Five Yards…to Maine Road FC

Monday nights are a bit of enigma; the aftermath of the weekend and the belief the party should carry on well into the week, work be damned, or the guilt of overindulgence from the weekend and a week of monk like existence, lurk in the front of the mind

So when the prospect of attending a game armed with the knowledge that there was; a) no TV game b) nothing on television what so ever c) and only being down the road it was never likely going to be an early night in front of the television with a healthy tea. I will admit to the fact that being the supporters club team of the Rusholme branch Mancehster City supporters club also helped the decision to go. I was watching the game with Matt from the world famous Lost Boyos blog.

Brantingtam Road, Chorlton was the destination and 2nd placed Maine Road the hosts for their clash at home to 5th bottom Silsden. This was not my first visit to Brantigham Road, I previously went down a couple of years ago on a freezing Novemeber day to watch them defeat Abbey Hey 7-0 in a bottom of the table clash. The only thing I could remember about the day was that the clubhouse at the ground was in pitch black in the middle of the afternoon and all the doors and corridors in the place gave it a haunted house feel. Walking down Brantingham Road I had to check my phone more than once to make sure that I was heading in the right direction down a straight road! It genuinely had a feel of the end of the earth to it when walking down from Chorlton.

Upon arrival I was able to use my new trusty membership card given to me courtesy of West Didsbury & Chorlton meaning that I could gain admission to any North West Counties ground for concessionary prices. Once there a programme and badge were secured and it was time to check out the ‘haunted house’ for a second time.

To my pleasant surprise they’d chosen to switch the lights on and it looked as if they’d even done some work on the main function room last night. In the clubhouse there was a hatch where they’d moved the pie cabin to from outside meaning that my meat and potato pie was deliciously hot. On the other side was the bar where Fosters was a suprising £3 and Strongbow an incredible £2.50! However to my horror the bar was shut so there would be no sampling cheap Maine Road strongbow!

The ground is a smart 4 sided ground that was the former home to the Manchester FA and Maine Road have done a lot to the ground even if they haven’t done a lot to promote the fact that they are there!

We entered the ground through a turnstile behind the goal at the top end nearest the road, apparently it was too near the goals as a poor gentleman working the gate had the life frightened out of him more than once when a errant ball smashed against his cabin.

Down one side of the ground is a small shed with three rows of small benches with lines painted on them to signify one seat that runs almost the full length of the pitch.

One of the other side are some of the largest dugouts I’ve seen at the NWCFL level with a shed that runs to the end of the stand. It was somewhat bemusing it stated on a sign upon entry that the row A was reserved for away officials to find only a 3 step terrace inside. Presumably the directors of the Premier League must demand to stand!

At the far end of the ground was a large grassy bank with houses behind it. One brave sole had risked a rather large conservatory at right behind the goal too.

The game itself was played with a good tempo as Maine Road, knowing they would go top with a victory, looked to force the issue early. They moved the ball quickly and got it into wide positions early and had a very good young number 7 who beat his man every time before pulling the ball back to penalty spot. Unfortunately the Road no.9 was not quite as nimble as his team mate was continued to let the ball be caught under his feet.

Road continued to pressure, looking for the ball played over the top into the channels for their wingers to run onto but the Silsden keeper made a couple of decent saves. Both teams were very fresh faced and more than eager in the tackle and it was inevitable that there were more than a few fouls in the game. It was Silsden who seemingly inevitably broke the deadlock as I turned to Matt and said ‘here comes the first goal’ as an aimless free kick was aimed into the box and the Maine Road keepers spilled it into the net.

Half Time 0-1 Silsden and Road seemingly out of ideas as they spent the rest of the first half lumping aimless balls to two hapless strikers with little threat. We retired back in to the haunted house so Matt could charge his phone and order a hot chocolate. The seemingly sparse crowd before the game that included one man sat in the clubhouse on his own had become a mass of people trying to get in from the cold.

Second half was more the same as Silsden defended with increasing confidence and multiple substitutions disrupted the pattern of the game and the fresh faces were replaced with younger and younger looking players. The Maine Road goal came from another free kick in the identical spot as the first, as the manager walked down to behind the goal to the fetch the ball in anticipation of it being hit into a garden when the Road number 10 hit a peach of a shot into the corner of the net and the manager ran down the touchline celebrating with the supporters.

Game on. The last 10 minutes was frantic stuff as Maine Road searched for a winning goal.  Unfortunately for them Silsden had other ideas and scored with their only chance in the dying minutes after Road had had a glorious chance to win it.

Silsden managed to surive a late onslaught and probably deserved the result for their work rate and resilience in defence.

Overall it was a decent way to spend a Monday night for less than a tenner.

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