Saturday, 29 October 2016


29 OCTOBER 2016 --- 3PM
A goal fest saw the back of the net ripple 8 times and by the time the final whistle was blown Kidsgrove were in the hat for the next round.  The home side would have seen it very differently just over half an hour in when they were 2 - 0 down, a storming comeback saw them level at half time.  The second half went the Staffordshire sides way but there was a tense few moments late on when Soham reduced the arrears to one goal, before Kidsgrove made it 5-3.
The plans this week were down to a selection from just 3 games and Kidsgrove was not one of them!  The morning of the game saw early match day preparations about to start but firstly something said just check out Kidsgrove's twitter account.  For some reason I had missed this game and when the opposition was highlighted it became the selected game with the chance of seeing an Isthmian League side, something I don't think I can remember doing before in my years of watching non league.
Autumn was in full swing with leaves vacating their branches and a dark thick cloudy day threatening to deny me many action shots, so it turned out.
Todays journey saw us gain a seat on the departing to train to Derby before we connected onto the Crewe train or as previously observed 1 carriage affair supplied by East Midlands Train a bus! Part of the journey saw us accompanied by a twenty year old chap dressed as baby his excuse was its was his stag night although it could have been just the thing he was into, anyway being British everybody just ignored him and acted completely normal!
Upon departure at Kidsgrove the awareness of the station spanning 4 platforms and being a junction  came to light, it could have done with a little bit of a sprucing up but it won favour with me more of which later.  With a nice bit of time to spare we ambled off in search of the town centre just about 1/4 of a mile away walking the slight incline it then came to me I had visited Kidsgrove before for a fleeting visit.  Having taken 5 minutes to look at the shops on Market St, ok it may have been 3 minutes, we opted to visit Leons Fish Shop for a portion of chips and fish cake.  Mick had as ever got into conversation with the pleasant owner and we had a football discussion with him while waiting for  ur order.  It was good to see Leons displaying a poster for todays game and also a few other shops putting up the clubs promotions too.  Leons were selling the local delicacy of oatcakes and it was quite strange that every 3rd shop seemed to be stocking oatcakes in the town they must shift some round here.
Time to retrace our steps back to the station by a pre planned footpath which would allow us to take in Harecastle canal tunnel which is just short of 3,000 yards long and with the Telford designed one still open it was interesting to see the Brindley tunnel to the side, sadly this is now closed.
After the short cut we went a rather circuitous route to the 'The Grove' and arrived at as one of my mates called it 'the bungalow ground'.  This being a reference to the council bungalows on the approach to the ground something that reminded me of North St, Alfreton.
Our first contact was with a Soham supporter who had just departed the coach and we were soon greeted in the car park by a steward who gave us the directions and facilities at the club in his introduction.  Having gained access by payment of £8 for this tie immediately to the left Gladys sold me a 'goalden goal' ticket and a couple of programmes,  important people these every person was asked to take part and its hard to say no.
First impressions here are of a smart ground with some cracking stands and loads of litter bins there really should be no mess left although after half time we did spot two pop cans and chip trays dropped on the floor with a bin just 10 yards away!
A quick ground tour then to the right upon entry the Novus sponsored stand with a nice deep selection of covered seats over to the far touchline are the dugouts and a lovely sunny yellow coloured stand theta is two rows deep and straddles the half way line.
The bottom side, yes there is a small slope here, had a full width stand with one row of seats, behind the goal this expands to two, tight to the playing area.  The bottom end also as an additional turnstile block giving access from what looks like a nearby footpath although not open today.  So we arrive back at pitch side to were we entered the ground this area has the main functions of the club housing a small stand after a hospitality area and then a stand that is dissected by the players tunnel, behind this are the changing rooms and behind this again the clubhouse.  The latter also as a hospitality tent that runs out onto a grassed area with wooden tables provided.  The cherry on the cake is the executive area perched on the top of this stand offering an excellent view of proceedings with a balcony too.  Of course we are at step 4 here with Evostik side Kidsgrove and there is bound to be more furniture than some of our recent blogs but the overall impression here was of a very smart and well ordered club.
