Saturday, October 23, 2010

Game 24: Totton & Eling 3.2 Fareham Town (WESS PREM) 23.10.10

I was hoping to attend the first game at the new Totton & Eling ground at Testwood Park but that came took place last weekend while I was watching Georgia Bulldogs demolish Vanderbilt 43.0 between the hedges in a sunny Stanford Stadium. Luckily for me I didn't have too long to wait after our return to the UK to head down to the new complex.

The new ground is about five minutes drive from the A36 / M3 roundabout although I managed to overshoot the approach as there are no signs up yet. There are a couple of carparks so I navigated to a space in front of the impressive AFC Totton ground which is due to open during November. I wandered past that ground, along by some training pitches and round to the turnstiles of a more modest ground at the back.

Despite it's more modest appearance, I was impressed with the ground and facilities and the view across the lake next to the ground. There was plenty of cover along one side and behind one goal which I thought I might need to use with rain forecast for the afternoon. The hardstanding and railings were just at the right height for me and the toilet block was bright and clean.

I was surprised to pay £2 for the programme but it was a full colour edition with plenty of interesting information. I hadn't realised that old Salisbury favourite Kev Dawtry was managing Totton & Eling and ex-Southampton midfielder Jo Tessem was their coach.

When the game kicked off Fareham took the game to Totton. In the second minute a curving shot was on target and had to be tipped wide by the Totton keeper. Five minutes later and the visitors took the lead. Somehow a Fareham player was left unmarked centrally just outside the penalty area and when the ball came to him he calmly ran towards goal before slotting a low shot under the keeper.

Totton & Eling were playing the ball round well enough but far too often the ball was going to a player with his back to goal who then passed the ball backwards. They created a couple of chances in the 22nd minute. A cross went across the area but in front of the onrushing strikers before a backheel set up a shooting opportunity that the Fareham keeper was able to get to.

Fareham had given away a number of freekicks for heavy or late challenges during the half and gave away another one just outside the penalty area on the left side just before halftime. A Totton player lined up and hit a superb freekick over the wall and between the keeper and the left hand post to equalise. A real surprise given the balance of play before the goal.

Totton started the second half as they finished the first and came close to taking the lead in the 49th minute when a great move was finished with a chip over the keeper. The ball didn't drop down in time and hit the crossbar before going over. Two minutes later and a low Totton shot had to be palmed away before another effort was tipped over the bar.

From the resulting corner the ball was hit into the box and after three efforts on goal the ball was scrambled into the net past the melee of players on the goalline to give the home team the lead.

Fareham made a couple of substitutions to try and change the game only to see Totton extend their lead three minutes later. The ball was played out to the left side from a clearance and crossed into the middle. As the goalkeeper came out, a Totton player managed to get his foot to the ball and hit it past the keeper and in at the near post.

This seemed to wake up Fareham and they won a corner in the 62nd minute. This set up a shot that beat the keeper but was cleared from the line by a defender as the away supporters started to celebrate. They didn't have long to wait to celebrate a goal as a carbon copy of the first goal gave them a lifeline in the 69th minute.

Fareham continued to put more pressure on the Totton & Eling defence and saw a shot tipped past the post in the 80th minute. A penalty shout from the terraces was then ignored by the referee before a cross was an inch away from finding a Fareham boot two yards in front of an open goal.

There was a slight distraction as some drizzle fell, creating the start of a brightly coloured rainbow over the lake. Fareham put a header over the bar but almost conceded again in the last minute when Totton & Eling broke away only to put a shot over the bar when they should have made the game safe.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Game 23: Bemerton Heath Harlequins 5.2 Lydney Town (aet) (FA Vase) 02.10.10

After a particularly stressful couple of days it was a relief to have an FA Vase tie on the doorstep. As I walked up Western Way, I realised that this would be the last match I'd see in my 30's - a sobering thought!

Both teams were warming up when I arrived and it was a little disconcerting to see some Lydney players wearing black and white striped shirts under their training tops as that strip would clash with Bemerton. When the teams appeared for kickoff Lydney were wearing bright yellow shirts so the matter was resolved.

Lydney play in the Hellenic League's Western division and this is the first time that they have reached the 1st round of the Vase. While Bemerton play in a division higher and have more experience of Vase football a quick look at the NLP showed that they would have to do well to beat a team unbeaten in their league.

