Feckenham FC, The Millers, have returned to the village after spending some time playing at nearby Studley FC. They now play their home games at the Mill Lane Recreation Ground just off High Street. There's no parking available at the ground but there is a free car park (signposted) on Tufton Gardens, just a short walk away. There's an alley that leads from Tufton Gardens directly into the recreation ground.
There's a reasonably large clubhouse on the Mill Lane side of the ground which sells hot and cold drinks as well as snacks. The dugouts are also on this side of the ground, one each side of the clubhouse block. The pitch slopes slightly, down from the village/Church End towards the kid's playground at the far end.
There's no spectator cover as such at the ground. However, there is seating built in to the wall of the clubhouse that might give a little shelter in inclement weather.
One of the main reasons that this match attracted me was the position of the two teams in the league. At the start of play Feckenham were top of the league, two points clear of Pershore in second place. With just a few games left, the situation was that Pershore, who had played two more than Feckenham and only had two games remaining, needed to win to keep alive any faint hopes of the title. However, there was also a third club involved in the title chase, fourth placed New Dales Vale. The Worcester based club had three games remaining and were six points adrift of the leaders. Consequently, if Feckenham were to win this evening and New Dales Vale did not beat Shipston Excelsior at home, The Millers would be confirmed as champions. Defeat for Feckenham and a win for Vale would man that all three teams were still in with a shout.
Current form was certainly on the side of the leaders. In the past six games they had won five of them, suffering defeat (for the only time so far this season) at the hands of Shipston earlier in the month. Pershore had lost twice in their last six, including a damaging 2-1 home defeat to Feckenham. On that occasion first half goals from Dave Phelan and Ben Welsh were enough for The Millers, despite a late Ben Espley strike for The Plums.
The fact that Pershore needed the three points more than their hosts became quite apparent early on. Their tempo and general game looked sharper than Feckenham's, demonstrated as early as the ninth minute when a raking pass from Kian Collins found Tom Daccus who fired just wide of Watson's left-hand post.
Watson was by far the busier of the two keepers and was called into action again after 16 minutes, diving at the feet of a Pershore striker to save well. The home side were obviously under instruction to allow Pershore to have the ball in their own half, retreating deep until the ball was in their own half before engaging. This had the effect of inviting Pershore onto them, something that the visitors were starting to take full advantage of.
About halfway through the half, Watson had to be even braver as he threw himself at the feet of another Pershore striker to prevent what looked like a certian goal. As if the home side weren't under enough pressure from Pershore, they contrived on 27 minutes, to make life even harder for themselves, getting i a right mess at the back. The ball fell at the feet of a Pershore striker on the edge of the box but, with Watson well out of position, the hsost were saved by a defender making it back onto the line to scramble clear.
The close shave seemed to act as something of a wake up call to to Feckenham and they finally managed to pose a threat to the Plum's goal on the half-hour mark, when Skelton flicked on for Tolley to burst clear only to fire well over Loader's bar.
We were 34 minutes into the game before either side won a corner and, when it came, it went to the visitors but stil came to nothing.
With just three minutes of the half remaining, what had become something of a stalemate, albeit with Pershore on top, sprang into life. A superb diagonal through ball found Reece Day on the right. He drove into the box before shooting across Watson from a tight angle, nestling the ball in the far corner. 0-1. To be fair to Pershore, the goal had been on the cards for much of the half and it looked as if they were going to carry the advantage into the break until a minute into added time. A delightful ball into the Pershore penalty area tempted Scott Loader to race off his line only to be beaten to it by Janny Dinanga. Keeper and striker collided, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. A tough call on the keeper who was genuinely going for the ball but was a millisecond later than Dinanga. Dave Phelan stepped up to take the kick but Loader guessed correctly, diving to his left to make a great save.
HT Feckenham 0 Pershore Town Development 1. The Plums took a deserved lead into the break, thanks to a great penalty save from captain Scott Loader. Feckenham struggled to get any fluency and seemed to be panicking on the ball, frequently giving it straight back to their opponents. With New Dales Vale a goal up at home to Shipston, the position at the top of the table was looking very interesting.
However, it was still the home side who were looking the more likely to get on the scoresheet, but they were starting to run out of time. New Dales Vale were now 2-0 up (even though they had been down to 10 men since the 30th minute) and looking as if the three points were in the bag. Feckenham needed to throw everything at their visitors for the final fifteen minutes.
Dan Poxon flicked a header narrowly wide on 77 minutes but a minute later the Millers were back on the offensive, winning a corner on the right. When the ball was played into the box, Will Skelton rose above everyone to power in a header, beating Loader at last. 1-1
FT Feckenham 2 Pershore Town Development 1. Credit to Feckenham for the way they wound up the pressure in the second half, especially after looking second best in the first half.
The result ended Pershore's faint hopes of catching Feckenham at the top. However, New Dales Vale's victory over Shipston Excelsior left them six points behind the leaders with two games remaining, meaning Feckenham still need a point from their remaining three games to be mathematically certain of the title.
On Saturday Feckenham welcome sixth placed Tuffley Rovers Dev with the champagne sitting in the ice bucket. A Dave Phelan goal saw The Millers win 1-0 at Glevum Park in January. Meanwhile New Dales Vale got to Bishops Cleeve Dev. knowing they have to keep winning in order to keep the pressure on. Pershore Town Dev. welcome Longlevens Dev. to the Community Stadium in their final game.
Feckenham: Watson, A.Bunn, A.Wright, J.Wright, Ingram, Tolley, Cox, Phelan(c), Skelton, Haywood, Dinanga. Subs: Fergie, Poxon, Davies, Lane, Jarvis
Pershore Town Development: Loader(c), Dankenbring, Bennett, Pinches, Tolley, Collins, Day, Espley, Wilesmith, Savciuc, Daccus. Subs: Simmonds, Peachy, Carter, Sommers, Forsyth
Ground Number: 361