Midland Football League Newsletter
6th January 2016
Coventry Sphinx FC celebrate their 70th Anniversary next year and as part of this celebration they are having an Evening With Bobby Gould. Bobby Gould is a sky Blue legend who was born Coventry and played for his hometown club making his debut at 16. He scored 42 in 82 games and helped them lift the old second division title in 1966/7.
Fairfield Villa have appointed Paul Wilkes as their new Chairman after Wilkes left his role at Bromsgrove Sporting.
Coventry United will be featuring on Community radio from this weekend as Hillz FM begin matchday coverage.
Travels of the Press Officer
Friday, January 1st, 2016
Bromsgrove Sporting 3 Pilkington XXX 0
An excellent start to a New Year with a trip to the Victoria Ground and a big Division crowd for the top 6 clash between Bromsgrove Sporting against Pilkington XXX. The home side were hoping to close the gap between themselves and leaders Coventry United to just one point albeit having played two games more. With a record crowd in attendance, the vast majority of the supporters were soon on their feet as Bromsgrove took the lead in the 2nd minute. Sean Brain reached the byline and crossed low for Kyle Turner to tap in. Brain again caused problems for the Pilks defence but his cross was blocked with men in the box. The mercurial Reece Hewitt should have done better in the 9th minute beating three defenders before deciding that he needed to beat them again and seeing the chance go begging. Connor Leek had the first opportunity for Pilks in the 11th minute but it was comfortable save for Chris Jay. Luke Dugmore rattled the woodwork for Bromsgrove in the 28th minute before seeing his follow up effort saved by Reece Francis. Bromsgrove wasted another opportunity in the 36th minute when Brain decided to shoot with Turner in acres of space. At the other end, a defensive slip almost let in Pilks but jay did well to clear the ball. Pilks should have been level 3 minutes before half time when Dale Kenny squared the ball to Brett Fellows, but with the goal at his mercy, he missed the target. In Stoppage time, Brain again went close for the home side. Bromsgrove doubled their lead in the 58th minute with an excellently worked goal. Hewitt picked up the ball in his own half, drove forward and played the ball into the path of Brain. Hewitt continued his run and when Brain played the ball perfectly into his path, his finish gave Francis no chance. Pilks responded with a Kenny effort which was deflected for a corner. Bromsgrove put the game to bed with a third in the 67th minute. A deep cross from Hewitt was headed home at the far post by Will Tibbetts. Sam Wills went close to a 4th for the home side, clipping the post with a 20-yard effort. Both sides continued to look for goals – Connor Collins forcing a fine save from Francis and Kenny seeing a stoppage time effort tipped over by Jay. On a cold wet New year’s Day, both sides can take immense credit for the quality of football they put on show. Bromsgrove are mounting a serious bid for promotion and they will be pleased to get three points against a quality Pilkington side. As for Pilks, it was a case of missed chances and lost possession in crucial areas.
Saturday, January 2nd
AFC Wulfrunians 1 Hereford 2
With the weather playing havoc with fixtures across the MFL, all credit goes to everyone involved at AFC Wulfrunians for ensuring that their game against league leaders Hereford was on. A couple of super soppers from the local cricket club certainly helped but the efforts of the groundstaff were repaid by a record attendance at Castlecroft Stadium. Hereford had won their previous 25 games in all competitions and a win would take them 15 points clear at the top of the table. Not surprisingly, the game attracted significant interest from across the Midland Football league with officials and clubs well represented. Wulfs started the game in a positive vein with Bulls keeper Martin Horsell having to palm away a Jamie King corner. Excellent work by Pablo Haysham forced a fine clearance from Matt Hunt. In the 17th minute, an excellent ball inside from Kyle Brady was just too far in front of Ricky Anslow allowing the Bulls defence to clear. With their first chance of the game, Hereford took the lead in the 20th minute. Ryan Green delivered a perfect cross into the penalty area and Mike Symons was allowed a free header, the “Beast” making no mistake as it flew past Danny Tipton. Symons should have made it two three minutes later. John Mills found space and played the ball into the path of Symons. With just Tipton to beat, Symons slotted the ball past the keeper and, somehow, past the post. Wulfs responded but Anslow overran the ball when in a good position and Horsell made a fine save. The home side silenced the majority of the crowd by equalising in the 28th minute. An excellent run and cross by Anslow was fired home at the far post by King. The goal quietened the Hereford support as they knew that their side was in a tough battle for points. With half-time approaching, King saw a left-footed