Match Details: Bentley Colliery 0 – Yorkshire Main 3 (CML North)
Destination: Bentley Miners Welfare Ground, The Avenue, Bentley, Doncaster, South Yorks.
Competition: Central Midlands League, North Division
Kick Off: 3.00 pm
Attendance: 50 (approximate head-count)
Also available: Club Crest Pin badges £3 / Souvenir Pens £1
Directions: Probably the easiest way for most people to reach the ground by public transport is to get a train to Bentley (which is the first stop outside Doncaster on the Doncaster-Leeds line) and then it’s around 10-15 minutes walk from there. Head right (past the Railway Tavern pub, heading away from the level crossing) from the station down Church Street, which then becomes Cooke Street. At the end of Cooke Street, turn right, and then almost immediately left into Arksey Lane. After a couple of hundred yards, turn left into The Avenue. The football ground is then a few hundred yards down The Avenue on your right, opposite the cricket ground. For car drivers, there isn’t a club car park, though there is plenty of street parking all round the ground.
Off The Pitch: Football in Bentley has a slightly confusing history – basically there have been two significant teams (Bentley Colliery and Bentley Victoria Welfare), both of which played at the Welfare Ground and which overall appear to be a spiritual continuation of each other. However, at one point the two clubs did exist at the same time as separate entities. Some form of amalgamation between the two during the 1970s seems the most likely explanation. Nowadays there is just one significant senior Saturday side in the village – namely Bentley Colliery FC.
This afternoon’s Central Midlands League entertainment pitted last year’s Premier Division top two against each other, in the all-new regionalised CML North Division. Bentley had finished 2010-11 just four points behind Yorkshire Main, though Main had ultimately had their most successful season ever, seemingly winning every cup going as well. As well as partisan punters, there were quite a few neutrals present today, including a handful of groundhoppers, and a few Askern and Sheffield United supporters filling in while their own teams were not in action. My original plan today had been to travel up to Whitby to watch Whitby Town v Frickley Athletic. However after working overnight, in the end I really didn’t feel capable of going straight out again at 8am, so opted for a few hours kip and then an easy ten minute train journey to Bentley for this 3pm kick-off instead.
On The Pitch: Judging by today’s game, it looks as though there may be more than just a small, four-point-style, gap between the two sides this season. Bentley had quite a bit of possession in the middle of the park, but the difference between the two teams was most obvious in the final third at each end. Main had the much better movement and interplay between the forwards, and a bigger physical presence in each box. That the two tallest players on the pitch were centre-half and centre-forward for the visitors was also an influential factor. Bentley suffered the early blow of their number 5, Matty Brown, going off injured, and had to rely on goalkeeper David Barrett making himself busy to keep them in the game for a while. Main took the lead eventually though midway through the first half, when their number 9 Adam Watson found himself in enough space to have a one-on-one with the Bentley keeper, who managed to get a hand to, but not keep out, a shot from around the edge of the area. Main then got a ‘surprise’ penalty (to me any road, as I didn’t realise one had been given till it was pointed out!). This came after a home defender apparently pushed one of the away forwards in the back, and after a successful spot-kick by Watson again, this made it two-nil going into the break.
The half-time interval saw the tea hut doing a roaring trade, no doubt buoyed by their tremendous ‘Any pie for a quid plus a free cup of tea’ offer (are you reading Mr U.Krugg of weedy Lancashire tea hut misery?!). Though Main had several decent chances in the second half – and came within a foot of the post on a few occasions – the only added goal was thanks to some good movement around the box, neat interplay, and a cool left-footed strike just inside the post by Adam Watson to complete his hat-trick. Unsurprisingly, he also got the man-of-the-match award too. Main were worthy winners then, and on this form, look like they will be challenging for honours again this season. I was particularly impressed with their players’ general awareness when going forward, which helped them find space, know where their teammates were, and always looked like they had a pattern to their play. Bentley will take heart from the periods of good possession they had at times today though, and if they can match this with a bit more co-ordination and cut-and-thrust when they get the ball forward, then they have a chance of climbing up the table as the season beds in. For anyone who hasn’t yet visited the Welfare Ground, I can thoroughly recommend it as a decent and lively venue to watch a game at this level. The club is one which has constantly suffered from vandalism over the years, and it is testament to the hard work put in by officials at the club that they have not only kept the club afloat, but have got a decent team together at Step 7 of non-league at the present time. As ever, Doncaster remains one of the real homes of grass roots football.