Sunday, 9 January 2011

Welford Vics

Saturday 8th January 2011
Northamptonshire Junior Cup Quarter Final
Newlands Road

A local game is the requirement today with an early kick-off the better a bonus. Welford have been on my radar all season, having been impressed with them when I saw them record a 2-0 victory @ Ringstead Rangers at the end of last season. Welford is a small village on the Northamptonshire – Leicestershire border, which according to the 2001 census had a population of 1,016 people. The history of the village can be traced back to the 11th century when it was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as Wellesford. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was an important coaching stop with it being of equal distance between Leicester and Northampton. The main A14 dual carriageway which connects the midlands with eastern England is a 1 ½ miles to the south. The village still retains two public houses, post office, hairdressers, primary school and garage. The journey from my home takes around half an hour to complete the 23 miles, going down the M1 to junction 20 (Lutterworth), then across the A4304 towards Market Harborough. Halfway between the two towns is Husbands Bosworth and you turn right at the crossroads in the village onto the A5199 which then in turn takes you to Welford itself.

The football club compete in the Northants Combination (NC) and last season won promotion to the premier division as champions of division one. They were formed in 1898 and played in the Market Harborough League until joining the NC in 1966 and have remained there to this day. The majority of their time in the NC has been spent in either divisions one or two. The division two title has been won twice in 1975/76 and twenty years later in 1995/96. This season they have played eight league games, winning five of them and currently sit in 4th place in the 13 team division. Opponents Netherton United play in the premier division of the Peterborough & District League (PDL) and currently sit in 7th place. The premier divisions of both the NC and PDL sit at level seven of the non-league pyramid and are feeder leagues to the United Counties League.

The competition so far...
Welford Victoria
Round 1: v Spratton (H) Won 6-0
Round 2: v Harpole (H) Won 4-0
Round 3: v Whitefield Norpol (H) Drew 0-0, won 4-2 on penalty kicks

Netherton United
Round 1: v Corby Khalsa (A) Won 1-0
Round 2: v Stanion United (H) Drew 5-5, won 3-1 on penalty kicks
Round 3: v Thrapston Town (H) Won 3-0

The ground is located on the southern edge of the village on Newlands Road and is a village sports club affair. The football club share the facilities with the village cricket team and during the season the pitch is roped off on match days. There is no hard standing pitch side but a small section can be found in front of the clubroom. The only other permanent structures are dugouts which are located on the far touchline. We arrived in the village with around 45 minutes before kick-off so ventured into The Wharf Inn (which is just over the border in Leicestershire) for a pint and bite to eat. When arriving at the ground we were (unsurprisingly) not charged any admission nor was a programme produced, this being the norm for teams in the Northants Combination and Peterborough League.

The started with visitors Netherton settling quicker, were more productive with the ball and took the game to their hosts. It was no surprise when they took the lead on 15 minutes though it was from my vantage point a touch fortunate. A free kick on the left caught out the Welford defence and keeper which subsequently floated into the top corner of the goal. This gave the hosts the kick up the backside they needed and got into the game a lot more. This was not to say they dominated but certainly gave as good as they got. Right at the end of the half the visitors hit Welford with a sucker punch when a cross from the right was inadvertently turned into his own net by a defender. The second half saw Welford come out in different shirts (light blue) instead of their normal maroon ones due to similarity of the red worn by Netherton. The first twenty minutes of the half saw a lot of huff and puff with clinical finishing being at a premium. Just as it seemed that the game would peeter out Welford beat the offside trap and their number 10 rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into an empty net. Netherton’s two goal cushion was restored just five minutes later when they themselves beat the offside trap with the ball being laid across the goal for a simple tap in from a couple of yards out. The turning point of the game came a few minutes later, when having won a free kick a Netherton player put his hands round a Welford player. A melee ensued with referee quite rightly giving the Netherton player a straight red card and booking one of the Welford team. The question now was could the visitors hang on for the last fifteen minutes and book their place in the semi-finals? With eight minutes remaining Welford made it 2-3 with a well taken goal from Matt Wootton. The remainder of the game saw the hosts camped in the visiting penalty area and created a number of chances, but just as it appeared that the tie would get away from them they equalised deep into stoppage time with a header from a couple of yards out, which gave us a further thirty minutes of football. Just two minutes into extra-time and Welford took the lead for the first time when Luke Cooper drilled home a shot on the angle. Welford continued to put pressure on the visiting defence but could not give themselves the breathing space needed to put the tie to bed. It was not until the 107th minute that they made the game safe through a Ryan Goodman back header. The final two goals (both from the number 10) came in the final few minutes, firstly from the penalty spot and then a simple tap inn from a few yards out following good work by Cooper.

To sum up: an intriguing and even cup tie for the most part in which the sending off changed the complex of the game. Once Welford took the lead early on in extra-time there was only going to be one winner. I know I am stating the obvious but the Netherton player who was sent off owes his teammates a massive apology for an act of stupidity that probably cost his team victory.

On a personal point of view my goal record shows no sign of slowing down with an average of 5.4 goals per game as we speak. The two games seen this calendar year have resulted in 21 goals!!!! A run of low scoring games is surely due sometime soon.

Further photos of the game can be found here: WVFC

Admission: free
Programme: none
Attendance: between 20 and 30
Coffee: 50p
Match rating: 4 out of 5

Rambler’s “On This Day” football:
2000: Knypersley Victoria v Oadby Town (0-4) Midland Football Alliance
2005: Friar Lane & Epworth v St. Andrews (3-1) Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division
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