Midland Football League Newsletter
30th March 2016
Coventry United issued an official club statement on Sunday
“It’s with mutual agreement that the CUFC Board and their first team manager have agreed to part company with immediate effect and the appointment of Terry Anderson as interim 1st team manager is confirmed”
“This difficult decision was made by the board based on the teams downturn in recent performances at this crucial stage of the promotion push”
“Edwin Greaves has been a loyal hard working manager and gained CUFC two back to back promotions and for these achievements, we thank him and will forever be part of the CUFC family”.
Latest reports from the FA indicate that over 14,000 tickets have been sold of the Hereford allocation for the FA Vase final – incredible!
Travels of the Press Officer
Friday 25th March
Barton United 3 BT 0 (Fazeley Charity Cup Final @ New Mill Lane)
My first cup final of the season and an opportunity to see if MFL Division 3 promotion challengers Barton United can pick up some silverware against BT from the Birmingham & District League. The game took place at New Mill Lane, the home of MFL Division 2 side Coton Green and after missing the turn first time round, a welcoming sight the floodlight pitch proved to be. Parking my car in the large car park behind the goal (trying to find a strategic place so that it wasn’t target practice), I took a wander around the ground to take in the atmosphere. The well appointed clubhouse was heaving with supporters (lots of green and white clad Barton fans) and I headed for the halfway line on the far side of the ground to get a good vantage point. When the sides came out, the green and white shirt of Barton United stood out which is more than I can say for their numbers. As a seasoned radio commentator and sports reporter, there is nothing worse than shirts with unidentifiable numbers. The Barton shirts are now in my top three of indistinguishable numbers – sort it out, please! BT created the first real chance of the game in the 4th minute with a free-kick being volleyed over but the game soon established the pattern we were to see for the full 90. A free-kick for Barton caused panic in the BT defence and they were happy to clear for a corner. The opening goal came in the 20th minute when a well-worked move down the left-hand side saw Richard Holmes run on goal and his shot was deflected past the BT keeper and into the net. Barton continued to pile on the pressure but they couldn’t convert their chances. Prolific striker Peter Martin continued to strive for a goal and his shot on the turn was just off target.
Barton started the second half the way they finished the first and grabbed a second three minutes when the ball was played across the box from the right and Anthony Warrington was on hand to turn it home. A fantastic break from Barton saw Craig Swinfield’s shot heading for the corner but for a fantastic fingertip save from the keeper. Barton weren’t to be denied and goal number three was turned in from close range by Earl Grant. It was all Barton and Chris Francis saw another effort well saved by the keeper. Martin shrugged off two defenders and raced through but this shot was well saved again. BT made rare incursions but never really threatened the Barton goal. A long ball from Grant found Martin but he pulled his shot wide. Martin was again through on goal, beat the keeper but a defender raced back to clear. Jonathan Douglas saw a shot well saved but it mattered little as Barton deservedly lifted the silverware. A great game to watch and some super performances from Barton – Jonathan Douglas and Ross Burr were commanding at the back, skipper George Stack controlled things in the middle of the park, and up front, BT had no answer to Peter Martin. A special mention for Earl Grant who appeared to play in every position possible apart from goalkeeper, and I reckon he could’ve done that too! The question now is – can Barton make it a double and win promotion?
Saturday 26th March
Stafford Town 1 Southam United 0
Another relegation zone scrap this time at the bottom of Division 1. Southam United have lost nine on the trot leaving them marooned in bottom place. Stafford Town had moved well away from the bottom but a run of poor results and improved form from Bolehall Swifts means that The Reds are just one place above the relegation zone. Easter Saturday had brought some filthy weather to the Midlands and with rain, gale force winds and the position of the teams, a classic was not anticipated. Tom Vaughan had the first opportunity for Town but his shot was saved by Matt Archer. Jordan Featherstone beat his defender and forced Richard Stone into a save at the other end. The game was littered with mistakes and the conditions were certainly not helping. A piece of real quality almost broke the deadlock for Stafford. Dan Nowell picked his spot from 25 yards and let fly but his shot cannoned off the crossbar and Spencer Gunnell couldn’t convert the rebound. Chris Morris on the right-hand edge of the area beat the advancing Archer but the ball drifted agonisingly wide. Just before the break, Morris saw his shot saved as the teams went into the break level.
