Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ooh, flippin’ ’eck - that were close...

Today was my second match of the season and saw a very keen start to the day with a 7:35hrs departure from Euston.  Martin and I are in the quiet coach though the whole train seems to be quiet – no doubt in part due to this being an international weekend and none of the big clubs were in action..   

We make the first of several changes at Stockport for a train to Bolton – collecting John Bell on the way and then meet with Trevor and Steve as we board the connection at Bolton for the slow crawl to our final destination, Clitheroe, in the scenic Ribble Valley

New Inn, Clitheroe
There are a few pubs in the small town but only one jumps out from the crowd, the New Inn, which is barely five minutes from the station.

We head straight there and find a  spacious three-room pub but all the regulars are all packed into the small main bar chatting to the landlord. 

A good selection on offer with several beers from Coach House (Gunpowder Mild, Blueberry Classic, Pete Postlethwaite’s and Farriers Best Bitter) and more from Moorhouse (Premier Bitter, Pride of Pendle, Blond Witch and White Witch) with one from Bowland Brewery, Pheasant Plucker.

I tried a half of most of the beers (save the Mild and Blueberry Classic) and the White Witch was coming out on top but all were in excellent condition. We’d not been there long before we were joined by what must have been a coach of Darlo lads, presumably because this is the first pub to open in the town rather than for the range of beers.  They didn’t linger.

And then were joined by John, Rich and Andy who’d been on the same train but had wandered off elsewhere first.  Whilst we were munching away on some pig-based snacks, Andy alerts us to the bags of crackling that John has brought with him – left over from work he tells us - and it is excellent.  Their spare bag soon disappears.

We reluctantly drag ourselves away slightly earlier than we need to as we’re going to pop into the famous sausage shop on the way – sadly no pies for me but Steve gets stuck in and buys a variety to take home.  Just a short walk from here to the ground where there seems to be a healthy Darlo contingent present.

Alan White back with the Quakers
We wander off to stand near the away dugout at the halfway line – turns out to be a good choice as the home management team turn out to be entertaining Cannon and Ball-style duo. They also love berating the linesman on our side (“did you see that, Julian?”).  They took our jibes in good humour and added an extra comic dimension to the day.

We were joined by Michael Cansfield who had the whole family with him – the kids playing in the puddles and Mrs C taking them for walks around the ground.

The game started out just the same as at Farsley - we started much the brighter side and we jokingly said “ha ha, this happened at Farsley and look what happened”. Not this time we thought but sadly it was as the promising start ended up as a very worrying first half.

The first Clitheroe goal came after a quarter of an hour and was from a corner where the slope was most acute - what was a daisy cutter out wide was a nice height when it arrived in the box – their striker took two attempts to score as keeper Bell denied the first header but couldn’t stop the ball being stabbed home.

And it was further slack marking that allowed Clitheroe time and space to double their lead.  This simply wasn’t funny. 

I’d started the half with an excellent portion of pie, peas and gravy – just £2.20. Now that I was starting to feel depressed I headed off for another portion before the half-time rush. It did help.

At the restart, Chris Moore came on for Paul Robinson and it was five minutes later than Andy (AJ) Johnson scored his obligatory goal after some good passing and provided the Darlo fans with a semblance of hope.  We’d certainly started the second half at a higher tempo but too often the final pass or shot was lacking and we wasted good chances.  At the other end there was the odd attack by Clitheroe but nothing to really trouble Bell.

After a couple of near misses, Darlo’s persistence up front paid off as Moore crossed a corner into a crowded six-yard box where Amar Purewall was first to slot the ball home from just yards.

The Clitheroe players were visibly shaken by this and Darlo continued to pile on the pressure but a winner looked to have evaded us as the 90th minute approached.  I started to make my way over to the exit and as I stood behind our goal watching the final throes, Darlo attacked down the left, the ball came across to Purewal and he calmly put the ball into the net.  Get in!!

Purewal scores the equaliser
I had some sympathy for Clitheroe who had worked hard but in the second half they weren’t at the races and based on this second-half performance, we were deserved winners. 

It was a quick walk back to the railway station for the 18:09hrs train back south.  This time we went via Manchester Piccadilly and back to our seats in the quiet coach.

At Crewe we were joined by a talkative woman who’d been to see a polo international at Chester.  Turns out she was an opera singer too – not topics we know well but I was able to hold my own on the music front having been to one opera. She was good company and we had a good natter for the rest of the journey. Available for weddings and other functions – go check her out at

We arrived back into Euston at 21:15hrs - plenty of time for beers in the Euston Tap where the staff had given up on me for the day (nice to be wanted, eh?). I won’t bore you with the range on offer but be assured it was up to its usual high standard.

Although it was our fifth win of the season, I was happy to see my first win of the season. I was impressed by the character we’d exhibited in the second half and our reluctance to settle for a point – we just need to cut out the jittery defending from the first half.