Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Hard Lesson for Harborough Town


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Tuesday 19 August 2014 at Bowdens Park
Result
Harborough Town 1 Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 6
Competition
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Hopping
Ground 542 on the lifetime list.  Essentially, I am here because Greg Nwokolo of Persebaya Surabaya hit the post with an injury time free kick in an Indonesian Super League match against Persela Lamongan earlier today.  This meant that the margin of victory was three goals (3-0) rather than four which would have sent me to Abingdon United v Holyport, two (Tadley Calleva v Ascot United) or one (Thatcham Town v Slimbridge).  You can see how the story developed (and the bemusement of some of my followers) on the @GrahamYapp Twitter timeline.  For the record, the game concerned was played at the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium and all three goals were scored by Emmanuel “Pacho” Kenmogne.  It’s random-ish.


Stadium Gelora Bung Tomo, Surabaya
Kenmogne (right) celebrates sending an English groundhopper to Harborough
Someone has kindly loaded the evidence on to YouTube for us!


Pre-match preparation
Harborough needed two very late goals last Saturday to earn a replay from a 2-2 draw.  They have had two defeats in their league, the Step 5 United Counties Premier.  By contrast, the visitors have two wins in the Step 6 East Midlands Counties League.  I’ve seen both clubs once before in 2012 – I saw Harborough win on their way out of Step 6 at the end of 2011-12, and B&W lose valiantly at home to a higher ranked side to end a decent Cup run in 2012-13.  You can pick the links for these games from the tag cloud to the right.
This match in one sentence
Harborough never really recovered from an incredible opening onslaught which, along with their own defensive incompetence, had Blaby & Whetstone three up inside ten minutes.
So what?
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic will host Step 4 opponents in the form of Stratford Town in the next round.   Plus, I have personally seen 27 goals in 4 FA Cup ties so far this season, including three “giant-killings”.  There are combinations of games that could beat that total – anyone out there?
The drama unfolds
My very early clip is probably the only two minute interval without a goal in it!  Harborough are in yellow.



The drama unfolded quicker than anything I have ever seen.  Aaron Preston was left totally unmarked to place a glancing header into the corner and give the visitors the lead.  Then, defensive hesitancy allowed him to nip in and intercept the ball for his second.  Even before I had finished my scribbled notes, Lee Barrett headed home from a corner.  Shouts of “Embarrassing!” from all directions and “Keep Your Heads Up!” from a few.  0-1 after 5 minutes, 0-2 after 7 minutes, 0-3 after 9 minutes

Blaby & Whetstone could have been five up by the half-hour.  Their number 9 missed the target in a one-on-one situation and Preston flicked over an open goal to miss the first chance of completing the hat-trick.  Harborough finally raised hopes that the match might be competitive when they found the net just before half-time and went in to the break with only a two-goal deficit.  This at least kept the passing neutrals vaguely interested.  1-3 after 40 minutes and at half-time

The teams traded second-half chances in an increasingly tetchy game.  The ref needed a touchline conference with his assistants after a bit of a melee near the dugouts.  No red cards, but plenty of shouting, pointing and posturing.  Yawn.  The key moment, however, was a goal by a Harborough sub that was (correctly) disallowed – if only that had counted then we might have had a different story, because just after that they manufactured a great chance, and the rebound from the keeper’s save only just eluded the same sub.  Margins, eh?  The second clip has Harborough trying to close the gap.



As it was, Blaby & Whetstone enjoyed the party.  The fourth was an own goal when the ball hit a defender after an attacker couldn’t quite reach a cross.  1-4 after 68 minutes

Preston missed another chance, rolling the ball just wide to the left after a strong run through the middle.  He finally got his third night shortly after.  1-5 after 76 minutes

The final goal came from Levi Porter who was released at the halfway line by a good through ball and he ran half the length of the pitch and rounded the keeper on the right to score in an empty net.  1-6 after 85 minutes

Harborough’s night was summed up as they hit the bar with a header with just a few minutes left.  Ultimately it was those catastrophic first few minutes that defined their destiny – out of the FA Cup this season.  Final score 1-6
Ground Pix
It has to be said that Bowdens Park is a magnificent facility and must also be added to any hoppers' lists of "Grounds Where Farm Animals are Visible During the Game".



