Tuesday, 28 August 2012

... Deeply Henley









Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Monday 27 August 2012 (7.45pm) at The Triangle
Result
Henley Town 1 Chalfont Wasps 5
Competition
Hellenic League Division One East (step 6)
Hopping
I am here because Henley rhymes with Selsey (and Horley) and Crawley.  Several Twitter friends shared my liking for the original plan of Horley, Crawley and Henley, which sounds like a firm of solicitors.  It makes a change from the dice, and I am not working with birds again anytime soon.  This match is the third of the day and takes the lifetime list up to 474.
Pre-match preparation
Wasps are mid-table but Henley have had a disastrous start to the season, bottom of the league with four losses and a 0-19 tally in the goals columns.  The club was on the point of closing – they are in the step 6 eastern division after demotion from the premier league because of ground grading issues, presumably stemming from funding difficulties.
This match in one sentence
Valiant but at times naive, Henley’s commendable playing style got them into trouble as they tired against a more streetwise Wasps side, and though the better team won, late goals somewhat distorted the scoreline.
So what?
At least Henley have got rid of that zero in the goals (for) column.  Wasps climb to fifth.
The drama unfolds
Henley's young side could have been a goal down in the first minute but Michael Wilson shot narrowly wide.  The same player then had a sharp shot tipped onto the bar and over.  Chalfont were taking hold of the game, but there was still no score after 20 minutes.  Here's the scene-setter clip. Henley are in the white shirts.



The opening goal came around the midway point of the first half, and Tom Seddon is the name on the scoresheet.  We waited to see if Henley heads would drop.  1-0


In fact, they drew level after 34 minutes with a "route one" goal.  Jason Belgrave took advantage of the merest hesitation from the goalkeeper and poked home the side's first league goal of the season.  1-1

However, they couldn't hang on till half-time.  They survived one scare from a corner, needing a goal-line clearance, but their defensive line was soon breached and Marc Holt had a very easy finish as shown in this clip.  1-2




Henley remained positive and had two more shooting chances before the break.  1-2 at half-time

They started the second half trying to play the game constructively, passing the ball from the back.  The defenders were prepared to dribble and pass their way out of their area.  Most managers at this level would have apoplexy, but this appeared to be encouraged from the bench.  It was good to watch, but inexperience and fatigue led to many scary moments.

Henley lasted until 69 minutes, then a direct long and straight ball from the back caused major problems.  The defence were outpaced, the goalkeeper came out but was bypassed, and Daire Stack walked the ball into the net.  1-3

The pace of Seddon was also instrumental in the next goal, six minutes later.  He manufactured a perfect pass to substitute Fred Tripp in the centre, who slid in with perfect timing.  1-4

Tripp drew a good save soon after, but the Henley fight was evaporating and Seddon got another with 10 minutes left.  The final whistle was something of a relief.  Henley captain Chris Appleby, an experienced head at centre-back, deserves a mention for his on-pitch work in supporting and encouraging his younger team-mates with the optimal balance of praise and criticism.  Final score 1-5
The programme


Something random
Groundhoppers everywhere, go and support this team of underdogs this season, especially if you have a sunny afternoon to spare.  The club is up against it and every bit of revenue will help.  This ground has the potential to be utterly charming once more, and there is a trainline right next to it for multi-obsessives.  The town is wealthy enough to support a decent football club.  If you live there and are minted (there's a fair chance), they are looking for sponsors.
Always stay hydrated during serial groundhopping
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Another six goals to add to the tally which stands at 37 after 9 hops, very close to the predicted average of four per game.  The new school year starts soon, and grounds will be added at the rate of one or two a week until (weather permitting) further spurts in the October half-term and the Christmas break.  A penny-a-goal pledge should still cost you less than £3 at the end of the season.
What Next?
A night of blogpost writing to keep you entertained in a timely manner.  Thinking about Rotherham United next Saturday to restore my current 92.  Also thinking about something local tonight, but not committed yet.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!



... Madly Crawley (Down) ...

The signage has not yet caught up with this season's name change for the club.
A goalkeeper, and a 'plane landing at Gatwick.  The comma is important, even though there could be a goalkeeper on the 'plane for all we know.  But then I'd need the plural, so best not to ask.
 

