Sunday, 10 May 2015

Two-Nil is a Dangerous Scoreline Again


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 May 2015 at Victory Park
Result
Chorley 2 Guiseley 3
Competition
Conference North Playoff Final (Step 2)
Hopping
Ground #569 restores my current “Top 160” (everywhere down to Step 2) which at the end of 2014-15 is 157 venues because of groundsharing by Worcester (at Kidderminster), Gloucester (at Cheltenham) and Hayes & Yeading (at Maidenhead).  The list becomes instantly incomplete again at the start of 2015-16, for example with a new ground for FC United of Manchester.
Pre-match preparation
The teams finished 4th and 5th respectively behind champions Barrow in the regular season.  The playoff semi-finals in this league are two-leggers and Chorley overcame Boston United on penalties after a very dramatic 95th-minute equaliser (an overhead kick too) which took the game to extra-time.  Chorley had been two goals down.  Meanwhile, Guiseley were impressively beating AFC Fylde home-and-away.  The league fixtures were both fairly recent and resulted in narrow home wins.  At the same stage of last season, Chorley were coming up from Step 3 as Northern Premier League champions and Guiseley were losing to Altrincham in the Conference North playoff final. In the language of the week, this one is too close to call
This match in one sentence
The archetypal game of two halves, and Chorley will point to the three enforced defensive substitutions as a big factor in the turning of the tide.
So what?
Step 1 Conference National for Guiseley
The drama unfolds
The ground filled up early.  I hadn’t realised that the match would be segregated and I entered a Guiseley gate.  As it happened I got lucky with my positioning for this dramatic game.  Fantastic for the passing neutral.  My scene-setter clip starts with the opening goal from the first corner of the game, and by the way, this is a splendid ground of character and characters.  Dale Whitham’s corner is headed in by Andy Teague and the lino confirms that the ball was over the line as keeper Steven Drench can only push it into the top of the net.  Chorley (the Magpies) are in black-and-white.  1-0 after 5 mins


Guiseley were looking shaky in defence and there were more shaky clearances before suddenly Chorley’s keeper Sam Ashton was called into action for the first time.  Chorley looked dangerous from every set-piece and another header from Teague was correctly disallowed for offside.  The second goal, as they say, was coming – it arrived when Paul Jarvis received the ball on the left flank, cut inside to beat a defender and then score with the aid of a deflection.  2-0 after 24 mins

Chorley were dominant and it took at least one more decent save from Drench to prevent further damage before the interval.  I wrote a note to myself wondering if the real Guiseley would turn up for the second half – by now they had already needed to take striker Oli Johnson off.  2-0 at half-time

I had the camera ready for Guiseley’s first corner in the second half and was very surprised to see it taken as an outswinger by a right-footer.


However, they did get back in the game with a route one goal, after Chorley had lost both goalscorers Teague and Jarvis to injury. Adam Boyes produced a great first touch to control a dropping ball and score.  2-1 after 56 mins

When keeper Ashton was also forced off, to be replaced by Aaron Grundy, you feared for Chorley.  I filmed the next Guiseley set-piece, this time an inswinger and almost the equaliser, but the clip is most notable for what happens to one Guiseley spectator just behind the goal…


The equaliser duly arrived with a header from Liam Dickinson.  2-2 after 73 mins

The winner was scored by another Guiseley sub, Nicky Boshell, sparking scenes of jubilation at the away end and probably a feeling of growing inevitability at the other.  2-3 after 78 mins

Guiseley survived most of the remaining time easily enough and had chances for a fourth, but Chorley made one final push as the game entered six minutes of injury time.  They came so, so close as sub Matt Flynn’s header hit the woodwork.  Jack Dorney’s shot was saved easily by Drench, and here is the moment of the final whistle.  Final score 2-3


The excellent Chorley website says that Harry Winter was red-carded after the final whistle but I have no insight into that.  The hosts waited on the pitch patiently and respectfully until a shambles of a presentation was finally completed.  As is traditional in these matters, a man in a suit could not get out of the way in time of the first burst of bubbly.  Well done to Guiseley, commiserations to Chorley.  I hope that plenty more hoppers turn up to visit your ground.



Ground Pix







Match Pix



1st half: Teague's effort disallowed

Jarvis mobbed after scoring the second Chorley goal


1st half: Drench keeps the deficit down to two


2nd half: Dickinson celebrates the equaliser


Something You Might Not Get in the Premier League Next Season*
Magpies...
*satire
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Sky Blue 2-3 Purple and there will be an end-of-season final table.  Chorley had two blue ones today.   Ashton is helped to the dugout and Grundy takes over.


