Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Game 26: Downton 2.4 Moneyfields (WESS PREM) 26.01.08

Decided to take a trip over to Downton this afternoon for their Wessex League game against Moneyfields. Downton have been struggling this season and have only won one game so I was hoping for the underdogs to cause an upset.

However Downton weren’t the only underdogs in action – this season’s non league FA Cup giant killers Havant & Waterlooville were playing at Anfield this afternoon. When I got to the ground the talk was all of this game and a few of the regular Moneyfield spectators were noted as being absent because they had taken the trip up to Merseyside.

Downton had lost 5.1 in midweek but they started the game well and took the lead after 10 minutes, lone striker Camilleri putting some pressure on the keeper and allowing Pearce in to score.

Moneyfields thought that they had equalised after 39 minutes when a header flew in from a corner but the referee disallowed the goal for some pushing in the box.

However the big talking point was coming from the radio as the score updates came though from Anfield. Havant had scored early and had retaken the lead four minutes after Liverpool had scored an equaliser. While Moneyfields went in at halftime 1.0 down, Liverpool had managed to get a goal back to go in level.

In the 52nd minute Downton scored a second, thanks to an own goal. The lead was not to last long though as the referee awarded a soft penalty to Moneyfields five minutes later. No-one seemed to be too sure what it was for but it appeared to be for a push in the box by a defender.

The Moneyfields player struck the ball low to the right and past the keeper who had guessed right but couldn’t stretch down in time to stop the ball. Meanwhile news came through from Merseyside that Liverpool were now 3.2 up.

Things went from bad to worse for Downton a few minutes after the goal when Sandford was sent off for a second yellow card. Moneyfields took advantage and equalised on 68 minutes before taking the lead on 75 minutes.

In the last minute, a Moneyfields sub scored a fourth to wrap up a win they would have expected before the game. Liverpool went one better, Peter Crouch also scoring in the 90th minute to give his team a 5.2 win.

No wins for the underdogs but both teams had played their part in a memorable afternoon of football.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Game 25: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 3.1 Alton Town (WESS PREM) 22.01.08

Another Tuesday night game up at the Heath featuring the usual suspects! One notable player for Alton was Jason Chewins - the Aldershot legend playing his last month of games in the UK before emigrating to New Zealand.

The opening period of play saw some good ideas poorly executed but one key moment after 10 minutes as the Alton keeper came off the worst in a 50/50 challenge with a Bemerton player. Although he carried on (as they didn't appear to have a keeper sub), his movement was limited and he looked to be in some pain when he put pressure on his ankle. He was unable to take any goalkicks and left them to his defenders.

Both teams were well drilled at the back and Andy and I started to wonder how many more offside decisions there would be before one of the sets of strikers remembered the offside rule! When there was a shot, they were either half a yard wide of goal or way over the top of the crossbar. Despite this, Bemerton took the lead somewhat against the run of play after 36 minutes. A long free kick was played into the penalty area and was flicked on to a midfielder who shot across the keeper low into the bottom of the net.

The second half was a similar affair although Alton created a couple of chances to get back into the game. We both commented that it was disappointing that Bemerton lacked the imagination to fire some longshots at the keeper or put the ball into the penalty area and take a chance that the keeper would stay on his line. Alton made some substitions and it seemed to pay off. After 66 minutes, a long free kick into the box was smashed into the back of the net to the delight of the travelling Alton contingent and players.

Alton should have added to their goal tally with a header that flew wide from 6 yards when it looked easier to score. This proved costly as Bemerton won a free kick near the corner flag. The ball was whipped in with pace into the goalmouth and the keeper was unable to challenge, allowing a free header that the Bemerton striker put into the back of the net.

3 minutes later and it was 3.1 as Slade broke through the defence and slotted a shot past the keeper. Alton tried to get back into the game but the shots went straight to the keeper. Bemerton almost added a fourth coming into injury time but the ball came back off the crossbar.

Game 24: Salisbury City 0.0 Torquay United (Blue Square Premier) 19.01.08

After the optimism brought on from the win against Oxford, I headed up to the Ray Mac to watch Salisbury take on another ex-league club.

I was not the only one with this idea – the attendance was announced as 2,633, a record for a league match. Torquay brought around 1,000 supporters for the game and the away end looked packed out.

Torquay had the first opportunity to score when Benyon picked up the ball in the Salisbury penalty area and hit a shot that came back off the post and was cleared. Salisbury had lost 4.0 in the reverse fixture and the team seemed set up to settle for a point rather than go for a win. There was lots of effort but very few chances created by either team, not helped by the muddy pitch.

Torquay continued to press and Zebroski came close to opening the scoring after half an hour. The ball came in from a throw in and bounced over the defence to Zebroski who headed the ball past Clarke but hit the crossbar.

Five minutes later Zebroski wasted a good opportunity by choosing to shoot across goal when a pull back would have found either Sills or Benyon who were running into the penalty area.

The second half was a similar story as both teams battled in midfield but couldn’t put together a decent through ball until the 84th minute, when Robbie Matthews went through one on one against Michael Poke, Torquay’s on loan keeper. It looked for a moment like Salisbury would nick all 3 points but Poke managed to deny the goal scoring opportunity.

After the game it took me over an hour to get out of the carpark. The combination of high attendance, muddy conditions and temporary traffic lights was not the ideal ending to an entertaining afternoon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Game 23: Salisbury City 3.1 Oxford United (Blue Square Premier) 12.01.08

This game had been in the diary as soon as the fixtures were announced. Having seen Oxford play in the higher levels of the Football League, it was a bit surreal to think of them playing against Salisbury in a league game.

Salisbury had taken Ed Asafu-Adjaye on loan from Luton the previous day and he had a good debut

Salisbury took the lead after 31 minutes when Ollie Barnes met a Jon Bass cross with a towering leap and headed the ball past Billy Turley.

Twelve minutes later and it was pinch yourself time as the Whites scored a second. The ball was partially cleared from a freekick and Marvin Brown hit the ball in from the edge of the box.

Oxford had a better start to the second half and Yemi scored with 12 minutes to go. He broke down the right wing, pulled inside and hit a shot low to Clarke’s near post which found the net.

The referee was handing out yellow cards like confetti, 8 in total of which 7 went to Oxford players.

Salisbury’s two goal lead was restored moments after the restart. Brown managed to divert the ball high over the outcoming Turley and it dipped in time to spin down and into the net rather than go over the bar.

An unexpected win in front of a crowd of 2,016!