The game started with a few fierce tackles and the Lydney 5 had to limp off for a few minutes but was fine to play on after some deft touches of the magic sponge. The visiting physio was kept busy when the Lydney keeper landed heavily when challenging for a high ball and the game was delayed until he had recovered sufficiently to continue.

As the half went on Bemerton started to dominate play. In the 15th minute Mankin beat a tackle on the edge of the area and put a good ball across the goalmouth that was just too strong to find a teammate. In the 28th minute Mankin went through the Lydney defence only for a last ditch sliding tackle to save the situation for the visitors. From the resulting corner, the Lydney keeper made an excellent save.

It looked like only a matter of time until Bemerton scored and Slade almost managed it in the 34th minute. He held off a defender's challenge as he received the ball on the edge of the area, slipped a low shot past the outcoming keeper from an acute angle only to have to watch the ball fly wide of the far post.

The dynamic of the game changed a minute later when Lydney were awarded a penalty for an accidental handball by a Bemerton defender in the area after an aimless high cross from the left. The Lydney player hit the penalty on target but Parsons in the Bemerton goal guessed correctly and made a superb save to keep the ball out of the net.

Despite this setback Lydney now had some confidence in their play and managed to chip Parsons a few minutes later only for the offside flag to rule the goal out. In the 42nd minute they finally got their goal. Bemerton didn't clear the ball from their area and a Lydney player took one touch to take the ball away from the defence before hitting the ball past Parsons with his second touch.

In the 47th minute there was another Lydney player on the ground in agony but this time he had one of his own team to blame for hitting a shot at crotch level straight at him! Bemerton looked a bit nervous at the back and Lydney should have been awarded another penalty in the 49th minute when Fisher shoved one of their players in the area. The foul went unseen by the officials which evened up the earlier decision.

It was perhaps another turning point in the game as within a minute Bemerton were level. Sanger ran onto a long ball and kept a cool head to equalise with a placed shot past the keeper. Bemerton came close to taking the lead on a couple of occasions after that. A shot from the midfield went just wide and a superb Sanger run down the wing and into the box ended with the shot going just the wrong side of the post.

In between these chances, the Lydney keeper was told to get back into his area by the referee having raced 20 yards out of it to protest about a tackle. His refusal to do so and persistent complaining to the officials throughout the first half lead to a yellow card to the delight of the local wind-up merchants behind the goal.

The game was finely poised as the second half progressed. A Lydney header came down onto the crossbar and over and a long distance free kick almost crept in. Bemerton weren't clearing their lines well and paid the price in the 72nd minute as a clearance was sliced into the middle of their area. Two Bemerton players went for it but collided and fell to the floor, allowing Lydney to get get a shot away. Parsons managed to get a hand to it but couldn't divert the ball enough and it went in off the post.

Three minutes later and there was a collective intake of breath around the ground as Young took a shot from inside the 6 yard box for Bemerton. It looked a cert for an equaliser but somehow he managed to put the ball wide. Lydney defended well until the 85th minute. Bemerton won a corner and played a ball to the near post. It bounced down and then skipped past the players on the goal line to the centre where Jack Slade connected with a powerful header to equalise.

After a quick break the game progressed into extra time. Bemerton finally took the lead in the 95th minute when Slade won the race to a through ball ahead of the keeper and chipped the ball into the unguarded net. The play was all with the home team now and they were unlucky not to add another goal when Slade tapped in a pass from Jones only to see the assistant's flag raised for offside.

In the second half of extra time Reynald went down the wing and slipped a great ball into the path of Young's run. His cross was hit first time by Sanger into the corner to give Bemerton a 4.2 lead. The scoring was wrapped up two minutes later when O'Keefe hit a low shot from the edge of the area with the keeper just a spectator as it crashed into the net.

Even with a 5.2 lead Bemerton continued to press on. Sanger outpaced three defenders with a great run, took the ball round the keeper only to hit the ball over from an angle instead of passing to an unmarked team mate in the box. Fisher then put a header over the bar from a freekick. Lydney created the last scoring opportunity with an angled header that went wide at the far post when a straight header would have found the net. An enjoyable FA Vase tie to finish another decade of football watching.