Runcorn Albion v Moorfield

6.15pm  29 May 2018

Warrington and District League, Division One
Runcorn Albion 5 Moorfield 0 (att 25)

Large divisions and a bad winter are the main reasons why the Warrington and District League is completing its fixtures, finally, in the last days of May. Helpful to groundhoppers like me, but it must be difficult for players and officials.

Nothing at stake in this fixture, but unlike some late season Warrington League matches it wasn't given as a walkover, and both teams team turned up with full teams and substitutes.

It wasn't a bad game in the circumstances. Moorfield had the better of the opening exchanges, but they went behind to a 25th minute goal and from then on the game swung very much in Runcorn Albion's favour.

The home side got a second just before half time, and scored three more in a second half that they dominated.

Runcorn Albion play at The Heath Playing Fields, a surprisingly pleasant location with pitches spread out over a wide area.








Workington Athletic v Cleator Moor Celtic reserves

7pm  23 May 2018

Cumberland County League, Premier Division
Workington Athletic 1 Cleator Moor Celtic reserves 3 (att 40)

Cleator Moor's second team went into this, their final fixture, bottom but one in the table and knowing that nothing short of a win would remove the threat of relegation from the Cumberland League's top division.

Given the circumstances they could have hoped for a better a fixture than a visit to champions Workington Athletic, but the home side had nothing to play for and it showed in a flat first half. The sole highlight was Cleator Moor's opener, which had a suspicion of offside about it.

They doubled their lead early in the second half, but Workington Athletic upped their game and pulled a goal back. The home side pushed hard for an equaliser, but a mixture of resolute defending and luck preserved Cleator Moor's advantage.

The visitors were finally able to breathe more easily when in stoppage time they hit on the break for a decisive 3-1 lead.

Workington Athletic are based on a new 3G pitch at Lakes College, just outside Workington in Lillyhall. The ground has a barriered area for spectators running the length of one side of the pitch, but it's set quite a way back from the pitch so the action feels a little distant.








Silsden Whitestar v Grassington United

6.30pm  21 May 2018

Craven and District League, Premier Division
Silsden Whitestar 4 Grassington United 2 (att 50)

Silsden Whitestar's title hopes remained intact after an incident-packed and long evening, although the goals they conceded leave them with a tough task ahead of their final league fixture on Wednesday.

They went into this game knowing two wins form their last two fixtures, provided they won them by a combined margin of clear seven goals, would be enough to overhaul Settle United and win the Craven League.

They couldn't have wished for a better start against Grassington, going ahead after four minutes. But chasing more goals left gaps at the back and the visitors, third in the league with a chance of being runners-up should they win, were soon level.

It was still 1-1 at half time, and Grassington had looked the better side. Ten minutes into the second period Silsden went ahead, and the points looked safe when they got a third about 10 minutes after that.

The game's main incident though was an unfortunate and nasty injury suffered by the Whitestar keeper after 73 minutes. He couldn't be moved, and an ambulance had to be summoned.

By the time the final 17 minutes got underway we'd had a delay of over 45 minutes, and both sets of players did well to switch back on and get into the game.

Silsden, with a stand in keeper, were unable to extend their winning margin in what remained of the match. They conceded a second goal, but a penalty in the final minute made it 4-2 to the hosts, leaving them needing to win by five goals at Rolls on Wednesday evening.

Silsden Whitestar play on an open pitch in the sports field that's adjacent to Silsden AFC's Keighley Road ground. What the venue lacks in pitchside facilities is more than compensated by the surrounding scenery.











Dundonald Bluebell v Newtongrange Star

2.30pm  19 May 2018

SJFA East of Scotland Cup. Quarter-Final
Dundonald Bluebell 1 Newtongrange Star 1, 5-4 on penalties (att 150)

The last time I tried to watch a game at Dundonald I arrived to find it was off, but no such problems this time and Moorside Park looked a picture in the warm sunshine.

It's a great junior football venue, with three separate areas of cover for spectators, some steep grass banking, a social club and a snack bar from where I enjoyed an excellent steak pie.

There's no shortage of cup competitions in junior football, but the East of Scotland Cup is one of the better ones, and as expected it was a tight and competitive battle between two Super League sides.

We had to wait until well into the second half for the opening goal, a well placed header for the home side. They couldn't hang onto their lead though, and Newtongrange were well worth their equaliser.

No extra time in junior football (except the national Scottish Junior Cup) so it was straight to a penalty shoot out to determine the semi-finalist. Dundonald triumphed 5-4, but not without controversy amid claims their keeper was moving from the goal line before kicks were taken.









