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Local Football News

 

This dedicated page updates daily to provide coverage on all things football in Gloucestershire, written by our Sports Journalist, Simon Parkinson.

Do You Have a Story? Something big happening at your club? Have an upcoming event that would benefit from more coverage?

Then Contact Simon Parkinson via email - simon.parkinson@GloucestershireFA.com

It’s lights officially on as Thornbury Town prepare for “momentous” night

THORNBURY Town players and officials are gearing up for a “momentous” night in their 120-year history this Tuesday, October 23, writes Simon Parkinson.

The Mundy Playing Fields outfit, whose first team have taken to the Hellenic League Division One West stage impressively so far following last season’s promotion as Marcliff Gloucestershire County League champions, are officially unveiling their upgraded facilities which include requisite new floodlights.

Luke Hall, MP for Thornbury and Yate, will officially unveil the ground improvement works at 6.30pm on the evening ahead of Town’s Hellenic One Subsidiary Cup group game with local rivals Tytherington Rocks, which kicks off at 7.45pm.

The club’s ground overhaul has been achieved largely due to a £73,003 Premier League grant issued through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-League football in the country.

The hand-out has enabled Thornbury to make several improvements to their Mundy Fields HQ, including: installation of a floodlight system, a new 50-seater stand, perimeter boundary fencing and hard-standing on three sides of the ground.

The upgrades made to Mundy Playing Fields will ensure the club are able to retain their non-League Step 6 status and meet the requirements of Grade G of the FA National Ground Grading criteria.

Thornbury manager Andy Davies acknowledged: “As well as the local MP there will be other council and Football Foundation representatives present and it should be quite a night of celebration which hopefully we can cap with a win against Tytherington.

“A lot of hard work and welcome funding has gone into modernising our facilities and making sure they’re fit for the level we now play at, and it’s a momentous thing for our club to be able to mark all that’s been achieved here in this fashion.

North Bristol Trust pay penalty as Hillfields progress to Patchway date

HILLFIELDS Old Boys marched on in the GFA Junior South Cup – but needed a dramatic penalty shoot-out to achieve it.

The Bristol and District Senior Division hosts had been held to a goalless draw by Suburban League North Bristol Trust in a tight Thicket Avenue struggle but managed to pencil themselves in for a second-round away-day with Patchway Town Reserves on Saturday, November 3 (2pm) thanks to a 3-2 shoot-out success.

Liam Towler, Jody Stone and Shaun Trott were all deadly from the spot for Hillfields, whose cause was helped by the fact their opponents twice hit the woodwork in attempting to convert theirs.

AFC Bohemia, who have experienced a mixed start to their Downs League Division One campaign, became the only one of five teams from their league to progress in the county competition.

Two goals by Ben Norris did the trick as Bohemia overcame District Division One opponents Seymour United Reserves 2-0 at Coronation Park to tee up an away encounter with Greyfriars Athletic Reserves, also of District One and struggling to make inroads thus far.

Mark Brown, meanwhile, led from the front as player-boss of early Downs League top-flight high-fliers Old Elizabethans.

His goal saw them in front in their first round tie at Suburban League Division Two outfit Corinthian Sports, only for the home team to hit back with two of their own to earn a second-round place in their back-yard once more against District Senior side Made For Ever on November 3.

Unbeaten promoted 2017-18 District Division Two champions Bendix had Dan Norley and Jon Mason on the Junior Cup first round scoring trail too.

But it was their high-riding Suburban League Division One hosts Wanderers who made it through to the second stage with a 3-2 victory to set up an away tie with Cribbs A.

Stapleton Reserves gave as good as they got in normal time as Ahmed Chami’s double and Grant Wolsey’s goal ensured their District One outfit a crack at progression via a penalty shoot-out at home against Bedminster Cricket Club.

It was their Suburban Two guests who eventually took the tie 3-2 from the spot and now travel to take on District Senior side Bristol Barcelona on November 3.

Lawrence Rovers had Kai Holmes and Luke Mathieson to thank as their goals proved just enough to edge their District Two team into the second round of the GFA Intermediate South Cup, and a home date with De Veys Reserves on November 3, with a 2-1 home victory over Downs Division Two’s winless bottom side Jersey Rangers Reserves.

Harry Goss’ late goal could not prevent District Two Hambrook Reserves falling 3-1 away at Jersey’s league rivals DAC Beachcroft LLP on what the visiting contingent labelled “a very poor pitch with grass several inches long”, whilst Tom Harris and Jay Dwyer were amongst the scoring for Old Sodbury who were unable to stop Stokeside progressing to an away encounter with Westerleigh Sports next month with a 5-3 home success in an all-District Three tussle.

Happy Hambrook see off Saints in sizzling six-goal vengeance

HAMBROOK roared back from a 3-0 away defeat by Roman Glass St George Reserves in Bristol Premier Combination Division One by beating the same side 6-1 at home in the first round of the League Cup.