shot well saved by Horsell. On the stroke of halftime, a shot from John Hill fell at the feet of Ben Jevons, whose shot on the turn hit the outside of the post. Wulfs first half performance prompted a double substitution at half-time by the Bulls and the changes certainly made a difference. In the 58th minute, Haysham gave Wulfs warning of his ability when his direct free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar. Wulfs were still giving a good account of themselves and in a goalmouth scramble, Jevons saw his shot blocked by the Bulls defence. As the half wore on, the fitness and quality of the Bulls began to shine through. Midway through the half, a Haysham free-kick was headed against the bar by Mills. Hereford missed a great chance in the 69th minute when Anthony Robbins headed over. Hereford took the lead in the 76th minute with a piece of real quality. Haysham lined up the free-kick and curled the ball over the wall and into the net. Wulfs did not lie down and King went close with a first time volley from the edge of the box. Haysham again went close with another free-kick, this one clearing the bar. In stoppage time, Wulfs were awarded a free-kick but with keeper Tipton in the area too, Horsell gathered the ball and the Bulls could celebrate their 36th win in a row. A fantastic advert for the Midland Football League and a hard earned 3 points for Hereford who are now 15 points clear at the top. The reaction of their supporters and official was enough to realise that they had been in a game today and Wulfrunians had pushed them close. Both sides can look forward to FA Vase fixtures next weekend with strong chances of reaching the 5th round.
Only three games survived the weather over the New Year’s weekend. On New Year’s Day, Shepshed Dynamo finally managed to play a league game and came away from Heanor Town with all 3 points following a 3-2 win. The result leaves Heanor in 3rd with Dynamo up to 5th. On Saturday, a huge effort from the AFC Wulfrunians groundstaff meant that their game against Hereford could take place. They were rewarded with a record attendance at Castlecroft but the league leaders took all three points in a hard earned victory, Pablo Haysham with a sumptuous free-kick for the winner. Bardon Hill moved up a place in the bottom echelons following a stunning 4-1 win at Long Eaton United, Richard Hanslow with a couple.
The weather was the big winner in Division 1 with only one fixture surviving and that was the only one scheduled for New Years Day. Bromsgrove Sporting welcomed in 2016 in front of a record attendance of 674 at The Victoria Ground. Visitors Pilkington XXX played their part in an excellent advert for the division but it was the Rouslers that picked up the points with a 3-0 victory. The win closes the gap at the top to just one point.
Thanks to the 3G pitch at Knights Lane, FC Stratford moved up to 2nd place after a 3-1 win over Shipston Excelsior.
In the Birmingham Saturday Vase, Alvis Sporting Club made progress beating Folly Lane 2-0. In the Staffordshire Challenge Cup, Burntwood Town were knocked out losing 4-0 at Redgate Clayton Reserves. Alvechurch got back to action in the JW Hunt Cup at Bilston Town and they were inspired by Jordan Nadat in a 6-0 victory. Nadat scored the first 4 goals and there was also a debut goal for 17 year old Danny Moy.
In the trophy, league leaders Coleshill Town beat Romulus 3-1 at Coles Lane thanks to a Shane Benjamin hat-trick.
Into the last 32 of the FA Vase and there are still 5 MFL teams standing. Coleshill Town have to wait another week for their 4th round tie as their opponents, Dunston UTS or Seaham Red Star are yet to play their 3rd round tie. At Edgar Street, two sides at the top of their respective divisions and both with similar records, go head to head. Hereford have home advantage but they could not have asked for a trickier tie as Leicester Nirvana are flying high in the United Counties League. Nirvana knocked Premier Division Heanor Town out of the competition so cannot be underestimated. Home advantage backed by their massive support should give Hereford the edge. Alvechurch travel to Grimsby to face Northern Counties East Cleethorpes Town who sit in 4th place in their division. The Owls have already beaten both Westfield and Racing Club Warwick in the competition and the Church will be fully determined not to make it a hat-trick of MFL scalps. Ian Long’s side are in tremendous form winning their last 7 games and not conceding in the last 4. This is a difficult one to call, and whoever gets through certainly has a chance to win the competition. In an all MFL tie, AFC Wulfrunians welcome Division 1 Nuneaton Griff to Castlecroft. Griff have slipped down the table in recent weeks but are still in a strong promotion position. Wulfs are having an excellent season comfortably in the top 6 and pushing leaders Hereford all the way last week. Griff have plenty of goals in them, and if they can play on the front foot, they could spring a surprise. Form favours Wulfs but either way, the MFL are guaranteed a side in Round 5.
