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Ref makes late call as Earls miss out again

EARLSWOOD Town face a punishing run-in at the end of their MFL Division Two season, with 11 games still to play after wet weather prompted a string of postponements, reports David Lawrence.

The latest of these came on Saturday. After passing a morning pitch inspection, match officials gave the green light for their game with high-flying Alcester Town but, moments before the game at the Yakinori Pavilions was due to start, the referee called for a 15-minute delay so that sand could be spread on an area of the pitch which was particularly bad.

Both managers and captains were called over and, following discussions and despite the efforts of groundstaff, the match was postponed.

Groundstaff work on the Earlswood Town pitch.
Groundstaff work on the Earlswood Town pitch.

Earlswood chairman Andy Walker said: “It was frustrating for both sides especially when you get so close to the start of the game and the sun’s shining and there is a good crowd.

“From our perspective, just getting the game on would have been something of a rarity.

“Ultimately, the referee has made a call and you have to respect him for that as he has a job to do although there will be a lot of anger and frustration from elements of both teams.

“There is always a perception that with a couple of dry days then everything will be OK but the reality is that the water table here at the Pavilions probably means that we will need at least a dry week to be able to get a game on.

“I’d like to thank the chairman of Highgate United, Malcolm Ward, who spent two or three hours down here helping our groundsman to try and get it in. There has been a lot of hard work and that’s the biggest frustration.

“We now have 12 games to play in less than three weeks and there is a hope that the league will extend the season because we now have welfare concerns for the players along with work and family commitments.

“We have tried to find alternative venues for games and approached eight different clubs. It has not been for the lack of trying. A lot of our founder members say that this is the wettest season they can recall going back to 1968.”

The club was able to chalk off one of those outstanding games on Tuesday when Walker was given the go ahead from neighbours Highgate United to use their pitch for the match with Fairfield Villa which the Earls won 2-1 thanks to two goals from winger Harry Street.

League rivals Alcester Town still have eight games to squeeze in, starting with the hastily re-arranged trip head-to-head with Earlswood which will also be played at Highgate’s ground.

The Romans then travel to Fairfield on Saturday while the Earls host AFC Coventry Rangers.

In the Premier Division, Studley look certain to be in the play-offs despite losing their final game of the regular season 2-1 at Lichfield City where Bailey Fuller was on target.

If fifth place is confirmed, Studley will travel to Lichfiel in their semi-final with Darlaston Town hosting Stourport Swifts in the other tie.

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