Saturday, 21 April 2018

Step Threes to Heaven



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 21 April 2018 at Hurst Cross
Result
Ashton United 2 Nantwich Town 1
Competition
Northern Premier League (Step 3)
Hopstats
#642 on the lifetime list, but more importantly it completes, for the first time for me, the “Every current ground from Premier League to Step 3” list of 232 clubs.  As of today (and I hope I am right here) this covers 230 separate grounds because of Isthmian groundshares for Kingstonian (at Leatherhead) and Dulwich Hamlet (outrageously displaced by soulless vultures to Tooting and Mitcham recently).  This landmark will remain intact for the few remaining weeks of this season before Dorking Wanderers move to their new home and Tottenham Hotspur move a bit.
Context
Last home game of the regular season for United (The Robins) and they will want to win in order to try for home advantage in the playoffs.  It is not mathematically certain as yet but my unofficial assessment (not having checked whether any of these teams still have to play each other) is that a win today would mean Witton Albion could not overtake them.  Nantwich (The Dabbers) are in a position of mid-table respectability.
In one sentence
The points were won with a direct free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
So what?
Nantwich are still mid-table and respectable.  The playoff position will be clarified further this week as Shaw Lane play twice and Farsley travel to Witton.  If Shaw Lane and Farsley keep winning, then Ashton will need to get something from at least one of their two remaining games, and probably from both if they want the home advantage for the semi-final at least.
Match Report
This match will be well-documented elsewhere so I’ll be brief(ish).  A defender’s slip almost gifted Nantwich an immediate goal and with hindsight that could have been the game’s hinge point right there.  The home side tried to play the ball from the back, and the opening goal after six minutes was a lovely glancing header by Liam Tomsett as he timed his run from midfield.  I was at the other end but it looked as if Nantwich keeper Myles Boney was deceived by the bounce.

Ashton persisted for most of the half with the methodical build-up play but it was not always productive or fluent.  It was classic home-and-away with the home side being urged to show most ambition but the away side always threatening a breakout. Indeed, the visitors gradually grew in confidence and their equaliser was bundled in from close range following a set piece.  The Ashton website gives it as an own goal for the aforementioned Tomsett.  Scoring for both sides – we’ve all done it.

Nantwich equalise
However, Nantwich gave away a needless freekick on the edge of the area for use of an elbow in a challenge.  Half-time managerial team talk scripts were ripped up as Sam Sheridan scored in stoppage time.


The winning goal
The second half started with a flurry of chances.  Nantwich had the ball in the net after great dribbling and a pass by Nathan Cotterell but the flag was up for offside.  Then Tomsett curled a shot narrowly wide before Daniel Mooney’s lofted shot hit the Nantwich post and bounced across the empty goalmouth to safety.

After that, really clear goal chances were rare.  The two teams cancelled each other out in midfield and both defences were well organised.  Ashton played more directly and pragmatically.  The keepers did what they had to do, which wasn’t a great deal in terms of difficulty.  Although another Nantwich goal would have changed the outcome fundamentally, Ashton never really looked uncomfortable.

I’m not giving the exact phrasing here, this is a family blog after all, but a cultural style point goes to the Nantwich fan who told the Ashton keeper Josh Ollerenshaw that he was “wobblier than a tap dancer’s testicle” (or words to that effect anyway) towards the end of the first half.  You don’t get that in the Premier League.

Ground Pix
What a great old-school ground this is.  Full of character and characters. 













Match Pix
Guess who left the memory card for his main camera at home?  These images brought to you by the compact substitute which I happened to have in the trusty hopping rucksack.  Ashton in red. 









Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
A win for grey (just about qualifies as grey by comparison with the white background here) over blue, so blue topped the table for just a week.


Results so far after 143 games:
Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. For new readers the odd .5 was caused by a shocking half-and-half shirt and the .1 was due to a substitute goalkeeper in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
10.0
5.0
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.0
20.0
2.000
Fire Cracker
2.0
1.0
0.0
1.0
4.0
1.0
4.0
2.000
Blue
37.1
16.0
7.0
14.1
52.0
14.0
73.0
1.968
Grey
45.5
21.0
10.0
14.5
73.5
12.0
59.5
1.308
Green
74.0
36.0
10.0
28.0
123.0
19.0
90.0
1.216
Purple
14.0
6.0
3.0
5.0
31.0
4.0
10.0
0.714
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Orange
30.5
9.0
7.0
14.5
49.5
6.0
14.5
0.475
Radioactive Bile
15.0
7.0
0.0
8.0
30.0
2.0
1.0
0.067
Yellow
31.0
8.0
7.0
16.0
65.0
5.0
-9.0
-0.290
Pink
15.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
30.0
1.0
-8.0
-0.533
Black
5.0
1.0
3.0
1.0
14.0
0.0
-8.0
-1.600
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105


What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  In the short term, who knows.  For next season, the priority will be to repair this 232 with visits to Dorking and wherever else may be required, and then get on with around 40 teams left at Step 4.  The final priority list will depend on end-of-season promotion and relegation (and folding) outcomes and the groundshare merry-go-round.


