Month: April 2011

Match Of The Week: Bangor City 1-0 TNS

That the English Premier League show arrive at a showdown like this. Today is the final day of the season in the Welsh Premier League, and the two teams at the top of the table, Bangor City and The New Saints, are playing each other for the league title. Going into the match, TNS are a point clear of Bangor, meaning that a draw will lift them the championship, but a home win will take the Welsh championship to Bangor for the first time in over a decade and a half. With the league championship comes a more prosaic reward than honour, as well. A place in next year’s Champions League – albeit in the qualifying round – awaits the winners, while the runners-up go into the Europa League. For clubs running on the sort of budget that WPL clubs run, this is likely to mean a significant amount of money. It is one of the quirks of Welsh league football that Bangor City have contrived to go fifteen years without a league championship. The club had an honorable history within the English pyramid until the early 1990s, including four seasons in what we now call the Blue Square Premier and and appearance in the FA Trophy final in 1984, where they only lost to Northwich Victoria in a replay, after drawing the first match at Wembley. A sense...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Bradford Park Avenue 0-2 FC United of Manchester

The Southern League play-offs weren’t the only matches being played last night. Play-off semi-finals were also being played in the Northern Premier League and we were lucky enough to have Andrew Gibney offer to write up the match between Bradford Park Avenue and FC United of Manchester for us. The month of April began with Bradford Park Avenue sitting unspectacularly in mid-table. Home wins again Burscough and Kendal Town sparked a wonderful run of eight games unbeaten. The twenty three days that had passed saw 23 goals scored and only four conceded and Avenue had climbed from tenth place in the Evostik League Premier Division to third. Promotion was now a realistic possibility. Opponents FC United of Manchester had enjoyed an imperious run themselves; only two defeats in nineteen games had made the play-offs a certainty, defeat against Kendal Town on the last day of the season meant they finished fourth and not second, setting up a “War of the Roses” at Horsfall Stadium. A crowd of just over 500 had enjoyed the last home game of the season against Woksop Town, the highest gate since Halifax Town had been the visitors back in January. Tonight would be something much different. Bus upon bus of FC United’s faithful arrived in the sleepy suburb of Bradford; impeccably behaved the fans were only there to cheer on their team. Expectations were...

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Robins Could Be Rocked Again

Over the fortnight Sheffield Wednesday supporters should be feeling relieved and maybe still a touch groggy from imbibing a few drinks for the dink. Having been frustrated until recently by the form of Gary Megson’s side which saw Wednesday drift agonizingly close to the relegation zone of League One, Owls faithful saw the club come around on Hartlepool 2-1 and nick a point off Walsall to mathematically avoid demotion to League Two. In between, Wednesdayites  celebrated the 20th anniversary of their last League Cup triumph over Manchester United, relishing the fact they are the last club outside the top flight to have taken home one of the two major domestic trophies in the English game. John Sheridan’s winner, affectionately recollected now as “The Dink,” is a lasting moment of glory for a club that can still be considered big despite not having played in the top flight for over a decade. That sense of easement and giddiness from conquests of old cannot be felt by those SWFC last opposed in Hillsborough, though, as Wednesday condemned Swindon Town to League Two football next season with a 3-1 post-anniversary victory on Monday. As the week has progressed, Town’s chair Andrew Fitton has stood down after three years at the helm and manager Paul Hart was sacked by the interim chair Jeremy Wray rather than be allowed to finish the final two matches of a season that is finished. Hart’s record since taking...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Hitchin Town 4-1 Slough Town

As things turned out, the points deduction didn’t make any difference. Arlesey Town won by a single goal at Hitchin Town in the Zamaretto League Central Division on Monday afternoon and, such is the way of things at the end of the season, Hitchin are back in action this evening in the semi-finals of the play-offs against Slough Town. While there is nowhere near the 1,500 that turned out for the championship decider on Monday present this evening (one might be tempted to wonder what happened to those other 900 people), there is another healthy crowd here this evening of just over 600 for this match. These two matches between them will certainly have something of a smile across the face of those in charge of the club’s accounts. Meanwhils, Slough Town are, for people of a certain age, still a big club. Former members of what we now know as the Blue Square Premier, their fall from grace coincided with their eviction from Wexham Park in 2003. Nowadays, they groundshare with Beaconsfield SYCOB whilst still agitating for a return to their home town, and a small sense of their former scale as a club can be gauged from their rambunctious travelling support of well over 100 people here this evening. They lost out in the play-offs in this division last season, but their supporters seem optimistic. Promotion might...

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