Sunday, 20 May 2012

Dunston UTS vs West Auckland Town (13/05/12)

Match 159

Ground #: 124

Ground: Wembley Stadium

Competition: FA Vase Final 

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £25

Programme: £4

Attendance: 5,126

Dunston UTS 2

Bulford 32’, 79’

West Auckland Town 0


234 days previously, mine and 539 other clubs had started their Vase journey. While I was less than 20 miles away at Croydon, I was always intending to finish the journey where the last two clubs would as well, at the National Stadium, Wembley. 537 clubs had been vanquished, hammered or even just pulled out, but now only two remained, two from just about as far away as you could get as it was a Northern League special for the 2012 FA Vase Final.


There isn’t really much to say about Wembley Stadium that isn’t available on other sites across t’web. A grand structure that holds 90,000 and since it’s opening in 2007 has not only hosted football but rugby league, American “football” and some sing-a-long concerts. Easy to get to thanks to the fantastic transport available in London (*wink*), it has been a venue I’ve wanted to see a game at for some time. Had I attended every Vase game this season on my journey (I only got to 5 out of the 12 games before this) I would have racked up a nice 1,939 miles before the final taking in such delights as Southend, Church Gresley, St Ives and even Staveley. In the end, it was Northern League boys Dunston UTS who were “my boys” for the game after their Semi-Final win over Staveley Miners Welfare.


When I saw Dunston last for the first leg of their Semi-Final, they still had a good chance of winning the Northern League and gaining promotion to the Evo-Stik. However, their backlog of fixtures late in the season meant that they lost out on the Northern League title to Spennymoor Town as Dunston came 3rd and their promotion hopes gone. Their opponents from way up North East were West Auckland Town, where I will get round to visiting one day at their Darlington Road ground. Their Semi-Final win over Herne Bay had prompted fears about this all Northern game being played in front of one man and his canny dog, but both teams had brought some coaches down and I met up with Andy H (Gannin’ Away), James W (Football Ramblings) who had come down from the NE as well as Damon T (The Real FA Cup) who were all in the Dunston end for the game. What should have been a normal pre-drinking session beforehand turned quite bizarre as fighting between the sets of the fans at The Green Man meant the four of us had to drink at a Social Club near Wembley. No drama there but the smoking “area” we ended up drinking in what felt like a drug den but the pint was not bad.

IMG_1736(Not the first image in mind when you think of “pre game drinks” at Wembley!)

As for Wembley itself, there are some good points (and bad). The seating is really good and the sightlines I had were excellent as I’m sure they would be throughout the stadium. The leg room is also good as I am fed up of my long legs getting caught sat in some shite new build or in temporary seating so the space for them was excellent. The bad points are you need a mortgage to afford anything here, with a programme priced at £4 (which was scandalous considering the content), pints at £4.70 and some some meal “deals” starting at £9, good luck if you are hungry and/or thirsty here. Don’t know if they accept cheques. The game build up was good though as just over 5,000 (4,000 more than expected by some) were in attendance and mainly in good spirits. Dunston had brought more (I’ll avoid a “bigger club” comment) fans and it was great to hear so many Geordie (I can call them that?) accents around.


I’ve still not seen a Northern League fixture and only Dunston once before (when they played quite poorly) so I know both sides can perform better. West Auckland did start well however as Michael Rae fired over the bar from outside the area with just 10 seconds played. WA carried on the good spell by having lots of possession but didn’t really produce anything outstanding as Mattie Moffat, Rae and Stuart Banks all had chances that went wide. I was interested to see how their defence would cope the first time under pressure and on 20 minutes we found out – not well. A Steven Shaw free kick for Dunston was whipped in and Michael Dixon headed off the bar completely unchallenged. Chris Swailes hammered in the rebound but was called offside. On 27 minutes, WA countered following a good Dunston move and Moffat broke clear in the box only to be denied by a fantastic save from Liam Connell. While the game was now getting slightly better, WA let themselves down on 31 minutes by completely falling asleep. A long ball from Connell caught out the whole WA defence and goal machine Andrew Bulford lobbed Mark Bell from outside the area to give UTS the lead. West Auckland did huff and puff before HT but never fully troubled Connell again.


