There must be something in the air around the Loughborough area. On Non-League Day I was at Quorn's very near neighbours, Barrow Town, and commented on how neat and tidy their ground was kept. Well, just a few miles down the A6 is The Farley Way Stadium, home of Quorn FC, and, I have to say, this stadium is up there with Barrow when it comes to the standard of the facilities. The playing surfaces cannot be compared because unlike Barrow, Quorn have opted for an artificial surface, installed over the Summer break. However, all other aspects of the stadium are pretty much match the immaculate nature of Barrow. There is a reasonably large car park adjacent to the ground and multiple turnstile accesses into the ground (only one was open this evening, but that was to be expected for a midweek cup game). The ground itself features two large covered stands, a stepped standing area behind the car park end goal and a seating area that runs down the majority of the A6 side of the ground. On the Loughborough Road side there is a large club house and the players/officials facilities as well as the dugouts, which are almost at opposite ends of the playing surface.
The game matched up two teams from the Midland League structure, albeit with two divisions between the sides. Quorn, currently 10th in the Premier League, came into the game with a very symmetrical league record won 5, drawn 5, lost 5. Their form has been a little up and down recently and they have exited both the FA Vase and FA Cup at home to lower league opposition, Eastwood CFC (1-2) and Atherstone Town (0-1) respectively.
Northfield, who won this competition in 1989-90, were coming into the game in good form. Sitting third in Division Two, they were on a run of 7 unbeaten in the league, 6 wins and a draw and had only lost twice in the league all season.
Despite former Baggies stopper Russell Hoult not being in the Quorn side, I was very interested to see that both Sean Geddes (Quorn) and Liam Spink (Northfield) were in their team's starting line-ups. Both players were on the road back to match fitness after long term injuries, and it was good to see them both back on the pitch.
It's fair to say that Northfield got into the game much quicker than Quorn. For the first ten minutes or so, it was the Division Two side who looked the more lively and were on top of play. However, after a settling in period, Quorn started to get themselves settled and began to knock the ball around with some confidence. The majority of their build-up play was going through captain Geddes, who was dropping deep to receive the ball and then linking the play up the field.
It took until the 19th minute for Quorn to open the scoring.Big striker Stephen Hart saw his effort come back off the underside of the bar and out. It was not properly cleared by the Northfield defence allowing Omar Haughton to latch onto the loose ball and bury his effort past Walker. 1-0
Within five minutes it was two. Again, the unlucky Hart, saw an effort strike the angle of post and bar before the ball was picked up Geddes who drove his shot into the far corner. 2-0 and two quite similar goals. It appeared that Quorn's game plan was for Hart to ping efforts against the woodwork for his team-mates to pick up and score.
Two quick goals could easily have signalled a collapse from Northfield but, to give them credit, they dug in and stemmed the flow of the Quorn attacks and started to try getting forward themselves again, with the Impressive Josh Westwood being a constant threat on the left flank.
After 41 minutes Northfield got some reward for their endeavours. Sam Wills got in behind the Quorn back line and, from a tight angle, produced a delightful clip over Charlie Doherty into the far corner of the net. 2-1.
However, just as Northfield thought they would go into the break only a goal behind, thorn in their side Hart came up with another assist, this time without the aid of the woodwork. His deep cross from the left was met at the far post by right-back Mitchell Tomlinson who volleyed the ball back past Walker to make it 3-1.
HT Quorn 3 Northfield Town 1. Quorn took a while to settle but once Sean Geddes got into his stride he began to make the team tick. Northfield are certainly not out of it yet though and do not look out of place despite the two division gap between the teams.
It's not often i use the word sumptuous. In fact, I don't believe I have ever used it in the context of football. However, that is just how I described Quorn's fourth and Haughton's second goal of the night. The winger drove at the Quorn defence, out wide on the right, stepped inside and then curled the ball beyond the reach of Walker. 4-1 and most definitely a sumptuous finish. I was directly behind the strike and it's fair to say that it was in from the moment it left his boot. The game was now effectively over.
Northfield had battled hard and, for the first few minutes of the second half, looked like they were really going to make a fist of it. However, the fourth goal finished them off.
Just before the hour mark Hart got the goal that he deserved. Driving in from the left, he saw his first effort saved but, when the ball wan't properly cleared, it fell back to the Quorn striker who had a simple tap-in for his goal. 5-1.
Northfield never let their heads drop, even at 5-1 down, and can be proud of the game that they gave to their higher placed opponents. Quorn, at times put some good moves together. It was noticeable after the fifth goal went in that, with Geddes starting to tire and not making himself available to link play, they created far fewer opportunities.
FT Quorn 5 Northfield Town 1. A spirited effort from the Division Two outfit but, in the end, a comfortable victory for Quorn.
Quorn: Doherty, Tomlinson, Andrews, O'Neill, Gorman, Morris, Haughton, Geddes(c), Williams, Hart, Darkin. Subs: Rydquist, Dale, Moseley, Howard, Richmond
Northfield Town: Walker, Williams, Judd(c), Boazman, Walton, Douglas, Wills, McGinley, Skerrett, L.Spink, Westwood. Subs: Behan, McGinn, Pierpoint, Alexander
Ground Number: 171