Saturday, 25 September 2010

Watching a Western with a Late Twist

Hopperational details
Saturday 25 September 2010, Paulton Rovers 0 Didcot Town 1 at Winterfield Road in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.  I am here, rather than at one of 35 other ties, because of a 6/1 combination thrown on two dice.

This match in one sentence
Paulton Rovers had three goals disallowed in the first half, but lost a closely-fought contest to a scrambled 90th minute goal.

So what?
This is sweet revenge for Didcot Town who lost to Paulton last year on the latter’s route to a lucrative televised defeat by Norwich City in the First Round Proper.  They will be in Monday’s draw, while Paulton are back in league action that evening.

Who caught the eye on the pitch?
There was a continuous physical battle between red-booted Didcot striker Michael Bartley and the Paulton centre-backs Lee Marshall and Ollie Price.  Bartley always looked strong and dangerous, but ended up with a deserved booking for leading with his elbow in a challenge.  Price also picked up a yellow card, rather more harshly in my view, for having the temerity to challenge the ‘keeper for a high ball.

This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as … 
… the sudden and noisy rust-induced disintegration of part of the front end of my beloved red 1972 VW Beetle at 50mph on the Harlow bypass in 1983. 

A snippet from the programme
“Today’s fixture once again has a feeling of de ja voux about it.”

Sorry, programme editors, but I can’t let that one go, even though the rest of your publication is pretty informative and well-produced.

What I learned today
The cut-and-paste of a table from MS Works on my netbook does not work in the same way as MS Word from my home PC.  Sorry about the change of layout, readers, I will have to learn some more html or tidy it up later!

Other than that, I learned that Paulton was once an important mining village (hence the club crest) and a notable nearby slagheap is called “The Batch”.

Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Paulton’s FA Cup fixtures this season have drawn them against the same teams as last season for two consecutive rounds - Tiverton and Didcot.  The chances of this are low, but not as low as you might think because of the behind-closed-doors regionalisation of the early rounds of the Cup.  If all teams are equally likely to get through (which is clearly not true), I calculate on the back of an envelope that the odds of this happening would be something like 1 in 1500 at most.  (About 50 equally likely potential opponents in the first round, about 30 in the next for this region.)  In practice, the odds might be longer … say 1 in 3000, especially as teams may enter the competition at a different level in the next season if they have been promoted or relegated (or dissolved and re-formed) in the meantime.

Apparently, this is about the same as your individual chance of dying from forces of nature (earthquake, cold, heat, storm, tornado etc) if you live in America.

Meanwhile, in my preview post I picked out three potential giant-killers for this round… thanks to Norton & Stockton Ancients and Tipton Town for delivering the goods and improving my credibility.  Mangotsfield, what happened?

Where next?
Neath v Bala Town tomorrow in the Welsh Premier League and the impact of Lee Trundle for the home team, and seven FA Cup replays at unvisited grounds in the pipeline next week.

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