This FA Vase game was my game of choice today. I hadn't really ever considered City's game at the Ricoh, not one of my favourite grounds for a variety of reasons. Bottesford is just outside of Scunthorpe and about a 40 minute drive from home. The weather took a turn for the worst just as I came off the M180 but had improved by the time I was pulling into the car park at Birch Park, home of Bottesford Town F.C., members of the North Counties East League Division One.
Birch Park consists of one covered stand down one side, with hard standing around the rest of the sides, with the dugouts opposite the main stand. As you enter the ground a brick building containing the dressing rooms and toilet facilities are in front of you running towards the goal at this end of the ground. The only stand is to your right.
Todays visitors are Ollerton Town from the Abacus Lighting Central midlands Football League and were formed in 1988 as Ollerton and Bevercotes Miners Welfare F.C. changing to the current name in 1994 after the closure of Ollerton Colliery.
The game kicked off with both sides trying to play football in the difficult blustery conditions. Ollerton had several opportunities to score early on but Bottesford gradually played their way into the game, but lacked the cutting edge in the final third of the field for most of the half. The turning point of the game came just before half time when the Ollerton defender cut down the Bottesford striker who was through on goal, and being the last man was sent off after the referee consulted with his assistant. Nice touch as he came past the stand and recognised some of the travelling Ollerton fans, shrugged his shoulders and said " I had to go really". He accepted his fate and at no stage argued with the ref, very sporting indeed and nice to see. 0-0 at half time then and an interesting second half to come.
I was interested to see how Ollerton would line up for the second half and they suprised me as they lined up with two up front still with the shuffle coming in defence/midfield. The managers reward for this attacking policy was immediate as Guest pressurised the Bottesford defender, won the ball and slid itacross the face of the goal past the advancing keeper to Senior who calmly slid the ball into the empty net.
This still did not signal a defensive set up and Ollerton continued to be the main source of another goal as Bottesford struggled to contain the lively Ollerton forwards, who at this stage looked more likely to extend their team's lead. Bottesford's forwards only had half chances and were unable to make the extra man count as Ollerton defended stoutly. A bizarre moment then came about 10 minutes from the end. A ball was played wide by Bottesford and in the corner of my eye I saw an Ollerton player go sprawling in the box. The assistant on the far side flagged furiously and indicated a free kick to Ollerton. confusion then reigned as the referee spoke to the players and then made his way over his assistant. After a minute or so he then came over to Annable of Ollerton, showed him the red card and awarded a free kick to Bottesford much to the bemusement of most of the crowd. This finally put an end to the attacking play of Ollerton and was replaced by resolute defending. Bottesford were still unable to find a way through and the final whistle went with Ollerton celebrating a hard earned win.
Bottesford Town 0-1 Ollerton Town
FA Vase 1st Round
More photos of Birch Park here