Middlesbrough Women vs Dallas Baptist University Women

With the season coming to an end, there isn’t a great deal of games left. When Middlesbrough announced this game last week, I was always going to try to get there. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this game today. I did a bit of research into Dallas Baptist to see if I could gauge what sort of competition they would prove to be for Middlesbrough. I don’t fully know how the BUCS system works so there is no chance I’m going to be able to fully work out how the American college system works! The women’s football system in America is split into three divisions with division one being the top division. There are 26 leagues and 206 teams at that level in the States. Division 1 is seen as more or less professional with division 3 being amateur.  Dallas Baptist play in division 2 where there are 22 leagues and 225 teams. They participate in the Heartland Conference where the majority of members are in Texas, with additional members in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Dallas Baptist finished second in the 2016 table with only St Edward’s from Austin beating them. All that is good, but I still didn’t know how they would compare to the third tier of the senior pyramid in England. Dallas Baptist are certainly one of those teams that’ll I’ll only ever watch once. I’ll be amazed if I watch them again! Women’s football has always been a bigger game in the United States and for me, some of that is related to the college/university game. It’s massive in the US and although it is big in the UK, the women’s football BUCS competition is nowhere near as big as the football is in America.

To the game and it was a very competitive, entertaining game from the off. Dallas Baptist were looking bright in the opening minutes but Middlesbrough settled the boat and grew into the game 10 minutes in.

Emily Scarr and Jess Havelock both forced saves from the Dallas Baptist goalkeeper before a quick flowing move from the Boro resulted in a couple of shots which were well defended.

Further chances came at both ends while Dallas Baptist were making regular substitutions. Middlesbrough’s players were bigger and in parts were physically stronger, but the Patriots seemed to have that bit extra skill and quality.

In the 39th minute, Dallas Baptist broke the deadlock when a shot from 12 yards crept under Laura Wareham and into the net.

The goal spurred Dallas on and they were on top for much of the second half. A second goal came just before the hour mark when a quick turn gave their forward room and she curled a fine effort into the far corner to double the Patriots’ lead.

It was almost three 15 minutes from time when a teasing cross was flicked on to glance off the crossbar.

However, a third did come six minutes from time when a fine team move was slotted home with a cool finish.

Middlesbrough matched the students for much of the first half but couldn’t keep up in the second half and Dallas Baptist were good value for their 3-0 win.

Full-time: Middlesbrough Women 0-3 Dallas Baptist University Women

Next up for me is possibly Richmond Town vs Cleator Moor Celtic on Saturday.

Admission: £3 adults, £1 concessions

Programme: No

Attendance: About 100

Can of Coke: 80p

Macclesfield Town vs York City (At Wembley)

Regardless of how the FA Vase final finished, we were always going to stay for the FA Trophy final. I suppose it probably wouldn’t have felt great watching this final if Shields had lost but we would have still stayed. We paid £10 as students for the two finals which is very good value really. During the matches, the FA ensured they would have entertainment on. One thing they promised was “pub furniture”. Now, there could still have been 12,000 people in the South Shields end and all they had was two couches! Mind you, there wasn’t many in the South Shields end that stayed. The number was probably about 200. With almost two hours to kill between the games, we decided to get some food. They have plenty of choice but some of it doesn’t look great and calling it expensive is an understatement. A rather small hot dog set you back £7.50, a pizza would set you back £13 and a draught coke would have set you back £3.50. In the end, we went with pizza which was £6.50 for two slices. It took a while for us to actually get it and it was expensive but it was all right. There was a place selling slushes which I quite fancied and I wish I didn’t. I paid a fiver for a slush which he said was refillable but it turned out that it wasn’t and he wanted another £4 to refill it. With very few in for the second game, we decided to change seats and sat only a few seats away from the York fans directly behind the goal. The Minstermen have had a terrible couple of years and as they were local compared to Macclesfield, I was supporting them.

