After something of a nomadic lifestyle, Ingles moved to their new home at the Thringstone Miners Social Centre, Homestead Road, at the start of the season, after originally being formed in nearby Shepshed. The ground is signposted from the main drag through Thringstone, which is a nice touch. There's a small car park adjacent to the clubhouse which I managed to get on, but I guess parking is available in the surrounding streets if necessary. Entrance to the ground is through the clubhouse with payment at a small hut just outside the main doors. The first thing that strikes you about Homestead Road is that there has clearly been quite an investment since Ingles moved in. The clubhouse block looks and feels new, there is new fencing around the pitch and new dugouts. Even the wooden covered standing area behind the far goal looks new. Despite that, it retains the feel of a proper old-style football ground. The Bob Simpson Stand, on the right hand-side as you look from the clubhouse, offers covered seating and a small covered standing area. The main covered standing is at the far end of the ground from the Homestead Road end. The pitch, which looked quite heavy after the recent downpour, is quite flat at the far end of the pitch but then slopes down from the halfway line towards the clubhouse.
With both clubs hovering just above the drop zone at start of play, this game could certainly be described as a relegation six-pointer. Ingles sat in 18th position, four points clear of Heath Hayes in the last of the relagation places. However, Hayes did have two games in hand. Two places and four pints above Ingles were Shawbury. This was the first meeting of the sides this season. In fact, as far as I can, the first meeting in a competitve match. Ingles came up through the Leicestershire Senior League, East Midland Counties and United Counties divisons, whilst Shropshire based Shawbury have progressed through the West Midlands Regional league system.
Recent form has not been brilliant for either team. Ingles have not won a league game since a 6-1 demolition of Smethwick Rangers at the end of October. Lats weekend's 2-1 turnaround at home to AFC Bridgnorth did nothing to helpm their predicament. Meanwhile, after four defeats on the bounce including a very damaging 4-0 drubbing at Cradley Town, Shawbury bounced back last weekend by beating Smethwick Rangers 2-1. A win today would be only the second time they have strung consecutive wins together this season.
Just before kick-off local photographer Betty Marie walked past and said hello. Her photos of the game can be seen on the Ingles web site.
Shocking Decisions! Judging by the Tweet that Ingles put out at the end of the game, they may well have assumed that my choice of blog title was aimed at today's referee. However, it's not so. It is actually a reference to my choice of viewing position. The game hinged on two major incidents and, due to my choice of position I was at the opposite end of the ground for both. At half-time, with the rain still coming down, I swapped my position near the halfway line for a sheltered view behind the far goal. Towards the end of the game, I decided to head down to the car park end in readiness for a quick exit. As it turned out, both were bad decisions, but more of that below. Consequently, no previous league meetings and the same with the FA Cup and Vase.
In all honesty, there was not too much to discuss in the opening 20 minutes. The weather, as predicted, had started to worsen and the darkening skies appeared to have had an effect on the mood of both teams. Neither keeper had had the need to get their knees dirty until Ingles centre-forward tried a curling effort that Shawbury's keeper had to stretch for but saved fairly comfortably. This triggered a reaction from United, who went straight up the other end, forcing the home keeper to make a save, which he spilled, but was up quickly enough to make a second save from the loose ball.
Just past the half-hour mark Ingles spurned a big chance, the best of the game so far, but their number 11 could not accept the opportunity and it remained 0-0. Then just before the half-time whistle, the same player was sent free down the left hand side of the box. This time, however, the visitor's keeper was quick to dive at his feet smothering the attempt at the cost of corner that came to nothing.
HT Ingles 0 Shawbury United 0. Not the most exciting of games so far. In fact, as I tweeted, it was a game that matched the weather, grey, damp and a bit flat.
With the rain getting more persistent I decided to head up to the far end of the ground and stand under the shelter behind the goal for the second half. I was joined by a groundhopper wearing a West Brom hat which, of course, sparked conversations about our days of following the Baggies around the country (he still has his season ticket, whereas I have not had one for a while now). Nice to have a chat throughout the second half, but also meant that I didn't tweet too much.
The game continued in much the same vein as the first half after the goal except that Ingles, as you would expect, started to push forward more and more. Despite that effort, they did not unduly worry the Shawbury keeper. That was until three minutes into injury time (by which time I had already headed towards the car park end. D'oh!
A ball into the Shawbury area caused a bit of panic in which the United keeper appeared (from a distant view) to clean out an Ingles striker. The referee waved play on but as the player was completely flat out and obviously injured, play had to be stopped. After fairly lengthy treatment the Ingles player was able to walk off the field but not continue. There was literally seconds left to play at this point and, almost immediately after play restarted, the referee blew for the end of the game. I Bumped into the West Brom supporter again in the car park. He had missed the late incident and asked me what happened. My comment was that it looked like a penalty to me but I was not as close as the referee, so who am I to say?
FT Ingles 0 Shawbury United 1. A difficult one for the home side to take. They clearly felt that the main decisions had gone against them, but from a neutral's perspective, I thought Shawbury just about edged the game overall.
There are some huge league games coming up for both of these teams in the run-up to Christmas. Ingles have a County Cup home clash with Lutterworth on Wednesday but, after that they travel to bottom side Haughmond on Saturday followed by a trip to second-bottom Cradley Town the following weekend. Shawbury face a League Cup game at AFC Bridgnorth on Tuesday evening before a tricky looking home game with high-flying Bilston Town at the weekend. They then also travel to Haughmond for the first game of 2023.
I always hate leaving a blog in an unfinished so, if and when I get more names and details, I will add them.
Ingles(Squad): Allen, Bickerstaffe, Christie, Felstead, Fowkes, Grimshaw, Rawson(c), Smith, Tansley, Warren, Wesley. Subs: Brind, Corocoran, Tuck, Ward, Light
Ground Number: 338