Anchorsholme v Plungington

7.15pm  25 June 2018

Catforth and District Summer League, Division One
Anchorsholme 7 Plungington 1 (att 15)

The 131st and final game of my 2017/18 season was a first visit Fleetwood Town's very impressive training complex at Pool Foot Farm in Thornton Cleveleys.

It won't be my last visit to the venue though, as Fleetwood's youth team play on one of the grass pitches and there are two enclosed 4G grounds. This game was played on the second pitch, furthest from the main building.

I expected a close game between two sides who have made solid starts to the summer league season, but an early red card for the visitors left them at a disadvantage they couldn't overcome.

The 10 men actually equalised Anchosholme's early opener, but the home side regained the lead before half time and the second half was one-way traffic. The Plungington keeper did well to keep the score down.

The ground is a standard artificial venue, with a floodlit pitch surrounded by a fence. There is a barriered area for spectators, running halfway behind one goal and along three-quarters of the near touchline.

The game had a low key feel, and there was a choice of viewing with Spain v Morocco being shown on an outdoor big screen just beyond the pitch, although in place of the TV commentary was a constant background of pop music. A strange way to end my football season, but 2018/19 will begin in just a few days.







Khalsa Football Federation, Leicester Tournament

23 June 2018

Khalsa Football Federation Tournament at Aylestone Playing Fields, Leicester

Three years ago I had my first taste of a Khalsa tournament, at Sinfin Moor Park in Derby, and really enjoyed it. Since then I've been keen to watch another one, and this year the Leicester competition was the ideal opportunity.

A series of Khalsa tournaments, for Sikh-based teams from across the UK, are held each summer, with games spread over a Saturday and Sunday. They're on a straight knockout basis, with successful sides facing a hectic programme of four games in just two days, putting the leisurely World Cup schedule into perspective.

The Leicester competition is hosted by local side Guru Nanak Gurdwara FC. Eight pitches were used for the senior games on the opening day, six at Aylestone Playing Fields supplementing GNG FC's main ground and their adjacent 3G pitch.

Having already seen a game at GNG FC I decided to base myself at Aylestone Playing Fields, for three out of a possible five games.



9am
Division Two, Quarter-Final
Portway 1 FC Punjab Sandwell 1, 3-1 on penalties (att 7)

I'm sure 9am is the earliest I've ever seen a game start, and it was quite an effort to get from Manchester to Leicester in time for the opening matches.

There's just eight teams in the Khalsa Football Federation's third tier this year, which means the division two competitions begin at the quarter final stage. I was keen to watch one of the two ties between first teams, and on arrival it was a case of checking the schedule to find out which game was on which pitch.

The Aylestone Playing Fields are effectively divided into three smaller playing fields, each with two pitches. This match was on the middle area, on what the Khalsa FF designated as pitch five.

Punjab Sandwell's first half opener was well taken, but after that the finishing by both sides was poor. Portway levelled thanks to a second half penalty, but it was no surprise that the tie ended 1-1.

The lack of accuracy in front of goal continued into the penalty shootout.  Punjab Sandwell missed their first three spot kicks, while Portway missed one out of their four on their way to a 3-1 win.







10.45am
Division One, First Round
Punjab United Derby 2 Shere Punjab Wolverhampton 3 (att 13)

From the opening game it was a few minutes' walk through a wooded area to the furthest of the three playing fields, and 'pitch seven' at Aylestone, for this opening round second tier tie.

I expected Punjab United Derby to win this, but despite looking the better side they couldn't shake off a dogged Shere Punjab Wolverhampton. It was 2-2 going into stoppage time, and I expected another penalty shootout that threatened to scupper my plans for a third game some distance away.

I needn't have worried though, as with time almost up it was the Wolverhampton side who scored the game's decisive goal. As the final whistle blew I headed back towards the competition's HQ for my final game.







12.30pm
Premier Division, First Round
GSA 1 FC Khalsa Leicester 2 (att 100)

This match was on 'pitch three', the closest pitch to the Aylestone Playing Fields pavilion, near the tournament organisers' tent and, usefully, close to where welcome, tasty and free vegetable curry and chapatis where available.

The Khalsa tournaments are prestigious to competing clubs, and at premier division level the standard is usually high. Khalsa Leicester may not have been the host club, but in effect this was a home competition for them and they were keen to see off Birmingham-based rivals GSA.

A fabulous long-range strike gave Khalsa a first half lead, but GSA's penalty that brought them level before half time was controversial. The spot kick was certainly a correct decision, but a red card for the Khalsa player who committed the foul was harsh.

The Leicester side made light of their numerical disadvantage, and in a tight second period got the winner to earn a quarter-final place.

