Silkmore Lane is the connecting road between the districts of Moss Pit and Queensville, just to the South of Stafford town centre. Brocton FC's ground is accessed via a long straight service road off Silkmore Lane. Entrance payment is taken on the gate to the club and parking is directed by a couple of helpful stewards who are there to make the most of the parking space around the edge of the pitch and behind the two main stands. There are two pitches at Silkmore Lane, both at 90 degrees to the entrance. The main pitch is the one nearest the entrance. To the left as you enter, and further back, more in line with the second pitch, there is a club house and tea/snack bar. Alongside these are the changing facilities and toilets. There are two stands on the entrance side of the main pitch. Identical in most aspects, except one is for covered standing and the other for seating. Dugouts are opposite the stands, between the two pitches. The playing surface looked to be in excellent condition, with no visible slope.
The whole ground has a community feel to it. There's Badgers signage around the ground and numerous people wearing club gear, presumably committee / club members. My first impression was that it was was a lovely, welcoming place to watch football. An impression that was not changed throughout my visit. If you've not been, I recommend Brocton FC highly.
The Badgers programme is also excellent value, at just a pound for a 40 page glossy colour magazine. There are plenty of statistics and articles to browse through during half-time. As this was the first one of the new season, much of the statistics and match reports were from the latter end of last season. The match report being from Brocton's play-off semi-final defeat to Sandbach United.
Last season saw Brocton reach the play-offs after finishing fourth in the league, level on point with Sandbach United who defeated them at the play-off semi-final stage, only to go on to lose out to Cheadle Town in the final. Maine Road closed the season seven places and 26 points below The Badgers in what was probably a bit of a disappointing campaign, especially as the finished sixth the previous year. The sides have met 4 times previously with Brocton holding sway, having won three and drawn one. This includes a 100% record at Silkmore Lane, winning 4-3 and 3-2 in the two games. Maine Road will be very aware of Brocton striker Regan Smith who has scored five in their last two meetings at Brocton.
In a relatively even opening ten minutes, it was the visitors who manufactured the first real clear cut chance. Yousuf Abdullahi was played in on goal but Tom Vaughan managed to do just enough to put the striker off, forcing him to put his effort just wide of the mark. Despite that opportunity for Maine Road, it was Brocton who began to play the more attractive football, getting themselves into a number of good positions without managing to get any shots off to trouble Ryan Livesey in the visitor's goal. Of course, no sooner had I tweeted this than Brocton went ahead. In the 14th minute a hopeful ball into the Maine Road box found two Brocton strikers beyond the defensive back line, but onside. As the ball dropped and Livesey went towards it, the ball was hooked sideways by Regan Smith for Morgan Payne, in front of an unguarded net, to tap the ball in and give the Badgers a 1-0 lead.
Brocton continued to put together some useful passages of play but again, struggled to call Livesey into further action. At the other end, however, it was a different matter. Maine Road were not creating as much as their hosts but when they did, they caused problems for the home defence. Just past the halfway mark in the first period, a delightful through ball from Abdullahi found Alex Rimmer in on goal but Vitor Pinheiro was very quickly off his line to smother the effort.
Just past the half hour mark, Regan Smith tried his luck with a free-kick from just outside the box which went sailing well over. A minute after that, the home side were made to pay when Maine Road equalised. Daniel Lewis latched onto a through ball, getting their just before Pinheiro and slipping i past the keeper into the corner of the net. 1-1
Both sides created a couple of further chances. Goal scorer Payne put one just wide of the post whilst, at the other end, Louis Edwards, on the stretch, headed wide from a free-kick.
HT Brocton 1 Maine Road 1. All to play for at the break. A competitive half edged on possession by the home side. Maine Road, however, made the most of their chances and looked sharper in the final third.
Just past the hour mark, with Brocton still having the lion's share of possession, they were awarded another penalty. Green-Birch was again the player fouled, this time being tugged back when about to get a shot off. There's plenty of calls for a red card for the Maine Road defender, but nothing doing from the officials. Haddaway once again took responsibility and, this time, made no mistake, driving the ball low past Livesey. 2-1. The home players waste no time in giving Livesey some reminders of his baiting after the save, The keeper appears to throw the ball into the face of a Brocton player, not the wisest thing to do when already on a yellow. Luckily the Brocton player made little of it and the referee either didn't see it or chose to ignore it.
That miss looked even more glaring a minute later when, completely out of the blue, the Brocton defence had a lapse of concentration, presenting the ball to the feet of substitute Yasir Salim inside the 18 yard box. The Maine Road player couldn't believe his luck as he slid the ball under Pinheiro to equalise. 2-2.
Brocton continued to push for a winner that their possession probably deserved. With five minutes remaining they were extremely unlucky twice within the space of 30 seconds. First of all a deep Matt Bestall cross was headed back across goal by substitute Cameron Osbourne, who could only watch as his effort came back off Livesey's bar with the keeper beaten. Then the ball was recycled and met by the head of Regan Smith, looking to get his customary goal against this opposition, but he also saw his header clip the bar, going over for a goal kick. Two minutes later the green shirts were again raiding the Maine Road penalty area and this time it was William Whieldon on the end of the cross but his effort deflected off a defender and went wide.
Great effort by Brocton towards the end of the game, throwing all they had at the visitors in search of a winner. However, you have to give credit to Maine Road who dug in well and were happy to put bodies on the line to protect their point.
FT Brocton 2 Maine Road 2. The home side will, no doubt, be disappointed with the final result. On the balance of play they certainly has more of the ball and, in the second period especially, had many chances to win the game. Maine Road defender well and when they did get an opportunity, they were clinical in their finishing. Two teams well worth a watch this season. If you do want to catch them in action, be quick for Maine Road. They are back on the pitch tonight (Monday) as they welcome Cammel Laird to Brantigham Road. The sides have met 12 times in the league before, both have won four with four drawn. 52 goals have been scored between them in the twelve meetings, over four per game.
Brocton, meanwhile, make the journey to Winsford United's Barton Stadium on Tuesday evening. They have not met in the league before but they were drawn against each other in the League Challenge Cup in 2022. That game took place at Silkmore Lane and, after a 1-1 draw, was won by Brocton by 4-2 from the penalty spot.
Brocton: Pinheiro, A.Weldon, Bestall, H.Smith, Vaughan, Whieldon, Payne, Green-Birch, R.Smith, C.Haddaway(c), Arber. Subs: Devoir, J.Weldon, B.Haddaway, Osbourne, Curtis
Maine Road: Livesey, Sulemain, Clegg, Edwards, Eiselt(c), Perry, Oseni, Addow, Lewis, Rimmer, Abdullahi. Subs: Smith, Lomas, Hacking, Yousif, Salim
Ground Number: 367