Monday, 28 October 2013


Today is FA Cup, 4th Qualifying Round day! All the teams taking part are just 90 minutes away from the 1st Round draw.

I have decided to watch my home club's game against Lincoln City, at their temporary home at Kidderminster's ground of Aggborough. It will be the first time that I have seen them this season and I'm looking forward to it as we have plenty of new faces in the team. Although we are struggling in the League, our defence is functioning well and our problem (as usual) is scoring enough goals.

I take the train to 'Kiddy' and as soon as I reach the station I walk the few yards to the other train station, where the Severn Valley Railway starts. It's always an interesting visit and I have a quick look in the shop where they sell railway memorabilia.

I then have a look round the town and then get to the ground with 20 minutes to go and take my place in the North Stand. The Lincoln fans are in the stand opposite and the rest of the Worcester fans are sat in the western side of the ground.

Worcester take to the field in their blue & white striped shirts while Lincoln City are in their away strip of green & white. Lincoln from the Conference Premier League had played here in a 1-4 defeat against Kidderminster the previous Saturday, so I'm hoping their confidence is not that good as a result.

( Worcester's No.3 Ellis Deeney, battles for possession watched by captain Tom Thorley)

It's soon apparent that Worcester are not overawed by their higher ranked opponents. Danny Glover goes close with an early header and the pace of Daniel Nti and especially loan player, winger Niall Thompson are causing Lincoln problems.

It's a full bloodied cup tie and twice Worcester's defender, Graham Hutchinson has to receive treatment after heavy aerial clashes. 

Lincoln cause the Worcester defence some problems too and our veteran keeper, 36 year old Jose Veiga, has to make some smart saves.

When half-time arrives I am more hopeful of a good result for Worcester than I was at the start.

During the interval, it's announced that there is to be an important meeting of the Supporters Club next month who are submitting their plans for the proposed new stadium. It's also announced that today's attendance of 1,019 is the club's biggest so far this season.

In the second half, Worcester take the lead on 57 minutes when Niall Thompson shoots across the goal and substitute, Aaron Williams makes sure by tucking the ball in to the net by the far post.

          (The Worcester players celebrate their goal in front of their fans) 
Lincoln are stung in to action and Jose Veiga makes some good saves but after 77 minutes the visitor's pressure pays off with Andy Boyce shooting in from close range after a corner is not cleared.

             (Niall Thompson's run is halted by this Lincoln defender)

For the rest of the match though Worcester step up the pressure on the Lincoln goal but the visitor's hold firm for a deserved draw.

               (Andy Boyce heads clear from this late Worcester attack)

So Worcester go to Sincil Bank for Tuesday's replay. It will be tough but with a bit of luck not an impossible task for us, as I think on this evidence our defence are up to the task.

I was impressed with Worcester's performance today and I think manager Carl Heeley is building the team on the right lines, considering the financial constraints he and his team are having to work within.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Today sees the 1st Round proper of the F.A. Vase taking place. I have decided to visit the leafy Wolverhampton suburb of Castlecroft to see AFC Wulfrunians of the Midland Alliance take on Atherstone Town of the Midland Combination.

I arrive in Wolverhampton at about 12:15 pm have lunch soon after and then make my way to the Art Gallery for a spot of culture. It's a place Iv'e been to before and I can thoroughly recommend it as they display a good mix of sculptures, contemporary and older paintings. Today I see that the Wolverhampton Society of Artists have their exhibition opening and I manage to have a quick look round amongst the crowd of people. Good quality work on show too!  

After this artistic interlude I go outside and catch the No.3 bus and 20 minutes later have arrived in Castlecroft which lies just over the Staffordshire border.

The Castlecroft Stadium of AFC Wulfrunians is an impressive facility. On the one side of the pitch is a big stand with changing rooms at the bottom with seating on top and the clubhouse above that. The pitch is of good quality too and a steward there told me that it is being used by the FA to stage schoolboy internationals. Wolverhampton Ladies team use the pitch too on Sundays.

So Wulfrunians are playing Atherstone who this season have already had an impressive FA Cup run after defeating Redditch United and Coalville Town.

The teams take to the pitch with Wulfrunians in their red strip and their opponents in their second strip of yellow and black.

Wulfrunians take the lead early on when their No.7, Jake Webb, evades a tackle, goes inside and drills the ball in to the corner of the net after 7 minutes. Atherstone go close to scoring soon after but it's the hosts who are looking much more dangerous.

Wulfrunians deservedly score a second goal when Nathan Rose-Laing heads home a goal, as shown below.

Atherstone manage to reach the interval without any further damage. I see that there are plenty of rain clouds coming from the south-west and sure enough it starts raining before the start of the second half and I have to take shelter in the stand for the rest of the match.

Soon Wulfrunians go 3-0 up when Dave Asbury shoots in from close range when the ball falls at his feet.

The same player makes it 4, with 20 minutes to go when when he volleys home from a corner.

Atherstone are looking demoralised and Wulfrunians are totally in control of the game, slicing through the visitor's defence with almost every attack.

They score a fifth goal with their player taking the ball round Smith in the Atherstone goal with 15 minutes to go. They could and should have scored 2 more goals before the referee brings a halt to proceedings.

AFC Wulfrunians have put in a very impressive display of attacking football and it just hasn't been Atherstone's day this time round.

Maybe Wulfrunians can have a good run in this year's Vase?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Due to a dire weather forecast for the West Midlands region on Friday evening I decided to scupper my plans for seeing the Hednesford v West Auckland FA Cup tie and instead headed south to the West Country.

So today I am going by train to Gloucester and although as I am heading south from Worcester, the sky is going a dark grey I'm almost certain that it will brighten up later on.

