South of Scotland League
St Cuthbert Wanderers 3 Abbey Vale 2 (att 62)
Another Saturday when the weather made planning where to go a bit of challenge, although hardly unexpected in January.
I had slim hopes of going to Dumfries YMCA, with this game as a back up, but when my first choice was called off early I decided to head to south west Scotland anyway, rather than waste time at home trying to find other games that were going ahead.
St Cuthbert have recently installed an artificial pitch at their St Mary's Park ground in Kirkudbright, and as the town missed the snow that blighted other parts of Scotland there was no doubt about this match going ahead.
The excellent surface contributed to a very enjoyable match, between two sides who can clearly play a bit, and it seemed a better standard than I'm used to in the South of Scotland League.
The home side started well, and deserved the lead they established thanks to two goals inside the first half-hour. Abbey Vale were no pushovers though, and having halved the arrears they drew level with a well-taken free kick just before half time.
The visitors started the second half on top, but failed to take any of several good chances they had to go in front. Instead it was St Cuthbert who regained the lead, thanks to what I thought was a rather dubious penalty.
With over 30 minutes still to play the major surprise was that there were no further goals. Both sides had chances, and Abbey Vale pushing for an equaliser and St Cuthbert dangerous on the break. All in all it was a great game, with Abbey Vale unfortunate not to get a point.
Although this was my first visit to St Mary's Park, I know it's been transformed recently with the installation of the new pitch. Unfortunately, an old wooden grandstand has gone, but it's been replaced by a decent section of covered terracing. A building opposite houses changing rooms and a "tuck shop", and the ground is fully enclosed and very neat and tidy.