Hartland Clovelly reserves v Lynton

2pm  13 January 2019

Holman Cup, Quarter-Final
Hartland Clovelly reserves 0 Lynton 3 (att 5)

I don't usually visit grounds for reserve games but I do make exceptions if a club's second team has a different home venue to the first team. Even then such visits are usually to local games, but I was in the south west for the weekend and this cup tie filled what would otherwise have been a blank Sunday.

Hartland and Clovelly used to be separate clubs until they joined forces a couple of years ago. The first team's official home is at Hartland, while the second team usually plays home matches at Clovelly Playing Field.

The village of Clovelly is mostly known as a tourist attraction, with its steep pedestrian street, crowded with day trippers, winding down to a picturesque harbour. Just before the the visitor centre and car park is Higher Clovelly, which has enough flat land for a football pitch next to the village hall.

There are some surprisingly well-equipped football grounds lurking in the depths of the North Devon League, and Clovelly is one of them. The pitch is tightly hemmed in, with dugouts bookending a small stand for spectators on one side, and views out to the Atlantic, beyond trees, on the other.

It's an exposed spot though, and I imagine most games at Clovelly are affected by the wind to some extent. There was a certainly a strong and cold wind that challenged the players in this cup tie, but Lynton always had the edge and deserved to progress.

The final of the Holman Cup is played at Lynton, giving their players an extra incentive to progress. They did so thanks to one first half goal and two more after the break.

St Stephens Borough v Wadebridge Town reserves

2.30pm  12 January 2019

East Cornwall Premier League, Premier Division
St Stephens Borough 1 Wadebridge Town reserves 3 (att 20)

Staying in the south west for the weekend I was keen to use the opportunity to visit a ground in Cornwall, which is just a little too far for a day trip, and the way the fixtures fell St Stephens Borough was the obvious choice.

They're based in Saltash, which is only just into Cornwall, and the artificial pitch might have been better left as a back up on a wet day, but it was the only game on a Cornish ground I needed above the very local leagues.

The Pilgrim Pitch at Saltmill Park isn't an interesting venue. It's a worn-looking 3G pitch surrounded by a fence, but plus points are that spectators can stand inside the 'cage' and there's a good view of the Tamar Bridge.

The game wasn't bad either, with a youthful-looking Wadebridge second team pulling off a bit of a surprise by winning at mid-table St Stephens Borough.

Wadebridge scored twice in quick succession just after the half-hour, but St Stephens hit back quickly to trail by just the single goal at half-time.

The home side started the second half on the front foot but couldn't force an equaliser. Their hopes of getting anything from the game effectively ended when Wadebridge scored a third to put it beyond them.

VCF Santos v Clevedon Family Church

10am  12 January 2019

Bristol Churches League, Division One
VCF Santos 1 Clevedon Family Church 3 (att 8)

My first ever game in yet another of the Saturday morning leagues that cater for church-based teams who would, presumably, be unwilling to play on Sundays.

The Bristol Churches League has two divisions, and this game was between a pair of mid-table sides in the top flight. The standard of football wasn't great, although no worse than I'd expected, but it was an entertaining 90 minutes.

It took a while for the game to spring into life though, with little of note in the first 35 minutes or so until the visitors went in front.

They doubled their lead right at the start of the second half, but VCF Santos hit back almost immediately. A third goal for the Clevedon side settled the outcome, in a game that was higher in effort than skill.

The venue was Elm Park in the Filton area of Bristol. It's a large park with several pitches, sloping steeply from one side to the other, and is high up enough to provide a good view of Bristol's northeastern suburbs.

Silloth v Borough

2pm  5 January 2019

Cumberland County League, Division One
Silloth 7 Borough 3 (att 20)

The small town of Silloth feels remote even by Cumbrian standards, but having seen the Eden Street football ground on a couple of previous visits I was keen to return to see a game.

It's a good venue for a club currently in the lower division of the Cumberland County League, but Silloth AFC are well established, in a league with a high turnover of members, and results like this suggest they can bounce straight back after last season's relegation.

They'll need to replicate their second half showing more than the first half though. Silloth should have been ahead in the opening moments but were denied by good goalkeeping, and then Borough opened the scoring after just five minutes.

Silloth were level after 20 minutes, but although they looked the better side they struggled to turn their superiority into goals, and then conceded again to trail 1-2 at half time.

Whatever the home side's team talk was during the brief interval it had the desired effect. Silloth were much better in the second half and it didn't take long before they equalised, went ahead, and then moved out of sight.

They went went from 2-1 behind to 7-2 up before the visitors got the last goal of the game to provide some consolation.

Silloth AFC's home is a railed off pitch that's part of a complex that also houses the town's rugby union club. The changing rooms are in a building at one end, close to the rugby social club, and there's a covered standing area built onto the front.

The best views of the action are from outside the ground, standing on Eden Street which runs parallel to the touchline and is elevated above the pitch.

Coggeshall Town v Heybridge Swifts

3pm  1 January 2019

Isthmian League, North Division
Coggeshall Town 0 Heybridge Swifts 1 (att 358)

The New Year's Day fixture list seems to get slimmer each season, and I had just the single option for a new ground to begin 2019. But the weather was in a benign mood so I decided it was worth the long drive to Essex.

Coggeshall's West Street home had somehow evaded me over the years, and it was the final ground I needed to recomplete what I still call the Isthmian League (with sponsors it's now the Bostik League).

It's a nice ground, and it was good to see it populated by a large crowd for the visit of near neighbours and promotion rivals Heybridge. There's a long, low seated stand on one side, plenty of cover at the far end, where there's also a modern clubhouse and the changing rooms, and open standing at the end nearest the entrance.

The side opposite the stand, where the dugouts are, is out of bounds, but while it is a three-sided ground there's banking and raised pathways around the pitch which help accommodate a large crowd quite comfortably.

I expected a close and tight game and that's how it turned out. Heybridge's goal was well taken effort about 15 minutes from the end, and followed Coggeshall's best spell of the game. Once they were in front the visitors never looked like surrendering their advantage.