Friday, 26 February 2010

Game 45 - Grimsby Borough v Selby Town Wednesday 24th February 2010 NCEL League Cup

A third visit to The Hawthorns tonight after the postponement of Winterton Rangers game. Grimsby Borough are the home team tonight at the ground of Brigg Town facing Premier opposition in the shape of Selby Town. My daughter, home from Uni for a couple of days, accompanies me to the game which makes for a pleasant evening. I'm also using my new camera for some new shots of the ground I covered in the Brigg game.

We arrive in swirling fog making it look ready for a re-make of John Carpenter's film 'The Fog' and for the second night running we have misgivings about the game being on. But we pay our entrance money and things are looking good for the game. I fire off a few shots to test out the camera and the photos are a big improvement from my previous visit.

The game starts and this is a very different performance from Borough than last time I saw them. They take the game to their opponents and their neat passing game has Selby in trouble from the outset. After 20 minutes Lee Stephenson makes the breakthrough Borough deserve, but they do not add to this total before half time.

The procession towards the Selby goal continues in the second half and 10 minutes in, the second goal for Borough is scored by Ricky Creer. The game now turns into the Lee Stephenson show as he scores three more goals on 60, 65 and 70 minutes to end up with a four goal haul on the night. Selby have looked really poor tonight and had no answers for the neat Borough passing game.
The fog which has threatened all night manages to keep away for the game to finish and sees a very good victory for Grimsby Borough who progress into the 4th round where they will entertain Pontefract Collieries.

Grimsby Borough 5-0 Selby Town
Att: 39
Admission: £4
Programme: £1

Game 44 - Doncaster Rovers v Leicester City Tuesday 23rd February 2010 Coca Cola Championship

This is the re-arranged game that was postponed at Christmas and is the second nearest game of the season for us after Scunthorpe and I do not even have to leave work early!. 56 miles later we are parking up just as the snow begins. An uneasy feeling comes over our party as we enter the ground, now wandering about outside for photos tonight I'm afraid. I've been here before last season with Paul, my Rovers supporting friend and it is a nice ground but I was surprised how little the outside reveals who play here although I noticed this time that there is a large sign for Doncaster Rovers FC. The concourse is large and spacious and we do not have much trouble getting to the stand.

All four stands are at the same level around the ground and so is fairly unspectacular as a lot of the new grounds are. However the leg room is great and the view of the action is excellent and this is true wherever you sit in the ground. Although we actually sit in our allocated seats the stewards tell the people who come in after us that they sit where they want which allows Paul (our City supporting friend, I know, it is confusing for me too!) to sit with us and for the second half Bob joins us wearing his shorts as always!
Leicester start the game in a very positive manner and chances come our way from the start. The pressure came good on 11 minutes when Martyn Waghorn is sent clear and calmly puts the ball past Sullivan to open the scoring. We continue to dominate and there are more chances which are spurned. Rovers play their way back into the game and start to show as an attacking force but are unable to level the game. 1-0 at half time.
We are then subjected to "live" entertainment from Fake That. Now I couldn't stand the original band, so a tribute band does not excite me. They get plenty of jeers from the City crowd and a very pointed "Come on Rovers" from one of the band shows it got to them. Now I don't know about you but I do not feel the need to be "entertained" at half time.I just want the scores from the other games that are being played and a chance to chat about the first half and talk to fellow City fans that I know.

Anyway, enough moaning. The second half sees Rovers play a lot better than the first half with City content to hit them on the break and this sees chances from both sides being squandered. Nicky Adams nearly clinches it for City when he runs onto a superb pass from Paul Gallagher and fires in a superb shot only to see Sullivan pull off a great save. Rovers continue to press but the City defence are resolute tonight and keep them at bay. The whistle goes and the City faithful celebrate a good victory.
We make our way back to the car very happy. We have won one of our games in hand and this sees us move into 5th. We are home by 11pm. A good evening out.

