Sunday, 2 May 2010

Welford on the up

RINGSTEAD RANGERS 0-2 WELFORD VICTORIA
Saturday 1st May 2010
Northants Combination Division 1
Ringstead Playing Field

Having spent last Saturday taking in three games in Shropshire I decided this week to stay relatively local. My choice is a top of the table clash in division 1 of the Northamptonshire Combination with both sides fighting it out with James King Blisworth for the divisional title. I pick up travelling companion for this afternoon Kevin Zupp who is Lutterworth Athletics secretary and programme editor, and at around 1pm we set off from his home in Kibworth and we set off on the forty minute journey.



Ringstead is a small village in east Northamptonshire some 20 miles north east of Northampton and 11 miles south west of Kettering. The population according to the 2001 census was 1,428 but driving through the village I would say (due to house building going on) this figure could be over 2,000 by the time of the next census in 2011. The oldest building in the village in the church of St Mary's which in part dates from the 12th century. The playing field is located on Gladstone at the eastern edge of the village and is surrounded by fields on two sides.


The earliest records I can find for the club are in 1999 when they joined division 3 of the Northamptonshire Combination. Promotion was achieved instantly with a runners-up spot behind winners Gretton Reserves. The next three seasons saw the club finish in 8th, 3rd and 3rd respectively before they were crowned division 2 winners in 2004 and with it promotion to division 1. Just three seasons were spent in division 1 before relegation back to division 2 in 2007. Two seasons were spent in the league's third tier before a 3rd place finish last season behind Finedon Volta and Daventry Drayton Grange secured promotion back to division 1.

With no bar at the club we had a drink in the New Inn in the village before the 2.30pm kick-off. It was a frantic first half with both sides contesting every decision with the referee, who at times seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention. The game was end to end though clear cut chances were at a premium. Ringstead, in an bright all orange kit had their best chance in the opening couple of minutes when their left midfielder forced the Welford keeper to tip the ball over the bar. The half was also a case of differing playing styles with the home side playing a more direct game with the visitors preferring to play the ball along the ground. Just six minutes into the second half and Welford had their best chance of the game when the ball was scooped over the bar from ten yards out. The game then turned in the visiting sides favour just two minutes later when Ringstead had a man sent off for a moment of sheer stupidity. Their number 11 had fouled a Welford player near his own corner flag and then for some reason decided to stamp on the Welford players back and the referee had no choice to give him a straight red. This gave Welford all the encouragement they needed and deservedly took the lead on 66 minutes when a corner was headed home from a couple of yards out. Four minutes later and it was game set and match when they made it 2-0, as they took advantage of a mistake by a home defender. A major clanger occured with just four minutes remaining, though this time not from either side but from the referee and the "home" linesman. A Welford player went through on his own and was brought down for a stonewall penalty but for some reason the linesman put his flag up for offside. Anyone who knows anything about football will know that this cannot possibly be offside but instead of the referee explaining this and overuling him decided to award a free kick to Ringstead.

Overall an enjoyable game in glorious sunshine and a deserved victory and promotion to the premier division for Welford.
Admission: none

Programme: none
Attendance: peaked 38 (head count)
Match rating: 4 out of 5
Google maps driving time / distance: 58 minutes and 47.3 miles



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