West Auckland came out for the 2nd half and again they dominated in possession but rarely created any chances of note. They thought they had equalized on 52 minutes when Moffat poked home from close range but was called offside. Mark Hudson and Martin Young both had 2nd half chances as well but the rock solid Dunston defence cleared up both times. With that, it looked like WA seemed to lose confidence to get back into the game as the final spells were all Dunston. They hit the bar twice in 5 minutes as Bulford hammered a shot from 20 yards out and Stephen Goddard lobbed Bell only to see both shots come back. Dunston were going to get their 2nd however and they killed the game off on 79 minutes when a long ball into the box didn’t have time to be cleared as Bulford again hammered home to ensure the FA Vase would be heading to the UTS Stadium. The last 10 minutes were a non event as Dunston controlled the game and ran down time to win their 1st ever FA Vase.


A massive well done to Dunston! It was good to see the club enjoy their big day out and who knows, it may be the start of many great successes? As for West Auckland, they didn’t really show up and deserved to lose but their 2nd place in the Northern League shows the signs of a good team and reasonable season. On a personal level, I fully enjoyed the FA Vase run this season, going to some excellent and some not so excellent places! The cup ties (especially in the National stage) were really tense and enjoyable so I will be repeating this Road next season. I really can’t wait for the early rounds to be released for 2012/13 and I will try to have a better attendance record than the 46.1% I achieved this season.


And that is that. 2011/12 over. A season I really didn’t know what to expect as I started a whole new life essentially with my job in London. I’ll do the normal stats posts in the next few weeks once these blasted exams are out of the way! From sitting in the sun at Truro to sitting in the sun at Wembley, some 38 great, ok and damn right dreadful games of football have been seen. Lets aim for more next time out! Have a great summer.

Photos from Dunston UTS vs West Auckland Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (fairly average for the neutral)

- Value for money: 5/10 (probably the most I would pay before really questioning it)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (not bad, didn’t go “wow” when I walked in however)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (good noise from the 5,000)

- Food: N/A – please.

- Programme: 2/10 (content not bad but £4 is a piss take)

- Referee: Roger East – 7/10 (not a lot to do, got on with it fine)

Vase Final prog

Vase Final stub

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2011/2012:

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Croydon FC 1-2 Beckenham Town (Croydon Sports Arena, Att: 51)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Beckenham Town 5-1 Fisher FC (Eden Park Avenue, Att: 58)

1ST ROUND: Three Bridges 3-0 Beckenham Town [After Extra Time] (Jubilee Field, Att: 68)

2ND ROUND: Rye United 1-2 Three Bridges (The Salts, Att: 105)

3RD ROUND: Southend Manor 0-0 Three Bridges [After Extra Time] (Southchurch Park, Att: 64)

3RD ROUND REPLAY: Three Bridges 4-1 Southend Manor (Jubilee Field, Att: 66)

4TH ROUND: Gresley 1-1 Three Bridges [After Extra Time] (Moat Ground, Att: 524)

4TH ROUND REPLAY: Three Bridges 2-2 Gresley FC [Gresley win 7-6 on penalties] (Jubilee Field, Att: 308)

5TH ROUND: St Ives Town 4-0 Gresley FC (Westwood Road, Att: 541)

QUARTER FINAL: Staveley Miners Welfare 3-0 St Ives Town (Inkersall Road, Att: 575)

SEMI FINAL 1ST LEG: Dunston UTS 1-0 Staveley Miners Welfare (UTS Stadium, Att: 973)

SEMI FINAL 2ND LEG: Staveley Miners Welfare 2-2 Dunston UTS [DUNSTON WIN 3-2 ON AGG] (Inkersall Road, Att: 1,050)

FINAL: Dunston UTS 2-0 West Auckland Town (Wembley Stadium, Att: 5,126)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Welling United vs Sutton United (06/05/12)

Match 158

Ground #: 123

Ground: Park View Road

Competition: Blue Square South Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £12

Programme: £2

Attendance: 1,408

Welling United 0

Sutton United 0



The Play-Off season always brings with some interesting games as clubs look to use whatever energy they have left to try and haul themselves up to promotion despite finishing 20 odd points behind the League winners. I’m a massive fan of the play-offs in any league as it extends the drama and excitement for a lot longer than straight promotion slots would and allows the smaller clubs to have their big day out, normally in front of a four figure crowd. As Sutton United saved me from the wank evening that is Valentine’s Day (no pun intended) earlier this year, I joined their fans for a big game away at Welling for the 2nd leg.


