Tag Archives: review

West Auckland vs Guisborough Town – League game (08/08/2017)

My first visit to a league game this season took me to the Wanted Stadium, home of West Auckland. A ground I had never visited before tonight, but one I’ll definitely be looking to go back to when the heavens aren’t well and truly opened.

West Auckland’s visitors tonight were Guisborough Town. Guisborough had an exceptionally poor start to last season that was only, just about, recovered towards the back end after their relegation was overturned following an appeal to the FA. So Guisborough would obviously be looking to get off to the best possible start to avoid all that happening again. But it wouldn’t be an easy game, against a very strong West Auckland side, in not very favourable weather conditions.

West Auckland were the side that got us underway, but the first chance fell to the visitors. A smart ball to Thomas Bligh from Connor Smith was crossed invitingly into the West Auckland penalty area. Guisborough’s Nathan Steel was the player who met the ball with his head, only to see his shot go narrowly past the post and out for a goal kick. Hopefully a sign of things to come for the travelling Guisborough faithful!

But it wasn’t to be, as it was West Auckland who struck first after some smart play in the centre of the park. The ball was played out wide to Jack Walker who put a sublime ball into the area which was met confidently by Nathan Fisher who prodded the ball towards goal and past the helpless Jordan Nixon. 1-0 to the home side after just 8 minutes.

And just two minutes later, West Auckland had their second. A smart run from Amar Purewall was attempted to be stopped, only for the ball to fall back at his feet and 1 on 1 with the Guisborough keeper. Purewall confidently finished past the outrushing Nixon to make it 2-0 to the home side, who now looked firmly in control of the game. ‘It’s a long time since we’ve been two goals up after 10 minutes’ is what a West Auckland supporter had said to me shortly after the previous goal. He had a lot more to look forward to!

And, surprisingly enough, it was soon 3-0. Amar Purewall, again, was slotted through very smartly, beating Guisborough Town’s offside trap. Feeling déjà vu from 8 minutes ago, Purewall again finished smartly past the outrushing Nixon. You could hear the shock from the West Auckland fans as they started laughing between themselves as opposed to cheering. It would be a long evening for Guisborough if they didn’t change something soon.

It wasn’t the best first half of the season for Guisborough so far, but they kept on fighting and attempted to get forward. But West Auckland matched Guisborough exceptionally well, staying very professional, even with their comfortable lead. Guisborough had one more meaningful shot in the first half, with Steven Roberts laying the ball off to Ben Hugill. Hugill’s powerful shot went just past the post, but a clear sight of goal that really needed to be capitalised on at this stage of the game.

But, apart from some speculative efforts from both sides, the first half finished 3-0. West Auckland very much in the driver’s seat, but if they can score three goals in 45 minutes, so can Guisborough, as long as they didn’t let their heads go down.

As Guisborough kicked the second half off, the main thing they had to focus on was sticking together and ensuring it didn’t get any worse for themselves. And, for 12 minutes, they did just that. Playing some very good Football, the away side created some promising opportunities for themselves, but couldn’t work any clear chances.

Unfortunately for Guisborough, it was West Auckland who managed to get the next goal, and almost putting the game out of the away side’s reach. West Auckland’s Amar Purewall passed the ball across to Nathan Fisher, who finished very well and secured his second goal of the game. It was noticeable at this point that the away side had started to become a bit demoralised and frustrated, lunging needlessly into tackles and losing the ball very easily. 4-0 to the home side, with little over 30 minutes still to play.

The next real memorable moment of the game, again, came from West Auckland. A fairly average corner was whipped in for the home side. The corner was cleared by the Guisborough defence as far as West Auckland’s Michael McKeown who sent the ball back into the area. The ball was flicked on to Nathan Fisher who headed easily into an almost empty net to make it 5-0, and grabbing his hattrick in the process.

It was starting to get out of hand for the away side now, with everything seemingly going against them. And so it would prove in the 71st minute – A freekick sent into the Guisborough box ricocheted around before somehow going into the back of the net. I couldn’t see what happened too well from where I was standing, but it was Matthew Lovatt with the OG, although Nathan Fisher definitely wanted to claim it.

