Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Morecambe vs Macclesfield Town (22/03/11)

Match 111

Ground #: 78

Ground: Globe Arena

Competition: English League 2

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £10 (concession)

Programme: £2 (from original date with insert)

Attendance: 1,612

Morecambe 1

Spencer 59’, Drummond s/off 89’

Macclesfield Town 2

Bencherif 43’, Barnett 56’


It would be typical that Morecambe, a team I adopted when I went to Lancaster University from 2007 to 2010 would move to their new ground the summer I graduated. I had wanted to get t’Globe in its first season up and running and with my girlfriend still up “learning” in Lancaster, I made the trip up to see her and was lucky enough to schedule my trip with a rescheduled match at the Globe as Morecambe welcomed local(ish) rivals Macclesfield Town for a midweek clash.


For blog reports, I had visited Morecambe’s old Christie Park twice and saw them win on both occasions (vs Aldershot Town and vs Dag and Red). Both of these games were at the tail end of last season (2009/10) and with Morecambe finishing last season in 4th, I (and probably many others) expected them to fully challenge for promotion this time out. However, this had not materialized this season. Maybe one reason could be that the Shrimps are not fully used to playing at their new home, the Globe Arena. Built by Globe Construction company on a barren field in the Westgate area of Morecambe the Globe is a new build that has actually had some thought put into it rather than plopping 4 identi-kit stands in a bowl like most new grounds are. In fact, the ground can be seen as a modern version of their old stomping ground. The two stands behind the goals are both covered terraces. One for away fans (normally) and the other for the louder Morecambe support. One main stand straddles down the side of the pitch, the Peter McGuigan Stand, named after the former Umbro CEO who is currently Chairman at the Lancashire club, is a highly impressive structure which also includes corporate areas that Morecambe so desperately lacked at Christie Park. Finally, was the uncovered North Terrace where I chose to stand for this game which looks like an updated Car Wash Terrace at CP. It is an impressive ground which hopefully Morecambe can now kick on from.


Morecambe were going into this game down in 19th place with 43 points, with a 9 point gap away from Barnet down in 23rd. They had won at the London based club in their previous game which should (in theory) all but secure their Football League status for another season. They are lucky in the fact that teams below them such as Stockport, Barnet and Burton Albion are so poor that two of those 3 should fall through the trap-door into Blue Square fun for next season. Something though, has seriously gone wrong at Morecambe this season as a team tipped by many for promotion is now fighting to stay in the league. The pressure is really on Sammy McIlroy and I would not be surprised if he was moved on in the close season. (If Morecambe do go down, then that is certain) What is more surprising is that Morecambe’s team on paper looks actually very good and should be higher than their lowly 19th place.


They welcomed a club that is always tipped by bookies to go down in Macclesfield Town. Town were also on 43 points for this game, but above Morecambe on goal difference and had played two games less. Sadly, like last season for the Silkmen, this had been a season of sadness after the shock death of midfielder Richard Butcher at only the age of 29 in January. Add this to the sad death of former boss Keith Alexander last season, the heart and desire within Macclesfield Town’s camp is great to see and Keith and Richard are and always will be fondly remembered at Moss Rose and their other clubs. While not mathematically, one more win for both of these sides should realistically cement their place in League 2 for 2011/12 so the low crowd at t’Globe were hoping for an open and decent game.

0,,10393~9003546,00(Richard Butcher – 1981-2011)

Macclesfield started off far better as they really took the game to Morecambe, whose back 4 looked incredibly shaky when properly got at. The Macc Attack launched some long range efforts that were getting closer from each attempt as Barnett, Daniel and Reid all took fire. The first shot on target was from mobile howitzer Hamza Bencherif as his shot was well saved by Joe Anyon and Macc Attack’s opening goal just looked a matter of time. Fair play to Morecambe then who came right back into the game when Danny Carlton had a header well saved in the box as Macclesfield tried to readjust their defence when captain Paul Morgan was injured and subbed early on. In fact Morecambe were coming up to HT and felt unlucky not to be in the lead as Fleming and Hurst both had efforts that just went wide. Then on 43 minutes another contender for “The Travelling Fan’s Goal of the Season” flew in. Morecambe had two chances to clear Izak Reid’s cross well away from the area but didn’t manage it and so when Bencherif swivelled and smashed a half-volley into the top left corner they really only had themselves to blame. Bencherif has been scoring cracking goals all season and this was another special one. Anyon didn’t even move as he was helpless. Stunningly, Macc Attack were 1 up at the break.