Soapbox Section
I really ought to make a political statement here in this week of all weeks.  Looks like we are in for another period where competition between human beings and their organisations is more important than collaboration.  This, of course, works for some.  Like today, there will be winners and losers.  In my professional life, all I can now say to the “kids of today” is that in the next decade it will be more important than ever to get control of your adult life through being flexible, educated and qualified.  No-one is going to cover the costs of your lifestyle or even your basic needs by paying taxes for you.  You will need to sort yourself out.  If you have interpersonal skills, good communication, abilities in maths and sciences, you will be fine because you can join the winners.  Speaking more than one language will help.  Then your generation, in turn, can decide how best to ignore the rest like this one has now done.  Democracy got selfish in my lifetime, I reckon.
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  I will be going to the Scottish Cup Final between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Falkirk at the end of the month, and I usually find some late drama in the Essex Olympian League in mid-May!



Saturday, 2 May 2015

Visitors' Victory at Invicta


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 2 May 2015 at the Fullick’s Stadium
Result
Folkestone Invicta 0 Merstham 3
Competition
Isthmian League Division One South Playoff Final (Step 4)
Hopping
Ground #568 for me and chosen as the nearest step 4 ground that I had not yet visited.
Pre-match preparation
Both teams had close semi-finals.  Folkestone had needed an extra-time Whyteleafe own goal and Merstham needed penalties to beat Faversham.  Both teams had scored 107 goals in their 46 league games and the home side finished as runners-up, five points ahead of the visitors.  All this, cliché klaxon, means nothing.  It was possible to watch a bit of cricket next door before the game, from the back of the open terrace.  I know my American readers love this.




This match in one sentence
Folkestone paid for missing several first-half chances as Merstham took theirs with surgical efficiency, putting the result beyond doubt just after the interval.
So what?
Step 3 Isthmian Premier League for Merstham, for the first time in their history.



The drama unfolds
There were three early corners for Folkestone in quick succession but Merstham took a sixth-minute lead with an element of controversy.  The controversy concerned offside, and it has to be said immediately that I was not in line but behind the goal, and as a teacher of physics I should know all about parallax errors.  I am quite prepared to believe that Simon Cooper timed his run from midfield to beat the offside trap.  What I find harder to believe is that he himself scored – it seemed to me that the ball was touched over the line (it would have gone in anyway) at the far post by a team-mate who must surely have been offside.  The ref did check with the lino before finally allowing the restart, and I hope they are right and I am wrong. The record books show 0-1.

Merstham played with confidence and freedom, and also with a streetwise streak.  Ron Atkinson used to call strong early tackles “reducers”, and Merstham’s defenders certainly dished some out.  Nevertheless, the home side clawed their way back into the game, and the excellent one-handed save by Merstham’s Brannon Daly in this scene-setter clip might even be the turning point for the match.  Folkestone are in amber and black.  By the way, this is a superb non-league ground and location, as I hope you can see.


There was an ill-tempered confrontation shortly afterwards but I cannot really comment definitively from the other end of the ground.  Folkestone missed two decent chances in quick succession – just after I wrote, “F still in this” in my notes, Merstham got their second with a free header for Tutu Enriques.  Seconds before the break – potentially a killer blow.  0-2 at half-time

Folkestone came out first and fighting but then fell further behind to a well-taken free-kick from Fabio Saraiva.  That settled it, and although both sides kept trying to find the net the excitement of the occasion had ebbed away, not that the visiting contingent minded one bit.  Job done, really efficiently, and a major anti-climax for the home team whose promotion hopes fell at the same stage last season too.

I took another clip as Folkestone sought to get on the scoresheet.  Final score 0-3


Ground Pix







Some dugouts are dug out deeper than others!
Match Pix
Unusually, I watched the whole game from one spot ...








Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
  

I am fairly sure that @putajumperon and I met this well-behaved Merstham supporter a few seasons back (on his epic FA cup journey) at Egham Town FC.  As I recall, we may even have missed a goal during the moment of distraction!

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats



Blue beats grey and keeps a clean sheet.  Updated table at the end of the season – green is still at the top.

