Sunday, 30 December 2012

Diss Pleasure as Diss Belief Earns Diss a Point





Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 29 December 2012 at Brewers Green Lane
Result
Diss Town 1 Gorleston 1
Competition
Eastern Counties Premier League (Step 5)
Hopping
A personal landmark! Number 500 on the lifetime list, chosen because this was the first fixture to confirm “game on” on my morning Twitter timeline that gave me enough time to travel.
Pre-match preparation
Diss have been in the lower reaches of the league table, and Gorleston have been in and around the top six all season.
This match in one sentence
Gorleston dominated the goalless first half and then scored first, but Diss fought back well to earn a good point.
So what?
The clubs are now 17th (Diss) and 5th (Gorleston) respectively.
The drama unfolds
The rain held off as we kicked off and the pitch was not bad considering the general conditions across the nation.  It was very overcast and the lights were on from the start. The match proceeded to a constant passing-on of updates from Norwich (v Man City) and Ipswich (v Wolves) along the line of spectators.  I was more interested in planning Diss-based puns for the blogpost title.  Diss-interested, you might say.  Actually, I have been very restrained.

Gorleston had the better of the opening exchanges and Chris Sandford hit the bar with a swerving shot after five minutes.  Diss defender Aaron Taylor broke up a dangerous Gorleston move with an excellent tackle and from the resulting counterattack, Matthew Dixon’s goalbound effort was cleared off the line by a retreating defender.  The pattern of patient Gorleston possession with the occasional Diss surge carried on until I took my first clip just after half an hour. Diss are in tangerine.



I took another clip almost immediately as the skies opened and deposited copious amounts of wet stuff onto the wetness beneath.



We reached half-time without incident, and after two-and-a-half goalless games I began to wonder whether clubs would sponsor me to stay away for the rest of the season.  0-0 at half-time

Such thoughts became irrelevant as Gorleston took the lead soon after the restart.  Fortunately, the rain had eased somewhat and Christy Finch seemed to have plenty of time to pick his spot for a left-foot finish.  0-1 after 50 minutes

Diss did not cave in and the equaliser came about ten minutes later.  Claudio Langlios showed strength to crash through the centre – the goalkeeper forced him wide but the striker rounded him, kept his feet, and sent the ball low and hard across the goalmouth to give Dixon a tap-in.  1-1 after 61 minutes

Diss almost got a second within a minute but a hasty hoofed clearance kept the match level.  The game was now pretty even and the conditions blustery but not too bad.  Here are a couple of clips from 75 and 80 mins into the game.




As the players tired and the fresh-legged subs tried to make an impact, we had a scruffy final few minutes.  My final clip is timed at 89 mins.



Diss’ Bruno Tavares had a chance but was called back for a foul, then a Gorleston centre-back had an unchallenged header from a far-post corner just before they also had a goal disallowed for offside.  In the end, a draw was not a bad result for either side.  Final score 1-1
The programme


Something random
Here are my other century and half-century landmarks:
  50 – Crewe Alexandra 2 WBA 3 at Gresty Road
(Division One, 16 August 1997)
100 – Southampton 2 WBA 2 at St Mary’s Stadium
(Premier League, 6 November 2004)
150 – Eastleigh 2 Chelmsford City 1 at The Silverlake Stadium
(Conference South, 7 February 2009)
200 – Port Talbot Town 5 Cwmbran Celtic 0 at The GenQuip Stadium
(Welsh Cup R2, 2 October 2009)
250 – Potters Bar Town 0 Concord Rangers 2 at The South Mimms Travel Stadium
(Isthmian League D1 North, 2 February 2010)
300 – Heswall 0 West Kirby 2 at Vauxhall Motors FC
(Wirral Senior Cup Final, 30 April 2010)
350 – Haverhill Rovers 4 CRC 0 at The New Croft
(Eastern Counties Premier League, 9 November 2010)
400 – Peterborough Northern Star 2 St Ives Town 0 at Raunds Town FC
(United Counties League Cup Final, 7 May 2011)
450 – Staveley Miners Welfare 2 Oadby Town 0 at Inkersall Road
(FA Vase Round 5, 15 February 2012)
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Two goals takes us up to 125 for the season at an average of just over 3.2 per game.  Please make a pledge if you haven’t already – the original idea was for lots and lots of people to give small amounts each.  The classic “penny-a-goal” pledge will cost you about £2.50 next June.  Contact me at headyapp (at) hotmail (dot) com or via Twitter.
What Next?
No idea! More studying of weather charts and fixture lists before the Yappmobile is called into action again – follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter if you want to be among the first to know!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Lion Down at the Palace





Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Friday 28 December 2012 at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre
Result
London Lions 88 Cheshire Phoenix 92
Competition
BBL Trophy (knockout cup competition)
Hopping
Number 14 on the hoophopping list.  I called it courthopping until today, but like both clubs here, I have changed the name.
Pre-match preparation
This was an impulsive trip in an attempt to put a safe distance between me and an industrial supply of Quality Street and other health foods. Unfortunately it brought be closer to a hotdog stall. The sides have similar league records around the 50:50 mark so it should be a competitive game.
This match in one sentence
The Lions made too many unforced errors and Phoenix kept cool heads at the end of a strange game played in a rather muted atmosphere.
So what?
Phoenix go through and Lions are out.
The drama unfolds
There were only seven Phoenix players suited and booted for action, which did not bode well, and my heart sank when Lions took an early grip on the game, scoring 2 to 1 and opening a healthy lead.  Whether complacency set in, who knows, but Phoenix battled back to 22-22 and then took the lead with a three from Gabe Haskins.  One more Lions score kept the margin at one point at the end of what had turned out to be a high-scoring first quarter.  26-27 at the end of the first quarter

In the second, Phoenix pulled their lead out to eight at 29-37 and here is my scene-setter clip which has Lions’  Adrien Sturt scoring one of several personal and Lions threes, but Phoenix matched the scoring rate and the clip ends at 38-45.  Lions are in purple.


Another run of threes, however, including two more from Sturt, brought the Lions back level and we reached a beautifully symmetric score at the halfway point.  Sturt’s personal tally was now 22.  50-50 at the end of the second quarter

By the time I took my next clip, midway through the third, it was still too close to call at 56-56.


The period ended with the visitors holding a narrow two-point lead.  66-68 at the end of the third quarter

In the final quarter, Phoenix had the veteran Shaun Myers back on court.  They successfully defended two periods of 24s shotclock time and then Myers hit a three to give them a lead of 71-76.  They were able to hold the lead at somewhere in the five to seven point range as the time ticked away.  Here’s a clip, and by the end of it the score is 78-83.



The play became somewhat scrappy and tense and coaches began to utilise the timeouts.  Phoenix still held their 7-point lead at 78-85 with 2min31s on the clock.  The body language of the Lions and their coach increasingly showed frustration as plays were not executed and the unforced error count went up.  This clip takes us down to less than a minute to go, and Lions have got it back to a 4-point game.


Phoenix ran down the clock as much as allowed by the shotclock rules.  Chez Marks added a point from a freethrow so the margin was 83-88 as the clock showed 23 seconds of playing time.  Here’s another clip from this critical stage of the game.


Sturt’s three got the score to 88-89 with eleven seconds to go but Lions lost possession on a final critical play, and were then forced to foul to stop the clock again with 2.9 seconds remaining.  Chez Marks kept his nerve and sank both free throws to seal a morale-boosting win.  For Lions, Adrien Sturt led all scorers with 31 (and 9 rebounds) and #15 Tayo Ogedengbe (who turns out to be a friend of a friend of a friend I now see from Twitter!) had 20.  The bulk of the Phoenix points came from Jerome Gumbs with 24 and Myers with 23, but the latter's 13 rebounds were also a big factor in the game.  Final score 88-92
The programme


Something random
I continue to get the feeling that top-level basketball is struggling in this country at the moment and the clubs are not as secure as they were a few years back.  Cheshire have had two incarnations in the same season!  Earlier this year I dropped in to see them at the Northgate Arena one Sunday afternoon as Cheshire Jets.  A few weeks later they were under new management and ownership as Cheshire Phoenix, continuing with the fixture list.  Last season, Lions (as MK Lions) had moved to a new arena as plans for a new home alongside the football stadium melted away – but this also proved unsustainable and the franchise has decided to relocate to the Copper Box when it is released as an Olympic legacy venue.  They have become London Lions and so this Crystal Palace season is very much one of transition.  I’d enjoyed many hoops nights in Milton Keynes over the years – but this one had all the atmosphere of Pluto.  The fact that MK has lost a sports team to south London has caused some wry amusement amongst my football followership.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Nothing to report – hoops don’t count for this purpose!
What Next?
Maybe, if there is a dry enough bit of England, groundhopping landmark #500 on the lifetime list on Saturday afternoon.  At the time of writing (11.57pm on Friday night) there are pitch inspections scheduled in most places I would be interested in, and I will again be using the randomness of Twitter to decide where, if anywhere, I will be going.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day Lacks Knockout Punch in Suffolk

The Shed - where I installed myself for the duration of proceedings!

