Saturday 22nd September, 2012
Whilst Boro were battling out a 4-3 victory at Nostell MW in the NCEL Premier, I turned my attention to the top of the NWCL Premier on this side of the Pennines.
Bootle, before today's game, led the table despite having played three games fewer than the teams below them. Having won 6 and drawn 2 of their opening eight league games, the signs are looking good for 'The Bucks'.
Their opponents, Silsden, feel slightly out of place in the NWCL. The town lies just 5 or so miles further west than several of Boro's NCEL opponents such as Thackley, Eccleshill and Brighouse, but they must compete in a division which involves many long journeys to the west coast of England. They are the only Yorkshire side in this division at present.
Bootle's ground is uninspiring to say the least. The Delta Taxis Stadium lies on an industrial estate just a few hundred yards from Aintree station, making easy access for fans such as myself arriving by train. Consequently, it is also within easy walking distance of the famous racecourse which lies just opposite the station.
The other covered accommodation was found in the shape of a small terrace behind the goal. The rest of the ground is hard standing, and I decided to take my place next to the Silsden dugout for the afternoon for some extra entertainment.
The game kicked off in splendid warmth and sunshine, with only a few clouds in the sky. Silsden, wearing red shirts and black shorts, were very much the underdogs coming into this match against the pacesetters.
It looked like the form book would be accurate as Bootle started the match like a steam train, and had four or five great chances to score in the opening ten minutes. However, on ten minutes, the visitors took an unlikely lead. A neat ball was played across to Thomas Marshall who side-footed the Yorkshiremen in front.
Encouragement rung out from the home bench and players, as they were all well aware that they had been the better side thus far.
An equalising goal looked inevitable, and it came on 22 minutes. Again, a 35-40 yard effort rattled the crossbar, but this time it fell to the waiting Daniel O' Connor who had the easiest of headers into the net, as the Silsden keeper struggled to return to his feet following the initial shot.
Bootle continued to dominate but couldn't find the breakthrough, and the teams went in at the break all square.
A special mention must be made of the referee, whose only consistency was his complete inconsistency for the entire 90 minutes. Bizarre decisions were infuriating both sides and dugouts, and to be honest, as bad as he was, a few of the players were lucky not to be booked or worse for their outbursts at the man in the middle.
The second half began, and was a more even affair. In fact, you could almost say that Silsden just about edged it on the whole. They had some great early chances to get the ball in the box, but the final ball seemed to be lacking.
Bootle got their second goal, somewhat against the run of play. Brett Adamson took advantage of terrible Silsden defending from a corner and found himself free about 8 yards out. He had the simplest of tasks in slotting it in the back of the net.
The game finished 2-1, and was a feisty but ultimately disappointing game which saw two teams not really leaving 2nd gear for the majority of the game. Bootle should have been out of sight by half time, but their failure to put chances away may cost them in the long run. For now, they sit proud at the top of the table, but you feel that they will need to be more ruthless in front of goal if they want to stay there.
The only sour note of the day was that all Merseyrail services were cancelled after the game, so a laborious bus journey was required back to Ormskirk.