Monday 2nd January 2017 3.00pm
East Midland League
Birstall United 0 Aylestone Park 4 ht: 0-1 att: 64 Entrance £4 Programme £0.50 (but none published today) Coffee £1
Missed pen (65) : Laywood 34 (pen), Carline 54, Jepson 70, Tyers 80
from Meadow Lane
The first outing of 2017, but the game I ended up going to was not on the agenda when I set out. I was set to go to Coventry Copsewood v Southam United, looking for a thumping home win, but had to divert as my traffic-enabled satnav told me the journey time was 2hrs 20 minutes, due to… well actually fairly typical M6 conditions, even on a non workday. The suggested alternative route added 20 miles to the journey, but anyway it became a point of principle to eschew the constipated north south route. So once again I headed out on the untrammelled A50, west to east, a driver’s paradise.
Anstey Nomads was the destination, a ground that had been high on my list for a while. It lies on the North West outskirt of Leicester. On arriving at the Old Hare and Hounds in Anstey at around 2.15, I checked my phone to see the EML fixtures and was a bit shocked to see the Anstey fixture had disappeared. It was now hiding in the postponed link, I assume because of a frozen pitch. Thankfully, I knew that Birstall was less then 5 miles away and their match was still showing as on, so it was the only option at this late hour. If Leicester is a clock then Birstall is 1 o’clock to Anstey’s 10 o’clock.
Birstall only moved up to the EML this season after winning the Leicestershire League. They were founded in the ambigram year 1961. Their ground has a brand new arena style stand that looks like it was installed recently, maybe to make the EML ground grading, but I believe it has had lights for a while now. It shares its ground name with Notts County. Next to the 52 seater new stand is evidence of a more sturdy structure halfway through erection. It has the look of an aborted project, but if it is ever finished, will add character to the place.
While a bit disappointed at not getting to my first choice of Coventry Copsewood, there’s something edifying about a new hitherto un-researched venue. Also, this match promised to be a closer affair than the anticipated massacre at Copsewood, with only a few points between the sides lying in 6th and 7th.Visitors Aylestone Park, lie at 7 on the Leicester clock and are a slightly younger club, born in 1968. They too moved from the Leicestershire Senior League, a few years earlier than their hosts, in 2012-13.
Transition seems to be the theme at Meadow Lane with lots of evidence of smart new structures amidst building materials and fences. Looks like it’ll be a beaut when finished. The game was as close as you’d expect from two teams on the fringes of the top five. Birstall had more possession but struggled with the final ball. Aylestone, while enjoying less of the action, had the promise of more incisive, clinical play. And so it played out. The visitors scored a well placed penalty to take the lead on 34, the only goal of a tight close first half.
The second half was an end to end encounter, but while Birstall couldn’t find their finishing touch, Aylestone kept picking them off. On 54, a 20 yard shot was only parried to Carline who tapped in the rebound. On 70, the unmarked Jepson directed a simple header goalward, from a cross for 0-3. On 80 minutes Tyers scored the goal of the game, a great individual goal, beating two players to push into the area from an angle then hammering it into the far corner. Birstall will wonder how they managed to lose 4-0; it was a deluxe smash and grab from Aylestone Park.