Grounds for optimism at last as fans make a very welcome return

Shifnal Town boss Andrew Carrier praised the club’s staff and volunteers after supporters made their return in Saturday’s friendly with Coalville Town.

Shifnal Town FC vs Coaville Town FC - Friendly - at Acoustafoam Statium in Shifnal.
Shifnal Town FC vs Coaville Town FC - Friendly - at Acoustafoam Statium in Shifnal.

A crowd of around 130 was present at the Acoustafoam Stadium to see the hosts battle to an impressive 0-0 draw against the Southern Central Premier outfit.

It was the first time fans had been permitted to attend matches since March and Carrier paid tribute to the hard work which had gone on behind the scenes over recent weeks to ensure the club were ready.

He said: “There were a lot of things which had to be done to ensure the ground was safe for fans to come back, even in a limited capacity.

“The club carried out a risk assessment and made sure everything was in place so we were ready when the government gave the go-ahead for fans to come back last week.

“Everyone behind the scenes has pulled together and I really can’t praise them enough.

“The first thing everyone looks at with any football club is results and what is happening on the pitch but none of it is possible without the hard work of the committee and volunteers who just do it for the love of the game.”

Perhaps the only disappointment for those in attendance was not seeing a goal but Carrier took confidence in the performance of his team.

Shifnal, who next visit Market Drayton Town tomorrow night, have maintained the vast majority of the squad denied an almost certain promotion from the West Midlands Premier Division when last season was curtailed by the pandemic and results expunged.

He said: “It was a really good run out for us. Coalville are a decent step three team and we went toe-to-toe with them.

“We had played three matches with no fans prior to Saturday and it just didn’t feel right.

“The crowd we got in was a good one for Shifnal. We usually average around 60 or 70 and I would like to think those that came along enjoyed what they saw, even if there were no goals.”

While there were no goals at Shifnal, ongoing building work at Whitchurch Alport meant there were no fans present to witness the home side thump eight past Eccleshall. After the teams went in level 1-1 at the break, Whitchurch turned on the style in the second half to eventually run out 8-2 winners, Luke Walley bagging a 20-minute hat-trick.

Alex Hughes had earlier netted the first of two goals to open the scoring, while Joe Howell, Jud Ellis and Dylan Bath were also on target for Luke Goddard’s team.

Shawbury United granted supporters free entry to their Ludlow home for the visit of long-time West Midlands Premier Division rivals Wellington Amateurs. Goals from Matt Elsmore and Jake Challoner earned the visitors a 2-0 win.

Meanwhile, Haughmond are set to play their first match in front of fans tonight when they head to Cheshire and Sandbach United, where a crowd of 150 will be permitted.

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