Wednesday, 4 September 2019

03/09/19 Review: Telford United vs Gloucester City

Telford United 4-3 Gloucester City (National League North)
New Bucks Head

Almost a month on since I headed down to Leamington to see the Brakes beat Brackley Town, I was again on the hunt for some National League North action and this time it would be a fairly short westward ride over to Wellington to see Telford United versus Gloucester City in a real ding-dong battle between two sides who started the evening in 13th and 14th respectively. This early contender for game of the season was certainly a spectacle for the fans and it again showcased the true beauty of football at this level, making it an all-round thrilling night out in Telford... astonishingly, the second one I've had this season after getting over to the Fortis Stadium during Pre-Season. Also surprisingly, that game had one more goal too as Wellington Amateurs beat Eccleshall 5-3.
Still, the artwork alone is worth the entry fee here...
.... well, some of it is!
In terms of my limited relations with the Lilywhites I have only seen them play once and it was back in March 2015, when United visited Moss Rose to take on my beloved Macc Town. We triumphed in this crucial battle thanks to a Thierry Audel goal on a dreary Spring evening in a season that saw Telford go down to the division they've been in ever since. Their fortunes almost turned last season as they just missed out on the playoffs through goal difference, but aside from that they've lingered in the lower parts of the table and have failed to rekindle the success of the 2013/14 season that saw them win the league, with their most recent minor trophy coming last season in the confusingly named Huddersfield Cup. The 2004 remake of the original Telford United will be no doubt looking to get back into the top flight of non-league football, but hopefully not in the same fashion as their defunct predecessors who folded at the end of the mid-table Conference campaign fifteen years ago. Looking back, that same campaign contains a few fallen clubs such as the original Scarborough, the club formally known as Leigh Railway Mechanics Institute- now Leigh Genesis of the South Lancashire Counties League- and of course old Hereford United team. Bury may well be the biggest side to fall into dismay, but they certainly weren't the first.

Ask any lower league club- they need their fans!

By the time I'd made my way into New Bucks Head, opened in 2003, I was ready for action and so I made my way around the ground starting in the Hamer Leisure Stand and walked around to my seat in the Wolverhampton Uni Stand. The ground has some similarities to the Moss Rose, with a friendly and polite fanbase sitting alongside me in the main seating area. The two identical stands behind each goal seemed to house the "proper" fans who stood in the terraced areas with flags aloft to show their support. The stand running opposite the one I sat in was the busiest and I'm assuming that was because there was a bar close-by! As the two sides began to enter to Prodigy's "Firestarter" I began to feel the excitement. The Gloucester City opponents, donning one of the most sublime purple away kits I've had the pleasure of seeing, looked well up for the match and after a minute's applause was taken for a passed lifelong fan we were underway between two sides level on points at the start of play. I'd gone for a 2-2 pre-match prediction, which would have seemed like a bore draw after the events that would unfold in front of me.

The first of many applause

Even in the opening minutes the action was full-on, and within just two we saw the opener from the visitors as an early cross from the left was met by Bristol Rovers loanee Luke Russe. The forward managed to wriggle in between the Telford defence and he beat them to the ball to knock it home- giving the visitors the perfect start. Telford 0-1 Gloucester. The team in the media box behind me clearly weren't expecting a goal so early as they scrambled around trying to speak about the goal, whilst their Twitter guy clearly missed it as his Tweet simply states "can't describe it as I didn't really see it"- we've all been there, pal. By the time the second goal came in the 18th minute we were all settled in thankfully, but unfortunately for the hosts it was another visiting strike that would hit the net. This time it would be Gloucester born and bred lad Joe Hanks who hit a thunderbolt of a free-kick which flew hard and low. Telford 0-2 Gloucester. With Telford now two down they actually woke up a bit and started to play and on the half-hour mark their star man Brendon Daniels, formally of Crewe, Tamworth, Harrogate and many more, stepped up to rifle home a set-piece of his own to rival that of the one Gloucester's just a few minutes ago. Telford 1-2 Gloucester. There could have been more in the way of goals too, as both sides continued to press. Telford were playing the better football and looked most likely to grab the next goal, but equally they looked suicidal at the back and seemed almost as though they were trying to gift City a third. As it was though, the half ended at 1-2 to the visitors.