Match Pix

Kick-off!  Lighting conditions not great for any more stills after that.
Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
Free car parking and the ability to be away from the ground within two minutes of the end of the game…
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
A thrashing for the grey of Harborough and a win for the green of Blaby & Whetstone.  Updated table to follow at the end of the month.
Soapbox Section
Best wishes to everyone (including me and other staff!) waiting on GCSE results tomorrow.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Family function on Saturday to celebrate several Yapp milestones but every chance of a Bank Holiday Monday double hop somewhere.



Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Game of Gust-a-Minute at Holyport



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 17 August at Summerleaze
Result
Holyport 2 Abingdon United 2
Competition
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hopping
Ground 541, the third FA Cup tie of the weekend, chosen as the shortest journey distance-wise if not time-wise due to the dreaded M25 western section.
Pre-match preparation
Both clubs play at Step 5 in the Hellenic League, and neither have a win.  Holyport’s league campaign has started with two defeats and Abingdon have one sole point from a draw and a defeat.  But (all together now…) THIS COUNTS FOR NOTHING IN THE CUP.
This match in one sentence
Abingdon were ahead but eventually had to settle for a replay, as the rain stayed away but the wind gets the assist for Holyport’s crazy equaliser
So what?
The aforementioned replay is on Tuesday evening.  The winners will have a home tie against Egham Town.
The drama unfolds
Sam Jones tapped in after a well-worked move down the left to give the home side the lead midway through the first half.  1-0 after 23 minutes

Suddenly the wind seemed to pick up and playing conditions became trickier.  It was blowing sideways across the pitch towards the dugouts.  I was on my customary lap of the perimeter and at the other end when Anaclet Odihambo equalised for United just a few minutes later.  1-1 after 29 minutes

I took my first clip and the effect of the wind on a cross led to a fumble by the home keeper that needed a last-ditch clearance.  Holyport are in claret and green.


Abingdon adjusted to the conditions better at first and substitute Graham Edney was unlucky when he hit the bar.  1-1 at half-time

The visitors took the lead with Odihambo’s second goal, a really cool finish when the defensive line was broken.  1-2 after 52 minutes

Steve Davis almost scored unintentionally for Abingdon when the wind turned his cross into a shot, but it played an even bigger part in the equaliser.  Thomas Kaill sent a freekick well wide of the goal, quite deliberately I would suggest, and the vicious curve deceived the keeper for the kind of equaliser I last saw in the Faroe Islands!  2-2 after 77 minutes

My second clip shows Davis trying to repeat his set piece feat from a little closer – he hits the angle of post and bar and maybe it was fair enough that this game ended all square.  Final score 2-2



Ground Pix
This is a lovely location for a fine afternoon – if you visit, make sure you have a look at the map because this ground is tucked away at the end of a track, through a cricket club, if you follow the satnav route.  It is worth it.


To be fair, this was straightened very soon afterwards by a level-headed club official!
Pic showing location of Scooby Tree (see below)



Match Pix

Management expressing "I Don't Believe It" through the medium of dance

Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League

1. Teams emerging from the woods to take the field ...
2. Scooby Trees (I love this tree)
3. Red Kites overhead
4. Convolvulus
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Honours even between the grey of Holyport and the blue of Abingdon United.  Updated points table to follow next week.
Soapbox Section
Not today.  I am soapboxed out.  I will just say that this is fast becoming my favourite weekend of the whole football season.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Maybe a midweek replay or two, but nothing next Saturday due to a family function.



Big Cadbury Heath Boost for Cribbs


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 16 August 2014 at Springfield
Result
Cadbury Heath 3 Cribbs 4
Competition
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hopping
Ground 540 on the lifetime list, chosen randomly from a selection of 36 by the roll of a 3 and a 4 on red and blue dice respectively.
Pre-match preparation
Step 5 plays Step 6 in this tie between two teams from different divisions in the Western League. Both have played two league games – Cadbury Heath have a win and a loss, Cribbs have a win and a draw, This is the first-ever FA Cup tie in the history of the visitors.
This match in one sentence
A superb and sometimes angry spectacle for the passing neutral as the upstarts of Step 6 dumped their higher-ranked neighbours out of the competition by taking a higher proportion of their chances.
So what?
Cribbs travel the short journey to Mangotsfield United of Step 4 in the next round.
The drama unfolds
The M25 did its best to scupper my plans but thankfully I made it to the ground in time to get a programme and a pasty.  Pasties are compulsory in all matches west of Swindon in my world.  The game started in blustery conditions with Cadbury Heath playing downhill and with the dubious advantage of the wind behind them.