What a difference a fortnight made as the pair clashed again at Whiteshill Common this time where the hosts rediscovered their shooting boots to comfortably prevail thanks to four Chris Cooke goals, another by Eric Davies and a sixth from substitute Mark Bragg to set up an away tie with DRG Frenchay on November 3..Elsewhere in the competition chairman Robyn Maggs expressed satisfaction at seeing Winterbourne United’s First Division pacesetters breeze into round two, and a home encounter with Pucklechurch Sports, via a 3-0 Parkside Avenue victory over Chipping Sodbury Reserves through Ben Weaver, James Mainstone and Ashley White efforts.

“We were very good,” a happy Maggs enthused.

By their own admission Cribbs Reserves weren’t at their best, although they still had enough to see off big Prem rivals Hallen Reserves 3-1 at Moorhouse Lane courtesy of Fred Hopkins, Dan Monk and an own-goal game opener.

At 2-0 down soon into the second half Hallen were handed a lifeline when Marcin Taras struck.

But as they pushed for the equaliser Cribbs countered and wrapped up victory in the final minutes to set up a home tie with Roman Glass St George at the next juncture.

Sea Mills Park are safely through too as Blaine Skuse’ brace and Jake Haynes and Tom Ahern strikes saw the undefeated Premier Division leaders to a 4-2 home success over Totterdown United.

They’ll next travel to face a fellow high-riding Shaftesbury United team in round two on November 3 who progressed with ease in overcoming Highridge United 5-0 at Lakemead Grove through Archie Parry’s treble plus David Chinnick and Marley Walters efforts.

Real Thornbury will welcome Oldland Abbotonians Reserves to Oaklands Park on the same afternoon next month after comfortably beating AEK Boco Reserves 5-1 at Greenbank Road.

Iron Acton next as De Veys overcome Olveston in Combination Cup

DE Veys’ splendid start to their Bristol Premier Combination campaign continued unabated as they overcame holders Olveston United to claim a place in the second round of the League Cup.

They hit back from a 1-0 half-time deficit with two goals inside the first ten minutes of the second period from Phil Burford and Darren Bloomfield, and another 20 minutes from time by a delighted Tim Hughes, who scored on his return to the team after breaking a bone in his foot at the Fry Cup competition in July to complete a 3-1 win.

That success over out-of-sorts Olveston, whose consolation came from Matt Knight, earned De Veys the right to entertain Iron Acton in the second round, who themselves prevailed 3-1 in beating Bitton Reserves on their travels, helped by the fact their hosts had two men sent off in the first half.

Seventeen-year-old Joe Burke netted Acton’s first before Ryan Brown, the engine room of their promotion-winning side last season, returned and scored a fine goal which, in the opinion of his beaming club-mates, “must be a contender for the Puskas Award for most beautiful goal of the year.”

John Ruff wrapped up the scoring to see the league’s unbeaten new-boys to that second-round away date with De Veys on November 3.

Tristan Ferguson’s sizzling edge-of-box volley was not quite enough to keep Stapleton in the tournament as they were pipped 2-1 on their travels by Lebeq in an all-Premier Division affair at the Netham.

It was just the job for Lebeq as they picked themselves up admirably from back-to-back league defeats with a “deserved victory,” according to their manager Dwayne Smith, delivered by Curtis Reid and Marcel Smith goals.

Longwell Green Sports Reserves boss Nick Peters had depleted ranks in attendance at Coronation Park where promoted Division One champions Seymour United swept to a 4-2 success, Adam Puplett and Charlie Dunn supplying the visitors’ goals.

“A slow start killed us as we were three down after 20 minutes, yet we still had enough chances to level up,” Peters maintained.

Seymour, who had doubles each for Dave Davies and Josh Randall to thank for their progress, will now host Lebeq in round two, whilst their assistant boss Adam Allinson proclaimed: “We were the better team throughout despite the game being end-to-end.

“Their sending off with about ten minutes to go meant we were then easily able to see it out.

“We now have to take this result into the league and try to create some momentum.”

Leeds ace Roberts has ambitious Tredworth Tigers targeting youth once more

TREDWORTH Tigers say their exciting one-time junior attacker’s move into the professional big-time has triggered a yearning to resurrect a youth section at the ambitious Stroud and District League club, writes Simon Parkinson.

Eyebrows were raised when 19-year-old local lad Tyler Roberts, a former pupil at Meadowside Primary School in Quedgeley, left West Bromwich Albion in January to join Leeds United in a £2.5 million move on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

The teenager, who has won Welsh caps at every youth international level up to under-21 status, had joined Albion as a young boy after being spotted performing for Tredworth’s fledgling set-up at a Gloucester festival.

Tigers’ busy player and club secretary Nick Musty recalled: “Tyler played for our juniors and West Brom picked him up when he was seven.

“He went through their youth academies while occasionally playing for Tredworth teams and went on to have loan spells at Oxford, Shrewsbury and Walsall before moving to Leeds.

“As far as we’re concerned Tyler’s success and his recent goals have prompted us to think hard about reintroducing a youth section here.