And it was soon seven! West Auckland substitute Denver Morris passed the ball across the edge of the area to another substitute, Ben Wood. Wood struck the ball sweetly, being described as a ‘thunderbolt’ by the West Auckland Twitter team, straight past the helpless Nixon in the Guisborough net to make it 7-0. I don’t think anyone had predicated this from the start but, from a neutral point of view, it was a perfect night. West Auckland were still massively up for this game and, with 15 minutes left on the clock, there was plenty of time to add to their tally.

To the 77th minute, and it was West Auckland still powering forward. Some smart play around the Guisborough area from Morris and Wood, again, found some space for a cute little pass across to Amar Purewall, who sliced under the keeper, making it 8-0. The previous goal also made Purewall the second player to score a hattrick tonight – an achievement I’ve never seen before in a league game.

And the home side saved the best until last! A West Auckland corner, taken by Adam Mitchell, was cleared well by the Guisborough defence, only to fall to Michael McKeown, who struck the ball from 20 yards. The resulting shot kept rising and rising, until it found the top of Nixon’s net, making it 9-0 to the home side.

And that’s how it finished.

West Auckland 9 (nine) – Guisborough Town 0

I’ve got a lot of love for Guisborough Town, and I hope tonight was just one to get out of the way early so they can crack on and have a great season, because they deserve it! But West Auckland were superb tonight, and they didn’t allow Guisborough a moments peace.

The Wanted Stadium was my 25th North East ground visited, and not very many games will be as memorable as this one was! Best of luck to both teams for the forthcoming season.

Northern Premier League new boys – 2017/2018

As a new season begins, and teams start to ready themselves for their preseason campaign, it’s about time we welcome the six new sides in the Northern Premier League, and start to get to know them a bit better!

As you probably already know, two teams get promoted out of the Northern Premier; one outright, and one via the playoffs. Relegation captures four teams per season, leaving room for six new teams to ply their trade in the Northern Premier.

The first of these teams is Altrincham FC, who were relegated into the Northern Premier from the National League North, having finished on just 21 points from 42 games. Altrincham’s ground, Moss Lane, has a capacity of just over 6000, with 1154 seated.

Altrincham have almost been a ‘yoyo’ club throughout their recent history, culminating in successive relegations after finishing in the relegation places of the newly renamed Vanarama National League back in the 2015/2016 season. But they’ll be looking to bounce straight back to the National League North, and have recently signed former Hartlepool and Salford FC star James Poole, which is a huge statement of intent. Poole has Northern Premier experience, having won a hard fought promotion with Salford two seasons ago, beating Workington 3-2 in the play-off final.

Altrincham definitely have the experience needed to win promotion at the first attempt, and they will no doubt continue to bolster their lines in order to have the best possible chance. But we all know it’s a tough league, so they’ll have to continually be at their best to see their plan come to life.

Predicted finish: 2nd.

The next team we can take a look at is Farsley Celtic, based in West Yorkshire. Throstle Nest, home of Farsley Celtic, has a capacity of 3900, with 300 of those being seated. Farsley won promotion to the Northern Premier the hard way, having finished second in the First Division North, after being narrowly pipped at the post by another Northern Premier new boy, Lancaster FC. Farsley drew Colne in the play-off semi finals, and confidently defeated them 4-0 to set up a final against Ossett Town. Farsley went on to win the final 4-2, and rightfully earn them a place in the Northern Premier; a target they’d had a majority of the back-end of the season.

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for The Villagers. Financial problems in the 2009/2010 season led to them going into administration in March 2010, after being unable to fulfill fixtures. This ultimately led to the team being disbanded on the 10th March 2010. But the club was reformed, playing as Farsley A.F.C. The newly reformed side have had a relatively successful history, leading them to where they are now. In 2015, Farsley A.F.C welcomed back the name Farsley Celtic.

And to hit the ground running, the Celts have brought in experienced defender Danny Ellis from Harrogate Town. Farsley manager, Adam Lakeland, said he could ‘not be more delighted’ to bring in Ellis. I’m sure the rest of the Northern Premier will be keeping an eye on the newly promoted side, and any more new investments they make before the season begins. Newly promoted sides often have a good first season in the Northern Premier, such as Spennymoor who won promotion at the first attempt last season, so Farsley Celtic might be a surprise package.

