Saturday, July 31, 2010

Game 8: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 2.2 (4.2 pens) Shrewton United (Sport4Salisbury Cup Final) 31.07.10

I was looking forward to seeing these two teams play each other following last week's games and to see if Shrewton could avenge a 2.1 defeat to Bemerton in last year's final. After a 45 minute break listening to the radio in the car and catching up on the new Mojo magazine, it was back to the touchline to watch the final.

Bemerton play at a higher level than Shrewton and I expected them to have the edge in the match. They came close to scoring in the 13th minute when Puckett put a shot wide from a narrow angle. Shrewton were playing well and both teams looked capable of scoring.

Shrewton took the lead in the 18th minute from a direct free kick about 30 yards out from goal. The ball was hit hard and low through the wall and into the bottom right hand corner, leading to some frank words between the Bemerton defence and goalkeeper.

Five minutes later and it was 2.0 to Shrewton with a super poacher's effort from Jesse Walters. A cross from the left side looked to have evaded everyone but he timed his run towards the goal line to perfection and somehow managed to hook the ball round the post and in to the net before it went out of play. The reaction from the Bemerton players was rather more vocal on this occasion!

Bemerton had a couple of half chances to equalise before half time. Rowe put a good shot just wide of the post and a long high shot from midfield just before half time almost caught out the Shrewton keeper. He managed to peddle back quickly and made the save when the ball looked to be going over his head.

I was surprised that Joe Sanger had started the game on the bench and Bemerton certainly missed him as an outlet when playing balls out of defence. With a two goal deficit it was not a surprise to see him come on in the second half.

Bemerton had an appeal for a goal turned down in the 48th minute following a goalmouth scramble. The players were adamant that the ball had gone over the line but neither the referee or his assistant agreed. In the 50th minute there was another close call as a cross from the left curved over the Shrewton keeper but hit the crossbar and bounced over.

The pressure was all one way as Bemerton looked for a way back into the match. The woodwork came to Shrewton's rescue again in the 59th minute when a Bemerton shot across goal hit the post with the keeper beaten.

Fisher then saw his point blank header from a corner well saved by the Shrewton keeper who just threw himself towards the ball and hoped for the best. Sanger hit a shot over the bar and another cross from Jones on the left arced over the keeper only to hit the bar and bounce out.

It looked like Bemerton were not going to be rewarded for their efforts but in the 75th minute they finally managed to pull a goal back. A cross from the right found O'Kane in the box and he leapt above the covering defenders to place the ball away from the keeper and into the left corner of the net.

Bemerton kept pushing forward for an equaliser and finally pulled the game level in the 83rd minute when Jack Slade hit the ball through a crowd of players at the back post.

The game finished as a 2.2 draw and went to a penalty shoot-out to decide the winners of the Sport4Salisbury Trophy.

Shrewton took the first penalty, only to see the ball hit the crossbar with the keeper beaten.

The next 5 penalties were all scored, giving Bemerton a 3.2 lead with two kicks remaining.

Bemerton's keeper saved the next penalty, guessing correctly that the ball would go low to his left and deflecting the ball up in the air and out. This meant that Jack Slade had the first opportunity to win the shoot-out and he made no mistake, giving Bemerton a 4.2 victory.

After a quick speech from Mike Turner from Sport4Salisbury, both teams received their individual commemorative trophies before Bemerton were presented with the Sport4Salisbury Cup for the second year in a row.

Game 7: Chalke Valley 2.4 Amesbury Town (Sport4Salisbury Cup 3rd/4th playoff) 31.07.10

This is the second year of the Sport 4 Salisbury Cup at Chalke Valley's ground and I decided to take the opportunity to visit a new ground and take in two matches involving local teams.

In last week's semi-finals, Chalke Valley lost 2.1 to Shrewton United while Amesbury Town were hammered 7.0 by Bemerton Heath Harlequins. Chalke Valley have been promoted to the Wiltshire Premier League this season and will be playing Amesbury's reserve team in that league.

The ground was easy to find despite the sat-nav wanting to direct me down narrow country roads rather than sticking to the main road at times. The setting is very picturesque with rolling hills in one direction and a steep hillside covered in fields in the other. The combine harvesters and tractors started harvesting just before the game kicked off at 1.30pm to provide the soundtrack to an exciting game.

Amesbury were gifted a goal with 4 minutes on the clock when a misplaced pass on the edge of the Chalke Valley area found one of their players. He took the ball on and played a low cross into the area. The keeper missed the ball, which allowed an Amesbury player to run in at the far post and score from close range.

Chalke Valley equalised after 20 minutes when Amesbury's defence gave the ball away and allowed a Chalke Valley player a free run into the box. His shot was well placed to beat the Amesbury keeper who had been left exposed by the mistake.

