Aldermere v Salford Victoria

2pm  27 October 2018

Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League, Rhodes Cup First Round
Aldermere 1 Salford Victoria 9 (att 10)

Third division Aldermere had the best possible start against premier division Salford Victoria, scoring emphatically from the penalty spot after just three minutes.

It didn't take Salford long to equalise, but it was testament to the Aldermere players' hard work and commitment that it took until the opening minute of the second half before the visitors edged in front.

Aldermere had the occasional half chance in the second period, but they were mostly defending and further Salford goals were inevitable. The home side did well considering the gulf between the teams, but when they tired towards the end they were punished.

I last watched a game at Flixton Park 20 years ago, when long-gone Urmston FC played on a railed off pitch in the Manchester League. That pitch is still there, close to changing rooms that now display the signage of Old Stretfordians FC.

Old Stretfordians also had a home Rhodes Cup tie, so I knew I'd be guaranteed a new pitch to watch a game on, but the railed pitch was unused. Old Stretfordians, and their third team, used two of the three other open pitches in the park.

Facilities for spectators were limited to a park bench behind the goal at the Flixton Road end of the pitch, not that you'd expect any more at this level. But on an afternoon when I wanted to stay close to home it was an enjoyable cup tie.









Manchester Medics v West Didsbury

10.15am  27 October 2018

Manchester Saturday Morning League, Division One
Manchester Medics 3 West Didsbury 7 (att 4)

Medics were one of several teams to play home games at Hough End, Manchester's very own Hackney Marshes with its multitude of pitches, but this season have moved a short distance to Chorlton High School.

It's a typical 3G venue, with the artificial grass pitch surrounded by a high fence and floodlit, not that lights are necessary for Saturday morning football. It's also quite a hike from the school car park, and might have been tricky to find without directions from the reception desk.

Lucky I found it in time as the goals started early. Medics were ahead after four minutes, but West Didsbury made it 1-1 just three minutes later. The visitors had won the reverse fixture 5-1 a fortnight ago, and were on course for a repeat when they had a 3-1 half time lead.

They got more on top in the second half, playing some good football and scoring regularly to go 7-1 up, before Manchester Medics gave the scoreline a more respectable look with two late consolation goals.








Eyemouth United v Dundonald Bluebell

2.30pm  20 October 2018

East of Scotland League, Conference B
Eyemouth United 3 Dundonald Bluebell 6 (att 35)

The influx of former junior teams into the East of Scotland League have made this a difficult season for many of the league's long-standing members, faced with much stronger opposition than they're used to.

Eyemouth are still without a league point after this defeat to incomers Dundonald, but the visitors were made to work hard before heading back to Fife with all three points. Had Eyemouth kept 10 men on the pitch they might have pushed them closer.

It was no surprise when Dundonald took an early lead, nor when they doubled it. The visitors third was controversial, coming on the break after an Eyemouth free kick was blocked by a player who looked too close to the ball and who may have used a hand.

But Eyemouth got a lifeline with a well-taken goal just before half time, then had real hope early in the second half when they reduced the deficit to 2-3. Soon after they they thought they'd equalised. but the referee decided the ball hadn't crossed the line.

I think the official was correct, but in the row that followed an Eyemouth player picked up a second booking and was dismissed. What had looked a difficult task became an impossible one for Eyemouth, and after some committed defending they eventually succumbed.

Dundonald built up a 6-2 advantage before a penalty gave Eyemouth some consolation with virtually the final kick of a very enjoyable game.

Eyemouth is a pleasant small town just north of Berwick. The football club play at Warner Park, which is a better venue than I'd expected. I thought it was a one-sided ground for spectators, but in fact there is access all around the pitch, even if it is a bit precarious in places.










Jesmond Parish Church v St Charles RC Church Gosforth

10.30am  20 October 2018

North East Christian Fellowship League, Premier Division
Jesmond Parish Church 1 St Charles RC Church Gosforth 5 (att 5)

It seems there's more than enough Christian leagues to provide me with a choice of extra games on Saturday mornings for years to come. This was my first experience of the north east's two division competition and it was easily good enough to tempt me back for more.

It was a local derby between two top division sides yet to register a win in the fledgling league season, and it was the visitors from Gosforth who got their campaign properly underway with a comfortable win.

They were ahead in the second minute, and although Jesmond equalised just three minutes later that was as good as it got for the hosts. St Charles added more goals to go into half time with a 4-1 lead.

The second half was flat in comparison to the first, with the outcome as good as settled, although St Charles did add a fifth goal late in the game.

The venue was one of four pitches at the Newburn Activity Centre, next to the River Tyne to the west of Newcastle. It was a busy place, with the other three pitches all staging children's matches and, towards the end, players warming up for two adult men's games.

My game was played on the pitch closest to the pavilion building, which has an upstairs cafe and bar from where drinks and snacks were available and which has a balcony overlooking the playing field.







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.