Scarborough Athletic v Buxton

7.45pm  16 October 2018

Northern Premier League, Premier Division
Scarborough Athletic 4 Buxton 0 (att 1,005)

One of the good news stories in non-League football last season was the return home of Scarborough Athletic. The club was formed when the previous Scarborough FC went bust, but without a suitable venue in the town had been playing in Bridlington.

I didn't manage to visit last season, so was grateful for the opportunity to spend a Tuesday evening in North Yorkshire to tick off the Flamingo Land Stadium (a sponsored name for the Scarborough Sports Village ground).

The ground has more character than you might expect for a newly-built venue. The stand is raised well above the pitch which ensures a good view from the seats, and there's some shallow covered terracing at one end.

The far side and open end are just flat standing at the moment, and with crowds regularly hitting four figures the club will have to consider ways of making sure everyone can see the action if attendances grow more. The site is quite hemmed in so it might be a challenge.

The playing surface is artificial, still relatively unusual at this level although becoming more common. Visitors Buxton have recently swapped their grass pitch for an artificial one, so can't blame the surface for this defeat.

Scarborough Athletic scored twice in each half, including a first half penalty, for an easy win. Buxton had their moments in the second half, and had they pulled a goal back it'd been interesting, but the home side's third goal ended their resistance.

Park View v Amersham Town

3pm  13 October 2018

Spartan South Midlands League, Division One
Park View 4 Amersham Town 2 (att 25)

Park View needed two late goals to see off Amersham Town but if it wasn't for poor finishing they'd have been out of sight well before half time.

The home side had countless chances, some created by decent football and some presented to them by slack Amersham defending, but spurned most of them. They took a first half lead but Amersham were soon level, although Park View were 2-1 up by half time.

It looked like they might pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Amersham equalised for a second time after the break. But with time running our Park View's superiority was rewarded with a third goal, and a decisive fourth followed soon after.

Park View play home games at the New River Stadium in White Hart Lane, in the Wood Green area of north London. It's an artificial pitch but very different from the usual 'caged' variety. A massive seated stand dominates the ground, with open terracing on the far side and around one end.

It's home to the London Skolars rugby league team, and is probably better suited to the crowds they get than the rather generous official figure of 25 who watched this game. Large venues with small crowds produce an odd atmosphere, but this was an entertaining game and it was nice to visit a 'proper' stadium for a change.

Bedford Albion v Sandy

11am  13 October 2018

Bedfordshire County League, Division One
Bedford Albion 9 Sandy 0 (att 149)

A morning kick off and a three figure crowd in the second tier of the Bedfordshire County League are clues that this was a hop game, and the only one of the day's trio of matches that I was planning to watch.

Bedford Albion are a relatively new club, and look on track to continue their climb through the league's divisions after this crushing win against a hapless Sandy. The hosts dominated from the outset, scoring seven times in the first half.

Goal number eight was in the opening minute of the second period, after which the home side eased off and Sandy had their best period. The visitors came close to a consolation when they hit the crossbar, but Albion added a ninth before the end.

They could easily have had double figures, and I assume the referee was showing some sympathy for Sandy when he turned down what looked like a clear penalty for Bedford Albion late in the game.

Bedford Albion play at Woodlands, a new facility on the outskirts of the town. There's three football pitches, served by a building housing the changing rooms. One of the other pitches was staging a youth game.

Albion's pitch was roped off around part of the perimeter, and a grass bank along one side gave a good elevated view of the action.

Bedford Albion's ground isn't on Google Maps yet but here is a map of its location

Rugby Borough v Polonia Coventry

7.45pm  8 October 2018

Coventry Charity Cup, Second Round
Rugby Borough 3 Polonia Coventry 0 (att 47)

The Coventry Charity Cup might be one of the more obscure pieces of silverware that's up for grabs each season, but it gave me a welcome opportunity to visit Rugby Borough's Kilsby Lane game for a game under floodlights.

It was an intriguing clash between a side going well well in the Leicestershire Senior League's top division and visitors from the third tier of the Coventry Alliance. A comfortable home win looked likely, but Polonia made it a tricky evening for Rugby Borough.

The home side had plenty of chances for a more emphatic victory, but it took until the opening minute of the second half before they finally went ahead. A second goal followed a minute later and put the tie beyond Polonia's reach. The home side got a third in the final minute.