Time then to take in the snack bar now we had selected chips in the town but went in for drinks and chocolate.  Mick was soon in conversation about the varying amount of tablets he was taking with the staff, before we made to much of a nuisance of ourselves we vacated the premises only to return a few more times for additional provisions during the afternoon.  This snack bar was worth a note though run by two lovely ladies, Sue and Sandra, it all looked very clean and tidy the food looked good and the pies were tempting me but my ever expanding waistline may not have been too pleased it I had succumbed.
Game time then and with both sides struggling a little in their respective league today would provide a diversion and by the time Soham were 2-0 to the good after 33 minutes they must have been booking their tickets for the next round.  After just 2 minutes Ryan Sharman turned the ball home for 1-0 and the it was Ross Paterson who fired home from 10 yards out.  Clinical finishing from the visitors against a home side who were playing pretty football but on two occasions nearly got caught out at the back overplaying the ball.  That said visiting keeper George Lawton was getting in the way of most of what Kidsgrove could throw at him.  As early as the first minute he fumbled away a vicious drive from Tom Morris before on 22 minutes saving from Chris Birchall.  Soham's number one was soon inaction again on 22 minutes saving from Anthony Malbon before the comeback commenced.
With 8 minutes to go to the break Morris fired the ball home from the back post and then a glorious strike from 25 yards from Dave Artell, how often these efforts can fly over the bar but this one was as sweet as they get.
Moments before referee Roskelly blew for half time Lawton saved yet again from Ross Davidson who got in a sharp header.
Towards the end of the half we met the dad of Kidsgrove's Tom Morris who surprisingly enough travelled up regularly to offices near Chesterfield and we engaged in a further bit of football banter, good to meet you.  As it was to catch up with many friendly people once again this afternoon in the non league family.
Another positive about this afternoons visit was a good public address system a steady choice of music coupled with informative announcements.
The fist half had probably produced a correct score line although Kidsgrove were denied on quite a few occasions the visitors had been clinical and deserved their 2 goals.
On 54 minutes the home side took the lead Malbon found himself with just Lawton to beat and although the Soham keeper blocked the strikers shot with his legs he could not stop the ball rolling agonisingly over the line.
  Malbon was now starting to prove a handful and his assist led to goal number 4, he weaved his way through the visiting defence before striking the right hand post before Harry Clayton tapped home the loose ball.
Whether Kidsgrove took the foot of the gas is fort other to say but all of a sudden with Soham looking out of it they threw everything at the Staffordshire side and deservedly pulled a goal back to make it 4-3 on 79 minutes when Paterson got his second firing home at the back post.
It was game on now, nut only for a short while because on 85 minutes the two goal lead was secured again a sweet cross off the right by Davidson was met by the in running Ben Mills who headed home.
This was all too enjoyable now and it was somewhat disappointing when the referee blew his whistle on exactly 90 minutes with what seemed like no injury time added, it was one of those games you wanted to continue.  However I would add the 3 officials did a good job today with some common sense on a few occasions that it was required resolutely applied.
Return trip was made to the station via the same route and we arrived at platform 3 with 15 minutes to spare.  The connecting land between the junction was developed in the 80's by Manpower services with the aid of the local Rotary Club to create a mini garden and although this needs a little upgrade it added to what was quite a pleasant station.  In the short time we waited the station was only mildly populated however it had a peaceful feel to it with much evening birdsong in evidence, the blogs sounding like 'Springwatch' sorry.
With a sharp connection made at Derby we were soon alighting our 7 carriage chariot at base station just before 7pm and we soon realised we had got a seat on all 4 trains even the single carriage affairs that populate the Derby to Crewe line.
A pleasant day at a pretty ground surrounded by some lovely autumn coloured trees and a good game to complete the whole trip.

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