Match report:

Connolly strikes late as York City win the FA Trophy

Aidan Connolly 86th minute strike ensured York City won the FA Trophy by the odd goal in five on Sunday afternoon.

Following back-to-back relegations, Gary Mills’ men throw away two leads before Connolly’s late strike ensured the FA Trophy was going to Yorkshire.

Jon Parkin headed York into an early lead but Rhys Browne equalised in only the 13th minute. Vadaine Oliver regained York’s lead only for Ollie Norburn’s screamer to pull Macclesfield level just before the break. But, York were to go again and claim the points in the 86th minute through Connolly.

With around 8,000 backing the Minstermen, they took the lead after only seven minutes. After Macclesfield’s Chris Holroyd had headed wide for Macclesfield, York worked the ball around to find Danny Holmes. His inviting cross found Parkin and the former Macclesfield Town man glanced a header into the far corner.

Macclesfield looked for an immediate response and Norburn’s clever work found Kingsley James but his effort was saved by Kyle Letheren.

However, Macclesfield were to pull level after 12 minutes. A free-kick from the left side was headed to Browne and his low shot found a way through the legs of Letheren to pull the Silkmen level.

The lively Holroyd went close to putting Macclesfield ahead in the 20th minute but his acrobatic effort failed to find the target.

In an all-action start, York City regained their lead halfway through the first half. A sharp break saw Sean Newton burst down the wing and played the ball across the face of goal where Oliver slid in to divert the ball into the net.

Oliver fired wide soon after, while Norburn skewed well wide for Macclesfield at the other end.

Danny Whitaker, in his second spell at Macclesfield, forced a fine save from Letheren from long-range. This led to numerous Macclesfield corners but York held firm.

A fine save from Letheren prevented Whitaker as the first half came to a close and soon after, Browne went on a superb run to beat four York defenders before blazing over when it mattered.

Newton fired wide as York looked to double their lead before Macclesfield pulled level in fine style in first half added time. Norburn, who was a crucial part of Macclesfield route to the final,  collected possession a long way out and his stunning, moving effort rocketed into the net to ensure an exciting second half.

The second half wasn’t quite as exciting as the first but chances came early on as Oliver stabbed narrowly wide while Browne’s effort at the other end was saved by Letheren.

Whitaker volleyed narrowly wide after a Macclesfield corner wasn’t dealt with while Asa Hall’s 25 yard drive came to the same fate at the other end.

Lethern saved from Mitch Hancox as Macclesfield looked to take the lead in the 65th minute.

Hamza Bencherif was York’s saviour in the 68th minute when he superbly headed James’ volley off the line and the Silkmen were looking quite dangerous as they searched for a winner.

Letheren had to rush off his line to prevent Browne in the 80th minute and the York stopper was on hand to prevent James once again seconds later.

Despite being pressurised for spells, York were to score the decisive winning goal in the 86th minute. Parkin’s good work saw him find room to shoot and his shot took a wicked deflection off George Pilkington to loop over the ‘keeper and into the net. Connolly rushed towards goal and helped it over the line but regardless of who scored, it was a massive goal for the Minstermen.

Macclesfield were unable to create any other real chances and after a horrific season, York City won the FA Trophy.

Full-time: Macclesfield Town 2-3 York City

Next up for me is Middlesbrough Women vs Dallas Baptist University Women tomorrow.