Soapbox Section
I did not know until today that there is a significant Nepalese community in the Folkestone area, partly due to historical connections with the Gurkhas of the British Army.  The crowd held an impeccable minute’s silence in respect for those who have lost their lives in the recent earthquake.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Maybe Chorley next Saturday if there are tickets available on the day.



Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tied Up in Notts All Day


Hopperational details
Date
25 April 2015
Hopping
The 2015 Nottinghamshire Senior League Hop – grounds 564 to 567 for my own list, and the second time that I have managed four-a-day.  No fruit was involved.  This is the land of cobs, and I had plenty.  Note to self for future Step 7 hops – take an umbrella.  I got the dress-in-layers bit right.  Also a hopping debut for my new toy, a Canon SLR which I cannot yet operate fully but it has plenty of Auto settings for now.
MATCH ONE
Result
Bingham Town 0 Ruddington Village 0
Venue
Butt Field
Competition
NSL Premier Division (Step 7)
This match in one sentence
An entertaining goalless draw in which both teams struggled somewhat with the breeze but were both going for the win right to the end.
So what?
Bingham are fourth and Ruddington eighth in this morning’s table.
The drama unfolds
It would have been possible to arrive by train two minutes before kickoff, a big tick for the multi-obsessive subgroup of assembled hoppers.  I enjoyed the fact that the result of this game was always in doubt.  Strong challenges were given out and taken, and occasionally players helped each other up afterwards or mutually acknowledged the contact.  I am well into my sixth decade and it is how I was taught to play the game.  The home side probably had marginally the better of the second half but a draw was a fair result.  On the final whistle, 387 hoppers streamed for the car park like the start of Le Mans but with more creaking and limping.
Scene-Setter Clip
Bingham are in the radioactive bile and black, Ruddington in blue.


Pix





Train!




Tractor!
MATCH TWO
Result
Netherfield Albion 1 Nottinghamshire FC 0
Venue
Teal Close
Competition
NSL Division One (Step 8)
This match in one sentence
Also affected by the breeze, and on the worst surface of the day, this game was settled by a late goal which the home side deserved on balance of play in the second half.
So what?
Netherfield 5th and Nottinghamshire 11th in this morning’s table.
The drama unfolds
Many hoppers were fearing a double-nil-nil the longer this game went on.  (It has happened to me once before!)  The woodwork was pinged halfway through the first half – see the clip below – but that was it.  Netherfield had more attacking impact and territorial advantage after the break, but the unusually bespectacled visiting keeper Scott Coxen was having a solid game and was dealing bravely with whatever came his way.  He had no chance with the late winner as the ball fell for Chris Riley to smash in a shot from six yards, after a neat move down the right flank.  Big relief for the small percentage of hoppers who HAVE to see a goal (otherwise they have to visit again, it’s the rule) and on to Game 3.
Scene-Setter Clip
Albion are in the stripes and hit the bar in this clip, which is the nearest that we got to a goal.  There is a bonus clip of the first serious precipation of the day - rain that was lumpier than the mushy peas.




Pix

Minute silence before all today's games: Respect for Colin Spencer of Nottinghamshire FC.
 


The wall does its job on this occasion!


MATCH THREE
Result
Burton Joyce 3 Attenborough 3
Venue
The Poplars
Competition
NSL Premier Division (Step 7)
This match in one sentence
The home side fought back from a two-goal deficit and then survived the late dismissal of their goalkeeper.
So what?
Burton Joyce and Attenborough are 7th and 6th, separated by three points.
The drama unfolds
This game was played in sunshine and showers on an excellent surface which would be envied by many higher-level teams.  Burton Joyce missed an early penalty but took the lead soon enough with a goal from Sam Buckle.  Attenborough were soon level with an excellent left-footed freekick from Joe Nice.  Nice one, Joe.  (Bet he gets that a lot.)  An opportunistic goal from Alex Elliker gave the visitors the lead on the half-hour.  A backheader had fallen just short of the keeper and Elliker slid in with the neatest of touches to roll the ball in from a very tight angle.  1-2 at half-time

Elliker hooked in his second just after the hour but Ryan Easom pulled one back after 68 minutes to keep the result in doubt.  The equaliser duly arrived after 83 minutes, a route one effort in which the ball fell nicely for Troy Smith.  Home keeper Roscoe Easom then came out of his area and clattered an attacker in return for a red card.  Attenborough tried to get some pressure on the rearranged host's defence but in the end a draw seemed fair enough as we all headed off to game number four, scurrying across the grass like a herd of crested newts when they hear the mower start up.  (Note to self: is it a herd of newts? Whatever.)  Final score 3-3
Scene-Setter Clip
Burton Joyce are in green-and-black.  This is from the later part of the first half when the home side are 1-2 down and trying to get back level.