The impressive Featherstone had an early opportunity for Southam but his effort was comfortably saved by Stone. A shot from Vaughan took a slight deflection which was enough to send it past the post. The woodwork again saved Southam just after the hour when Gunnell’s cross was headed goalwards by James Keller hitting the outside of his own post. Nowell went close again for Town putting his shot over the bar. The opening goal came in the 69th minute. A fine run into the box from Paul Govier, saw the ball played to the left to Jon Govier whose shot was well saved by Stone. With Paul Govier lying injured in the box, Town broke quickly. A two on one situation developed with Gunnell the wrong side of the Southam defence. He laid the ball into the path of Dan Jones who sidefooted home. Southam were incensed that the referee hadn’t stopped the play for the injury – the sort of decision that goes against you when you are at the bottom. Southam did respond positively with Featherstone again forcing a save from Stone. Gunnell was given acres of time and space by the Southam defence and after beating numerous defenders his shot from a tight angle hit the outside of the post. Town should have made it safe with four minutes to go when substitute Declan McMahon beat Archer but missed the target.
A vital three points for Stafford but still some way to go if they are to avoid finishing in the bottom two. Southam battled hard and will feel hard done to coming away from the game with nothing. If they are to get away from the bottom, they will need to start taking some of their chances.
Monday 28th March
Brocton 3 Boldmere St Michaels 1
Along with 1,500 others, I was anxiously keeping a close eye on my Twitter feed to see if Alvechurch had beaten Storm Katie to enable them to entertain Hereford. Alas, it wasn’t to be so an alternative had to be found. With question marks over travelling conditions (floods, trees down etc), I decided to stay close to home. Confirmation that the Silkmore Lane pitch had drained well meant a 25-minute journey up the M6 to Stafford and Brocton FC. The Badgers and visitors Boldmere St Michaels had flirted with the relegation zone earlier in the season but improved form and results from both meant they were safe. Brocton had an early shout for a penalty when Dan Lomas’ cross appeared to strike a Mikes' hand but the referee waved away the protests. Given the amount of rain overnight, the pitch was playing remarkably well but neither side made any real inroads. Anthony Fitzmaurice created an opening for himself driving forward but putting his shot wide of the target. Fitzmaurice, or rather his backside, was in action at the other blocking a fierce drive from Gary Fife. Boldmere went close to opening the scoring in the 29th minute when Harry Craven’s shot on the turn was hacked off the line by Ben Douglas. Brocton took the lead in the 36th minute and there was more than a little controversy about the goal. Paul McMahon challenged Dom Perkins for the ball. Some would say he used his strength, others (including me) would say he shoved Perkins in the back, but either way he came away with the ball and lobbed Sean Butler for the perfect finish. Three minutes later, it was two. Perkins had decided to have a ‘conversation’ with McMahon, and while he was otherwise engaged Jack Edwards broke through the defence and finished superbly. On the stroke of half-time, Charlie Morris went close for Boldmere, his shot just over the bar.
Boldmere were back in the game 10 minutes after the break. A free-kick was floated into the area, and Craven headed home beating Callum Barrett to the ball. The match official were clearly upsetting the Boldmere management and players with every decision against them seen as an injustice. Edwards should have scored his second in the 61st minute but his header was weak and directed straight at Butler. Barrett made a fine save to thwart Morris but it was the home side that extended their lead in the 76th minute. Lomas played the ball down the line to Edwards who ran into the area. His initial shot was blocked back into his path and an inch perfect cross found McMahon who stooped to head home. An excellent challenge in the middle of the park by Charlie Jones saw him come up with the ball and hit a goalbound shot which was well saved by Butler. The Mikes had claims for a penalty waved away after a challenge in the air went unpunished. In stoppage time, Joe Smith headed wide when he should have hit the target but this wasn’t the Mikes day and Brocton ran out 3-1 winners.