“Tredworth Tigers have been going since 2000 and we were very youth and junior orientated then. Once some of the lads reached adult level we launched a men’s team in 2008 in Stroud Division Eight and haven’t looked back.

“Richard Dix was manager then but when he became poorly – he’s fine now and is our chairman – the once-flourishing youth aspect started to fall apart a bit as he’d been overseeing pretty much everything. The priority was to keep the men’s team going at the expense of the youth set-up.

“Once we get our FA Charter Standard accreditation and funding then we’ll certainly be looking to resurrect a youth team, whatever age that may be.”

Dix’s ill health led to his son, Adam Dix, taking up the first team reins eight years ago and Tigers’ rise since then has been little short of astonishing.

“Adam came to us initially as a goalkeeper but unfortunately broke a leg during a game and never played after that,” Musty said. “We’ve had eight promotions in ten years since 2008 to reach Stroud One and he has been the driving force of that.

“Adam pretty much runs everything, with a little help from me on the admin side dealing with player registrations, the FA Full-Time (website) service and the Whole Game System and such like.

“A couple of lads do odd bits around the club too but he takes all the training sessions and matchdays and at 26 he must now be one of the most experienced managers in the league!

“He’s done an amazing job considering it was just plonked on his shoulders. He’s the backbone of the club and without him we wouldn’t be going now.”

Musty, at 30, has been playing his own key part orchestrating off-field affairs as well as on it as a versatile forward and winger, although he claims to have played in every position during his 16-year stint, including that of goalkeeper.

“I did a lot of junior and youth football years at Tredworth from under-7 to under-15 when we folded after getting heavily beaten every week, which was no fun for anyone,” he explained.

“I played with Brockworth Albion for a year and then took a break due to work commitments before returning to Tredworth’s men’s team on my 21st birthday. And I’ve been there ever since.

“Our reserves, under Andy Telford’s leadership, have been going well too, winning Stroud Division Four last season without losing a game, as well as the Stroud Charity Cup.

“They’re holding their own in Division Three now but they can only come up one more division if our firsts don’t progress further.

“The Northern Senior League is the next step for us and it’s one we’ve never been in. We came close last season but tailed off at the end when big games cost us dear.

“But we had our ground inspection last year and the NSL seem happy enough with what we have in place, so the plan is to try and push on and cement a place there asap.”

Musty added: “We are looking for a small grant scheme through the the FA to improve our car park and general facilities and funding is key to us as we’re relying heavily on our players at this time.

“We have received an FA Retain the Game grant worth £750 which we’re grateful for but anything else comes out of club pockets.

“We’ve had to charge each player £25 per season which is quite high, and so we need to find ways of making football more affordable for everyone.”

Part 2: It’s a step by step scenario as Cosmos eye the County League stage

COSMOS UK are eyeing the potential for Gloucestershire County League football – once they have a reliable ground they can call their own in the quest for more success, writes Simon Parkinson.

The six-year-old Bristol and Suburban League Division Two table-toppers had been using a Muller Road venue at Horfield as their home base, but current redevelopment work there has led to them utilising Bristol Civil Service Sports Club’s neighbouring facility in the meantime.

“We’ve also played at Speedwell, Fry’s and even Packers Field (Whitehall) last season,” manager Paul Lloyd explained.

“The redevelopment going on at Muller Road is impressive although we’ll settle where we are for now at the Civil Service club. The club’s reserves, who are run by Julien Goldschmidt, and our new A team, who are managed by Dave Thompson, are both still at Eastville Park. Hopes are high, though, that our firsts can return to Muller Road for the start of next season.

“The aim this season is to win the league again by playing attractive football and we’re optimistic our reserves can continue to progress after gaining promotion from Division Five last year.

“The pre-season just gone saw us play Bristol Manor Farm as well as Gloucestershire and Somerset County League teams such as Patchway, Southmead and Nailsea United.

“In fact the club has grown at such a rate that we now have a Sunday side which adopted a struggling team called Bristol Town. We’re also looking at forging links with local youth teams, as well as considering forming a ladies section. So we’re far from sitting on our laurels.”

Of those future first XI plans, the Cosmos chief insisted: “It would be nice to think that one day we could be pushing for County League status.

“We want to find a way of getting ourselves there and we have ambitious people driving it on, including Max Biddle, our founder and chairman, and Mike Horricks, who was our first-team captain and is now treasurer and secretary.

“It’s a goal we’re all striving for but we have a few years to work out how we’re going to get there.

“We have some terrific young players and loyal ones too and it makes for a real family atmosphere. One of our defenders, Joey Kennedy-Brown, had played for Torquay and Exeter. He was looking for somewhere to play locally while doing a job up this way and liked what he saw.

“He’s gone on to do a great job for us.”

Lloyd added: “New York Cosmos were renowned as being cosmopolitan and we are the same, with Romanian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese and Nigerian among our many nationalities. And we must have over 50 registered players.

