End of season gets tough.

Recent rain led me to target three games to visit and luckily my first choice was deemed fit to play whereas the other two both failed pitch inspections. I made my way across North Nottingham in the traffic to Mapperley Plains and the home of Gedling Miners Welfare FC.

The ground is just off a main road to the right of a main stream gym and other community facilities. There is a large car park at the front and an overflow one at the back. I had layers on to counter the 6 degrees and a wind which was whipping down the ground.

Going through the turnstile I was greeted with a flat pitch that is showing wear all over. The ground felt hemmed in with some low roofed terracing with some having a single line of seating. Despite the clocks going back a few days ago it was dark and overcast by some heavy dark clouds.

The club was born in 1919 after the first World War playing in local football changing its name to Mapperley St Judes in 1930. They took on their current name during the Second World War continuing in senior local football and become ever present Amateur Cup entrants setting ground attendance records in the 1950’s against heavy weights Pegasus and Bishop Auckland. These heights were not maintained and by 1999 they were relegated down a Division bouncing back the following year. Gedling were accepted into the Central Midland League five years later and soon gained promotion to the Supreme Division. In 2008 they became founder members of the East Midlands Counties League where they stayed until its demise in the League restructuring. At that point they were placed in the United Counties League Division One.

St Andrews FC started senior life in 1985 in the Leicestershire Senior League gaining promotion to the Premier Division after 2 seasons. Their progression reached a high point when they reached the semi final of the FA Vase in 2014. Their rise meant joining the United Counties League getting to the Premier Division only to be relegated to where they are today, Division One. They are based in Aylestone near Leicester playing at their Canal Road home.

Gedling Miners Welfare 2 St Andrews FC 3

Tuesday 28th March 2023 19.45 kick off.

Plains Road, Mapperley, Nottingham 19th v 20th

Gedling, Yellow Shirts Blue Shorts: St Andrews, Black and White Vertical striped front of shirt, white on back with Black Shorts

The ball skidded fast off the wet surface to start as both teams found it hard to control and within 6 minutes Gedling were ahead when Courtney Hastings was put through and he calmly stroked it under the diving goalkeepers left arm.

St Andrews responded immediately with some good wing play and crosses that tested the home defence. From an overlap on the right and a brilliant cross Jurelle Philip made it all square on 19 minutes. Jurelle Philip was again on the score sheet 6 minutes later when taking the ball in the centre of the goal he volleyed it home. Sitting in the stand in line with the St Andrews player I was surprised that the official did not give off side.

St Andrews forwards continued to look lively but were dealt a blow just before half time when the impressive Mangondoza was sent off. Although St Andrews led at half time they looked to have a mountain to climb in the second half.

The second half started with a mist like a sea fret swirling down the pitch towards the St Andrews goal and despite constant pressure on it the away team scored again. A static square defence didn’t cover the runs from the St Andrews forwards after a free kick and allowed Shim Thompson -Isac to sneak in to glance the ball with his head past a wrong footed keeper.

The home side rallied with more and more attacks and pulled one back on 69 minutes when Hasting rose to head the ball home off the underside of the cross bar after a beautiful curling cross from the right. With Gedling leaving space at the back as they pressed forward St Andrews scored again on 78 minutes but this time it was ruled off side.

The home team had three penalty shouts turned down by the referee and some of the tackles became tasty as both teams showed how important this bottom of the table encounter meant. A touch line scuffle with most of each team neared the end of the game.

St Andrews overtook Gedling in the league and must have been very happy to have journeyed home south to Leicester with the three points despite the conditions, a man being sent off and the competitiveness of the encounter.

Two coffees and some chips were needed to stem the cold, the chips were tasty, hottish, soft and not greasy with an overall score of 62.

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