Kippax v Boston Spartans

6.30pm  29 July 2013

Barkston Ash FA, Prostar Cup, First Round
Kippax 8 Boston Spartans 0 (att 19)

A win every bit as convincing as an 8-0 scoreline would suggest, and had it not been for some inspired saves by the visiting keeper then Kippax would have been into double figures.

A comfortable home win was always likely, with Kippax in the West Yorkshire League Premier Division and Boston Spartans, who had a brief spell as a West Yorkshire League club a few years ago, now seemingly playing only Sunday football. Boston never stopped trying though, and deserved a goal for their efforts.

Kippax scored two of theirs before half time, and six more after. The weather varied between bright sunshine and thunderstorms with pouring rain and hail. The first 25 minutes or so can't have been much to play in, and only the hardiest spectators stayed pitchside as the heavens opened.

There's no cover for spectators, although I managed to keep fairly dry standing under the overhanging roof of a gym, which is among the sporting and recreational facilities at the Kippax sports ground.

The football pitch is railed off, with advertising boards at each end and dugouts facing each other across the middle. It's on a plateau, with a rugby pitch below and car parking, as well as the gym building, on a steep bank above.

Kennoway Star Hearts v Rannoch

2.45pm  28 July 2013

Andrew Leitch Memorial Trophy, Final
Kennoway Star Hearts 3 Rannoch 0 (att 82)

With the wet weather forcing a change of plan earlier in the day, the knock on effect was a new plan for the afternoon.

I could have headed back to Dundonald for the final of their tournament, but I prefer not to watch neutral games if possible, and as Kennoway Star Hearts had reached their own final I headed to the tiny village of Star, not far from Glenrothes.

Kennoway Star Hearts are the newest addition to the ranks of the Scottish Junior FA, and it was no surprise that they claimed this trophy against a line up of amateur opposition. Rannoch, from the Greater Glasgow Premier League, played some good football at times, and might have scored if they possessed a striker who could shoot on target, but it was very comfortable for the hosts.

Kennoway Star Hearts took and early lead, and soon after had a penalty saved. Somehow they failed to score again until the second half, when they managed two further goals.

The ground, Treaton Park, is a worthy addition to the Juniors. The setting is very rural, but the facilities are good with an enclosed pitch and a small amount of cover in front of the pavilion.

Breadalbane v Oakley United at Lochore Welfare FC

12 noon  28 July 2013

Jock Steel Memorial Tournament 3rd/4th play off, at Lochore Welfare FC
Breadalbane 3 Oakley United 5 (att 37)

A lively and entertaining game, but not the one I'd intended to see.  I planned to see the final of this competition, later in the day, preceded by the 3th/4th game at nearby Dundonald Bluebell's tournament.

But I arrived at Dundonald to learn the game had been cancelled to protect the pitch for their final, so I swiftly headed to Lochore instead. Slightly frustrating as I always prefer to see the host club play in such tournaments.

I expected Oakley to win this with ease, and eventually they did, but they made hard work of beating amateurs Breadalbane, who gave a good account of themselves.

Breadalbane actually scored the game's opening goal in the first half, although it was against the run of play and their lead lasted less than a minute. Oakley were 2-1 up by half time, and were much better in the second half when the gulf between junior and amateur football in Scotland was clear.

Although Oakley took control of the game, slack defending allowed Breadalbane to keep the scoreline respectable, and ensuring an entertaining 90 minutes for spectators. The crowd grew ahead of Lochore's appearance in the afternoon's final.

Lochore's ground, Central Park, is a neat a tidy venue. The pitch is enclosed, by houses and a park, and the covered standing area was welcome when the rain fell.

Scarborough Athletic v Scarborough & District League XI at Scarborough RUFC

3pm  27 July 2013

Pre-Season Friendly
Scarborough Athletic 3 Scarborough & District League XI 2 (att 548)

I had hoped for competitive football this weekend, but my only chance of that on a new ground would have been another trek to the north of Scotland, so I settled instead for a day at the seaside and a game a ground that normally stages rugby union.

Although a pre-season game, today's match was a big deal for Scarborough Athletic. The club was formed following the demise of Scarborough FC, and while their predecessor's former Seamer Road stadium lies derelict Athletic have to play home games some 15 miles away in Bridlington.

So today was a rare chance to play back in their home town, even if Scarborough's rugby club actually play a few miles outside the town in Scalby.

The modern Silver Royd ground is a very impressive facility. The main pitch has a large seated stand on the far side, and a two storey clubhouse, with an elevated viewing balcony, opposite. Athletic must look upon it with envy, as they continue their efforts for ground of their own.

The match began clumsily. Scarborough's Mayor, apparently a former district league player, ceremonially kicked the game off, and then he and his entourage failed to exit the pitch before they became entangled in the action. Hopefully the Mayor's presence is a sign that the Council are keen to help provide a new football ground for the town.

On the pitch the afternoon began brightly for Athletic, who were soon a goal up. After a dominant start I expected them to win with ease, but the lead was still just 1-0 at half time, and the District League equalised after the break.

The sides then traded goals before a penalty, controversially awarded for a trip that didn't look like a trip to me, gave Athletic a winner.

