Saturday, March 24, 2012

Game 25: Sturminster Marshall 1.0 Parley Sports (Dorset Premier) 24.03.12

After spending a glorious sunny morning in Swanage, I drove up to Sturminster Marshall for their match against Parley Sports. The ground was easy to find as it was in the middle of a housing estate, the main pitch behind railings and the players warming up on the outside pitches. In the far corner was a playpark with the clubhouse set behind it. After driving around the perimeter of the pitch I spotted a gap in the clubhouse carpark and decided to leave the car there - well out of range of any off-target shots.

The teams made their way onto the pitch and the match kicked off at 3.05. Both teams were putting together some good passing moves in the first period of play but goal attempts were rare. Parley had the clearest opportunity when a player intercepted a stray pass but his shot went well over the bar with just the keeper to beat.

I was enjoying the end to end play in the sunshine and was joined by one of the club officials for a short while for a friendly chat. Most of the play was at the other end as Parley pressed for a goal but their shooting let them down. Sturminster got into their stride toward the end of the half - a well worked move from a throw in found a man in space but his shot was just wide of the post.

In the 40th minute Parley won a free kick and the subsequent shot was spilled by the home keeper. Several players tried to force the ball over the line but it wouldn't quite go. In the final minute of the half a Sturminster cross was missed by a defender and allowed a close range shot from Sturminster. This time the effort was on target but the Parley keeper pulled off a great reaction save to tip the ball wide for a corner.

While the kick off for the first half was later than expected, the second half took even longer and play didn't resume until 4.10. The laid back attitude to time keeping seemed to extend to the pitch. While the football was entertaining to watch, I got the impression that the shooting boots had been left at home with the number of shots that ended up over the bar or wide.

In the 80th minute the deadlock was finally broken as Sturminster broke down the right wing and a good cross found an unmarked player on the left edge of the box. His shot managed to elude the keeper's dive and squeezed in by the near post. This seemed to spark the game into life as both teams suddenly came close to scoring - Parley were denied by a quick thinking keeper just beating their striker to the ball and an offside flag. In between those chances a low Sturminster shot from the edge of the area went just wide of the post with the keeper well beaten. The referee finally blew his whistle at 5pm and the teams went off, followed soon after by a tractor that dragged the two wooden wheeled dugouts off down the road.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Game 24: Elmore 1.2 Calne Town (Western 1) 10.03.12

I hadn't made any particular plans for this weekend so when Paul called and suggested a trip down to Tiverton to watch his local team on an away day it was great timing. We took the train down to the Parkway station and watched the steam special come through at the expense of missing the hourly bus into town.

As there wasn't much to do at the station we opted to take a cab to Tiverton and met a friendly cabbie called Fossil who drove us into town. Turned out that he used to run a pub for former Pompey and Saints striker Colin Clarke at the same time that I was living in Pompey in the early 90's and he told us some stories of some days out at the races with a few of the team that I used to watch on the terraces. Sometimes the world's a small place and today was one of those days. Fossil dropped us off in town after pointing out Elmore's ground and pointed us in the direction of the pub where we spent a bit of time for lunch.

Elmore's ground was just outside the centre of Tiverton so we didn't have far to walk back. When we arrived I was surprised to see a large green eagle above the clubhouse. We walked round the pitch to have a look at the Adam Stansfield stand, named after their former striker who sadly passed away from cancer a couple of years ago while playing at Exeter City, before heading round to the other side of the ground to watch the game.

Calne took an early lead in the match, a 4th minute goal that saw the Elmore keeper's attempt to clear a backpass charged down, leaving an empty net for the Calne player to pass the ball into. Calne almost added a second a couple of minutes later from a freekick but the ball eluded everyone when it just needed a touch to knock it in.

The rest of the half was poor, neither team creating much until Elmore's second attempt on goal just before halftime. The Calne keeper had to be alert to push an ontarget shot up and away from danger. The referee seemed rather whistle happy in the sense that a quick blast wasn't enough - we saw incidents with multiple whistling that seemed out of place given the nature of the offences.

The second half didn't have much to write home about until the 66th minute when an Elmore player was sent off for a second yellow card. The numerical advantage helped the visitors as four minutes later a Calne midfielder took the ball in space, dribbled it around several players and then hit a low shot into the bottom corner of the net. An excellent finish.

I couldn't see Elmore getting back into the game but with 5 minutes to go they broke away and pulled a goal back with a low finish into the left corner that beat the keeper's scramble. Elmore now started to press for an equaliser but it all went sour in injury time. After a late tackle in the centre circle the players started to brawl and it took a while for the officials to reassert their authority. The outcome was 2 more red cards (one for each team) but there was still more to follow. One of the Calne players had the red mist descend and he continued to abuse the officials. The referee had enough and before the game could restart sent him off, leaving both teams with 9 men.

It was no surprise that he blew the final whistle soon after before it all kicked off again. The Calne manager was not happy and came onto the pitch to put his views across to the officials before being ushered off. We wandered back to the bus stop and took the bus back to the station, passing an interesting looking ground and a pub that Paul was keen to visit once he realised how close it was to the station. Sadly our train times didn't work out to allow us to retrace our steps so there may be another trip to Tiverton in the future.