Welling is a district in the London Borough of Bexley and is a suburban development situated between Shooter's Hill and Bexleyheath. The East Wickham part of Welling is probably one of the oldest settlements in this area as a Neolithic stone axe was found in 1910 and more recently in 1989 the remains of Roman buildings were unearthed near Danson. Before the coming of the railway, with the opening of the Bexleyheath Line in 1895, Welling was a village on the main road between London and Kent. It had been a traditional staging post for coaches; the presence of three inns along the main road is the result of that. Local legend has it that Welling is so called because by the time you reached it you were "well in" to Kent, and had thus survived the treacherous coach road up and down Shooters Hill, the highwaymen who were said to frequent it, and the forests which until the 1800s stretched almost down to Blackfen. After World War I, Bexley Urban District Council built over 400 houses north of the railway. Later, when the Danson estate was sold to developers, the land to the south was opened up to suburban sprawl and the settlement incorporated the local parishes of St Michael's East Wickham and St Johns Welling.


Welling United were founded only in 1963 by Sydney Hobbins (the ex Charlton Athletic keeper) for his sons as they began life in youth football, playing on a local park pitch. They expanded over time and joined the London Spartan League before moving into the now vacated Park View Road ground after Bexley United were dissolved in 1977. Their upsurge continued in 1981 when they joined the Southern League Southern Division before moving up to the Premier Division following restructuring. Welling kept on going up and up and after amazingly winning the Southern League in 1986, the joined the Football Conference. They were round the bottom half of the table throughout their time in the Conference, but finally lost their battle in 2000 and were relegated back to the Southern League. After consolidating in the Conference South, Welling hit some financial trouble after owing £60,000k to HMRC and were hit with a 5 point deduction for 2010/11 season. They only missed out on the play-offs by a point, but have gone one better this season after finishing 3rd.


Their Park View Road ground is a strange one with it being essentially two grounds in one. On the Welling side, is their main entrance and a classic old stand that was first built in 1950s and then expanded during the 60s. With two uncovered standing terraces behind each goal, the other side is the Erith & Belvedere side who have been playing at the ground since 1999 and financed the new stand in 2001 when they sold their old Park View ground. This does give the ground a strange classic and modern twist, but it’s a great place and in good condition. I wish one of the terraces had a roof as the weather was awful and would improve the acoustics even more. This would easily host Blue Square Premier football again if it were needed and away fans should have a good day out.

Welling_old_shelter_watermarked(Welling’s old East Stand – from Pyramid Passion)

Welling United were the best of the rest this season in the Blue Square South as Woking (eventual Champs) and Dartford fought it out at the top. While they finished 16 points behind Woking, they were safely in a play-off spot all season as they finished on 81 points, 7 points ahead of 4th place Sutton United. Their excellent season was built on the back of an exceptional home record which saw them win 14 out of 21 and only 1 defeat. (strangely a 1-0 defeat to midtable Eastleigh) Sutton United since I witnessed that 2-1 win over Boreham Wood easily made the playoffs and had 14 points to spare over 6th place Chelmsford City. Their form had slipped though as they stumbled to some defeats (including two against Dartford, who completed a 7-1 aggregate victory over them in the league this season). That average form had continued into the 1st leg as well as Welling were coming home with a 2-1 advantage. Goals from Clarke and Healy giving the Wings the advantage…


Sutton had to attack and they came out the stronger of the sides putting the home team under pressure from the off. Welling goalie Craig Holloway may have been tested as early as the 7th minute but a great block from Jamie Day on a Craig Dundas shot saw the danger cleared. The Sutton pressure continued as they won a succession of corners but the delivery was shocking (as was the use of short corners – THEY DO NOT WORK!) and they were all easily cleared. The pressure started getting to Welling too as they were constantly on the backfoot so started to employ the same tactics the 1986 Uruguayan World Cup and hack Sutton players down at every opportunity. Jack Parkingson was first into the book for an outrageous tackle on Dundas before Andy Sambrook also made got a yellow just before the half-time break. By this time Sutton had produced a golden chance when Romone McCrae was put clean through on goal but he never looked 100% confident and his shot was kept out through a save by Holloway and a clearance from Ben Martin. Welling created little in the 1st half but Loui Fazakerley fired a shot wide late on.


