Heyford Athletic v Cropredy

2pm  16 March 2019

Oxfordshire Senior League, Premier Division
Heyford Athletic 1 Cropredy 1 (att 18)

The wet weather in Wales meant a late change for my earlier game, so I then needed to find a suitable afternoon match in the right range from Birmingham. Once Heyford confirmed on Twitter their fixture was on my decision was made.

Heyford Athletic play on the village sports field in Lower Heyford, not far from Bicester. It's an attractive place, and while the football facilities are basic it's a nice venue.

It's not enclosed, and several walkers watched a few minutes of the action as they strolled past. A new clubhouse includes changing rooms and a bar, and the pitch has temporary dugouts and tape and rope barriers erected on the touchlines.

Just like my earlier game in Smethwick the wind was a major factor, and at Heyford players also have to contend with a sloping pitch. Heyford had the better of a goalless first half, and should have been in front given the chances they spurned.

They finally went ahead in the second half, but had the lead for just a few minutes before Cropredy equalised. There were no further goals, but it was the visitors who finished on top, and were denied by a post when they should have scored in the final moments.










Rowley College v Saint Michael

10.30am  16 March 2019

West Midlands Christian League, Division One
Rowley College 3 Saint Michael 3 (att 4)

I was heading for a south Wales game brought forward to lunchtime to avoid clashing with the Six Nations rugby decider, but when I got the unsurprising news that it was rained off I diverted to Smethwick.

I'd enjoyed my few previous ventures into the West Midlands Christian League, and this was another decent game despite a very strong wind that challenged the players.

I picked this fixture purely because it was a new ground close to the motorway, and with no time to check it was on, or to go elsewhere if it wasn't, I was pleased to see both teams warming up on the pitch when I arrived at Holly Lodge School.

Saint Michael, whose players are Polish and were kitted out on Poland's colours, had the better of the opening exchanges but fell behind to a well-taken goal. They had the wind at their backs though, and turned things around to lead 2-1 by half time.

The second half mirrored the first, with one goal scored into the wind and two with it. Rowley College's equaliser came late, although a draw was a fair outcome.










Poppleton United v Huntington Rovers

2pm  9 March 2018

York League, Premier Division
Poppleton United 0 Huntington Rovers 0 (att 19)

My longest ever run without seeing a nil nil draw - 218 games - came to an end at a windswept Upper Poppleton, a village just outside York.

A goalless conclusion looked likely well before the end, and became a near certainty when both sides managed to miss open goals within moments of each about 10 minutes from the end.

Huntington, second in the league but with leaders Old Malton out of sight, finished on top, but despite piling pressure on their hosts they couldn't score.

The wind made good football difficult, and both sides did their best in tricky conditions. A draw was a fair result, but overall it wasn't a match that will live long in the memory.

Poppleton United are based at The Poppleton Centre, a well-equipped community and sports centre that serves the conjoined villages of Upper and Nether Poppleton. The football pitch is railed along both touchlines, with dugouts on one side, and roped off at one end.








Spartans Youth v Battersea Ironsides

3pm  2 March 2019

Surrey Elite Intermediate League
Spartans Youth 1 Battersea Ironsides 1 (att 12)

After my lunchtime game in Chiswick it was a train ride of just two stops, from Barnes Bridge to Kew Bridge, and then a short walk to Carville Hall Park North in Brentford, home of Spartans Youth FC.

On the way I walked past the new home of Brentford FC, which looks set to be an impressive stadium that I'll look forward to visiting when it opens. Spartans Youth have a more modest home, but they make a good job of turning a public park into a football venue.

The playing area is neatly enclosed, dugouts are on the far side and colourful banners with the club name are displayed prominently. In a league where grounds can be basic it was a better than I'd anticipated.

Both Spartans Youth and Battersea Ironsides are towards the top of the league, and a draw was about the right result after a hard-fought 90 minutes. The home side got the only goal of a tight first half, but were undone when they conceded a penalty late in the game.

Battersea's pressure had been building towards an equaliser, and with the score at 1-1 it was the home side who were hanging on to protect their point in the closing minutes.