Cribb took the lead after a move from the left allowed Jack Kinnerly space to prod the ball past the keeper who came out to try to narrow the angle.  0-1 after 15 minutes

The mood got even worse after an incident that I was not in a good position to see.  Initially I did not realise that two players had been sent off, one from each side.  I asked a few other spectators from both sides and there was no consensus other than the ref got it wrong.  He’ll be used to that, they can rarely win.  As far as I could glean, there was physical confrontation instigated by Cribbs’ Dominic Graffagnino and responded to by Cadbury’s Jack Camm, but I’d better insert an “allegedly” disclaimer here because a dugout was in my direct line of sight at the key moment.  There were a lot of angry people on and around the pitch, although a group  Cribbs’ supporters with a megaphone did their best to inject some humour with some traditional lino-baiting (which the official took in good part, it has to be said).
I was, however, in a great position to film the equaliser, a deft finish by Darren Edwards.  Cadbury Heath are in red.  1-1 after 28 minutes



Cribbs were undaunted and took the lead again after a fumble by home keeper Sam Brown from a cross/shot from Kinnerly.  From the other end I could not be sure who eventually poked the ball over the line.  1-2 after 32 minutes

Cadbury equalised a second time, this time from the penalty spot.  A wild tackle gave Huxley the chance to smash home the kick.  2-2 after 37 minutes and at half-time
The second half started with the Cribbs keeper Matt Turner falling heavily and needing treatment.  He then nearly scored – the strong breeze put him within shooting distance and a clearance was tipped over on the first bounce by his opposite number.  Here’s the second clip which shows how a low Cribbs corner hit the near post and captures a bit more of the ground.  The rooflines give an idea of the slope and the soundtrack is wind-affected.



The final clip is a perfectly-executed freekick by the impressive Jordan Yeo that gave the visitors the lead once again.  2-3 after 58 minutes



Cribbs got a two-goal cushion with a superbly-worked goal.  Dave Gilroy had been a tireless target man up front and Yeo played a classic one-two with him before the latter’s cross from the right became a tap-in for James Seeley.  2-4 after 74 minutes

Cadbury had to press forward and Cribbs looked dangerous on the break and sub Craig Burchill clipped the post.  However, Cadbury got back in the game with a second goal from Darren Edwards and we were set for a thrilling finish once Cribbs’ Josh Bennett had been stretchered off.  He’d been hurt trying to block the shot.  3-4 after 81 minutes

Even though there were ten minutes of stoppage time, Cribbs were able to hold out for the win.  There were times they tried for a fifth rather than run the ball into the corners, and respect for that.  Cadbury Heath will be understandably disappointed with this performance and result, but on balance the visitors deserved this.  That’s twelve FA Cup goals and two giant-killings for me so far – maybe clubs would like to pay me to stay away next week ;)  Final score 3-4

Ground Pix



Lovers of  clubhouses, you are gonna love this one, which is loved and cared-for

Match Pix




Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
The chance as a visiting defender to clear the ball on to the roof of an adjacent house.  Especially now that Fulham have been relegated.
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
The maroon of Cribbs beats the lime green of Cadbury Heath.  Updated league table of colours to follow next week.
Soapbox Section
I saw so much brainless and selfish driving on the M25 anticlockwise western section on the way to this game.  The culture of our motorways during congestion is all wrong these days.  Too many drivers have a competitive mindset which is fine for the racetrack but inappropriate for the motorway.  Driving needs to be more of a collaborative venture, a team effort that ensures we all make it to our destination.  In particular, “undertaking” at speed is one of the worst and most irresponsible things that you can do.  Last year, on the way to a game, I was caught up through no fault of my own in a multi-vehicle shunt on the M4 west (click on my Larkhall Athletic post in the tag cloud for the detail!).  Undertaking-at-speed by selfish drivers was a key factor in causing that accident – fortunately no human being was seriously hurt among all of the twisted metal.  Unless you have studied a lot of physics, or been in one of these yourself, you won’t have a grasp of the forces, energy and momentum considerations and frankly, your modern car is probably making you feel rather too safe.  Rant over, and thank you for “listening”.
What Next?
If I can face the M25 again, Holyport v Abingdon United on Sunday lunchtime!  Otherwise, I will be scanning the midweek replays.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lamma Time, and a Decision