“People who do leave us tend to come back. We take our football seriously but it’s a wonderful club to be part of: friends and family enjoy spending time together here.

8 October - 12 October 

Pele and Beckenbauer in mind as Cosmos UK continue to take big Suburban strides

IT is not every grassroots team in the region that can boast a connection of any kind with a world famous football club – but Cosmos UK exercise the right to do just that, writes Simon Parkinson.

Paul Lloyd’s early Bristol and Suburban League Division Two pacesetters, formed as recently as 2012 as a Bristol Downs League set-up for starters, strove to make a name for themselves locally with the consent of one-time American giants New York Cosmos, who so famous paraded Brazilian stars Pele and Carlos Alberto, not to mention West Germany’s 1974 World Cup-winning captain Franz Beckenbauer, in their ranks during a golden 1970s era for States soccer.

Enthusiastic and ambitious boss of the Bristol version Lloyd explained: “Max Biddle originally wrote to New York Cosmos asking for the rights to their badge and name, simply to avoid any potential for getting into trouble with them.

“Max was a player and is now our chairman who had played around the local leagues with a few different teams and felt a desire to build his own team and run it his way.

“He got a bunch of friends together to form it as a Downs League operation for a season before the team switched to the Suburban League a few years back.

“I came in as manager four years ago and we went on to enjoy a succession of promotions to get us to where we are now in Division Two.”

Of his own football background, Lloyd said: “I’m Bristol born and bred but then lived in Devon where I played a bit and I even had a spell playing in Malaysia.

“If I’m honest I was never the greatest player and was more interested in the management and tactical side of the game. In fact I did my coaching badges while with Tiverton Town’s disability team, one which grew and grew and became a hugely enjoyable experience before I moved back to Bristol.

“I managed Avonmouth in Suburban Premier One for a season and after putting word out on Gumtree that I was looking to stay involved in football, Cosmos got in touch and I ended up taking up the reins there for the final few games of their 2013-14 season. And that’s where I’ve been ever since.

“They had been right down at the bottom of Suburban Four having just introduced a reserve team to Suburban Five and both sides were struggling at the time.”

The 42-year-old Cosmos supremo stressed: “I always had that hunger to progress things during that difficult period although I didn’t take any players from Avonmouth with me and I had no other local football contacts at all.

“So I used Gumtree again to get word out there that I was looking to build Cosmos up and we even enjoyed some coverage on Made in Bristol TV.

“It was a big time for me because it was about trying to embrace the famous Cosmos name and badge on a nice kit of ours and just try and capitalise on it all.

“We wanted players with passion and ambition to create a unique buzz and drive it on.

“The Gumtree route worked because a lot of lads came in and we even went on a first pre-season tour to Prague where we came second in a tournament which involved other teams from England.

“I’d also organised a game with Bristol Rovers Under-21s, run by Alan Walsh (ex-Bristol City winger) who we played in June of that year. We’d booked a lovely pitch at Clifton College and tried to make a big occasion of it for the lads, and although we lost 8-2 we were quietly pleased about our performance.

“We’d fielded a mix of first team and reserve players to give everyone a game and it felt like a win. It was also a very useful fact-finding exercise as it gave us a chance to see what we had in the ranks.

“But it was a good bargaining tool, a means of getting people in with the promise of playing the pros. We went on to finish fifth in Division Four that season, despite two key players suffering serious injuries.”

* Stand by for part two of the impressive Cosmos story here on Local Football News

Olveston cast league battles to one side to make Senior Amateur Cup progression

AMBITIOUS Olveston United have had their early-season battles in the Bristol Premier Combination’s top-flight, writes Simon Parkinson.

 But they at least got their GFA Senior Amateur South Cup journey off to a winning start with a 2-0 away success over Suburban Leaguers Fishponds Old Boys.

George Williams struck with United’s first goal from a well-worked free-kick routine before Jon Woodward’s late strike sealed it for the happier away side, who now face Pucklechurch Sports at home in round two after they progressed with two Rob Belcher goals in a 2-0 win at Senior Amateur holders Sneyd Park of the Downs League.

Longwell Green Sports Reserves set off on their own county cup campaign with some gusto too courtesy of a 5-0 away victory over their struggling Premier Combination top-flight compatriots AEK Boco Reserves.

Adam Puplett led the spree with a treble whilst Aiden Sanfelice also netted along with Toby Clifton’s bullet header to secure a second round away date with Stoke Gifford United.

Whilst Hallen Reserves edged through to an away tie with St Aldhelms after squeezing past Suburban Premier One outfit Mangotsfield Sports 3-1 in a dramatic Moorhouse Lane shoot-out following a 1-1 draw, Totterdown United were crushing Suburban Premier Two guests Ridings High 9-0 through doubles each for Bobby Medjedoub, Aaron Thorne and Jack Moon, and Joe Sheppard, Sean Torrington and Alex Pullen efforts.

