Tuesday 7th October 2014 ko 19.00
Northern Premier League Premier Division
BARWELL 2 (Castle 18p Barlone 55)
ILKESTON 1 (Adams 11)
The more you delve into the act of watching, “Football wherever it may be,” you soon end up with illogical statistics. Why would I watch more football in Sweden for example than I have in Scotland? But it’s the individual ground visits where the really strange quirks lie.
My regular reader knows that I used to live in Banbury and the Leicestershire town of Barwell is only around an hour’s drive away. But over 1,600 grounds into this odyssey of mine, it had yet to be paid a visit, and let’s fact it, Kirkby Road is well worth a visit.
I do like a ground where you can see the club’s development. Barwell were a Midland Alliance outfit in my Banbarian past, and the cricket pitch on the way in to the complex shows the ground’s multi-sport background.
Beyond that is a fine ground, dominated by the main stand, sat as it is on top of the changing rooms, with the tea bar, boardroom and press area tacked on to the side, clearly as ground grading requirements dictated. In the corner is Murray Dworkin’s club shop with the corncupia of footballing delights you only ever see in non-league. After all where else can you buy a pin badge from a Scottish Amateur side?
Its fair to say that Barwell are finding the rarefied heights of Step 3 football a struggle this season. Ilkeston, themselves no stranger to difficult times brought a following with them, who seemed confident in their young side, but it was the veteran striker on the bench that caught my eye.
Rob Duffy had a stint at then Conference outfit Oxford United from 2005-2008, and his form varied from the brilliance of a hat trick away at Forest Green Rovers, to the idiocy of a red card 20 seconds after coming on as substitute at home to Ebbsfleet in 2007. He did score goals, 24 in 54 games is no mean feat even if his detractors pointed out that many came from the penalty spot.
7 clubs since then points to a questionable temperament, and he did collect a booking for dissent 5 minutes after coming on in this game. Ilkeston needed Duffy at his best, they’d taken the lead, had all the tools to win the tie, but found themselves behind due to a penalty and a smart header from Luke Barlone, probably his only significant contribution.
These were two sides playing the pressing game of the Conference North, but with the errors of the division below. Ilkeston got the listless, off-the-pace Duffy Oxford United fans remember being the hallmark of his last few months at the club, and a mixture of pragmistism, and dare-I-say dark arts on the midfield carried Barwell to the win.
One observation to finish, Barwell’s penalty was scored by goalkeeper Liam Castle, his third of the season. Has a keeper ever been top goalscorer for a club?