Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Jackson Three

Guard of honour from the youth teams and a pigeon club in the background!

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 21 April at the VT Sports Ground, Portsmouth Rd
Sholing 2 Halesowen Town 3
Southern League Division One South & West (Step 4)
Lifetime list #464
This match in one sentence
An odd game in which both sides looked likely to win at various stages, settled by a penalty meaning that the visitors twice came from behind..
So what?
Sholing were already guaranteed a playoff place, but this result means an away game at either Poole Town or Gosport Borough for the semi-final.  They will finish 4th or 5th depending on next weekend’s results.  Halesowen Town are safely embedded in mid-table.
Something random
Sholing is the re-named VT FC and the old Vosper Thornycroft Pigeon Club house is within the ground.

The drama unfolds
In bright sunshine, Halesowen had the better of the opening exchanges before Sholing took the lead after 7 minutes with a gift-wrapped comedy goal.  Halesowen centre-back Brendan Kelly’s back-header was too strong for the arriving goalkeeper Paul Evans, and Sholing’s leading scorer Lee Wort had an age and an empty net to open the scoring.  1-0

At that precise moment in time, Sholing had ten men on the pitch with full-back Marc Diaper receiving treatment to his ankle.  They nearly added a second when left-winger Marvin McLean reached the byline after a great run, but the visiting defence just about coped.  There was an end-of-season atmosphere about the game, with players getting plenty of time on the ball and both trying to play on the floor.  Sholing were now on top, so I headed towards the goal they were attacking just in time for Halesowen to equalise at the other end.  Marcus Jackson broke through from the right and placed an excellent shot to the far corner.  He’s a double-somersaulter by way of celebration.  1-1

Here’s a clip to set the scene.

Barry Mason creates Sholing's second
On 32 minutes, Sholing regained the lead.  Barry Mason did superbly well, although given plenty of space, to control a high ball on the right.  His low driven cross was parried initially by Evans but then Wort set up Byron Mason for a splendid finish.  There was no further scoring before half-time but I have one more clip which almost has an overhead kick.  2-1

After a half-time chat with the ref’s dad – yes, I can confirm that this one does indeed have a parent – the second half began in changing weather conditions.  The wind started to swirl and rain threatened.  I positioned myself in anticipation of a third Sholing goal.  Here’s an early clip and an if-only moment.

They should indeed have had the third on the hour mark.  Wort was unselfish and set up McLean for an unmissable chance, which he scuffed, so given that strikers will only be so unselfish once in a decade, we won’t see that again.

Sholing were forced to replace their keeper, Mike Hookway coming on for Lee Webber.  Halesowen subs Jean-Michel Gueyes and Nathan Jones combined from left to centre, and Jones’ shot brought a flying one-handed save from Hookway.  Unfortunately, it fell to Marcus Jackson in space who fired in from distance and we saw the double-somersault once again.  2-2

Both sides had half-chances as we entered the last 15 minutes.  It took what appeared to be a soft penalty to win it.  I think the decision is for handball but from the other end I wasn’t sure.  Marcus Jackson grabbed the ball and negotiated the hat-trick opportunity – here’s the clip showing job done and the trademark.  2-3

Sholing sub Jack McCarthy had a half-chance with a header within a minute and I took two more clips as Sholing pressed for a point.  The last one has the final whistle.  Final score 2-3

Hard to look beyond the somersaulting hat-trick hero for Halesowen, Marcus Jackson.  For Sholing, the wide play of Barry Mason and Marvin McLean always looked threatening.
A snippet from the programme
“The Boatmen have a long but fragmented history, running teams from the Woolston Works as early as 1884… Woolston Works won the first ever Hampshire Cup Final in 1888, beating Winchester 2-0.  There was some controversy that year concerning Woolston’s professional attitude, which was infamously referred to as “Kesson’s Boots”.  Andover were beaten in an earlier round, in a match in which a Glasgow-based player of that name played a prominent part.  Andover protested that Kesson should be disqualified on the grounds of residency.  Although he had played for Woolston Works earlier in the season, he had since moved back to Glasgow.  Woolston’s appeal rested on the fact that he had left a number of clothing items at his local lodgings, and this should be interpreted as evidence of his intention to return.  The Hampshire FA upheld the appeal and allowed Kesson to play.”
What I learned today
Many thanks to Sholing FC in general and in particular reserve team manager Dave Fear for their hospitality today.  For the record, Dave’s team have not so much won this season's Wyvern Combination League as smacked, owned, pwned, qwned, rwned and swned it.  Their lead stands at 20pts before today and will end up as at least 14.

For the second week running I encountered a player with a WBA link – Halesowen are managed these days by Shaun Cunnington.  They also have a few ex-WBA academy players on their books, but none on the pitch today.
What Next?
Other commitments mean that I will be hopping somewhere in or around Hertfordshire next Saturday, and at the time of writing I am not sure about midweek, so as ever, watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details.

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