I expected Morecambe to come out all guns blazing for the 2nd half to try and fight for an equalizer but it was Macclesfield who dominated the opening proceedings as Morecambe surprisingly had no fight about them at all. Macclesfield nearly doubled their lead when Nat Brown’s header was just cleared off the line despite the appeals from Macclesfield claiming the ball had gone over. There was to be no denying the Macc Attack though and when Stewart Drummond gave away a stupid foul on the right wing (which he was booked for) the free kick lofted in found Tyrone Barnett who’s leaping header gave Anyon no chance and Morecambe were now 0-2 down with 56 minutes played. It did spark the home side back into action somewhat as they grabbed a goal back 3 minutes later. Laurence Wilson played an excellent 1-2 which allowed him to run into the Macc penalty box and his cut back was finished well by Spencer. Morecambe now pushed forward and so very nearly had an equalizer when hero at Barnet, Danny Carlton had a dipping volley from outside the area well saved by Jose Veiga. That was about all Morecambe could really muster as the Macc Attack easily soaked up their remaining pressure and even finished the game a man better when Drummond stupidly brought down Bencherif to pick up his 2nd yellow. Macclesfield easily saw injury time out and are pretty much certain to be playing in the Football League next season.


I really like the Globe Arena, it is a smashing little ground and the character and memories that Christie Park had built up so well will come over time to Morecambe’s new home. What league Morecambe will be playing in the future still remains to be seen. I have a soft spot for Morecambe, I always check their results after Hearts and it does pain me to say it but I think Sammy Mac should walk at the end of this season. The Shrimps have clearly taken a backwards step this season and Sammy Mac had probably done all he can for the club. But he has done so much and will be fondly remembered if he does go. Morecambe’s dire home form continued on the Saturday as they crashed 0-3 to high flying Wycombe while Macclesfield surprisingly lost 0-4 at home to Stevenage. Some massive games coming up for Morecambe. Lets hope they can stay up!

Photos from Morecambe vs Macclesfield Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5.5/10 (seen better)

- Value for money: 7.5/10 (still a £10 for students)

- Ground: 8/10 (one of my favourites)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (poor for Morecambe)

- Food: N/A – can’t judge as they didn’t do veggie things!

- Programme: 6.5/10 (original was ok but good to see insert and for only £2)

- Referee: Jonathan Moss – 7/10 (good stuff – hope to see again)


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Friday, 18 March 2011

Road to Wembley 2010/11 (Quarter-Final)

Technically now, teams who reached this stage are only 1 game (possibly 2) away from actually reaching Wembley Stadium due to the ridiculous rule from the FA that the Semi-Finals are actually played there too. Nevermind. My road had picked up the two leading teams (in terms of table position) in England for this QF, Man Utd and Arsenal. It was Fergie vs Wenger again.


With Arsenal having crashed out of 2 other cup competitions previous to this game after losing to Birmingham City (Carling Cup) and Barcelona (Champs League), this game was crucial to Arsenal who could probably not afford to lose again in such an important game in such a short period of time. As for Man Utd, they have not won the FA Cup since 2004 when they beat Millwall 3-0. 7 years since winning the Cup is a long time for Utd under Fergie (they longest “drought” under him) and having lost 2 finals in 2005 and 2007, Fergie will probably want at least one more win before he retires.


