Saturday 23rd January 2010

Barnoldswick Town 0 Stone Dominoes 0
Vodkat League Division 1
At: Silentnight Beds Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £2; Programme: £1 (40 pages)
Attendance: 105
Weather: Occasional showers
Duration: first-half: 47:57; second-half: 48:28

In a top of the table clash that lived up to its billing, Barnoldswick Town, who started the day in third position, and leaders Stone Dominoes served up a keenly-contested and absorbing game – the only thing lacking was a goal.

Patchy fog was a worry travelling up the M6 but a phone call from Knutsford calmed my nerves. Fog was swirling around the ground I was told but wouldn’t threaten the game.

My route along the M65 from Preston passed close to Padiham and Nelson, then through Colne on the A6068 – three clubs that Barnoldswick have aspirations of facing in the league in the near future. Unexpectedly crossing the border into the West Riding of Yorkshire, I approached the town on the northbound A56, turning left onto the B6383 not long after passing The Old Stone Trough pub. Continuing straight through to a mini roundabout, I ended up having great fun finding the ground as the post code and address related to the old entrance. Thankfully a local amateur rugby league club official in Victory Park pointed me in the right direction via Gisburn Road, past the Fosters Arms pub and right into Greenberfield Lane from where the ground was signposted. Try BB18 5LJ.

I used the new entrance off the car park and past the paybox, the ground ran lengthways. Behind the near goal were the clubhouse, changing rooms, hospitality suite and three small stands. Two contains blue tip-up seats, totally around 72, and the third was a small area of covered terrace. Down the right-hand touchline being the dugouts was a stone-build stand boasting four terrace steps. A further entrance was behind the far goal, aimed a pedestrians entering the ground from Victory Park.

Programmes and lapel badges were available at the paybox. Line-ups were written on a whiteboard and also announced over the tannoy.

The name Barnoldswick Town was adopted as recently as the 2003/04 season following the amalgamation of Barnoldswick United (1972), Barnoldswick Park Rovers and Salterforth Juniors. Last season they finished sixth in the West Lancashire League and, having brought the ground up to the required standard, decided to move up to the Vodkat League Division 1. So far their first season at this level is going to plan and, come May, they could be celebrating another promotion into the Premier Division.

Due to the bad weather, both sides hadn’t played a league game for six weeks since Saturday 12th December. Third-placed Barnoldswick (22 points from 15 games) faced leaders Stone Dominoes (29 points from 15 games) on the back of an impressive run of five straight league and cup victories prior to the enforced winter break. In a bid to get in some match practice, they defeated Padiham 4-1 in a friendly on Tuesday evening.

Visitors Stone were also in good form as well with seven wins from their last eight league and cup games. They emerged from their winter break with a 3-1 win a Brocton on Tuesday to progress into the Staffordshire Vase Fourth Round.

“Change it round boys,” shouted referee Richard Wild following the toss and Stone got the game underway defending the changing rooms end in the first half. I opted for a spot down the side near to the dugouts but soon moved up cover when the first shower commenced.

Raffle tickets quickly came round – 291–195 on the sky blue was my lucky strip. No chance of winning surely? News of the winning tickets later.

Both sides made what could be described as a physical start and the eagle-eyed Mr Wild didn’t hesitate to penalise any stiff tackles.

Despite a few chances during the opening 15 minutes, neither keeper was seriously tested though Barnoldswick’s Billy Carrington needed to get down to smartly save a 10-yard shot from Dan Brown.

Ashely Alderson picked up a cut to the back of his head and, after treatment, he swapped his bloodied ‘8’ shirt for the ‘15’.

News of Burnley’s lunchtime FA Cup exit at Reading was a talking point amongst some fans and meant that “only Accrington Stanley round ‘ere were left in the Cup”.

Danny Roberts was tested around the midpoint of the first half. Liam Blades hit long-range rising drive which the leaping keeper stopped diving to his right and claimed at the second attempt as Neil Chapman pounced.

Brown and Simon Eldershaw combined inside the home area and the latter saw his shot blocked by Carrington.

From first whistle to half-time, there seemed little let up in a fast tempo. “Well done lads, keep it going,” were shouted in encouragement as the Barnoldswick side entered their changing rooms.

As I had before kick-off, I made good use of the ‘Tearoom’ hatch inside the clubhouse – again my tea came in a proper mug! The discussion behind me in the queue centered around the performance of the home side who the fans reckoned had had the better half and created the better chances.

Alderson received more treatment during the interval and came out for the second half with a bandaged head in the fashion of Terry Butcher all those years ago.

With lights on two minutes after the restart, Stone made a bright start and, from Andrew Matthews’ corner, Eldershaw powered a header just wide of the near post.

An error at the back by Stone defender Adam Sloane on the hour was almost punished with a goal. His poor backpass header let in Chapman who fired against the bar.

Into the final 20 minutes and the diving Carrington did well to keep out a swerving shot hit by substitute Anthony Marshall who had replaced Michael Marren moments earlier.

Roberts was twice called into action to keep his side on level terms. He was well-positioned to hold Shaun Clough’s free-kick and did well to hold onto Adam Hayton’s deflected 25-yard shot.

In the end, I think a draw was a fair result and even though the 0-0 was my first in a league game since Boxing Day 2008, I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the action served up on the field.

Stone remained top and the point moved Barnoldwick over Leek CSOB into second spot.

So, an enjoyable day out, friendly welcome, friendly club, game played in a good spirit = recommended!

Barnoldswick Town (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Billy Carrington, 2. Liam Blades, 3. Shaun Clough, 4. Lewis Jordan, 5. Russell Clarke (capt), 6. Bill Williams, 7. Adam Hayton, 8/15. Ashley Alderson, 9. Stewart Airdrie, 10. Neil Chapman, 11. Chris Clarke. Subs: 12. Daniel Caton (not used), 14. Paul Barrett (for Airdrie, 85), 15. Wayne Morrison (not used), 16. Spencer Jordan (not used), 17. Craig Bradshaw (for Chris Clarke, 85).

Stone Dominoes (red/black/black): 1. Danny Roberts, 2. Steven Brunk, 3. Adam Edwards, 4. Karl Charlton, 5. Matt Bradbury, 6. Adam Sloane, 7. Michael Marren, 8. Niall Maguire (capt), 9. Simon Eldershaw, 10. Dan Brown, 11. Andrew Matthews. Subs: 12. David Shaw (not used), 14. Robbie Malloy (not used), 15. Matt Lowndes (for Eldershaw, 83), 16. Liam McKinney (not used), 17. Anthony Marshall (for Marren, 72).

Referee: Richard Wild (Rochdale).
Assistants: M Pope and C McGill.


Barnoldswick: Clough (YC, 38), Lewis Jordan (YC, 60)
Stone: Niall Maguire (YC, 77)