Monday, October 23, 2006

Game 17: Salisbury City 2.1 Beaconsfield SYCOB (aet) 23.10.06 (FA Youth Cup)

An early start at the Ray Mac for a Monday night FA Youth Cup 3rd qualifying round match. Due to kick off at 7.30, I arrived at 7.25 as the game started but just in time to snag the last team sheet.

Salisbury started brightly and had 3 early chances cleared off the line, including one that span off the Beaconsfield keeper and almost looped in. This early pressure didn't lead to any goals and Beaconsfield came more into the game. In the absence of a large crowd (official attendance was 61, just over 1000 less than Saturday's league match), it was possible to hear the players boots pounding into the grass over the hum of the tannoy. By 20 minutes both teams had created some guilt edge chances but good blocking and a post kept the scoreline at 0.0.

Sometimes coaches get it right, sometimes they don't. As the Beaconsfield coach yelled to the left winger to take the man on, the left winger launched a long cross deep into the box and found Gavin James (one to watch, he caused the Salisbury defence problems all night long) at the far post and his volley found the back of the net. Salisbury continued to create chances and on 43 minutes created a well worked equaliser. A free kick was passed to the side and then forward, allowing Daniel Sloan to beat the offside trap and pass the ball into the back of the net.

Both teams continued to pass the ball well in the second half, especially considering the lightning, thunder and torrential rain that was passing over Salisbury. Despite a number of chances at both ends and some inventive free kick routines (5 at the back post running back onside as the freekick was played to the nearpost being one memorable one), neither team could find a winner during normal time so the match went into extra time. Gavin James had the best chance, bursting through the Salisbury defence from the halfway line and only a late blocking tackle from Fisher stopped a late winner.

The game progressed in the same way during extra time and it was difficult to see who would win. Salisbury attacked once more and found some space on the right side of the box. To try and close the Salisbury striker down, the Beaconsfield keeper rushed out and slid into the player rather than the ball, conceding a penalty which Joe Barron tucked away. I felt sorry for the keeper who was almost in tears before the kick, especially as it was difficult to see how the Salisbury player had the ball under control and could have scored given the ball was speeding across the pitch. Despite a late rally, Beaconsfield were unable to find a way past the Salisbury defence and the game finished with the home side victorious.

The next leg (1st round proper) features league clubs from Div 1 and 2 like Swindon and Yeovil. Salisbury have an away draw against either Westfield or East Grinstead and perhaps a better chance to progress further in the tournament.

A good evening's entertainment for 2 pounds!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Game 16: VTFC 3.1 Horndean 14.10.06 (Wess Prem)

The last of the five grounds in this season's Wessex Premier to visit and a bit of a holy grail as I've been trying to clear the grounds of the top flight of Wessex league football for a few years now.

Drove down on the M27 and realised as I came off at the junction that this was the way I'd driven to Matt's in Woolston about 10 years previously. Despite this, I still managed to overshoot the entrance to the ground and had to u turn to get to the ground.

The game kicked off in overcast conditions and the weather didn't improve much throughout although there were a few bursts of sunlight through the clouds. The familar faces on the VTFC team where Tyronne Bowers and Ryan Ashford, both of whom had joined from Eastleigh. Bowers was playing as a makeshift striker and scored a cracking 30 yard effort in the first half, topped off with a Lua Lua gymnastic style celebration. VFFC had been pressurising Horndean from the start, assisted by Horndean's keeper not being able to kick with any distance and had hit the post and had a goal disallowed before that effort.

A minute later and it all seemed in vain. Horndean had managed a quick counter attack and a lob over the keeper from the edge of the box meant it was 1.1 going into half time.

The second half followed a similar pattern but Horndean were unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions. They got stretched at the back and conceded a second goal with a long shot past the keeper. In trying to restore parity, they got hit with a sucker punch of a goal in the last minute, created and scored by 2 of the VTFC substitutes. The ball curled beautfully into the corner to finally defeat Horndean.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Game 15: Lymington Town 0.0 Shrivenham (aet) 7.10.06 (FA Vase)

Left Salisbury in bright sunshine heading down the A36 to the fourth of the five current Wessex Premier League grounds I hadn't visited before. By the time I reached Lymington's ground (a couple of wrong turns later) it started to cloud over. Parked close to the touchline which allowed the gateman at this entrance to wander over at his own time and collect my admission fee - judging by the number of people who came in later, it would have been worth his while staying a bit longer!