In the end, the game wasn’t a close as expected as for all the possession Arsenal had (which they ALWAYS do), again they could not do much with it against a tough Utd rear-guard. Goals from Fabio da Silva (above) on 28 minutes after reacting from an Almunia save from Hernandez. Wayne “Shrek” Rooney added a 2nd (below) on 49 minutes to effectively kill the tie off. Arsenal did create chances but Van der Sar was on top form to deny RVP, Koscielny and Chamakh. It got worse for the Gooners as Johan Djourou was stretchered off late on and looks set to miss the rest of the season.


The Semi-Final draw has pitted Manchester neighbours City vs United at Wembley which looks set to be a stunner. The winners of that (care to predict? I don’t) will play the winners of Bolton vs Stoke. We’re nearly at the end of the Road to Wembley for another season and its just beginning to hot up! 16th/17th April will be a big date for supporters of Manchester’s two biggest clubs…

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2010/2011:

EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND: Elmore 1-5 Hamworthy Utd (Horsdon Park, Att: 247)

PRELIMINARY ROUND: Hamworthy Utd 2-2 Sherborne Town (County Ground, Att: 122)

PRELIMINARY ROUND Replay: Sherborne Town 3–0 Hamworthy Utd (Raleigh Grove, Att: 154)

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Wimborne Town 1-3 Sherborne Town (The Cuthbury, Att: 226)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Sherborne Town 1-2 Hungerford Town (Raleigh Grove, Att: 138)

3RD QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 4-0 Hungerford Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 365)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 0-0 Bath City (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 551)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND Replay: Bath City 3-4 Swindon Supermarine (Twerton Park, Att: 665)

1ST ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 2-1 Eastwood Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 1,159)

2ND ROUND: Colchester United 1-0 Swindon Supermarine (Colchester Community Stadium, Att: 3,047)

3RD Round: Swansea City 4-0 Colchester United (Liberty Stadium, Att: 7,005)

4TH Round: Swansea City 1-2 Leyton Orient (Liberty Stadium, Att: 6,281

5TH Round: Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal (Brisbane Road, Att: 9,136)

5TH Round Replay: Arsenal 5-0 Leyton Orient (Emirates Stadium, Att: 59,361)

QUARTER-FINAL: Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal (Old Trafford, Att: 74,693)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Alphington vs Exmouth Town (12/03/11)

Match 110

Ground #: 77

Ground: The Chronicles

Competition: Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East (Level 11)

Kick Off: 3:00pm

Cost: £3

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 42

Alphington 2

Leslie 12’, White 64’

Exmouth Town 0


Another year, and another failed MOT. However, it was not the disaster that was last years and so Victor (my humble automobile) lives to fight on. With that good news, I was going to pick up my Devon/Cornwall based ground visits next month after my visit up North to see the girlfriend in Lancaster later in March. (With a cheeky trip to Morecambe’s new Globe Arena too!) However a big head’s up to my father who gave me the money to “go somewhere” and so a look at the SWPL website showed that Alphington, a club based in Exeter were at home that day and I was off to a club that were high up on my “Devon Targets” list.


Alphington is a village in the SW of Exeter next to the wards of Marsh Barton and St Thomas. It has two notable buildings in the area, firstly the Parish Church which dates back to the 15th Century. And Mile End Cottage which is the house that Charles Dickens gave to his parents in 1839. The club in Alphington play at The Chronicles which is home to the Alphington Sports Club (which has a cricket and skittles team too from what I saw) and is easy enough to find on the roundabout at Church Road. The Chronicles is a 15/20 minute walk from Exeter St Thomas rail station for those people who want to visit here by public transport (like me for this game) and upon arrival, the football setting here is fairly decent.