 



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Wednesday 26 December 2012 at The MEL Group Stadium
Result
AFC Sudbury 0 Needham Market 0
Competition
Isthmian League Division One North (Step 4)
Hopping
Here at 3pm because of the proximity to the 11am kickoffs of the Eastern Counties League,  for the second half of a double hop and ground 499 on the lifetime list.
Pre-match preparation
18th v 12th in the table, but past form may not apply in this local derby!
This match in one sentence
The two teams did enough to cancel each other out in continuous rain.
So what?
No change in league position for the visitors, but the home side climb two places for the moment at least.  They should avoid relegation as there are three sides already distinctly adrift.
The drama unfolds
I spent a few minutes trying to decide whether Sudbury were playing a midfield diamond, a formation that never worked for me in earlier years of Championship Manager.  They certainly had D'Arcy De'ath sitting in front of the back four, but with a magnificent name like that I imagine he can sit wherever he likes.  Unfortunately he was injured in a tackle after half an hour so ended up sat in the dugout.  Needham Market were willing to commit full-backs to forward positions and often relied on just two at the back when in possession further forward.  Both teams worked hard but stifled each other as the rain got heavier.  Sudbury had the first half chance but James Baker's shot on the turn was beaten away by Louis Johnson.  Here's the scene-setter clip from midway through the first half - Sudbury are in the yellow shirts - followed by another one from about five minutes later.



To be honest, there was not much to report in the way of critical incident, shot on target or plague of frogs before the break.  The last-mentioned would have been the most likely.  (I told you that I am determined not to get too mainstream.)  0-0 at half-time

Alex Archer, keeping goal for Sudbury, was in action twice in the first minute of the second half.  First he beat away a cross-shot and then caught a close-range header.  At the other end, his opposite number Johnson came out and missed a ball at the edge of the area but Ryan Henshaw's header looped wide.

My final clip is midway through the half.  The surface is getting trickier, players are getting tired and occasionally fractious, and there is still no sign of the frogs.


As the game neared the end, Needham Market were pressing the more of the two teams but there was no golden or gilt-edged chance, and I was not at all surprised with the second goalless scoreline of the day.  Fair play to the club for getting the fixture on and to both teams for the efforts needed to play an entertaining game.  0-0 at full-time
The programme


Something random
This is a very impressive setup at step 4 and there cannot be many better places to watch a non-league game in the pouring rain.  The clubhouse is new and spacious and there is covered standing on all four sides of the ground.  The pitch held up well considering, and even the moles warmed up outside the touchline.


Hopping for Moorfields Update
The second goalless draw of the day is not too bad for the pot as a couple of sponsors helpfully chose to compensate me for 0-0 draws!  The average number of goals per game is now down to a little over 3.3 but this is still well within the bounds predicted at the start of the season and we have plenty of time.
What Next?
Ground Number 500! Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for the landmark event in due course.

Tenmen Fenmen Can't Win







Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Wednesday 26 December 2012 at The Elgoods Fenland Stadium
Result
Wisbech Town 0 Godmanchester Rovers 0
Competition
Eastern Counties Premier League (Step 5)
Hopping
Ground no. 498 and the first half of today’s double.  Here because the home club made a helpful early declaration of “game on” on Twitter.
Pre-match preparation
Not much! (My original plan had been to go to Mildenhall but Wisbech confirmed first.)  League table would suggest that Wisbech (in 4th) would see this as a winnable home fixture.
This match in one sentence
One for the enthusiasts, a match that was reasonably entertaining both because of and in spite of the pitch.
So what?
Wisbech are now 5th and Godmanchester are 14th.
The drama unfolds
It could be that this game would have been called off on any other day of the year, but Boxing Day crowds are important to the lower league turnover.  The surface was tricky and contributed to a couple of early nervy moments for Rob Mackney in the Rovers goal.  Wisbech were on top territorially in the early stages and here is the scene-setter clip from 15 minutes in.  Wisbech are in red.


