Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game 17: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 0.1 Romsey Town (Wess PREM) 27.12.08

Drove over to Andy's house then wandered round to Western Way to clear the Christmas cobwebs with some fresh air and a local derby with Romsey.

The first part of the game was pretty low key. Romsey took the lead on 28 minutes through an own goal - a cross from the left was deflected off a defender's legs and in. Romsey almost added a second a minute later but Bemerton's keeper made a good save.

In the second half Bemerton managed a few attacks but the consistent theme was that they broke down in the final third and the Romsey keeper had little to do.

Romsey were happy to contain Bemerton and created few chances themselves.

In the 73rd minute Romsey almost repaid the favour and came close to scoring an own goal. The header from the defender was planned but it caught the keeper out and he was wrong footed. Despite this, he managed to get back and make a save to keep the score at 0.1

That was Bemerton's best chance of the second half as they continued to create good openings and waste them with wayward shots that were more likely to hit bird's nests in the trees than the back of the net. In the final minute they almost equalised but the shot went just wide of the post. Not a classic game but it was nice to get out to two games over the Christmas period.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Game 16: Salisbury City 2.1 Oxford United (Blue Square Premier) 26.12.08

A cold afternoon up at the Ray Mac for the visit of Oxford United. I’d driven down from Reading and managed to arrive back in Salisbury at 2 so arranged to meet Andy at the ground. There was a big queue of traffic to get into the ground and it took about 10 minutes to get in as only one turnstile was open. While the Salisbury end wasn’t too full, the away end was packed and the game kicked off ten minutes late to allow everyone to get in. The away fans were certainly the loudest this season and with good reason – the attendance was 2,416 and over half (1,241) were from Oxford.

Salisbury attacked towards their supporters and took the lead in the third minute to silence the away end. Fowler leapt the highest at the near side of the penalty area and knocked a corner towards the back post. Griffin made up 6 yards in an instant and threw himself at the ball to head it past the stranded keeper.

Salisbury then doubled their lead in the seventeenth minute, Liam Feeney crossed the ball from the left side and found Ademeno lurking in the middle. He mishit his shot towards the near post while Billy Turley, anticipating a shot towards the far post, dived the wrong way. It seemed to take an age for the ball to bounce over the line but it finally trickled over the line.

Constable was looking dangerous for Oxford and managed to nick the ball past Bittner before collapsing in a heap. It was impossible to judge from the far end whether there had been contact made – luckily for Salisbury the referee judged that that it was outside the area and that no card was necessary. Salisbury defended deep and managed to clear a headed effort from a free kick over the crossbar. Constable had a couple of shots but didn’t get them on target to trouble Bittner.

Oxford made some changes at the start of the second half and after ten minutes of one way traffic managed to pull a goal back. Sam Deering was beating the Salisbury defence every time down the left side and after Constable’s shot was parried by Bittner, he chipped the ball into the open goal

That was the last contribution he made as moments later he went in for a tackle with Ruddick. At the time it looked like both players had gone for the ball, leading Deering to fall awkwardly. He had to be stretchered off but the referee didn’t see a late challenge and booked Oxford keeper Turley for running 40 yards to protest.

Yemi replaced him and almost found an equaliser with a strong cross shot from the edge of the penalty area that skimmed past the far post and went wide. Tim Bond also made a great goalmouth clearance with his head as Salisbury fought hard to keep the 3 points in Wiltshire. In the final minutes, Feeney should have scored when he went one on one with Turley but shot wide from distance when it might have been better to take the keeper on. By now the nerves were jangling but the Whites held on for a well deserved win.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Game 15: Christchurch 3.0 New Milton Town (FA Vase) 05.12.08

When choosing a game for this round of the FA Vase, I decided to go with the silverware and head down to Christchurch to see their local derby against New Milton Town. The FA Vase itself was on show in the club bar before the game with 2 FA staff and 2 security guards making sure it stayed there! It’s a nice gesture by the FA to bring their trophies around the country for people to see and I made the most of it by getting my picture next to the Vase.

New Milton started the better of the two teams and it took 14 minutes for Christchurch to create a decent chance. The ball came across the goal from a corner and presented Russell Cook with an open goal from two yards out . You guessed it – he missed!

Two minutes later and Christchurch did take the lead from a long throw in. The ball ended up in the penalty area and Mark Burrows looped a header over New Milton’s ex-Salisbury keeper and into the side of the net. It reminded me of some of the recent goals scored by Stoke from Rory Delap’s throws and Burrows was delighted with it, rushing towards one of the spectators behind the goal to celebrate.

The rest of the first half was fairly even. New Milton were limited to longshots that flew over the bar and it seemed that they were unable to counter the effect of playing down the steep slope. Christchurch looked like the better footballing team with some good passing and movement but their efforts only produced some soft shots that didn’t threaten the goal.

In the second half I moved from the far touchline to the main stand as the sun had gone down behind the trees and my back was rather sore – the old man in me needed to sit down! The sunset looked pretty amazing as the sky moved from orange to blue to dark blue and finally to black.

Christchurch scored their second goal after 47 minutes. Burrows managed to stay onside and picked up a perfect through ball. He ran into the box unopposed and chipped the onrushing keeper. If the first goal could be likened to Stoke, this one could be likened to Arsenal and their slick attacking play.

The next 20 minutes was all Christchurch and New Milton rarely left their own half. There were tow similar chances to extend the lead – one on 65 minutes and another on 71 minutes - long shot efforts on target but on both occasions the keeper pushed the shot over the bar.

The third goal finally came on 76 minutes. Michael Green won the ball for Christchurch on the halfway line, sped down the left wing and put a low cross into the middle with pace. As the ball came across, Cook stretched a leg out and swept the ball in despite the challenge from the covering defender. Another goal that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Match of the Day’s Premier League highlights!