future home isn't clear cut yet, and remaining at their existing ground is one of at least three possible options to be decided on during the summer. It's a basic set up, not untypically for this league, with the pitch mostly roped and partially railed off, and temporary dugouts erected for matchdays.

We're now at the stage in the season when some fixtures count for very little, and if anything was a stake here it was merely Burntwood ensuring they avoid the possibility of finishing bottom. They're unlikely to have any worries though, this was their second six goal haul in three games as they easily accounted for a poor Barton side with two first half goals and four more after the break.







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Pastures v Bargate Rovers

6.30pm  14 April 2014

Midlands Regional Alliance, Division One
Pastures 6 Bargate Rovers 0 (att 18)

I'd heard that Pastures played on one of the more interesting venues in this league, in the grounds of was once a mental hospital on the outskirts of Derby, and I wasn't disappointed.

The imposing hospital has been converted into apartments, but still looms over the sports ground, where the main feature is a very overgrown, and treacherously uneven, terrace the length of the touchline.

A pavilion in the corner, with a overhanging in front to provide some cover and some tables and chairs outside, provides an alternative spot to watch the action. Behind the far goal is a cricket pitch, although I couldn't tell if it's currently in use, and the cricket pavilion certainly looks abandoned.

The only downside to the venue, at what is now known as Mickleover Country Park, was the state of the pitch. The grass needed a cut, and where the grass was thinner, in the centre, the surface was rock hard.

The playing surface won't have helped, but there wasn't a lot of skill on show. Despite that it was very entertaining, as Pastures strolled to a win that was even more comfortable than a 6-0 scoreline might suggest. They should have scored  more.

Bargate, bottom of the league, arrived with 11 players and no subs, and were unfortunately reduced to just nine men during the game due to injuries, although they were very much second best even when at full strength.








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Colyton v Axminster Town

2.30pm  13 April 2014

Axminster Hospital Cup, Quarter Final
Colyton 0 Axminster Town 1 (att 62)

Lovely weather in Devon today, and Colyton's Peace Memorial Field ins a well equipped and picturesque venue to watch a game, but unfortunately this wasn't a match to linger long in the memory.

I'd expected more from a local derby, and one in which the hosts play three leagues lower than their visitors, who are temporarily based at another ground in the same village. I'd also expected it to be a cup semi final, going by the usually reliable Devon and Exeter League website, when in fact it was a quarter final tie.

Colyton worked hard, and played better than one might expect for a team in the Devon and Exeter League's third tier, but they rarely threatened Axminster's goal. For a South West Peninsula League team Axminster were awful, and created very little.

The only goal came after an hour, when Colyton's keeper spilled a free kick allowing an Axminster player to pounce on the lose ball to score.

Colyton's ground is relatively new and very good for their level. A two-tier pavilion houses a bar, snack bar and changing rooms, and looks out on a pitch that is currently railed off on the near side and behind part of one goal.









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West Bridgford v Bingham Town

6.30pm  12 April 2014

Nottinghamshire Senior League, Division One
West Bridgford 2 Bingham Town 1 (att 448)

The final game of the day's Nottinghamshire Senior League "hop", and as the one venue I needed it was an ideal way the end a day's groundhopping.

As luck would have it, it was a crucial fixture, the home side needed a two goal winning margin to overhaul Kirton Brickworks to win the league, against third place Bingham who needed a win for a chance to finish second.

The game started well, an early goal for the hosts followed by a Bingham equaliser. But despite chances at both ends the game felt surprisingly flat, perhaps it was the unusual kick off time on a Saturday, perhaps it was the overwhelming number of neutrals in the large crowd.

West Bridgford managed a second half winner, but at the final whistle, as groundhoppers from across the UK raced back to their transport home, the small group celebrating where from Kirton Brickworks, who'd pipped West Bridgford to the title by the narrowest of margins.

West Birdgford's Regatta Way ground is impressive. A modern clubhouse serves a large sports field, with three fully railed off pitches,. The main pitch, used by the first team, is also floodlit.










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