Predicted finish: 5th.

Third on the list of Northern League new boys are Lancaster City FC. The Dolly Blues play their home games at Giant Axe. Giant Axe holds 3500 spectators, of which 513 are seated. The 513 seat main stand is named after the club’s late president, John Bagguley. Lancaster secured Northern Premier Football by winning the First Division North, after finishing just one point ahead of Farsley Celtic.

And, despite it being two weeks before the preseason gets underway, boss Phil Brown has already strengthened his side to the point where it’s ‘just about done’ for the beginning of the Northern Premier season. City have bolstered the side with six fresh faces, having also tied up a lot of the side that won last season’s title.

It’s a new era for Lancaster, with current manager Phil Brown only just finishing his first full season at the helm. But Brown is definitely doing the right things, and only time will tell how they get on in the higher division. But with a mixture of energetic youth, and vast experience, it looks like they’re in the best possible position to tackle next season.

Predicted Finish: 10th.

Next up is Shaw Lane, based in Barnsley. Nicknamed ‘The Ducks’, Shaw Lane was only formed in 2012, as Shaw Lane Aquaforce, although this name had to be changed to comply with FA regulations due to their success in climbing the ladder. Shaw Lane achieved promotion to the Northern Premier after winning the First Division South. Shaw Lane had a brilliant season, finishing on 102 points, and only dropping six points at home all season. In fact, in their five season existence, they’ve only failed to win promotion once, back in the 2015/2016 season.

And, despite being fairly inexperienced, Shaw Lane do have some history against Northern Premier sides. Having drawn Whitby Town at home in the FA Trophy, Shaw Lane went on to confidently defeat the higher tiered side 3-0, in front of 320 spectators. Despite the away side finishing the game with ten men, Shaw Lane started the game exceptionally well, and only grew stronger as the game went on.

Similar to Lancaster City, a bulk of Shaw Lane’s title winning team have put pen to paper to stay on for the Northern Premier fight, whilst they also continue to scout the market for some fresh faces, including the signing of Harrogate Town’s Chib Chilaka.

Shaw Lane are stepping into the unknown, and they’re bound to give 110% throughout this new adventure. It looks like they have the right resources to give it all that they have this season, and to really make it a season to remember.

Predicted finish: 8th.

Our penultimate team is Stalybridge Celtic, relegated from the National League North after finishing 21st out of 22 teams, only finishing ahead of Altrincham. Stalybridge play their home games at Bower Field. Bower Field holds 6500 spectators, of which 1300 are seated.

Recent times haven’t been too great for Stalybridge, who’ll be looking to use their relegation to the Northern Premier as a turnaround point to get themselves back on track. Notably, though, U20 World Cup winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin, grabbed two goals and two assists on his debut for Stalybridge, back on boxing day 2014, whilst on loan from Sheffield United.

Stalybridge have already delved into the transfer market, signing three players up, including former Trafford striker Aaron Burns, who grabbed 34 goals in 67 games for his former club. Burns is a crucial signing for the Celts, having already shown his capability at this level, and at similar levels, over the last few years.

Stalybridge boast an impressive academy, the Stalybridge Celtic FC Academy, supporting in the development of young footballers ages 16-19. Hosting an academy is a great way to make a real different in young, aspiring player’s lives, and it’s really nice to see Stalybridge get behind it so much.

Overall, it looks like Stalybridge have got a really nice set up, and an experienced team that can really have a go at winning promotion at the first attempt.

Predicted finish: 4th.

Last, but not least, we’ve got Witton Albion. Witton play their home games at Wincham Park, which holds 4813 spectators.

Witton Albion secured Northern Premier football through the playoffs, having finish second to high-flying Shaw Lane in the First Division South. Witton played Spalding in their play-off final, beating them 2-1. Albion have a vast amount of Northern Premier experience, so they know exactly what they’re going to be coming up against come August.

Predicted finish: 11th.

