Banchory St Ternan v New Elgin

2pm  20 September 2014

SJFA North Region, Super League
Banchory St Ternan 5 New Elgin 2 (att 37)

It was a scenic drive from Dundee up to Banchory, although you won't find St Ternan's Milton Park ground in the pleasant town itself, but a couple of miles east in Crathes.

It a typical North Region junior ground, enclosed by a fence, with a railed-off pitch, dugouts and changing rooms in a pavilion with provides some limited cover, but set back from the pitch.

A view from there would be obscured by a portable building which houses toilets, snack bar and a committee room, but on a warm and dry afternoon there was no need to seek shelter.

The game was entertaining, although the home side were always in control. They scored early, and although the visitors equalised Banchory were 3-1 ahead within 20 minutes.

New Elgin reduced the arrears before half time, but after the break it was Banchory who stepped up a gear or two to run out comfortable winners.

New Elgin may claim the match officials cost them, Banchory's third goal followed a challenge that was so late they missed it, and the fourth may well have been offside (I wasn't sure, but I don't think the linesman was either). In truth though Banchory could easily have scored more goals, and New Elgin may be facing a tough season.









Dundee University Medical Students v West End Athletic

10am  20 September 2014

SAFA North of Tay District Cup, First Round
Dundee University Medical Students 4 West End Athletic 5 (att 2)

Only the second time I've watched Dundee Saturday Morning League football, and like last time it followed an overnight stay after a work trip to Scotland on Friday, making the 10am kick off a painless experience.

The North of Tay Cup is one of several local cups run under the auspices of the Scottish Amateur FA. It's a Saturday afternoon competition, but as the draw pitted these two Saturday Morning League Premier Division rivals they agreed an early start.

It was a great cup tie, livened up by some questionable defending by both sides. DUMS (as the student team is usually known) should have gone ahead in the opening seconds, but it was West End who scored the game's opening goal. By half time the students had scored twice to lead 2-1.

The goals continued in the second half, with the sides looking very well matched. Eventually, in the 83rd minute, DUMS scored to edge ahead 4-3. That looked like the winner, but West End weren't finished, and equalised just three minutes later. Another minute after that and West End were 5-4 in front, and into the second round.

The game was played at the Dundee University Riverside sports ground, just a few yards from the end of the runway at Dundee Airport. Several low-flying planes, incoming and outgoing, swooped over the pitch.

It's one of a handful of venues which stage Dundee Saturday Morning League games. The pristine railed off "show pitch" wasn't used, but as well as this cup tie there were three league games also taking place. All in the bottom division and all managing a handful of spectators, whereas for much of the first half I was the only person watching this game.










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Sheringham v Long Stratton

2,30pm  13 September 2014

Anglian Combination, Premier Division
Sheringham 0 Long Stratton 2 (att 35)

I don't get to Norfolk very often, so we decided to turn this trip into a mini-break, with the football slotted in between some more traditional tourism.

Sheringham is a very pleasant, and busy, north Norfolk seaside town, and a pre-match fresh crab sandwich, eaten on the seafront, was the perfect appetiser for the afternoon's main course at Sheringham Recreation Ground.

To be honest the football was a little disappointing, Long Stratton having no problems seeing off a struggling home side thanks to a goal in each half.

Sheringham have now lost all seven league games this season, including a couple of heavy defeats, and but for the woodwork, some goal-line clearances and good goalkeeping, they'd have conceded more than two in this game.

The Sheringham keeper was in good form for the hour he was on the pitch, but he had to retire injured after Long Stratton's second goal went past him. His stand-in was rarely troubled as the game petered out.

Although the action wasn't up to much the venue was. Sheringham play at the back of the town's leisure centre, and have a fully-enclosed pitch with floodlights and a modern stand. It wouldn't be out of place at a higher level of football, if they could get a team to match.








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Newton Athletic v Newton-le-Willows

6.15pm  9 September 2014

Warrington and District League, Division One
Newton Athletic 0 Newton-le-Willows 2 (att 22)

Quite a low key game for the local derby clash between the Newton-le-Willows rivals, won by the visitors thanks to two second half goals.