Neikell Plummer’s goal took Premier Combination new-boys Iron Acton to a shoot-out where they were pipped 5-4 on penalties by Suburban Premier One visitors Easton Cowboys, while Daniel Flay scored all four goals for Shaftesbury Crusade in their 4-1 first-round success at Downs Division One side Jersey Rangers.

Meanwhile Jack Williams and Jahobi Maher goals ensured Bristol Manor Farm Reserves had a second crack via a penalty shoot-out after drawing 2-2 at the Creek with unbeaten Suburban Premier One team Avonmouth before emerging 4-1 victors from the spot.

It was much more straightforward for Greyfriars Athletic as they crushed Suburban Premier Two Almondsbury Reserves 7-1 courtesy of Phil Mills, Tom Bartley, Dan Trotter, Tom Haim, Matt Troth, Jordan Cox and an own goal.

To keep a check on all second round fixtures, visit the Cups and Competitions section of this website.

Bourne to succeed: United on the front foot once more in league and county cup

WINTERBOURNE United are enjoying life heading in the right direction once more as their Bristol Premier Combination and GFA Senior Amateur South Cup exploits to date amply demonstrate, writes Simon Parkinson.

Bourne finished rock bottom of the top-flight table last term, despite managing eight wins and two draws from their 26 appearances and finishing up only eight points adrift of a mid-table berth.

Nevertheless they had to suffer the ignominy of the dreaded drop, a frustrating scenario they have sprung back from with some force as they, at the time of writing, had not only won their first three First Division games but they’d convincingly booked a place in the second round of the Senior Amateur competition.

That came via a 6-2 success at their Suburban Premier Two hosts North Bristol United thanks to Dave Herbert’s hat-trick and Ben Weaver, Tristan Day and Ashley White strikes, propelling them safely through to a home clash with Suburban Premier One side  Bromley Heath United at the second phase on Saturday, October 27.

Dan Burgan fired four of the goals as clinical Combination team Cribbs Reserves hit the ground running in their Senior Amateur assault with a 10-0 home romp over dismantled De Veys.

Tom Headford hit a hat-trick, Aaron Coleman a brace and Andy Forward also pitched in as the in-form Bristol Premier Combination Premier Division fliers comprehensively put paid to their Division One opponents to book an October 27 second round date with Lawrence Weston at The Lawns once more.

There was disappointment for Hambrook, however, as they fell at the first hurdle via a 3-2 away defeat to Downs League Division One team Portland Old Boys.

The tie began badly for the Premier Combination side when goalkeeper Lee Francis injured his arm in the game’s very first attack and was eventually replaced by young substitute Conner Collins who performed well.

Nevertheless Portland surged into a 3-0 interval advantage and it took a change of formation in the shaky Hambrook back ranks at half-time to make all the difference.

Striker Chris Cooke scored a lifeline first and central defender Shaun Godfrey netted a second before time ran out on their hopes of salvaging their place in the competition.

Portland will now entertain Bitton Reserves at the next stage, who advanced with Luke Bryan’s brace and Muhammed Jeng’s strike via a 3-1 away success over local rivals Cadbury Heath Reserves of Suburban Premier Two.

To keep a check on all second round fixtures, visit the Cups and Competitions section of this website.

Long-serving Stone happy to help a new finance director settle into key role

TONY Stone says the role he is relinquishing as finance director at Gloucestershire FA (GFA) has “changed much for the better” as the county body targets a suitable replacement.

The Fishponds-raised 73-year-old, once a senior manager with NatWest Bank based at Aztec West, has vast experience in local and national football.

He continues to perform duties as an Evo-Stik Southern League ground grading officer and has been involved with the Bristol and District and Bristol Premier Combination leagues for some four decades as treasurer.

Having turned out for Bristol Manor Farm in the 1960s before injury curtailed his playing career, Stone went on to become a Football League linesman between 1980 and 1991 and rates participating in the Luton-Oxford League Cup semi-final tie in 1988 among his most cherished moments, while he also happily refereed at Conference level (now National League).

Of his decision to step down as Gloucestershire FA’s finance director, he said: “I’ve enjoyed the role since 2005 and as there’s an automatic retirement age of 75 for GFA directors I felt that next June, when our financial year finishes, would be an appropriate time to step aside and give somebody else a chance.

“It means the new person can come in fresh in July 2019 and get to know the ropes by shadowing me for six months until December of that year when I’ll present my final accounts before quietly slipping away!

“I’ll actually not keep away entirely; I’ve just been made a life member of the GFA so I’ll still be around.

“Finance director duties have changed much for the better and it’s an exciting and interesting position for whoever takes over from me.

“Whereas I once did everything, these days it’s more a management role and involves going into the office once or twice a week as day-to-day financial activities relating to payment and banking are carried out by a dedicated part-time employee, which is a tremendous help.”

Anyone interested in this opportunity to join the governing body for football in Gloucestershire can send their CV and a covering letter to recruitment@gloucestershirefa.com

A detailed role description is available HERE and the closing date for applications is Sunday, October 21 2018.

