Thursday, 10 May 2018

07/05/18 Review: Redgate Clayton vs Eastwood Hanley

Redgate Clayton 1-4 Eastwood Hanley (Staffordshire County Senior League Premier)
Northwood Lane

Another local ground for me and with just five miles separating Northwood Lane from my humble abode, it was about time really that I got myself down to the home of Redgate Clayton. Since the start of the season I have been doing my bit to knock off some of the Staffs County level grounds and especially since I've been running the media for Stone Dominoes I have gotten myself out and about to some of the region's offerings, with Monday's ground being my tenth in this division- which admittedly includes the ones I'd already visited from some of the clubs who also have a team playing in a higher division. Clayton are not one of those sides and this is indeed their first team, so this end of season match against Eastwood Hanley would be a decent chance to see if they could replicate their success of a 9-3 away win at Florence back in September's Staffs Challenge Cup. This was also my second time seeing Eastwood this season, having reported on their 3-3 draw with my Dominoes just a couple of Wednesdays ago.

From prior experience, it was guaranteed to produce goals
My travel from Whitchurch had been pretty easy going and after seeing a 1-1 draw prior to this evening's game my hopes were up for the strikers of these sides, who sat sixth and fifth respectively and just a point from each other, to grab a few goals and as a result of this I made a prediction of a 3-4 victory for the visitors. When I got parked up outside Northwood Lane I had half an hour to spare and so after handing over a couple of quid to enter, I popped into Lewey's Bar for a swift pre-match beer and at this early stage in the evening I noticed a couple of other groundhoppers milling about. Sitting across from me was a chap in a Leicester City shirt, a man who I later found out had travelled up just for the game, but more astonishingly was a visually impaired traveller who had come to tonight's game all the way from Norwich! I must admit that I've travelled to some pretty ridiculous places just for football, but to be not able to see and still make all that effort to come to what is basically a glorified field is something else. I had a brief chinwag with the latter and discovered that he had also been to watch Poynton in Cheshire for the afternoon game there, with his intention after the game being to rush his way back to Stoke station and then get the train home to East Anglia.

He even ordered his own Stokie commentator, duck

As I've already mentioned, Nortwood Lane plays pretty fast and loose with the term "football stadium" and is perhaps the first I've been to where there isn't one single designated terrace, stand, seating area nor shelter to at least talk about in the build-up to kick-off. Instead I listened to the man from Clayton talking to somebody with no vision about clay and the area that this area of Newcastle-under-Lyme is known for. The sun was still shining though and that brought me to examine the main feature of the field, the two metal sub benches sitting at opposing ends of the pitch absorbing the heat- a delight, I'm sure, for the management teams and subs of either side in this monstrous heat.

You could boil an egg on these bad boys
Even the players had taken to cooling off in the shade beforehand and as the start time finally loomed I was delighted to see my favourite counties level referee, John, emerge from the changing rooms looking fresh and ready to give his questionable and often mind-blowing ways with the game a go in this evening's match. Just as the game started, I was approached by another groundhopper and online friend who I'd met through Twitter- Terrace Traveller! The local lad, currently living in Coventry, had been on the same double-dose as me for the day and it was very nice to finally meet him face to face and also his Dad who was in attendance. We got chatting as the game got into full-flow and we shared some tales of ventures around the country whilst Redgate Clayton looked to grab the early initiative. In the opening five minutes Shaun Searle cracked a venomous pile-driver towards goal and I hesitate to say but it probably would have gone in were it not for some unintentional heroic defending from one of his own players who took the ball straight to the upper chest and chin. Ouch! Over at the other end and into the 20th minute Eastwood opened the scoring after Andy Bratt shrugged off a Clayton defender before cutting inside and applying a finesse finish to guide the ball into the top corner for a very welcoming first goal. Clayton 0-1 Eastwood. With an early goal to their name, Eastwood had an advantage so far and over to my right the home manager was starting to get a bit wound-up by some perhaps over-exaggerated flopping about by some players. "It's a man's game, you prick!", shouted Alex Derrington at Thomas Luquet after he was grounded.

Close your ears, kids
With not even 30 minutes on the clock John made his first big call of the game and it was to give a penalty to the away side, which Asa Tomkinson took pleasure in converting to put Eastwood in a stronger position. Clayton 0-2 Eastwood. In truth the away side looked more likely than grabbing a third before half-time than the hosts did of getting back into it and just before the whistle blew to end the first-half Tommie Cooke passed it in to Liam Robinson who should have converted. Nevertheless, the blue side from Hanley will have been feeling great and after a quick turnaround and a top of the old beer from me, it was time to get the action back underway.

That's the stuff
Back outside the shade had finally made its way through to the field and perhaps with it the hot-headed nature of the game had been taken away. Perhaps. I hadn't even made my way around to pitchside properly by the time Eastwood got the third goal of the game, which was a good thing as I was perfectly placed to see Robinson take control of the ball and pelt it past Matt Holmes in the home goal. Clayton 0-3 Eastwood. My main man John hadn't had much controversy yet and my only hope for the remains is that we'd at least get something to keep his legend alive. As a very heavy challenge went in from Wayne Glover for Redgate, the referee vigorously blew his whistle as I prepared myself for a card to be shown. Would it be yellow? Should it be red? Glover got up close to the main official before shouting out "fuck off John, it's rubbish" and at this point I remember thinking, this has to be a sending off now. Alas, John will be swayed by no man and he brandished a yellow instead, which led to the Eastwood Hanley bench irrupting. As someone shouted out "John, you're a coward." he retreated to towards the bench pointing his finger and simply saying "don't go there." I imagine John is one of these ex-army guys or a former policeman and the only thing that can tip him over the edge is questioning the size of his bollocks.

He does what he wants, he does what he waaaaaants....
For the sake of the game I was glad to see the Clayton man, who looked like a Stokie version of former Spurs man Mido, stay on the pitch as he would eventually come up with a strong contender for the Pint of Football goal of the season. The big forward found himself 35-yards out and as the ball bounced he quickly glanced at the goal before looking down at the ball and pulling out an absolute slobber-knocker of a half-volley which flew into the net like a rocket. WHAT A HIT! Clayton 1-3 Eastwood. That wasn't to be the final action though and substitute Elisio Francisco had the last laugh as he mugged the Clayton right-back before sprinting in to score his side's fourth and final goal- a good impact from the substitute who I'd also seen score a great goal against Dominoes too. Clayton 1-4 Eastwood. Game over and time for me to make the short ride home. Another great double-dose of the beautiful game and perhaps, sadly, my last domestic club game of the season. Don't worry though, it is far from over and I'll be back in action for the CONIFA World Cup- a competition that will see me write at least a dozen entries as I soak in the whole tournament in London. Cannot wait, lads!

1 comment:

  1. Good report. Think you may of mistaken Mido with Berba though ��.