Towcester Recreation Ground is more or less in the centre of Towcester, just off the A5 and not a million miles from Towcester Racecourse. There's not a huge amount of parking space adjacent to the ground, but it's relatively easy to find parking around the general area. The clubhouse is a throwback to the days before the club reformed last year and is still signed as Towcester Town Supporters Club and is situated on the opposite side of Islington Road. As well as the main pitch, there is a junior pitch and children's recreation area. The playing area itself has no spectator cover, as you would expect at this level, but was roped off by a respect barrier on one side. There's a slight slope down towards the Silverstone Brook end of the ground and, on this day, the grass had been left quite long (presumably this is maintained by the local council). This had the effect of causing a lot of unnatural bounces, which gave players on both sides some problems during the game.
The North Bucks Premier League has boiled down to three teams, Great Horwood lead the way with 40 points from 17 games. Towcester in second, 35 from 17 and MK Irish Athletic in fourth with 33 from 17 (behind Hanslope who had already finished their league campaign on 35 points). AFC Towcester knew before kick-off that to snatch the title they would need to win all three remaining games (including next Saturday's game at Great Horwood) and hope that the leaders dropped points along the way. Earlier in the season, September to be exact, Towcester had won 4-1 in Grendon Underwood with three goals from top scorer Richard parker and one from Mike Watson. Ben Harrington had replied for Rangers, who also had Tommy Ovens sent off. Towcester's recent for read quite well with four wins in their last six. A 2-1 defeat at Willen and a 2-2 draw at home to Potterspury, being responsible for the points dropped. Towcester had also lost 2-0 to Potterspury in the Interdivisional Trophy Quarter-Final earlier this month, a game that BotP was there to witness (First Half Double Wins A5 Derby). Not a good sign seeing as Towcester's other remaining league game is at Potterspury. Grendon's recent form was not so good with two wins in the last six. However, they had beaten Great Horwood 4-3 on their own patch in the cup back in February. That win had been avenged by Great Horwood winning 6-1 in the league game last month. I last saw Grendon play five years ago, back when they were in the Spartan South Midlands League. That day they had gone down 5-1 at home to a strong Loughton side (Perfect Pitch).
Despite the fact that it was the visitors who had the first shot on goal, it was Towcester who opened the scoring within the first minute and a half. Mike Watson was fed the ball out on the left before rifling a left-footed strike across Siswick in the Grendon goal, and into the far corner. 1-0. However, in a blistering start to the game, Rangers were level after 3 minutes. Tom Doncaster was felled in the box for a clear penalty and Kieron Moreton made no mistake from 12 yards. 1-1. Expecting a lull in play after that start? No chance. Only 8 minutes were on the referee's watch when their captain weaved some magic on the right before delivering a deep cross that was headed back across the Ranger's goal and a simple tap in for Richard Parker. 2-1
Still not quite 15 minutes into the game, Towcester came close to a third when a long ball was spilled by Grandon's keeper, he pushed the ball against the legs of the onrushing home striker but the ball rolled just wide of the post. The game was quite end to end at this point and Grendon came close themselves just before the 20 minute mark when Doncaster fired just over from the edge of the box. Five minutes later, however, Rangers were level when, after an attack down the left, the ball fell to Jack Rowe on the edge of the area. He fired low to the keeper's right and into the corner of the net. 2-2
There was an eight minute lull in the scoring at this point, which given the previous 25 minutes, seemed like a very long time. Then on 33 minutes the home side once again took the lead and it was Richard parker again, this time just about stretching to get a toe to a long ball and divert it past Siswick. 3-2
Three minutes later and Towcester finally got some daylight between themselves and their visitors. It came from a superb through ball from their right-back, splitting the Grendon defence and allowing Watson to run free on the left. His low cross was then turned in by Parker. 4-2
In a lot of games six goals on the first 36 minutes would have probably signalled a bit of a lull up to half-time whilst both sides caught their breath. Not here though. With three minutes to go before the break Grendon won a free-kick some 25 yards out. The direct effort at goal was mishit but the ball took a deflection into the path of Tom Doncaster who gleefully stroked the ball into the far corner. 4-3. Back to one goal behind, Grendon would probably have been quite happy to go into half-time, knowing that they were going down the slight slope in the second period. However, they couldn't quite get to the break. Two minutes into added time they conceded a free-kick just outside the penalty area on the left hand side. The ball was played in low across the area where a completely unmarked Parker was lurking to make it 5-3. Way too easy from a Rangers point of view.
HT AFC Towcester 5 Grendon Rangers 3. Fabulously entertaining for any neutrals but I can imagine that both coaches will have words to say at the break.
After this goal went in, with 25 still to play, the game unsurprisingly went a little flat. Towcester, with a big game against Potterspury coming up in midweek, rested a couple of players in the knowledge that this game was out of reach of the visitors. Grendon continued to plug away but, in fairness, they also knew the game was up. Almost at the final whistle Rangers got some consolation for their continued efforts when Jack Rowe robbed the Towcester stand-in centre-half, drove forward and fired a low effort past the keeper. 7-4.
FT AFC Towcester 7 Grendon Rangers 4. Towcester keep the title race alive with both themselves and Great Horwood having two to play. They take on Potterspury on Tuesday evening and a win would take them within 2 points of the leaders. Next Saturday there is potentially a huge match at Castle Fields as Great Horwood entertain Towcester. Grendon have one league game remaining at fifth placed Willen but they also have to face the same opponents in the Interdivisional Cup Semi-Final next weekend.
Grendon Rangers: Siswick, Kennie, Moreton, C.Rowe, Bonson, Tuck, Doncaster, Young, Kibble, J.Rowe, Bullivent. Sub: Moyles
Ground Number: 317