Millhead v TIC Dynamos of Overton & Middleton

2pm  28 March 2015

North Lancashire & District League, Division One
Millhead 3 TIC Dynamos of Overton and Middleton 2 (att 24)

I'd long wanted to see a game at Millhead's Iodine Park ground, which is built into the site of a former quarry and is a great example of the quirky football venues that can be founded in football's lower reaches.

The stone quarry face, apparently popular with amateur climbers, encloses one end of the small pitch and tails off around the half way line on the far side. The other end is open, with views across the north Lancashire countryside. A small stand, shared by both subs and supporters, is on the near side, while rough banking opposite gives another option for a decent view.

The game was well suited to the setting, it wasn't always pretty but it was well worth watching. The sides were closely matched, but the clumsily-named visitors just shaded the first half and led 1-0 at the break.

Millhead were much better in the second half, perhaps they enjoy attacking the quarry end. They scored twice to go ahead, but were then pegged back as TIC roused themselves to equalise.

Towards the end a surprisingly vociferous crowd were cheering on the home side, and they were delighted when Millhead responded by netting a winner.











Cassidys v Baguley Athletic

10.15am  28 March 2015

Manchester Saturday Morning League, Division Two
Cassidys 4 Baguley Athletic 2 (att 12)

This was the sort of morning when I question my own sanity. Opening my front door and being confronted with wind and very heavy rain, I nearly opted for a leisurely breakfast indoors rather than game in Manchester's Saturday Morning League.

I was glad I made the effort to drive the four miles from home to William Hulme's Grammar School though, as Cassidys and Baguley made light of the conditions and provided a very enjoyable 90 minutes.

Cassidys made good use of having the gales behind them in the first half, establishing a two goal lead. They could have scored more though, and Baguley had shown enough quality to suggest that with the conditions in their favour they were capable of a second half comeback.

That's how it went, as the visitors scored twice to draw level, then won a penalty which looked likely to put them in front. But the spot kick was saved, and within a minute Cassidys had scored at the other end to lead 3-2.

A fourth goal sealed an impressive win for the home side, although, as the wind and rain eased as the game went on, they had the best of the conditions.

This game was a one-off return to the ground where Cassidys were based last season, having played most of 2014/15 at the nearby Manchester Health Academy. Not sure why this was at William Hulme's, but it gave me a welcome chance to see a game here.








Heriot-Watt University v Duns

7.30pm  25 March 2015

East of Scotland League, Division One
Heriot-Watt University 2 Duns 2 (att 25)

Having spent the afternoon at the Dundee University sports ground I headed to Scotland's capital for an evening match at another university sports centre, this time at Heriot-Watt.

The sports facilities are within the university's Riccarton campus, on the western edge of Edinburgh, and take a bit of finding if, like me, you're not sure where you're going.

Having found the pitch, and what I think was the nearest available car park, I found a venue that's functional rather than interesting. There's no doubt the facilities here are first class for football, but it's rather basic for spectators.

Two railed-off floodlit pitches are side by side, one 3G and one grass. Heriot-Watt play East of Scotland League games on the grass pitch, which was immaculate, but there's no cover for spectators and nowhere nearby, as far as I could tell, for pre-match or half time refreshments.

Still, I was here for the football rather than a pie and a coffee. It was good game. and an important one for two sides aiming to finish second in the league and to claim a promotion place.

Duns started well, and scored early, but failed to take chances to extend their lead. They were undone when they allowed the students to level just before half time. The second half repeated the pattern of the first, with Duns starting well, scoring again, then conceding again. Heriot-Watt finished the match on top, but couldn't find a winner.










Dundee University v Strathclyde University

3pm  25 March 2015

BUCS Scottish Conference Cup Final
Dundee University 0 Strathclyde University 3 (att 100)

My second visit to Dundee within a week, and the second game I've seen this season at Dundee University's Riverside Drive sports ground.

