Graham Street Prims, founded in 1904 by member of the Primitive Methodist Church in Graham Street Derby, now play their home games outside the city centre, at The Fred Harding Ground in Spondon. Although this was my first visit to this ground, I have almost been there before. I was at very near neighbours Borrowash Victoria just over a year ago to see them take on Wollaton (Vics Brace Leaves Wollaton Flagging). The two clubs are so close that they share a car park giving rise to the nickname of their derby game, El Carparkio.
Coming into the game unbeaten Graham Street Prims sat in second spot, only behind Mickleover RBL on goals scored, but having played two games fewer than the leaders. They were also boasting a 100% home record in which they had scored eleven without reply in their three games so far (albeit against the three teams currently occupying the last three positions in the table). Melbourne, who had only played four game sin total, had a record of won two, lost two. They too had a 100%, unblemished home record, but had only played there once so far. Their away record had seen them win once but lose twice so far, most recently a 2-1 defeat at South Normanton Athletic. For a team that hails from the home of Thomas Cook, they don't seem to be travelling too well this season. Melbourne won Division One West last season, gaining promotion to the top flight. Consequently, this appeared to be the first ever league meeting between the teams.
The first real chance for either side came in the seventh minute and fell to the home side. A cross field ball, from left to right, was misjudged by a Melbourne defender allowing Alex Seale a clear view of goal. His strike was clean but was well saved by visitor's goalkeeper Jake Laban. As it turned out, this was the first in a series of one-on-one battles fought by these two players throughout the game. Melbourne responded to the threat with a chance of their own when Jack Goodband fired off a shot that Jack Morley did well to save.
The next ten minutes saw the game swing from one end to the other without generating a notable goalmouth opportunity for either team. However, just as we hit the halfway mark of the first period, Melbourne came within a whisker of taking the lead, and what a goal it would have been. Tyler Withers, out on the left flank, cut back onto his right foot before curling a delightful effort over Morley, only to see his strike smack against the inside of the far post and bounce away to safety. So close for the visitors. A few minutes after this let-off, Seale and Laban went head to head again. Seale once again hit the target but was thwarted by another save from the Dynamo keeper.
The game continued apace, both sides working hard and no quarter being given in the tackle. As a neutral, it was a fascinating encounter despite the lack of goals. I had fully expected, given Graham Street's home record, that Melbourne would be focussed on keeping it tight and maybe trying to hit back on the break. Instead, they had played the game on the front foot, trying to go forward at every opportunity and taking the game to their hosts.
Having said that, it was the home side who had the last say of the first half when Max Bulmer's effort was comfortably saved by Laban. It pretty much summed up the half. Certainly no lack of effort, but no end product.
HT Graham Street Prims 0 Melbourne Dynamo 0. A very closely contested half of football with little to separate the teams. Melbourne came closest to scoring when Withers hit the post, but Jake Laban was the busier of the two keepers. Overall in my opinion, Melbourne slightly edged the half but the game could easily swing wither way in the second half.
The balance of play was still weighted in favour of the home side, but Melbourne showed they still had a say when substitute Isaac Gosling cut in from the left and fired a shot across goal which beat everyone but narrowly flashed wide of the post.
There was almost a bizarre opening goal on 78 minutes. Morley came out of his box to make a clearance but was closed down by Dynamo substitute James Smith. The keeper smashed the ball against the onrushing striker seeing it loop back over his head towards the goal. Luckily for Prims, there was not enough pace on the ball and Morley was able to get back to claim it.
The relief was short-lived though. With just under 10 minutes to go Melbourne scored the first goal that Prims have conceded at home all season. A long throw from the left was flicked on for Tyler Withers, arriving at the back post to nod over the line from close range. 0-1
With ten minutes still remaining there was time for the home side to redress the balance but, try as they might, they couldn't find a way through and, as often happens when a team is pressing forward, they got caught out at the back. Two minutes into added time and another Melbourne substitute, Sam Simpson, applied the coup de grace to their performance, practically guaranteeing the three points. 0-2.
There was barely any time left on the clock, but time enough for the night to get even worse for Prims when Callum Wilson saw red for a late lunge borne of frustration.
FT Graham Street Prims 0 Melbourne Dynamo 2. This one is going down in my book as a plan that came together perfectly. It was certainly no smash and grab from Melbourne. Yes, they were under the cosh a little at the start of the second half but in the main this was an even contest. The difference being that Dynamo took their opportunities whereas Prims either mis-fired or were denied by a good performance from visiting goalkeeper Laban.
Prims remain in second place but can now be overtaken by a number of teams with games in hand on them. Melbourne move up to eighth, four points behind Prims with a game in hand. On Saturday Prims make the trip to Matlock to take on mid-table Wirksworth Ivanhoe. Melbourne are back at home for the visit of 14th placed Mansfield Hosiery Mills.
Graham Street Prims: Morley, Walmsley, R.Seale, Knowles, Dawson(c), Bailey, A.Seale, Lynam, Bulmer, Wilson, H.Stevens. Subs: Lewis, Goral, Diamini, Greatorex, Birkinshaw
Melbourne Dynamo: 1.Laban, 16.Hughes, 8.Jones, 5.Moore, 12.Fox, 19.Peveney, 6.Supple, 7.Poynton, 11.Goodband, 4.Nkumrah, 2.Withers. Subs: 9.Smith, 10.Tovell, 17.Gosling, 18.Simpson
Ground Number: 378