The pitch is railed off most of the way around (except behind the goals as they have to be put up every game) and has some hard standing areas on the dugout/pavilion side. The other side of the pitch is just grass standing, but due to this being a public park, the pitch goes way back and has some kids goals down the far end and even some benches (albeit at a strange angle to watch the game from) down by the far corner flag. The main building at the ground, the HQ of Alphington Sports Club, is split into a clubhouse, tea bar and changing rooms and of course this large pavilion type building dominates the ground. There is even some overhang on the building which can provide covered standing for spectators, although this is a fair bit away from the pitch and you’d have the dugouts in the way. Considering I had seen no pictures of The Chronicles and therefore unsure what to expect, I was quite surprised and happy at this set-up. The SWPL 1st Divisions really do have a mash-up of some quality grounds and some basic places which is just a field with a rail around it. Alphington falls in the middle of this scale and you have to remember it is essentially a public park. (People were avoiding the admission charge by walking through the car park and the gap in the fence or coming over from the other side of the field) As it is a public park, floodlights (needed to make the next step up to SWP Premier and Level 10) is quite frankly a no go. There is also a high amount of residential property surrounding the ground and if an application for lights were to come up, some NIMBY would complain.


At this current moment though, lights aren’t needed as Alphington sit right in midtable in Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East and aren’t likely to trouble the promotion chasers anytime soon. They came into this game in 12th (out of 16) place but a massive 14 points clear of bottom side Axminster. They also had some games in hand on teams around them and so should finish the season higher up than 12th place. Amazingly as well, despite being down in the lower reaches of the table, they still had a positive goal difference after scoring 31 goals and conceding only 30. Their opponents, Exmouth Town I had seen less than a month ago when they dispatched Ottery St Mary at their Southern Road ground. Since then however, their former manager Jason Margrett resigned due to a job opportunity with security forces away in international waters that was “too good to turn down”. Good luck to him there and good luck to Exmouth’s new manager Adrian Pullin. Since taking over Pullin has won 1 (3-2 vs Crediton) and lost 1 (0-1 vs Budleigh – their Jurassic Coast rivals) whilst continuing to play in goal and Exmouth continue to float around in mid-table.


I was interested to see how different Exmouth would be since I last saw them and they immediately were playing a fairly high line which almost got caught out within the first minute of the game as a long ball over the top of the defence caught the Exmouth back line static and the Alphi striker could only fire over from his first time lob shot. After this it began to get inevitably scrappy as both midfields were trying extremely hard to dominate the game. What we needed was a goal to spice it up or risk seeing this game turn into a bore. On 12 minutes we got a goal, and quite probably the best goal I am going to see this season. When Exmouth only cleared a corner to just outside the area, there was a danger that the ball could be played straight back in. Yet when Grant Leslie saw the ball coming to him from the half cleared corner he was only thinking of one thing. Shooting. And his first time left foot volley hammered straight into the top corner. Pullin didn’t even move. A sensational strike. After that, Alphington let Exmouth come onto them and the game really opened up as while Exmouth had the possession, they couldn’t utilise it effectively, much to the frustration of their #10 who spent the whole game moaning and screaming his head off at misplaced passes or when the ball wasn’t crossed into him. By the end of the game, the whole Alphi management team were laughing at him as his moaning was a tad embarrassing. Alphington were still a threat in the 1st half, especially on the break, summed up best towards the end of the half when Alphi broke from an Exmouth corner and the long range shot that came in cracked off the top of the bar and away to safety as Exmouth were given a warning for the 2nd half.


As expected for the 2nd half, Exmouth came out the blocks and searched for an equaliser as it was all them to begin with. Yet again though, a poor final ball cost them as the Alphington goal was largely untroubled despite the home side having very little of the ball early on. You wondered if Exmouth would regret it and low and behold on 64 minutes, Alphi went up and scored another contender for “Travelling Fan’s goal of the season.” Take a bow, Phil White after he was teed up outside the area, his shot launched over Pullin and crashed into the roof of the net. Again Pullin had absolutely no chance and Alphi were now 2-0 up. Exmouth did let their heads drop slightly as two wonder goals had seriously did them damage in this game. They were still a threat however as an Exmouth free kick was headed on and Alphi goalie Matt Slark was on hand to make a good save. One of the only ones he needed to make all game. Towards the end it was still Exmouth pressuring for an equalizer but the game petered out and Alphington secured a good home win.


