CARDIFF CITY (Cardiff Stadium)

Today was a great opportunity to visit the brand new ground of The Bluebirds, as Cardiff hosted Ipswich in The Championship.

The Cardiff Stadium is an excellent example of a modern new stadium, just like all the other bland new ones in fact. Meanwhile, across the road, Ninian Park has almost bitten the dust, the Grandstand has completely gone whilst the other stands are part demolished.


As for today's game, well, cliche alert, it was a game of two halves, played in very wet conditions. Cardiff dominated first half, scored a stunning goal through Peter Whittingham and also hit the crossbar twice. Second half was a different story as Ipswich took control. They equalised through ex-Chester striker Jon Walters before Jon Stead grabbed a winner a few minutes from time.


Sunday 29th November 2009
The Championship
Cardiff City 1-2 Ipswich Town
Attendance: 19,463


It was off to the Capital this weekend to witness a sporting feast of Football and Rugby Union (my first ever match) .

First up on the Saturday was Welsh League action at the home of Cardiff Corinthians.  After the heavy rain, a quick phone call to the secretary confirmed that the game was on. Ground was very easy to get to as it is right next door to Radyr railway station (trains from Cardiff Central every 15 or so minutes). For those who have not been to the Riverside ground, it is a basic ground with just a railed off pitch and a small covered terrace. It is also shared with the cricket club.

Considering the rain that fell in South Wales during the week the pitch was in excellent condition. The game was a scrappy affair and it was easy to see why both teams are struggling near the bottom of the table. Both teams had plenty of chances but the finishing was woeful. Corries struck first when Andy Smith fired home on 25 minutes. They had chances to extend their lead but failed due to said poor finishing. The turning point of the match came right on half time when the Corries 'keeper Chris Golton felled an Ely attacker in the box and, as he was the last man, he was red carded. Rangers Wayne Matthews skied the penalty into the trees, but they weren't to be denied.

The second half was all Ely, as they took advantage of the extra man. They levelled after 48 minutes when Michael Osbourne stuck out a foot to poke home after a goal mouth scramble. They also had the luxury of missing another penalty (Neil Coleman hitting the post) and having two goals ruled out before Richard Greaves prodded home the winner with 11 minutes to go.

Neil Coleman misses his, and Ely's second, penalty

Saturday 28th November 2009
Welsh League Division One
Cardiff Corinthians 1-2 Ely Rangers
Attendance: 54 (h/c)

It was then back onto the train to the Millennium stadium for 5.15pm to watch Wales play Australia in the rugby. A very disappointing game saw Wales lose by 33 to 12. Enough said.



This one has to be filed under "I must be effing mad" :D

Another Sunday in November, another day teeming with rain, another chance to chip away at the Conference South. The only problem is the game is in Welling! Will it be on? The game has a two o'clock kick off, so with an early start to get to Kent it meant we'd be well past Birmingham by the time the referee inspects the pitch. Fortune favours the brave.

The one thing in our favour is that the Park View Road ground is shared by Welling United and Erith & Belvedere FC, and the Erith game went ahead on the Saturday. Couple this with the fact that the game is a "big" Kent derby against Isthmian Premier Tonbridge Angels, where a bumper crowd is expected, the omens had to be good.

The first thing you notice on arrival at the ground is that the ground is a genuine groundshare, split 50/50. Welling have one half, with their rickety, but fantastic, old stand and Erith have the other the half, a modern brand new stand. Both have separate entrances and each have their own social club. The second thing you notice is the slope on the pitch.

The other thing that was noticeable today was the rain. Conditions gradually got worse until we arrived at the ground, then conditions became monsoon like...this had to put the game under threat. It was a case of heading to a local cafe to take shelter (and have an all day breakfast) and hope the rain would relent. Eventually it stopped and gave way to a sunny (but cold) winters afternoon, but the heart sank when approaching the ground the steward was brushing away litres of rain. However, there were absolutely no problems with the pitch and it actually looked in fantastic nick considering the deluge, and a game being played on it less than 24 hours ago. The biggest problem facing the groundsman wasn't but falling leaves on the pitch covering up the markings! He must have spent the 20 minutes prior to kick off raking them up.

The game was a very entertaining cup tie, for the 510 people in attendance, but definitely a match of two halves. Tonbridge, playing down the slope, started the brighter and had Welling on the back foot for the opening ten minutes or so, and it had the vibes of an upset. Welling though soon found their feet and began to take control and took the lead on 22 minutes when Andy Pugh (on loan from Gillingham) got his foot in front of the defender to fire home a great strike. The game was all Welling and it was no surprise when the homesters doubled their lead when Tom Whittall latched onto a long ball out of defence and lobbed the onrushing 'keeper Lee Worgan. This appeared to be game over, but four minutes before the interval a handball in the penalty area gave Angels a lifeline and Carl Rook dispatched the spot kick.

