Bishop's Itchington is a village around 7 miles South of Leamington Spa, a few miles outside Southam and approximately 22 miles South of the Triumph Sports Ground where today's visitors play their home games. The history of the village centres mainly around the cement industry that thrived in the area during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Limestone quarries just North of village provided the raw materials for the industry and, although the cement works are long gone, the legacy lives on in the form of the Bishop's Bowl Lakes, formed from the remains of the quarrying activities.
The view really is one of the most spectacular I've seen from a non-league ground. As the village is slightly elevated to the surrounding area, you can see for miles. Take note ground-hoppers. Parking is quite limited at the ground but there are plenty of on-street places available in the surrounding area. I arrived to find the teams warming up and was greeted by the home coach who handed me a team sheet which I thought was a very nice touch and was certainly very much appreciated.
So, onto the game.
It was the visitors Triumph, kicking up the slope in the first half, who manufactured the first real opportunity. Harry Jackman broke free of his marker and let fly from the edge of the box. The ball beat Craig Lawrence's dive but struck the inside of his left-hand post before flying across the goal and out for a goal-kick. In what was shaping up to be an end to end start, the Bishops then came close themselves when Joel Bennett was presented with an opportunity in the centre of the goal. His effort, however, was blocked by the legs of Athletic keeper Khane Barlow. A good chance that the home striker will feel he should have put away.
Just after the half-hour mark Triumph were awarded a free-kick just outside the box when Lambert was tripped. Nick Walker stepped up and drove a low, left-footed strike past the wall and, despite Lawrence getting a hand to it, the ball nestled into the far corner of the net. 0-1
The lead did not last long though, two minutes to be precise. A move down the left culminated in a delicate through ball setting Joel Bennett clear. This time, making up for his earlier miss, the striker finished with calm ease. 1-1.
The game continued to ebb and flow for the next 20 minutes in an entertaining and even game. Both sides created some half chances, but neither could find a way to goal. The ball did end up in the sheep field behind the goal on a number of occasions. This must help keep the Bishops substitutes fit and warmed-up each game. Jon Beacham, in particular, was in and out of the field on very regular intervals in the first-half.
With 40 minutes on the clock, Triumph again got their noses in front. This time it was a cross from the left that was inadvertently sliced into his own net by Bishops defender Rob Herdman. 1-2
There was still time for a long throw-in to be touched onto his own bar by Barlow, but no equaliser was to be found.
HT Bishops Itchington 1 Triumph Athletic 2. A good, competitve and fairly even match. Good to catch up with and chat to @The17Mowdog at half-time. I've been following his work for some time but, as far as I know, had not been at the same game before. If you haven't had a look at his blog, you really should. Here's the link, so there's no excuse not to - themowdog.blogspot.co.uk. He's a thoroughly nice bloke too (I'm starting to sound like Tim Nice-but-Dim)
O'Callaghan had an effort just wide shortly after scoring as the home side tried to take the game to Athletic. The running of Adair and substitute Jordan Gill was a threat but Bishops couldn't relax too much at the back with both Dominique Lambert and Harry Jackman coming very close.
Just after the hour mark Barlow was called into action again, producing a very good save to prevent Bennett from claiming his second goal of the evening. However, there was nothing the stopper could do on 70 minutes when O'Callaghan treated us to a lovely goal, taking a pass from Bennett, turning his defender and unleashing a great shot past the outstretched hand of Barlow. 3-2
The game was still in the balance with Triumph looking for an equaliser whilst Bishop's Itchington looked capable of extending their lead should the visitor's concentration lapse. Joel Bennett was extremely unfortunate to see his 83rd minute effort come back off the bar, but Bishops did finally make the game safe in the 86th minute when Matt Trinder grabbed the goal of the game with a lovely 25 yard strike into Barlow's top left-hand corner. Great strike. 4-2.
With a minute to go Jordan Gill applied the icing to the cake, bursting into the box and sliding the ball past Barlow to make it 5-2
Bishops Itchington: Lawrence, Byrne, M.Trinder, Neale, A.Trinder, Adair, Williams, Morgan, O'Callaghan, Gill, Bennett. Subs: Cooper, Gill, Beacham
Triumph Athletic: Barlow, Atkins, Walker, Hatton, Middleton, Cahil, Jackman, Cooper, Wallace, Davies, Lambert. Subs: McGuiness, Budd, Mee
Ground Number: 236