A decent game on a bonus of a day out as a close-by target was ‘ticked-off’ with Alphington. A delightful club as everyone I spoke to who was involved with the Scholars was very friendly and an extra credit to Alphi club lino, D Atkins who was informing me of the scorers as they went in. Top man. Exmouth have some work to do, but can feel slightly unlucky in terms of this result as apart from the wonder goals, it was fairly evenly balanced. Another good club I urge people to visit if they have time to in Exeter. A footballing hotbed in the South-West!

Photos from Alphington vs Exmouth Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (good honest football)

- Value for money: 8/10 (top value again from a SWPL club)

- Ground: 6/10 (better than expected)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (fairly quiet)

- Food: 6.5/10 (only had sweets (due to Lent) but pasties smelt lovely)

- Programme: 7/10 (was free and had all the info you’d need – good)

- Referee: Q Iskander – 6/10 (some early mistakes but kept control well)

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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Road to Wembley 2010/11 (5th Round)

You can tell you are coming to the end of the FA Cup journey for another season when the first Premiership side turns up on the journey. And what a Premiership side it was! Arsenal, going into their tie against London “rivals” Leyton Orient were gunning (sorry) for trophies on all 4 fronts (although they later lost the Carling Cup Final to Birmingham) and so this would be an extremely tough tie for the League 1 side.


Orient had major problems of their own as with West Ham now moving into the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Olympics, Orient now had a much larger team on their doorstep and unsurprisingly, owner Barry Hearn was not impressed. At the time of writing West Ham have government approval to move in, but Hearn has threatened legal action and a judicial review which would delay the whole project. For a wee while though, they could concentrate on a the big match ahead of them and the TV money coming in as the game was being shown on ESPN. Which meant even I could watch it! (see below – the first “Road to Wembley” match I’ve seen live since the 2nd Qualifying Round!)


Even though Arsenal playing what was basically a reserve squad, they were fully expected to beat Orient who were in mid-table in League 1. And although it was 0-0 at HT, when Tomas Rosicky headed home on 53 minutes that looked like game over for Orient even though they were only 1 goal behind. Yet when Jonathan Téhoué picked the ball up on 89 minutes, I barely raised an eyelid until he stormed past two defenders before lashing home a brilliant equalizer to warm the hearts of every football fan out there. (Bar Arsenal, but frankly, who cares about them)

Leyton-Orient-v-Arsenal-Jonathan-Tehoue-FA-Cup cropped (1)

And so it went to a replay and Arsenal got over their hilarious Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham City by tonking Orient 5-0 at the Emirates. Goals from Chamakh, Bendtner (hat-trick) and Clichy put Arsenal through to the Quarter-Finals where they will play Man Utd after they did football a favour and put Crawley Town out. Despite Arsenal going through, they were still losers overall to the majority as Orient outsung them throughout and Bendtner showed what a cunt he is but goading the Orient fans (pointlessly) when he was subbed late on. Orient players can look forward to a trip to Las Vegas thanks to owner Barry Hearn in the summer for their FA Cup exploits. And in the QFs its FERGIE vs WENGER.

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2010/2011:

EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND: Elmore 1-5 Hamworthy Utd (Horsdon Park, Att: 247)

PRELIMINARY ROUND: Hamworthy Utd 2-2 Sherborne Town (County Ground, Att: 122)

PRELIMINARY ROUND Replay: Sherborne Town 3–0 Hamworthy Utd (Raleigh Grove, Att: 154)

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Wimborne Town 1-3 Sherborne Town (The Cuthbury, Att: 226)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Sherborne Town 1-2 Hungerford Town (Raleigh Grove, Att: 138)

3RD QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 4-0 Hungerford Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 365)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 0-0 Bath City (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 551)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND Replay: Bath City 3-4 Swindon Supermarine (Twerton Park, Att: 665)

1ST ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 2-1 Eastwood Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 1,159)