Maryhill Thistle v Glasgow Island

10am  19 May 2018

Glasgow Colleges League, Premier Division
Maryhill Thistle 3 Glasgow Island 2 (att 15)

Having had my first taste of Glasgow Colleges FA football a few weeks ago, when I watched Maryhill Thistle lift a cup at Petershill's ground, I visited the champions as I made my debut in its league competition.

I had planned to watched Blochairn Star's Strathclyde Saturday Morning League game, but I arrived to find little sign of life less than 30 minutes before kick off, so I assumed it was off and diverted to this game as a back up.

Blochairn played, so maybe I should have held my nerve and been patient, but as it turned out I was rewarded by an entertaining game on a 3G pitch at the Firhill Complex.

Despite having nothing to play for Maryhill Thistle were good in the first half, and two goals looked to have put them on the road to a comfortable win.

But in the second half they eased off and Glasgow Island - many of whose players come from the Western Isles and are working or studying in Glasgow - scored twice, including a penalty, to level with 30 minutes left.

Not longer after the visitors' equaliser a petty squabble over a throw in quickly escalated to the point where I feared the referee might fail to regain control and abandon the match. It took several minutes, and a red card for Maryhill, before order was restored.

Despite a man advantage Glasgow Island couldn't get in front, and numbers on the pitch were evened up when they had a player red carded in the final minute. Maryhill's stoppage time winner owed much to good fortune, after a clearance by Island's keeper was charged down and ended up in the net.








Silsden Whitestar v Skipton Town at Gargrave AFC

6.30pm  15 May 2018

Craven and District League, Northern Plant Hire Trophy Final at Gargrave AFC
Silsden Whitestar 1 Skipton Town 0 (att 90)

I never visited Gargrave's impressive ground when the village had a team in local football but, fortunately, since the club's demise the venue has continued to host occasional cup finals.

I'm told the final of the Northern Plant Hire Trophy, the Craven League's league cup competition, is always held at Gargrave. It makes sense as not only is it currently guaranteed to be a neutral location, but the facilities are good.

The pitch is enclosed, it's partly railed off, and there's a large covered area for spectators. Tonight that was used by Skipton fans, while those supporting Silsden Whitestar gathered on the opposite touchline, where the ground borders the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The site, on the edge of the village, is shared with the local cricket club, whose own ground is self-contained and right next door.

Premier Division Silsden Whitestar are on track to win the league, but were made to work hard before lifting the trophy by Skipton, who are near the top of division one and hoping for promotion.

It was a close game with few clear chances, settled by an unfortunate goalkeeping error after around an hour's play.










Kello Rovers v Cambuslang Rangers

2pm  12 May 2018

SJFA West Region, Super League, Division One
Kello Rovers 0 Cambuslang Rangers 3 (att 160)

Nithside Park is a bit of an outpost of Scottish junior football, with Kirkconnel-based Kello Rovers the only club in Dumfries and Galloway to play that grade of the game.

It's a nice ground, and a good example of the 'old style' traditional junior venues that help make football north of the border so tempting.

The main feature is a large covered enclosure, which is terraced. There's a small covered area on the opposite side, in front of a building that houses the changing rooms and a tea bar, while the rest of the ground is open, with a mixture of terracing, paved hard standing and grass.

Both these sides were in need of points at opposite ends of the table, and it was Cambuslang who took all three to keep their promotion challenge on track. Kello may go down, although I think restructuring is planned for West Region football next season and I'm not sure what effect that might have.

Cambuslang's win was comfortable in the end, but the first half was goalless and quite tight, with both sides coming close to taking a lead. The visitors stepped up a gear after the break, and their 48th minute opener changed the game.

They doubled their lead after an hour, and added a third with five minutes left. Kello picked up a late red card, after the third goal.









Southside White Cart v Barshaw

10am  12 May 2018

Strathclyde Saturday Morning Amateur League, Championship B
Southside White Cart 2 Barshaw 0 (att 8)

Overlee Playing Fields in Clarkston was busy with parents and players for junior football matches when I arrived, making me wonder if my game might have been moved elsewhere until I spotted some adult footballers among the youngsters.

There's a pair of full-sized pitches at Overlee. They're next to each other and enclosed at the far end by a high fence designed to limit the number of balls that would otherwise disappear down the steep drop beyond.

The near end is bordered by a steep grass bank, complete with flowering daffodils, which leads up to the changing rooms. It's one of Glasgow's better amateur football venues, particularly on a warm and sunny morning.

Neither side had much to play for on the pitch, and it was a game of fluctuating quality. Southside White Cart - named after the river that borders Overlee, or perhaps a pub that's named after the river - were the better side, and hit the crossbar three times before going ahead after 70 minutes.

Their second goal was in stoppage time, and scored into an empty net as Barshaw had pushed everyone forward, including their goalkeeper, for a corner.