Macclesfield Town: Flinders, Halls (c), Pilkington, Bryce (McCombe, 68′), Fitzpatrick, Browne, Holroyd, Norburn (Dudley, 89′), James, Hancox (Summerfield, 88′), Whitaker

Unused subs: Ross, Whitehead

York City: Letheren, Heslop (c), Morgan-Smith, Klukowski (Moke, 46′), Hall (Connolly, 69′), Oliver, Parkin, Newton, Holmes (Rooney, 75’), Parslow, Bencherif

Unused subs: Fenwick, Simpson

Admission (joint ticket with the FA Vase final): £25 adults, £10 OAP’s/students, £1 under-16s

Attendance (joint attendance with the FA Vase final): 38,224

Programme (joint programme with the FA Vase final): £5

Referee: Paul Tierney

Two slices of pizza: £6.50

Slush: £5

Match pin badge (after the match): £1

South Shields vs Cleethorpes Town (At Wembley)

The only time I had been to Wembley before yesterday was with West Auckland Town when they were beaten by Sholing. I’m not exactly a West Auckland fan but I’ll always support the Northern League team in the final of the FA Vase. Being in the losing end that day was a horrible feeling. Wembley certainly is the worst place there is to lose a game of football while probably being the best place there is to win a game of football. I looked at making the trip down with Morpeth Town last year but didn’t bother in the end. But, when South Shields made it to Wembley, there was no way I was missing out on it. We were hoping to be able to travel down on Saturday but that didn’t happen. On Saturday, I thought I was going to go to Felling Magpies in the Northern Alliance but I was given free tickets for the rugby league Magic Weekend at St James’ Park thanks to Lee Phillips. I’m not really into rugby and I don’t know the rules but I watched Widnes Vikings vs Wakefield Trinity and Hull FC vs St Helens. Back to Wembley and it still totally amazes me how South Shields have progressed. I’ve said it loads of times now but the people behind the scenes deserve the success. Daniel Prince’s hard work was acknowledged before kick-off and that was fully deserved too. It was a five o’clock start and going via Sheffield, we got to the car park at Preston Road Tube Station in good time. It’s fair to say the area in which we parked is quite different to the north east!

Match report:

South Shields win the FA Vase with comfortable victory over Cleethorpes Town

South Shields capped off a memorable season with a fourth trophy in the shape of the FA Vase at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

Having already won the league, the League Cup and the Durham Challenge Cup, the Mariners cruised to a 4-0 win over their Northern Counties East League opposition.

Carl Finnigan tucked home a penalty to put the Mariners ahead just before half time and Dillon Morse eased the nerves 10  minutes from time. David Foley then bagged a late brace as the Mariners cruised to a 4-0 win.

In relative control from the off, South Shields could have taken the lead in only the fourth minute when Finnigan was inches away from converting Julio Arca’s teasing cross.

Finnigan was then prevented by a fine save by Liam Higton but the Mariners weren’t concerned by missed chances.

Cleethorpes created their first real chance in the 25th minute when Brody Robertson found room to get a shot away but Liam Connell saved well.

Backed by 13,000 fans, the Mariners were looking very dangerous through Finnigan, Wayne Phillips, Foley and Gavin Cogdon and 12 minutes before the break, Higton did well to intercept a dangerous low Foley cross.

Cogdon tried his luck but failed to find the target as the first half wore on but the deadlock was eventually to be broken. Cogdon was fouled in the penalty area and Finnigan took responsibility to send Higton the wrong way and give the Mariners a deserved lead.

The lead could have been doubled before half-time as a superb save from Higton prevented Cogdon and the former Spennymoor Town man was unable to convert the rebound.

Cleethorpes had stopper Higton to thank we he prevented Cogdon in the 49th minute. His rasping effort was destined for the top corner until a superb save turned it behind for a corner and Cogdon was denied only two minutes later.

With Northern League champions in control, Morse rose highest to meet a corner but his header landed on the roof of the net.

After a quiet spell, the Mariners eventually doubled their lead 10 minutes from time. Substitute Roberts Briggs, who lost the FA Vase final with West Auckland, whipped an inch-perfect cross into the penalty area finding Morse whose header managed to creep into the net.

And, a South Shields third in the 86th minute put the result beyond any doubt. Michael Richardson’s superb ball played Foley in and the former Hartlepool United forward kept his cool to pick his spot and slot beyond Higton.