The best save of the half, though came at the other end, as Lea Jordan was called into action to save a direct free-kick.  My second clip is from the 35-min mark, and we reached half-time without a goal but with the home side looking more threatening.  0-0 at half-time


The second half started in much the same vein.


With a quarter of the game left, Dubi Ogbonna, always a nuisance up front for Wisbech (of the lumbering rather than the speedy kind today but the pitch had a part in that) stung Mackney’s palms but then a red card changed the game.  Wisbech’s Chris Bacon gave me the Tenmen Fenmen rhyming couplet with a tackle on halfway.

The pitch was now a pudding in midfield and Wisbech made a double substitution and sent on four fresh legs up front, shared in the usual way between two people.  (I can’t have this blog becoming too mainstream in its reporting.)  The tactic nearly worked, but gradually Godmanchester realised they could win this as they started to move the ball around more patiently.  With only a couple of minutes to go, they came close from this set piece.


There was time for Stacy Cartwright to shoot just wide from distance for Wisbech but the game ended goalless.  The home side will feel they should have put the game to bed earlier, and the away side might have a sense of a missed opportunity.  So, probably a fair result on the day.  Final score 0-0
The programme


Something Random
The Acme "Fenmaster" Mark 2 Ball Retriever
Hopping for Moorfields Update
I have some sponsors that are specifically paying out on 0-0 draws, so actually this is not a bad result for the charitable pot!
What Next?
AFC Sudbury v Needham Market is a step 4 local derby, and there should be enough time for a comfortable and scenic journey southwards.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Chieftains Hand a Tanking to Wightlink






Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 23 December 2012 at the Riverside Arena
Result
Chelmsford Chieftains 11 Wightlink Raiders 1
Competition
English National League Div One South (third tier of the game in England)
Hopping
Number 11 on the rinkhopping list.
Pre-match preparation
I saw the Chieftains in their bruising 5-5 draw at divisional leaders Romford last week – now they entertain second-placed Wightlink in what should be a close game.*

*wishful thinking
This match in one sentence
A disappointing anti-climax that, for the neutral, turned out to be as one-sided as a Klein bottle (one for the pure mathematicians among us) but Chieftains fans absolutely loved this demolition.
So what?
League positions unchanged but the gap between third and second is reduced.
The drama unfolds
Gary Clarke opened the scoring for Chelmsford with under two minutes gone.  1-0

Here’s a scene-setter clip – Chelmsford are in white.  There are only two officials on the ice - I assume the players ate the other one earlier.


The home side then successfully defended a couple of powerplays but apart from that ran up a 16-9 shot count in their favour during the first period.  You felt it was only a matter of time before the second score arrived, but the timing was a killer blow to Wightlink as it turned out.  There were only 22 seconds left on the clock when the puck crossed the line.  It was an unassisted shot from distance from Alex Green.  2-0 at the end of the first period

The game was soon over as a meaningful contest.  The third (Danny Hammond) came only seventeen seconds after the restart, and a fourth and fifth were on the board (the fourth from Clarke off a powerplay) before we had reached the midpoint.  3-0, 4-0, 5-0

Another powerplay was converted before two players picked up roughing penalties.  Cue jokes about Wightlink having some fight at last, before the visitors eventually picked up their consolation goal just before the buzzer (Ben Lock, I think).  James Ayling was the scorer of the fifth and sixth.  6-0, 6-1 at the end of the second period

The home team rattled in five more without reply in the third.  The last two came in the final thirty seconds of playing time. Julius Sinkovic got on the scoresheet first, Hammond scored the eighth and tenth for his hat-trick, but not before Ayling had his with the ninth goal.  Darren Brown got the rub-your-masks-in-it final score.  Final score 11-1
The programme


There is some interesting coverage of last week's 5-5 draw at Romford, with forthright views expressed by several contributors about the physical challenge and intimidation allegedly encountered by visiting sides there.
Something random
Never in doubt – clockwise!