Wednesday, March 30th
AFC Wulfrunians 1 Heanor Town 1
Games are coming thick and fast now and a rare match at Castlecroft on a Wednesday evening is tonight’s attraction. Both AFC Wulfrunians and Heanor Town are without a number of key players meaning the team sheet bearing little resemblance to what would normally be expected. The game started slowly with the Wulfs keeper, Josh Moreton called into action in the 10th minute to thwart Arash Abdollahi. Wulfs went close in the 17th minute when Joel Ayettey controlled well and saw his shot squirm away from Joe McCormack but the ball was cleared from danger. Abdollahi wasted a great chance for Heanor three minutes later, beating Moreton but taking too long allowing the defender to block. Wulfs went close again in the 28th minute. Craig Gregg’s shot was saved by McCormack, Gregg’s follow-up was also saved before teeing up Jake King, and his goalbound shot was cleared off the line by Greg Marriott. Wulfs were having a decent spell and Jordan Perks beat 2 defenders before seeing his shot saved at the near post. The spell of pressure paid off for Wulfs as they took the lead in the 30th minute. Karl Demidh gave away possession in midfield and King ran free down the left and crossed into the box where Matt Ellis sidefooted home. Wulfs keeper Moreton almost gifted Heanor an equaliser when he flapped at a long ball into the box from Nick Hall. Jake Sedgemore came to Wulfs rescue clearing a header from Hall off the line and then King saw his shot saved at the other end after a quick break from the home side. Ayettey should have made it 2 just before the break, racing clear on goal but McCormack saved well. When the ball came back to the striker he slipped as he tried to kick it and the chance had gone. In stoppage time, Ryan Seale struck a shot from 20 yards which Moreton did well to save.
The second half took some time to get going. In the 61st minute, Ayettey beat McCormack to the ball on the edge of the area but his header lacked sufficient power to cross the line and Heanor cleared. Chris Bettney was becoming more and more involved for Heanor and his shot on the turn was just wide. A good move from Wulfs down the right ended with a Gregg cross into the path of King whose first-time shot was into the midriff of McCormack. McCormack again excelled saving well at the feet of King as Wulfs looked for a second. King was involved in the Heanor equaliser in the 76th minute. His wild clearance was straight underneath his own bar and when the ball dropped into the area, Hall hammered it into the roof of the net. There was almost a calamitous own goal at the other when Seal knocked the ball towards his own goal but the young defender managed to hook the ball off the line. Moreton was forced into a brave save at the feet of Matt Harris and McCormack saved well at the feet of Webb. In stoppage time, Demidh curled a free-kick goalwards but Moreton saved well. The final word went to Ayettey who was again off target after King’s initial shot had been blocked.
Over the 90 minutes, Wulfs had the better chances but failed to take them. Heanor can be pleased with the performances of some of their youngsters – Substitute Jack Warner looks an exciting prospect – as they battled for their point.
Alvechurch remain 5 points clear thanks to an 86th-minute winner from Sam Williams against Heanor Town. Church contrived to miss two more penalties but on this occasion, it didn’t cost them any points. Hereford warmed up for their top of the table clash at Alvechurch with a 7-0 victory over Bardon Hill at Edgar Street. Mustapha Bundu was the star man scoring 4 times as the Bulls improved their goal difference to a massive +72. Sporting Khalsa are up to 3rd following a 2-0 win at Long Eaton United. With both of the top two to play, Khalsa will undoubtedly have a big say in the destiny of the title. Shepshed Dynamo drop to 4th after losing in a 5 goal thriller at Walsall Wood, Joey Butlin with the decisive goal. At the bottom of the table, Coventry Sphinx climb out of the bottom three thanks to a Jackson Downie penalty giving them a 1-0 win at home to Stourport Swifts. Continental Star couldn’t build on their midweek point, going down 5-0 at Boldmere St Michaels for whom Dom Perkins scored twice. Dunkirk are now 11 points away from safety after they went down 2-1 at Highgate United. Lye Town move up to 12th in the table with another good win on the road, 3-0 at Coleshill Town. Brocton came away from Loughborough University with all 3 points following a 2-1 win, three draws and two wins from 5 successive away games. A single goal from Jamie King gave AFC Wulfrunians all 3 points at Rocester.