Ruardean Hill and Thornbury overcome odds to maintain Challenge Trophy interest

RUARDEAN Hill Rangers and Thornbury Town became the latest teams to secure spots in the second round of the GFA Challenge Trophy – and each with eye-catching success stories to tell too.

Forest of Dean hopefuls Ruardean had entered their home tie with Longwell Green Sports having experienced mixed fortunes so far in the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League, whilst their higher-status non-League Step 6 opponents had been making impressive strides in the Toolstation League’s second section following last season’s relegation from the Prem.

Nonetheless it was Ruardean Hill who took the honours to book another tough encounter, this time with Toolstation top-flight newcomers Roman Glass St George, at Oaklands Park on Wednesday, October 10 (7.30pm).

Rangers had a great chance to take the lead against Longwell after only two minutes when a last-ditch tackle denied Luke Johnson.

However it was the visitors who snatched the lead on 15 minutes when Hayden Conlan won a 50/50 ball with home keeper Aaron Underwood to slip it into an empty net.

As Rangers tried to respond, Luke Brown saw his free-kick pushed away by the Sports keeper.

But they did finally level up on the hour mark as Dan Mason’s cross was turned into his own goal by a Longwell defender.

Buoyed by the breakthrough the hosts suddenly found themselves in front and it came courtesy of another slice of luck as Brown’s attempted delivery was also inadvertently steered into the Sports net for a second own goal.

The influential Brown sealed the game late on when he ran through and jubilantly lobbed the ball over the Longwell keeper.

Thornbury, meanwhile, also overcame higher-level opposition in the shape of Premier Division Longlevens, although they needed spot kicks to see their Division One West team through in a tight all-Hellenic League struggle.

Twice Town were asked to come from behind to James Campbell and Mason Lewis goals in normal time through Mark Viner’s header from a corner and Marcus Wormwell’s strike from inside the box, before Kurtis Parkin sprung to the home side’s rescue in the shoot-out by saving two Longlevens penalties.

That victory set Thornbury up for another home tie, against County League Stonehouse Town, at Mundy Fields on Tuesday, October 16 (7.45pm).

Boss Andy Davies acknowledged: “We played really well. We were good in possession, knocking the ball around well and I think we surprised Longlevens a bit.

“Kurtis made two good saves with their first two penalties after we’d shown good character to twice come back to draw level in the 90 minutes.”

1 october - 5 October 

Gloucestershire’s gallant FA Cup trio march on to third qualifying stage

THREE Emirates FA Cup-thirsty teams affiliated to Gloucestershire FA have been left standing following a weekend of thrills and spills that earned them third qualifying round places in the world famous national competition, reports Simon Parkinson.

Cirencester Town swept through their second qualifying phase fuss free as they overcame Hellenic Premier hopefuls Binfield 3-0 in Berkshire to tee up a juicy away tie with high-riding Southern League One South rivals Winchester City in Hampshire on Saturday, October 6.

All the goals came in the first half as Alan Griffin’s trademark back-post header handed rampant Ciren the lead before two clinical Ben Whitehead finishes all but put paid to the hosts by half-time.

Charlie Griffin’s men even rattled the frame in the early throes of the second period but three goals proved more than ample.

There was delight too for another Evo-Stik Southern One South competitor in Bristol Manor Farm, who brushed past Basingstoke Town 5-2 at the Creek to pair them with National League South side Slough Town at their Berkshire base on October 6.

What a second qualifying win it was too for Lee Lashenko’s Farm, as it came at the expense of a Basingstoke team going well in the top half of the Southern Premier South standings.

It was never going to be an easy ride for Manor Farm against their higher-level opponents who twice came back to cancel out Dean Stamp and Ashley Kington strikes to tie up the contest at 2-2 heading into half-time.

Yet after a hard-fought struggle for supremacy over the bulk of the second period, Troy Simpson’s deflected header restored Manor Farm’s lead before Kington’s fierce edge-of-box shot, and Stamp’s own effort which ricocheted off a body and into the net, comfortably confirmed their entry to the next stage.

Gloucester City, meanwhile, booked their own pass by beating Toolstation Western Premier’s in-form team Plymouth Parkway 3-1, earning the Tigers another home crack, this time against Dorking Wanderers of the Bostik Isthmian League Premier Division, on October 6.

And what a start in City colours it proved for 29-year-old Frenchman Fabien Robert, who struck 20 seconds into his debut with a superb individual effort hard on the heels of his loan arrival from Forest Green Rovers.

Two minutes later and the determined Devon outfit restored parity as Adam Carter struck from the penalty spot after City’s Sam Avery had committed a foul inside the box.

After that early goal flurry the spectators had to wait until midway through the second period for the next one, which went Gloucester’s way as substitute Harry Williams drilled a shot high into the Parkway net to put his ecstatic team back in front.

With momentum in their favour, the Tigers secured victory 12 minutes from time as fit-again Jake Jackson fastened on to a through pass before confidently slotting the ball home for 3-1 to take his team to within two games of a prized first round proper place.