Doncaster Rovers 0-1 Leicester City
Att: 11,027
Admission: £23

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Game 43 - Cambridge City v Oxford City Saturday 20th February 2010 Zamaretto Premier League

This was a hastily arranged visit to Milton Road as this ground was on my hit list to do, but I was looking at going next season. However the news was announced that this would be Cambridge City's last season here ahead of a groundshare with Newmarket Town next season. As City are at Plymouth today it gave me an opportunity to arrange a trip. A 136 mile trip lay ahead and we set off in sunshine, heading first to the Friendly Farmer Restaurant at Newark for sausage buns, very nice. One hold up on the A1 due to an accident, did not not stop us arriving safely in Cambridge, easily locating Milton Road but where is the ground? The very nice lady on the satnav tells us we have arrived, yeah right. Fortunately Mrs Reynard had spotted the floodlights from the other road coming into the City so we knew we were close and so turned down the first road on the left but no ground! We double back and go down the only other alternative which turns out to be the right road.

We go in and find ourselves in the left corner of the ground. To our right is the main stand, but we head behind the goal first, where there is a narrow strip of hard standing running the length of the end.
We carry on to the far side of the ground where there are four different covered standing areas including the 'Shed', where the more vocal Cambridge supporters were to gather. These quirky stands really make the ground different from others and it is a pity they will soon disappear.

We carry on to the other end where there is hard standing behind the length of the goal and a tea hut, brilliantly called "Start the Diet Tomorrow", selling some excellent food. Further on in the corner is the Club Shop.

Now we are heading back to the impressive Cambridge Building Society Family Stand. This contains the dressing rooms, social club and toilets. Again, not just one stand but two separate seating areas.

After getting a coffee we make our way into the stand and sit in the sunshine waiting for the game to start. As with a lots of Clubs, Cambridge have a mascot. A Panda. We try and work out why but we conclude that we have no idea why they use a panda!
The game begins and the pattern of the match is soon set, which basically is, Cambridge attack and Jonathan North (on loan from Watford) in the Oxford goal keeps them out. On one of the few occasions he was beaten his defenders cleared the ball off the line twice in the same incident. Somehow we got to half time with the score still at 0-0 and Oxford had be grateful to their young keeper for it being goalless. I took the opportunity to go back to the far side to take photos of theses flags:

I get back to my seat in time for the kick off and the first half is replayed again. This half though, the Cambridge strike force add poor finishing to the mix, repeatedly getting shots in but with no power or accuracy. On the few occasions they do hit the target, well it's that man North again. I'm beginning to think I'm in for another 0-0, when on 87 minutes full back James Krause (my man of the match for Cambridge) showed his forwards how it is done. He took a throw in on the left hand side and following a neat move involving four Cambridge players ran on to a good pass from Burke and absolutely hammered it past North. This totally deflated the Oxford side who had looked like going home with a point. 3 minutes later it was 2-0 when Calliste scored after good work on the right from Barker, he found himself one on one with the keeper and coolly slotted it past North. The final whistle went not long after and the three points were Cambridge's. I do not normally give man of the match awards but I have to make an exception today and give it to the young keeper Jon North, a great performance and it was hard to see him on the losing side.
If you have not been to this ground yet, do make the effort. It is well worth visiting and you do not have long left.

More pictures of Milton Road here.

Cambridge City 2-0 Oxford City
Att: 317
Admission: £10
Programme: £2

Friday, 19 February 2010

Game 42 - North Ferriby United v Bradford Park Avenue Tuesday 16th February 2010 Unibond Premier

It was back over the Humber Bridge tonight for the visit of league leaders Bradford Park Avenue to Grange Lane, home of North Ferriby United. The last time I had seen BPA play was round about 1969/1970 when they were a League side and they visited Grimsby Town. They were not re-elected to the Football League in 1970 and were replaced by Cambridge United. They eventually went into liquidation, reformed as a Sunday League side and started the long climb back through the non-league pyramid.
I'm afraid I have to apologise again for both the poor quality and quantity of the pictures. Once again my camera could not cope with the lighting tonight and to compound matters, my batteries died on me and the replacements I had with me were dead too! Hopefully this is a problem of the past now, as my new camera has arrived and will be making it's debut at Cambridge City this Saturday.

As usual this season, I enter the ground in a corner with an open terrace behind the goal in front of me. To the left of the turnstiles was the tea hut, toilets, changing rooms, Club shop and a very large and impressive Clubhouse which was already busy with customers. There is hard standing all along this side with some cover where the changing rooms are.