Last time at Riverside it was a Saturday Morning League game on one of the many outside pitches, but this match, effectively the Scottish universities cup final, was on the enclosed and floodlit all-weather pitch.

The cup final began late, as the preceding women's cup final needed a penalty shootout to find a winner. There was never much danger of the men's final needing penalties though, as Strathclyde started strongly and bossed the game throughout.

They scored just once in the first half, doubled their lead in the first minute of the second half, then wrapped the game up with a late third goal. They could easily have scored more, a penalty was saved and they hit the Dundee woodwork three times.

Dundee had their moments, but they were few and far between, and there was little for the sizeable home support to get excited about.

Some of Strathclyde's football was excellent, and the scorer of their first two goals, Brandon Longcake, was particularly impressive. Despite being denied a hat-trick when his penalty was saved, he looked capable of playing at a high level, and having Googled his unusual name it turns out that this season he's scoring regularly for Gretna FC in the Lowland League.

As it was Scottish finals day in BUCS sport, the sports ground was a busy place. Hockey finals were on the adjacent hockey pitch, Dundee's men's second team were hosting their final on a grass pitch, while rugby was also being played nearby.






Swaffham Town v Kings Lynn Town reserves

7.45pm  24 March 2015

Eastern Counties League, Division One
Swaffham Town 2 Kings Lynn Town reserves 0 (att 124)

Table-topping Swaffham kept on track for promotion thanks to a goal in each half in an entertaining local derby against Kings Lynn's second team.

Both sides produced some good football, and the match was played at a frenetic pace throughout, but the home side, cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, deserved their win.

Swaffham gave the impression of a thriving football club at the heart of the local community. The three-figure crowd may have been boosted by a few from Kings Lynn, but is still impressive for this level, and the cosy clubhouse was a hive of pre-match activity

The sloping pitch at Shoemakers Lane has a small seated stand on one side, a curious small wooden shelter opposite, and a substantial covered area, with a row of bench seating, behind the goal. I liked it as a venue, and it made a welcome change from the near-identical ground with prefab stands that are increasingly the norm.










Downfield v Brechin Victoria

2.30pm  21 March 2015

SJFA East Region, North Division
Downfield 3 Brechin Victoria 0 (att 70)

I had a choice of matches for the afternoon, but having made it as far as Perth with time to spare I pushed on to Dundee to visit the club top of the North Division of the East Region Juniors.

Downfield kept on course for the title, and promotion, with a comfortable win against Brechin Victoria. The home side scored two in the first half, and added a third after the break. They should have scored more, and the visiting keeper had a busy afternoon, pulling off a string of good saves, including stopping a penalty.

Downfield Park is a great venue, one of the many gems hidden in Scottish Junior football. There's a small amount of cover built onto the back of the pitchside social club, but the ground is dominated by a huge covered terrace on the opposite side, built into the grass bank and with a few chairs for those who prefer to sit.

The steep grass bank extends along the whole of the far side and behind one goal, giving good views of action in return for a testing, and slightly hazardous, climb.










Cresswell Lane v Whitefield Rovers

10am  21 March 2015

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Premier Division
Cresswell Lane 0 Whitefield Rovers 2 (att 8)

Having stayed overnight after the game at East Kilbride I decided on a Saturday morning game at a venue that's tricky to get to in time for a 10am start.

Cresswell Lane play at Colquhoun Park in Bearsden, to the north east of Glasgow. It proved to be a tricky journey even from East Kilbride, and arriving just before 10am I was confronted with limited parking spaces and a huge park with several games about to begin.

Needless to say, Cresswell Lane's pitch was just about the furthest from where I'd managed to park, although, had I known, there was actually plenty of parking along the road that runs alongside the pitch.

Colquhoun Park is busy place on a Saturday morning, and with sunshine and a blue sky it was lovely place to watch a game. Whitefield Rovers, top of the league but likely to be overtaken by a Tynecastle side with games in hand, won this thanks to a goal in each half. The home side had their moments, and overall it was a decent enough game without hitting any great heights.