SHILDON AFC (Dean Street)

I was back on the FA Cup trail today with a visit to Shildon, a town that is considered to be "the cradle of the railways" due to the fact it's population grew dramatically when the Stockton and Darlington Railway, who owned the land, established workshops there in the 19th century.

There is a locomotion museum in town and the football club's badge has a train as part of it's design. The club is also nicknamed The Railwaymen.

Dean Street, a 'proper' old town centre ground,  is the the home of Shildon and has been since their formation in 1890.

The large main stand was erected in 1923. There is a covered terrace opposite the Main Stand, which is named in memory of former player Lee Hainsworth, who was tragically killed in 2004 on his way to training.

Shildon, who made the first round proper in 2003 when they lost to Notts County, were playing Conference North (step 2) side Altrincham and, in my eyes, this was the stand out tie when the draw was made.

Shildon are currently mid-table in the Northern League (step 5) whilst Altrincham are in a similar position in their league. However just based on their respective leagues, the visitors were clear favourites to move into the next round.

Unfortunately for the Railwaymen that is exactly how it proved. The tie was over as a contest after just 12 minutes as Altrincham went 3-0 up.

A defensive error gifted Damian Reeves a goal after just three minutes before James Lawrie scored from a free kick cross that eluded everyone and found it's way into the net after 7 minutes.

Reeves headed home his second (pictured left) after 12 minutes and the game was effectively over.

Altrincham could have, and should have, extended their lead but as they relaxed, and took their foot off the gas, Shildon did have some decent efforts at goal but it was routine stuff for an experienced 'keeper such as Stuart Coburn.

The second half was pretty much a non-event and Shildon's cause wasn't helped when they went down to 10 men after Lee Chapman was stretchered off and all substitutes had been used.

Reeves had a chance to complete a hat-trick late on but he blasted a penalty high over the crossbar (pictured right). In the end though it was very comfortable for Alty.

Pre-match was spent at the Stanley Jefferson in Bishop Auckland, but as I was driving there was no chance of getting myself in a fine mess!

As is usually the case, another top day in the North East.

Saturday 22nd September 2012
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Shildon 0-3 Altrincham
Attendance: 300 (est)

COLNE FC (Holt House Stadium)

After being foiled, for what seemed quite a while, usually due the weather, I finally managed a visit to the Holt House Stadium today. Colne FC have been playing at this famous ground, with its spectacular views overlooking the town, since their formation in 1996.

The ground was previously used by Colne Dynamoes, who are unrelated to the current club, who, after an injection of cash, won the Northern Premier League in 1990 but were denied promotion to the Conference and subsequently folded.

Colne British Legion FC took over the ground but they too folded in 1995.

Colne FC were elected straight into the North West Counties in 1996 and were in Division Two until 2004 when they won promotion and have been in Division One/Premier Division since.

Today they were taking on Northern Counties East Division One side Bottesford Town in the FA Vase, a competition that holds special memories for the town of Colne. Following on from Dynamoes win in 1988, the present Colne FC had a run to the semi-final in 2004 before losing 3-4 on aggregate to Sudbury Town. The home leg saw a record gate of 1,742 in attendance at the Holt House Stadium.

There was to be no run to Wembley for the Reds this season as they crashed out at the first hurdle to their lower 'step 6' opponents. 

With the ground being high upon a hill, the one thing that does hit you immediately when you enter the ground is its slope and it's obvious there is going to be some sort of advantage kicking down the slope than up it.

It was Colne who had the advantage of the slope in the first half and it took them just five minutes to break the deadlock when Paul Fildes shot home. The Reds had the majority of the possession and were creating plenty of chances but a combination of poor finishing and Robert Zand's goalkeeping kept Bottesford in the tie.

After 27 minutes though the visitors were level. With their first attempt on goal Danny Boulton raced clear to equalise. Both sides had further chances but it was all square at the break.

The second half began with more pressure on the Bottesford goal as Colne continued the second period as they ended the first. There was another glorious chance to take the lead but an effort was blocked on the line. With an air of inevitability, especially after Colne's profligacy in front of goal, after 55 minutes Bottesford broke clear down the right and a superb cross was headed home by Marc La Rocca.

Colne continued to pile on the pressure for the remainder of the game, whilst being vulnerable to the counter attack, but could not find an equaliser their overall play probably merited.

For Bottesford though it was a consummate away performance. They soaked up the pressure, played on the counter and, when they came, they stuck their chances away. Oh and they also rode their luck on occasions! This result now puts Bottesford into the first round proper where their reward is a home tie against another North West Counties League side, Rochdale Town.

As for me, this visit today now means I only need a trip to Holker Old Boys to complete visits to all grounds in the North West Counties League**

Saturday 15th September 2012
FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Colne 1-2 Bottesford Town
Attendance: 68

** I do need to visit one other team to complete the leagues, but seeing as its a certain team in red and they groundshare, I probably won't be in any particular rush to go there!!!


A bonus Sunday FA Cup game down in leafy Surrey as Godalming Town took on Dulwich Hamlet in a 1st Qualifying Round tie.

You have to admire the clubs thinking as they hoped a Sunday game would reward them with a decent crowd, hence the switch. I guess they wouldn't have been disappointed with a 300+ gate.

The early 2pm kick off meant an early start for us, everything was going swimmingly until we encountered the dreaded M25 where an accident was causing long delays.

At one stage it was rather worrying but we reached our turn off and arrived at the ground in good time to snaffle our programmes, then head off into town to pay a visit to The Star, a local GBG entry, where it's fine selection of ales went down a treat on a baking hot day.

Wey Court is about a mile out of Godalming itself, in Farncombe, and has been the home of The G's since the early seventies.

Dulwich Hamlet are familiar foes to Godalming having played each other three times last season in Isthmian League and Cup before Godalming were moved across into the Southern league Central in the annual close season shake up.

It was Godalming that made the early running before Dulwich settled into their rhythm and slowly started to take control of the game. It was no surprise when the visitors took the lead, Dean Carpenter (23) blasting home a low 25 yarder, which clipped the inside of the post on it's way home.

Hamlet then took their eye off the ball and let the G's back into the game. They equalised just before half time when a superb cross (pictured right) was buried at the back stick by Johnnie Dyer (43). A great header.

The home side took the lead soon after the break when substitute Antonio Simeone (52) struck home a brilliant free kick, which flew into the top corner.
Hamlet looked like they has shot their bolt as Godalming took control but there was a game changing moment with the introduction of Turkish substitute Erhan Otzumer. The debutant proceeded to run the show for the remainder of the tie.

With just minutes remaining Carl Wilson-Dennis went through one on one, with just Jake Somerville in the home goal to beat, and was brought down by the Godalming number one. The referee booked the 'keeper (pictured above left) but Otzumer (88) dispatched the penalty (pictured right) with aplomb to take the game to a replay on Tuesday.

Sunday 9th September 2012
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Godalming Town 2-2 Dulwich Hamlet

Attendance: 311