Independent Schools FA Cup, Preliminary Round
Stockport Grammar School 3 Queen Ethelburga's College 5 (att 7)
In the past I've seen a handful of games involving Independent Schools FA select sides, and they've been enjoyable and skillful matches at interesting venues.
With those experiences in mind I thought I'd try a local tie in the ISFA's nationwide cup competition, knowing other groundhoppers have enjoyed previous matches in the competition, mostly at some of the well-known private schools in London and the south east.
Stockport Grammar School has a history going back hundreds of years, although the acquisition of a sports ground in Dialstone Lane is a more recent addition. There's a small car park, changing rooms, two rugby pitches and, most importantly, a football pitch.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a match like this. Ahead of the game, Stockport's coach told me Queen Etheburga's, from York, was a predominantly rugby-playing school, and his side's chances of success would depend how much focus the visitors had on the round ball sport.
It turned out they were pretty good, dominating possession from the start and deservedly going ahead when a penalty was saved but the rebound converted. Two more goals followed and I feared Stockport would be on the wrong end of a hammering.
If the tie was going to have a turning point it was in the final minute of the first half. A reckless challenge in the box earned the home side a penalty and the visitors a red card. The penalty was scored, and Stockport then added a second goal in the opening minute of the second half.
With a man advantage the home side created several chances to equalise, but they were undone by a long ball latched onto by a speeder forward who put Queen Ethelburga's 4-2 up. Stockport had renewed hope when they scored a third in the final minute, but in stoppage time it was the visitors who scored the game's final goal.
I don't know how many more ISFA Cup games I'll get to see, but based on this they're well worth watching, with some decent players.