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Monday 27 August 2012 (3pm) at The Haven Centre
Result
Crawley Down Gatwick 3 Dulwich Hamlet 1
Competition
Isthmian League Division 1 South (step 4)
Hopping
I am here because Crawley rhymes with Horley, where I was unable to go at 11am because of the latter’s FA Cup stalemate with Leatherhead.  At this stage it is a rhyming couplet, I suppose.
Pre-match preparation
Crawley Down and Dulwich are nominally top and second in the league with two wins from two.  Crawley are out of the FA Cup but Dulwich through to the next round, but those Saturday outcomes are clear enough to mean this fixture goes ahead and I am not searching for more teams ending in –ley.  Joy.
This match in one sentence
Better finishing and scoring at the right time were key factors in bringing about a home win in a match between two good, strong and skilful sides.
So what?
Crawley Down stay top on goal difference from Folkestone Invicta who jump over Dulwich who drop to third in the fledgling league table.
The drama unfolds
Crawley Down's defender Jack Page lasted all of two minutes before turning an ankle.  The first action of his replacement Tom Graves was to clatter Ellis Green but the freekick came to nothing.  Here's a scene-setter clip.  Crawley Down are in red.



The first goal of the game was this header by Gabi Odunaike.  It was rather against the territorial run of play but Hamlet had been in the habit of leaving space at the back.  1-0



The first chance to equalise came soon enough, but this direct freekick from Dean Carpenter was over the bar.


Jamie Cade should have put the home side two up from Luke Blewden's pass from the left into the six-yard box, and ten minutes before the interval Odunaike presented him with an easier one from the same direction.  No mistake this time, and the lead was protected until the interval.  2-0 at half-time

Dulwich started the second half with plenty of attacking intent.  Craig Richards chopped down Nyron Clunis after 52 minutes - Anthony di Bernardo initially saved Carl Wilson-Dennis' penalty but the striker just got to the rebound first.  2-1


The initial penalty was saved but rebounded just enough to allow the follow-up score
Dulwich centre-back Josh Turner then missed a free header - it was to be the first of several spurned chances.  However, Crawley Down restored their two-goal cushion soon enough - the defence was breached and Ross Morley, right in the centre, had an age to decide where to place the ball.  Phil Wilson got a hand to it, but to no avail.  This was the killer moment as it turned out.  3-1

When Wilson-Dennis controlled a high cross superbly but then poked the ball over the bar with 20 minutes still to go, you suspected that this was Crawley Down's day.  Peter Adeniyi scooped a shot over too and in the end the visiting challenge rather faded away.  Final score 3-1
The programme


Something random
Brilliant to bump into the Sarf London bloggers @ThePigeonStands who have, like me, been involved in this season’s work of fiction that is The Fake FA Cup.  See our mutual friends at therealfacup.co.uk for details.  Having spotted that they were there through live tweeting, I was initially worried that my "man with specs and blue rucksack" self-description in response might not be distinctive enough with so many bank holiday hoppers on the loose.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Another four goals to add to the tally.
What Next?
M23/M25/M4 towards Henley Town who have helpfully created an evening kickoff to allow a Bank Holiday rhyming triple.



Truly Selsey ...






Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Monday 27 August 2012 (11am) at the High Street Ground
Result
Selsey 1 Lancing 5
Competition
Sussex County League Division 1 (step 5)
Hopping
I am here because Horley’s game has been postponed (they have an FA Cup replay this week instead) and Selsey rhymes with Horley.  It was either here or Hartley Wintney but the lure of the sea was the clincher.  You will understand in two matches time why the rhyming mattered.  You may not care, but you will understand.  Here is a token sea shot to prove the lure, with a bird on a stick added in the classical intersection-of-thirds position for aesthetic reasons.


Pre-match preparation
Not a lot because of the last-minute change of itinerary.  Two clubs with similar league records but Lancing beat Selsey 6-1 in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.
This match in one sentence
Order was eventually restored after Selsey took an unlikely lead, though the final two goals were late in the game.
So what?
Still very early in the season, but Lancing climb to mid-table and Selsey are in the lower reaches.
The drama unfolds
Lancing were well on top right from the start, and so it was that Selsey took the lead out of nowhere in the 22nd minute.  Graham Bush flicked the ball up and sent a superb dipping volley into the far corner.  To be fair, that's what he had intended and he did well not to look too surprised.  1-0

The London tones of Selsey manager Richard Towers rang across the ground.  He told the lino on the far side that he couldn't just go round sticking his flag up, but fortunately the one on the near side wasn't paying attention.  His flag for offside ruled out an equaliser for Lee Garnham sliding in at the far post.  Selsey really needed to hang on to the lead till half-time - they were now playing more confidently - but with 41 minutes on the clock the ball broke from a tackle to Darren Boswell, who fired a splendid shot low into the left-hand corner.  1-1

Just before the half-time whistle, Garnham got his goal from almost the same position as the earlier disallowed effort.  It seemed likely to the neutrals that this could open floodgates.  1-2 at half-time

Here is a clip from early in the second half which includes some of Towers' verbal interventions, fortunately broadcastable.  Just afterwards, he offered the advice to his players that they "should keep it off that big geezer's head".  Selsey are the Blues.