It was just a shame there weren’t more than our trio of teams making it on to the next stage as travelling Bitton, their magnificent nine-match winning start to their campaign finally broken, were beaten 4-0 by Southern Prem big-boys Taunton Town, whilst Cinderford Town suffered a 3-0 defeat by Poole Town in Dorset.

Gloucestershire FA announces “unique opportunity” for new finance director

GLOUCESTERSHIRE FA has begun the search for a new finance director to replace long-serving Tony Stone.

The 73-year-old Bristol Rovers supporter is to retire from the key role next summer following a 13-year stint and the county association, based at Oaklands Park in Almondsbury, says the vacancy offers a “rare and unique chance” to join its board of directors.

GFA chief executive David Neale explained: “It’s a strategic position which provides an opportunity for a football volunteer with the appropriate experience to guide and support the board of directors on financial matters.

“We are seeking a committed individual who shares our vision for high business standards and values the work we do to develop football for young people and adults in a safe, enjoyable and inclusive environment.

Our mission is to inspire people from all communities to engage with football in all its formats. It’s an important challenge and we need a finance director who can bring the specific skills, knowledge and experience they have gained to maintain and ensure the financial probity of the Association.

“The successful candidate will also help the board reach the sound business decisions required to enable us to invest funding in more 3G grassroots facilities in the county.”

Neale added: “The role of finance director is a unique opportunity to not only provide the specialist skills and experience appropriate to it, but also assist in scrutinising board papers and participate in discussions focusing on key county FA business and football issues, the outcomes of which can be directly fed back to the Football Association at Wembley.

“The time commitment should be only a few hours a week as needed. Although this is a volunteer role, a modest honorarium is available.

“There are no set days other than the monthly meeting of the board. These are usually held during the working day but this can be flexible if work commitments clash.

“Some additional email or telephone contact will be necessary as well as occasional meetings with the chief executive and the finance officer who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Association’s accounts.”

Anyone interested in this opportunity to join the governing body for football in Gloucestershire can send their CV and a covering letter to recruitment@gloucestershirefa.com

A detailed role description is available on request via the above email address and the closing date for applications is Sunday, October 21 2018.

Retain the Game grant gives Oldland Abbotonians a boost

OLDLAND Abbotonians say a welcome Retain the Game grant courtesy of an FA/Football Foundation initiative is already being put to good use.

The Toolstation First Division club were awarded £750 as part of a national scheme overseen by the game’s governors to help existing grassroots clubs “boost their financial sustainability and allow them to continue offering playing opportunities in organised football.”

Oldland media manager Paul Bray explained: “We have a new adult third team incorporating lots of last year’s under-16s which has been set up by Sam Jones, the son of our former youth chairman Phil Jones.

“They’re going well in Bristol and District League Five helped by the £750 Retain the Game grant which has gone towards paying for training and pitch costs.

It is becoming ever more expensive surviving at our level whilst trying to provide something for the local community.

“We simply haven’t got the budget or fan base that our local rivals have, especially as there are so many of us within such a short distance of one another.

“As a result we’re very much going down the youth route. We have a new youth chairman now in Len Wright, who is also our main club sponsor and as a builder has big plans for the expansion of our clubhouse.

 “Our Somerset Floodlit League under-18s are also progressing at a rapid rate into our reserve and first teams which is what we want, for these talented young lads we’ve invested so much time in down the years to stay with us rather than go to rival clubs.”

Paul Simpson, England Under-19 head coach, enthused: “It’s great to see The FA and Football Foundation supporting participation in the adult male game at community level.

Affordability has often been identified as a key barrier, so this grant will ease the financial burden placed on clubs and allow them to concentrate on providing access to competitive football.

“It is very pleasing to see Oldland Abbotonians taking advantage of this pilot scheme and ensuring that they look forward to a bright future, providing regular opportunities for local people to enjoy the benefits of playing our national game.”

Hardwicke, Henbury spot on to book round two Challenge Cup berths

HENBURY and Hardwicke required successful penalty shoot-outs to progress on a weekend of thrills and spills in the GFA Challenge Trophy.

Whilst AEK Boco got their flagging Marcliff Gloucestershire County League campaign off the ground with a straightforward victory over Cam Bulldogs, and Almondsbury went on to eventually overhaul Southmead CS Athletic in a Tuesday night tester switched to The Field, Henbury and Hardwicke were taking the long haul route in order to move on.

Henbury eventually went through to the second round, where they’ll entertain Tytherington Rocks, by winning 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Rockleaze Rangers.

George Loud missed a chance for Henbury in the first minute and nine minutes later Rockleaze opened the scoring after a mix-up in the home defence as Jay Moore lobbed keeper Cameron Tarr.

Gary Phillips then missed a good chance to double Rangers’ money while at the other end Henbury’s Adam Rosser struck the crossbar from 35 yards out.

His team drew level on 27 minutes when Andy Dickinson sent Luke Cox clear to fire past keeper Lewis Brodie.