I make my way along this side towards the opposite corner to where I came in. Behind the goal at this end there is further hard standing with two steps. Behind this end there is an all weather pitch and some young lads were taking advantage, having a kick about before the game.

I'm now heading for the far side of the ground, behind which the railway line runs and you can see the trains heading to and from Hull during the game. There is a covered stand on this side with both standing and seated areas.

I then carry on along this side back to the end I first saw as I came in, again this has two steps of terracing and through the open gate I could see the local allotment. Don't worry veggie lovers, a net system prevented the ball going and damaging any of the produce being grown. The ground is very neat and the facilities are excellent and I would recommend the Club shop, as it has a wide range of badges and programmes.
I take a seat in the stand and it is apparent that BPA have brought a healthy following with them. They are soon cheering their team as they take the lead on 3 minutes. A fierce shot from Hall is only parried by keeper Wilson and Matty James pounces to open the scoring. 10 minutes later it is 2-0, as a good cross from the right is met with an excellent header from Chris Hall. Just as I was starting to think this was looking an easy win for BPA, Alex Davidson cut the deficit on 14 minutes. The movement of the Ferriby team was starting to cause BPA all sorts of problems and the equaliser came on 19 minutes from Bradshaw after a good run from Davidson created the chance. The game ebbed and flowed with both teams continuing to create chances but there was no further score at half time.
At half time a heavy downpour drove most people under cover and it only stopped as the second half kicked off. Ferriby picked up where they had left off and on 59 minutes took the lead for the first time tonight. Bradshaw chased a ball into the corner and crossed for Mark Whitehouse to drive home. It was all one way traffic now and BPA suffered a further blow on 62 minutes when Baldry was sent off for a second yellow. The chances continued to come for The Villagers and a fourth goal came on 76 minutes when Chris Bolder scored with a fine header from a great cross from Russel Fry. BPA were unable to come back from this and Ferriby ran out 4-2 winners.
This was one of the best games of the season for me with some excellent football and Ferriby ran out worthy winners. An enjoyable night and home by 10.20pm. Lovely.

More pictures of Grange Lane here.

North Ferriby United 4-2 Bradford Park Avenue
Att: 288
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Badge: £3

Monday, 15 February 2010

Game 40 - Hall Road Rangers v Liversedge Wednesday 10th February 2010 NCEL Premier

Tonight's destination, Dene Park, home of Hall Road Rangers is 40 miles from home over the Humber Bridge to Dunswell, just outside of Hull. I find the ground very easily, it helps that I can see the floodlights from a couple of miles away as I drive towards it.

But as I pull into the ground there are an awful lot of cars leaving the car park and I must admit I fear the worst. I park up and ask someone if the game is still on. He looks puzzled but then tells me the game is on. It is only later talking to someone else that I find out that the cars leaving as I arrived had been attending Weight Watchers in the social club. The gates are not open and so I wander outside the ground. There are several other pitches outside and the ground underneath varies from icy to boggy! A cry of "Here you go lads" signals the opening of the gates and I make my way in. As seems usual in my reports, I enter the ground in the corner with one goal to my left and a hard standing terrace running the full length of the pitch. A little way down this side is a covered area.

I must apologise at this point about the quality of the pictures. My camera was just not up to the dark conditions and I struggled to get many good shots. Hopefully this will be resolved when my new camera arrives.
I walked down this side to the far end where the hard standing behind the goal narrows because of the fence that backs up to the houses behind the ground. The other side of the ground was identical with a further covered standing area available for supporters. Unusually, there is one dugout each side of the pitch, something I do not recall seeing too often. Back to the end I came in, is a covered seating stand, changing rooms, toilets and tea hut.

As the clock approached 7.45pm it became clear that the game was not going to kick off on time and I got talking to a nice chap from the local area who was making his first visit to Dene Park. He tells me that the game has been delayed because the hail shower earlier had washed the lines away, but I later discover that Liversedge had had a terrible journey to the ground because of several accidents on the M62. This obviously did not help with the Liversedge team's preparation on what was a very cold night.
We kick off just after 8pm and it becomes obvious the pitch is going to be influential on the game tonight. The same conditions I found outside are visible inside and the bobbly pitch in other places makes it hard for the players to control the ball. To be fair, both teams put in a good effort to play football and they are commended for their efforts. Rangers have several good chances before scoring the decisive goal on 25 minutes. A pretty poor backpass is intercepted by Adam Walker who slots it past the Liversedge goalkeeper. Liversedge struggle to get into the game but manage to keep the score down to one by half time.

