Monday, 27 March 2017


25 MARCH 2017 --- 3PM
A brace from league top scorer Alex Naughton saw Atherstone over the line at Uttoxeter after the home side had taken an early lead and this was sweet for the visitors who had suffered a sharp 3-0 loss at home in the reverse fixture only last week, something which had left Atherstone manager Ivor Green far from happy in his after match comments.
A bright sunny day with no worries about rain or postponements it couldn't be a Saturday, could it?  Uttoxeter would be a re visit for the blog and the chance to see high flying Atherstone Town.  The journey would be a simple 2 bus ride or would it?  As ever approaching Alfreton hill the traffic was queuing all the way down the incline and the 20 minute change in Derby was playing on my mind.  Thankfully on arrival in ram land there was enough time and the change to the Swift bus was made now the first part of this journey to Ashbourne down the A52 I always find quite dour and today was no different.  Out of Ashbourne we pass close by to the proposed new site of Ashbourne FC's new ground which sadly as still not started and its not long before we pass through Rocester were they are currently lodging.  Uttoxeter is a buzz today with a food and craft market and this attractive town looks busier than ever we make our way through the crowds to the Old Swan of the 'Spoons variety for a spot of lunch and once again its fairly quiet for dinner time.  On departure we bump into a few of the Morris Men who had been performing earlier, Morris Men in a pub now come on!
The gentle spring like walk to Oldfields is pleasant and upon arrival we get as ever here a pleasant and warm welcome from one and all including stewards and Ginny in the pay box.  I wont describe the ground because it has has been covered before and barring a couple of weeks its 2 years since we last visited and not too much has changed.  Strangely todays referee Daniel Parkes is the same official as in 2015 for the visit of Highgate Utd.
On the walk to the pitch which is a good 150 yards away from the still beautiful changing rooms and club house we pass the clubs superbly liveried mini bus which could probably act as a shuttle bus to pitch side for players and spectators alike.  At pitch side things are a today as ever with everything looking in pristine condition, with admission paid including programme and raffle purchased we were ready for the action.
There appeared a strange clash of kit colours with both sides in yellow and blue although Uttoxeter were of the striped variety.
Early action for the home side saw Liam Sowter hit a 25 yard effort that Athertsone keeper James Beeson held well before on 8 minutes Jake Lovatt lashed a cross goal shot into the bottom left hand corner to give Uttoxeter the lead.  Atherstone were level on 17 minutes when Micky Allen failed to hold a snap shot and Naughton was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.  The visitors were just getting the upper hand and 7 minutes before the break they took the lead with a crisp free kick from 25 yards out low and hard into the bottom right hand corner by Sam Belcher.

The second half was a strange period of 'football' with the home side having a fair amount of play but Atherstones back line defending well and holding Uttoxeter's advances.  However the home side did see Martin Gadsby's header parried by Beeson before Oli Ritchie got a shot away.  On 69 minutes Gadsby went close again when his shot was parried away by the visiting keeper Beeson.
As the half wore on it became clearer that Atherstone were thwarting Uttoxeter in solid defending and well placed time wasting, with players going down injured in various states around the pitch one visiting player rolled off the pitch injured only to realise and rolling himself back on pretty sharply before another delay ensued, the obligatory slow goal kicks.  One mid half substitute was laboured and for all these as a neutral observer I'm afraid referee Parkes did nothing to move things along, he did however add 8 minutes stoppage time and after a late start to the first half we finally wrapped proceedings up at 5.03pm.  By this stage Uttoxeter manager Dean Arnold had understandably got to his limits of frustration and was sent off by the official for his troubles.

Uttoxeter still tried to break through and Thomas Morgan saw his shot superbly pushed over by Beeson for a corner.  In the closing minutes home keeper Allen came forward for a corner off the left a header deflected for a corner off the right and when the initial kick fell back out to Luke Lewis his effort found a Atherstone player who immediately cleared to Naughton who ran 3/4's the length of the pitch to run the ball into and empty home goal, the ultimate sucker punch with referee Parkes blowing for time immediately from the kick off.
This was a laboured performance from the home side in the second period but Atherstone defended and frustrated to a level that allowed them to win the game something that maybe others need to do at times when they lead in a game, its not pretty but it was effective and produced a result for the visitors that was so much sweeter than there loss last week to todays hosts.
As 2 years ago I have always found Uttoxeter a friendly and welcoming club and the towns a lovely little drop off for an hour before the game so a well recommended visit.  Return connection completed by a short fraction and arrival back at base just after 8pm.

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