Old Salopian v Old Carthusians

12.15pm  2 March 2019

Arthurian League, Premier Division
Old Salopian 1 Old Carthusians 7 (att 7)

I was in London for work on Friday so stayed overnight and spent a rare day groundhopping by public transport, which is often easier than driving in the capital.

First up was a lunchtime kick off in the Arthurian League, where teams are made up of alumni from fee-paying schools. Shrewsbury School's former pupils play league fixtures on the 3G pitch at the King's House Sports Ground next to the River Thames in Chiswick.

It used to be the Civil Service ground, and Civil Service FC still have their own pitch with small stand, where I saw them play more than 30 years ago. The artificial pitch is some distance away, and is typical of its type.

Carthusians, old boys from Charterhouse School in Surrey, are unbeaten in the league and still in the hunt for various cups. Salopians matched them in a tight first half when the only difference was finishing.

Carthusians opened the scoring but the home side had much of the play and deserved to get level a few minutes before half time. Parity didn't last long though, as Carthusians went back in front in the final seconds of the half.

The second period was a different matter. Once Carthusians extended their lead to 3-1 there was no way back for the home side, and goals game regularly as the game wore on.










Wombwell Main v Dearne and District

7.45pm  26 February 2019

Doncaster and District Challenge Cup, Quarter-Final
Wombwell Main 10 Dearne and District 1 (att 130)

No cup upset in south Yorkshire as Doncaster League Dearne were outclassed by Wombwell Main, who play four divisions higher in the top flight of the Sheffield County Senior League.

The gulf between the two sides was huge. Wombwell were goal up after two minutes, four clear after 20 and had a 7-0 lead before half time brought some respite for Dearne's players, who'd barely got a kick.

Wombwell couldn't maintain the same intensity in the second period, and to be fair they had no need to. Dearne got the half's opening goal just three minutes in, but Wombwell eventually made it into double figures.

Some detective work was needed to track down the venue for this tie. Neither team has floodlights (despite what the Doncaster Senior League's website suggests for Dearne) and so Wombwell hired the artificial pitch at the Dearne Advanced Learning Centre in Goldthorpe.

It may have been Wombwell's home game but, as the name suggests, the venue is closer to Dearne and being a local derby it attracted a large crowd. I counted around 130 people lining the touchlines, for a game when I'd have expected barely a sixth of that.

It was a shame that such a large crowd witnessed a one-sided cup tie, but it was good to see such a turnout for a local game, and I'm sure that, like me, they were impressed by the quality of Wombwell's football and by Dearne's effort.








Tredworth Tigers v Leonard Stanley

2pm  24 February 2019

Stroud and District League, Presidents Cup Quarter-Final
Tredworth Tigers 5 Leonard Stanley 1 (att 29)

The Stroud Charity Cups used to be a good source of Sunday fixtures but last summer they ended as independent competitions and were absorbed into the Stroud and District League.

Some clubs outside the Stroud League still take part though, and that's probably why Tredworth's home tie with Gloucestershire Northern Senior League side Leonard Stanley was played on a Sunday.

Handy for me and some other groundhoppers, all tempted to Spa Road in Gloucester for a chance to tick off the ground on a day of the week when senior football is usually thin on the ground, but a test for the players who had league matches just 24 hours earlier.

Sides for local cup ties on Sundays can be of a mixture depending on fitness and availability, and that might explain how Leonard Stanley were outclassed by a team that plays two divisions lower. Then again, the visitors are bottom of their league while Tredworth are going well.

As a contest it was all over inside the first half as Tredworth scored three without reply. The visitors were a little unfortunate though, hitting both the crossbar and post during an entertaining opening 45 minutes.

Tredworth scored twice more as they dominated the second half, although Leonard Stanley got some consolation when they pulled a solitary goal back before the end.

Tredworth's ground, The Spa, is a sports ground in a leafy part of Gloucester not far from the city centre. The pitch is on the far side of a cricket pitch from the changing rooms, and a mild and sunny afternoon it was a pleasant place to watch a game.