Friday, 20 April 2018

Cod Do Better



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Thursday 19 April 2018 at the John Clements Sportsfield
Result
Codicote 3 Bedford 1
Competition
Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 (Step 6)
Hopstats
Ground 641 on the lifetime list, and I am here because I have my in-tray under control and it’s an 8-minute journey from Yapp Acres.
Context
Codicote are having a rough season and sit just outside the relegation positions, albeit with games in hand.  Bedford have mid-table respectability but both have largish negative goal differences which suggests this won’t be a 0-0.  Codicote picked up a win recently against their prime relegation rivals and seem to be improving from the disasters of the first half of the season.
In one sentence
Codicote scored early in the second half to settle any nerves and they rode their luck at times to hold for a vital win.
So what?
Results elsewhere have been favourable this week and so Codicote have a three-point cushion AND two games in hand over the team below them.  Bedford look likely to finish the season in lower-mid table.
Match Report
Thanks to the club Twitter feed for identifying the scorers.  Codicote took the lead in the first minute or two with a belting, swirling shot from Ricky Brennan.  It looked at first as if the timewasting started immediately.  Bedford’s #10 was irritated by the home keeper enough to leave his foot in slightly longer than necessary as things started to get a bit tetchy.  By the end of the evening I had lost count of the number of yellow cards.

Bedford responded and it wasn’t a surprise when the equaliser came on 38 minutes.  A good through ball beat the Codicote defensive line, #9 timed his run to perfection, kept his feet despite a little tug of the shirt, and scored.  However, any thoughts that Bedford might have broken the home spirit were instantly removed.  It took a good block by the visiting keeper to keep the scores level at half-time.

All to play for, then, as the crescent Moon and Venus also became visible in the night sky.  Codicote scored the vital early goal to retake the lead, a composed finish by George Robinson, straight through the middle.  The same player added a third, and with only 56 minutes on the clock, plenty of time left.  At this point I noticed that I’d forgotten to adjust my camera settings for the game itself, so, deservedly coming soon to a “crap football photos” near you sometime soon, here’s one of the goals in all its blurry goodness… 



I tend to find that most games have a hinge point where the result is decided, but it’s hard to pick one from this game.  At the midpoint of the second half, Codicote’s keeper made a vital block save.  A Bedford goal then could have changed things.  As a physics teacher I don’t throw the word momentum around but you know what I mean.  However, with just over 15 minutes to go, the home stopper was lucky to get away with a yellow as he tripped an incoming forward just outside the area.  I was at the other end so maybe the ball had been knocked past him but in a direction sufficiently away from the goal to allow the ref to decide that he hadn’t denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The game was won, but there was time for Bedford’s keeper to make one of the best saves I have ever seen live at this level with a one-handed push onto the bar from #9’s header.  Then it was back to the Yappmobile for eight minutes of difficult driving along the Pothole Road in time for the news. 

Ground Pix
This ground looked fabulous in the evening sunshine with all the trees at the car park end in magnificent flower, and we were then treated to a wonderful. sunset as the game got under way.  With red against orange, the colour scheme was spoiled only by the keeper tops (see below).  The pitch was in good nick, but Codicote are one of many teams forced to play Thursday night fixture catchup this season.  The team are back in their home village in recent seasons and this visit to my nearest Step 6 ground is overdue.  The new clubhouse is a superb facility.









Match Pix
  

I'll call this one, "Lino at Sunset" or something







Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Both turned up in Radioactive Bile and neither kept a clean sheet.  It's about time a major kit manufacturer contacted me about this stuff ;)

Results so far:
Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. For new readers the odd .5 was caused by a shocking half-and-half shirt and the .1 was due to a substitute goalkeeper in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Blue
36.1
16.0
7.0
13.1
50.0
14.0
75.0
2.078
Red
10.0
5.0
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.0
20.0
2.000
Fire Cracker
2.0
1.0
0.0
1.0
4.0
1.0
4.0
2.000
Grey
44.5
20.0
10.0
14.5
72.5
12.0
57.5
1.292
Green
74.0
36.0
10.0
28.0
123.0
19.0
90.0
1.216
Purple
14.0
6.0
3.0
5.0
31.0
4.0
10.0
0.714
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Orange
30.5
9.0
7.0
14.5
49.5
6.0
14.5
0.475
Radioactive Bile
15.0
7.0
0.0
8.0
30.0
2.0
1.0
0.067
Yellow
31.0
8.0
7.0
16.0
65.0
5.0
-9.0
-0.290
Pink
15.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
30.0
1.0
-8.0
-0.533
Black
5.0
1.0
3.0
1.0
14.0
0.0
-8.0
-1.600
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105


What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Hopefully will be at Ashton United v Nantwich Town on Saturday to complete “The 232” (that’s everywhere from Premier League to Step 2 inclusive) for the first time.