Pix




Train!
Good save!


MATCH FOUR
Result
Sandhurst 4 Kirton Brickworks 2
Venue
Walesby Sports and Social Club
Competition
NSL Premier Division (Step 7)
This match in one sentence
Kirton had the temerity to take an early lead against their local rivals but they then had to wait until a late consolation as Sandhurst bossed the game in between.
So what?
Kirton are bottom of the table and Sandhurst are only one place above, but there is a ten-point gap.  Kirton are down but four points from three games (along with a superior GD) will mean that Sandhurst stay up at the expense of Beeston.
The drama unfolds
This game had a decent surface but a distinct slope.  It was played without lights in the kind of gathering grey gloom that I remember from my youth when we played on the rec until our mothers were not prepared to leave the gravy congealing any longer and called us inside.  Scott Ricketts put the visitors in front with an excellent early goal, but Lee Shaw and Eric Pearson scored with headers in quick succession to put the hosts in front.  2-1 at half-time

A penalty for handball gave Kyle Clarkson the chance to increase the lead after 55 minutes, and only two minutes later Ryan Chapman was in the right spot (just about) to scuff in a fourth via his standing leg.  The result was no longer in doubt but in the closing minutes some excellent interplay and close control allowed David Cooper to score a consolation.  Final score 4-2
Scene-Setter Clip
Sandhurst are in orange-and-black.  The camera has largely compensated for the gloom!


Pix



Some Things You Don’t Get in the Premier League
1)     New Laws of Economics at Netherfield Albion:  Let P1 = 2.50 (value of pie).  Let P2 = 1.00 (value of peas).  Therefore P1+P2 = 3.50 (value of pie plus peas).  The fact that pie, peas and gravy costs £3 means that the ADDITION of gravy has DIMINISHED the value of the pie and peas in what must therefore be PROVEN to be an act of culinary vandalism.  I expect there to be outrage at all points North of the Watford Gap.



2)     Daisies and Dandelions at Netherfield Albion:


3) Scooby Tree of the Day at Sandhurst FC:



Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
A bad day for grey and yellow, a reasonable day for table-topping green, and a fight-back day for orange.  (Remember this whole thing starts from the Petr Cech theory that orange is the best for keepers.)  Bingham’s orange and Ruddington’s green took a clean sheet each.  Netherfield’s blue took a clean sheet and Nottinghamshire’s yellow lost but only conceded one.  However, yellow and black conceded three each at Burton Joyce before green got a win over rivals grey in the final game but a cost of two goals conceded.  Here’s the story so far which now covers 62 games and 192 goals.



For a few minutes we wondered whether the Liverpool Beach Ball would be superseded by the Bingham Bag
3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, -1pt for a goal conceded and +5pts for a clean sheet.  Sorted by PPG which is points-per-game.



P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Green
32.0
16.0
4.0
12.0
42.0
11.0
65.0
2.03
Purple
6.0
3.0
2.0
1.0
11.0
2.0
10.0
1.67
Orange
8.5
2.0
3.0
3.5
10.5
3.0
13.5
1.59
Maroon
4.0
2.0
1.0
1.0
6.0
1.0
6.0
1.50
Blue
13.0
5.0
3.0
5.0
19.0
4.0
19.0
1.46
Grey
26.5
11.0
7.0
8.5
38.5
7.0
36.5
1.38
Red
5.0
2.0
0.0
3.0
6.0
1.0
5.0
1.00
Yellow
14.0
3.0
5.0
6.0
25.0
3.0
4.0
0.29
Radioactive Bile
6.0
2.0
0.0
4.0
12.0
0.0
-6.0
-1.00
Pink
7.0
1.0
3.0
3.0
16.0
0.0
-10.0
-1.43
Black
2.0
0.0
2.0
0.0
6.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.00


Soapbox Section
Big thanks to the NSL whose clubs, officials and players were a great credit to their league.  This was a splendid and well-run day, and of course thanks to Rob Hornby who is the point-of-contact with this event for southern exiles such as myself.  I don't underestimate the amount of effort and communication that is needed to make something like this happen to a a high standard.
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  A playoff final somewhere next Saturday, i suspect, either Northern or Isthmian.