2ND ROUND: Colchester United 1-0 Swindon Supermarine (Colchester Community Stadium, Att: 3,047)

3RD Round: Swansea City 4-0 Colchester United (Liberty Stadium, Att: 7,005)

4TH Round: Swansea City 1-2 Leyton Orient (Liberty Stadium, Att: 6,281

5TH Round: Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal (Brisbane Road, Att: 9,136)

5TH Round Replay: Arsenal 5-0 Leyton Orient (Emirates Stadium, Att: 59,361)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Axminster Town vs Bickleigh (26/02/11)

Match 109

Ground #: 76

Ground: Sector Lane

Competition: Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East (Level 11)

Kick Off: 3:00pm

Cost: £3

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 54

Axminster Town 1

R.Emmett 88’

Bickleigh 1

Bolt 69’


It was coming up to the most dreaded time of year. MOT time. With the costs rising each year – another costly MOT and it would be see ya to Victor who has served me so well. With the chance of getting to obscure games on the rocks (I’d be stuffed if Victor goes) it was the chance for a final “hurrah” as I’d headed east, quite a way east too to take in the SWP Div 1 East bottom of the table clash between Axminster Town and Bickleigh.


Axminster is a small market town on the Eastern border of Devon right next to Somerset. The town dates back to Celtic times of around 300 BC and lies on two Roman roads as well as there being a Roman fort just south of the present town. The town has been built up around carpets as the “World Famous” Axminster carpet was first produced in the town. Once manufacturing this was spread worldwide Axminster was put well and truly on the map, which was probably make a great carpet with lots of good layers and textures. Another highlight today is thanks to the success of the Channel 4 show “River Cottage”, the River Cottage Canteen and Shop is right in the middle of the town which was full as I walked to and from the game back to Axminster rail station. The celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also has his River Cottage HQ nearby at a farm in the Axe Valley meaning Axminster is a logical place to sell his uber organic and home-made stuff. (To be fair, its probably very nice)


The town’s footballing side, The Tigers play towards the eastern side of the town at their Sector Lane ground. The main reason for coming to Axminster was that they are set to leave this ground for a new development in the north of the town at Cloakham Lawn (presumably near where the Bowls and Cricket club currently play) for the start of the 2012/13 season. Devonshire Homes are buying the land Sector Lane currently takes up and this is how Axminster are affording their move. As the ground is set to be a thing of the past there is no need to upgrade or even improve it and so Sector Lane is basically a field that is railed off around 3 sides. Down one side (the dugout side) the hard standing path is on a decent incline so you can get a good view from here. Behind one goal (pic above) is a good size carpark and just out of shot is the tea bar (where they sadly weren’t serving hot food) and the clubhouse. In terms of grounds, this is basic. Although its not soulless like the University of Exeter complex, I do hope their new ground has a wee bit more than this. The picture below is taken from their website and shows what Sector Lane looked like in the early 1970’s and it looks like a large stand is there where the dugouts are now. Shame its gone.


Axminster on the field are struggling a little bit down the bottom of the league and were going into this game on single digit points (9) having played 20 games. Amazingly, their only 2 wins this season had been recently and consecutively as on the 5th Feb they beat Totnes & Dartington 1-0 and followed it up a week later with a 2-1 vanquishing of Newton Abbot Spurs. The reason for the lack of points was clear (apart from losing, obviously) was only 21 goals scored in these 20 games. At any level, that is crap. If they do finish bottom this season, which looks likely, I’m unsure if they will be relegated. Their opponents for this game Bickleigh, had finished bottom last season and were still here so it depends on who will try and make the step up below from the local Level 12 leagues (N.Devon. Devon & Exeter, etc) which becomes clear soon. As mentioned above, Bickleigh who were in town for this game are still finding their feet as this is only their 2nd season at Level 11 in SWPL Division 1 East and had clearly improved on 2009/10. Although down in 14th (out of 16) going into this game, they were only 3 points behind goal leekers Ottery St Mary and had 2 games in hand on them so a rise up the table could be on. Bickleigh were also in the Devon FA Premier Cup Semi-Final where they will play Liverton United on March 22nd @ Exmouth Town. Clearly a team on the up, it remains to be seen how far they can rise but even in their current state, they are an asset to the SWPL.


