Saturday, 12 March 2011

Tipton Town

Saturday 12th March 2011
Midland Football Alliance
Tipton Sports Academy

a slideshow of photos taken of the ground and during the game is below:

Today sees me head west to the Black Country for a rare chance to watch Oadby Town, a team that I have had an affinity to since 1998 when I became their programme editor. This lasted for a few seasons before work and other commitments meant I could not give it the time required. Now days I generally only try and watch Oadby @ grounds that I have not visited before. At the start of the season there were four that fell into this category - Ellesmere Rangers, Malvern Town, Stratford Town and Tipton Town, and my intention was to watch Oadby at all four. Well by the end of September there had already been a spanner in the works with the game at Stratford being midweek, and as regular readers of this blog will know I work nights so was unable to make the trip. Next up was Malvern on December 4th and everything was good to go. Yeah right! Not only was yours truly ill and spent most of the day in bed, it was also postponed due to a frozen pitch. Great 0 out 2 - going well here!!! The game was subsequently rearranged for a midweek date in January which like the Stratford game meant it was a big fat no no. This left Ellesmere and Tipton which were arranged for two Saturday's in March. Once I knew of the dates the fixtures were set in stone and no other alternative fixtures were looked at or even considered.

Tipton itself is a town in the borough of Sandwell in the West Midlands located roughly equi-distance between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The population is estimated to be around the 47,000 mark. The town is well served by the rail network with direct services to not only Birmingham and Wolverhampton but Coventry and Walsall as well. The journey from my home to Tipton is 51 miles in distance and (traffic permitting) should take around an hour.

Tipton Town were formed in 1948 as Ocker Hill United and played in the Wolverhampton & District Amateur League until 1967 when they were accepted into division 1 of the West Midlands (Regional) League (WML). Also in 1967 they changed their name to the current title and it has remained this way ever since. Since joining the WML they have won a few honours with the first and second coming in the 1983/84 season when they were crowned Division 1 champions and Division 1 Cup winners, and this lead to promotion to the premier division. Seven seasons were spent in the premier division before relegation back to division one in 1991. In 1996 following reorganisation of the WML's lower divisions they were placed in Division 1 South. The 1997/98 season saw them finish in a runners-up position and with it promotion back to the premier division. Two seasons later they won the Premier Division Cup for the first time. Another successful season came during the 2004/05 campaign when they completed a premier division double, lifting both the league title and cup competition. With the league title success came promotion to the Midland Football Alliance (MFA). Tipton have been ever present in the MFA since and last season recorded a best ever finish of 4th place. This season they are currently top of the MFA but are in a battle for the title with Leicestershire side Coalville Town. A notable achievement came before Christmas when they reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the 1st time, this after progressing through six qualifying rounds in the process. The run came to an end with a 6-0 defeat @ Carlisle United. A breakdown of their FA Cup campaign is below:

EP..Alvechurch (A)...........W 5-0
P...Stratford Town (H).......W 3-1
1Q..Norton United (H)........W 1-0
2Q..Market Drayton Town (H)..W 2-0
3Q..Radcliffe Olympic (A)....D 3-3
r...Radcliffe Olympic (H)....W 2-0
4Q..Sheffield (A)............D 2-2
r...Sheffield (H)............W 2-0

The club play their home games at the Tipton Sports Academy which is a multi-purpose sports complex. It has a capacity of 2,000 of which just over 10% is seating. The venue is also home to Tipton Harriers Athletic Club.

In the end Tipton were convincing winners in front of a disappointing crowd, but for the majority of the first half found life hard going against their Leicestershire opponents. The first twenty minutes was mainly a competitive battle in midfield with Tipton struggling to get any rhythm going. This was due to in no small part to Oadby who gave them very little time and space. Tipton’s first proper sight of goal came on the 18th minute when Oadby keeper Wayne Connolly was fortunate not to concede having made a hash of Jozsef Jakob’s tame effort. Three minutes later and Oadby stunned the hosts by taking the lead. Chris Hollist hit a diagonal ball that found Michael Lucas on the right. The subsequent cross was spilled by Tipton keeper Wes Cox and Sam Taylor bundled the ball home from a couple of yards. Five minutes later and it should have been 0-2 but Taylor, having found himself with only Cox to beat saw his shot well saved. Tipton then punished this miss by equalising on 29 minutes through Ryan Mosedale headed home a cross at the far post. In the final five minutes of the half Tipton scored twice to give a gloss on the proceedings at the interval. Firstly Danny Bragoli’s shot through a crowded Oadby penalty area took a wicked deflection to leave Connolly stranded and secondly Jakob followed up a shot that crashed against the bar to head home from a yard out.

The second half saw Oadby get off to the worst possible start when they conceded a penalty inside a minute. This decision was very harsh in my opinion as firstly it looked like Dan Campbell was offside and secondly he went down under very little contact. Campbell took the penalty himself but it was well saved by Connolly only for it to fall kindly to Jakob who fired home the rebound to make it 4-1. Eight minutes later and Tipton were awarded another penalty following a foul from Paul Pallett who was subsequently sent off. Campbell again took the penalty, Connolly again saved it and again it fell to Jakob, only this time he blasted the ball over the bar. The sending off killed the game and it was surely a case of how many did Tipton want to score. Numerous chances came and went with Jakob being particular guilty and it was only in the last three minutes that Tipton stuck the knife in with two more goals. Jakob completed his hat-trick when he was given too much time and space in the penalty area. He was allowed to bring the ball down, turn and shoot without any Oadby defender near him let alone making a challenge. The final goal of the afternoon came in the final minute when, having broken down the left the ball found its way to Bragoli on the edge of the penalty area who finished with aplomb.

Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Attendance: 60 (head count)
Badge: £3
Coffee: £1
Match rating: 2 ½ out of 5

A final note is that off the field Tipton are a very friendly and welcoming club. Special thanks go to secretary Keith Birch who not only gave me the team line-ups but allowed me pitch side to take my photographs, though I did have to wear a Tipton Town hi-vis vest as punishment!!!!

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