Shefford Town & Campton v Blunham

2.30pm  29 October 2011
Bedfordshire County League, Premier Division
Shefford Town & Campton 7 Blunham 2 (att 36)

Blunham won the league last season, finishing a point clear of Shefford and Campton, so I expected a closer game than this.

Shefford took an early lead thanks to a penalty, were quickly 2-0 ahead, and scored a third by half time. Blunham weren't bad, at least in the first half, but the home side's finishing was clinical.

The slim chance of a second half Blunham comeback disappeared with Shefford's fourth goal, although the visitors then missed a couple of great chances, including a penalty, before finally getting on the scoresheet.

Before long they'd conceded a fifth, and the sides traded more goals in an entertaining finale.

Shefford Town reformed a couple of years ago, and merged with nearby village side Campton. The club currently plays at the Recreation Ground in Campton, a pleasant venue with small covered standing area in front of the tea bar and changing rooms, although there are plans to move to a new ground in Shefford.

Ground no 3,666

Burton Albion U18 v Scunthorpe United U18

11am  29 October 2011
Football League Youth Alliance, North East Conference
Burton Albion U18 1 Scunthorpe United U18 0 (att 45)

A niggly and sometimes bad-tempered match was settled by a second half goal. A draw might have been a fairer result, as the sides were evenly matched.

Scunthorpe should have gone ahead in the first few seconds, but a forward short tamely wide after a misplaced Burton pass had left him with just the keeper to beat. The few clear chances created in the first half were spurned, with Burton coming closest when they hit the post.

The winner was early in the second half, after which Burton held out despite increasing Scunthorpe pressure as the game went on.

Burton's Youth Alliance venue is an MoD college at Woodhouse, near Loughborough.

Ground no 3,665

Verona v TEK United

2.30pm  23 October 2011
Leinster Senior League, Senior Division One
Verona 0 TEK United 1 (att 27)

While the morning's match at Firhouse Clover was good enough for me to hardly notice the rain, this dour encounter was nowhere near as good.

I thought it was heading for a goalless draw, until a surprisingly good finish, about 20 minutes into the second half, gave TEK a win they just about deserved.

Verona play in Coolmine, in the Blanchardstown area of Dublin. There are two pitches, both railed along the touchlines but open at the ends. The main pitch, which looked very wide, is closest to the dressing rooms and clubhouse.

I was surprised to find a programme, or maybe better described as a newsletter, available free from the clubhouse bar. Fairly sure it's the first programme I've ever had for a Leinster Senior League game.

Ground no 3,664

Firhouse Clover v Arklow Town

11am  23 October 2011
Leinster Senior League, Senior Division
Firhouse Clover 2 Arklow Town 3 (att 37)

I booked this day trip to Dublin some weeks ago, in the hope that Shamrock Rovers' Europa League commitments might cause their Airtricity League game at UCD to be moved from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Instead it was rearranged for Monday night, so I spent a very wet day watching Leinster Senior League football.

Firhouse Clover's ground is in Tallaght, the same Dublin suburb as Shamrock Rovers, and looks very new. It's an enclosed pitch in the grounds of Tallaght's Institute of Technology. Although the playing area is well maintained, it lacks any facilities for spectators. Around the pitch is just muddy grassed standing areas, some of it banked, with one end closed off due what looks the building of a new access road.

The game was excellent though. Firhouse took an early lead, Arklow levelled, then the home side went back in front, all inside the first 10 minutes. Both teams had more chances but failed to take them, until a tighter second half when Arklow's pressure finally paid.

Ground no 3,663

Crosby Colts v Scotter United

3pm  22 October 2011
Scunthorpe and District League, Division One
Crosby Colts 2 Scotter United 8 (att 9)

Sometimes things don't work out as planned ... after watching Grimsby's youth team game I went to Cleethorpes Town, intending to watch their Lincolnshire League game against Swineshead.

I arrived about 2.15, for a 3pm kick off, and was surprised not to see more cars in the car park, and by the lack of goal nets on the main pitch. Turned out Swineshead couldn't raise a team and the game was off. Poor for a team at this level, especially on a Saturday relatively early in the season.

By this time the local Grimsby League games were all underway, with 2pm kick offs, so instead I dashed back towards Scunthorpe for my first game in the Scunthorpe and District League.

Crosby Colts play at Quibell Park, a playing field next to the Quibell Stadium. There's two pitches, and their reserves were at home on the other.

For the first half it was difficult to believe these two sides were in the same league. Scotter were dominant, with their number 9 (sadly I don't know his name) particularly impressive. The visitors scored their first inside 30 seconds, their second after three minutes. By half time they led 6-0, and had missed a penalty.

