Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League, Rhodes Cup First Round
Chorltonians 1 AFC Stockport 1, 7-6 on penalties (att 2)
I needed to stay close to home today and in view of the weather I had expected to spend my afternoon standing inside a caged 3G pitch.
But the grass pitches at the Hough End Centre were playable, so I braved the horrid conditions to watch an intriguing league cup tie between teams separated by four divisions.
AFC Stockport are going well in the Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League's sixth tier, but it was still a major surprise that they took division one Chorltonians to penalties. The feat was even more remarkable as they had a bare 11 players and no substitutes.
The weather was a leveller though. Heavy rain blown in by an icy cold wind made watching the action while keeping hold of an umbrella a challenge, and players on both sides did well to provide a decent spectacle in the conditions.
Chorltonians played into the wind in a first half that ended goalless. The home side had the better chances but AFC Stockport looked dangerous, and it was clear it wasn't going to be the easy home win I'd anticipated.
With the conditions more in their favour after the break Chorltonians broke the deadlock after 57 minutes. AFC Stockport held firm though, and deserved their equaliser.
They were hanging on towards the end of the 90 minutes, and goal line technology might have awarded the home side a late winner when the ball looked to have crossed the line before being cleared.
With no extra time it was straight to spot kicks to decide the outcome. AFC Stockport had a chance to win but what would have been the decisive penalty was saved. As it went into sudden death it was the home side who progressed.
Chorltonians are based at the Hough End Centre in south Manchester. It's the Greater Manchester Police sports and social club, and 20 years ago I visited to see the police team play a Manchester League fixture.
The pitch used then has since been turned into paddocks for police horses, although none were out in today's bad weather. There's still room for a pair of grass pitches though, and Chorltonians fourth team were at home on the other one.