The cherry was put on top of the cake four minutes later when Foley completed his brace with Shields’ fourth. Darren Lough found possession down the wing and he cut in to find Foley. From 20 yards, Foley’s first time drive picked out the bottom corner to round off the perfect afternoon for the Mariners.

Full-time: South Shields 4-0 Cleethorpes Town

Next up for me is Middlesbrough Women vs Dallas Baptist University Women tomorrow.

South Shields: Connell, Nicholson, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Stephenson (Briggs, 56′), Phillips (Smith, 83′), Cogdon, Finnigan (Richardson, 70′), Foley

Unused subs: Holden, Storey

Cleethorpes Town: Higton, Lowe, Bloomer, Coleman (Mascall, 70′), Winn, Davis (Richardson, 73′), Dickens, Flett (c),  Oglesby, Cooper (Taylor, 61′), Robertson

Unused subs: King, Wressel

Admission (joint ticket with the FA Trophy final): £25 adults, £10 OAP’s/students, £1 under-16s

Attendance (joint attendance with the FA Trophy final) : 38,224

Programme (joint programme with the FA Trophy final): £5

Referee: Darren England

I’ll put all the rest on the FA Trophy article!

Finally, huge congratulations to everyone at Shields. It’s a superb achievement and I’m delighted for the club. On a final note, I’ll give a mention to Jon King too. He kept the club going on the pitch in the tough times and was the man in charge at the start of this run.

Sunderland U23s vs FC Porto B

Having watched Sunderland U23s in every other round of the Premier League International Cup, there was only one place I was going tonight. And, when we were told by University that we could go in the press box, it confirmed I would definitely be there. Sunderland have done very well to reach this stage of the Premier League International Cup and have beaten some good sides along the way. Shifting 20,000 tickets for this game tonight just shows how big of a club Sunderland actually are. Yes, they were free but how many other clubs would get 20,000 in for a final like this. Most of the foreign clubs in this competition play very good football. PSV were the notable ones before today but some of the football Porto played tonight was sublime. In a sense, it shows that English football still has a long way to come to match some of the football played elsewhere. This was the first time I’ve actually been in the press box at Sunderland for a game. We were meant to be in for a game a couple of months ago but they had closed the press box so we were just behind the dugouts. And, for a rarity tonight, I wrote this while the match was in play.

Match report:

FC Porto B win Premier League International Cup in front of record attendance

FC Porto B cruised to a 5-0 win over Sunderland U23s in the final of the Premier League International Cup on Wednesday night in front of a tournament record crowd of 18,317.

Galeno fired the visitors into a fifth minute lead and the same man collected his brace in the 37th minute. André Pereira added a third before half-time and the fourth came through Joris Kayembe early in the second half. Chidozie Awaziem added a fifth in the 55th minute and the Portuguese giants took their foot off the gas late on.

Sunderland manager Elliott Dickman named a strong side for the cup final with Joel Asoro and Josh Maja leading the line to be supported by Lynden Gooch, Rees Greenwood and Elliot Embleton.

It wouldn’t prove strong enough to challenge a mightily impressive Porto outfit though.

Sunderland started brightly and opened up the Porto backline in only the third minute when Rees Greenwood’s fine ball found Ethan Robson but the central midfielder failed to find the target.

However, in only the fifth minute, the visitors took the lead. Galeno, on loan from Brazilian side Grêmio Anápolis, was played in following Fede Varela’s through ball and the 19-year-old confidently struck the ball into the far corner.

Sunderland searched for an equaliser and went close when Maja fired wide.

Sunderland were pushing men forward as they continued to search for an equaliser and they were almost punished in the 25th minute. A swift break found Kayembe and the Belgian under-21 international fired narrowly over.

Further pressure came from the visitors and Max Stryjek was forced to save from Galeno.

Porto could, and possibly should have doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Donald Love brought down Galeno in the penalty area. Kayembe took responsibility from 12 yards but Stryjek guessed correctly and saved.