The second half was a lacklustre affair as Tonbridge tried to find themselves an equaliser but never had the guile to break down a well organised Welling back four. The wings meanwhile seemed content to sit back and defend their lead. The game was sealed on 76 minutes when Whitnall bagged his second. Another routine long ball out of defence looked like it was going to be easily dealt with by Angels centre half Marc Cumberbatch, but he "kicked air" and the ball run through to Whitnall who fired home with only the 'keeper to beat. Rook got his second with virtually the last kick of the game, but it was just consolation. Maybe because it was the last kick of the game is the reason it stood, because it was a dubious goal to say the least. A cross came over and Rook jumped into Welling 'keeper Charlie Mitton, causing him to drop the ball upon which Rook turned and fired home from two yards.

It was another long journey, but it was well worth it for a decent game and a belting ground.

The Welling United side....
The Erith and Belvedere side....

If you look closely at the wall in front of the stand you can see the slope.
Also in the stand you can see the rements of the old floodlights, these blew down a few years ago

Sunday 22nd November 2009
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Welling United 3-2 Tonbridge Angels
Attendance: 510


As I happened to be in the Midlands today, I decided to watch a game from the Midland Football Alliance, as it had been a wee while since I ticked a ground off in this league for an actual league match. I plumped for Kirby Muxloe, purely because of the name. The actual place is a small village on the outskirts of Leicester. The rain was lashing down, but a quick call confirmed that there were no problems with the pitch at Ratby Lane and the game would be going ahead.

Kirby Muxloe now find themselves playing at step five of the pyramid, just two seasons after coming out of the Leicester Senior League. They won that league in 2008 and were promoted into the newly formed East Midlands Counties League, where they became the inaugral champions in 2009. Malvern Town meanwhile found themselves coming the other way, having been relegated back into the MFA in 2009. Both sides have had a mixed season and find themselves in mid table.

The Ratby Lane ground is very basic, though there is lots of scope for improvements. The small covered terrace behind the goal offered no real protection from the elements today and most of the crowd found themselves huddled in the small seated stand, though if you actually sat down you'd struugle to see the game! As touched upon before, the pitch was in fantastic condition considering the rain that had been falling.

As for the match, well that was pretty average. Malvern had the majority of play in the opening half hour of the game, playing the classic away team counter attack tactic, but never posed any threat to the home 'keeper, the closest effort being a scuffed shot which hit the bar. They took the lead on 32 minutes when Craig Carter raced through to slot home, but this served to wake Kirby from their slumber and they got themselves back into game when Jamie Mason slotted home just before half time.

The second half was a drab affair, Kirby had the majority of play in this half, but like Malvern in the first never really troubled the 'keeper. The game wasn't helped by the conditions as the rain got heavier and the wind stronger, both teams seemed content to settle for a point when deep into stoppage time at the end of the game, the homesters grabbed an undeserved winner through Craig Pietrzyk . I say undeserved as neither team did enough to win the game and a draw would have been the fairer result.

Saturday 21st November 2009
Midland Football Alliance
Kirby Muxloe 2-1 Malvern Town
Attendance: 43

BRIMSDOWN ROVERS (Brimsdown Sports & Social Club)

It turned out to be a journey into the unknown today as, to be honest, not even I had heard of this team! The original plan for today was a trip to Vale Farm for Wembley's home game against Hoddesdon Town, but this was postponed at 10.30am as we made our way past Birmingham on the M6, well past the point of no return! A quick scan of the non-league paper threw up this fixture, the only draw back being it was a one o' clock kick off. A quick call to confirm it was on, reserve the programmes and it was off to Enfield (where Brimsdown are based).

The game was the second round of the FA Vase and it was an all Spartan South Midlands League affair with Brimsdown from the Premier League against London Colney from the First Division. On paper it appeared to be a home banker and from the way Rovers started the game it suggested that prediction would comfortably be correct.

Brimsdown flew out of the blocks and created numerous chances in the opening stages of the game. When Rikki Burbridge found the net after ten minutes it felt like it was going to be a cricket score. However, an accidental clash of heads saw defender Jon Stevenson leave the field soon followed by striker Ricci Crace. These two changes disrupted Brimsdown flow and Colney slowly edged their way back into game. They equalised on 22 minutes when a free kick lofted into the box was headed home by Shaun Murphy, once again proving the old adage that if you don't take your chances when you are on top then you are always vulnerable. The game settled down into a more even contest but right on half time Burbridge bagged his second to give Brimsdown a lead their overall play probably merited.

The second half was pretty uninspiring with not a lot happening. Both teams had chances but failed to trouble the respective keepers. The game was eventually settled by the wonderfully monikered Jackson Gash when he curled home a great effort on 86 minutes. Murphy scrambled home his second on 90 minutes to reduce the arrears and make for a nervy few minutes of stoppage time, but the result was never in doubt. This equals Brimsdowns best ever run in the Vase, but I wouldn't go putting your mortgage on them going all the way to Wembley!

Sunday 15th November 2009
FA Vase 2nd Round
Brimsdown Rovers 3-2 London Colney
Attendance: 136