Northern Premier League Division One South
Market Drayton Town 5
(Daniel Beddows, Jud Ellis, Charlie Knowles x2, Joe Cuff)
Greenfields Sports Ground
I was home for the weekend and looking for a game to go to with my old man. Neither of us fancied a Crewe Alex away day at Crawley Town and we were looking for a new ground, preferably non-league and just somewhere to have a good afternoon out.
At the end of the season there is plenty to play for with promotion, relegation and play offs up for grabs in various leagues. Having never been to Market Drayton with it being the final weekend of games in the Northern Premier League divisions it seemed like a good option to tick off a new ground, added to the fact that they needed a win to confirm league survival!
The bottom end of the Northern Premier League Division One South had really caught my attention and I could have picked any one of three games embroiled in some potential relegation drama this afternoon. Obviously, Drayton had to beat Gresley to stay up and Newcastle Town needed a win at home to Belper to also confirm Step Four football for another year. Bottom side Romulus were away at Kidsgrove knowing that a win (and a slip up from Market Drayton or Newcastle) would keep them up. I haven’t featured Newcastle Town on the blog as I haven’t been for a good few years, however I have been to the Lyme Valley Stadium countless times growing up. Kidsgrove I have done twice already including a visit this season when they beat Stafford Town in the Staffordshire Senior Cup in January.
So, Market Drayton was the obvious choice, a new ground, not too far from home and with a £10 entry, pint and a pie offer I was sold. The offer was great but on entry to the ground both Dad and I decided against the deal and just paid the normal admission of £7 and £5.
It has been a packed week of football with four games since Monday and it has been a packed month with 12 games, my best return in a single month since July and August 2017.
As we pulled up to the ground it was apparent at the lack of parking at Greenfields with all cars heading onto the rugby ground across the road, we parked up and crossed the narrow lane to get to the football ground. Greenfields looks to be the sporting hub of the town with the rugby team, tennis club and Market Drayton Tigers FC all in one place. The Tigers pitch is just an open field and perfectly acceptable for the Staffs County League that the side feature in. The path leads around the Tigers pitch and down the side of the tennis club and you are met with the Market Drayton Town sign and the turnstiles behind the goal. With admission paid and a programme purchased we entered the ground and it was a tidy set up.
On the left was the clubhouse and further down the main seated stand. We went into the clubhouse and I got my pin badge from the bar and we continued to explore the ground. In front of the clubhouse where is some space to stand to watch the game before you reach the tea hut and the seated stand. The tea hut is next to a large slabbed covered area that leads into a covered seated stand. The home and away dressing rooms are behind the stand and the players walk behind the stand before entering the pitch. Further down the pitch there is some open uncovered standing before you reach the corner flag. Behind the goal and all up the opposite side is uncovered standing until you get to the top right corner as you look from the main stand. Up the corner there is a bizarre uncovered seated area which looks like it was added just to tick a box for Step Four ground grading. From there however you could probably watch both Town and Tigers if they both had home games at the same time!
Behind the goal there is some covered standing before you have completed a full loop back to the turnstile! The ground is not hi-tech, not fancy but it is perfect for the level and a lovely place to visit in the late April sunshine!
One thing I will say is the guy on the turnstile said nothing about the pie and pint deal which wouldn’t have been good had somebody not told me on Twitter on the morning of the game. If you are doing a promotion like that and you have gone through the hassle of laminating vouchers then the least you could do is try and sell the deal on the door or have some signs up by the tea hut/ clubhouse as to where to get your pie and pint once you have entered the ground. It is great that clubs are doing promotional things to get people through the door but in this instance a bit more promotion wouldn’t have been missed.
I would like to take the time to say well done to Drayton for staying in the league and I hope you have a great summer and good luck for next season.
Market Drayton breezed past Gresley to confirm Step Four football for another year with a 5-0 victory. In the end the result was just a formality as Kidsgrove Athletic restricted bottom side Romulus to a 1-1 draw.
Drayton’s relegation fears were eased when Daniel Beddows gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at half time. News got around that Romulus had taken the lead at ‘Grove but their lead was to only last 60 seconds. Drayton added a further four goals in the second half to put any chance of relegation behind them thanks to a brace from substitute Charlie Knowles and singles from Jud Ellis and Joe Cuff.
The first chance of note fell to Glyn Coney who did well to turn and run at goal before cutting inside and firing a hard shot that visiting ‘keeper Callum Hawkins could only tip around the post.
At the other end Kane Lee crossed in for Harry Hughes who saw his shot blocked before Zack Hill put the rebound wide.
Gresley forward Max Atkins fired a good shot at goal that Mate Dzecki did well to parry away as the game stayed goalless.
The first goal came on 31 minutes when Lynden Campbell picked up a loose ball and played it forward to Beddows who had timed his run perfectly. His shot bobbled past the ‘keeper and bounced off the inside of the post but he was quickest to react to tap in at the second attempt.
Hawkins did well to stop Dave Howarth who was close to tapping in Coney’s low cross into the box.
After the restart Lee went close to pulling the scores level when he broke into the box from a ball over the top. Dzecki managed to save the ball on the line before Andy Hartlebury cleared the danger.
Drayton went close when Hartlebury hit the ball from a corner on the volley and Hawkins saved with his chest before a goalmouth scramble resulted in the ball getting cleared away.
The hosts doubled the lead on 64 minutes when Connor Russo showed great resilience and a bit of luck on the right wing to get to the by-line and cut the ball back to Beddows who couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and it fell to Ellis who drilled the ball home.
The Gingerbread Men then made all three changes as Tyrell McFarlane, Andre James and Knowles came on to get a final run out of the season.
And it was Knowles who had an instant impact scoring with his first touch in the game on 69 minutes. The ball was put into the box and Knowles showed good composure to slot the ball away with a first-time shot.
They soon added a fourth on 73 minutes. Ellis played the ball over to Cuff who held off Hughes and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Gresley had completely run out of steam and Coney did well with a great pass to Knowles who squared to Cuff, but the shot was blocked.
The chances were coming thick and fast as Coney was having a blinder with a sharp turn and venomous shot that whistled just wide.
Knowles was looking sharp too, and he chases a bouncing ball and neatly lobs Hawkins who did well to scramble back and tip the ball over the bar.
The substitute did grab his second and Drayton’s fifth when he raced onto a through ball and played a simple one-two with James before slotting the ball into the back of the net to make it 5-0.
2017/18 Games: 76
2017/18 Grounds: 63 (11)
Total Grounds Visited: 209 (49)