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A day in the South Elmsall sun

April 10th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

For the second Saturday in a row, Andrew and I headed to a non-league fixture in Yorkshire as part of his Yorkshire Football Weekends series of articles. Following on from our trip to Bradford last week, we headed to the small town of South Elmsall found on the Leeds to Doncaster line, just to the east of Wakefield. Frickley Athletic was the destination team, and their key match against against Chasetown FC was the fayre for the afternoon.

As we alighted the train at the small, yet busy, station we started looking for somewhere to sate out thirst on what was a very balmy afternoon. It was some disappointment that we discovered that the more central of South Elmsall’s drinking establishments were all closed. Andrew had secured an interview with one of the committee members for Frickley Athletic so we headed towards the stadium a little earlier than we would have hoped. Luckily, on arrival at the ground we were greeted with the sight of the club house, complete with bar. Whilst Andrew grilled the club’s representative, I quaffed some refreshing beer and watched the racing from Aintree.

The Tech5 Stadium itself is exactly what I imagined a non-league ground to look like. A small, uneven looking pitch, surrounded by a low wall, with open grass banks at each end with a small terrace along the far side of the field and a larger terraced stand along the nearside. The ground, which a mere five years ago had been declared unfit for the Conference North, was tidy and compact and felt a lot more engaging and atmospheric than the offerings from the Horsfall Stadium the previous week.

One of the real treats that the Tech5 Stadium had to offer was the excellent pie and peas. Of the three things that Mark Ainge, a committee member for the club, had highlighted this was the one ha was most right about. The other two, the Frickley centre forward Ashley Longstaff and the goalkeeper Ben Simpson did not quite live up the billing.

The game itself was a real battle of a game. Frickley started the afternoon in the relegation zone of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League and Chasetown needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive. There was a real tension around the ground and I have to admit that I had this down as an away victory before the kick off.

Frickley started the brighter, with the two strikers holding the ball up well as part of a 4-4-2 formation, though the midfield seemed there more for decoration that purpose as the ball regularly bypassed them whilst being sent long by the centre halves.

As the half wore on, it was clear that the physicality of the two teams was coming to the fore, with stray elbows flying all over the place. It was somewhat against the run of play when the Frickley ‘keeper lost a regulation high ball from a corner and watched as it sailed through his arms into the back of the net. However, the goal seemed to spur the home side on and they picked up the temp and the competition seemed to get even fiercer.

Frickley got their equalizer just on the stroke of half time. Chasetown failed to clear the ball from a corner and a low driven shot found its way into the back of the net. An excellent time to score.

The second half was far more open with both teams looking for the winner. Jack Watts, the home side’s foil for the bruising play of centre forward Ashley Longstaff, was proving a real handful with his clever flicks and runs. The lad has a real future in the game and perhaps will find his way to the higher echelons. He appeared to have the skills and composure to make it to the lower leagues if he wanted to. With only a handful of starts for the club, he managed to bag his first goal towards the end of the half causing a wave of relief and jubilation to sweep across the nearly 200 fans supporting the home team. It turned out to be the winning goal and the young forward is unlikely to score a more important goal this season.

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