Durham Alliance Combination
Blackhill and Ebchester 1 Sunderland University 1 (att 10)
This was the first game I've seen in the newly-created Durham Alliance Combination (the result of a summer merger of what was left of the Durham Alliance and Wearside Combination leagues). A floodlit game on a Thursday night may not be typical, but it was entertaining to watch.
Sunderland University are playing midweek fixtures to catch up on games, having sat out the early part of the season while they waited for students to return after the summer break.
They'll have left Consett Leisure Centre wondering how they managed to win a point. Blackhill and Ebchester dominated the game but couldn't score. Several times they were denied by the frame of the goal, at other times by some good, and occasionally unorthodox, goalkeeping.
After a goalless first half, the second period was even more one-sided, with the students looking to hit their hosts on the break. They managed the unlikely feat with 20 minutes left, but hung onto their lead for just three minutes.
Back level at 1-1, Blackhill and Ebchester kept pressing for a winner, but it never came and somehow Sunderland University gained a point.
It was a great evening for the students, a frustrating one for Blackhill and Ebchester, and a thoroughly entertaining one for me.
The venue was a new artificial turf pitch at Consett Leisure Centre. The downside is a bewildering array of multi-coloured pitch markings, for various sports, but on the plus side it has, unlike some, been built with plenty of space around all four sides, so there's plenty of room for the handful of spectators.
Consett Leisure Centre, which has a school attached, is built on the side of Consett AFC's former Belle Vue Stadium, which brings up the controversial issue (among groundhoppers at least) of what constitutes a "new ground". By my reckoning, aided by Google Earth, the new pitch doesn't overlap the old one, the site of which is now covered by buildings, so definitely a new ground for me.