Cheltenham Civil Service v Broadwell Amateurs

3pm  21 August 2015

Gloucestershire County League
Cheltenham Civil Service 1 Broadwell Amateurs 3 (att 64)

It's less than 18 months since I last visited Cheltenham Civil Service's Tewkesbury Road home, when I took advantage of a Saturday lunchtime kick-off to tick off a venue that was then hosting Gloucestershire Northern Senior League football.

The club has had an eventful time since then, earning promotion to the Gloucestershire County League and then winning that competition at the first attempt.

Promotion also meant fencing off a pitch, and as the club now uses a pitch directly in front of the clubhouse, and one that doesn't overlap where I saw them play last time, a return was necessary to visit what is, by my groundhopping "rules", a new ground.

Champions they may be, but it's been a difficult start to this season for Civil Service. Newly-promoted Broadwell took full advantage, condemning their hosts to their fourth defeat from their opening four fixtures.

Civil Service looked to have turned a corner when they scored the only goal of an entertaining and evenly-matched first half. But Broadwell stepped up a gear after the break and were well worth the three goals that gave them victory.

Apart from a plastic post and rail around what is now the main pitch at Civil Service, and a pair of dugouts, little seems to have changed from my last visit. On a damp afternoon, and following heavy rain earlier, the pitch was perfect. The Civil Service social club is decent and, handily, the building also provides a bit of cover from the elements for those watching football.

Trearddur Bay United v St Asaph City

4.45pm  29 August 2015

Welsh Alliance, Division One
Trearddur Bay United 4 St Asaph City 3 (att 304)

The marathon that is the Welsh Alliance "hop", 11 games over four days, arrived in Trearddur Bay for a late afternoon kick-off, giving me the chance to tick off a new ground just a short drive from my earlier match at Valley.

As always for hop games, the host club were well organised to cope with the influx of spectators, who lined the pleasantly-situated pitch, which is just across the road from the beach.

The home side, with the breeze at their backs and the bright sun behind them, dominated a one-sided first half, scoring early and trebling their lead by half time. They added a fourth in the opening minute of the second half, then lost their way and allowed St Asaph back into the game.

The visitors went from being on the wrong end of a hammering to scoring three times, and, as the game came to an end, coming very close to equalising.

There's no cover at Trearrdur Bay's Lon Isallt ground, not that any was needed on a sunny afternoon. The pitch is railed off on three sides and enclosed by a stone wall on the side the borders the road, while players change in a pavilion in the corner.

After the final whistle the "hop" moved on to an evening kick-off at Llangefni, while I headed back home.

Valley Athletic v Llanfairpwll reserves

2.30pm  29 August 2015

Anglesey League
Valley Athletic 1 Llanfairpwll reserves 2 (att 25)

My first taste of Anglesey league football, and it was decent introduction between two of the competition's better sides.

Valley won the league last season, but apparently have a much-changed side now, while Llanfairpwll's second string had scored 23 goals in their last two fixtures.

The visitors had plenty of chances to add a few more goals at Valley, but were let down by wayward shooting. Valley scored the first half's only goal, against the run of play, but the Llanfairpwll hit back in the second half for a deserved win.

Overall it was an entertaining, and occasionally feisty, game. I thought it a decent standard of football, and both sides looked as if they could compete at Gwynedd League level, the next step up from the Anglesey League

Valley use a pitch to the south of the village, on a piece of land sandwiched between a railway line at the A55 dual carriageway into Holyhead. There's a pair of permanent dugouts on one side, and a couple of park benches on the opposite side are handily-placed for spectators.

Shelf United v Greetland

6.15pm  27 August 2015

Halifax and District League, Premier Division
Shelf United 3 Greetland 2 (att 46)

The first of the Halifax League's annual early season Friday evening games gave me a welcome chance to visit Shelf United, a club whose ground had eluded me in previous years.

Shelf Hall Park is a pleasant tree-lined public park, between Halifax and Bradford. There's only room for one football pitch, which has a steep end-to-end slope, and with a low sun setting at the uphill end winning the toss looked more important than usual.

The visitors began the game kicking up the slope, and with the sun in their eyes, but they took the lead thanks a to a penalty. It had been against the run of play, and it wasn't long before Shelf had made it 1-1, albeit a goal with more than a suspicion of offside.

The home side scored again to take a lead into the half-time break, and added a third mid way through the second half. Greetland kept battling, and were rewarded with a late goal, but they couldn't manage an equaliser.

Hellifield Sports v Horton

6.15pm  27 August 2015

Craven and District league, Division Three
Hellifield Sports 2 Horton 1 (att 33)

Not quite as many thrills as last week's reverse league fixture at Horton, but this was another thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining 90 minutes in the lower reaches of the Craven and District League.

Like last time, Hellifield just about deserved their narrow victory, but were pushed all the way by Horton. Surprisingly, the first goal didn't arrive until mid way through the second half, when the home side went ahead.

They didn't hold the lead for long though, as Horton were soon level. Having equalised, Horton carried the greater threat for a while, before Hellifield seized a chance to score a second. It set up a great finish, with Horton pressing forward but vulnerable on the break, but there were no more goals.

