Allexton & New Parks play at New College, just to the West of Leicester city centre. They moved into the new facility, which boats the floodlit senior pitch, a full-size 3G training pitch, a number of other grass pitches for junior football and a large clubhouse, in 2007. There are numerous car parks around New College but please, if visiting, take time to visit the club's website and ensure you park in the correct spot.
New College is a multi-sport venue with football appearing to be the predominant feature. However, I think this is the first football location I have visited that has a cycle track next to it, complete with a peloton whizzing around this evening too.
The main football pitch is accessed through a turnstile just behind the clubhouse. The pitch itself looked flat and in good condition. There are dugouts on the far side, the city centre side and a small covered standing area just to the side of the goal on the Glenfield Road end. The closest side of the pitch, where the spectators tend to congregate, is backed by the fence surrounding the 3G pitch. All in all, a very good set-up which looks to be capable of hosting football at a higher level than Step 7 with a few adjustments.
Despite having visited a number of teams in the Leicester area and having attended the Leicestershire & Rutland Senior Cup Final a couple of years back (Lucky Heather?), I must admit to not knowing a lot about the Leicestershire Senior League, and even less about the League Cup competition. Clearly a little research was needed (so please excuse, and send corrections, if any of these stat are wrong).
When the last league season came to a premature close both of these sides sat fifth in their respective divisions, Allexton in the Premier and Earl Shilton in Division 1. Allexton won the Premier League, which has been in existence since 1896 (exactly 100 years longer than Allexton & New Parks), back in the 2013/14 season, their only Premier League title in their 25 year history. Albion, as far as I can see, have not won the Premier League title. They have, however, won the League Cup, back in the 1982/83 season and finished runners-up in 2014/15.
The other Semi-Final took place on Tuesday evening and was also a Premier v Division 1 clash, with the top flight side, Ashby Ivanhoe Knights, edging out Highfield Rangers by a 1-0 score line.
One non-football related titbit. Back in my youth, when I played in a band, I'm pretty certain we once played a gig in Earl Shilton, possibly the Red Lion?
It was the away side who started the game on the front foot, aided by very sluggish opening from Allexton. As early as the 7th minute, Albion came very close to taking the lead when Jack Stafford played in Jordan Creed who saw his shot narrowly fly past the post. Seven minutes later they did take the lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Home keeper Davis Glover came out of his box to clear a loose ball that had dropped in behind his defence. Unfortunately for the stopper, he completely missed his kick allowing Ben Waters to slide the ball into the unguarded net. 0-1
In some ways this was what the home aside needed. They immediately woke up and within a minute or two came close to an equaliser, forcing Chris Smith in the Albion goal to make a good one-handed save to push the ball away. The momentum had now swung as Allexton continued to push forward in search of a goal. It came in the 21st minute after an attack on the right, a couple of efforts were blocked but Jack McHugh fired home from the centre of the box. 1-1.
The early mistake now forgotten Allexton set about Albion, looking to get their noses in front. It took them a further ten minutes of probing but, on 31 minutes following a break down the right, the ball was swung across towards the far post where, amid vociferous offside claims from Albion, Adam Joynson was on hand to apply the finishing touch. 2-1
What happened next caught Albion and myself by surprise. Within a minute of getting in front Allexton extended their lead, so quickly that I was still tweeting the second goal when the third hit the net. 3-1. Shay Brennan was the scorer this time as the home side threatened to run rampant.
They weren't finished there either. On 41 minutes, Lewis Hurst treated us to a stunning goal, cutting in from the left and arrowing a drive across Smith into what the pundits call the postage stamp. 4-1. It looked to be game over but Earl Shilton had not read the script. They hit back almost immediately, once again while I was still tweeting the previous goal. I looked up to see the ball hit the net, Jake Stafford (I hope) was the scorer. 4-2. I have since discovered that this was an own goal. That'll teach me to look at my phone at the wrong time.
HT Allexton & New Parks 4 Earl Shilton Albion 2. The home side started slowly, allowing Albion too much of the ball and then gifting them the lead. However, after the equaliser, Allexton took charge of the game. The late goal back from Albion may just have given the away side a glimmer of hope.
Albion, however, must have been heartened by their late goal back and, nine minutes into the second half they made it very interesting when they were awarded a free-kick, fairly centrally and just outside the box. Waters lined it up and absolutely hammered the ball into the far corner. Superb strike. 4-3.
It looked as if the away side had got themselves right back in the game but they made life more difficult for themselves when, just before the hour, they were temporarily down to ten men as Underwood got himself sin-binned for contesting a refereeing decision too strongly. They hung in there though and were back up to a full complement before Allexton took advantage of the extra numbers. However, no sooner had they got back to eleven on the pitch, they proceeded to a tempt to shoot themselves in the foot again, this time Beasley seeing a yellow and getting a 10 minute rest.
The lack of numbers didn't seem to phase Albion though, and four minutes into the sin-bin, they were awarded a penalty after Glover bundled over Stafford in the box. Waters stepped up and made no mistake in getting his hat-trick. 4-4. What a game this was turning into for the neutral(s) in the crowd.
Then, just as we were getting ready for a penalty shootout, the home side produced a little bit of late magic. Shay Brennan played a very clever backheel to put Rhys Lelachur in on gaol. He made no mistake with a cool finish. 5-4.
FT Allexton & New Parks 5 Earl Shilton Albion 4. This one just about went to form in the end but Earl Shilton certainly made their Premier League hosts work for their place in the final. From a neutral standpoint this was a thoroughly entertaining game. I may not have known much about the Leicestershire Senior League before the game, but I'll definitely be checking out more games next season. Finally, a big thank you to the Allexton & New Parks Twitter admin who very kindly got me a parking spot and supplied photos of the team sheets.
Allexton & New Parks v Ashby Ivanhoe Knights. 31st May, 16:00ko at Loughborough Dynamo
I think I am right in saying that there will be a new name on the trophy whoever wins.
Allexton & New Parks: Glover, Swain, Marsh-Brown, Parry, Johnson, Pallett, Lelachur, Hurst, Brennan, McHugh, Joynson(c). subs: Allen, Jones, Haines, Smith, Warren
Earl Shilton Albion: Smith, Robinson, Waters, Underwood, Bates(c), Beasley, Creed, Mangham, Stafford, O'Grady, Pratt. Subs: Brown, Clarke, Hughes, Olner, Sandham
Ground Number: 265