Storm Katie knocked out 5 Premier Division games on Bank Holiday Monday including the top of the table clash at Lye Meadow between Alvechurch and Hereford. Sporting Khalsa moved to within 10 points of Alvechurch with a 1-0 win at Westfields. Despite being reduced to 10 men when Lee Wherton was red carded, Khalsa took all 3 points with a goal from Matty Gardner. Second bottom Dunkirk picked up a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Long Eaton United. Coventry Sphinx stay just outside the bottom three but they suffered a heavy 6-3 defeat at Coleshill Town. Danico Johnson and Mykel Beckley both scored twice for the home side who remain in 8th place. Brocton made it 6 games unbeaten with a 3-1 win over Boldmere St Michaels at Silkmore Lane, veteran Paul McMahon with a brace. In front of a good Bank Holiday crowd of 201, AFC Wulfrunians and Rocester drew 1-1 at Castlecroft. On Wednesday evening, Lye Town moved up to 9th place in the table with a 4-0 win at Continental Star, Ryan Rowe with a couple. AFC Wulfrunians and Heanor Town, both shorn of a number of players, fought out a 1-1 draw at Castlecroft.
Could Easter Saturday turn out to be a pivotal day in the destiny of the Division 1 title? Nuneaton Griff are the new leaders following a 4-1 victory at Littleton. Goals shared around the team and a massive positive goal difference have enabled Griff to become serious title challengers. Previous leaders Bromsgrove Sporting drop to 3rd following a thrilling 3-3 draw at Studley. The Rouslers went into a 2 goal lead but a double from Daniel Stokes saw the home side take the lead only to be pegged back at the death. Coventry United took the lead at Heath Hayes in awful conditions but two second half goals from the hosts condemned United to defeat and they sit in 3rd place. The battle to avoid relegation has intensified in recent weeks. Two of the bottom three met at Evans Park and the points went to Stafford Town with a 1-0 win over Southam United. Heather St Johns moved out of the bottom two with an excellent 2-0 win at Cadbury Athletic. Despite a 5th game unbeaten, Bolehall Swifts drop back into the bottom two following a 3-3 draw at home to Racing Club Warwick, Wade Malley with two more for the Racers. Pelsall Villa are one of four clubs separated by just one point, and the point they gained in a 1-1 draw at Lichfield City could be invaluable at the end of the season. Hinckley AFC had to come from behind at home to Pershore Town, eventually running out 3-1 winners. Leicester Road and Pilkington XXX shared the points and 4 goals at Leicester Road Stadium. Atherstone Town had an excellent win on their travels beating Coventry Copsewood 2-0 at Allard Way.
Bromsgrove Sporting regained top spot following a 1-0 win at Pershore Town in front of a bumper crowd of 387. Sean Brain bagged the only goal in the 13th minute to give The Rouslers a 2 point lead. Former leaders Nuneaton Griff were involved in a thriller at home to Leicester Road. Coming back from a goal down, two Josh Ruff goals gave Griff the lead but Amarvir Sandhu scored a late equaliser to grab a share of the points. At the bottom, Heather St Johns drop back into the bottom two following a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of tenants Hinckley AFC. Bolehall Swifts continued their remarkable run of form with a 3-0 win at Atherstone Town. Swifts are now 16th and 2 points ahead of the drop zone after 6 games unbeaten. Another side unbeaten in 6 are Heath Hayes and they are now joint 5th after a 4-2 win at Lichfield City, Joe Pickering with a brace. On Wednesday, Hinckley AFC climbed into the top 4 with a 4-0 win at Lichfield City, Ryan Seal with two penalties.
Chelmsley Town are back on top of the table following a 2-1 home win over Rostance Edwards, Mitchell Thompson with both the goals. Two goals from Matt Lewis helped Sutton United beat Fairfield Villa and move up to 56th in the table. Hampton remain in relegation trouble following a 1-1 draw at home to Austrey Rangers. Knowle and Coton Green fought out a goalless draw at The Robins Nest.
Bank Holiday Monday proved to be a complete wash out for Division 2 with all 5 games postponed.