Athletic had the better of the first half but were wasteful in front of goal. They should have gone ahead from a penalty, but the 30th minute spot kick was comfortably saved.

Newton-le-Willows went ahead about 12 minutes into the second half, against the run of play. There may have been an offside in the build up, but ultimately the goal owed more to a goalkeeping error than a refereeing lapse.

Having taken the lead the visitors were instilled with more confidence, and their second goal was a great strike from an angle. Athletic pushed hard but couldn't get back into the game.

Newton Athletic play at the King George V Recreation Ground. A basic venue with a changing room block and three pitches.







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West Wratting v Wisbech St Mary

2pm  6 September 2014

Cambridgeshire League, Premier Division
West Wratting 3 Wisbech St Mary 1 (att 35)

It's 10 years since I last ticked off a ground in the Cambridgeshire League, and even longer since I last visited one on a Saturday. It was the obvious league to look at after the morning game in Cambridge, and this fixture stood out thanks to it 2pm kick off, and hour earlier than the division's other games,

The early kick off was because the club's 'A' team had a home game afterwards, and there's only one pitch at the pleasant West Wratting Recreation Ground.

From the car park there's a new-looking clubhouse to the right, while the pitch runs lengthways in front. It's roped off on three sides, the exception being the far end with borders a high hedge. Managers, coaches and subs have benches which are, literally, benches.

This was an okay game which was entertaining enough without hitting any great heights. West Wratting took a while to get into their stride, but when they did so they looked much the better of the two sides.

A goal in each half looked to have sealed a comfortable win. Wisbech St Mary played some nice football, but with no end product. That changed with five minutes left when they pulled a goal back to set up an exciting finish.

In the closing seconds the Wisbech keeper, a lively character who revelled in a bright pink jersey and lively banter with home supporters (earning himself a yellow card for his colourful language), joined the attack for a corner. West Wratting cleared, and with no one in goal the last kick of the game was the home side's third goal.









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Cambridge United U18 v Stevenage U18

11am  6 September 2014

Football League Youth Alliance, South East Conference
Cambridge United U18 4 Stevenage U18 2 (att 54)

In last week's blog post about a visit to Chesterfield's youth team game I mentioned the inadequacies of the Youth Alliance handbook, for which the Football League charges quite a high price if you're unable find the downloadable online version.

This week I put my trust in it and headed to Cambridge United's listed venue, the Clare College Sports Ground, only to find a cricket match in progress. I had emailed the club's "academy secretary" during the week to ask about the venue, only to receive a long-winded reply that suggested I ought to believe what was in the handbook!

Anyway, with less than 10 minutes to kick off a phone call to Cambridge United went through to the club shop, where a very helpful member of staff directed me the short distance to the Pembroke College Sports Ground. Apparently games are played here until the cricketers have vacated Clare for the summer.

I found a space in the small car park at 11am, with the game starting slightly late about three minutes after. After a less than smooth arrival it was at least a decent game. Cambridge led 3-1 by half time, a score that was harsh on Stevenage and due in no small part to a erratic display by their keeper.

He was subbed at half time, and the visitors pulled a goal back and looked likely to equalise, but eventually Cambridge scored the game's final goal for a 4-2 win.

The Pembroke College Sports Ground is one of many similar facilities in Grantchester Road,with the entrance opposite Cambridge Rugby Club. The pitch is a on the far side of the ground from a pavilion, with a coned off area along the near side for spectators. A visit to Clare College beckons for later this season.






Sowerby United v Hebden Royd Red Star

6.15pm  5 September 2014

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Sowerby United 1 Hebden Royd Red Star 3 (att 39)

If it's Friday evening football at the start of a season then chances are it'll be the Halifax League, and this top division encounter was another that provided a very enjoyable and entertaining 90 minutes.

Hebden Royd scored two early goals, and for a while it looked as if they'd run away with it. But Sowerby United battled back and gained a foothold in the game, and had halved the arrears by half time.

The only second half goal was a penalty for the visitors, although there were plenty of chances at both ends.

Sowerby United play on a pitch at Ryburn Valley High School, although players change a short distance away at a cricket club. The pitch is enclosed on three sides by grass banking, and on the fourth by a boundary fence, and is among the better venues in this league.










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