Non-League Day: A prolific keeper & pitchside pints among things you might have missed
It was a day when a goalkeeper continued his scoring streak, a National League club was knocked out of ‘Europe’ on penalties and a player saw red for kicking a corner flag.
Yes, once again Non-League Day took advantage of the international break to capture our hearts and deliver some grassroots gold.
Here’s our pick of the things you might have missed from Saturday’s non-league extravaganza.
Keeper scores from his own half – again
A keeper scoring a goal is pretty uncommon – but we’ve all seen it happen.
One scoring from his own half is even rarer. But Dartford’s Gibraltar stopper Deren Ibrahim is making quite the habit of it.
Ibrahim netted a freak 60-yard free-kick against Hungerford two years ago – and chose Non-League Day to replicate that feat.
With Dartford’s National League South game at Chippenham delicately poised at 1-1 with an hour gone, Ibrahim struck again.
His free-kick completely caught out opposite number Brad House – on loan from West Bromwich Albion – flying over the keeper’s head for what would prove to be the winning goal.
Surely no keeper has ever scored twice from his own half? If not, Ibrahim has made history for the right reasons – as well as the wrong.
Currently, his most notable entry in the record books is for conceding the fastest-ever World Cup qualifying goal – to Belgium’s Christian Benteke – just 8.1 seconds into his international debut in 2016.
Another non-league product – Wealdstone’s Stuart Pearce – would have been grateful for that. His under-hit backpass famously led to San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri setting the previous record of 8.3 seconds back in 1993.
When is Non-League Day not Non-League Day?
When you’re playing in Europe. Sort of.
There was no such thing as an ‘international break’ for Sutton United as Non-League Day had to be put aside for their latest sojourn around the British Isles.
Sutton – along with Boreham Wood – were the two National League sides invited to compete in this year’s Scottish Challenge Cup, along with Irish and Welsh clubs.
After beating Airdrieonians last month, Sutton were drawn away at Dublin-based Bohemians in the last 16.
But, true to the English footballing stereotype, they lost on penalties on foreign shores after a 0-0 draw. Luck of the Irish, eh?
At least they could drown their sorrows with a pint or three of the good stuff in the Republic’s capital afterwards.
United probably had a better day than scheduled league opponents Barnet – the poor Bees had to twiddle their thumbs at home on the biggest day in the non-league calendar.
You’re never too old
Meet Kenneth Webster, 80. Non-League Day’s oldest mascot (surely?)
Kenneth marked the start of his ninth decade as a Stockport County fan by leading the Hatters out for their National League North game with Hereford FC on his 80th birthday.
County were not quite able to give him the win that would have completed his special day – but they did come from behind to earn a point through Frank Mulhern’s penalty.
There was a slight age gap between Kenneth and County’s other mascots – the next youngest was 10 – but the joy of a late leveller knows no age boundaries.
County fan engagement officer Jack Cairns said: “Our commercial department were contacted by Ken’s daughter, Tracey, who thought it would be a wonderful experience for his 80th. We’re all thrilled to be a part of Ken’s special celebration.”
You don’t need to be an octogenarian like Kenneth to remember the last time Stockport and Hereford met as Football League clubs – it was as recently as January 2011 in League Two.
Less than a decade ago they were both League One sides, but after dramatic falls from grace – Hereford folded, reformed and had to claw their way back up the pyramid from the Midland Premier – they now inhabit non-league’s second tier.
New boys lead the way in National League
The upper reaches of non-league’s top-flight have somewhat of an unfamiliar look to them this season.
Yes, former Football League clubs Wrexham and Leyton Orient are loitering in the top three a third of the way through.
But the rest of the top six? Well, it’s not being disrespectful to suggest that five years ago – maybe even more recently than that – none had never even dreamed of league football.
The rise up the pyramid of leaders Salford City – who retained top spot with a late Rory Gaffney equaliser in a 2-2 draw at home to basement side Braintree – has been well documented given their Manchester United Class of ’92 ownership.
However, some of their promotion rivals have flown under the radar. AFC Fylde have trodden a similar path through Northern non-league football to far less fanfare. They reached the play-offs in their first season at the level and are sixth after beating Maidstone 2-0.
Staying up north, after 14 years in the National League North, Harrogate Town have finally reached non-league’s top flight for the first time in their history – they sit fourth after netting a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with struggling Dover.
Perhaps the biggest surprise package is Solihull Moors who have been transformed from relegation battlers to promotion contenders by boss Tim Flowers, the ex-Blackburn and England goalkeeper.
Whether they can join neighbours Birmingham City and Aston Villa in the EFL is another question – but the Football League looks set to welcome some new, and perhaps unexpected, names next season.
Moments of madness
It wouldn’t be Non-League Day without a few moments to tickle the funny bone.
It’s fair to say Stansted FC’s ears were popping when an unnamed player received a red card at Barkingside for kicking over a corner flag after fluffing a cross.
But it didn’t divert the 10-man visitors from landing a 2-1 win – a result which kept Stansted flying high at the top of the Essex Senior League.
At least, the official there turned up on time – Chessington and Hook United’s Combined Counties League Division One game with Sandhurst was delayed by a late-arriving official.
Maybe he’d been busy enjoying the nearby theme park.
But let’s end on the true aim of Non-League Day – having a good time. Ilkeston Town’s Alex Marshall got into the spirit of things as he celebrated his goal in the 3-0 FA Vase win over Heanor the way all the best non-league players do – with a pitchside pint…
via BBC Sport – Football https://ift.tt/OHg7x6
October 13, 2018 at 12:00PM