BRNESC v Liverpool NALGO

3.15pm  26 January 2019

Liverpool County Premier League, Premier Division
BRNESC 1 Liverpool NALGO 4 (att 35)

There were two top division Liverpool County Premier League fixtures scheduled for after my first game, so I opted for the one that was on a different pitch.

Custy's and MSB Woolton took over pitch three, but BRNESC and NALGO were on pitch one, which had staged a lower division Liverpool League game earlier. Pitch two was hosting a West Cheshire League game.

Pitch one is closest to the entrance, and has spectator areas on both sides, but as usual at amateur football in Liverpool plenty of those watching chose to stand on the touchline, often encroaching on the pitch itself.

One thing the Jeffrey Humble ground lacks is any shelter for spectators, and as this game started the heavens opened, making watching it a challenging experience. Luckily there was enough quality on the pitch to make it worth the effort.

BRNESC, going well in the league, scored first but NALGO soon hit back and were deservedly 2-1 up by half time. The home side came close to getting level after the break, but good goalkeeping and at least one goal line clearance kept them out.

A penalty provided NALGO's third goal, and they rounded off a comprehensive win with a forth near the end. With the outcome beyond doubt, the rain falling heavily, and the time approaching 5pm, the referee did everyone a favour by blowing for full time a few minutes early.

East Villa v Alumni

1.15pm  26 January 2019

Liverpool County Premier League, Premier Division
East Villa 6 Alumni 3 (att 10)

The Jeffrey Humble ground in Fazakerley is one of several new football hubs opened in Liverpool this season, all on the sites of multi-pitch sports grounds that were in need of investment.

I last visited in 2006, and the pitch used by East Villa back then is still there, but I doubt it's used now that there's a trio of 3G pitches that provide superior facilities. Various clubs call Jeffrey Humble home, and I took advantage of staggered kick offs to see games on two of the new pitches.

This game, on pitch number three, should have got underway at 1pm, but that was the time players got onto the pitch and they needed time for a warm up ahead of kick off. Perhaps Alumni needed a bit more time, as they were 2-0 behind in just seven minutes.

They let in a third before half time, and things didn't get much better for them in the second period. East Villa played some good football and led 6-1, but they eased off ahead of the final whistle and allowed Alumni two late goals to provide some consolation.

Pitch three at Jeffrey Humble is a right angles to pitches one and two, and is the only one equipped with dugouts. They're on the far side, and the near side has a spectator area running the length of the touchline.

Swinton v Dom Doyle

2pm  19 January 2019

Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League, Division One
Swinton 1 Dom Doyle 3 (att 12)

I needed to stay close to home today, and once my first choice game was off I thought I'd be watching football on an artificial surface, until a lunchtime phone call confirmed that Swinton's grass pitch was playable.

It was a heavy and muddy pitch though, but Swinton and Dom Doyle made light of it and produced a very enjoyable 90 minutes. Some of the football was very high quality, and certainly above what you'd expect in the Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League's second level.

Dom Doyle FC have an interesting history, having been formed in memory of a Denton youngster who was murdered in 2015. They're doing him proud on the pitch, the first team are unbeaten in the league and on course for promotion to the premier division.

They had to be on good form to see off a decent Swinton though. The home side matched the visitors in the first half, and both sides had efforts which came back off the post. The deadlock was broken seconds from half time, when an unstoppable free kick put Dom Doyle in front.

They doubled their lead with another quality goal two minutes after the break. Swinton had hope when they pulled a goal back, but eventually a third goal for the away side settled things.

Like a lot of clubs at this level, Swinton FC's main focus is their many youth teams. They have their own ground, in Barton Road, and it's an impressive facility. There's a large pavilion building and car park, and the playing field has space for junior pitches as well as a single senior pitch. I assume from the layout of the ground that it used to host cricket.

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.