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Showing posts from October, 2014

Espial U19 v Collingham U19

7.45pm  29 October 2014 North Midlands Development League Espial U19 4 Collingham U19 1 (att 47) Not the sort of fixture that I'd normally consider, but new grounds midweek are few and far between these days, and the under 19 side is the most senior that Chesterfield-based Espial have, having formed two years ago as a academy for young players. According to the match programme (included free with the £3 admission they charge) Espial was set up "when it became clear there was a demand for high quality football coaching within an academy framework but without the constraints of a football club academy structure". I've no idea what the "constraints" of a club set up might be, but on the evidence of the 90 minutes I watched Espial have players capable of performing to a good standard. They had this game won by half time, scoring three first half goals without reply. Collingham had their moments, but the biggest difference was finishing. The second per

Westland Sports v Weymouth reserves

3pm  25 October 2014 Dorset Premier League Westland Sports 1 Weymouth reserves 1 (att 38) I was heading to Parley Sports after the morning game at Bristol Rovers training ground, but the city's traffic was crawling so I opted instead for a closer destination, in Yeovil. I last visited Westland Sports, at Alvington Lane, in May 2012. At the end of that season they were, in effect, evicted from the main pitch by Yeovil Town, who wanted to have it exclusively for first team training. As a result, Westland were forced to drop out of the Dorset Premier League, but two seasons later they have returned to step seven football and have turned their current pitch into a acceptable venue. That said, it's crazy that to get from the changing rooms to the pitch players have to cross an immaculate enclosed ground, that's not used for matches. The surface on Westland's new pitch isn't quite as good as their former one, but it's still decent. The playing area is enc

Bristol Rovers U18 v Cheltenham Town U18

10.30am  25 October 2014 Football League Youth Alliance, South West Conference Bristol Rovers U18 1 Cheltenham Town U18 1 (att 47) Luckily I'd phoned Bristol Rovers on Friday, otherwise I wouldn't have known that this fixture wasn't being played at their regular Youth Alliance venue for this season, an outside pitch at Hallen FC, but instead at their Golden Hill training ground in Horfield. I'm not sure if they're now playing all games here or if this was a one-off, but either way it was a new ground for me. When not occupied by Bristol Rovers it's the sports ground of a girls' school, with a small car park, space for several pitches, and a pavilion. The main pitch was roped off along the one touchline where spectators were permitted, and on small pitches close by some of Rovers' youngest players were involved in seven-a-side matches in front of parents. Whether any of those children go to to graduate to the under 18s remains to be seen, but b

Killester United v Bluebell United

2.30pm  19 October 2014 Leinster Senior League, Charlie Cahill Cup, First Round Killester United 0 Bluebell United 1 (att 75) The Charlie Cahill Cup is, I think, reserved for teams in the top two divisions of the Leinster Senior League. Killester and Bluebell are both in the top tier, the Senior Division, and it was a close encounter at Haddon Park. Not quite close enough for me though, with a late flight home and the prospect of too much time to kill I was hoping for extra time. Killester had chances to equalise, but were unable to do so and Bluebell's early goal proved enough to win the tie and move into the second round. Killester is a suburb in north Dublin, and Haddon Park is so well-enclosed it's tricky to find, hemmed in by houses. The pitch is railed off down both sides, with car parking, changing rooms and a clubhouse behind one goal. View Killester United FC in a larger map

St Mochta's v Broadford Rovers

11am  19 October 2014 Leinster Senior League, Senior Division One St Mochta's 2 Broadford Rovers 0 (att 55) First part of a Sunday double in the Leinster Senior League, and these two sides did well to put on a decent display in very windy conditions. The home side always had the edge, and won the game thanks to a first half penalty and a second goal in second half stoppage time. We even had a brief, and speedy, pitch invasion ... by a hare. St Mochta's are one of a seemingly endless number of clubs in the Dublin suburbs that have decent set-ups with an emphasis on providing football for youngsters. Their senior side now plays in the Leinster Senior League's second tier, and use a fully railed off pitch at their Clonsilla base. There's a grass bank along one side, plenty of car parking, and club buildings, including a snack bar, behind the goal nearest the entrance. The club's under 18s side were playing on a second pitch, also railed off and parallel

Mullingar Athletic v Castle Park

7.30pm  18 October 2014 Leinster Senior League, Major Division One Mullingar Athletic 1 Castle Park 2 (att 30) I've seen lots of matches in the Leinster Senior League over the years, but this was the first time I've dipped as low as "Major Division One", the league's sixth tier. The reason was an unusual Saturday evening kick off, although it was an effort to get to Mullingar by kick off from Belfast, and I arrived with less than 10 minutes to spare. It was a good job I wasn't late, as both teams scored in the opening minutes. Mullingar going ahead before Castle Park levelled. After that bright start the entertainment dipped somewhat, until it picked up again when Castle Park scored what proved to be the winner in the second half, setting up a decent finish. Both clubs looked better than I'd expect for such a lowly division, and with Castle Park unbeaten in the lead I wouldn't be surprised to see both sides win promotion. Mullingar Athleti

Queen's University v Dollingstown

3pm  18 October 2014 Northern Ireland Football League, Championship Two Queen's University 1 Dollingstown 2 (att 40) Dollingstown are newcomers to the Northern Ireland Football League (previously called the Irish League) and gained three more points as they continued their solid start to life in the competition's third tier. They played well to establish a two goal lead by half time at Queen's, one a penalty. The home side were better in the second half, and had a lifeline thanks to a penalty of their own. It was saved, but Queen's reacted quickly and scored from the rebound. It set up an exciting finale to the match. The students probably deserved a point, but Dollingstown held firm, at times with luck and at times thanks to good goalkeeping. Queen's University have competed in lower division of the NIFL, and its predecessors, over many years. After a spell sharing a PSNI they're now back at their own university sports facilities, which are modern, i

Limerick v Sligo Rovers

7.45pm  17 October 2014 League of Ireland, Premier Division Limerick 1 Sligo Rovers 0 (att 600) First game of a busy football-filled weekend in Ireland, and I took the chance to recomplete the Republic's two-division league with a visit to the impressive Thomond Park rugby stadium in Limerick. Not my first trip to the city, this was the fourth different home ground I've seen Limerick play on. It was, apparently, their last game here, so when the new League of Ireland season gets underway next spring yet another trip will beckon. As a rugby ground, Thomond Park Stadium is great. A pair of modern seated stands, both with terraced paddocks in front, face each other on opposite sides of the pitch. Both ends are shallower and uncovered. As a football venue, with just a few hundred fans inside, it's a strange experience. Sligo had no more than 30 travelling supporters, yet they were housed in a stand of their own, opposite the home supporters. I had low hopes for an