 

I’ll be looking to travel over to all of the new member’s grounds, if possible, throughout the coming season. With such a great mixture of teams in terms of experience and history, we’re bound to have yet another exciting Northern Premier League campaign!

2016/2017 @NE_NonLeague season review.

I started NE_NonLeague back in November and, despite usually working 6 days a week, I managed to get to numerous games at 17 grounds across the North East of England. And whilst I didn’t do nearly as much writing as I would’ve liked, I’ve got plenty to summarise as the season draws to it’s conclusion.

So here’s my best, and my worst, of the 2016/2017 season:

Best result – Guisborough Town vs Whitley Bay (2-1).

Way back in November, promotion chasing Whitley Bay visited a struggling Guisborough Town side. Separated by 18 places in the league, and with both side’s recent form taken into account, I think a lot of the spectators, as well as myself, were a bit pessimistic of Guisborough’s chances. At this time, Guisborough were managerless, and hadn’t won in their last 13 attempts.

In just the 5th minute, Whitley Bay took the lead after dominating the game’s opening exchanges. But a goal before half time, and a 66th minute winner for Dave Onions, gave Guisborough a shock win. Despite everything being against Guisborough on paper, The Priorymen dug deep and grabbed a great result!

Best value for money – Coxhoe Athletic vs Cleator Moor (0-3).

My visit to Coxhoe was my first ever Wearside League game, so I was unaware of how much entry and any extras would be. To my surprise, entrance was only £3, which you really can’t go wrong with!

So, for this visit, £5.50 got me entrance to the game, a sizeable portion of chips, a hot chocolate, and a 3-0 swing in the away team’s favour. Some places I’ve been to this season were £11 for entrance alone, so Coxhoe was definitely the best place I’ve been this season in terms of value. And the game wasn’t too bad, too!

Worst game – Billingham Synthonia vs Billingham Town (0-0).

The first of a double header for me back on Boxing Day 2016, I was expecting big things from my first Billingham Derby. But it never really happened!

The game finished as a very dull 0-0, with neither team doing anything special to edge the game. And, whilst I wouldn’t want to see any fighting on the pitch, it was nowhere near as feisty as I would’ve expected from two local rivals fighting for promotion.

Best new ground – York City’s Bootham Crescent vs Brackley Town (1-0)(FA Trophy).

Having been to games hosted at Premier League grounds, and games played on fields in Spennymoor, I think I’ve seen a variety of what the North East has to offer. But York City’s Bootham Crescent now holds a special place in my heart, having visited back in February for their FA Trophy Quarter-Final game against Brackley.

Whilst the game left a lot to be desired (a solitary first half Jon Parkin header the difference), the ground continually intrigued me and I loved exploring whenever I could during half time and after the final whistle.

There were numerous places to get food, and their club shop was the most professional I’ve seen in Non League as a whole. If you haven’t been to Bootham Crescent before, I definitely suggest it.

Entrance to watch the future FA Trophy winners was just £8 for this game and I thoroughly enjoyed my day!

Best individual performance – Lewis Wing (Shildon AFC) vs Guisborough Town.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dull game when I’ve travelled over to the KGV, and this game was no exception. The game finished 4-2, and Shildon finished with 10 men, but it was the performance of Shildon’s Lewis Wing that was the talking point for the 140 spectators.

Wing scored the first hattrick I’d seen all season, and I think it’ll take me a while to see a better one anytime soon. Wing’s three exceptional finishes, including a 25 yard screamer that swerved away from Guisborough’s Jordan Nixon at the last second, and his absolute control of the game, left everyone talking about his performance.

To cap off an exceptional season, including 21 more league goals, Wing has signed a contract with Middlesbrough U23s and looks destined for bigger things. At Shildon’s presentation night, Wing picked up ‘Supporters player of the year’, ‘Performance of the season’, ‘Top goal scorer’ and ‘Player’s player of the year’.

 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my season with NE_NonLeague, and I hope the page continues to progress in the same direction. as it has done last season. As far as pre-season goes, I’ve seen a lot of exciting fixtures that I’ll be aiming to get to, including Whitby Town hosting AZ Alkmaar. Next season is set to be great and I’ll be there for every step of it!