Shefford Town and Campton v Renhold United

2.30pm  25 April 2015

Bedfordshire County League, Premier Division
Shefford Town and Campton 0 Renhold United 4 (att 37)

The last time I saw Shefford Town and Campton they were playing at Campton while waiting for their new ground in Shefford to be built. Now it's up and running and very impressive it is too.

The Shefford Sports Club is on the outskirts of the town, on Hitchin Road, and features a large clubhouse situated behind the goal of an immaculate pitch. The pitch is surrounded by a path, although at present the only barrier is rope that encloses the car park side and the patio area in front of the clubhouse.

The opposite side, behind the dugouts, and the far end are both open, but have grass banks which give a decent view of the action. There's scope to develop this into a very good ground.

Shefford have had a good first season  in their new home, but were no match for league champions Renhold, who scored twice in each half and on another day might have added a couple more.

It was a game with an end-of-season feel, lacking the edge of a truly competitive encounter, but there was enough good football to keep it interesting, especially from Renhold, who showed why they've won the league.

Shefford Sports Club isn't on the map yet, so this link will take you a map that may or may not be the exact location

Bingham Town v Ruddington Village

10.10am  25 April 2015

Nottinghamshire Senior League, Senior Division
Bingham Town 0 Ruddington Village 0 (att 387)

The first of four staggered kick offs today in the Nottinghamshire Senior League laid on for groundhoppers, but the only one of the day's games for me.

The many familiar faces among the crowd meant much of the game was spent catching up with people, so it was just as well that there wasn't much on the field to distract.

Bingham had the better of the chances, and the Ruddington keeper made some good saves to keep them out. Perhaps the very early kick disrupted players' usual matchday routines, but whatever the reason it was a game that never really got going.

No complaints from me though, I'm very grateful that clubs are willing to agree to odd kick off times to help us groundhoppers tick off a few extra venues. Bingham were well rewarded for their considerable efforts in staging the day's opening game, attracting a large crowd to their Butt Field home.

The pitch is next to a large building which houses a clubhouse and changing rooms, and the pitch itself is roped off with a pair of new dugouts on the clubhouse side.

Kirkby United v Britannia

6.30pm  24 April 2015

Furness Premier League, Premier Division
Kirkby United 2 Britannia 3 (att 46)

It was a wet and rather chilly evening in south Cumbria, but despite the conditions this match provided great entertainment that reminded me why I enjoy this hobby so much.

Going into this, their final game of the season, Britannia knew a victory would give them the three points they needed to be champions. Anything less and rivals Barrow Celtic would be able to overtake them by winning their remaining fixture.

At the final whistle Britannia where champions, but Kirkby United pushed them all the way, in a game that in terms of quality was a credit to the Furness Premier League.

The visitors started well, hitting the frame of the goal twice before taking a 17th minute lead. Their lead lasted just two minutes and, having drawn level, Kirkby were  the better side for the rest of the half, spurning two great opportunities to go in front.

Britannia were better after the half-time break, perhaps realising their chance of a title was danger of slipping. They went in front thanks to a 49th minute penalty, softly awarded for handball, and quickly added a decisive third.

Kirkby pulled one back towards the end, setting up a great finish as they pushed forward for an equaliser, cheered on by a group of spectators who I assume must have been Barrow Celtic players. It wasn't to be though, and despite a few scares at the back Britannia held on to win.

Kirkby United's pitch is shared with the local cricket club, which might explain why this game was on a Friday evening. A pavilion houses the changing rooms, and has a covered area to the front which provided shelter from the rain for some spectators. The pitch, which looks well-maintained, isn't roped or railed off, but there's dugouts on the far side.

Mynydd Llandegai v Llangefni Town

6.30pm  23 April 2015

Welsh Alliance, Division Two
Mynydd Llandegai 0 Llangefni Town 2 (att 75)

Mynydd Llandegai is small, scattered village a few miles from Bangor, The mountains of Snowdonia loom over the place, making the village football pitch one of the most scenic you can visit, especially on a bright and sunny evening.

Visitors Llangefni Town were in no mood to stand back and admire the view though, they were in need of all three points in an extremely tight battle for promotion from what is the fourth tier of domestic football in Wales.

They went ahead early on, and soon after thought they'd scored a second, only to discover the linesman didn't agree with them that the ball had crossed the line. No goal line technology in north Wales.

Mynydd Llandegai, encouraged by a decent turnout of villagers, battled hard and made life difficult for Llangefni. Both sides missed chances before a defensive mix up handed the visitors a second goal on 72 minutes, effectively making the game safe.

