Where's The Tea Hut reflects upon local football South West style with a few trips further afield. Keep the faith & stay safe.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Squires Gate 0 Runcorn Town 1

Tuesday 20th August 2013
North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 45
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Cloudy but dry, bit chilly later in the evening
Parking: Club car park

I once looked forward to an early season night match on the Blackpool coast, a stroll down the prom, fresh sea air and a big bag of fish & chips. Now you’re more likely to get mugged or catch a contagious disease.
I did however traverse as far as Cleveleys before kick off to visit one of the best chippies in Britain, 'Kays'. Its an unassuming take-out and humble sit down diner directly adjacent to the small Cleveleys bus station just a few miles north of the Golden Mile. I opted for a battered Haddock on a fresh white roll (or muffin, barm whatever you call em in your area). Absolutely fantastic fish believe me, well worth the extra drive. Its only an enthralling eye-opening 20 minute (slightly sleazy) drive back down the Blackpool sea front towards the ground afterwards. Squires Gate play just behind the small airport a stones throw from their NWCL rivals AFC Blackpool. Blackpool Wren Rovers also play in the same area.

Back to the football on offer tonight. Sadly only 45 souls turned down the attraction of Brendan and his organ at the North Pier Show Bar to watch Squires Gate take on one of the more entertaining footballing sides in the NWCL.
Town were just lining up in their green away strip when I arrived at the School Lane Royal British Legion Stadium. Looked a cracking pitch, I believe the groundsman Brian Addison has won quite a few awards for it over the years. Pity I couldn’t say the same for the advert ridden programme, it was only a quid but I reckon I was still ripped off.

There wont be a selection of cheesy photographs for this report, apart from the programme cover, I've done Squires Gate before and I'd just be going over old ground (excuse the pun), check out the link to this previous visit if you want more images:
Runcorn Town had found that winning formula again after a couple of set backs at Maine Road and Norton and without being disrespectful to the aspirations of a gallant Squires Gate outfit; they really needed to secure an away win tonight.

With light cloud cover and a reasonably dry surface both sides jousted forwards into a busy midfield. The familiar NWCL 100 miles an hour adrenalin fuelled football carved out early breaks at both ends of the pitch, Russ McKenna looked the main Gate co-ordinator whilst Keddie, Burton and Potter charged into the action for Town.
The visitors edged the proceedings first half but both sides had ample opportunities to open the scoring. Chances came and went, that elusive and important opening goal was proving hard to find. Squires Gate decided sitting back was not a long term viable game plan and started sweeping the ball wide and cutting forwards across the Town back four, time and time again they won free kicks in and around the box. I wouldn’t say the Town defence was rattled but they appeared to be clutching at the wrong options defensively which resulted in a few rash challenges in some very dangerous positions. Fortunately Karl Wills was at the top of his game and provided an excellent showcase of top class goalkeeping.

Half time 0-0.
As the dark sky spread and the lights took effect a chilly light breeze seeped in from the sea, I was glad of a warm jacket, saying that, a couple of Town regular away supporters still kept up their vanity driven fashion-horse image in flimsy tops and Daily Express action slacks, the ones with the elasticated waist bands. Fortunately the players weren’t put off by the quivering flesh and we were soon back into the game. A Town away match just wouldn’t be the same without a few supporters politely expressing slightly contradictory views to that of the match officials, it’s all done in the best possible taste and highly entertaining during the few duller moments of the action, I’d love a compilation tape of all the classic outbursts bellowed across the pitch. I don’t think that tonight’s officials got it as wrong as some of their colleagues have been guilty of at some games but there did appear to be some mighty close offside decisions as Town continually split the home defence with through balls via the channels.

This was a game that increasingly had that feel that just a single goal would win it; as a result both sides seemed to be hurrying their football which often witnessed moves breaking down in unchallenging areas. It was a welcome relief when Paul Shanley put Town in front with around half an hour left to play, it wasn’t spectacular but its verification on the score sheet provided Town with a valuable lead that Squires Gate were going to struggle to overturn.
The last quarter of the match drifted to a state of attrition and became a tad scrappy and disjointed, Town were holding Gate at bay with steely confidence and despite a few late scrapes they still had fuel in the tank for a number of cavalry charges up the pitch, Darren Kinsey was providing sterling service in beating man after man as he counter attacked the home defence, an inspired performance from the full back. It all came to an end without too much fuss and Town got the points they certainly deserved. A one goal win is still a win, it’s easy saying Runcorn Town should win at places like Squires Gate if they have genuine aspirations for promotion buts it’s not always as simple as it looks, a midweek away victory in the NWCL has to be earned and that’s just what Runcorn Town did.

My journey back to the Pennine Hills featured a 10pm grid locked traffic jam on the M55/M6 which was later complemented by a major fire in my local village which shut 90% of the access routes for mugs like me living higher up the valley, nice!

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