Sunday, 22 January 2012

Drawing in Derbyshire

Pew-type fittings to ensure equal width allocation for the bums-on-seats
The faithful have arrived and the pews are packed

This is a step 5 mascot called Elvis Gresley.  Class.

Between songs, Gresley fans offer encouragement to the visiting goalkeeper.
Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 21 January 2012 at The Moat Ground
Gresley 1 Three Bridges 1 after extra time
FA Vase Round 4
Both these clubs are title-chasing in their step 5 leagues – the Midland Alliance and the Sussex Division One respectively – and Three Bridges in particular have a ridiculous number of games in hand now.
Venue #448 on the lifetime list and I am here because Gresley were the first unvisited and reachable home club to declare “game definitely on” on my Twittery timeline.  Quasi-randomish rather than truly random, but that’s life.  Nice to meet up with Steven aka @TheTravellingFan for the first time so you can catch his take on the game from the link on the right.
This match in one sentence
Gresley had the better of the game and the weather conditions after a disastrous start, but Three Bridges are no pushovers and it will be a fascinating replay.
So what?
The replay is next Saturday, and the winner will go into the last sixteen.
The drama unfolds
Gresley goalkeeper Gary Hateley had missed two games for a honeymoon.  His understudy Tom Gutteridge had two clean sheets but nevertheless the man with the David Dickinson tan was back.  He had a nightmare start – he brought down Abu Touray to concede a penalty after only five minutes.  Fortunately Touray was heading away from goal otherwise he might have had a red card too.  Tim Rivers slotted home the penalty.  0-1

My scene-setter clip catches a header by Gresley’s Michael Nottingham and the sterling work of the raffle-ticket seller in the background.  Gresley are in red.

The locals were unhappy at their side’s poor showing in the first twenty minutes, and they did not look like a side who could have despatched King’s Lynn and Gornal Athletic from this season’s competition.  They gradually turned up as the half went on.  James Jepson turned up on the left and his cross was beaten out by Simon Lehkyj in the Three Bridges’ goal.  Both Mark Goodfellow and Dean Oliver had efforts blocked in quick succession.  My second clip is from just after the half-hour, a half-chance again for Gresley.

They were so nearly level after 40 minutes, as Goodfellow’s low driven cross only just eluded Royce Turville and Rob Spencer coming in.  Three Bridges held on until the break.  0-1 at half-time

The blustery conditions worsened to order over the interval and if Gresley had made the original choice of ends then their captain is a genius.  Or a meteorologist. The equaliser that had been coming duly arrived after 50 minutes as Spencer fashioned an unmissable chance for Turville from 8 metres directly in front of goal.  1-1

Three Bridges thought they had equalised almost immediately but, as my American friends would say, there was a flag on the play.  It was a lino’s, for offside.  The game settled into a windswept regular pattern.  Gresley pressing and looking likely to score with Jepson prominent in midfield, and Three Bridges looking potentially dangerous on the break but never quite finding the right final ball.  Here are a couple of clips.

Lehkyj distinguished himself by doing just enough to claw the ball away, more than once.  One such occasion, together with an unsuccessful appeal for a pen, is caught on the next clip.

There were no more goals, so we went to extra time.  1-1 at 90 minutes

Gresley continued in the same direction for the first period.  Here are three short clips to sum up.  A Gresley shot goes high and wide.  Tim Rivers hits the bar to remind everyone that Three Bridges are still around.  A Gresley shot goes closer.

However, there were no goals.  Had Gresley missed their best chance? They now had to face a final fifteen minutes facing the wind.  1-1 after 105 minutes

To their credit, Gresley did manage some attacks during this time, but Honeymoon Hateley had the final say with a double save, as shown on this final clip.  1-1 at the end of extra time

All this counts for nothing as we move to Sussex next week.  On the final final whistle, a Gresley player kicked the ball away in frustration and a Three Bridges player punched the air.  All to play for.
A snippet from the programme
The progamme is called “Taken as Red” and this blogger approves of that for a start.  The chairman thanks Harry Southern in an insight into how clubs run at this level …

“It takes a lot of hard work to run the Social Club and I can consider myself lucky having Harry at the club.  Unpaid for over thirty years, thanks from the board and the supporters, Harry, I take my hat off to you.”
What Next?
A quick sprint to Leicester for some British Basketball League courthopping action – Leicester Riders v MK Lions.

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