Sunday, 1 May 2011

Equality is So Important to Hythe Town

Top-quality old-school multicolour blackboard work - *applauds*

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 30 April 2011 at Culverden Stadium
Tunbridge Wells 2 Hythe Town 2
Kent Premier League (Step 5)
Lifetime venue #396.  I am here because the first number out in the preceding evening’s Euromillions draw was 38.  (1-10 would have sent me to Alvechurch v Coalville T, 11-20 to Burgess Hill Town v Ramsgate, 21-30 to Hastings United v Aveley and 41-50 to Wellington v Gornal Athletic.  It’s random.
This match in one sentence
In a dramatic finale to the KPL season, Hythe Town secured the title on goal difference with a somewhat fortuitous late equaliser, having been two down at the interval.
So what?
Herne Bay’s 3-2 away win at VCD was therefore irrelevant – it was also secured with some late comeback goals.  Hythe Town head towards the Step 4 world of the Isthmian League D1 South next year.  Tunbridge Wells finish sixth, and Herne Bay are runners-up.
The drama unfolds
Hythe started the game kicking down the slope and won a corner after 30 seconds, but it came to nothing.  Both teams struggled for rhythm early on with a bouncy ball on a hard pitch and a swirling breeze.  It was clear that Tunbridge Wells had no intention of giving the visitors an easy afternoon.  Hythe goalkeeper Kieron Mann showed some nerves as he flapped somewhat at a cross-shot after 15 minutes, but then a flowing counter-attack from Lee Winfield to Brendon Cass to Craig Thompson ended with the latter hitting the side-netting as he slid in to meet a low cross.  The ball was spending rather too much time in the air and visiting manager Scott Porter led the tirades of abuse and questioning for the officials.  To be fair, both sets of players kept up the pressure on the ref and linos, and there were several decisions that mystified one or both sets of fans.

Tunbridge Wells took the lead in the 37th minute with a goal by Andy McMath, and then added a second just before half-time as Jon Pilbeam got the ball from the right to Keelan Mooney in the centre.  2-0 at half-time.

The news from the Herne Bay game was that they were losing, so as things stood the title was still with Hythe.  Whatever Scott Porter said in the dressing room, he said it quickly because his team were out first.  Suddenly the game was being played in the Wells' half and they won a series of corners.  Both centre-backs Scott Whibley and Perry Spackman were booked in the first few minutes.  Home keeper Mikelle Czanner made a number of catches and punches as his busy second-half began.

However, it was no surprise when Hythe pulled a goal back after 56 minutes.  Thompson shot from a narrow angle and with the spin and curve on the ball Czanner was surprised and though he pushed it out it bounced straight to Ronnie Dolan who had time to take a touch before shooting in powerfully.  2-1

I caught one of several more near misses on video.

After 75 minutes, news of a Herne Bay equaliser filtered through.  (Herne Bay would win the title if they won and Hythe lost, but a draw would be enough for Hythe.)  Hythe went three up front and made some substitutions for a final push.  Things were getting rather frantic when the news filtered through that Herne Bay were losing again.

In the last minute, this happened …

… and it is a great piece of good fortune that it did, because we learned just after the whistle that Herne Bay had equalised and got a late winner of their own.  The league website gave this one as an own goal by Czanner.  Final score 2-2

Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Tunbridge Wells
Try to sample some of the iron-rich water from the spring that appears in The Pantiles, the Georgian walkway in the historic town centre.  In former times, it gave the town a spa and its Royal status.  Then you can claim to be instantly magnetic – this is scientific tosh but should buy you enough time to go running into the nearest iron or steel lamppost with arms flailing for comic effect.  If this is too risky just turn to face north, or explain to passing teenagers that drinking soluble iron does not make you magnetic because the electronic configuration of the ionic form is different, lacking the unpaired electrons that are needed to allow ferromagnetic phenomena.  You will feel yourself becoming more interesting by the minute.
A snippet from the programme
From the Manager’s Report (Martin Larkin):
“There are many positives to take out of the year and a lot of progress has been made … but we are now at the point where as a group we need to kick on to the next level to ensure we all remain motivated and targets are met.  This will mean challenging for a place in the top three and sustained runs again in the cups.  The biggest challenge over the summer … will be the retention of the players, all of whom should expect calls from other clubs.  It will be our job as a club to do our best to convince them that we are in a position to improve again on this season’s achievements.”
What Next?
Having watched Hitchin Town’s 0-1 defeat at home to Arlesey in the “title decider” and their 4-1 win over Slough Town in their play-off semi, I will complete a North Hertfordshire Saga with their play-off final against Daventry Town on Monday at Top Field.

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