The penalty save spurred the home fans on and Sunderland seemed to have more belief following Stryjek’s heroics.

A second Porto goal was to follow in the 37th minute. Free-flowing football from the visitors found Pereira and his pull back found Galeno who fired into the roof of the net for his second of the evening.

A dominant Porto added a third in the second minute of first half additional time. Sunderland couldn’t cope with their quick feet and superb work from Kayembe saw him weave a way through and play the ball across goal where Pereira applied to finishing touch.

Despite being three behind, Sunderland started the second half well and Greenwood went close before Gooch fired narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area in only the 47th minute.

Despite their hard work, Porto added a fourth in the 51st minute. More great work from Kayembe saw the playmaker play a quick one-two with Fernando Fonseca before slotting home.

The Young Black Cats were getting a footballing lesson as the Portuguese outfit added a fifth four minutes later. A delicate free-kick found Awaziem at the back post and he planted a header into the far corner.

The 18,317-strong crowd almost had something to cheer about in the 66th minute when Asoro’s dinked cross found substitute Luke Molyneux and he volleyed narrowly over.

The game fizzled out with Porto well in control and the LigaPro champions were more than worthy of lifting the trophy.

Full-time: Sunderland U23s 0-5 FC Porto B

Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, Love, Josh Robson, Beadling, Hume, Embleton, Ethan Robson (Molyneux, 46′), Greenwood (Nelson, 60′), Gooch (Gamble, 76′), Maja, Asoro

Unused subs: Talbot, Brotherton, Wright, Casey

FC Porto B: Gudiño, Awaziem, Kayembe (Verdasca,76′), Inácio, Ramos, Fonseca, Moreira, Govea (Graça, 64′), Varela, Galeno, Pereira (Diaz, 69′)

Unused subs: Silva, Pires, Musa Yahaya, Djim

Admission: Free

Attendance: 18,317

Programme: £1

Teamsheet: Free

Referee: Peter Wright

Food: Complimentary

Whitby Town vs Pickering Town (At Middlesbrough)

The teams who compete in the North Riding Senior Cup are normally out of my range for a midweek game. The likes of Stokesley SC and Guisborough Town are the closest to me and although I’ve been to both during the week, it is very rare that I would do this. It’s even more so the case for teams like Whitby Town and Pickering Town. This game tonight gave me the chance to watch two teams who I have never seen before in a competition that I have never seen before. And, it was a cup final at a stadium I don’t visit all that often. Whitby’s ground is 49.3 miles away from me while Pickering is 59.1 miles. I suppose that means if I was to support someone tonight it would be Whitby but I wasn’t really that bothered. One thing that was for sure though was that I recognised more of the Whitby players as quite a few of them have played Northern League football in the not so distant past. Having submitted a video, some media shifts and done an exam last Friday, I’m basically finished my first year of University. I’ve got a 1,500-word essay to hand in tomorrow and then another 1,500-word essay to hand in on Friday but after that, I’m totally finished. It looks as though I’ll only be at one more game this midweek. After a trip to Sedgefield Races tomorrow, I’ll be at Sunderland U23s vs FC Porto B. Newcastle United U23s host West Ham United in the play-off final tomorrow night but I highly doubt I’ll be there.

Match report:

Roberts rescues North Riding Senior Cup for Whitby Town

Substitute Mikey Roberts scored a quick fire brace as Whitby Town came from behind to beat Pickering Town in the North Riding Senior Cup final at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Monday night.

Nick Thompson fired Pickering into a 38th-minute lead with a fine strike but Dale Hopson pulled the Seasiders level in the 55th minute and Roberts’ two goals in three minutes ensured Whitby won the tournament for the first time in 13 years.

Whitby started well and were knocking the ball about with confidence but it was Pickering who created the first chance when Shane Bland failed to fully clear a cross and it fell to Eddie Birch but he could only fire narrowly over.