After that I could have stayed for two more matches, and the chance to tick off more pitches at Aylestone Playing Fields, but three back-to-back matches was enough for me. Hopefully I'll return for the remaining pitches at a future Khalsa tournament.







Warton v Chipping

7pm  21 June 2018

Catforth and District Summer League, Division Two
Warton 3 Chipping 1 (att 8)

The Catforth Summer League can usually be relied on to provide new venues to visit each year, and I ticked off the first of this year's crop in Warton, a village near Preston that's best known for the BAE Systems factory.

The Harold Bridges Playing Fields has a rural feel and is a pleasant if slightly windswept spot, with space for a couple of football pitches.

It's Warton's debut season in the Catforth League, at least in recent years, and this win kept their 100% league record intact. They had to work hard for it though, edging ahead thanks to the only goal of a tight first half.

Chipping's second half equaliser was deserved, but it prompted the home club to step up a gear and they netted twice to claim all three points. Warton's third goal was the game's final kick.








Thorner v Bramley Town

11am  17 June 2018

Leeds Sunday League, Play-off Cup, Group A
Thorner 0 Bramley Town 4 (att 14)

After spending all day Saturday sitting on the sofa watching World Cup matches on TV I felt a need to get out to see some live football.

Like its Eccles counterpart, the Leeds Sunday League has a summer season, putting it onto my groundhopping radar. There's only eight teams, and Thorner are unique as they not only provide two of them, but are alone in staging home games on their own ground rather than council pitches.

The Sandhills ground is shared with the local cricket club, although the undulating football pitch is beyond the cricket outfield and bordered by a car parking area. For a Sunday league venue it's not bad at all.

Thorner, who I think compete in the Harrogate-based Claro Sunday League during the winter, have had a tough side to their summer campaign. Having lost their two opening league games, including a 5-1 reversal against today's visitors Bramley, things didn't get any better in this cup fixture.

The first half, a close affair with few clear chances, ended goalless. Bramley's half time team talk must have been an inspiring one, as the visitors scored three times in five minutes, including a penalty, soon after the restart.

They were on top throughout the second half, but had to wait until a free kick in the final seconds before they added the fourth goal.










Lime Kiln v Doveridge

7pm  14 June 2018

Ashbourne and District Summer League
Lime Kiln 1 Doveridge 2 (att 40)

Earlier this month leaders Doveridge dropped their only points so far when they lost 2-0 at home to Lime Kiln, but there was no repeat of that surprise scoreline in the return fixture at Wirksworth Recreation Ground.

It was a close thing though. Lime Kiln, named after a Wirksworth pub, took a first half lead and, thanks to heroic defending, a linesman's flag and some poor Doveridge finishing, they held it until the closing moments.

Doveridge finally equalised with less than five minutes to play, before a powerful header from a long throw in edged them in front deep in stoppage time. A harsh climax for Lime Kiln, although the better side won.

New venues in Ashbourne's summer league are few and far between these days, and this was first time I've watched a game to recomplete the league for three years. The standard seemed higher than I'm used to, and Doveridge in particular looked much better than the norm for this league.

As well providing a home pitch for Lime Kiln, Wirksworth Recreation Ground is used in regular winter league football by Wirksworth Ivanhoe, apparently destined for the Central Midlands League next season after years in the Midlands Regional Alliance.

It's just a pitch, but a pleasant one with changing rooms housed in an old-looking building not far away. One side of the pitch is bordered by an impressive cricket ground, while the other touchline was roped off.









Gairloch/Aultbea United v Portree

3pm  9 June 2018

Skye and Lochalsh Amateur League
Gairloch/Aultbea United 7 Portree 2 (att 19)

I didn't get to Aultbea before the club joined forces with Wester Ross rivals Gairloch. Since the merger most games have been played in Gairloch, but currently there's no changing rooms there so the club have relocated, temporarily I assume, 13 miles north.

It meant an even longer trek for Portree, who faced a 260 mile round trip on slow Highland roads to fulfill the fixture. That's some commitment for amateur football, and I wasn't too surprised that the game kicked off a little late and Portree arrived with just 11 players and no subs.

That may have cost them the game. They scored first and looked marginally the better side in a first half that ended 1-1.

But just as the half time whistle was about to go a Portree player suffered a nasty-looking injury. He was unable to continue and so his team mates were a man down for the second half.

They battled well, but collapsed near the end as GA United (as the hosts are usually known) racked up goals, including two penalties. Portree did get one back, but by then they were already well beaten. The five goal margin was harsh on the visitors.

The football pitch at Aultbea is MacLennan Park, and while there's no facilities other than car parking at both ends it's a lovely place to watch football, with a view across to the nearby Isle of Ewe. Players change in the village hall and from there it's a short walk to the pitch.