Lochee Harp v East Craigie

2.30pm  20 August 2016

SJFA East Region, North Division
Lochee Harp 3 East Craigie 2 (att 63)

Lochee Harp got their first points of the new league season with a hard-fought win against fellow Dundee side East Craigie.

It may have been a local derby, albeit one between two of the city's lesser junior teams, but I was tempted north by the chance to visit Beechwood Park, a ground which could soon disappear if plans for the club to relocate get the go ahead.

A move would probably be a good thing for Lochee Harp. Their current venue has the charm of a run-down long-established Scottish non-League ground, but it's seen better days and starting again at a new site would be a good option.

A small building behind the goal near the entrance houses the changing rooms and a tea bar, with an enclosure at the front providing the ground's only cover. The rest of the ground is raised grass banking, so spectators look down on the pitch, in places through overgrown vegetation.

It was a decent game though. Harp scored first but it was level at 1-1 by half time. The home side regained their lead in the second half, but East Craigie always threatened to equalise, and might have done had they been awarded what looked, to me, like a penalty.

Instead a late third goal put the home side in control, and proved a useful insurance policy as East Craigie pulled a goal back in the final minute.

Bickerstaffe v Digmoor

6.15pm  17 August 2016

Wigan & District Amateur League, Premier Division
Bickerstaffe 0 Digmoor 1 (att 22)

Bickerstaffe is a small village not far from Skelmersdale, and is among the more attractive locations that hosts Wigan and District League football.

The football club have a base in Hall Lane, a village playing field with a single pitch close to a pavilion building which houses the changing rooms.

It took a second half goal, following a goalkeeping error, to separate the sides in a close-fought local derby. Digmoor just about deserved the win, their second in two games after earning promotion as division one champions last season.

In contrast Bickerstaffe have opened their 2016/17 with two defeats, but if it wasn't for wayward shooting they may well have got something out of this game.

All in all I enjoyed my visit to Bickerstaffe, a warm and sunny evening at a pleasant village football ground, and a decent game to watch.

Altrincham Hale v Govan Athletic

6.30pm  16 August 2016

Manchester League, Division One
Altrincham Hale 4 Govan Athletic 2 (att 18)

I had planned a cross-Pennine drive to Yorkshire, but decided the stress of trying to pick my way through rush-hour traffic on the M62 was something I could do without, so instead had the simpler task of a drive to Altrincham.

Like last night's match at Winstanley Warriors, this was a return to a park to see game on a different pitch. I'd seen Baguley Atheltic play a Manchester Saturday Morning League at the Beech Avenue Recreation Ground in 2014, but Altrincham Hale's pitch is some distance away.

It runs lengthways in front of a changing room block, and dugouts and a pitchside barrier are erected for Manchester League fixtures.

Both sides are new to the league this season, and the home side continued their strong start with a win that was deserved. If anything they should have scored more goals, spurning a number of chances and hitting the frame of the goal several times.

Altrincham Hale led 2-1 at half time, and that looked likely to be the final score until a flurry of late goals provided an exciting finish, although the outcome was never in doubt.

Winstanley Warriors v Hindsford

6.15pm  15 August 2016

Wigan Cup, Group One
Winstanley Warriors 4 Hindsford 5 (att 34)

My second visit to Little Lane in Wigan in four months. Last time was to see Winstanley St Aidans in the Wigan League, this time it was next-door neighbours Winstanley Warriors.

Warriors have lept from the Wigan League's second tier into the Cheshire League for this season, and have installed dugouts and a barrier around their pitch, which runs parallel to the more basic home of St Aidans.

They also have their own pavilion building, from where hot and cold drinks were available. At half time a friendly club official provided welcome teas and coffees, and biscuits, for myself and a couple of other groundhopping spectators.

The Wigan Cup is an early-season competition and a good source of midweek games on evenings when new grounds can be thin on the ground. Both Warriors and their Manchester League opponents were playing this just 24 hours ahead of league games, so chances are they rested a few first teamers.

Whatever sides they were fielding it was a lively and entertaining game. Hindsford didn't get in front until the 89th minute when they scored what proved the decisive goal. They'd trailed 2-0 at half time, but had got themselves on level terms early in the second half.

Winstanley then twice went ahead, but each time Hindsford doggedly responded, before they got their late winner. They just about deserved the win, and the Warriors keeper had a particularly busy evening, making some good saves.

FC Bolsover v Collingham

3pm  13 August 2016

Central Midlands League, North Division
FC Bolsover 3 Collingham 2 (att 30)

FC Bolsover were only formed during the summer, filling a void when nearby Glapwell FC folded and aiming to represent a town that hasn't had its own senior team since Bolsover Town disappeared a few years ago.

For this season they're based away from Bolsover itself, using a 3G pitch at Shirebrook Academy, although they plan to be in their home town for next season.

For a new club there's plenty of enthusiasm and organisation, with a colourful programme on sale and hot food and drink available for spectators.

It's not a great venue for watching football though, with just a quarter of one touchline temporarily barriered to provide a viewing area. If you want to watch from anywhere else, you need to peer through the fence.

Bolsover's debut last weekend ended in a home defeat, but they more than made amends in midweek when they scored 15 at Welbeck Lions (although Welbeck have conceded double figures in each of their first three league games).

They should have made a better start to this game, wasting some early chances to go ahead. It was the visitors who scored first, from a penalty, but the lead lasted just two minutes, and it 1-1 at half-time.

Bolsover were on top for the second half, scoring twice to establish a decent lead. Collingham pulled a late goal back though, setting up a nervy finish for the home side, but they held on to win. I expect FC Bolsover will do well in their first Central Midlands League season.

FC Bolsover's pitch isn't yet visible on Google Maps, but here's a link to its location

FC Stafford v Team Dudley

7.45pm  10 August 2016

West Midlands Regional League, Division One
FC Stafford 3 Team Dudley 2 (att 21)

FC Stafford are a nomadic club and this season, not for the first time, they're based outside the town they take their name from.

Their latest home venue is a 3G pitch at Wolgarston Sports Centre, on the edge of Penkridge, a town a few miles south of Stafford itself. It's typical for this type of venue, a fenced in and floodlit pitch behind buildings which serve as a sports centre and school.

There is a designated area for spectators, running about two-thirds of one touchline, on the same side as a pair of dugouts.

On the pitch it was interesting rather than exciting. FC Stafford scored early and soon doubled their lead. Team Dudley pulled a goal back before half time, then equalised in the second half.

The game looked to be heading for a draw until stoppage time, when a howler by the visiting keeper allowed a Stafford shot to squirm under his body and cross the line, giving victory to the home side.

Wythenshawe Amateurs v Old Altrinchamians

7.30pm  9 August 2016

Manchester League, Premier Division
Wythenshawe Amateurs 0 Old Altrinchamians 3 (att 57)

Wythenshawe Amateurs have taken up residence at St Paul's School this season, as they await the completion of their permanent new home ground, and a midweek game under the floodlights gave me a welcome chance to tick off the venue.

It's a typically-unexciting 3G pitch, enclosed by a high fence and behind the school buildings. A plus point is that there's plenty of room for spectators to stand around the pitch and this game, between two well-established clubs, attracted a decent crowd.

The best of the action was crammed into the final 20 minutes. Until that point it had been a cagey affair, but a 70th minute penalty put Old Alts in front, and just five minutes later they added a fine second goal,

Amateurs threw all they could at the visitors in a bid to get back into the game, but it was to no avail and in the end it was Old Alts who scored the game's final goal, in stoppage time.