Hopson’s fine work gave himself room to register Whitby’s first effort on goal just after the quarter of an hour mark but a strong save from Toby Wells prevented the midfielder.

Whitby were on top in terms of possession and held good spells of pressure with the Pikes chasing the ball. Despite all their possession, the Seasiders were struggling to break down a well organised Pickering.

Lewis Taylor forced a save from Bland in the 23rd minute before the game entered a quiet spell.

It was sparked back into life when a fine strike from Thompson put Pickering ahead. Good build up play found Thompson and his first time effort curled into the far top corner.

Whitby were looking for a response as the first half came to an end and Steven Snaith forced a fine save from Wells before the same man fired well over soon after.

Whitby came out for the second half in determined fashion and Wells was called into action to save from Hobson only three minutes in.

Matthew Tymon dragged wide as the Evo-Stik outfit continued to search for an equaliser and it was eventually to come through Hopson’s free-kick. The former Ytterhogdals IK man took responsibility for a 25-yard free-kick and he curled a low effort round the wall and into the bottom corner.

Whitby ‘keeper Bland was almost caught off guard when a cross-cum-shot was destined for the far corner but he managed to backtrack in time to claw it behind for a corner.

Bland was forced into another couple of saves as Pickering looked dangerous but Whitby’s second would be a real sucker-punch for the Pikes. Hopson’s ball into the penalty area caused chaos as an attempted clearance was sliced and Roberts rose higher than the ‘keeper to head home.

And, two minutes later, a free-kick was lifted into the penalty area where Roberts left his marker to send a clever flick beyond Wells and into the net to double Whitby’s advantage.

Pickering almost pulled one back when an attempted chip after a Bland slip landed on the roof of the net before Taylor dragged wide for the Pikes.

The game fizzled out and it turned out to be a comfortable win for Whitby who lifted their first North Riding Senior Cup trophy for 13 years.

Full-time: Whitby Town 3-1 Pickering Town

Next up for me is Sunderland U23s vs FC Porto B on Wednesday night.

Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, May, Bythway, Snaith (c), Gell, Hopson (Fryatt, 89′, Hume (Roberts, 46′), Tymon, Weledji (Bell, 78′)

Unsued subs: Robinson, Dixon

Pickering Town: Wells, Parker, Bissett, Chipps, Denton, Tilsley (c), Thompson (Robinson, 70′), Birch, Blott, Taylor, Kamara (Dalton, 58’)

Unused subs: Cooper, Dunnett, Ingram

Admission: £6 adults, £3 concessions

Programme: Yes, but I couldn’t find anyone selling them!

Attendance: 1,487

Referee: Nick Hawksby

Sunderland vs Swansea City

One thing is for sure – I’m pleased I’m no longer a season ticket holder at Sunderland. Watching Hartlepool can be very grim, but at least they seem to put a fight up sometimes. It must be hard watching Sunderland every week. Today I was looking at going to a new ground in the Northern Alliance. I’ve watched very little Northern Alliance football and I saw today as a good chance to get a new ground. In probably will get to one next Saturday. For a change, I decided to with Rory Drake to Sunderland. It is a very long time since I last watched Sunderland’s first team in the Premier League and even then they were free tickets. This ticket today cost me £19 plus a £1.50 booking fee but I thought I would have a change and go to Sunderland. The best thing for me about today is the programme. It has always been a good programme at Sunderland but they are now 104 pages and today’s also had a big pull out of the stadium and the old Roker Park. The season is coming to an end now and I don’t have an awful lot of games left.  I’ll probably be at the North Riding Senior Cup final at Middlesbrough on Monday and then the Premier League International Cup at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday. I’ll have a game next Saturday and then Non-League Finals Day next Sunday but there isn’t a great deal after that.

Match report:

Swansea climb closer to safety with victory at Sunderland

Swansea City climbed to four points clear of the relegation zone on Saturday afternoon with a 2-0 win at Sunderland.

