Brereton have played at their Armitage Lane Ground (The Red Lion Ground) since their formation in 1899. It is situated in Brereton, just to the South East of Rugeley, Staffordshire on a triangular piece of land bordered by the A51, Armitage Lane and Brereton Hill/Main Road. There is a car park on site which seems to fill up quite quickly on a match day. However, there is also street parking available on Armitage Lane right outside the ground entrance. rom the car park entry to the ground is through gate alongside the clubhouse. There's no turnstile but entrance fees are paid to a man at a table, who I believe was the club Chairman this evening (that's what I love about non-league, everyone chips in). The club looks out over the playing area, with a few tables and chairs also set out alongside the pitch. On the same side of the ground, the car park side, there is also a covered seating stand which has the dugouts on either side, in front of which are two of the largest technical areas I've ever seen. The opposite side of the ground is bordered by trees, as is the far end which backs onto a school. There is a grass bank behind the goal nearest to the club house end. There is access around all of the ground but no more covered spectator areas apart from the main stand.
Brereton, now part of the Staffordshire County League furniture, have spent a good part of their history playing in the West Midlands League and the Midlands Combination. They won West Midlands Division One in the 1970-71 season but have not yet won the Staffs County League, although they wree runners-up to AFC Alsage last seaosn and won Division Two in 2016-17. They have started this campaign very well and currently sit top of the pile having won eight and lost one of their opening nine games. their one defeat coming at hoem to Alsager Town Reserves in August.
As a mark of respect for The Queen a minute's silence was observed before kick-off
The match got off to what can only be described as a scrappy start. Neither side seemed able to get any flow into their play and, despite Social seeing more of the ball, neither goalkeeper was tested at all in the first ten minutes. In fact the first major opportunity did not happen until the 18th minute. It fell to the home side when an attempted pass into the box took a couple of ricochets before falling nicely into the path of Conor Phillips on the left hand side of the penalty area. He scooped the ball past the advancing figure of visiting keeper James Bourne only to see his effort drift wide of the post.
Social were now finally starting to up their game and produce the sort of football you'd expect from the league leaders. Captain Max Marshall was next to try his luck, firing over from the edge of the box. This, as we would see later, was just a case of him finding his range.
The opening goal arrived on 31 minutes and it was Brereton who grabbed it, inspired by a great run from Ben Elcock. The midfielder powered down the right flank, eased his defender off the ball and then delivered it on a plate for Marshall to slot home from 10 yards out. 1-0.
They say that you are at your most vulnerable when you have just scored. Well, in this case it was the other way around. We had waited over half an hour for a goal and then got two within there minutes, both for the home team. The second goal was made and finished by Brad Hodgson. The number 9 hounded the 41 defence, getting a boot on an attempted clearance and diverting the ball to Marshall. Hodgson continued his movement into the box, accepted the return pass and made no mistake with the finish. 2-0
A double blow for FC 41 who were now well and truly under the cosh. Credit to them for steadying the ship for a while but they could only hold out for another 10 minutes. Just before the half-time whistle was due Marshall latched onto a ball, just beating the onrushing keeper to it. He was forced out wide but, as Bourne raced to get back between the sticks, the host's top scorer composed himself, took a a few steps inside to give himself a slightly better angle, and then hammered an unstoppable shot into the far top corner. Superb strike. 3-0
HT Brereton Social 3 FC 41 0. Social took a while to get into their stride but once up and running gave the new boys a bit of a lesson in how to take a game by the scruff of the neck.
However, on 61 minutes, out of the blue, FC 41 launched a raid on the home goal. The ball was played to Joshua Gilson who flashed his strike just wide of the post. A definite warning to Social that, despite being on top, they could not afford to ease off too much. At this point, Kieron Cliff on the left flank for Social, looked like their biggest threat. His pace on the flank was causing a few problems for the visitor's defence. On 65 minutes some good work in midfield by James Russell saw a through ball find Cliff but his shot could not beat Bourne.
With just over 20 minutes remaining FC 41 once again showed Social that they couldn't rest on their laurels. From a corner on the right substitute Mitchell Jones headed in on the back post. 3-1
Social looked to hit back and settle it, Hughes tried his luck from outside the box forcing Bourne into a low diving save to his right. Then, just inside the last 10 minutes, FC 41 made it very interesting. Following a bit of a scramble in the home box Jones was again on hand to stab the ball home for 3-2. Somehow, from a position of total dominance, Social found themselves in a battle.
However, they needn't have worried too much. With five minutes left they won a free kick just outside the box and a little to the right of goal. Sub Adam McFarlane stepped up and struck a beauty, curling the ball over the wall, hitting the underside of the bar and going in off the despairing attempt of Bourne to keep it out. 4-2
That was it. There was no coming back for FC 41 now.
FT Brereton Social 4 FC 41 2. Social stay top of the league although they did conspire to make this game much harder than it should have been. Credit to FC 41 though. They were dead and buried by half-time but continued to play their game and almost staged a stunning fightback.
On Saturday Brereton face a tough looking test as they travel to fifth placed Ball Haye Green, although Ball Haye may have preferred coming to Brereton as they currently have a 100% away record. FC41 make the very short trip (less than 2 miles) for the derby with Eastwood Hanley, who are currently in bottom spot having lost all nine of their games so far.
Brereton Social: Todd, Bridges, Gratton, Deebank, Cliff, Russell, Marshall(c), Elcock, Franklin, Phillips, Hodgson. Subs: Davies, Marsh, Godwin, McFarlane
FC41: Bourne, Kelsall, Hulson, Eaton, Plant, Podmore, Wain(c), Gilson, Fern, Buchanan, Reece. Subs: Jones, Hyatt, Dennis, Swann
Ground Number: 326