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Friday 15 August 2014 at Short Lane (Ashford Town FC)
Result
Staines Lammas 3 Bedfont Sports 2
Competition
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hopping
Don’t ask.
Pre-match preparation
Listening to reports of doom and gloom re the M25 but deciding to go anyway.
This match in one sentence
You’ll have to read my contribution to www.therealfacup.co.uk if you want to know more about this epic FA Cup confrontation ... !  While you are there, click around for other reports from all over the country as like-minded enthusiasts get Cup Fever.  There is no cure.

http://therealfacup.co.uk/2014/08/16/lamma-time/

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Purple beats radioactive bile.
What Next?
 This:






Saturday, 9 August 2014

Yay for Yate


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 August 2014 at Lodge Road
Result
Yate Town 1 Cinderford Town 0
Competition
Southern League Division One S & W (Step 4)
Hopping
Ground #539.  I am here because the sum of the last two digits in last night’s Championship game between Blackburn and Cardiff is equal to seven.  Do keep up (or see previous post).
Pre-match preparation
Not much because this is the first league game of the season for both clubs.  Yate finished a few places higher in mid-table last year.  Meanwhile, Yate’s pre-match prep gave me the first sighting of baby goalposts in non-league.


This match in one sentence
Cinderford will feel that they should have got at least a point from the game.
So what?
Nothing to say as yet, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of first-day league tables.
The drama unfolds
Yate’s ground is neat, tidy and cared-for with an excellent clubhouse.  My scene-setter clip is of early Cinderford pressure as Yate looked hesitant in defence.  Yate are in white shirts.



Yate’s Liam Knight was the first name of several to end up in the refs book and he’d have been in it a few minutes earlier had I been the ref.  The home side continued to dither at the back and on one occasion, keeper Martin Horsell only just got to a headed backpass in time.  It was about half-an-hour before the away keeper Alex Harris showed some generosity of his own, losing the ball while out of position.  He scrambled back to make a brave block but it looked from the other end like Lewis Haldane should have scored.  Suddenly the game was more even and Harris had to make another block.  Yate’s Andy Lewis made several rampaging runs from centre-back, a rare sight at this level in my experience.  0-0 at half-time

Yate took the lead early in the second half and their players were queueing up to score from any rebound as the Cinderford defensive line was breached.  Mitch Tippins was the scorer from defence.  1-0 after 55 mins

This of course forced Cinderford to commit further forward and you could sense that an equaliser was on the cards.  I took this pic of one attack, with 15 minutes left, and fortunately the ball hit the bar rather than took my head off.  No way can I move fast enough these days to have got out of the way.



The pressure was building and Yate were visibly tiring.  Horsell, the man in blue was busy (he was later voted MoM by supporters) and I took a couple of short clips to give readers the sense of what was going on.





Yate held on for a hard-earned win a few minutes before the heavens opened.  Final score 1-0
Ground Pix



Match Pix

Early pressure on Yate



Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
The first Scooby tree of the season …


Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Yate’s blue (pale, but blue nevertheless) overcomes Cinderford’s yellow.  This season, the points table will appear once a month or so.


Soapbox Section – this week: A Levels
Best wishes to all sixth-formers everywhere who will be receiving AS or A2 exam results in this coming Thursday.  Here are a few bullet points drawn from my many years of experience in these things, that might be of use to you (or your parents!).
  •            Ignore any media coverage which suggests your 2014 A levels are easier than mine, vintage 1975.  They are different, chalk and cheese, for sure, but I will not allow anyone to say that they are easier overall and I will shout at the radio and/or TV for you as necessary while you (hopefully) celebrate.
  •            If the results don’t go as well as you wish, wait until the general mass of jumpers and screamers has dissipated and then go back to school and speak to the staff.  There is almost always someone with the experience to be a critical friend around the place on results day.  It’s what we do.  Most years, someone’s life takes an unexpected but ultimately positive twist on results day.
  •            Don’t panic into accepting an alternative offer of a university course that really is not a good match for your skills or interests.
  •            Don’t get sucked into the resits culture unless there is a really good objective reason why you should expect it to be better next time around.  (Getting rid of endless resits is the only bit of Govage that I agreed with.)  Move on, change course.
  •            Make sure you understand how (for the current system at least) your AS level results will carry through to have an impact on your A2 grades next year.  It is rare for people to get better grades at A2 than they did at AS.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Next weekend is FA Cup weekend and there are games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.