Sunday, 27 February 2011

Police Raid in Chatham

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 26 February 2011 at Maidstone Road
Chatham Town 2 Metropolitan Police 3
Isthmian League Division 1 South (step 4)
Lifetime venue #377, and I am here because of an early-enough declaration of “game on” on another wet Saturday.  The crowd included a number from Whitstable, whose game was off due to a deplorable theft of all the copper pipework from their changing rooms in midweek.
This match in one sentence
A last-minute heartbreaker of a goal secured the points for the visitors after the Metropolitan Police Managerial Hairdryer* had been used to good effect at half-time.
So what?
Met Police are in 2nd place, back to one point behind Bognor Regis Town but with a game in hand.  Chatham are 16th in the division and can count themselves unlucky not to get a point today.
The drama unfolds
The teams changed ends after the coin toss and I wonder how significant that turned out to be.  Whether by choice or imposition I don’t know, but the home side were defending a very muddy and treacherous penalty area for the second half.  I was quite surprised to see such a difference at the two ends – a new meaning for a game of two halves.

Chatham had the temerity to take the lead against their high-flying visitors with a goal from Jason Barton, and despite a few close scrapes like the one in the first clip, they held on till the interval.  1-0 at half-time.

To general amusement, the stadium PA microphone picked up the screaming sound of unhappy management emanating from the changing rooms.  We could only imagine that it was the visiting manager questioning the ability, commitment and possibly parentage of his players.  This certainly had some effect, as the Met came out as a flying squad for the second half.

It was only a matter of time before the equaliser came, a poacher’s effort in the mud by Matt Gray for 1-1, followed by a second from captain Steve Sutherland. 1-2.  The home side was not retaining the ball at all and they were gradually pinned back by wave after wave of attacks from the boys in blue.  Adam Molloy was kept busy in the home goal, sometimes as a result of clearances that were coming straight back at him.  Chatham regrouped, to their great credit, and they equalised (again through Barton) with just over five minutes to go. 2-2

The Met had one more set piece up their sleeve in stoppage time, and James Field was in the right place at the right time.  As it happens, I caught all three of the Met Police goals, which all came indirectly from set-pieces.  Final score 2-3.  Great entertainment for the neutral, but a tad harsh on the hosts. 
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Chatham
Withdraw all your savings and use it as money for old rope at the Historic Dockyard. There is more spinning, closing and laying in the ropery than in the Chatham Town midfield.
A snippet from the programme
The club have been supporting a fundraising effort for a local 7yo, Max Walsh, who has cerebral palsy and “needs to raise £43k to have a revolutionary operation – selective dorsal rhizotomy – to save the use of his legs.”

Players and supporters raised £914 at their game against Whitstable.  Aaron Firth and Paul Foley have grown sponsored beards and have raised another £2,600.  A facebook search for “Max in America” will lead you to the family’s group which includes the bank details for anyone wanting to make a donation.
What I learned today
Something random
Chatham Town were the first team to take a league point off the Met Police this season in a 2-2 draw at Imber Court back at the end of October.  Up to that point, the Met had reeled off eight wins to start an unbeaten run of fourteen games.  Bognor Regis Town are also going well in this division and won their home game against Met Police 1-0 last month.

* For my overseas readers - "hairdryer treatment" has come to mean something along the lines of "severe telling off by the manager".  It apparently comes from Manchester United players, in a phrase coined by Mark Hughes, describing an in-your-face screaming admonishment in fluent Glaswegian by Sir Alex Ferguson.
What Next?
It will depend on the weather, but the sheer number of fixtures to be rearranged in all leagues this season should give plenty of midweek hoppertunities if the weather improves.

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