Amesbury retook the lead 3 minutes later. They took the ball down the right side, where a player delayed his cross before delivering an excellent ball to an unmarked team mate on the edge of the area. He lashed a volley past the keeper's acrobatic dive and into the net.

The weather was sunny but overcast, with some strong gusts of winds and at one point, the gusts were strong enough to send one of the dugouts flying backwards as it was unoccupied by subs or management.

Chalke Valley scored another equaliser in the 31st minute thanks to more poor defending. The ball was played across to the left of the area to find an unmarked Chalke Valley player and he hit a good shot across the keeper and in.

The second half began in a similar fashion as Amesbury scored in the first minute of the half from an unmarked header. This time Chalke Valley were unable to find an equaliser before Amesbury extended their lead in the 57th minute. Amesbury broke through the centre and one of their strikers bustled his way past a defender before chipping the onrushing Chalke Valley keeper.

That was the end of the scoring but Amesbury were unlucky not to extend their lead in the 85th minute when they hit the post with a shot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Game 6: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 2.3 Gosport Borough (Friendly) 29.07.10

It was back to the old routine as I parked up at Andy's house and we wandered round to Western Way for tonight's friendly against Gosport Borough.

Bemerton were unlucky to be pipped for second place on goal difference and a promotion spot to the Southern League S&W division by Wimborne Town last season. Gosport finished eighth in that league, missing out on a play off spot by 12 points.

When we arrived at the ground the officials were warming up and I recognised one of Tuesday's assistants who was going to be refereeing this match. He was not the only face I recognised as Gosport's line up included former Salisbury players Andy Cook, Craig Davis and Grant Porter who was also at Bemerton for part of last season.

The game kicked off at 7.50 and after nine minutes of play Bemerton took the lead. A deep cross was played to Joe Sanger at the far post and he headed it across Porter and in, despite the keeper's best attempts to scramble the ball out.

Some of the Gosport players had been messing about before the game, hitting shots out of the ground and this wayward shooting continued with a couple of snatched half chances.Bemerton were playing with confidence and Sanger almost added a second with a fierce shot that Porter threw himself at and pushed over the bar.

Gosport drew level a couple of minutes later following a move down the right wing. The Bemerton defence didn't close the ball down, giving Gosport time to place an accurate low cross into the penalty area. A Gosport player threw himself at the ball and his diving header powered into the bottom corner before the Bemerton keeper had a chance to move.

Bemerton reacted quickly to try and retake the lead. One of their players took the ball through the middle and after outpacing the defence chipped Porter only to see his effort sail into the trees behind the goal. A couple of minutes later another Bemerton effort flew just past the right post and wide.

It looked like the teams would go in level at halftime but in the final minute of the half Gosport were awarded a disputed penalty. The Bemerton players were convinced that the trip on a Gosport player had taken place outside the area so the referee went over to speak to his assistant on the far side.

After a quick conversation, the referee confirmed that it was a penalty and Craig Davis stepped up from his right back spot to take the kick. I wondered whether I would see another penalty save after the previous efforts I'd seen this pre-season but Davis sent the keeper the wrong way to give his side a 2.1 lead at halftime.

The second half saw a number of changes from both teams and Gosport became more of a threat up front. Early in the half they came close to scoring with a header and in the 65th minute a cross from the left set up a goal from a diving header into the top right corner that gave the keeper no chance.

Bemerton didn't really create much until the last ten minutes of the half. Puckett broke into the box and played an unselfish pass across the goalmouth towards a team mate, only to see a Gosport defender appear at the last moment to clear the ball for a corner. A few minutes later he recieved the ball in the area again and this time went for goal himself, knocking a low shot past Porter to pull a goal back.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Game 5: Pewsey Vale 1.2 Wootton Bassett Town (Friendly) 27.07.10

A late change of plan found me driving up the A345 to Pewsey on a Tuesday evening. I originally planned a quick trip to Downton for their friendly against Brockenhurst but I noticed this game while browsing the internet at lunchtime. It had the added attraction of being a new ground and a visit would mean ticking off the Wessex League grounds for another season.

I arranged to meet Paul at the ground and took his advice to park up in the Co-op carpark on the High Street. Just as I parked up I saw him arrive so we wandered past the tennis courts and into the ground. There was no collection or programme for tonight's game and some cars had taken the brave step of parking inside the ground, within firing distance of any wayward shots.

Pewsey Vale have been playing in the Wiltshire League, finishing in 3rd place last season. Their application for promotion to Wessex 1 was approved over the summer. A quick stop off in the bar showed the ambition at the club which has plans to build a new clubhouse on display.

