Clarendon v St Matthews Walsall

10.30am  25 February 2017

West Midlands Christian League, Challenge Cup Quarter Final
Clarendon 0 St Matthews Walsall 1 (att 15)

There are a few Christian and church leagues dotted around the country, set up originally I presume to provide Sunday league-style football for clubs and players who'd rather not play on the Sabbath.

These days most clubs, though not all, have connections to a church, but beyond that there doesn't seem to be any strict requirements to take part. I'd never watched a game in one before, so didn't know what to expect.

I hadn't expected the three red cards, several bookings and the couple of melees that all added to the entertainment of this league cup clash. The three officials (another surprise - neutral assistant referees) had a busy morning.

The standard of football wasn't the best, despite this being the league leaders against the team in third, but it was fun to watch and I'd certainly return for more football in this league when it fits in well en route to an afternoon game.

St Matthews Walsall's win was something of a cup shock. Clarendon are unbeaten in the league had scored seven against the same visitors earlier in the month. The only goal was a penalty about 10 minutes into the second half.

Clarendon probably aren't used to going behind. They got frustrated and their ability to mount a revival was hampered when a very late challenge left at St Matthews player injured and earned the culprit a red card.

Not that the visitors benefited from any numerical advantage though, as the injured player was also sent off for the language he used to complain about the challenge. The hosts had another player dismissed before the end, and were unable to force an equaliser.

It's no use looking for Clarendon on a map of Birmingham, as the club takes its name from a parish in Jamaica. They play at the King Edward VI School in Handsworth, which is enclosed enough to feel like a proper venue.

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