Thursday, 16 February 2012

Welfare Fare Well on the Road to Wembley

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Wednesday 15 February 2012 at Inkersall Road
Staveley Miners Welfare 2 Oadby Town 0
FA Vase Round 5.  Both clubs are going well in their respective leagues, the Northern Counties East Premier (step 5) and the East Midlands Counties (step 6).
Ground number 450 on the lifetime list and a chance to good to miss – a midweek rearrangement of a postponed tie.
This match in one sentence
The home side’s task was made easier by a fluffed goalkeeper’s clearance meaning they could defend the latter stages with the comfort of a two-goal cushion, and the keeper’s earlier penalty-saving heroics went to waste.
So what?
Staveley MW go into the last eight of this competition for the first time in their history where they will host the winners of the St Ives v Gresley tie.  Oadby Town will now, in the words of the cliché, “concentrate on the league” where they are seeking to bounce back to step 5 at the first time of asking.
Something random
My eye was caught by the programme’s assertion that Staveley have been drawn at home only 3 times out of the last 16 FA Vase ties over the last eight seasons.  I had to check this out of course, so here is a mathematical diversion despite the fact that the claim does not seem to match the complete club Vase record on the next page.  These figures would apply to any club in any traditional cuptie competition.

Let’s assume that hotball conspiracy theorists are wrong and that all draws are fair and there is an exact 50:50 chance of being home or away.

For three successive ties, there are only eight (2 to the power 3) possible sequences (HHH, HHA, HAH, AHH, HAA, AHA, AAH and AAA) so it can be seen that the chances of three home ties out of three would be 1 in 8, or 12.5%.

For four successive ties, we have 16 (2 to the power 4) possibilities (HHHH, HHHA, HHAH, HAHH, AHHH, HHAA, HAHA, HAAH, AHHA, AHAH, AAHH, HAAA, AHAA, AAHA, AAAH, AAAA) of which only four (in bold) have exactly three out of four homes (not counting the HHHH sequence, stay with me on this!).  So the chances are 4 in 16, or 25%.

As my readership plummets, we can see that for five successive ties there are 10 sequences with 3H and 2A (HHHAA, HHAHA, HHAAH, HAHHA, HAHAH, HAAHH, AHHHA, AHHAH, AHAHH, AAHHH) out of a possible total of 2 to the power 5 = 32.  I have not listed the other 22 sequences like AHHHH that don’t have 3Hs.  The chances of three homes out of five ties is thus 10 out of 32, or 31.25%.

The emerging pattern is shown in this table which will enable us to make the jump to 3 homes out of 16 ties without the need for a maths degree.  The “powers of 2” in the third column will be familiar to most people.  For the second column, I have shown how it is possible to work out the number in the next row from the ones before, because they turn out to be sums of successive “triangle numbers” which are 1, 1+2, 1+2+3 … or 1, 3, 6, 10,15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55 … and so on.  Beautiful, isn't it?  So neat, so simple - and nothing so far that is beyond the old O level ;)

Number of Ties
Number of sequences with exactly three homes (X)
Total possible number of sequences (N)
Chances (X/N) as a %
8 (2 to the power 3)
4 (=1+3)
(2 to the power 4)
10 (=1+3+6)
20 (=1+3+6+10)

** You might think that the chances of getting 3 homes out of 6 ties would be 50%, but out of the 64 possible sequences there is only 1 with no homes (AAAAAA) and 1 with six homes (HHHHHH), 6 with one home (HAAAAA, AHAAAA, AAHAAA, AAAHAA, AAAAHA, AAAAAH), and 6 with five homes (AHHHHH, HAHHHH, HHAHHH, HHHAHH, HHHHAH, HHHHHA).  We have calculated 20 ways of getting exactly three aways above.  1+1+6+6+20 = 34 and the other 30 out of the 64 possibilities are 15 sequences with two homes and 15 with four homes.  For homework, list them … sorry, old habits and all that.  This isn’t a paradox because the average number of homes out of all the possible sequences is exactly one half.

Now we can continue to develop the pattern …

Number of Ties
Number of sequences with exactly three homes (X)
Total possible number of sequences (N)
Chances (X/N) as a %
1+3 = 4
1+3+6 = 10
1+3+6+10 = 20
1+3+6+10+15 = 35
1+3+6+10+15+21 = 56
56+28 = 84
84+36 = 120
120+45 = 165
165+55 = 220
220+66 = 286
286+78 = 364
364+91 = 455
455+105 = 560

So we can see that the chances of Staveley being drawn home for EXACTLY three out of sixteen fair dichotomous draws was just under one percent, about the same as the chances of me gaining new followers after this blogpost.  Now for the football.
The drama unfolds
The only downside of midweek matches is that my stills pix do not do justice to the impressive (and very blue-and-white stripey, but nothing wrong with that, oh no) facilities of this step 5 club.  @BeatTheFirstMan and I chewed the low-fat alternatives before the game in the comfortable surroundings of The Arkwright Arms and then the clubhouse.  Teamsheets (immaculately word-processed but labelled 6th round, ooops) flowed like (insert something white and flowing here later) and I purchased the rights to the 13th minute for the first-goal-scored.  I hate waiting till the end to find that I have lost again.  As temperatures plummeted, with chip butties in hand, we identified the planets visible overhead and awaited the teams.

Staveley (in the blue, of course) were playing towards Jupiter in the first half and the first action of note was a skied shot by Jordan Eagers after 3 minutes which will be dropping into The Great Red Spot in a few decades time.  They also rattled the bar with an Ashley Foyle header after 7 as they imposed themselves on the early stages.  My scene-setter clip from 10 minutes in includes glimpses of Venus as a very bright dot, low in the sky, and the aforementioned Jupiter, fainter and higher to the left.  Things are looking up, and as any astrologer will tell you, when Jupiter is in the descendant in Aries then it is unlikely that goals will be scored from the penalty spot on days ending in the letter y.

By midway through the half, Oadby had settled and the game was more even.  Their first real shot was straight into the midriff of Ian Deakin.  Then Staveley’s Joe Thornton (I think) went on a strong run from the half-way line.  As he reached the area, being forced slightly right, he went down as Elliott Shilliam came out to dive at his feet.  No penalty, said the officials, and rightly so I thought.  However, the ref pointed to the spot for a softer challenge after 40 minutes (though to be fair there were not many protests) and here’s what happened.

Great work by Shilliam to save Ryan Damms' penalty and Thornton's follow-up, and he needed treatment before the resulting corner.  His evening was about to go from sublime to ridiculous in the next half-hour.  First, the ball broke to Thornton and his low shot to the near post found a big gap en route to the back of the net.  Staveley saw out the last few minutes before the interval without much difficulty.  1-0 at half-time

Whatever plans Oadby had for second-half tactics were ruined after 53 minutes, and sadly for them I was pointing the camera in the direction of their defence.  You can actually hear a sharp intake of breath as Shilliam’s clearance became a pass.  Who’d be a keeper?

Thornton won’t get many easier chances than that.  2-0

Oadby, of course, now had to take the game to the opposition and they so nearly got one back very soon from an inswinging corner that caused momentary defensive chaos.  The next clip has one of several corners and set pieces that they had in this phase of the game.

Oadby’s Michael Reeve was very unhappy to be tripped in full flow in an incident that led to a yellow card for a home defender.  Deakin did well to push away Jon Stevenson’s free-kick to his right.  The next clip has a classic “Oooooh!” from the Oadby supporters (who, it has to be said, outsung their counterparts like the last time I saw them).

However, the home defence stood firm and it was only the occasional set-piece like this that really threatened. 

The game finished with Staveley running the ball into the corner to see out the final seconds.  Job done, very efficiently.  Final score 2-0
As chosen by my viewing companion @BeatTheFirstMan, Staveley’s centre-back and captain Tom Jones.  Visiting forwards were well-marshalled, colleagues were organised, headers were won, the sheet was kept clean and It’s Not Unusual by all accounts on The Green Green Grass of Home matches.  @BeatTheFirstMan is not responsible for those gratuitous musical references.
A snippet from the programme
Plenty of Comic Sans content with good coverage of both clubs, and a very honest appraisal of the last time these sides met, in the first qualifying round of the same competition in 2008-9.
“A very poor performance by Staveley saw them beaten at Oadby Town.  The manner of the defeat was so disappointing and demoralising.  There was little effort and what effort that was on show was misdirected and naïve.  With 5 defeats in the last 6 games improvements need to be made…  Two games after, and two further defeats, the club made managerial changes.”
What I learned today
I can’t work my new smartphone with freezing cold fingers.  Will practise and try to do better with the tweet update spellings in future.  Shocking.
What Next?
Not a clue.  I am making it up as I go along, so keep following @GrahamYapp on Twitter.  There are some other 5th round ties on Saturday, though, and there’s a good chance I will rock up for one of them.

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