Sunday, 14 August 2011

Comrades March On (and 404 is not an Error)

The picturesque Grand Union Canal runs alongside Berkhamsted's ground

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 13 August 2011 at Broadwater
Berkhamsted 3 (Bunker 4,41  Welling 80)
London Tigers 2 (Ngeno 40  Larin 90+1)
Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division (Step 5)
First of the new season for me, and #404 on the lifetime list
This match in one sentence
Berkhamsted announced their arrival in this division with this hard-fought win though the Tigers will be wondering why they failed to get at least a point from a very entertaining match.
So what?
Much too early to say.  These were two well-matched sides and the result was not settled until Berkhamsted’s third goal went in.
A random invention that would have the same impact on my personal happiness and well-being as watching this match
A cheap-as-chips anti-tanning raygun to be used on David Dickinson at the first available opportunity.  The basic version would only work if you are wearing a bright blue or red fleece and in his presence but Nintendo are said to be working on one that works by pointing it at the TV screen.
The drama unfolds
Berkhamsted had the first chance from an early free-kick but in any case only took four minutes to take the lead.  Striker Lawrence Bunker scored with a neat placed finish which I captured rather fuzzily but they all count! 1-0

These two video clips set the scene from the next phase of the game.

It was a fairly even contest.  Berkhamsted made the clearer half-chances though Tigers looked sharp enough on the break.  There were several stoppages for injury and Tigers had to use two subs earlier than they would have wished – in fact an ambulance arrived at the ground after the first change.  As half-time approached, I made a note wondering whether Berkhamsted would regret only leading 1-0 at half-time.  Then this happened.  The scorer is substitute Gregory Ngeno, after 40 minutes.  1-1

Most neutrals would have backed Tigers to go on and win at that precise moment, but what do we know? Berkhamsted had the lead again within a minute, with a second from Bunker, so they went in with a half-time lead.  2-1 at half-time.

Tigers came out strongly in the second half and played some neat-to-feet approach football.  Berkhamsted showed some naivety at times in losing the ball too quickly.  Here’s a typical minute or so …

However, a moment of magic from Berkhamsted substitute Mark Welling settled the home nerves,  This was a beauty … enjoy the clip.  3-1

The last three clips capture Tigers’ attempts to get back into the game.  The penultimate clip ends with a block by Berkhamsted centre-back Simon Carmichael.  His injury caused him to have to leave the field, and the goal in the last clip came in his absence from central defence.  Fortunately for the home side, we were already in stoppage time and so it was only a consolation goal for the Tigers, headed firmly home by Dmitri Larin.  Final score 3-2

A splendid afternoon's entertainment at a neat-and-tidy ground in-between a railway line and a canal towpath.
Tough call – Mark Welling’s goal settled the result but I am giving the nod jointly to the Berkhamsted centre-backs Simon & Jim Carmichael who held a safe line and looked after their full-backs during the key moments early in the second-half.
A snippet from the programme
"It is a common misconception that Spurs' ground is in White Hart Lane.  In fact the only senior ground actually in White Hart Lane is that of Haringey Borough, who are in our division.  Their home league game with Dunstable Town has been called off by the league, following on from the Spurs decision."
What I learned today

Berkhamsted have had two consecutive promotion seasons to reach step 5 after the club’s previous incarnation went to the proverbial wall.  Tigers have moved from a groundshare and now have their own place in another London borough, hence the dropping of Kingsbury from the name for this season.  Their #7 Mohammed Bettamer (right, above) ought to add “Dissent” to his – I’m surprised he didn’t get a yellow card, especially for having purple boots with an orange-and-black kit.
What next?
Must be time for some FA Cup action soon …!  The Extra Preliminary Round is next weekend.  Other than that, this particular 'hopper's "list" priorities for the season are to get to Brighton & Hove Albion (to restore my current 92 and 116) and to complete all the Conference leagues down to Step 2 by getting to Colwyn Bay, Corby Town (who have moved), Harrogate Town, Truro City and Workington, but hopefully there will be many other random hoppertunities along the way.

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