Mixenden United v Shelf United

6.15pm  4 September 2015

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Mixenden United 4 Shelf United 1 (att 80)

If it's a Friday evening in late August or early September then chances are it'll be a trip to Halifax, and Mixenden's Natty Lane pitch was the final ground I needed to complete the Premier Division.

I've been to Natty Lane before, but Mixenden play on a park pitch next door to the enclosed, and previously-visited, ground shared by county league sides Halifax Irish and Ovenden WR. A steep grass bank backing onto the senior ground provided a good view of the action.

The game kicked off a few minutes ahead of the scheduled 6.15 kick off, and Mixenden, playing their opening league fixture, wasted no time. They'd scored twice before my watch got to a quarter past six.

They added a third by half time, but Shelf recovered from their poor start to make a game of it, pulling a goal back in the second half.

The fourth goal, that cliched it for Mixenden, was an unusual and controversial one. A Shelf free kick, deep in their own half, was taken quickly and passed to a defender, at least that's what Mixenden believed.

But the Shelf defender thought the ball had been passed to him to take the free kick, so caught and placed it. Mixenden claimed a handball, the referee dithered before agreeing with them, and, while Shelf argued, a quick-thinking home player lobbed the free kick into an unguarded net. After a few seconds of uncertainty the ref gave the goal.








TIC Dynamos of Overton & Middleton v Westgate Wanderers

6.15pm  3 September 2015

North Lancashire & District League, Division One
TIC Dynamos of Overton and Middleton 3 Westgate Wanderers 5 (att 16)

Great entertainment in the small village of Middleton, south east of Heysham, as Westgate eventually continued the 100 per cent start to their fledgling North Lancashire League campaign.

They didn't have things easy though. Despite taking an early two goal lead they were soon pegged back, and in a remarkable opening 30 minutes we had seven goals, with Westgate taking their 4-3 advantage into half time.

The game tightened up in the second half, and the visitors added just one more goal to re-establish a two goal margin that, this time, they held until the end.

The home side, who might have the clumsiest name in UK football, were formed by a merger of TIC Dynamos FC and Overton and Middleton FC.

The ground at Middleton is quite well-equipped for this level, with dugouts, a small changing room pavilion in the corner, with some cover at the front, and even a couple of advertising boards. The pitch is hemmed in between fields, occupied by horses, on one side, and tennis courts and a makeshift car park on the other.










Horbury Town v Carlton Athletic

6.15pm  2 September 2015

West Yorkshire League, Premier Division
Horbury Town 1 Carlton Athletic 4 (att 40)

A trip to Horbury was a good alternative once I discovered that my planned game, in the West Cheshire League, had been postponed just a few hours before kick-off.

The club's home, at the Slazenger Sports Complex, was my sole unvisited venue in the top division of the West Yorkshire League, and visitors Carlton were top of the table, having won all their five games so far.

That they made it six out of six owed much to the Horbury player who got himself sent off for kicking out at an opponent mid way through the first half. Horbury actually went ahead just a couple of minutes after the red card, although at the time it was 10 v 10 on the pitch as the Carlton's kicked player was still receiving treatment.

The home side held the lead into half time, but Carlton scored an equaliser just after the restart, and went on to win comfortably despite a spirited effort from Horbury.

The ground is a pleasant spot, high up over the surrounding countryside. The sloping pitch looks well-maintained, and was enclosed on three sides by a flimsy plastic post and rail fence, with a pair of neat dugouts on one side. The programme, apparently produced for all home games and sold for £1, was a welcome bonus.












Appleby v Lunesdale United

6.15pm  1 September 2015

Westmorland League, Division One
Appleby 4 Lunesdale United 0 (att 55)

A visit to Appleby-in-Westmorland was a fitting way to round off a day out in the Lake District, especially when the town's football club had a home game against local rivals Lunesdale.

Appleby's Broad Close home is close to the attractive town centre, sandwiched between the River Eden on one side and Chapel Street on the other. The river side of the pitch is railed off, while opposite a stone wall separates the park from the road. Players change in a two-story building behind the goal.

