ABBEY HEY (The Abbey Stadium)

It was a short journey down the M56 for today's entertainment as Abbey Hey took on Wigan Robin Park in a North West Counties League Division One game. I had no special plans in place for today, but after scanning the fixture lists this 1st v 2nd clash fitted the bill perfectly.

Abbey Hey is a district in the Gorton area of Manchester, after which the club is named. Gorton's major landmark is the local Monastery, which features prominently on the club's badge. Some parts of Gorton have suffered from serious deprivation, which resulted in high crime and burglary rates. The early series of the TV series Shameless were filmed in West Gorton.

It was these kind of facts, and stories from others, that had put me off visiting Abbey Hey previously but I take as I find and it's no worse than some parts of other major cities.

The Abbey Stadium is at the end of Goredale Avenue and, if you are worried, there is ample parking within the ground. The welcome from the people on the gate, and in the clubhouse, was warm and friendly.

The stadium has cover down the one side of the ground, with the seating at either end of a terrace. It was a beautiful sunny day today but there was a chill in the breeze.

At the beginning of play Abbey Hey were top of the table but Wigan Robin Park were just two points behind in second place, so it appeared it would be a tight game between what looked like two evenly matched sides.

Thats exactly how things panned out. It was a game of very few chances, with neither 'keeper really troubled, but it was a throughly absorbing contest. Both sides were giving no quarter and there were some tasty challenges being put in, the vast majority on the right sides of law I hasten to add.

Wigan took the lead after 21 minutes when Phil Howard blasted home a free kick from 20 yards but Abbey Hey were level after 38 minutes when Martin Pilkington was put through to round the 'Keeper and slot home.

View from the clubhouse
 The second half was once again a cat and mouse affair and it was going to take a touch of genius, or a mistake, to give either side a winner. Unfortunately for Abbey Hey it was a defensive error, as a routine clearance was misjudged by their central defenders and Howard ran through onto the loose ball to fire home the winner, with just 9 minutes remaining. 

Abbey Hey did respond quickly with a headed chance but it crashed back off the crossbar and the chance had gone. The result meant Wigan leapfrgogged Abbey Hey to the top of the table however it's still all to play for, especially with third placed Norton United having 6 games in hand on Wigan and just 7 points to make up.

Today's visit to The Abbey Stadium means i'm now closing in on all the grounds in the NWCFL as, not including groundshares, i've just got three to go. I can taste that Champagne!

Saturday 25th February 2012
North West Counties League Division One
Abbey Hey 1-2 Wigan Robin Park
Attendance: 40

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