Henbury then went in front on 35 minutes when a long ball out of defence by Ross Johnson was picked up by Dickinson who slipped the ball past the Rockleaze custodian.

Three minutes later the Arnall Drive side had a 3-1 advantage as Dickinson broke into the box, only to be brought down by Nick Jones and Johnson scored from the spot.

In the opening minute of the second half Henbury’s Ed Wright cleared off the line from Rory Langdon’s shot as the visitors strove to make early and necessary inroads.

It didn’t take Rangers long to reduce the arrears, however, as on 51 minutes Phillips broke clear to make it 3-2.

And four minutes on the comeback was made complete as Langdon headed home from a corner to level the tie, which is how it remained at the conclusion of 90 absorbing minutes before Henbury proved the sharpest shooters from the spot.

In a dramatic match at Green Lane, Hardwicke were winning 3-1 at half-time with goals from Will Matthews, Will Higgins and Richard Mansell’s fine header against spirited Little Stoke visitors who hit back to make it 3-3 before seeing their stirring recovery bid go to waste in the shoot-out.

Hardwicke prevailed 4-3 on penalties with their young keeper Jacob Hobbs prominent with a penalty save AND successful spot conversion.

While they will now host County League rivals Lebeq United in round two, AEK Boco, yet to win a game in the same league at the time, at least lifted the Greenbank Road gloom a little by breezing past Northern Senior Leaguers Cam 4-0 through Joe Reeves’ header, Owen McCallum’s volley, Reeves’ angled finish and Josh Brown’s rebound strike.

That victory set Clayton Woodman’s men up for a second round October home fixture with improving County League compatriots Hanham Athletic.

Almondsbury, meantime, had to turn around 2-0 half-time arrears against Southmead to progress to an away encounter with Hellenic One West rivals Newent Town via a 4-2 win.

 “I’d made several changes with six players unavailable and we didn’t play particularly well in the first half,” conceded Almonds manager Neil Bailey

“But a few hard words at half-time and we turned things around well. It was good to see Ashley (Knight) scoring twice from the bench over the last 20 minutes and young Reece Rogers get on the scoresheet along with Alex Bisp.

“It’s a county competition we feel we can go far in and we’re looking forward to Newent next up.”

BRIMSCOMBE and Thrupp are to entertain non-League Step 5 equivalents Cribbs in the first round proper of the Buildbase FA Vase on Saturday, October 13 as the famous national competition starts to intensify, writes Simon Parkinson.

Sam Prior’s men squeezed through a tough second qualifying test at Hellenic One West pacesetters Easington Sports 2-1, having trailed to a ninth-minute opener before Jack Smith levelled up on the stroke of half-time and Harrison Reeves triumphantly clinched the contest with a dramatic stoppage-time winner.

Cribbs, meanwhile, had no such challenges getting past Shortwood United on their travels, a struggling side they had crushed 9-0 in the GFA Challenge Trophy four days prior to locking horns with their Toolstation Prem rivals in the Vase.

It may not have been quite so one-sided this time but it was convincing enough as Charlie Aldom’s brace, Jack McKenna’s 14th-minute opener and further efforts by George Kellow and Marcus Kelly propelled Tony Beecham’s boys to that Brimscombe tussle, while Yacine Benchith supplied Shortwood’s solitary goal.

Almondsbury have a mouthwatering match with Toolstation Prem fliers Bitton to gear up for on the same October 13 Saturday thanks to a battling 1-0 second qualifying away victory over a Sherborne Town team they got to know well last season having shared a 3-3 home draw with the Zebras before beating them 5-3 in Dorset.

It was tight again in the Vase as Geraint Williams’ late spot kick saw the Almonds safely through after Alex Bisp had been tripped by Sherborne striker Marc Caines.

Pleased player-boss Neil Bailey said: “We defended collectively well and although we didn’t move the ball around as well as I’d have liked, that was as much to do with Sherborne’s tenacity as much as anything.

“Neither side had many chances but it was good to get the win.”

Sherborne supremo Wayne Jerome wasn’t especially enamoured about the costly penalty award, however philosophical and diplomatically he spoke in response.

He declared: “It was frustrating and massively so. It probably wasn’t a penalty although I can see why it was given as I’d have probably been screaming for it to be awarded to us had it been at the other end.

“We lost the ball in their half and when a long diagonal pass came our way, we didn’t get tight enough to their man and allowed him to turn and run into the box.

“He then went down over the top of a challenge from our Marc Caines who is an honest lad and was adamant he didn’t make any contact with him at all.

“I have no excuses, though. We didn’t create anything worthy of winning the game and when your own keeper (Jamie Beale) goes closest to scoring for you with a long punt up the pitch which almost catches out their goalie, it says it all about our goal threat.

“We did press Almondsbury hard for the first 20 minutes without any joy and then the game just turned dour after that, with misplaced passes from both sides and the teams cancelling each other out.

“It always felt a decisive goal would come from a mistake and that’s more or less what happened.”

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