Saturday, 18 May 2013

narrow win for North

ALFORD TOWN 3-4 NORTH SOMERCOTES UNITED
Friday 17th May 2013
East Lincolnshire Combination Division 1
East Street, Alford, Lincolnshire

With the missus working an afternoon shift and then going out in the evening with friends, I decide to look around for any possible football fixtures, though this was more in hope than expectation. The East Lincolnshire Combination (ELC) is a league that I have only have seen one game in before, but I do know that there are fixtures right up until the end of May. If anyone reading this is unaware, no competitive football under the authority of the English FA is allowed to be played in June. Anyway back to tonight, after checking the ELC's football.mitoo site I noticed that Alford Town had a division one fixture against North Somercotes United. I checked to see if my mum's other half Dave fancied coming with me for the game and if he also would do a fair chunk of the driving, as I would probably not be getting home from work until 7.30 that morning. Also coming along would be my dog Millie and the plan was to head to the coast first, some seven miles from Alford to allow her to have a run on the beach. After which a case of finding a pub to have some lunch before the 7pm kick-off.

Alford itself is a small town in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire with a population of around 3,500 inhabitants. It lies some thirteen miles north west of Skegness and seven miles west of Mablethorpe, while it is a 2 hour 15 minute (83 mile) journey from Leicester.

The town is probably best known for its five sailed windmill, a tower mill that was built in 1937 by Sam Oxley. It operated until 1955, and after standing idle for two years was restored to full working order. It is now used to produce stone ground organic flour and cereal. The windmill is also open to visitors and current prices are £3 for an adult. More details about opening times and other pricing is available on the mill's website: http://www.alford-windmill.co.uk/default.html

More information on the town can be viewed at the town's website: http://www.alford.info/

After leaving home around 1pm it was a case of detouring to Thurmaston to pick up and Dave and we then made our way north east to the coast, taking in a route through Melton Mowbray, Grantham and Sleaford. As we had to go through Alford I pulled in to have a look at the windmill and take a few photographs of it while the light was good. My destination of choice to walk Millie was a place called Anderby Creek as I knew it would be quiet and there being no or few distractions to an inquisitive and curious dog. This turned out to be the case and we pretty much had the beach to ourselves, not surprisingly considering a biting northerly wind made the air temperature a lot colder than it actually was, and added to this is that the children are still at school. We then made our way to Chapel St. Leonards for some chips before heading back to Alford to find a pub. We pulled in to the George Inn next to the church in the town, and after checking that they allowed dogs into the bar settled down for an hour.

I had my suspicions that the game would kick off early so we left the George around 6.30pm and this proved to be the case, with it starting 6.50pm instead of the scheduled 7pm. The rain which was forecast in this part of the country was, according to the forecasts not due to arrive till after dark, but as luck would have it, it started as we were leaving the pub. After trying to take photographs for the first half hour I gave up and put the camera back in the car. Fortunately there is a small amount of cover at the ground in the form of an overhang in front of the clubhouse and changing rooms, and we spent the second half watching the game from here drying out.

With one game remaining North Somercotes went into this with a one in three chance of becoming East Lincolnshire Combination champions. They needed to win this evening and hope that results elsewhere involving the other two title challengers Bluestone and A&G Auto Repairs on the 18th go their way. Alford had nothing but pride to play for with them already relegated to division two, recording only six points from nineteen league games.

The game itself was one of the better and more entertaining ones that I have seen this season at level, and the visitors recorded the victory by the narrowest of margins.

North took the lead inside the opening five minutes, only for Alford to equalise almost immediately with a sweetly struck shot from the edge of the penalty area. The visitors then took control in terms of scoring as they led 3-1, before a penalty for Alford made it a one goal game at the break. Probably around the mid-point of the second half and Alford deservedly equalised with the best goal of the game. Alford broke down the right and when the ball came across it was stroked home first time from the edge of the area, with just enough bend to beat the diving keeper. The game did become a bit scrappy with the visitors, who were clearly rattled resulting in long punts forward, and the home side relying on quick balls out of defence. The winner came with four minutes remaining when the North #12 was unmarked at the far post and headed home a cross from the right. 

At the end it was hard not to feel disappointed for Alford who deserved something from the game.

note: Bluestone and A&G Auto Repairs both won their games on the 18th May 6-2 @ Donington and Louth Town 'A' respectively, meaning that Bluestone are the East Lincolnshire Combination champions for 2012/13.

27 photos taken at the game can be viewed in the slideshow below:


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