Leamington Hibernian opened up a 4 point lead at the top of the table with a 1-0 win at promotion rivals Alcester Town, Luke Swinnerton with the goal. Smithswood Firs were the big winners in the chasing pack, an Aaron Anderson goal giving them a 1-0 win over AFC Solihull moving them up to 4th with 6 games in hand. Northfield Town are up to 5th with a 2-0 win at Perrywood. 3rd placed FC Stratford fell further behind the leaders with a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Inkberrow for whom Sean Parish scored twice. Burntwood Town completed a quick double over Badsey Rangers with a 2-1 win at Badsey. Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons edged out Coventrians 1-0 while it was the same scoreline at Shipston Excelsior as they beat Enville Athletic.
Leamington Hibernian extended their lead to 7 points with a hard fought 2-1 win over Northfield Town. Two goals from Dan Russell helped Smithswood Firs to a 3-1 win at Burntwood Town. Firs are now 3rd with 4 games in hand on second-placed Redditch Borough. Perrywood moved a point further away from the bottom with a 2-2 draw at Inkberrow. Shipston Excelsior had a good away win, 2-1 at Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons which confirms their 8th position.
Les James Challenge Cup
Two goals from Mark Bellingham sent Paget Rangers through to the semi-final with a 2-1 win at Feckenham. They will meet Knowle in the semi-final. Waiting for the winners in the final are Alvis Sporting Club who overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Droitwich Spa 2-1.
Barton United lifted the Fazeley Charity Cup after a comprehensive victory over BT. The 3-0 scoreline barely does justice for the total dominance showed on Friday at New Mill Lane. Nuneaton Griff are through to the final of the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup following a 3-0 win at Smethwick Rangers.
Cadbury Athletic 2 Gresley 1
Continental Star 3 Rocester 3
Coventry United 1 Lichfield City 1
Evesham United 0 Solihull Moors 6
Romulus 1 Coleshill Town 3
Coleshill Town 4 Cadbury Athletic 1
Rocester 0 Lichfield City 1
Anstey Nomads 0 Sutton Coldfield Town 2 (U21N)
Tipton Town 1 Walsall Wood 2 (U21N)
Gornal Athletic 1 Heath Hayes 2 (Bowl)
H.O.W. Academy 0 Tamworth 2 (Bowl)
Leamington 0 Bedworth United 5 (Bowl)
Heath Hayes 3 Anstey Nomads 1 (U21N)
Joel Mills Hereford 44
Craig Bannister Sporting Khalsa 39
Lei Brown Highgate United 28
Jamie Cuss Westfields 27
Tony Clarke Lichfield City 36
Luke Shorthouse Nuneaton Griff 36
Josh O’Grady Coventry United 26
Luke Richards Hinckley AFC 25
Chris Lloyd Chelmsley Town 38
James Lemon Droitwich Spa 36
Mark Bellingham Paget Rangers 28
Dildale Linton Alvis Sporting Club 22
Matt Layton Alcester Town 30
Jak Albutt Redditch Borough 28
Peter Martin Barton United 27
Ashley Wilkes FC Stratford 23
Three games on Thursday night as teams play catch up following the horrendous winter. Hereford face the long journey to Long Eaton United looking to close the gap on Alvechurch at the top of the table. When the two sides met back in October, Hereford won it with a single goal – they would settle for the same again. 3rd placed Sporting Khalsa can close the gap to 7 points should they beat relegation-threatened Coventry Sphinx at the Aspray Arena. Walsall Wood have eyes on a top 5 finish and they welcome Rocester to Oak Park.
