Tuesday, 8 May 2018

07/05/18 Review: Whitchurch Alport vs Oswestry Town

Whitchurch Alport 1-1 Oswestry Town (North West Counties League First Division)
Yockings Park

With the May Day Bank holiday coming to an end you can almost feel the season closing in, which must mean it's time to slot in another couple of local grounds and with a scorching day on order it was the perfect time for me to check out Yockings Park, a ground just two miles away from the Welsh border. This northern Shropshire town side were playing their final League game before they embark on a play-off venture against Sandbach United, home of one of my most recently visited grounds, but today's encounter against fellow borderline boys Oswestry Town would prove to be a good warm-up for what is to come in Alport's pursuit of the Hallmark Security Premier League.

An eighth game in eleven days, the joys of Annual Leave
With an extended time off work granting me a lot of football since a week last Friday, this afternoon's game was to be the eighth of nine games in eleven days and it allowed me to gather momentum as I enter a strong ending to the season. My thirty mile trip through Staffordshire, Shropshire, into Cheshire and then back into Shropshire took just over 40 minutes and with the sun doing its best to incinerate my right arm I arrived looking like my own before and after shot from a holiday in Mallorca. I parked up with 15 minutes to go until kick-off and exchanged a fiver for entry into the delightful Yockings Park, which at five of anybody's English pounds is a bargain in my opinion- I know that I've paid double the price for worse grounds over the past couple of years.

Many similarities to Bridlington Town's ground
Aside from a few slight geographical differences, I felt that on first impression I was standing upon a replica of my hometown ground of Queensgate Park and with the same red and white colour scheme I was transported back to my playing days playing for Brid Town's under 18's for a summer. I have, of course, been back recently to do a write-up of my old stomping ground for a dull and freezing game between Scarborough Athletic and Glossop North End, and it seems fitting that was exactly 100 grounds ago now in my groundhopping travels. Reminiscing aside I joined the queue for the bar, which was confusing a lot of people with its longevity, before grabbing a tinny to take out just in time for the players coming out. With a 4th versus 18th place match on offer, I decided to predict a solid 4-1 win for Alport and in doing so added it to my seemingly infinite list of score predictions I've got wrong this season!

Match time!
Oswestry started the game the better of the two sides and with Tse Yue hitting a couple of ambitious strikes high and wide the match didn't delay in garnering a bit of momentum. Both teams were built in a similar way, with gigantic players down the centre and speedy wingers around the flanks, and the only real surprise for me was to see former Macc player Ben Mills reverting to a centre-back these days. The 29-year old Stoke born player had always been a striker since I'd seen him play for the Silkmen and then later for Newcastle Town and Kidsgrove, but despite donning the number 10 shirt today he was at the heart of his side's defence as he watched another ex-Grove player in Aaron Johns go close for Alport just before the 20th minute. Despite the 2015-16 Mercian Regional League winner's Oswestry Town being a whopping 48 points below their top four opposition at the start of play, there was no difference on the pitch and both sides continued to battle for the opening goal, but as is often the case the side with form can grab a goal from nothing and that is exactly what Whitchurch did. Some intricate build-up play saw a lot of silky passing, including a one-two from Nick Marley and when the right-back got the ball back he was perfectly set-up just inside the box to look up, pick his spot and then place the shot past Louis Mackin in the Town goal. Whitchurch 1-0 Oswestry.

Against the run of play, but that's what the best sides can do
Just before the break there was a stoppage in play as a fairly robust challenge led to a bit of pushing and shoving over on the far side of the field, but aside from that there wasn't much else to note. Half-time came with the hosts leading and although they'd been far from dominant they took a lead into the second-half and they seemed to start with more confidence this time as Nick Porter set the scene by testing Mackin in the opening couple of minutes. At the back though things weren't going as swimmingly for the reds and after a plucky ball was dinked in from Joe Newton there was a miscommunication between the Alport keeper and Joe Minshall, which allowed Dan Tinsley the opportunity to poach a shot on goal and his sliding leg hit the ball into the net for a Town equaliser. Whitchurch 1-1 Oswestry. With half an hour still to play, both sides gave it a go but ultimately there were only a few half chances for a winner.

Spare a thought for this chap
As the very lonely contractor, who'd agreed to work in this heat, on a bank holiday, during a live football match, continued to work on what will presumably become a new clubhouse or something of the sorts, the match started to feel as though it was taking its toll of the sun too. Oswestry won a couple of late corners and the majority of the 352 in attendance cheered on Alport into the deep of the fixture, but ultimately it was destined to be a sharing of points in this one. As the Referee blew the whistle for the final time, I dashed straight off knowing that there was still more to come for me- a 6:30pm kick-off at Redgate Clayton's Northwood Lane would be the true end to my Bank Holiday Weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment