Sunday, 1 January 2012

Star in the Descendant as Bloxwich Wake Up

This game was available on Freeview

Hopperational details    

Date & Venue
Saturday 31 December 2011 at The Red Lion Ground, Somerfield Road, Bloxwich   
Bloxwich United 3 Continental Star 2   
Midland Football Combination Premier Division (Step 6)   
A short journey from the planned hop to Tividale, whose 11am match was postponed, for this 12 noon confrontation.   

This match in one sentence   
The archetypal game of two halves, with the visitors' two-goal half-time lead finally wiped out in a controversial climax just after the home goalkeeper had been correctly sent off.   

So what?   
Continental Star were second recently but find themselves in fourth - the divisional leaders Bolehall Swifts had an 11-2 win today.  Bloxwich United are safely in mid-table.   

The drama unfolds   
I had not done any pre-match research but a quick look at the league table suggested that Continental Star would need a win to keep any realistic title challenge alive.  They started the stronger and were indeed the more imposing physically of the two sides on a wet pitch.  Here's the scene-setter clip, with the home side in red:

They took the lead after 12 minutes with a direct free kick, as captured here.  The scorer is Davion Hamilton.  0-1

The second goal came nine minutes later.  A superb ball from the back gave #9 Daniel Holgate a chance to run at the defence, and in full flow he would take some stopping.  He rounded the keeper and shrugged off the challenge of defender Steven Coyne, but in bundling the latter to the floor and the ball over the line there were shouts for a foul, and if not a foul then offside, and if not offside then not picking on someone his own size, from the Bloxwich bench.  The referee had a lengthy conversation with the lino before confirming the goal.  0-2

Holgate scores Star's disputed second goal
Consultation in progress
The rest of the half got a bit feisty at times as the tackles flew in on the tricky surface and the ref was working hard to keep a semblance of control.  Star looked likely to add a third but Bloxwich improved defensively.  I struck up a conversation with two hoppers who had dropped in for the first half on the way to a higher-level game, and we all agreed that they had probably seen enough to get the sense of this match.  How wrong we were.  0-2 at half-time

I still cannot really offer any explanation of why this game turned the way it did, unless complacency was setting in to the Star players.  Bloxwich had a goal disallowed before they pulled the first back on the hour mark.  It was an odd-looking goal, a high loopy shot from Tony Simkiss dropping out of the sky and over the Star keeper, Lucien Nrabando.  1-2

The game was now more evenly contested.  Holgate had a good chance for a third in a one-on-one with the keeper, but his rolled goalbound shot was intercepted by a defender in the six-yard box.  The game changed and the tide turned when Bloxwich substitute Adrian Jones crossed to the far post from a freekick and Ashley Southall scored.  2-2

Here are some clips from around the 80 minute mark.

Having been at the other end, anticipating Star's third, I now moved round, and the lino will be pleased that I did.  I happened to be filming and in the right place to capture the key moment.  The next clip clearly confirms that Nrabando handled the ball outside the box in stoppage time, and so his red card was correct.

It was necessary to put an outfield player in goal, and then Adrian Jones stepped up to take the free-kick.  3-2

There was time for one other horror-tackle moment before the final whistle.  Plenty of drama for the passing neutrals, of which there were many.  Final score 3-2

It has to be Bloxwich United's substitute #12 Adrian Jones for the cross leading to the equaliser and the dramatic freekick winner to secure the points.
A snippet from the programme   

From the history of the home club:
"In 2001 plans were announced to merge Blakenhall and Bloxwich Town to form Bloxwich United FC.  The team were to play at Blakenhall's Red Lion ground, whilst redevelopment work took place at Abbey Park, home of Bloxwich Town.  Sadly, just 19 games into the Southern League Western Division season, the plug was pulled on the club... Bloxwich Town were to bounce back and were reformed for the start of 2002/3 ... the club rather surprisingly folded in May 2005.  The emergence (after three years) of Bloxwich United AFC will put the town back on the footballing map.  By working together we can help raise the profile and kudos of Bloxwich."

What Next?   
M5/M42/A435 to Studley (blogpost to follow), arriving at 2.55pm just in time to see their game with Tipton Town.  

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