Match Details: Ossett Town 1 – Ossett Albion 1 (NPL D1 North)
Pre-Match Build-Up: Games at this time of year can be synonymous with end-of-season fever and nowt much to play for. No chance of such shenanigans though at the Easter Bank Holiday ‘Ossett derby’, which supplied mucho blood and thunder, and – courtesy of the increasingly muddied pitch as the rain came down – no danger of a boring bumpy surface either. Add to that the fact that Albion were not quite safe from relegation yet. Plus, being three points behind Town at the start of play (but with a bettter goal difference), an away win today would put them above their nearest neighbours in the table too. Further incentive for locals came with price reductions that saw all adults charged just three quid admission, and all kids let in free… so set the controls for Ossett, Batman….
Destination: Ingfield, Prospect Road, Ossett, Wakefield, West Yorks, WF5 9HA
Competition: Northern Premier [aka Evo-Stik] League, Division One North
Admission: £3 (normally £8)
Directions: 126/127 bus from Wakefield (or Dewsbury), which takes 20 minutes to Ossett bus station, and Ossett Town’s ground is directly opposite the bus station.
Off The Pitch: Aside from the seemingly moronic idea of trying to insist that spectators don’t bring their own food or drink into the ground (does any other club do this? – surely it can only serve to put people off), Ingfield is a really nice – and generally under-rated – non league footballing arena. It may not have the spectacular views of the hills that near-neighbours Ossett Albion are blessed with, but with two small standing enclosures, a larger seated stand behind one goal, and some nice expanses of terracing and elevated points to watch the game from,Town have a ground which I would certainly miss if the much-reported move to a new ground comes off in the near future. The clubhouse is also nice and spacious, and there’s a separate two-tier snack bar/hospitality suite next to it. Today’s game had a family feel to it, with kids from the club’s Junior side accompanying the players onto the pitch, and loads of young ‘uns milling about on the terraces.
On The Pitch: Today’s game saw the welcome sight of two teams desperate to win, with a slight contrast in playing styles. Town, relegated from the Premier Division last season, had the more physical and long ball approach, while Albion, who have been in Division One since gaining promotion from the NCEL in 2004, adopted more of a get-the-ball-on-the-floor-and-pass-it-around style. It was interesting to see the two contrasting approaches pitted against each other, and an enthralling game ensued. Things took a turn for the worse for Town midway through the first period though, when left-back Kyle Cook was sent off for a foul inside the penalty area on Albion’s Marc Thompson who was closing in on goal. It seemed a bit of a harsh decision to many of the crowd (myself included) – presumably the ref adjudged him to be the last defender, as it wasn’t a challenge worth a straight red in itself. The penalty, in the muddy conditions, was poorly hit though by Joe Fox, with Town keeper Ashley Connor guessing correctly when diving to his right and making an easy save. Soon after though, Albion took a deserved lead from open play, with Tyrone Gay charging forward, and executing a fine stooping header past the flailing Connor in the home goal. No further scoring took place before half-time, though Albion looked odds on to win the match with the slender one goal lead, coupled with a man advantage.
Town played well after the break though, gradually forcing their way back into the game with some good counterplay. Then Shane Kelsey won the ball off a defender on the left-hand edge of the box and shot a fine effort past the keeper for the equaliser. At 1-1, Albion’s Alex Booker had a clear header from a cross on the left wing, but which he sent agonisingly just wide of the goal. Then Daniel Toronczak went close for Town in a goalmouth scramble. Albion had a couple of corners right at the death but couldn’t force the ball towards the goal and the game finished a draw, which was overall a fair result.
Although I’ve been to both Ossett clubs several times between them, this was my first attendance at a Town/Albion derby, and it proved a good choice today. Town provided a friendly welcome, and – fascist snap ‘n’ pop policy aside – is definitely a club I would recommend paying a visit to if you’ve never been before.