The Sports Ground, Lye's home turf since their formation in 1930, is just outside the town centre and, like neighbours Stourbridge, is a three-sided ground shared one one side with Lye Cricket Club. There is limited parking at the ground but plenty of spaces in nearby streets. Entrance is through a single turnstile which takes you in at the cricket ground corner of the stadium at the Stourbridge Road end. The clubhouse is also in this corner of the ground, as are the players facilities and the Boardroom. There is a covered stand behind the Stourbridge Road end goal and covered seating on the Cemetery Road side, which also houses the snack bar. Both the Stourbridge Road Stand and the Cemetery Road Stand are showing signs of age but have a certain charm about them. As I said to my Dad as we walked around, it is a proper old football ground, full of character. On today's evidence, it is also full of very friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable football people. Upon entering the ground myself and my Dad got talking to a couple of club officials who had noticed I was wearing a Stourbridge FC fleece. We got into a discussion about their chances at Spennymoor, the player connections between Lye and Stourbridge and generally about football. When I mentioned to my Dad that we should get a cup of tea, we were directed into the nearby Boardroom and given a cuppa and the offer of biscuits. You wouldn't get that in the Premier League! Not only that but it turned out to be the outgoing manager's Mum that was making our tea.
Today's game was against Loughborough University, a side near the foot of the table but never really threatened with relegation. In mid-August Lye had stormed into a 3-1 half-time lead only to be pegged back by The Scholars who scored two second-half goals to share the spoils.
There were no prizes on offer for today's game but, from kick-off, it was clear that both sides were keen to finish the season on a high. In the case of the home side, they also wanted to put in a good performance for the sake of their outgoing manager.
Both sides made chances in the first-half and both sides should probably have scored from one-on-one opportunities.
Jack Till's bustling style up-front for Lye was causing all sorts of trouble for the Loughborough defence. Till was not giving them a minute's peace.
Loughborough like to play the ball out from the back, keeping it on the floor and putting passing moves together avoiding long balls. However, after a period of very little rain, the Sports Ground surface was quite dry, dusty and bumpy on Saturday making it difficult for The Scholars to keep hold of the ball.
Just before the half-hour mark my Twitter feed, and the Black Country radio coverage of the people next to us, reported that Spennymoor had finally made the breakthrough after holding the upper hand for much of the play-off final game.
Not so the game at Lye though, which was very much still in the balance with absolutely no quarter being given in the midfield battle, particularly between Lye's Simon Williams and the visitor's number 10, Joe Boachie.
HT Lye Town 0 Loughborough University 0.
Despite being a man light, Loughborough persevered with their passing game and were still giving as good as they got. Lye were now having a little more of the ball and, as a consequence, started to make one or two more chances. They were thwarted by Scholars keeper Connor O'Keefe who made a couple of very good stops, tipping one effort over the bar and then acrobatically clawing a header out when it looked like the ball was beyond him.
Then after 64 minutes Lye broke down the left and, when the ball was played into the box, it fell to Jack Till on the edge of the box. This time O'Keefe was powerless to stop it as the shot flew past him into the net. 1-0.
An end of season game with nothing riding on it, a goal behind and down to 10-men. Many teams would have folded at this point. It is great credit to Loughborough that not only did they not buckle, they actually took the game to Lye in the closing 15 minutes. They continued to play some very nice football and carved out a number of reasonable chances. However, the home defence stood strong and saw out the game. They did have a couple of chances to increase their lead, but that was not to be either.
The game ended 1-0 which, unfortunately, was the same result at Spennymoor.
FT Lye Town 1 Loughborough University 0. The Lye team formed a guard of honour for Manager Goodall as he left the pitch for the last time.
Thanks to everyone at Lye Town for their hospitality. What an absolutely delightful club. Non-league football is all about the people. People who give up their own time and money to keep the game going and people who make visitors, either opponents or neutrals, feel welcome at their club. Lye has this in abundance. I sincerely hope that the off-field issues get sorted and that the club goes from strength to strength in the future. Good luck also to Loughborough, they play a very attractive style of football and, in my opinion, look to be a better side than their league position suggests.
Lye Town - lyetownfc
Loughborough University - lborofootball