Match Details: Penistone Church 2 – AFC Emley 3 (NCEL Div 1)
Destination: The Memorial Ground, Church View Road, Penistone, South Yorkshire, S36 6AT
Competition: Northern Counties East League, Division One
Admission: £4 (Programmes £1.20 / Pin badges £3.00)
Pre-Match Build Up: Formed in 1906 out of the merger of two existing local teams (Penistone Juniors and Penistone Choirboys), Penistone Church FC spent its early years playing in the local Sheffield Amateur League, Penistone League, and the Sheffield Hatchard Cup League. Subsequently they joined up with the Sheffield County Senior League, where they remained until recently. An application to join the NCEL was accepted in the 2014-15 season for a team which has a solid community set up, and facilities which have enabled them to make the move to Step 6 of the non-league pyramid fairly seamlessly.
Directions: The club is easily accessible by train, with Penistone railway station (on the Huddersfield – Sheffield line, trains hourly throughout the day) a few minutes walk from the ground. By road, Penistone village itself is pretty easy to get to, though I didn’t see any signs till we were right on top of the ground, so unless you have a sat nav be prepared for a bit of map reading / collaring a local ne’er do well. Parking is either via a small car park or a grass verge just outside the ground, with ample street parking in its vicinity to cope with all but an un-naturally heaving crowd quite easily.
Off The Pitch: A lot of clubs north of Sheffield in the South Yorkshire catchment area suffer from waterlogged pitches round this time of year – no such issues for Penistone Church though, who sit so high up in the hills that only a complete deluge of water would render games in doubt. This does mean that it’s open to the elements though, so take some warm clobber with you unless it’s cracking the flags.
Ground facilities include an excellent clubhouse with bar and hot / cold food available, and a nearby covered enclosure (see above) which runs around half the length of the pitch at one side. Around half of it is taken up by two narrow rows of seating, which I’m guessing have been added more recently to satisfy the ground graders.
Today saw Penistone’s highest league attendance of the season for the visit of high-flying Emley.
On The Pitch: The odd goal in five saw Emley come through today, in a hard-fought game that saw mid-table Penistone push them all the way. This was after Penistone had taken an early lead through Alvin Riley following a breakaway and a coolly lofted finish, with Emley pegging them back through a scrambled Reuben Jerome goal following a corner, and then a well-taken strike courtesy of Ash Flynn seing the visitors go into the break 2-1 up. A handball decision then gave Penistone a lifeline, with Riley again scoring, this time from the spot -kick to make it 2-2. Emley were not to be denied though, and when Sykes rose highest at a corner, a slight deflection off the home side’s John Whitehead was not enough to prevent the ball going in the net and ultimately sealing the win for the visitors. Although there was still a third of the game to go at this point, Emley held out fairly comfortably thereafter. The game was played in a good spirit, and credit to Penistone for fighting till the end despite having nothing to play for beyond seeing how far up the table they can finish in their inaugural season in the NCEL.
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