Tonight's opponents Wootton Bassett Town were also promoted at the end of last season. They will now be playing in the Hellenic League's Premier Division, one step up from Pewsey's level, so we were both interested to see how well the home team would perform against higher opposition.

Wootton Bassett didn't waste much time in getting stuck into their opponents. In the 10th minute a good move down the right led to a pass into the penalty area which found its intended target. The Wootton player who received the ball let fly with an fierce shot that flew into the top of the net.

The visitors should have extended their lead eight minutes later when the Pewsey keeper crashed into an opponent and conceded a penalty. The penalty was hit low but fairly straight and the keeper was able to get down and block it on the line.

Most of the play was towards the Pewsey goal but the home team made the most of an advantage call by the referee on the halfway line in the 40th minute. As the Wootton Bassett defence tried to get back a Pewsey player advanced through the middle of the pitch and tried to chip the goalkeeper. He managed to get the ball over the keeper and on target, only to see it cleared off the line by a covering header.
Wootton Bassett were made to pay for wasting chances in the last minute of normal time when the referee spotted a handball in the penalty area and pointed to the spot. This time the penalty was well struck and found the bottom left corner as the keeper dived the opposite way to make the score 1.1 at halftime.

The officials decided on a quick turnaround so the teams only had a five minute half time break. As in the first half, Wootton came out in an attacking mindset and after a couple of half chances managed to retake the lead in the 55th minute. A quick low cross found Wootton's Green in the penalty area and his sliding shot gave the keeper no chance.

After the goal Wootton seemed content to sit back and the tempo of the game slowed. Pewsey had a good chance to equalise in the 68th minute when the visitor's keeper missed a cross and was out of position - so were the Pewsey players so the ball was scrambled away.

Wootton seemed to want to take an extra touch each time they had the ball which meant that Pewsey were able to defend and grow in confidence. When they had a decent shooting opportunity with a free kick on the edge of the area it was wasted with an overhit pass. Several shots were hit over or wide from good positions.

Pewsey tried hard to pull a goal back in the final few minutes but didn't managed to trouble the keeper. On the evidence of tonight they should hold their own in the Wessex League and it will be interesting to see how they get on at this level.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Game 4: Salisbury City 1.1 Southend United (Friendly) 23.07.10

A quick return to the Ray Mac for a Friday night game against League Two opposition, Southend United.

Former Whites boss Tommy Widdrington is now at Southend as Assistant Manager and was quick to snap up Sean Clohessy, who opted to move up to the Football League rather than join Bath City.

On Tuesday night both the parking and teamsheet had been free but tonight saw the normal £2 parking reinstated with a teamsheet for 10p. The game kicked off at 7.30 and both teams had an early chance each. Jamie Turley put in a good cross that trialist striker Matt Wright headed over the bar.

Southend came very close to scoring in the 6th minute when a Louis Soares shot hit the left hand post and came out to Scott Spencer. Spencer hit a shot in but was given as offside so the goal didn't count.

Both teams created some openings with Southend exploiting their pace down the right wing and Salisbury using Wright as an outlet up front. He was unlucky not to connect with a cross with a diving header and had another headed goal disallowed for alleged interference with the keeper.

In the 44th minute Ben Adelsbury won the ball in midfield with a strong tackle, moved forward and then hit a 35 yard shot towards goal. The Southend keeper was not in a good position and was unable to get close to the ball as it flew over his head and into the top corner. A superb goal to give the home team a 1.0 lead at halftime.

At the start of the second half Salisbury made four substitutions with trialists Joyce, Silva, Dutton and keeper Pryce taking to the field. Southend replaced their keeper as Rhys Evans came on, with Moshni Bilel a replacement in the back four.

Salisbury came very close to adding a second goal moments after the restart. Tom Dunford recieved the ball at the edge of the area and tried to chip Evans. The ball flew over the keeper and dropped down only to hit the crossbar and bounce out.

Jamie Turley was having another good game in the centre of Salisbury's defence and made a couple of last ditch clearances to preserve the lead. There were some nasty challenges by Bilel - one leading to a melee in the far goalmouth while a crunching, lunging tackle in front of where I was stood had the Salisbury fans baying for his blood and asking Widdrington to get him off. They got their wish in the 80th minute following a late and unnecessary tackle on keeper Pryce.

It looked like Salisbury might hold out for most of the half but they came unstuck in the 84th minute after conceding a corner. The initial cross was cleared but went straight back to the corner taker. He managed to keep the ball in and take it inside the covering defender before putting in a deep cross to the far post for Pattison to head in.

Both teams tried to get a winner with Southend hitting a shot wide and Salisbury putting together a good counter-attack which Evans saved well. The game finished 1.1 and there were a lot of positive comments about the Salisbury performance at the end from the crowd of 536.