The second half was less impressive. Scotter quickly scored a seventh, but then eased off and allowed Crosby a couple of goals - they also had one disallowed - before an own goal gave Scotter an eighth.

Frustrating not to get a game at Cleethorpes Town, they're rumoured to be planning a groundshare at Grimsby Borough next season so it remains on my hit list for for 2011/12, but at least I got a game on a new ground, and a few goals.

Ground no 3,662

Grimsby Town U18 v Hartlepool United U18

12 midday  22 October 2011

Football League Youth Alliance, North East Conference
Grimsby Town U18 4 Hartlepool United U18 2 (att 45)

Entertaining start to the day at Grimsby Town's modest training ground in Waltham, a village just outside Grimsby.

I though Hartlepool were a bit unfortunate to lose this. They started brightly, before Grimsby went ahead, against the run of play, after nine minutes. The home side doubled their lead before Hartlepool's youngsters pulled a goal back just before half time.

The visitors levelled early in the second period, and from there I expected them to take control and win. They had most of the possession, but failed to take their chances, while Grimsby took theirs to win the game.

There's just one pitch at the Cheapside training ground. The near side, where spectators can stand, is roped off, while the far side reserved for subs and coaching staff.

Ground no 3,661

Thame United v Kidlington

18 October 2011
Hellenic League, Premier Division
Thame United 1 Kidlington 2 (att 89)

Recompleted the Hellenic League's top division with a visit to Thame's newish ground. The game wasn't the best, Kidlington establishing a two goal lead with some ease, thanks to a goal in each half, before a belated Thame fightback reduced the arrears and threatened an equaliser.

I thought Thame's new home, opened last season, was better than many new grounds at this level, although like all of them it lacks character and individuality.

All the facilities are one one side, with a large building housing changing rooms, a bar, tea bar, committee rooms and, presumably, offices. Pitch side it has a roof and plenty of seats. The rest of the ground is just flat open standing.

Ground no 3,660

FK Slavija Sarajevo v HSK Zrinjski

16 October 2011
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Premijer Liga
FK Slavija Sarajevo 1 HSK Zrinjski 2 (att 550)

Second and final match of my footballing weekend in the Bosnian capital. Slavija actually play in Istocno Sarajevo (East Sarajevo) part of the Serbian half of Bosnia (Republika Srpska), and, confusingly, south west of the city centre.

I got a taxi from the centre. I wasn't sure at first if my driver had reservations about taking me into the Serbian suburbs, and to a football club who's support is drawn from the Serbian community, but it soon became clear that his doubts were more to do with not knowing where the stadium was.

Eventually he found the Gradski Slavija Stadium, which consists of one main stand with a roof, two steep terraced open ends, and a few steps of open terracing, plus a TV gantry, on the far side.

I don't know how much tickets were, as after emailing the club a few days ago to confirm when the match was I was invited in free via the VIP entrance.

It was an entertaining game, but fairly low in quality. The home side are bottom of the league, but would almost certainly have won this had a forward not hit the crossbar from inside the six yard box when it looked easier to score. That second half miss would have doubled Slavija's first half lead, instead Zrinjski, from Mostar, scored twice in quick succession to win the game.

Ground no 3,659

FK Sarajevo v NK Travnik

15 October 2011
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Premijer Liga
FK Sarajevo 1 NK Travnik 0 (att 2,500)

There are 53 nations in UEFA, and this weekend visit to the Bosnian capital means I've now seen football in 34 of them.

There are four Sarajevo teams in Bosnian football's top flight, the big two are FK Sarajevo and FK Zeljeznicar, while Olimpik and Slavija are the others. FK Sarajevo, second in the league, play at the Olympic stadium, now known officially, after a former player, as the Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium.

It's an open bowl, typically of many old-style Eastern Bloc stadiums, and although pleasant on a sunny day (at least until the sun when down and the temperature dropped) it wouldn't be much fun on a wet afternoon and there's no cover. It's about a 20 minute walk north from the city centre.

Tickets cost 8KM (approx £3.60), once I finally located the anonymous metal shed they were being sold from.

For the most part it was a lively game, and when the action dipped the home fans' constant orchestrated singing kept me entertained. There was no away support at all, as visiting fans are currently banned from all Bosnian Premier League games due to persistent crowd trouble.

The only goal was in the 58th minute. Sarajevo deserved it, looking useful at times and dominating possession. Travnik occasionally threatened on the break, but once they went behind they were never likely to level.
Ground no 3,658