Ardersier v Dows Loch Ness

7pm  22 July 2013

Inverness and District League, Premier Division
Ardersier 2 Dows Loch Ness 0 (att 33)

The 9th game of my 2013/14 season, and the best so far. This game summed up all that I enjoy and about football at this level - a scenic setting, a well-supported village club, two teams playing a good standard on football and plenty of commitment.

There was no shortage of excitement either, with Ardersier fortunate to win a game that keeps them very much in the hunt for the league title (this is a summer league, so the season is in full swing).

If the home side had anyone to thank for the win it had to be their impressive goalkeeper. He pulled off several stunning first half saves to deny Dows Loch Ness a goal that their early dominance deserved.

Then, with his side having edged in front thank to a 60th minute penalty, he saved a penalty to deny the visitors an equaliser. Ardersier were only certain of three points when they scored their second goal, with five minutes left.

The club's home pitch is on the main road through the village, and on a pleasant evening plenty of locals came out to lend their support, including several very enthusiastic youngsters, who in years to come may well be playing for Ardersier themselves.

Portree v Kyle

6pm  20 July 2013

Skye and Lochalsh League
Portree 5 Kyle 1 (att 18)

I need few excuses to head to the beautiful north west of Scotland, and the temporary relocation of Portree's two football clubs to a new all-weather surface at Portree High School was enough to tempt me to the Isle of Skye for the weekend.

Being a caged 3G pitch the ground does lack the charm of some of the other venues in this part of the world, but the surrounding countryside if delightful and the weather was amazing. I've never before had to apply sun block before watching a game in the Skye and Lochalsh League.

Portree are one of the league's better sides, but they were made to work for this win, with the final scoreline somewhat harsh on Kyle, who were let down by poor defending.

Portree took an early lead, but Kyle soon equalised. The game was effectively decided by two goals in quick succession shortly before half time, giving the home side a commanding lead. Two further goals in the second half ensured a comfortable winning margin.

Dronfield Town v Staveley Miners Welfare at Gosforth Fields 3G

7.30pm  18 July 2013

Pre-Season Friendly
Dronfield Town 2 Staveley Miners Welfare 3 (att 40) at Gosforth Fields

Awful rush hour journey from Manchester to the south of Sheffield, rewarded by an okay game that suffered from the blight of many friendlies, mass half time substitutions.

Staveley, from the Northern Counties East League's Premier Division, a division higher than league newcomers Dronfield, dominated the first half and should have scored more than the two goals they managed.

I'm not sure how many half time changes Staveley made, but it may well have been 11. The second half team may have looked better (their blue shirts were smarter than the white ones worn in the opening half) but their football wasn't as good.

Dronfield fought their way back into the match, eventually equalising, before a late Staveley winner gave the visitors a deserved win.

The main attraction for me (as always I guess) was the ground. The all-weather 3G surface at Gosforth Fields rarely stages first team football so this was a good opportunity to see a decent game here.

It's a typical enclosed 3G pitch, and most spectators watched from outside the fence. A two-storey clubhouse, behind the goal, provides a decent view from a first floor balcony.

Thankfully the journey home was better than the one going, with a spectacular sunset as I headed back towards the Snake Pass.

Thackley v Ovenden West Riding at Marley Stadium

10.45am  14 July 2013

Pre-Season Friendly at Marley Stadium 3G pitch
Thackley 2 Ovenden West Riding 2 (att 24)

A low-key Sunday morning warm up for these two sides, who'd borrowed the all-weather pitch at Keighley's Marley Stadium for the occasion.

It was Thackley's second game here of the weekend, having been beaten by Barnoldswick Town on Saturday.

I don't know how many players took part in both games, but I expected Thackley to win this and it was no surprise when they raced into a 2-0 lead in the game's first quarter.

The second goal, half way through the first half, was followed by a brief drinks break, replicated midway through the second period and a necessary precaution on a very warm day.

Ovenden play a couple of levels lower than Thackley, and were hampered by not appearing to have any subs. But rather than tiring as the game went on they matched Thackley, and having got a goal back before half time, levelled in the second half.

Marley Stadium is a venue that doesn't really live up to it's name. My dictionary defines a stadium as a "sports arena with tiered seats for spectators", but Marley is more of a sports centre with several pitches. Perhaps there used to be an actual stadium on the site.

I knew what to expect though, having visited three times previously, to see matches on each of the venue's trio of railed off grass pitches. The 3G pitch is, as you'd expect, floodlit and enclosed by high fencing, but it is also railed off making watching from inside the "cage" easy.

Atherton Collieries v Garswood United at Abraham Guest Academy

2pm  13 July 2013

Pre-Season Friendly at Abraham Guest Academy
Atherton Collieries 3 Garswood United 0 (att 25)

Another pre-season game on a borrowed 3G pitch, this time in the grounds of Abraham Guest Academy in Orrell, on the outskirts of Wigan.

Given the heat, and the nature of what was in effect a 90 minute training session, with rolling substitutions, it wasn't a bad game to watch.

The scoreline flattered Collieries a little, and was thanks to two goals late in the first half and another just before the final whistle. Garswood, who play a level lower than Collieries, had chances and deserved a least a goal.

Planning to watch yet another friendly on a 3G pitch tomorrow, after which there will hopefully be some competitive football to see.