Mynydd Llandegai play on a pitch behind the village hall, in which the players change. It's a basic venue really, the pitch is railed off on both sides, and roped off at the ends, with advertising boards, dugouts and a tea bar giving a "professional" touch. But the views alone make this a ground that's well worth the journey.

Terrington Glory v Osbaldwick

6.30pm  22 April 2015

York League, Premier Division
Terrington Glory 1 Osbaldwick 1 (att 25)

Looking at a map, the North Yorkshire village of Terrington looks remote, but its proximity to Castle Howard makes it an ideal destination for an afternoon out followed by a game of football.

Terrington Glory's Village Hall pitch might lack the splendour of the stately home and grounds we'd spent the afternoon visiting, but on a warm and sunny evening it was a great place to watch a game.

Players change in the village hall, then cross the small car park to a tree-lined pitch that's roped off on three sides, the far end being left open. A pair of new-looking wooden dugouts are on one side, two park benches opposite give spectators the option of sitting to watch the action.

Visitors Osbaldwick arrived with only 10 men, but the home side's numerical advantage lasted only five minutes, when a heavy challenge followed by a bout of pushing and shoving saw one Terrington player sent off and their keeper booked.

I thought that incident might spice up an end-of-season encounter, but for the most part the first half was sedate, and ended goalless. The second half was better, Terrington going ahead about 10 minutes into the half, Osbaldwick equalising 10 minutes later. After that there were chances, but no more goals.

Hedge End Rangers v Colden Common

6.30pm  20 April 2015

Hampshire Premier League, Senior Division
Hedge End Rangers 6 Colden Common 0 (att 24)

After the intrigue of attending an afternoon match at Brighton's training ground it was back to more mundane groundhopping for the evening, and a visit to Hedge End, just outside Southampton.

Both these sides are towards the foot of the table, but there was a gulf between them on this occasion as a rampant Hedge End Rangers ran out very easy winners.

Colden Common started the game well, and if anything it was slightly against the run of play when the home side went ahead. But once in front there was only going to be one outcome, and the score would have been higher had it not been for Colden's impressive goalkeeper.

Hedge End led 2-0 at half time, and their four second half goals included a penalty. They played some good football too, making it an enjoyable game despite its one-sided nature.

Hedge End play at the Norman Rodaway Sports Ground. It has the feel of a public park rather than a dedicated sports venue, and was busy with dog walkers on a warm and sunny evening. The pitch is railed off, with dugouts, and changing rooms are in a modern pavilion behind the goal. The pavilion also provides some cover for spectators, but the angle is rather awkward for the pitch.

Brighton & Hove Albion U21 v Bolton Wanderers U21

2pm  20 April 2015

Under 21 Premier League, Division Two
Brighton & Hove Albion U21 1 Bolton Wanderers U21 0 (att 84)

Brighton aren't keen on spectators watching games at their impressive new training ground in Lancing. Under 18 games on Saturday morning are "behind closed doors", and just 100 tickets are made available for Under 21 games, free but available only to season ticket holders.

I'd contacted the club, explaining my interest in attending (admittedly an odd concept for a club not used to dealing with groundhoppers), but was firmly, although politely, rebuffed.

Undeterred, I managed to make contact with someone who knew someone else who was a Brighton season ticket holder. After a pre-match rendezvous in Worthing I headed to the grandly-titled American Express Elite Football Performance Centre with a prized match ticket.

I was still a little concerned at the possibility of stringent ID checks on arrival, but the security guy controlling access to the car park was happy to let me in once he saw my ticket, and after that I didn't need to show it at all.

Spectators congregated in the reception area, from where teamsheets were available, before being escorted to "pitch 4", where we were permitted to stand behind a wooden fence along one touchline.

Had the fixture been a "sell out" I could have understood Brighton's refusal to allow me a ticket officially, although I'd question why they don't stage the games at a larger venue. However, it was clear that not many season ticket holders were spending their Monday afternoon watching an Under 21 match.

Those with better things to do were wise, as the game was as dull as any I've seen this season. Brighton's winner was an 89th minute penalty which I reckon was only the second shot on target in the entire game.

Bolton had the better of the first half, but shot wide when chances came. Brighton were better after the break, and did hit the crossbar before their very late winner.

Clubs like Brighton can be proud of their academies, but all too often games at this level are full of players who are technically adept, able to pass accurately and retain possession, but lack the creativity needed to unlock similarly well-drilled opposition.

Still, my sole aim with this was see a game at what I feared might be the only youth/reserve team venue that I wouldn't get into, so in a way the quality of the entertainment was secondary. Thanks again to those who helped make this visit possible.

Google Maps shows Brighton's new training centre in the process of being built. Click here for a map showing the approximate location of the pitch