For the first 20 minutes or so of this game all that the 54 people in crowd saw were throw ins and more throw ins, it was really that bad. Had I checked Axminster’s previous home game results before I came out here, I would have noticed that they had failed to score in half of them and so this early stalemate was to be expected. Once the game finally started moving, Bickleigh had the main chances in the first half as their best chance was well saved by Chris Higgs when Bickleigh actually strung more than one pass together to work space out on the left before Higgs intervened. Axminster suddenly came to life when on 25 minutes when a low cross from the left was just volleyed wide by the Tigers striker. Apart from that, the other 43 minutes of the half was dire. Possibly the worst non-Hearts 45 minutes of football I had ever witnessed. What made it worse was despite being a sunny day in Axminster, the wind chill was quite bad and the surroundings did nothing to improve my mood. I was hungry, bored and wanting a goal.


Although the 2nd half kicked off with both teams determined to make some sort of impact on the game, I deep down had already written this off as a 0-0 and a poor game. Fair play to Axminster then who really started creating chances to begin with and were getting a lot of joy from corners. A goalbound shot from a poorly cleared corner looked to be flying straight in until it was blocked brilliantly by a Bickleigh defender’s face. He didn’t mean it, but it gave me a chuckle. Danny Lewis in the Bickleigh goal then made a great save as I dared to believe I might see a goal in this game. Then on 69 minutes, a magic number for very different reasons, I struck the jackpot. But not how I had expected. Axminster were again pushing forward and were caught on the break when a long ball to the far right found Kieran Rapo. His first touch was quite brilliant to keep the ball in, take it past the defender and allow himself to run onto it and get a low cross in. While the ball flashed across goal, Bickleigh’s left winger managed to get a weak shot in that Higgs saved but could only spill and Stuart Bolt tucked home the rebound as Higgs sank to the floor. It was a scrappy goal, but a goal I had seen which did not look likely in the 1st half. Then Axminster upped the anti and started bombarding the Bickleigh goal in a desperate attempt to get an equalizer. As Bickleigh got more and more defensive as they tried to hang on, Axminster began winning a succession of corners as this game finally livened up. They were inches away from getting an equalizer on 82 minutes when a poorly cleared corner fell to the edge of the area and the shot fired back cannon off the underside of the bar and cleared to safety. The deserved equalizer came on 88 minutes when again Bickleigh could not clear a corner and when the ball was headed across goal, Richie Emmett calmly volleyed past Lewis and Axminster grabbed an equalizer at the death.


Axminster Town finally reached the land of double figure points as they are now on 10 points for the season. It remains to be seen if they finish bottom (they probably will) if they will be playing in the Devon & Exeter League. I suppose it remains to be seen who the teams are who have applied to come up. (March 3rd is when the SWPL board meet so we’ll find out soon, exciting stuff!) Bickleigh on the other hand should be looking at overhauling Ottery St Mary in 13th place and possibly Newton Abbot Spurs who the Bicks have games in hand over. As for this game, it got better, thankfully as this could have been a right stinker. I would urge you to visit Axminster as they are a friendly club, although they do need to get away from the basic Sector Lane. It remains to be seen what their new ground at Cloakham Lawn is like, but come 2012/13, I’ll be there! Now, this MOT…

Photos from Axminster Town vs Bickleigh


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (thank goodness for the 2nd half)

- Value for money: 8/10 (£3 is sound)

- Ground: 3/10 (basic, hopefully the new place is better)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (not much)

- Food: 2/10 (not hot food served)

- Programme: 2/10 (was free, but 20 pages and 17 were ads, hmm)

- Referee: Mike Edworthy – 6/10 (thought he did fine)