Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sheep May Usually Safely Graze

Hopperational details
Saturday 27 November 2010 at Eynsham Park, North Leigh 1 Hungerford Town 1 in the Southern League Division 1 South & West (step 4).  I am here because it was the first game I could find confirmed as “definitely on” (thanks to the club website) on a freezing cold day that decimated the local fixtures, and I made it with five minutes to spare.
This match in one sentence
Both sides will feel they could and should have won this one.
So what?
This was a thoroughly entertaining draw for my 50th hop of the season (there were a few in August before this blog started).  North Leigh are solidly in mid-table and Hungerford Town will move from 6th into the playoff zone if they can win games in hand.  Eynsham Park goes on to my personal list of “most picturesque settings for a game of football”.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
If I have to pick one player today it will be Hungerford Town’s goalkeeper Kieron Drake.  An excellent early save in a one-on-one kept the score at 0-0 and then he talked the whole team through the first half, in which he personally had relatively little to do.  North Leigh made him work harder after the break, and there was not much he could do about the equaliser.  However, he also made a very good late save to deny the home side their second win of the week.

The Hungerford goal was well worked, with Jemal Johnson beating the defender and the referee playing advantage.  The ball was teed up for Ryan Crockford who finished with aplomb.  Ben Reardon was given too much space on the right wing for the North Leigh equaliser – he cut inside and fired a shot into the far corner.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… Wagner singing The Song of the Rhinemaidens from Das Rheingold accompanied by Jedward on duelling banjos.  My overseas readers may have trouble with that one.
A snippet from the programme
North Leigh “has had two top ten finishes in its first two seasons in the Southern League Division One South and West, and is looking to consolidate its position further in the forthcoming season.  Facilities at the Eynsham Park ground have improved significantly over the past few seasons.”
What I learned today

This is not a level playing field!
What Next?
A week of watching weather forecasts and watching club websites, I would think.  As the saying goes, "Red sky at night, shepherd's getting the balls back off the sheep".

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