Hellifield is an attractive village on the main road between Skipton and Settle. Football is played on a steeply-sloping pitch at Hellifield Recreation Field, an attractive venue bordered by houses on one side and greenery and a railway line on the other.

Wickersley v Stocksbridge Park Steels reserves

6pm  26 August 2015

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League, Premier Division
Wickersley 1 Stocksbridge Park Steels reserves 1 (att 45)

It's fair to say I had low expectations of this, knowing before I arrived that it'd be a roped off pitch on a large playing field at the back of a school on the outskirts of Rotherham. It seemed a good ground to visit midweek, before the dark evenings meant I'd need to come on a Saturday afternoon.

But, as is often the case, it turned out a lot better that I'd imagined. True, it is just a pitch, roped off along one touchline, behind Wickersley School and Sports College, but on a sunny evening and in front of a larger than expected crowd it was good.

The pitch actually feels quite enclosed with the unroped side bordering fencing behind which new homes are being built, and one end backing onto a small-sided artificial pitch.

More importantly, it was a decent game. The only goals came, just four minutes apart, after around an hour. Stocksbridge went in front when a well-struck shot from distance was fumbled by the home keeper, before the home side soon equalised.

Once they'd levelled, Wickersley looked much more likely to win the game, but despite creating chances they failed to take them. On the balance of the 90 minutes, they'll probably look back on this as two points dropped.

Heysham v Freehold

6.15pm  24 August 2015

North Lancashire & District League, Division One
Heysham 1 Freehold 3 (att 19)

A venue listed as "pitch 2, Salt Ayre Sports Centre" might not seem very enticing, but the three grass football pitches at the Lancaster facility are all quite separate from each other, and enclosed by trees and greenery.

Added to that, each pitch has a regular tenant club, and it was a good evening to visit with not just Heysham but also Torrisholme (pitch 1) and Morecambe Royals (pitch 3) also having first team home games.

I'd seen Royals play on their pitch some years ago, so Heysham's game was my first choice, and I was rewarded by a decent game.

The home side took the lead, but by half time Freehold had battled back to lead 2-1. There wasn't much between the sides and Heysham worked hard to level in the second period, but their hopes evaporated with Freehold's late third goal.

With pitches two and three now ticked, I just need to return to Salt Ayre one more time to complete the trio of grounds.

Boothstown v Old Altrinchamians

2pm  22 August 2015

Manchester League, Premier Division
Boothstown 1 Old Altrinchamians 2 (att 8)

Both these sides won promotion from division one of the Manchester League last season, a particularly impressive feat for Boothstown in what was their first season in the league.

The home side have adapted well to the higher level so far, winning and drawing their opening league games, but slipped to their first defeat this time out.

There wasn't a huge amount between the sides, but Old Alts always looked a little sharper, and more wiley, and deserved the win. They went ahead just before half time, an inability to clear the ball from their own six yard box costing Boothstown.

The visitors doubled their lead after the break, before a late goal, followed by a hefty amount of stoppage time, gave Boothstown hope of a point, but Old Alts held on to win.

Boothstown play at Bridgewater Park, with features a modern pavilion housing changing rooms and a snack bar, and several senior and junior football pitches. The pitch nearest the pavilion was taped off, but but no other facilities for the handful of spectators.

Irvine Victoria v Irvine Meadow

7pm  21 August 2015

SJFA West Region, Ayrshire Sectional League Cup, Section 2
Irvine Victoria 1 Irvine Meadow XI 4 (att 1,200)

The Marymass festival has been a part of the Irvine calendar for centuries, and for football fans the annual Friday night meeting of the town's two junior football teams, in which their league cup fixture doubles as the Marymass Trophy match, is the highlight.

Groups in the Ayrshire Sectional League Cup are decided by geography, so "Vics" and "Medda" are guaranteed to play each other, with the venue alternating, every year. It's always keenly-contested, and usually attracts a large crowd.

Victoria are Irvine's second team at present, having been relegated last season to the Ayrshire League, while Meadow are among the stronger Super League sides, effectively two divisions higher. Victoria Park is a tight ground, with spectator access restricted to open terracing behind the goal near the entrance, and shallow terracing along one side, where there's a couple of shelters either side of a dugout.

From where I was standing it was hard to guess the attendance, but a couple of groundhoppers with a better view of the crowd counted close to 1,200. It was certainly large enough for the kick off to be delayed 15 minutes to give everyone time to squeeze in.

Perhaps the occasion got to some of the players, as the first half was a bit disappointing. Not surprisingly Meadow had more of the play, but they lacked conviction in the final third, and were undone when Victoria took the lead.

By my reckoning the home team needed a three goal win to progress to the cup's knockout stages, but of course any sort of win would give them the Marymass Trophy, and local bragging rights. Meadow had other ideas though, and were far better after the break.

They scored twice to go in front, and a third goal from the penalty spot made the game safe, to the frustration of some home fans who hurled some unwelcome beer cans onto the pitch.

A fourth goal wrapped things up, and, while the scoreline was harsh on Vics, Meadow also hit the frame of the goal three times so might have won by more.