Once Sutton got to grips with playing down the slope, it was all them for the 2nd half as well as they tried to find the goal that would level the tie. Welling created one excellent chance all game when Luis Cumbers got away down the right and his cross was met by a Loick Pires diving header, but Sutton goalie Wayne Shaw made an excellent save with his legs to keep them in the game. Sutton now bombed forward as they had all of the possession and Welling were now beginning to defend well as a unit and not resort to the “strong” challenges we saw in the first half. Tony Taggart had a shot on the edge of the area which was only just deflected wide for a corner after Holloway had punched a shot from Martin to him. Sutton had a lot more dead ball situations but the delivery was poor again as Welling hung on as the game entered injury time. You always felt Sutton would create one final chance and they did in the 95th minute when a cross to the back post found Craig Watkins all alone but he could only fire into the side netting. A glorious chance. And with that, the final whistle blew, Welling were into the play-off final.


They now play Dartford in an all Kent Final (after they beat Basingstoke Town 3-1 on agg) to be held at Dartford’s Princes Park to see who joins Woking in the Blue Square Premier next season. The game has already sold out too so an excellent crowd and atmosphere should be there for that game. Having heard good things about the football Dartford play, I feel Welling are in for a tough game, but this is the play-offs, so anything can happen. Sutton United can still take a lot of heart from their first season back at this level. If they can maintain the current squad then they should be up in the Top 5 again next season. Their fans are a smashing bunch so I hope I’ll see them on the road again next season at some point. I’ll pencil it in now… ;)

Photos from Welling United vs Sutton United


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (best 0-0 I’ve ever seen)

- Value for money: 3/10 (>£10 for non-league is not on)

- Ground: 7/10 (great mix of old and new)

- Atmosphere: 6.5/10 (both sides got behind their team)

- Food: 7/10 (a brilliant sausage and bacon french stick)

- Programme: 3/10 (not worth £2)

- Referee: Brett Huxtable – 8/10 (brilliant performance from the Torrington man)

WU vs SU prog

WU vs SU stub

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

London Prepares Series – Hockey (02/05/12)

As I didn’t get any hockey tickets for the Olympics (although I didn’t actually apply for any to be honest) I was keen to see a game at the Riverbank Arena so snapped up a ticket for opening games for the Riverbank.


Firstly, getting in. For May 2nd the Olympic security measures were in place and being tested for the actual games in July/August. From my experience, the checks were slick and from getting into the gate to being able to walk through the Olympic Park towards the venue took 5 minutes max. The Park (the parts I saw) are starting to take shape too with the landscaping now in full swing as well as the McDonalds (which will be Europe’s biggest) and other outlets.


The Riverbank Arena is located in the North section of the Park and is a great (albeit slightly temporary venue) with 4 stands of of temporary style seating. The Arena is set to be moved NW towards Eton Manor after the games and become a permanent part of the legacy of the park with a capacity of 5,000 (raised to c.12,000 for major events). It currently holds 15,000 and is dominated by the actual pitch which is coloured “London Blue” to help the yellow ball being seen on HDTV. It’s a great venue and every seats seems to provide an excellent view so top stuff if you read this and have a hockey ticket – you’ll have an excellent view.


The tournament for the London Prepares Series is the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament which brings together 4 women’s teams and 4 men’s teams for a round-robin tournament. As I only got tickets for the opening women’s games I won’t bother chatting about the men’s games. The women’s tournament featured GB, Argentina, Korea and China who are all in the top 8 in the world so I was looking forward to some excellent hockey.



