GAME OF THE WEEK
Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2
The Evo-Stik South
Sometimes, just sometimes, things work out for the best.
I had planned to go to Pontefract Collieries. Then they won in the FA Vase. Whoever made the draw picked them out of the bag for an away draw. My buddy Mr Wilks let it be known he was up for a trip. A look at the fixtures, and there was one place that I kept coming back to. Gresley.
So on an overcast Manchester Saturday lunchtime we set off for the East Midlands. Down the M6, off at Junction 16, past Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the Potteries and on to Uttoxeter. A planned stop for lunch. Cods Corner chippy. If you are ever in the area give it a go, delicious. Food eaten. On to Church Gresley and Moat Ground the home of Gresley FC.
What a place Moat Ground is. I love it. Gresley have been here for 111 years, a couple of the areas look as though they are still original parts, but what character. If you have never been here it is an absolute must. Entry is either on Moat Lane or Church Street, if you use the latter you will miss the pair of club guys selling programmes and golden goals, quite a duo.
The ‘top’ or Oxford Street end is inaccessible for supporters, though you can regularly see a ballboy shimmying precariously along the top of the wall behind the goal. Moving anti-clockwise is the Queen Street Side. The area is quite narrow, but still has room for a covered seated area and a couple of covered standing areas. Carrying on round, behind the goal at the Church Street end is both open and covered standing in, again, a quite narrow area. Finally, on to the gem that is the Moat Lane/Main Stand side. A raised supporters clubhouse, mini terrace areas either side of the Main Stand, which in itself is a deep and quirky structure. Includes the changing rooms, press box, food hut. All finished off with a covered standing area at the top near the Oxford Street end.
Prior to the match getting underway there was a presentation to home captain Barrett for a club record number of appearances (over 600), followed by a mark of respect silence on Remembrance Day, observed by all apart from those coming out of the supporters clubhouse. Once the match kicked off the hosts looked to push forward on a very heavy pitch that looked to hamper the visitors who are used to their flat 3G pitch. Chances were at a premium early on, but slowly the game started to open up.
The hosts had a couple of half chances before the visitors very nearly took the lead in the 28th minute, noted because it was Mr Wilks’ golden goal time. A cross from the left was turned goalbound by home defender Eggington, who must have been relieved to see Hawkins change direction and pull off a very good stop. Back came Gresley, but they just didn’t appear to have that cutting edge up front. At the opposite end, Christie and Keen weren’t getting the service, until the 37th minute, Christie slicing an effort in the air, he picked up the loose ball and after tantalising the home defence, he found Keen in space who gave United the lead, 1-0.
After the break, we continued in the same vein, nice build up play from Gresley, but without a decent final ball, Bedworth looking dangerous up top, but all too often the pass up to their forwards was wayward. On the hour it was 2-0. A ball in from the right somehow found its way to Keen at the far post and he finished easily, the Greenbacks lead had been doubled.
Ten minutes later it should have been 3-0, last weeks star Bailey-Nicholls had come on as a substitute had a glorious chance at the far post and somehow put the chance wide. With a dozen minutes left the hosts got back into the match, as United cleared a home attack the ball ricocheted into the path of the hard working Melbourne and he remained composed to finish past Crane, 2-1.
A couple of minutes later, encouraged by the home fans, Gresley poured forward, a defleced effort looped onto the bar, the rebound gave Manship a glorious chance. He missed. He ballooned it.
A free-kick from 25 yards out for United was hit well by Rowe forcing Hawkins into a brilliant save. Before we moved into added on time, 5 minutes, as a loose ball was cleared by a United defender into a neighbouring garden, we found out that Gresley had run out of balls. Finding a replacement took up the majority of the time they had.
That was that. Bedworth United left with 3 points. Two weeks running I have seen them win 2-1. I had better stay away from The Oval next week or Lincoln United might get upset!
As Mr Wilks drove us back to Manchester as we planned next week and marvelled at Gresley’s home. It really is a gem.
After being moved from the Friday to the Wednesday it was off to the Cross Border Derby, Chester v Wrexham. Bit of a weird one this as most of Chester’s ground is actually in Wales, including where I was sat with Mr Wilks for the evening.
A delayed kick-off, minutes silence, the worst playing of ‘The Last Post’ I have ever heard later and we finally got underway. Chester were let down by a lack of composure in the frantic opening 45 minutes, having the better chances, but it was the visitors who went into the break in the lead, Pearson nodding in from a free-kick swung into the box.
For the half hour after the break, until the blues took Akintunde off, they were the better side, the tricky midfielder ran at the Wrexham defence and caused problems, he clipped the top of the bar, after Dawson had smashed an effort against the post. Chester couldn’t find a way through. Once the substitution had been made, Chester really lost all their threat and the reds were comfortable towards the end, 1-0 to the team from Wales.
Friday and another derby.
This was not just another derby. What a cracker. Fourteen months ago West won 6-0 at Irlam on a Friday night. This could easily have seen a similar difference for the away team. In fact West were lucky it wasn’t double figures. They just could not cope with the pace and directness of the Irlam attack.
Goals came in flurries in the 1st half. 17,20,22 minutes saw Irlam go 1 then 2 up and West pull one back. Just before half-time in the 41st minute it was all level, by the time the teams had gone in Irlam had restored their 2 goal lead. What a first half, 4-2 to Irlam.
Straight after the break came the goal of the night, Tinkerfor West letting leash from distance after a long run, on the hour the 2 goal lead was reestablished in style by Boland. Irlam continued to have chance after chance, West the occasional one.
What a match. And on a night when England ‘held their own’ in a 0-0 friendly draw against Germany. Hmm, I know where I would rather be.
Wed: Chester 0 Wrexham 1
Fri: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3 Irlam 5
Sat: Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2
Games since a 0-0: 51
Milestone: 50 games since my last 0-0.
Random Fact: 1st time since May I have seen 3 away wins on the bounce.
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