It turned out to be straightforward win for the home side. They were on top from the start, but it took them a while to go in front and they only led by the single goal at half time.

In the second period Appleby doubled their lead, then they doubled it again with a couple more goals in the closing minutes. Lunesdale played their part in an entertaining game, and came close once or twice.

For spectators, most of whom lined the Chapel Street side of the pitch, the biggest annoyance were the midges. A damp evening meant they were out in force, and they were the worst I've experienced anywhere outside Scotland.









Cheltenham Civil Service v Broadwell Amateurs

3pm  21 August 2015

Gloucestershire County League
Cheltenham Civil Service 1 Broadwell Amateurs 3 (att 64)

It's less than 18 months since I last visited Cheltenham Civil Service's Tewkesbury Road home, when I took advantage of a Saturday lunchtime kick-off to tick off a venue that was then hosting Gloucestershire Northern Senior League football.

The club has had an eventful time since then, earning promotion to the Gloucestershire County League and then winning that competition at the first attempt.

Promotion also meant fencing off a pitch, and as the club now uses a pitch directly in front of the clubhouse, and one that doesn't overlap where I saw them play last time, a return was necessary to visit what is, by my groundhopping "rules", a new ground.

Champions they may be, but it's been a difficult start to this season for Civil Service. Newly-promoted Broadwell took full advantage, condemning their hosts to their fourth defeat from their opening four fixtures.

Civil Service looked to have turned a corner when they scored the only goal of an entertaining and evenly-matched first half. But Broadwell stepped up a gear after the break and were well worth the three goals that gave them victory.

Apart from a plastic post and rail around what is now the main pitch at Civil Service, and a pair of dugouts, little seems to have changed from my last visit. On a damp afternoon, and following heavy rain earlier, the pitch was perfect. The Civil Service social club is decent and, handily, the building also provides a bit of cover from the elements for those watching football.









Trearddur Bay United v St Asaph City

4.45pm  29 August 2015

Welsh Alliance, Division One
Trearddur Bay United 4 St Asaph City 3 (att 375)

The marathon that is the Welsh Alliance "hop", 11 games over four days, arrived in Trearddur Bay for a late afternoon kick-off, giving me the chance to tick off a new ground just a short drive from my earlier match at Valley.

As always for hop games, the host club were well organised to cope with the influx of spectators, who lined the pleasantly-situated pitch, which is just across the road from the beach.

The home side, with the breeze at their backs and the bright sun behind them, dominated a one-sided first half, scoring early and trebling their lead by half time. They added a fourth in the opening minute of the second half, then lost their way and allowed St Asaph back into the game.

The visitors went from being on the wrong end of a hammering to scoring three times, and, as the game came to an end, coming very close to equalising.

There's no cover at Trearrdur Bay's Lon Isallt ground, not that any was needed on a sunny afternoon. The pitch is railed off on three sides and enclosed by a stone wall on the side the borders the road, while players change in a pavilion in the corner.

After the final whistle the "hop" moved on to an evening kick-off at Llangefni, while I headed back home.










Valley Athletic v Llanfairpwll reserves

2.30pm  29 August 2015

Anglesey League
Valley Athletic 1 Llanfairpwll reserves 2 (att 25)

My first taste of Anglesey league football, and it was decent introduction between two of the competition's better sides.

Valley won the league last season, but apparently have a much-changed side now, while Llanfairpwll's second string had scored 23 goals in their last two fixtures.

The visitors had plenty of chances to add a few more goals at Valley, but were let down by wayward shooting. Valley scored the first half's only goal, against the run of play, but the Llanfairpwll hit back in the second half for a deserved win.

Overall it was an entertaining, and occasionally feisty, game. I thought it a decent standard of football, and both sides looked as if they could compete at Gwynedd League level, the next step up from the Anglesey League

Valley use a pitch to the south of the village, on a piece of land sandwiched between a railway line at the A55 dual carriageway into Holyhead. There's a pair of permanent dugouts on one side, and a couple of park benches on the opposite side are handily-placed for spectators.