Meanwhile, winger Wayne Joseph was causing Selsey problems with direct runs to the touchline, although the visitors had to wait until midway through the half for their third goal.  It was a great lob, flicked with the outside of the boot, by Richard Hudson from midfield.  1-3

Sam Joyce was caught out of his goal with ten minutes to go as he had chased a ball to the touchline.  He was lucky that Lancing messed up the chance.  No matter for them, however, as Boswell then got his second of the day with nine minutes to go.  1-4

The second clip shows Selsey in search of a late consolation.



Sadly, what actually happened just after this was that the Selsey defence was ripped apart and Hudson had a tap-in.  1-5

Lancing keeper Sam Cronin tipped over Barney Covill's goalbound shot just before the ref blew the final whistle.  Final score 1-5
The programme


Something random
There’s Hinshelwoods in these parts.  Marc (son of Paul, nephew of Danny) wore the number 3 shirt for Selsey.  Indeed, Danny has had two spells as manager of the club and another son, Scott, has played here too.  The names will be familiar to fans of Crystal Palace and Brighton among others.


Most of the adjoining houses had direct access to the ground through Secret Garden-type gates in the hedge, but no turnstiles, surely a missed opportunity ...
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Six goals is above the predicted season average but nothing else to report.
What Next?
A scenic drive up the A29 towards Gatwick, where Crawley Down kick off against Dulwich Hamlet at 3pm.

Monday, 27 August 2012

High Point for Highworth Town






Adventurous Ball Boy of the Week
Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 26 August 2012 at The Elms
Result
Highworth Town 1 Shortwood United 0
Competition
FA Cup Preliminary Round.  Highworth play league football in the step 5 Hellenic Premier League, the same division that Shortwood played in last year.  The visitors finished second but qualified for promotion for their first-ever step 4 season in the Southern League Division 1 S&W.
Hopping
I'm here for ground 471 on the lifetime list because it is the only FA Cup tie taking place at an "unvisited" ground today. 
Pre-match preparation
Highworth have won all three home games including a win over Corsham Town in the previous round.  Shortwood enter the cup at this point, and have a draw and a defeat from their opening league games.
This match in one sentence
Highworth survived a nervy opening and a frantic ending to record the win.
So what?
Highworth will go to Wootton Bassett Town in the next round and take £1750.
The drama unfolds
Highworth's afternoon started badly as left-back Joe Deyager signalled almost immediately that he was injured.  Number 5 Johnny Aitkenhead moved across, Number 9 Darren Smart dropped back into central defence, and Talif Hamza came on to lead the front line.  All this in front of keeper Elliott Jackson, Highworth's third of the season and making his first appearance.  Shortwood could easily have taken the lead in these opening exchanges - they appealed strongly for a penalty (mind you, who doesn't these days?) and caused mayhem in the box from a series of crosses and corners.  One goal-line clearance was needed - and there would be another later.  It took several minutes before Highworth had a worthwhile attack and Hamza's shot was tipped over by Tom King.


The two first-half clips are a scene-setter from the clubhouse end (Highworth in the red and black) starting with the cricket pitch, and then one from the half-hour mark which finishes with a direct free-kick to Shortwood.  I have moved round to the shade at the other end.  By this stage it was an even game, but there were no goals before the interval.  0-0 at half time




The second half continued in the same pattern.  By this point the teams looked equally confident, and there was plenty of attacking intent though defences stayed on top.  The Highworth breakthrough came after 73 minutes.  The defence missed a clearance and Bradley Clarke found himself clean through on King, with plenty of time to write his autobiography and conduct a signing session.  To his credit, he kept his composure, rounded the keeper and completed the easy finish.  1-0

Given the knockout nature of the competition, Shortwood had to press forward, and it has to be said they were unlucky.  Crosses were often too close to Jackson, though, and these two short clips are from this part of the game.





In the final moments, the officials missed a clear shirt-pull (but I can see why it would have been invisible to both of them) and James Singh hit the post with a cross-shot.  One final penalty appeal was correctly turned down as sub Ross Langworthy was challenged in the box, and Highworth held on.  A plucky rather than a convincing performance, but they are through and that's what this competition is all about.  Final score 1-0
The programme


Something random
This match had been moved to Sunday because the adjacent cricket club had priority yesterday.  This also explains the dugouts-on-wheels which would otherwise be fielding in the covers or midwicket area.