On Saturday, the top two have away trips to sides struggling near the foot of the table. Leaders Alvechurch travel to Sphinx Drive to face a Coventry Sphinx side playing their second game in 3 days. Hereford have one of their longest journeys of the season as they head to Nottingham to face 2nd bottom Dunkirk, a repeat of the opening game of the season which the Bulls won 4-1. 3rd placed Sporting Khalsa are off to Church Lane for a game against mid-table Boldmere St Michaels. All Khalsa can do is keep winning and hope the pressure begins to tell on the top two. 4th placed Shepshed Dynamo are too far adrift for a promotion push but a top four finish is the obvious target. They welcome 10th placed Rocester to the Dovecote. Heanor Town have had an excellent first season in the MFL and they travel to Westfields eyeing a top 5 finish. At the bottom, survival is looking unlikely for Continental Star and they probably need to win most of their games starting this week at Dales Lane against AFC Wulfrunians. Bardon Hill are battling to finish out of the bottom three and with games in hand on Coventry Sphinx, they can make a significant step to safety with a win at Stourport Swifts. Quorn are far from safe particularly if Coventry Sphinx and Bardon Hill get on a run. They have a tough trip to Loughborough University themselves comfortably in the middle of the pack. Two teams that will be disappointed with their league positions are Coleshill Town and Long Eaton United and they meet in a game that has goals written all over it at Pack Meadow. Highgate United are another side that can realistically aim for a top 5 finish and they travel to Stourbridge Road to face Lye Town, who have won 6 of their last 7.
Two games on Thursday night and both affect the bottom of the table. Bottom club Southam United are at home to Atherstone Town with 7 points between them and safety. Pelsall Villa are one of three clubs on 24 points and will be hoping to get something from their trip to Studley.
On Saturday there is a fascinating clash at Rene Road between in-form Bolehall Swifts and league leaders Bromsgrove Sporting. 4 weeks ago, you would think this was a formality but not anymore – crucial for both teams. Coventry United have dropped to third and this has led to the departure of manager Edwin Greaves. How will the side react to this – a trip to relegation-threatened Stafford Town should give us some answers. The big game at the bottom sees the bottom two go head to head at St Johns Park. If Southam United are to pull away from the bottom a win at Heather St Johns is a must. Pelsall Villa are another side desperate for points and they welcome Pershore Town to The Bush Ground. Heath Hayes have been in excellent form since the turn of the year and they will be hoping for another win at home to Atherstone Town. Leicester Road have made a favourable impression in their first season in Division 1. They travel to 5 Acres to face 9th placed Littleton. Racing Club Warwick are in tremendous goal scoring form and they welcome Studley to Townsend Meadow. Cadbury Athletic made an excellent start to the season but their form has dipped with nine successive league defeats. They will be hoping to arrest the slide at Coventry Copsewood. Lichfield City’s promotion push faded after Christmas but they are still striving for a top four finish as they travel to Pilkington XXX.
On Thursday night, promotion challengers Alvis Sporting Club host bottom club Earlswood Town, a win would take them to within 4 points of leaders Chelmsley Town.
Earlswood Town are back in action two days later when they host 7th placed Coton Green. Paget Rangers are on an excellent run of results and they travel to Fairfield Villa looking for their 8th successive league win. 2nd bottom Feckenham are 4 points away from safety with 4 games in hand and they travel to Barnt Green Spartak looking for the three points which could kick-start a run away from the drop zone.
Leamington Hibernian have opened up a 7 point lead at the top and they travel to Hall Drive to tackle lowly Enville Athletic. Redditch Borough have been in tremendous goalscoring form which doesn’t augur well for host Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons. Two sides who have seen their promotion challenges fading in recent weeks are Alcester Town and FC Stratford and they meet at Old Stratford Road. Barton United get back to league action after tasting cup glory last week with Badsey Rangers the visitors. The bottom two lock horns at Neel Park with Perrywood at home to AFC Solihull. Shipston Excelsior have won 5 on the spin and they take this record to Burntwood Town. Elsewhere it is 12th versus 9th as Coventrians host Inkberrow.
Presidents Cup Semi-Finals
It’s the last four of the Presidents Cup with three of the four protagonists in the thick of the Division 2 promotion race. Chelmsley Town meet Droitwich Spa and when the two sides met in the league 4 weeks ago, it went the way of Chelmsley with a 2-1 win. In the other semi, Alvis Sporting Club will be hot favourites as they travel to Hampton. Alvis’ recent cup form is poor and this must give Hampton encouragement.
Challenge Vase Semi-Final
Two of the Division 3 promotion candidates meet at The Mackadown Stadium as Smithswood Firs host Northfield Town with the winners meeting Redditch Borough.
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