PRESTATYN TOWN (Bastian Gardens)

A bonus game for today. The sun was shining so what better way to spend an afternoon than a trip to the seaside and a chance of a re-visit to Bastion Gardens. Obviously, I went sans bucket and spade!

Unfortunately today I was witness to a rather drab encounter between two poor sides. Aber must be wondering how they came away without at least a point as they hit the bar, the post (twice), had a shot kicked off the line, had a goal disallowed and missed a penalty.

The Prestatyn goal came from this penalty miss as Town 'keeper John Dunt saved Graham Evans' tame shot, got up, threw the ball to Ian Griffiths on the half-way line, who proceed to run on and slot the ball home for the winner.

A lot of work has taken place at Bastion Road since my last visit a few years ago, notably on the main stand, and the ground looks very neat and tidy. Hopefully this result will go some way to ensuring Premier League football next season.

The only question I was asking myself at the end of the game was "Where was the cat?"

Jon Dunt saves Graham Evans' penalty kick

Here is the picture of said cat from my last visit in 2006.
(Picture is taken courtesy of the Prestatyn Town website. I hope they don't mind).

Sunday 29th March 2009
Welsh Premier League
Prestatyn Town 1-0 Aberystwyth Town
Attendance: 375


Today's choice of game was a no-brainer really. The Semi-final of a national competition, a good old fashioned South v North encounter, with a place at Wembley up for grabs. What more could you ask for?

Chalfont ply their trade in the Spartan South Midlands League and currently sit 4th with 17 wins this season whilst Glossop are from the North West Counties League and also sit 4th with 20 wins this season. I have to confess that i have seen Glossop play a few times this season (the last time is chronicled on this very website) and have always been mightily impressed with their play, so that did also have a small bearing on my decision to visit Mill Meadow.

Mill Meadow is a pretty basic ground, situated behind the community centre as you enter the very posh Chalfont St Peter. It has a covered seated stand behind the goal and a tiny bit of cover over the terrace next to the clubhouse. I can assure you neither offered full protection from the weather today as we had four seasons in a day, sun, wind, hail and rain! There is another old wooden stand but this was not in use and has, apparently, been condemned.

The ground was heaving today and I suspect most of the home support had never set foot in the ground before today. The official attendance today was 1,185. The attendance for Chalfont's previous home game was 65. Glossop brought at least 400 fans with them and it was the Hillmen supporters who were making all the noise in the ground.

The game itself was a scrappy affair, with neither side really settling down and producing flowing football. Admittedly, the windy conditions didn't help. However, it was still an incident packed game. It was Chalfont who drew first blood on 21 minutes when a throw in from the right was not dealt with by the Glossop defence and Charlie Strutton toe-poked home after his initial shot was saved. They were two up after 32 minutes when Glossop 'keeper Ashlea Gotham flapped at a corner and John Carroll prodded home.
Glossop managed to claw a goal back just before half time when a corner was powerfully headed home by an unmarked Jay Gorton. Chalfont made it 3-1 after 49 minutes when Barry Brosnan put away a cross from the right and thus, it would seem, one foot in final. Not so! On 73 minutes a long ball was latched onto by Dave Hodges who coolly lobbed the advancing 'keeper and then just five minutes later another long ball down the left hand side was taken in his stride by Tom Bailey who slotted home to level the tie. Glossop did have a chance to snatch an unlikely winner in stoppage time but a combination of good goalkeeping and desperate defending meant the tie is level going into the second leg next week.

The only blot on the day was the fighting that broke out between fans when Glossop made it 3-3. I don't know who started it but the scenes were ugly and it is not what non-league football is all about. The non segregation of fans and the opportunity to mingle freely is part of the charm and hopefully this won't be ruined by some mindless idiots.


The "out of bounds" stand

The team line up for the pre-match handshakes

Glossop (in blue) put pressure on the Chalfont goal

Saturday 28th March 2009
FA Vase Semi-Final 1st Leg
Chalfont St Peter 3-3 Glossop North End
Attendance: 1,185

BANBURY UNITED (Spencer Stadium)

After three previous attempts to visit the Spencer Stadium were curtailed by the "great" British weather, attempt number four finally proved successful! Even better the sun was shining and it felt more like August than March.