Polonia thought they'd taken a 20th minute lead but the officials ruled the ball hadn't crossed the line before it was cleared. The visitors were livid, but from where I was standing I couldn't tell whether it should have counted. Rugby Borough were similarly out of luck moments later, when they had a strike ruled out for offside.

Rugby Borough are a recent senior offshoot from Rugby Town Juniors. They play on an enclosed 3G pitch at Kilsby Lane, where I watched Coventry Alliance side AEI Rugby on an adjacent grass pitch in May 2017.

Just the pavilion side of the ground is open to spectators, with dugouts situated on the far side, but overall it's an excellent facility.

Bristol Telephones v Keynsham Town

2.30pm  7 October 2018

Western League, Division One
Bristol Telephones 1 Keynsham Town 2 (att 310)

I was fortunate that one of the two Western League grounds I still needed was selected as one of the Sunday games on this year's hop, making an ideal opportunity for a weekend away.

We stayed in Exeter after Saturday's game in Cornwall and from there it was a trouble-free Sunday morning journey north to Bristol.

Telephones are in their second season as a Western League club, having made very rapid progress after stepping up from the Bristol and Suburban League not long ago. The ground has developed with the team, and is now a neat and tidy step six venue.

The ground is enclosed, there's a seated stand on side and a second stand under construction behind the far goal. The area is a bit of sporting hub, with Somerset League sides Cutters Friday and Stockwood Wanderers both next-door neighbours.

Two expertly-taken direct free kicks gave Keynsham a 2-0 half-time lead. Telephones pulled a goal back with about 30 minutes left, which promised an exciting end to the game. Unfortunately though it became rather scrappy, and Keynsham's lead was never truly threatened.

Looe Town v Falmouth Town

2pm  6 October 2018

Cornwall Senior Cup, First Round
Looe Town 1 Falmouth Town 12 (att 25)

Cornwall's senior cup is one that continues to be taken seriously by the county's football clubs, and a victory for lowly Looe against Falmouth would have ranked as a major upset.

Sadly for the hosts any chance of that disappeared in the first five minutes as Falmouth, who play two leagues higher, scored twice. Surprisingly they didn't add a third goal until a minute before half time.

The second half was shooting practice for the visitors, as Looe's players tired having spent much of the game chasing the ball. It was good to see Looe score though, even though the tie was out of sight by the time they did.

Looe play in the top division of the East Cornwall Premier League, although they're bottom after a difficult start to their campaign. They deserve credit for the way they approached the challenge of South Peninsula League side Falmouth, not reverting to rough tactics and playing football for the entire 90 minutes.

The club plays at the Barbican Sports Field on the outskirts of East Looe. Facilities are basic but will soon improve when a new pavilion opens. The sloping and undulating pitch is roped off, with a pair of dugouts on one side, and beyond the far goal are some fantastic views of the coast.

The only surprise of the afternoon for me was the small crowd. Take away Falmouth's supporters, and a couple of groundhoppers, and there appeared to be very few locals. It's a shame the people of Looe didn't turn out in greater numbers to support their team in a game like this.

May and Baker EC v Little Oakley

3pm  29 September 2018

Eastern Senior League, Division One South
May and Baker Eastbrook Community 8 Little Oakley 0 (att 32)

A fixture between two unbeaten sides in the new Eastern Senior League promised a tight game. It turned out to be anything but as May and Baker were 5-0 ahead by half time against a disappointing Little Oakley.

Goal number six came at the start of the second half, after which the home side eased off although they still managed two more to complete the rout.

May and Baker were impressive on the pitch, but their home ground flatters to deceive. Ground grading regulations for step six football mean they've left their traditional home to take up residence at Barking Rugby Union Club's ground.

The venue's main feature is a seated stand on the opposite side from the entrance and clubhouse, but it's out of bounds to football followers who are restricted to just one side of the pitch. A balcony to the front of the clubhouse provides a decent view but it seems a waste to have a stand that can't be used.

I was told the reason was that the ground wasn't properly enclosed on the far side, but it's much more enclosed that Harleston Town's ground which I visited for their opening game in the same league in August. Whatever the limitations of the ground, the May and Baker team look destined to do well.