Goals from Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton gave the Swans a vital win over already relegated Sunderland.

Should Hull City lose to Crystal Palace tomorrow, the Swans will be officially safe.With 3,000 fans making the trip up from south Wales, Swansea started the brighter and f

With 3,000 fans making the trip up from south Wales, Swansea started the brighter and after Sunderland’s Didier N’Dong had fired wide, the Swans took the lead in only the ninth minute.

Gylfi Sigurðsson whipped a free-kick into the penalty area where Jordan Pickford committed himself to come for the ball but missed and Llorente was there to head home to ease the Swans’ nerves.

Sigurðsson, a constant threat, tested Pickford with a driven free-kick in the 18th minute but the Sunderland stopper gathered well.

Sunderland were almost level 10 minutes before the break when Billy Jones prodded Seb Larsson’s free-kick to Jermain Defoe but Łukasz Fabiański prevented the England international.

And, Sunderland were made to pay for missed chances as Swansea doubled their lead in first half injury time.

Leon Britton and Ki Sung-Yueng linked up well before the latter’s clever eight-yard pass gave Naughton a chance and he confidently struck the ball into the roof of the net.

Swansea sat back in the second half and allowed Sunderland to dominate possession without any trouble.

Fabio Borini and Wahbi Khazri both failed to find the target for the hosts halfway through the second half.

Twenty minutes from time, Sunderland should have ensured a nervy finish for the Swans. Fabiański parried Khazri’s original free-kick and Jones followed the ball in but failed to find the target from eight yards.

It was a real let off for Swansea but they were to be rarely threatened as the full-time whistle approached.

A host of yellow cards slowed the game down and it was turning scrappy.

Top scorer Defoe looked to give the home fans something to cheer about in the 82nd minute but his effort was deflected for a corner and there was to be no more clear chances as the Swans took a massive step towards Premier League safety.

Full-time: Sunderland 0-2 Swansea City

Next up for me is Whitby Town vs Pickering Town in the North Riding Senior Cup final on Monday night.

Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Koné, O’Shea (c), Manquillo, Denayer (Gibson, 20′), Larsson, N’Dng, Borini, Anichebe (Khazri, 37′), Defoe

Unused subs: Mannone, Oviedo, Djilobodji, Rodwell, Gooch

Swansea City: Fabiański, Mawson, Fernández, Naughton, Olsson, Carroll, Ki Sung-yueng (Fer, 67′), Sigurðsson, Llorente (Narsingh, 89′), Ayew, Britton (c) (Cork, 77′)

Unused subs: Nordfeldt, van der Hoorn, Borja, Kingsley

Admission: £19 for me. £27 adults, £23 over 65s, £19 under 22s, £12 under 16s

Programme: £3

Attendance: 38,781 (3,000 from Swansea City)

Referee: Andre Marriner

Hartlepool FC vs Cleator Moor Celtic

This week is basically my last week of my first year at University. It has absolutely flown over. It feels like it only started a couple of months ago. I’ve been in University more or less all day every day this week but I got home in time for a bit of choice in terms of football tonight. Tomorrow, I’m at University in the morning and I have an exam (an exam which doesn’t actually count for anything!) on Friday morning. I’ll be in on Tuesday to hand an essay in and I have to hand another essay in online before next Friday but other than that, I’m totally finished. Today I was going to go to Wheatley Hill WMC vs Sunderland Hall Farm Glasshus in a massive title decider in the Durham Alliance. But, that was a half six kick-off and this half seven kick-off gave me a bit more time so I decided to go for this. You have to give Cleator Moor Celtic credit. Teams over here hate travelling to west Cumbria twice a season while they have to travel the other way every other week. It must take some commitment and it is games like tonight where that commitment is tested. There was nothing to play for tonight and it is almost a three hour trip over from Cleator Moor. They brought 12 players over (a couple of whom seemed to be struggling with niggles) and a manager. Fair play to them for even making the trip nevermind making a game of it!

