Saturday, 9 February 2019

Smith's Hammer Blow Takes the Shine Off El Glossico for Cirencester


E-programme only.  I’ve captured the front cover for the blog but unless I am being incompetent it is not in a downloadable format.  I don’t mind e-programmes but I’d prefer to be able to put a souvenir copy on my own hard drive.

Hopperational Details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 February at Thornhill Park
Result
Slimbridge 2 Cirencester Town 2
Competition
Southern League Division One South (Step 4)
Hopstats
Ground 678 on the lifetime list and I am here pragmatically rather than randomly as Slimbridge were the first on my shortlist to declare “Game On” this morning.
Context
I did not have much time for pre-match research except to note that Slimbridge are just above the relegation zone and Cirencester are chasing the playoff places.  The pre-match publicity calls the game El Glossico - love that!  The reverse fixture last November was a 3-3 draw.
In one sentence
A superb equalising goal followed by a rearguard action gave Slimbridge a share of the points after they had surrendered their early lead.
So what?
The teams are 18th and 5th respectively in the table.
Match Report
There was a stiff breeze, strong enough to affect the flight of the ball.  Slimbridge took an early lead.  A freekick was taken right-footed from the right flank by Liam Smith and his curling cross was initially cleared.  The ball fell nicely for William Hawes who smashed in an unstoppable shot.

Smith (8) watches his freekick cleared but Hawes (10) is lurking.

They should have had a second goal.  A superb through ball, right to left, by Dean Turner was crossed with the breeze by Hawes but Danny King’s header was just wide.  Cirencester were taking time to hit their stride and by this time their manager, Charlie Griffin, serving a touchline ban in the opposite stand, had already made a couple of phone calls to the away dugout.  Disappointingly, no laundry baskets seemed to be involved in moving him around.

"'Allo? Tell him what?" Divine guidance reaches the dugouts by the magic of microwaves.
By the midpoint of the first half they were bossing possession, looking very good in midfield, but the Slimbridge defensive line held well.  Home keeper Lewis Adams was alert to parry a far-post header by Tom Anderson from a left-wing cross by Aidan Bennett.  Their equaliser came ten minutes before the interval.  Ben Whitehead shot from distance and the ball seemed to dip and bounce in front of Adams.  The ball flicked his hand but ended up in the net.

I moved from the main stand to the opposite touchline for the second half, fortified by an excellent hot dog.  The teams traded half-chances in the early stages of the second half.  A scuffed shot for Cirencester and a header just over from Slimbridge meant that the score stayed level.  On 57 minutes, Cirencester won a freekick in about the same place as Slimbridge’s very early one.  It was taken left-footed by Jack Freeman, curved the other way and missed everyone on its way into the far corner.

Textbook Scuff
Cirencester were looking good value for a win at this point but then Slimbridge forced visiting keeper Mateusz Wieczorek into a superb one-handed save low to his right.  The clearance came out to Liam Smith who ran directly at goal, riding several challenges before scoring a quite magnificent leveller.

Cirencester had by now adopted the breeze as a team member.  They forced a number of corners, all of which were delivered as vicious inswingers.  Somehow Slimbridge held on with last-man clearances, and on one occasion with the help of the underside of the crossbar.  Most of my pix today are of corner chaos - reminded me of my Faroe Islands trip!

For the passing neutral, a good game in these conditions with the result in doubt right to the end.  I didn't get to use the "wild foul" pun (birdwatchers will understand).  The point probably does Slimbridge more good than Cirencester.

Pix
Slimbridge in Blue.















Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
(#keepertopcolourstats)
New this season – a pre-match prediction based only on keeper top colours as a preliminary test of the data.  Proper statistical significance test to follow in due course.

This week, Orange and Green share the points, but no clean sheets.  No change to league table positions.



Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:
Prediction:
Away Win
Was the prediction correct?
No
% of correct predictions so far
62% (21 from 34)

Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. The odd decimal places were caused either by half-and-half tops or sub keepers in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.

This table is derived from the last 179 games on the blog.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
10.5
5.5
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.5
24.0
2.286
Blue
44.1
19.0
7.0
18.1
68.0
14.0
66.0
1.497
Grey
49.5
23.0
11.0
15.5
80.5
14.0
69.5
1.404
Green
95.0
50.0
12.0
33.0
156.0
23.0
121.0
1.274
Fire Cracker
3.0
1.0
0.0
2.0
6.0
1.0
2.0
0.667
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Purple
21.0
8.0
4.0
9.0
45.0
5.0
8.0
0.381
Orange
46.5
15.0
9.0
22.5
86.5
7.0
2.5
0.054
Radioactive Bile
22.0
9.0
0.0
13.0
48.0
3.0
-6.0
-0.273
Black
6.5
2.5
3.0
1.0
15.0
0.5
-2.0
-0.308
Yellow
35.0
9.0
7.0
19.0
77.0
5.0
-18.0
-0.514
Pink
18.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
37.0
1.0
-12.0
-0.667
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105


What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter!  27 Step 4 grounds to go to my next landmark.