Gotta beat those HT queues...
Despite there being over 900 in attendance this evening the ground seemed fairly easy to negotiate, which is a rarity at any football match usually. With no problems finding a space at the urinal, an empty bar to plunder and even space to stand an check the half-time scores elsewhere, this was an odd sensation for me. I did wonder whether it's the case that the ground is just really well managed, or if it is just a quiet night at the New Bucks Head. To be fair, this was their first sub-1000 attendance of the season so that may answer a few questions on that front, but either way I stood and enjoyed my pint, checked that Macc were beating Newcastle's youth team in the ballbag trophy, listened to a lad recalling his weekend away day to Bradford Park Avenue and then headed back out for the second-half. One thing I did enjoy was that one of the kiosks was alcohol only and it was separate from the food counters to allow for us larger louts to grab a quick pint without having to listen to Edna list the four varieties of pie on offer, before checking them and then announcing that there is only cheese and onion left. Thanks Edna!

At three quid a pint, it would be rude not to
The Bucks started the second-half in fine form and although the opening ten minutes didn't bring any reward, the signs were there and with Daniels looking like pure class on the right it would only be a matter of time. The Stokie, who scored a brace during the weekend win, was involved again as he turned the left-side of the Gloucester wing inside-out, before pinging in a sumptuous cross with the outside of his boot towards an on-rushing Telford player to then nod it back across the six-yard line to allow Marcus Dinanga to rattle a close-range volley off the bar and into the net. Telford 2-2 Gloucester. Game on now and it was time for the side who wanted it most to step up and grab a winner. The hosts continued to ride the wave of their attacking fortunes and when a corner was won in the 70th minute it would be the United captain Shane Sutton who would rise the highest to header against the bar and the ball was deemed to cross the line, giving Telford the lead for the first time. Telford 3-2 Gloucester. It was fitting that the captain would be the one to grab this crucial goal, as the former Newtown man celebrated after a slight hesitation from the Ref to allow the header. Imagine that, a referee making a goal-line decision in 2019... madness!

They're not singing anymore
Sutton may well have captained his former side in the Europa League home and away to FC Copenhagen back in 2015, but the now Telford skipper would have been delighted by that and his glee would only grow as he watched his side steal a fourth goal thanks to a defensive mix-up at the other end of the pitch. A Gloucester defender nodded past his own keeper and former Football League striker Aaron Williams was there to mop up the finish. Telford 4-2 Gloucester. And as if my magic the Shropshire side had gone from two down to two up, but the question would be whether their leaky defence could firm up in the final ten to seal the points. The answer to that is a partial yes, but it wasn't without its complications as a very contentious penalty was awarded in stoppage time. As most of the crowd wondered why the spot kick was given, Joe Parker stepped up and lashed home to set up an unnecessarily nervy final few minutes for the Lilywhites. Telford 4-3 Gloucester.

Thankfully there would be no more twists in the tale
As the Ref brought the game to an end there was a huge sigh of relief followed by rapturous applause for the two sides who gave us a hugely entertaining game. On what was my fifth attempt to watch a game at New Bucks Head, after poor weather, a car crash blocking my route, a pre-season cancellation and a last minute location change for an England youth game preventing my previous four, all that I can say is that it was well worth the wait! I'd love to say that I will be back soon, but after that game I feel the bar of expectation may be too high to risk ruining! Well played both teams, I'll look forward to following your respective seasons.

1 comment:

  1. I was at the game, excellent match report! On holiday in North Herefordshire from the south coast, this was a return visit to Telford, the first being at The Old Bucks Head when Telford United beat Stoke City in the FA Cup. On my way back south, I took in a game at Cheltenham, another entertaining match with a 4-2 scoreline. Not a bad return, 13 goals in two games!