Argentina 3

Sruoga 20’, Rebecchi 28’, D’Elia 30’

China 0

Argentina showed why they are one of the best teams in the world by taking apart China and making them look very ordinary in the process. First half goals from Daniela Sruoga, Carla Rebecchi and Silvina D’Elia had the game sown up at HT but Argentina still continued to dominate the 2nd half and if they had converted more than one of their 13 penalty corners they won, they scoreline would have been embarrassing. China did have a couple of shots late on when Argentina had slowed down but they never fully tested Laura Del Colle in the Argentine net. One final point, if you get a chance to watch Argentina this summer, do so. Very easy on the eye.

IMG_1696(Argentina go 2-0 up)


GB 1

Danson 62’

Korea 0

A game I actually enjoyed more due to both sides being fairly close in terms of ability as GB scraped past Korea with a nervy 1-0 win. The first half wasn’t great as the Korean defence easily had an answer for everything GB threw at them and occasionally tested home goalie Beth Storry themselves. Korea did eventually run out of steam to allow GB to create more gaps and 8 minutes from time a brilliant finish from Alex Danson got them home to start the tournament with 3 points. Added bonus for the brass band that managed to get their instruments through security and so we had a great atmosphere for this game.

IMG_1705(GB take the lead!)

A good day out at the Riverbank Arena and I’ll certainly be watching some of the hockey during the Olympics proper. GB Women went on to win the tournament, impressively beating Argentina 2-0 in the final and so will be one of the favourites (as well as Holland and Argentina) to win gold in August. Good luck to them! For only £10 (+ £2.75 booking fee) and a free tournament programme it was great value too.

IMG_1700(The view from the top of the Riverbank Arena)

LPH prog

LPH stub

Friday, 4 May 2012

Bradford City vs Macclesfield Town (21/04/12)

Match 157

Ground #: 122

Ground: Valley Parade

Competition: English League 2

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £20

Programme: £3

Attendance: 10,106

Bradford City 1

Hanson 65’ 

Macclesfield Town 0


Way back in January a work colleague had convinced me to go watch his Macclesfield Town side play at AFC Wimbledon, a decision after 90 minutes of woeful football I regretted. So when the same colleague asked if I wanted to go all the way up to Bradford to watch a now relegation threatened Macclesfield side play in his home city, the answer should have been no. But when have I turned down football? And piss poor football at that.


Bradford is a metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, situated in the foothills of the Pennines. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Bradford rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture, particularly wool. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the earliest industrialised settlements, rapidly becoming the "wool capital of the world". The area's access to a supply of coal, iron ore and soft water facilitated the growth of Bradford's manufacturing base, which, as textile manufacture grew, led to an explosion in population and was a stimulus to civic investment which is still seen today through the grand Victorian architecture present in the city. The textile sector in Bradford fell into decline from the mid-20th century and so Bradford has faced similar challenges to the rest of the post-industrial area of Northern England, including deindustrialisation, housing problems, social unrest and economic deprivation. i.e – it’s a bit of a shithole that sadly suffers from fragmented, segregated ethnic communities.


Despite being a city that holds a (formerly) world class rugby league side in the Bulls, Bradford City are still an excellently supported side that have a long history themselves. The club were founded in 1903 and instantly joined Division 2 as the Football League saw the club as a chance to promote football in the rugby league dominated region. The football experiment seemed to work as in their first season they finished 10th and regularly attracted around 11,000 fans. They won promotion to the 1st Division soon after and even won an FA Cup in 1911. After the war their fortunes dropped and were relegated in 1922 to Division 2 and then dropped to Division 3 in 1927. Despite a brief upturn following the return of boss Peter O'Rourke, they continued to float around Division 3 until being further relegated to Division 4 in 1961. Becoming a yo-yo side, it did look at times that Bradford would drop out of the league all together and possibly follow the same fate as Bradford Park Avenue who fell in 1970 to never return to the FL. The 80’s saw Bradford go higher when another promotion to Division 3 before winning the league in 1985. This was however overshadowed by the awful event of the Bradford City fire when a flash fire consumed one side of Valley Parade during their final game of the season against Lincoln City and left 56 people dead and over 200 injured.