Hopping for Moorfields Update
Nothing to report.
What Next?
Boxing Day groundhopping doubles look feasible in many parts of England, and I will make a decision depending on the weather and travel practicalities.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

On the Surface, a Fair Result




Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 22 December 2012 at The Gallagher Stadium
Result
Maidstone United 2 Worthing 2
Competition
Isthmian League Division One South (Step 4)
Hopping
Ground #497 on the lifetime list
Pre-match preparation
Nothing specific – I had originally been expecting to head north today for non-football reasons, but then on this day of umpteen postponements, the chance emerged to head to the newest non-league stadium and its weatherproof artificial surface.
This match in one sentence
The league leaders came back from two goals down to earn a point in a thoroughly entertaining game.
So what?
Maidstone lead the division by two points plus a game in hand, and Worthing are 7th with an eye on the playoff positions.
The drama unfolds
Player ID in this report will be sketchy - I recorded the team announcement from the excellent PA system, or I would have done if I had pressed the "start" button.  Ooops.  So I have been cross-referencing with other sources, as they say.  Thanks to the NLP and the Maidstone website for helping me decipher my notes.

Worthing started well, and after only three minutes and their third corner in quick succession, the ball was driven in hard by their number 10.  Jamie Brotherton celebrated as if he had deflected the ball home, but everyone seems to agree today that this was an own goal by Maidstone's Alex Brown.  0-1 after 3 minutes

Maidstone had their first sight of goal after 10 minutes, but Alex King was muscled out, and then Brotherton glanced a header just wide at the other end after 15.  Here is my scene-setter clip (Maidstone are in the amber-and-black) which ends with a neat defensive tackle (Tom Mills, I think), and clip 2 follows on immediately.



Worthing had edged the half in terms of threat and territory, but their keeper JJ Banasco-Zaragoza almost got embarrassed after coming a long way out of the box to tidy up a long ball.  Fortunately, by the time Maidstone got the ball in midfield, the keeper was back in time to catch the 50yd shot as if nothing had happened.  The league leaders caused a couple of minor tremors in the visiting defence but Worthing held the lead to the interval.  0-1 at half-time

I reckon most of the crowd expected Maidstone to come out with dry hair for the second half (so to speak) but actually Worthing went two up with a scruffy goal.  Keeper Deren Ibrahim reacted well to save a deflection but Matt Daniel was in the right place to score from close range.  0-2 after 56min

As might be expected, Maidstone made attacking substitutions.  Here's a clip.


However, the next notable event was an excellent save by Ibrahim after Worthing exploited the extra space to create a clear shooting chance on the left.  That might, with the benefit of perfect hindsight, have to go down as the hinge point of the game.  Maidstone created their clearest chance so far after 69 minutes when sub Ade Olorunda headed just wide arriving at pace from a right-wing cross, but then they had a goal back with a "route one" goal.  It was a lovely weighted ball, and King's neatly lobbed finish was excellent.  Game on in all senses of the word and the momentum had switched.  1-2 after 70 minutes

This clip is from 78 minutes.


There was a momentary panic as a curling Worthing free-kick needed another Ibrahim save, and then full-back Steve Metcalf almost scored with a header at the far post.  This would prove costly, because, with my watch showing 85 minutes, this happened.  The scorer is Ade Olorunda.  2-2 after 85 minutes


The rain came down hard in stoppage time for my final clip.  Maidstone pressed for the winner but Worthing held on for the point.  Final score 2-2


The programme

Something random
I’ve had a bit of Faroe Islands nostalgia this week, with one of my photos of the ground at Eiði winning a prize courtesy of the lovely people who look after the European Football Weekends group.  So as it happens, I have written about football on artificial surfaces before, on the page that remains the most-hit on this blog: 


However, today’s match at Maidstone was interesting in that both teams were playing the traditional English style anyway.  The ball was up in the air and down the channels a lot more than I saw in the Faroes, but it was noticeable that players stayed on their feet more.  I have to say that I am a fan, and the FA really do need to have a re-think about their position.  This was the only game on across the region.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Four goals taking us to 123 from 35 games, round about half-way for the project at an average of just over 3.5 goals a game.  At the moment, the penny-a-goal pledges look to be costing about £2.50 each by the end of the season.  You can add a pledge at any time by contacting me via Twitter or by email – headyapp (at) hotmail (dot) com
What Next?
Weather permitting, a Boxing Day double to take me to 499 on the lifetime list and the big 500 before the end of the calendar year.  No idea where as yet – there will be randomness involved if the rain allows!  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for the announcement in due course.