The football was hectic and I was exhausted by half time.

I saw that there was a hurriedly rearranged fixture between Kimberley Miners Welfare and Anstey Nomads who are bearing down on league leaders Loughborough Students with a hat full of games in hand. So I journeyed south with the anticipation of a good competitive game. Even the program was online because Kimberley didn’t have time to get it printed. Luckily the game was on despite the early morning frost but there was still a chill in the air on a clear night.

Kimberley’s ground is very close to the town centre and is just off the main street surrounded by housing. I found my way to the entrance past the Stag Inn, the sponsors of Kimberley, down two alleys whilst all along being able to see the brightly light stadium.

The facilities are ample for this level but look like they could do with some updating should they progress. There is a club house, changing room and an outside bar, not open for the evening, along with some low level covered seating one side and a covered standing area behind one goal with signs on the floor saying don’t stand in this area. The pitch slopes slightly from end to end and side to side in the far corner and the grass covering is beginning to show the effects of the playing season.

Kimberley Miners Welfare have been in existence for nearly 100 years having been formed in 1926 by the Miners Welfare.They played in different leagues around Nottinghamshire until 2014 when they joined the East Midlands Counties League. The league was disbanded 7 years later and they were placed in the United Counties League Division One, due to the Non-League reorganisation, which they won at their first attempt. They now play at the highest level of football they have ever achieved.

Anstey Nomads were started 20 years after Kimberley being born out of a Methodist Church team and adopted their current name just after. They have mainly played in local Leicestershire Leagues moving up to the East Midlands Counties League in 2008 and the United Counties League in 2018 where they gained promotion to the Premier Division that was split into North and South in 2021. They too have reached their highest league level so far.

Kimberley Miners Welfare 1 Anstey Nomads 1

Tuesday 7th February 2023, 19.45.p.m kick off. United Counties Premier League, Division North.

The Stag Ground, Kimberley, Nottinghamshire, Miners v Nomads 8th v 2nd

Kimberley, red and black vertical striped shirt front, all red at back with white shorts: Anstey, all navy blue shirts and shorts.

With the flood lights glowing in the clear sky it was difficult to make out the referee from the away team but those on the pitch seemed to have no problem as he controlled this pulsating game from the off.

Anstey stamped a superiority on the first 25 minutes though they were repulsed by a committed home defense with their number 3 being heavily involved in vital tackles and blocks. This pattern of play continued, with some very fast breaks by the home side, until the 34th minute when an Anstey free kick from the left corner of the penalty area by Corey Armeni was whipped in. The Kimberley goal keeper looked to be about to pluck it from the air when the ball appeared to be deflected passed him, the stunned look on his face said it all. The to and fro football went on until half time when I retired to the club house for another coffee and to calm down.

Anstey Nomads returned to their dominance in the second half but some well placed balls to the wings meant the fast Kimberley forwards exerted continuing pressure but their lack of a clinical last touch near goal restricted their chances. The continued pace, particularly from Kimberley’s number 7 now caused the Nomads more and more problems and this resulted in more fouls.

When a Kimberley player burst into the box on 80 minutes he was up ended before his shot was put away. You could feel the tension as James Shaw coolly waited and struck his penalty to the left of the goal keeper to make it all square.

Although there was much endeavour the game ran out a draw on what turned out to be a pulsating game that deserved to be a level in the end. The players must have been exhausted after total commitment by both sides and a pace that left me breathless if not them. What an enjoyable game that was watched by only 108 spectators, for those who stayed away they missed a great game.

Unfortunately no chips at Kimberley, I was jealous when two girls left half way through the first half to nip to the local chip shop and then came back and ate them near me. The smell was torture.

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