Reading the Hellenic League website before the game, the Shrivenham manager described this fixture as the biggest in the club's history. Sadly it didn't live up to this billing. In a dour first half, Shrivenham made a couple of chances but neither team were passing well in the final third of the pitch and shots were few and far between. Lymington came out at half-time a changed side and made more of the play - helped by a couple of substitutions that added some more pace to the frontline. However there were still few shooting opportunities and the game didn't come to life at all. Perhaps the sign behind the goalmouth stating 'no playing in the goalmouth' was taken too literally!

At the end of the 90 mins I was happy to be heading off in the car and before I left I had a listen to the Radio Solent roundup of the other FA Vase games in the area. As I started to drive out I realised that the players were still on the pitch and the referee was in discussions with both managers. I reversed the car up and waited to see what was happening - it turned out that extra time was due to be played and the referee had pulled up with a muscle problem so a substitute had to be found to run the line. Sat in the car listening to an uninspired England game, watching a similar game in extra time. Despite the vocal Shrivenham support, it was Lymington who came closest to scoring with 2 shots that sailed wide and a shot from 6 yards that was cleared off the line when it looked easier to score.

No penalties, the game will be replayed at Shrivenham on Tuesday night.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Game 14: Romsey Town 4.0 QK Southampton 27.09.06 (WESS LC)

Although I've driven past Romsey's ground a few times I'd not seen a game there before so a Wednesday night evening League Cup game was an opportunity not to miss. Looking at the form of both teams before the game was a good indication of what to expect - Romsey doing well in Wessex Division 1 while QK Southampton (found out before the game QK stands for Queen's Keep) had lost all of their games in Wessex Division 2.

Andy drove down - his third game in three days after watching the league games at Portsmouth and Bournemouth - and we arrived at the ground in plenty of time as we didn't want to be caught out by a 7.30 start. Arriving at the ground, the gatekeeper asked if we were players or spectators - despite the temptation to advise him we were playing, we thought better of it and handed over our money. Had a flick through the programme which was free but didn't contain a lot of information, even the away team line up was blank. Enjoyed a drink in the bar before the teams came out for the first half.

Despite the previous form, QK started quite brightly and coped well with the Romsey pressure. Indeed at times it appeared that the Romsey players had too much time to think about what they should do (rather than play with their instincts) and the chances that they could have created were cleared. When they did manage to get shots on target, the QK keeper was equal to them until the 40th minute when a shot from outside the area flew past him.

Romsey scored again in the 50th minute as a free kick from the left was met in the area with a fierce shot that the keeper couldn't get near. It took until the 85th minute for a third, the QK keeper parried a freekick but a Romsey striker followed up (as all good strikers should do) and popped the ball in from close range. Despite missing a couple of chances earlier in the game, De'Ath killed off the game in the 90th minute, beating the offside trap and lobbing the keeper to make it 4.0

Game 13: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 2.3 Wimborne Town (aet) 26.09.06 (WESS LC)

Popped over to Bemerton to watch their League Cup game with Wimborne. The original plan was to meet Andy at the ground but he decided to head down to watch Bournemouth v Bristol City.

Bemerton took a two goal lead (the first a free kick from 25 yards that wouldn't have looked out of place in the Champions League) in the first half while Wimborne hit the post, the bar and had a goal disallowed. To the delight of the 10 or so behind the goal, Wimborne pulled a goal back - a clearance by a Bemerton defender appeared to cannon of the Wimborne striker into the net. Wimborne scored again to take the game into extra time and scored a third from a header to win the tie.

Game 12: Salisbury City 3.1 Bishops Stortford 23.09.06 (NCS)

A glorious sunny afternoon saw the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in the league matched up and a cracking game of football in front of 1142 spectators - the 12th highest attendance at the ground (based on the attendance list in the programme).

A Matt Tubbs special on 80 seconds gave Salisbury an early lead which they held until half-time - running onto a Luke Prince pass he accelerated past the last defender, took the ball towards the keeper, picked his angle and slotted it in.

Met Stu for the second half and left the cover of the terrace to watch from the side. Another quick goal for Salisbury - an early corner found it's way to Simon Browne who lashed it in from close range. Both teams were playing neat passing football and it wasn't a surprise when Stortford equalised.... I was in the queue at the teabar and just saw the goal before the queue snaked forward - a well taken header from a corner. While I was still waiting in the queue, Salisbury attacked again and won a corner. The ball was initially cleared but Simon Browne crossed it over to Tim Bond who headed it over the keeper and into the net for the third. Fortunately it happened at the end of the ground you can see clearly from the teabar!

News filtered through at the end that Histon had lost 2.1 at Havant & Waterlooville so Salisbury were top of the league!