Match report:

Hartlepool FC end season with draw against Cleator Moor Celtic

Hartlepool FC ended their 2016-2017 Wearside League campaign with a draw at home to Cleator Moor Celtic on Wednesday night.

Matty Gardner fired Hartlepool into a 16th minute lead but Cleator Moor equalised through Tom Mahone’s penalty in the 33rd minute. Numerous chances came in the second half but the points were shared.

Arriving only 15 minutes before kick-off, Cleator Moor Celtic were only able to name one substitute but a spirited performance from the Cumbrians claimed a point.

Hartlepool’s starting XI saw John Stephenson and Jamie Tumilty lead the line with Gardner and Alex Marshall controlling the centre of midfield.

A competitive start saw few clear-cut chances in the opening 15 minutes.

Stephenson glanced a half chance wide for the hosts while Callum Birdsall failed to beat the last man as Cleator Moor attacked.

With exactly quarter of an hour played, Kieran Campbell’s delicate ball looked to play Stephenson in but Cole Walker-Taylor was quickly off his line forcing Stephenson into a first time effort and he failed to find the target.

Hartlepool wouldn’t be left to rue on missed chances as they took the lead only a minute later. Gardner’s original effort was saved but the Hartlepool skipper was quick to follow up his original effort and there was no stopping his second attempt.

The visitors looked for an immediate response and it almost came when Jay Weatherill flicked on a long ball to put Birdsall in but a superb last-ditch challenge from Robert Hammond prevented Birdsall.

Superb work from Marshall in the 24th minute saw the Hartlepool midfielder find Stephenson but the 18-year-old was denied by Walker-Taylor.

Fine flowing football from the hosts gave Stephenson another chance in the 26th minute but he got the ball stuck in his feet and Cleator Moor cleared.

And, Cleator Moor would make Hartlepool pay when clever football saw the Cumbrians win a penalty in the 33rd minute. Mahone took responsibility and although Elliot Coils got a strong hand on it, it trickled over the line and into the net.

Tumilty had a chance as the first half came to a close, as did Stephenson but Hartlepool were unable to regain their lead.

Cleator Moor’s Birdsall had the last chance of the first half but his long-range effort proved a comfortable save for Coils.

The visitors started the second half well and Weatherill created himself a chance three minutes in when he wriggled a way through but he couldn’t get a shot away.

Cleator Moor were looking the brighter side in the opening exchanges of the second half and created a couple of half chances which both went begging.

With an hour played, Hartlepool created their first chance of the second half when Tumilty’s good work found Gardner but he could only curl wide.

Josh Charlton looked to fire the visitors into a 66th minute lead but failed to test Coils while Tumilty’s free-kick at the other end was destined for the top corner until Walker-Taylor pulled off a fine save.

Hartlepool defender Paul Moss met a Jack Swales free-kick 11 minutes from time but his header was saved while Gardner could only find the side-netting from a tight angle five minutes later.

The hosts kept plugging away in search of a winner in the final few minutes but it wasn’t to come as a combination of Walker-Taylor and the crossbar prevented Hartlepool.

Full-time: Hartlepool FC 1-1 Cleator Moor Celtic

Next up for me is a game on Saturday.

Hartlepool FC: Coils, Swales, Campbell, Hammond, Moss, Marshall, Gardner (c), Clark (Stokes, 64′), Blackburn (Lloyd, 5′), Tumilty, Stephenson (Short, 64′)

All substitutes used

Cleator Moor Celtic: Walker-Taylor, Atkinson, Little, Mahone (c), Jackman, Johnston, Charlton, Close, Weatherill, Birdsall (Grant, 46′), Stainton

Cleator Moor’s one and only substitute was used

Admission: £2 adults, £1 concessions

Programme: No

Attendance: 45

Referee: Tony Pattison