Liversedge make a couple of changes for the second half and this makes the difference for them. They make a few chances for themselves but never quite have the run of the ball to peg that goal back. Rangers' Walker has several chances and on another night could have had a hat trick. The game gradually peters out and the only incident of note late on is a penalty appeal by Liversedge for handball as a Rangers player does touch it with his hand as he goes down but it would have been a harsh decision if it had been given. There are no more goals and Rangers run out 1-0 winners.
A nice ground to visit, with friendly locals, I would recommend a visit and I may return if only to get some decent photos!

More pictures of Dene Park here.

Hall Road Rangers 1-0 Liversedge
Att: 33
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Badge: £3

Monday, 8 February 2010

Game 38 - Wycombe Wanderers v Yeovil Town Saturday 6th February 2010 Coca Cola League One

A long haul today to Adams Park (392 mile round trip), the home of Wycombe Wanderers. This is one of the final pieces to complete the 92, only Cardiff and Arsenal left after this. I ducked out of coming here earlier in the season but today's opponents swing the trip. Why? Well my daughter was/is a big fan of Kevin Gall who played for the Glovers at the time and I took her to see him play several times. It was always a pleasure to sit with the Yeovil fans and I quickly developed a soft spot for them. We also have a very good record seeing them play and out of about 15 games over 6 years we have only seen them lose once, which considering all but one have been away games is pretty impressive.

Wycombe moved to Adams Park in 1990, leaving Loakes Park their home for 95 years. The ground is found at the end of an industrial estate and we parked in one of the car parks leading up to the ground for £3. You have to buy a ticket before you go through the turnstiles and once we have done this we have a wander around but there are not many photo opportunities to be had, so we go in.
We enter the ground in the corner, our stand directly in front of us with two further seated stands running along either side of the pitch with a good old fashioned terrace at the end opposite ours.

The double tiered Frank Adam Stand is to our left with the Club badge and initials picked out in the seats.

To our right is small seated stand where the dugouts are situated.

The Yeovil fans (and us) are situated in the impressive Dreams Stand.

A quick word here for the stewards. Now I'm not the biggest fan of stewards by any means, but the Wycombe stewards are extremely friendly and helpful and even later on when dealing with some problems did it in a way designed to calm things down and not make matters worse.
The early part of the game is very scrappy with Wycombe have a couple of chances but Yeovil start to find their feet and gradually take control. They are rewarded on 16 minutes when following good work by Andy Welsh, the ball is played in to Dean Bowditch who sidefooted the ball into the top corner. It was all one way traffic now and Bowditch had another good chance to extend the lead. Welsh then proceeded to miss when it was easier to score when Bowditch sets him up but he somehow scooped the ball over the bar from only two feet out. Half time arrived with no further score.
Five minutes into the second half Wycombe equalise from a free kick through ex-Glover Matt Harrold. But they do not have a chance to build on this however as two minutes later Bowditch went on a good run finishing with a shot that goalkeeper Shearer could only parry which left Welsh to coolly slot home for 2-1. Wycombe were now struggling to cope with the Yeovil attacks and there seemed to be only one team likely to score and on sixty minutes added to their lead. The on-loan Tudor-Jones burst through the centre and bearing down on goal he was brought down. He took the resulting free kick himself but although his shot was not the strongest it found its way into the corner of the net. On sixty seven minutes the game was over as a contest. A long ball out of defence found Bowditch who raced through on goal. After beating the defender he calmly slotted the ball into the corner. 4-1! The Yeovil fans had been in fine voice all afternoon but the noise was turned up a notch after this. Wycombe had a couple of chances after this but Yeovil held out for a very good 4-1 away win.
My amazing record of seeing Yeovil continued and we had an excellent journey home and I was sat with a beer at 8.50pm.

More pictures of Adams Park here.

Wycombe Wanderers 1-4 Yeovil Town
Att: 4,793
Admission: £18
Programme: £3
Badge: £2.95