Moulton's Brunting road ground is situated just to the West of the village of Moulton and a few miles North East of Northampton. The club, formed in 1896, moved to their current home in 1953 and have steadily improved the facility including the installation of a 3G pitch in 2018. There is ample parking available in the large car park adjacent to the ground. Entry is through a gate off the car park where you can also pick up a very nicely presented, if not slightly expensive for this level, printed programme. Once inside the ground you find yourself in a patio area between the clubhouse and pitch. The playing area is raised slightly above the level of the clubhouse, accessible via a few stairs or a ramp access. The ground features covered seating in a small stand on the car park side with dugouts on the far side of the pitch. The whole ground, car park, clubhouse and pitch has a very clean and new feel to it. There are plenty of Moulton logos around the ground, on the back of the stand overlooking the car park and on the fencing surrounding the ground. This all gives the ground a professional, well organised feel. Aside from the first team, Moulton also has a thriving junior section, offering youth football under the Moulton Magpies identity, from under 5 through to under 18 and ultimately (hopefully) into the adult team.
As stated in the introduction, both of these sides are playing at Step 6 for the first time in their history. In the case of Moulton that is over 100 years whereas Rugby Borough were formed in 2017. Both clubs gained promotion to the Spartan South Midlands Division One during at the end of last Summer. Moulton came through the Northants Combination League, finishing 3rd last season. Borough won the Leicestershire Senior League finishing 14 points clear of second-placed Allexton & New Parks. Both sides have started life at Step 6 very well. Rugby Borough were coming into the game in seventh spot after two wins and one defeat from their first three. This came on the opening day when they went down 3-2 at Amersham Town. Striker Sam Lockley, with 5 goals in the first 3 games, was the league's top scorer before kick-off. Moulton sat third in the table, only kept off top spot on goal difference, after three straight wins including an excellent 2-1 at London Tigers last time out. Joe Evans led their scoring charts with three, all coming in the 6-0 win over Thame United Reserves.
As you would expect of a team with a 100% record, Moulton started full of confidence. They created the first real opportunity of the game in the third minute when the ball was fed to Joey Evans on the left side of the box. he cut inside but put his shot wide of the target. That proved to be a "sighter" for the Magpies striker. Four minutes later, following a slick move down the right, the ball reached Derrick Okoye on the right-hand edge of the box. His low cross towards the near post was deftly flicked past Niall Shackleton by Evans. 1-0.
The goal seemed to spark more action from Rugby than it did from the home side. On 12 minutes, Borough showed that they had found more of a rhythm when Gerard McGehey got their first strike on target. Two minutes later there was even more promise. This time Thomas Glascoe tried his luck, driving inches over from just outside the box.
The visitors were now playing some flowing football and Moulton were struggling to get to grips with them. Just past the 20 minute mark Borough were awarded a free-kick some 25 yards out and slightly to the left of centre. Ash piper stepped up a drilled a stinging effort past the wall only to find Magpies stopper Filipe Mederios equal to it, palming the ball away to safety. Then as we passed the halfway stage in the first period McGehey came close again after being played in one on one, he put his effort over the bar as a challenge came in from a defender. From my angle at the opposite end of the pitch it looked as if McGehey was caught as he took the shot but the referee was not having any of it and, to be fair, there were limited calls from the Borough players. It was all Rugby at this stage though. Since going behind they had really stepped it up and were now well in control of the game, despite being a goal behind.
Half an hour gone and another Borough chance went begging. A low cross from the left eluded attackers and defenders alike before falling to Tom Bishop at the far post. Once again though, his effort did not force the keeper into action. having squandered two or three good chances, would Borough be made to pay. Well, on 35 minutes the answer was yes as they fell for a sucker punch all of their own making. After being on the back foot for the last 20 minutes or so, Moulton launched a raid of their own. Evans was bundled off the ball in the box amidst claims for a penalty. Nothing given. The Moulton player stayed down to adjust his shin pads after the challenge. Meanwhile the Borough keeper, Niall Shackleton, had the ball at his feet on the edge of the box. Evans got to his feet, ran around the keeper, stealing the ball off him, before lofting over the retreating stopper to make it 2-0.
Credit to Rugby at this point. heads did not drop and within two minutes they finally got the goal their efforts had deserved. The ball was played in to Sam Lockley unmarked in the centre of the penalty area. He turned sharply and fired past Mederios despite loud protestations of offside from the home defence. The referee was quick to react as Moulton defenders headed in the direction of the assistant and the goal was given. 2-1.
HT Moulton 2 Rugby Borough 1. A good first half. Moulton started the better and got in front but then had to sustain relentless pressure from their visitors, who somehow couldn't get the ball in the net. Moulton got two in front with an extraordinary goal before Rugby pulled a goal back juts before the break. Finely poised for the second half.
In an absolutely breathless start to the second period, Moulton then almost grabbed another goal when Evans was put in on the left before dragging his cross shot narrowly wide of the far post. It was end to end stuff.
Still only in the seventh minute of the second half Moulton did get their noses back in front. After being pushed back by Rugby they won the ball back deep inside their own half and broke very quickly. The ball found Andy Hall on the right side of the box and, with defenders already stretched and dragged across towards home, he deftly set up Shad Reza for a relatively simple finish. 3-2.
The sides were not finished there though. We were still under the hour mark when Borough were awarded a free-kick just outside the box. Ash Piper, who had already stung the keeper's hands in the first half, stepped up again, this time drilling his effort under the jumping wall and past Mederios. 3-3.
And breathe...but not for long.
This was a game that had everything and the action wasn't about to stop. Another long through ball from Moulton caught out the Borough defence. Okoye was again onto it, bursting through on goal only to be hauled down by Bradley Harris. A clear goal scoring opportunity and an obvious straight red for the Rugby defender. Worse still for Borough, it was in the area. Penalty. Joey Evans stepped up and made no mistake and another hat-trick for the Moulton man. 4-3
On 73 minutes Moulton effectively sealed the points and they did it in style with a lovely flowing move. Former Blisworth striker George Wingrove, on as substitute, was fed the ball on the right side of the penalty area. He cleverly slipped the ball inside for the underlapping full-back Cole Mason who kept his cool and stroked the ball past Shackleton. 5-3.
The points now secured, the game calmed down a little. However, there was still time for Evans to top off an eventful evening with a second yellow card. Then, with both sides now down to 10 men, there was still just about enough time for Moulton's Claston Gordon to cut inside and clatter an effort off the post before the referee drew a close to a superb game.
FT Moulton 5 Rugby Borough 3. What a start from the Magpies. Four games, four wins and a goal difference of 11. In most circumstances this would be enough to lead the table. However, after wins for Real Bedford and Ampthill Town, Moulton remain in third spot. Rugby can think themselves a little unlucky to lose this game, although you could also say you make your own luck. if they had taken their chances when on top in the first half, who knows what would have happened. They have a break from league action this weekend as they travel to Eccleshall in the FA Vase. Moulton get a well earned rest for a week before they continue their league campaign at Letchworth Garden Eagles on September 3rd.
Moulton: Mederios, Mason, Gordon, Mullaly, Jackson, Boateng(c), Weston, Hall, Okoye, Reza, Evans. Subs: McMillan, Macarthy, Wingrove, Demirci
Rugby Borough: Shackleton, King, Pipwr, Proudlock(c), Harris, O'Dwyer, Glascoe, Bishop, Lockley, Halim, McGahet. Subs: Shaw, Castleton, Barrett, Linton, Reeve
Ground Number: 322