With the top two otherwise engaged, Sporting Khalsa play one of their 6 games in hand when they welcome Westfields to the Aspray Arena. Westfields are struggling near the bottom of the pack and both sides are desperate for a point. 3rd placed Heanor Town entertain Stourport Swifts knowing that a win would take them into second place. Shepshed Dynamo are up to 5th and they face a tough game away at Boldmere St Michaels. Highgate United have 8 games in hand on the leaders and 8 wins would make it interesting at the top. They welcome Rocester to the Coppice. Coleshill Town, with prolific striker Shane Benjamin back in the ranks, have an unexpected league date with lowly Dunkirk due to their FA Vase tie being postponed. Basement side Continental Star travel to Loughborough University to tackle the mid-table students, who would go 9th with a victory. A big game at the bottom of the table where in-form Brocton welcome 20th placed Coventry Sphinx to Silkmore Lane. Sphinx have plenty of games in hand on the sides around them but need to start picking up points. Quorn are one place above Coventry Sphinx and are also in need of points as they welcome Walsall Wood to Farley Way. Bardon Hill had a morale boosting win at Long Eaton United last weekend and the two sides meet again in the reverse fixture.
Coventry United have seen their lead at the top reduced to just one point as they have not played since the beginning of December. They will want to get back under way with all 3 points when Racing Club Warwick visit Sphinx Drive. Bromsgrove Sporting are the side that has closed the gap and they have a big game away at Hinckley AFC where a big crowd is expected. Leicester Road are well in the promotion mix and will expect to take all 3 points when they host bottom club Stafford Town. Pilkington XXX will move up to 5th place if they can beat Heather St Johns at home. Southam United are just 5 points clear of the bottom and they need to kick-start their season away to an Atherstone Town side that has won the last two. Two sides in the lower reaches meet in Worcestershire where Pershore Town entertain Cadbury Athletic. The final game in Division 1 sees Littleton take on Studley.
Just two games in the Second division and they affect the middle and the bottom of the table. Fairfield Villa host Paget Rangers with the sides locked on the same number of points and next to each other in the league table. 13th placed Feckenham travel to 11th placed Knowle looking to close the gap between the two to just 2 points.
Game of the day sees 3rd placed Smithswood Firs hosting 2nd placed FC Stratford, both having games in hand on the leaders. The aforementioned leaders, Leamington Hibernian can take advantage of their close rivals meeting by taking all 3 points at home to 2nd bottom Perrywood. 4th placed Barton United are just 5 points off the lead and they face Badsey Rangers at home. Bottom side AFC Solihull will hope to continue their upturn in form and results when they welcome Coventrians to Tudor Grange. Enville Athletic will be hoping to put their poor form behind them when Burntwood Town visit Hall Drive.
Polymac Packaging League Cup
An intriguing tie this weekend as Division 1 Coventry Copsewood entertain Premier Division Lye Town. Copsewood have had some good results recently whereas Lye have been a model of inconsistency. Anything could happen.
In the Quarter Final of the Challenge Vase, in form Alcester Town welcome Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons to Old Stratford Road. In the other quarter-final, Redditch Borough entertain Inkberrow at The Valley.
Les James Challenge Cup
The top two in Division meet at The Pavilion as Chelmsley Town welcome Droitwich Spa. Both sides are in tremendous form and with only one league defeat each this season, they are almost impossible to split. Should be a cracker.
Cadbury Athletic vs Brocton
Continental Star vs Evesham united
Gresley vs Coleshill Town
Rocester vs Lichfield City
Solihull Moors vs Coventry United
Gornal Athletic vs Heath Hayes (BOWL)
H.O.W. Academy vs Kings Heath Concorde (BOWL)
Tamworth vs Anstey Nomads (U21N)
Tipton Town vs Newcastle Town (U21N)
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