IMG_1672(Bradford Fire memorial at Valley Parade)

Playing away from Valley Parade while work was done to improve the ground; they played at Huddersfield, Leeds and Bradford Bulls grounds while other grounds across the county also reacted to the fire hazards that their stands essentially were. (Including Lincoln, who committed £3m to improving their ground afterwards) Bradford were taken over in 1994 by Geoffrey Richmond who promised promotion to the Premier League in 5 years and they achieved it with promotion to the top flight in 1999. Those days are long gone however as financial troubles and relegations have left them back in League 2 (4th tier) and amongst the strugglers at the bottom. Bradford though can argue they have the best ground at that level with Valley Parade a dominating feature of the Bradford skyline. With two massive stands of the Carlsberg and Main that provide excellent views as well as the smaller ends on the other side. With a capacity of 25k (although they never touch that now), Valley Parade is an excellent, modern ground to see a game at.


The football on the other hand seems to be the problem. Despite expecting promotion every season, Bradford recently have fallen away since their relegation in 2007. Finishes of 10th, 9th, 14th and 18th last season were poor and they were coming into this game in 18th, still needing 1 more point to officially secure their safety for next season. Their opponents though were right up against it, when you don’t win a game for 4 months you find yourselves in trouble and Macclesfield Town were really in trouble. Down in 21st place and 3 points from Barnet and safety, they had to win all 3 of their final games to really give themselves a chance. Since that Wimbledon game in January, Macclesfield have played 16 games and picked up just 7 points. Relegation form. They still had three games to play however and they had beaten Bradford 1-0 back in October at Moss Rose, so this was a tough one to call.


The opening 10 minutes of this game was fantastic, with both sides clearly wanting to have a go and Macclesfield adopting a very high line as they went gun-ho in an effort to snatch an early goal. Bradford though had the opening chance as a long ball over the top sent Nahki Wells clear on goal but Jose Veiga saved well. Macclesfield counter attacked from this but Bradford big man, Simon Ramsden cleared it away. On 13 minutes, the away side should of scored. When Arnaud Mendy headed Lewis Chalmers’ into the box, Ben Mills had a good chance to volley home but he fired miles over, which summed up Macclesfield’s season so far. (only 39 goals scored so far this season) After this, both teams must have realised who they were and it turned into the scrappy, stalemate I expected before hand. Colin Daniel had one final chance for the Macc Attack at the end of the half but fired wide.


The 2nd half was quite dire early on, with zero chances of note. Bradford did push forward at times though and Mendy ended an attacking run from Wells by hacking him down by the corner flag. Mendy was yellow carded and the ball in from Craig Fagan found James Hanson. His header towards goal was fairly weak but it came off Mills before Veiga could get a hand to it and now Macclesfield were right in the shit. The game became really scrappy now which was best summed up when Veiga clashed with Wells after the Bradford man caught him accidentally while chasing a loose ball. This brought a little scuffle while Bradford fans chanted, “GOING DOWN, GOING DOWN, GOING DOWN”. (Slightly ironic considering Bradford will probably be down there again next season). Towards the end of the game, it was only Bradford who looked like scoring with Deane Smalley forcing a good save from Veiga as did Ravenhill. Macc Attack never really troubled Matt Duke as they fizzled out while Bradford secured League status.


Macclesfield now had two games to save themselves, but a 2-0 defeat to Burton Albion, as well as Barnet honking AFC Wimbledon 4-0, meant that their Football League status was over as they dropped back to the Blue Square Premier for the first time since 1997. Bradford really do need to improve for next season otherwise they could quite easily be in Macclesfield’s position. Valley Parade is a massive ground that deserves to be hosting a higher level of football which looks unlikely anytime soon. A top day out with two work colleagues, so cheers to Phil and Jonny for excellent company! Another Macc Attack away trip looks on next season, let’s get our maps out to Woking or Ebbsfleet!

Photos from Bradford City vs Macclesfield Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 4/10 (not great)

- Value for money: 2/10 (£20?! Check where you are Bradford)

- Ground: 7/10 (excellent ground)

- Atmosphere: 6/10 (good, but Bradford fans are pessimistic!)