Hopping for Moorfields Update
Just the one goal to add to the relevant records making 21 from 6 matches.  No sign of snow, Dutchmen, somersaults, farm animals or any of the more unusual sponsored events.
What Next?
Bank Holiday Mondays are made for hopping triples and the plan is for a jaunt to Selsey, Crawley Down and Henley Town.  After that, who knows.  Maybe Rotherham United on Saturday 1 September to restore the 92.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for news!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Welfare say Farewell to Sleaford









Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 25 August 2012 at Eslaforde Park
Result
Sleaford Town 1 Rainworth Miners Welfare 2
Competition
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Hopping
Ground 470 on the lifetime list.  A long random story as to why I am here on this particular date, involving the final of the 2012 Australian Open Snooker Championship in Melbourne, a stopwatch, my Twitter feed and a recent attack of labyrinthitis.  No birds were involved.  All is documented in earlier posts.
Pre-match preparation
Sleaford beat Holwell Sports 2-0 in the last round but have lost both of their first two league games in the step 5 United Counties Premier League.  Rainworth were the first Miners Welfare team to reach step 4 and are starting their third season at that level - they join the FA Cup at this stage having won one and lost one of their league games in Division 1S of the Northern Premier League.
This match in one sentence
The fastest goal I have ever seen in any live game ultimately proved important as Rainworth held on for the win under second half pressure from a home side who took too long to turn up.
So what?
Rainworth take £1750 and go on to meet Carlton Town at home in the next round.
The drama unfolds
I estimated 10 seconds for the opening goal, and the Rainworth website says 11.  Certainly the quickest in any live game I have ever seen.  I'm not sure whether Sleaford had even touched the ball, apart from a despairing hand from the keeper Andrew Hewitt.  The scorer was Ian Holmes.  0-1

Two more efforts were ruled out for offside as the visitors took a firm grip on the game.  I was at the other end so can't and won't comment on those decisions (in my vast experience as a neutral the officials are right more often than not) but Rainworth should have had a second but Ewen Clarke headed Blair Anderson's left-wing cross wide.  Sleaford gradually got into the game but without creating a clear chance.

The skies darkened.  There were whispers that play down the A15 at Stamford had been suspended due to lightning. Visiting keeper Alessandro Barcherini had to be alert to beat Liam Tunstall to the ball, but a mazy run by Anderson at the other end led to a panicky sliced clearance over his own bar by Joe Braithwaite.  Nothing came of the corner but then the rain came down spectacularly for a few minutes. Rainworth's Ian Holmes left the field with a head injury and came back wearing another shirt and a Terry Butcher-type iconesque head bandage.  (If that isn't a word, tough. I just invented it.  OED please note.)  Sleaford managed to exert some pressure from two successive corners but then THIS happened just before half-time. Sleaford are in green.  Anderson is the scorer, and again Hewitt gets a hand to the shot.  0-2 at half-time



After 47 minutes, Sleaford missed a great chance.  Tunstall's cross from the left was met by an unmarked Tony Edwards but the header was glanced just wide.  Fortunately, he had a another chance four minutes later.  The ball came through to him in a one-on-one and his lofted shot went in off the bar.  Good finish, and game on.  1-2

Edwards advances to score and get Sleaford back in with a shout
The officials were coming under increasing and constant pressure from both sides.  There was a rush of petulant challenges and minor altercations, and the yellow card appeared several times.  Sleaford brought on big number 18 Mickey Stones as a "target man" and his headers and flicks made a number of openings.  The home side pressed more and more - again without really testing Barcherini - and with five minutes to go Rainworth settled for sending the ball towards the corners.  The final clip is a compilation of three short episodes from the closing seconds - everyone except Hewitt has gone forward in the end.  However, the visitors were strong and streetwise enough to hold on with a reasonable degree of comfort.  As I got back to the car, the heavens opened again.  Final score 1-2


The programme


Something random
This is particularly for my many American readers.  Rainworth's club nickname is "The Wrens" (not The Rains) because their town is pronounced Renn-urth, to rhyme with twopennyworth.  I hope that is clear enough for you.  It's our language, just take my word for it if necessary ;)  While it occurs to me, please put the ph back in sulphur as soon as possible.  Thank you.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Still no Dutchmen, farm animals, bicycle kicks, somersaulted celebrations, 0-0 draws or snow abandonments but this was a 3-goal game.  Please send me a pledge if you haven't already!  The end-of-season estimated value of the pot now stands at about £520, and I need a lot more support to reach my informal target of £1000 for this great cause.  Please spread the word.
What Next?
A draw in the FA Cup means that Horley Town's game on Bank Holiday Monday against Guernsey is now off so I will have to re-think my triple.  A first look suggests that matches at Crawley Down and Henley Town will still be on, but there have been some abandonments today in that area, so the weather may also be a factor.  In the meantime, can I face another jaunt down the M4 on Sunday afternoon to see who Wootton Bassett Town (see yesterday's match) will get in the next round?  Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details.



