Estimate of minutes: 18, 60, 88: 16, 30, 35, 47, 80 (pen), 90
Haughmond FC are new to step 6 of non league, promoted last year from WMRL One to Premier. They have made big strides in recent years, coming up swifly from the Shropshire league. Not having heard of them until this season I didn’t know much about them, except that they played at Shrewsbury Sports Village. Despite the name being suggestive of such, I didn’t realise they played in a caged ground. Such grounds I’d received dire warnings of. Even the most fervid of hoppers has waxed fierce at the idea of watching caged football, in the way a trainspotter might eschew the wiles of a diesel train or like when I says to Withnail in the film Withnail and I (after he starts to drink lighter fluid) – even the wankers on the street don’t drink that.
So it was with a touch of guilt that I really took to Shrewsbury Sports Village. If this is what all cages are like then I’m happy to include them on future itineraries. A large terrace, a proper stand made from concrete, unusually steep and three steps up and a pristine grass pitch. The only let down was the fencing in front of the terrace. If they could reroute it somehow to leave the terrace open behind the goal then it would be a cracker of a ground, for their level.
Tonight’s game was a local derby against Shawbury United, a small town just 6 miles up the A53. Where, by coincidence, I’d stopped off for fish and chips and a pint of Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde at the Elephant & Castle.
The Shrewsbury Sports Village is a massive complex with huge car park to boot. To get to the ground you enter through the main reception. Glass doors lead out from this reception to a ten step terrace behind one goal, and behind the cage. Disappointingly the official entrance is by the side at the bottom of the terrace, meaning people can watch it for free without officially going in. Although for people not to part with the bargain £2 entrance would show extreme tightness. Programmes were also on show for another £1, which was nice to see, given a lack of them at other venues in this division.
Despite the league table being upside down and the middle spread being a centrefold of white paper, it was a good effort and gratefully received. Continuing their rapid ascent up the leagues Haughmond had made a good start to the division, in eigth place with eight wins four draws and four defeats. Their games were quite low scoring, in contrast to Shawbury who last week had won 6-4 at Bilston. Shawbury had won six drawn one lost seven and were a few places below. It promised to be a tight local derby.
Maybe the league table appearing upside down on page two of the programme, was a prescient move or maybe an artistic prediction of the outcome. Shawbury looked the more competent side throughout and certainly belied their relative difference in league position.
Shawbury opened the scoring with a header off a brilliant cross. The Mond equalised when a speculative 25 yarder was spilled horribly, by the United keeper. Shawbury made it 3-1 before the break with two similar 15 yard low shots ricocheting off defenders. They could have scored more. In the second period, it was 4-1 with a great individual effort, side stepping a defender and wellying it into the top corner left-footed from 20 yards.
Another great strike, this time for Mond, from a free kick, made it 4-2. It should’ve been 4-3 a minute later when, with an open goal staring at him, the striker got the ball stuck in his legs and couldn’t deploy a strike on goal.
A brouhaha ensued shortly after, when a Shawbury player made a two footed challenge and was eventually sent off. Far from precipitating a comeback the ten men of Shawbury probably still had the better chances, one of which resulted in a clear penalty, which was duly dispatched into the top corner. 2-5. In the latter moments first Mond took advantage of another keeper error to hook the ball back in to the box for a free header, 3-5, then a similar goal at the other end completed the scoring for my first ever 3-6. Great entertainment for only £2.