When I arrive at Gloucester, I make the short journey to the bus station and check the times of buses to Cirencester whos'e team have a cup tie against Weymouth. I decide against it as the last bus back is at 5pm which does not give me much leeway. Instead I go for Plan B and go on the bus to Cinderford on the other side of the River Severn in the Forest of Dean for their Southern League game v Godalming Town. By the time I get on the bus, the sun has come out and it's a scenic journey to my destination. Cinderford is a small town, with a population of aproximately 9,000. There is only a small shopping area but I manage to find a decent Cafe for my lunch.

Trouble is I'm not sure where the ground is and unusually for me I have no map. There are none for sale in the local newsagents and am also informed that the nearest Tourist Information Centre is in Coleford. In the end I ask a guy in the street for directions and he tells me he will personally show me the way as it's on his way home. We turn left up a footpath by the local Co-op store, a 10 minute walk through a housing estate and the ground is there on the right. I thank him gratefully and he turns off down the road in front of the ground for his house.

I walk through the car park and to the turnstile and pay my £8 admission + £1.50 for a programme. This is a new ground for me today and also 2 teams I haven't watched before. Cinderford's ground has 3 covered stands on the west side of the ground, the main one with seating being in the centre. Soon the teams come on to the pitch with the hosts in white and black and Godalming in yellow and green.

Cinderford start off in lively fashion and go close a few times to scoring in the first 20 minutes.

  Godalming are quick on the break although they are not creating many chances. 

The Cinderford No.9, Lewis Sommers is a bit of a handful for the visitors defence as he looks to be be about 6' 5'' tall and of course quite useful in the air.

There is no score by the time the interval arrives. At half-time the draw is made for of bottles of whisky and red wine and I miss out by 3 numbers for a prize.

The start of the 2nd half sees Cinderford in a more determined mood and Dualah, the Godalming keeper is covering himself in glory with some fine stops, especially when Somers nods down for a colleague who fires in a volley which he spectacularly tips over the bar.

Also Cinderford have a strong penalty appeal turned down when one of their players goes flying from a mistimed tackle after flying in to the Godalming penalty area.

On 67 minutes though their impressive midfielder Dale Evans, bursts through the centre of the visitors defence, has a shot blocked by Dualah but fires home the rebound.

(Evans wheels away after scoring and is congratulated by his team mates)

Godalming immediately mount an attack from the kick-off and have the ball in the net only to be ruled offside!

Both sides go close before the end of the game but Cinderford have hung on for a deserved win, which breaks their recent winless streak.

I'm glad I came today as it was an entertaining game in this rural outpost and I later find out that the official attendance figure for the match was 122.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Wow, I can't believe it, I am actually going to a game today! September just didn't happen for me this year, all those Cup games I had lined up but in the end I just couldn't see for one reason or another.

I have decided to see 2 teams I have never seen before who are taking part in an early season basement battle in the Midland Combination Premier, namely Blackwood v Castle Vale JKS. Indeed Castle Vale JKS did actually finish bottom last season but earned a reprieve presumably because Bloxwich United went out of existence.

It's a game that's easy to get to for a rail traveller like me, as Blackwood play at The Coppice ground of Highgate United of which they are tenants and it's located a few minutes walk away from Whitlock's End station which is right on the south-east outskirts of Birmingham on the line to Stratford-on-Avon.

I get to Whitlock's End at 2:30pm and as I walk out of the station I can see the ground of Shirley Town, another Midland Combination team and as I cross over to Tythe Barn Lane, I pass the ground of a womens team called Leafield Athletic on my left. It's a nice rural location but I admit I am not that impressed by The Coppice ground. It has a covered area along the entire nearest side as you approach the pitch, with seating available for one half of it. The club house and changing rooms are near the entrance and there are several full size and mini-soccer pitches there too.
As Highgate are going very well in the Midland Alliance at present I don't think they have much chance of achieving promotion if they win their championship, if they wish to do so.

I see from the programme that prior to last season, Blackwood had gained 3 successive promiotions, quite a feat!

So 3:00pm arrives and Blackwood take to the field in their Inter Milan style
kit and Castle Vale in blue and yellow. The crowd looks to be in the region of 25-30.

Blackwood dominate most of the early play but it's Vale who take the lead in the 11th minute when their centre-forward is left with an easy close range header.

For the rest of this half Blackwood are just the better team and look more likely to score. 

             (The Castle Vale keeper clings on to this Blackwood cross)

Blackwood do score a deserved equaliser in the 41st minute, I think it's their No.6 sweetly turning on the edge of the penalty area and slotting the ball in to the top right hand corner of the net.

Even-stevens at half time and everything to play for! 

During the interval I notice that there is a rugby match taking place on the pitch at the back of us behind the hedge. Yes,there are plenty of different clubs in this area.

The second-half is quite even but Blackwood seeming to be the more dangerous side. One of the features of the game for me is the contest between the Vale centre-half and captain versus the dangerous looking Blackwood No.9. It's the No.9 who has Blackwood's best effort in this half when he shoots from about 20 yards out and the Vale keeper makes a great save to turn it around the post. Another player who catches my eye is the No11 for Castle Vale, very lively and good dribbling skills.

Disaster strikes for Blackwood with 10 minutes to go when one of their defenders in trying to clear the ball from his penalty area just skies the ball straight in to the air and Vale's, Jem Mills is waiting to head in to the net.

After this Castle Vale comfortably keep Blackwood at bay for a win that sees them leapfrog their opponents, who must feel they don't deserve to lose this contest.

So it's hard luck Blackwood and on this showing it looks as if both teams will struggle again this season.