Wootton Bassett Hound Hamworthy Out of the Cup





Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Friday 24 August 2012 at The Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, Rylands Way
Result
Wootton Bassett Town 1 Hamworthy United 0
Competition
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Hopping
I am here for ground #469 on the lifetime list having had to resort to an online random number generator after the garden's wildlife turned up its collective nose at all five piles of strategically placed peanuts.  This is one of five ties at "new grounds" this evening and I had to choose somehow.  All this is documented for posterity in the previous post on this blog.  A bunch of magpies eventually pitched up at about 3pm and ate the lot, but by then the call had been made.
Pre-match preparation
The home side play at step 6 in the Hellenic League Division One West and are undefeated with three wins and a draw, and a 4-2 home FA Cup victory over Calne Town.  Mark Barnes has scored seven of their sixteen goals.  Their last win took them top of their league.  The visitors are from the step 5 Wessex Premier and had a good 2-1 away win at Bemerton Heath Harlequins of the same division in the previous round.  In their league they are also undefeated with a win and two draws.  All set up for a close encounter, it would seem.  On the hopping front, I must add Wootton Bassett Town to the list of teams hoping to move to a new ground soon.
This match in one sentence
A valiant win for the home side who managed to defend their early goal for a memorable win.
So what?
£1750 for club funds and a home tie against either Highworth Town or Shortwood United in the next round - they play on Sunday.
The drama unfolds
Wootton Bassett scored the crucial goal before I even filmed my scene-setter clip.  A punt from the right towards the edge of the area was more in hope than expectation.  Goalkeeper Shane Murphy lost the ball in a challenge from Mark Barnes, who then had an easy finish to score for the fifth game in a row. Eight minutes on the watch.  1-0

These two clips show the pattern that the game settled into - Hamworthy pressing for the equaliser but looking vulnerable on the break, but neither goalkeeper was really tested.






Sam Pekun caught the eye up front for the visitors, but Hamworthy were starting to look rattled.  The next clip is from 38 minutes, shortly after there had been a yellow card for each side in quick succession as tackles started to fly in.  Hamworthy have a free-kick in a dangerous position.



As you see, it could have been 1-1 or 2-0.  On balance, I think that Wootton Bassett would have been very happy to get to the interval with the lead intact.  This game may well have had a different outcome otherwise.  1-0 at half-time

Both sides gave their all in the second half.  The home team started well and missed one pretty good chance.  Perhaps the manager had got the message through that attack is a good form of defence.  The game continued to be even and end-to-end although again the keepers were only called to make routine saves.  Hamworthy started to get significant territorial advantage as the time went on, and my final clip is a compilation of their efforts in the last few minutes of the game.  Heroic defending from the hosts, a lack of composure perhaps from the visitors.  Barnes might have had a second himself, though, as Murphy fumbled another one on the edge of the area.  Great stuff for the passing neutral.  The body language of the Hamworthy strike force in the last seconds sums it all up.  Final score 1-0


The programme


Something random



The title and patronage for the town of Royal Wootton Bassett was conferred fairly recently by HM the Queen, in 2011, in recognition of the town's response to a significant number of military formalities.  The local airbase RAF Lyneham was the point of return for the bodies of war casualties from abroad, and the people of the town frequently recognised these processions in a dignified manner that drew national attention.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
No Dutchmen, no farm animals, no keepers scoring, no bicycle kick goals, no somersault celebrations, no abandonment due to snow - but one goal, so a running total of seventeen from four games.  Estimated value of final pot is now over £500 - you can make a pledge at any time.  See previous posts for more detail - I'm looking for LOTS of people to give a small amount.  A penny-a-goal, for example, would be something between £2 and £3 at the end of the season.
What Next?
My delayed visit to Sleaford Town on Saturday afternoon for their FA Cup match against Rainworth Miners Welfare.  Undecided about Sunday.  Provisionally a triple of Horley Town, Crawley Down and Henley Town on Bank Holiday Monday, assuming those fixtures are not disrupted by FA Cup replays.