- Food: N/A – ate in town

- Programme: 4.5/10 (piss poor effort)

- Referee: Gavin Ward – 5/10 (quite fussy)

BC vs MT prog

BC vs MT stub

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Chelsea Youth vs Blackburn Rovers Youth (20/04/12)

Match 156

Ground #: 105 (2nd visit)

Ground: Stamford Bridge

Competition: FA Youth Cup Final 1st Leg

Kick Off: 7pm

Cost: £5

Programme: £2

Attendance: 3,412

Chelsea Youth 4

Chalobah 20’, Baker 28’, Feruz 60’, 69’ 

Blackburn Rovers Youth 0


PREVIOUS VISITS: 31/12/11 – Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa (English Premiership)

Nice bit of symmetry here for The Travelling Fan as two years ago I saw Blackburn vs Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup Semi-Final when Chelsea took a 1-0 win back to Stamford Bridge. They went on to win the trophy that season and after beating Man Utd in the Semi-Final, they were probably favourites to do the same again.


Was sat in the Shed again after waiting too long for an East Stand ticket and while it was fairly strange seeing Stamford Bridge with less than 4,000 inside, both sides played excellent football. It was also good to see future Scotland star (we can hope!!) Islam Feruz in action before he goes onto bigger and better things.’s match report below:

Chelsea made big strides towards lifting The FA Youth Cup this season, with a comprehensive victory over Blackburn Rovers in the first-leg of The Final at Stamford Bridge on Friday evening. Two goals in the first-half from captain Nathaniel Chalobah and Lewis Baker put them in control, before a brace from Islam Feruz after the break was enough to give Adi Viveash’s team a solid advantage ahead of the second-leg at Ewood Park in early May.

Whilst the scoreline may suggest the home side dominated this game, that wasn’t always the case and they had goalkeeper Jamal Blackman to be grateful to on several occasions, with the England U19 international making a number of good saves to earn a his side a clean sheet.

It was a bright start to the game too, with Chelsea’s Todd Kane testing Rovers ‘keeper Matthew Urwin early on, after cutting in from the right and striking a left-footer at goal. Fortunately for Blackburn, Urwin was down quickly to his left to turn it behind for a corner. Blackman bettered that at the other end moments later though, as a slip from Nathan Ake allowed Hugo Fernandez to cross for Curtis Haley in the box. He controlled instantly on his chest before firing a close range volley at goal, but Blackman was well placed to make a fine reaction save to keep the scores level.

It was the hosts who took the lead after 20 minutes though, when Chalobah nicked the ball just outside the area before feeding it to Amin Affane on the right. The Blues skipper swiftly made his way into the area from there and was granted the freedom of Stamford Bridge from the resulting cross, to head past Urwin into the bottom corner. Chelsea added a second in the 28th minute and it was a fine strike to boot. This time, it was Lucas Piazon who provided the ammunition, laying off from inside the box to Baker, who struck an unstoppable right-foot shot past Urwin and into the top corner.

Blackburn nearly had a goal back five minutes later, as another of their well-worked corner routines found its way to captain Ryan Edwards at the far post. His header looked to have enough power to sneak home, but again Blackman was to Chelsea’s rescue with another good save.

On the hour mark Chelsea added a third goal with Chalobah sliding a pass through the middle and into space. Feruz was onto it in a flash and slotted past Urwin to put his side firmly in control. The Scotland U17 striker didn’t have to wait much longer for a second goal either, as Piazon skipped around Fernandez before picking out Feruz in the box and he got to the ball first to poke it past Urwin.

Blackman was called upon once more, seconds from full-time as he made a decent save to deny Osayamen Osawe what would have been a lifeline for Rovers ahead of the second leg on 9 May.” (Taken from HERE)

It seems certain now that Chelsea will win the FA Youth Cup this season unless Blackburn pull off an almighty performance next week. Good luck to both sides!





Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (reasonable)

- Value for money: 7/10 (£5 is good value)

- Ground: 7/10 (hasn’t changed since I was last here!)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (very little)

- Food: N/A – Don’t be silly

- Programme: 5.5/10 (average FA effort, not worth £2)

- Referee: Lee Probert – 8/10 (very good game)

CY vs BY prog

CY vs BY stub