Saturday, 2 February 2019

Seasiders Coast to Victory After Swift Penalty Miss



Hopperational Details
Date & Venue
Saturday 2 February 2019 at The Goldstar Stadium
Result
Felixstowe & Walton United 3 Heybridge Swifts 0
Competition
Isthmian League Division One North (Step 4)
Hopstats
Ground 677 on the lifetime list and I am here pragmatically because the club were the first of my eleven possibilities to declare an unambiguous “Game On” decision in time for me to travel.  This ground completes the division for me.
Context
13th plays 4th but both clubs won last time out.  Heybridge won the reverse fixture 4-2 back in October and have signed a new forward this week.
In one sentence
A handsome home win hinged on a penalty save at 2-0 and was delivered through a determined rearguard action in the second half.
So what?
Aveley’s win at Canvey Island takes them above Heybridge, who drop to 4th. Felixstowe climb one place to 12th.
Match Report
Felixstowe took the lead in the 3rd minute through Jordan Matthews.  His glancing but unchallenged header from a left-wing cross gave keeper Chris Haigh no chance.  After that the teams largely nullified each other in midfield and defence.  There were plenty of players willing to go to ground in a tackle and there could be little time spent on the ball.  This meant largely predictable balls into the channels and very little of substance for the keepers to do other than make clearances.  Heybridge were competing well and an equaliser at this point would not have been a surprise.


Instead, they went two down just before the half-hour.  This time, the scoring header was firm and downwards from another left-wing set piece, and it sneaked past the defender on the line at the far post, who was there to stop exactly that.  The scorer was Josh Kerridge.


A couple of heroic blocks preserved the lead, and then there was a bit of pushing-and-shoving as the half-time whistle went.  Normally, Swifts’ manager Julian Dicks would have no need of a hairdryer, but I suspect he was not happy.  As might therefore be expected, Swifts came out flying for the second half, and the home side were defending deeply and not keeping the ball at all.  Swifts brought on Emmanuel Osei-Owusu up front for his debut.  The ref awarded them a penalty for a raised hand with 55 minutes showing on the clock.  Home keeper Jack Spurling showed his delight to the away faithful after saving Kreshnic Krasniqi’s shot, low to his right.  That was the hinge-point of the match right there.  As a physics teacher, I don’t throw the word momentum around in my match reports but you’ll get the drift.


Heybridge continued to press and I wrote down, “A goal is coming!” in my notebook.  Indeed there was, and it was at the other end and against the run of play.  It looked as if there was some defensive miscommunication or ricochet that led to the ball being rolled into an unguarded net.  The scorer was Rhys Henry.

With 25 minutes or so to go, the game was not over, but Heybridge lacked a cutting edge in their attempts to score.  Osei-Owusu was always looking to make himself available on the flanks, but although Spurling was called upon to make several saves, they were straightforward enough.  The Heybridge supporters stopped baiting him and sang, good-humouredly enough, about their own team’s limitations, their lack of enthusiasm for Maldon, and their desire to go home.  As a passing neutral, I can’t say that this felt like a 3-0 game, but I do think that the Seasiders deserved the win.

Pix
Felixstowe in red-and-white.  Tidy ground, good facilities. Palm trees in the gardens of adjacent houses showing that it must be warmer sometimes.

We are Friends in the Game (I think)


















Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
New this season – a pre-match prediction based only on keeper top colours as a preliminary test of the data.  Proper statistical significance test to follow in due course.  Still being ignored by both Opta and the BBC.

Minor controversy today – the home keeper’s blue warm-up top led me to make a Home win prediction.  However, I did not notice until midway through the first half (I was at the other end) that he had ditched it.  So it is a rare black-and-red half-and-half today that takes the win with a clean sheet against Radioactive Bile.

Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:
Prediction:
Home Win
Was the prediction correct?
Yes
% of correct predictions so far
64% (21 from 33)

Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. The odd decimal places were caused either by half-and-half tops or sub keepers in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
10.5
5.5
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.5
24.0
2.286
Blue
44.1
19.0
7.0
18.1
68.0
14.0
66.0
1.497
Grey
49.5
23.0
11.0
15.5
80.5
14.0
69.5
1.404
Green
94.0
50.0
11.0
33.0
154.0
23.0
122.0
1.298
Fire Cracker
3.0
1.0
0.0
2.0
6.0
1.0
2.0
0.667
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Purple
21.0
8.0
4.0
9.0
45.0
5.0
8.0
0.381
Orange
45.5
15.0
8.0
22.5
84.5
7.0
3.5
0.077
Radioactive Bile
22.0
9.0
0.0
13.0
48.0
3.0
-6.0
-0.273
Black
6.5
2.5
3.0
1.0
15.0
0.5
-2.0
-0.308
Yellow
35.0
9.0
7.0
19.0
77.0
5.0
-18.0
-0.514
Pink
18.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
37.0
1.0
-12.0
-0.667
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter!  28 Step 4 grounds (mostly northern) still to be done but we are heading for postponement season.  At this time of year, pitch inspections can be too late for me to travel.  Also, if any kindly Tottenham Hotspur STH wants to adopt me for the day or an evening when your new place opens up, give me a shout!