The reason I was so desperate to see a game at the Spencer is that it is one of those grounds that is under threat from developers. The club are now operating on a year-to-year ground lease from the owners, so it could disappear at any moment, so better to be safe than sorry.

Banbury are also having a difficult time on the field too, their manager resigning a couple of weeks ago after a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Chippenham, and they find themselves hovering dangerously above the relegation zone, but with all the teams around them having games in hand.

The game today was a must win, especially against a mid-table Tiverton side with nothing to play for but pride. Unfortunately for The Puritans it turned out to be a comfortable away win for Tivvy.

A Paul Jarvis double gave the visitors a 2-0 interval lead, the first goal a tap in after the initial shot was saved, the second a looping header from a long ball.

Jamie Mudge sealed the victory on 72 minutes with a breakaway run and shot. Banbury had plenty possession, as Tiverton were quite happy to sit back on their lead, but they never really troubled the visiting keeper.

Worryingly for their supporters, Banbury at times looked like a team resigned to their relegation fate and, with Hitchin Town, the team directly below them, winning and all the teams around them with those aforementioned games in hand, that sadly looks like how their season will end.

Pleasant day out at a proper non-league ground...ride that cock horse to Banbury cross and go visit the Spencer Stadium whilst you still can!!

Saturday 21st March 2009
Southern League Premier Division
Banbury United 0-3 Tiverton Town
Attendance: 308


Thursday 13th March 2009
Southern League Cup Semi-Final
Atherstone Town 2-2 Bury Town
(Atherstone won 3-1 on penalties)
Attendance: 220

Great evenings entertainment at the fantastically named Sheepy Road. A lively end-to-end encounter with both teams playing some excellent football. Craig Civzelis gave Atherstone the lead on 6 minutes with a tap in from a low cross, after good move which split the Bury defence. Both teams created numerous chances throughout the game but it wasn't until the third minute of stoppage time at the end of game that Bury finally grabbed their equaliser. A free kick was launched into the box and it fell to Roscoe Hipperson who hammered it home from five yards to take the game into extra time.

Civzelis claimed his second goal on 110 minutes. A downward header from a corner was spilled on the line by the 'keeper and it was a simple prod over the line. However just five minutes later Bury were level again through a Les Reed penalty after a needless handball in the area.

After 120 or so minutes these teams could not be separated and it was down who would hold their nerve in the dreaded penalty shoot out. Atherstone eventually won through to play Bridgwater Town in the two-legged final after their 'keeper Richard Williams saved three of Bury's four kicks.


Wednesday 11th March 2009
Southern League Division One Midlands
Woodford United 0-1 Romulus
Attendance: 58

A chance to "exorcise a ghost" after my last visit to Byfield Road was curtailed five minutes before kick off, thanks to the referee deeming a very small part of the pitch unplayable.

In all honesty it was a pretty drab affair for the 58 punters as Romulus muscled their way to win, thanks to a Craig Thomas goal five minutes from the end. Watching Romulus reminded me of the Wimbledon teams of the past as they relied on big strikers, pacy wingers and long balls.

Woodford simply couldn't cope, especially in the first half, and Romulus should've had a couple of more goals, their No9 being most culpable. The home side did drag themselves back into it for a short while in the second half but all hopes of a win/draw ended with the dismissal of their skipper for two yellow cards, both for dissent, both after numerous warnings from the referee. Don't these players ever learn? They did have a half chance to salvage a point in stoppage time but the shot was ballooned wide from 12 yards.

For the uninitiated, Woodford United play in the small Northamptonshire villiage of Woodford Halse, which is 12 miles from Banbury and 8 miles from Daventry.

ST ALBANS CITY (Clarence Park)

Tuesday 10th March 2009
Conference South
St Albans City 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Attendance: 1,105

Despite finishing goalless, this was an entertaining game which was largely dominated by the home side. Saints just lacked the composure and killer touch in the final third, though they did hit the post in the first half. Wimbledon offered nothing really and can consider themselves fortunate to come away with a point. Enjoyed my visit to Clarence Park, a good old fashioned non-league ground, the type of which should be cherished...

The roof of this (Main) Stand is the old roof from the train station platform, which backs onto the ground.