Saturday, September 22, 2007

Game 12: Salisbury City 2.0 Northwich Victoria (Blue Square Premier) 22.09.07

Drove up to the Ray Mac to watch Salisbury take on early season strugglers Northwich Victoria. Northwich had sacked their manager earlier in the week and former Premiership star Paul Warhurst took temporary charge for this game.

Salisbury took an early lead after 11 minutes when the ball fell kindly for big defender Luke Oliver in the 6 yard box. He stroked the ball past the keeper to give City a deserved lead.

Salisbury kept possession well and had most of the chances during the first half, Oliver unlucky not to have a hattrick after hitting the post and putting a header just over. It took 32 minutes for Northwich to have an attempt on goal when midfielder Chris Williams hit a shot over the bar. Their supporters behind the goal were in good voice despite having very little to cheer this season. A couple of their loan signings from Barnsley, especially Coulson, were working hard to try and get an equaliser but they were not getting enough support from the rest of the midfield.

Salisbury were forced to make a change when Matt Robinson failed to recover from an ankle knock caused by a crunching tackle he put in on a Northwich striker. Scott Bartlett moved over the leftback position and Clarke replaced him on the right wing.

Matt Tubbs finished the game off in the first minute of the second half when he scored from a knock down from a corner. Salisbury continued to pile on the pressure but were unable to create anything further. There was one glorious chance when Matthews, Tubbs and Clarke all combined to get in each other's way when it really needed someone just to blast the ball at the goal.

Northwich had one chance at the end but Coulson headed wide when it seemed easier to score.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Game 11: Salisbury City Reserves 2.1 Camberley Town Reserves (Suburban League Challenge Cup) 15.09.07

Decided to have a "quiet afternoon in" watching a game locally so in the absence of any Wessex League home games, headed up to the Ray Mac to watch Salisbury's reserve team take on Camberley Town's reserves in the Suburban League Cup.

Was pleased to arrive at the ground to see the carpark potholes had been filled in, at least on a temporary basis. Paid £3 to get in and decided to stand to the left of the main stand which is normally packed for first team games.

Salisbury scored first after 9 minutes, the ball fell to an unmarked Jamie Barron who shot past the keeper from 6 yards. On 30 minutes the impressive Jonathan Davies took a shot from the edge of the box, across the goalkeeper and in. Camberley didn't have many chances, a few freekicks into the box but very little end product.

It was a similar story in the second half. Salisbury had the best of the possession and looked to get their pacy frontmen through the channels. It was a surprise when the ball ended up in the net at the far end - the goal was given as an own goal but it was difficult to see exactly what had happened from my vantage point. The game fizzled out towards the end, the only real highlight a Salisbury effort that hit the post.

A pleasant way to spend the afternoon - home by 5pm to watch the Final Score coverage and the Chelsea v Blackburn game on Setanta.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Game 10: Amesbury Town 2.3 Romsey Town (WESS LC) 11.09.07

Drove up to Amesbury to watch this cuptie and found myself for the second time this season unable to get a programme as the last one was sold about 5 minutes before I arrived.

Having seen both teams win games in the past month, expected this to be a close cup tie as Amesbury 'the underdogs' were well capable of scoring goals. It was Romsey who kicked off and almost scored in the first minute when a shot beat the keeper but hit the crossbar. Despite this early excitement, there was little else in the first 20 mins as both teams tried to win the midfield battle. The biggest cheer was probably when the assistant referee on the far side lost his footing and ended up falling on his backside. A minute later after this and the only cheers were from the Romsey supporters. Romsey won a direct free kick on the edge of the box and a great shot beat the keeper and this time ended up in the top right hand corner of his net. Romsey's no 9 was causing Amesbury problems as he had done with Bemerton and reminded me a bit of Ronaldo (in looks rather than skill) without the buckteeth.

Amesbury were starting to get more physical with the tackles to try and compete with Romsey and picked up a couple of yellow cards in quick succession. Romsey almost added a second when a cross from the left was spilled by the keeper - the Romsey striker had followed the ball in but ended up in front of the ball and couldn't get back to knock it in before the defence cleared it.

Amesbury then had a goal disallowed in controversial circumstances. Two of their players went after a through ball that split the Romsey defence wide open, one from an onside position and one from an offside position. The player who had been onside took the ball and scored after a 1 on 1 with the keeper but to his dismay, the assistant referee had flagged for offside then put his flag down when it became apparent that the offside player had not touched the ball or interfered with play. The referee had blown the whistle straightaway so play should have stopped before the goal was scored - although it was the wrong decision it would have meant that the keeper could have claimed to have heard the whistle and therefore not tried to save it.

Amesbury managed to equalise legitimately in the second half. On 60 mins the ball was flicked in from the right side and the striker hit the ball with a mid air volley that just beat the keeper's outstretched hand. The joy of the 'youth army' in the stand was shortlived. Five minutes later Romsey made it 2.1 with a carefully placed header past the keeper after the referee played the advantage when they could have had a penalty. The cross was headed to the back post and an unmarked Romsey player headed it in. It was a sloppy goal from Amesbury's point of view and all their hardwork to get back into the game in the second half was undone. While their 'youth army' tried to get some abusive songs going again, the assistant referee flagged their strikers offside several times.

On 70 mins Romsey seemed to have killed the tie off. A good cross came in from the right and while the Amesbury keeper managed to get a hand to it, he was only able to divert it to the far post where once again, Romsey had an unmarked player who was able to score with ease. Amesbury didn't give up and put a free kick just over the bar a couple of minutes later. In the 78th minute the best goal of the night - an Amesbury striker picked up a throughball and ran from the halfway line. Shrugging off two defenders he made his way to the edge of the penalty area and smashed an unstoppable shot past the keeper.

By now my choice of apparel (tshirt and zipped top) was looking like a poor choice as there were mist patches in the far corner near the river and the temperature had fallen considerably since kickoff. While I was enjoying the goals, I have to admit I was hoping that the match would be over at 90mins as a draw would mean extra time and perhaps penalties and I was freezing! This might be why my heart was in my mouth at the start of injury time when an Amesbury striker found himself though on goal with only the keeper to beat. Luckily for me, the goalkeeper managed to keep the ball out with his feet and the defence cleared it. There was another similar moment 2 minutes later when a good cross came in but the keeper again came to my rescue when he picked it off the head of the oncoming striker.

An entertaining cup tie and a mental note to take a jacket with me now the summer nights are drawing in.