Sunday, 19 August 2012

It Worked for Workington

No spectators allowed in the stand on the far side at the moment

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 18 August 2012 at Borough Park
Workington 4 Stalybridge Celtic 1
Conference North (Step 2)
I am here for ground #468 on the lifetime list because on Thursday at Lord's, Graeme Smith of South Africa was caught by Matthew Prior off the bowling of James Anderson to make the score twenty-TWO for one.  If you follow me on Twitter, this will make sense!  Today, there are exactly 10 games at grounds on my "priority list" for 2012-13 and so the units digit (0-9) of a cricket score is as good a way as any of making the decision as to where to go.  The "priority list" is all the grounds down to and including all of step 3 that I have not yet visited.  Fall of the wicket at 20-1 would have sent me to Rotherham, 21-1 to Newport County, 29-1 to Stourbridge - you get the idea.  Is it truly random?  Well, that would depend whether there is more chance of a batsman being out in test cricket without any score, for example - in other words do more wickets fall with the score at 0 than any other total? The only way to answer this would be to make a statistical analysis of the fall-of-wicket totals from hundreds of games, and my life is quite sad enough thank you very much.  Workington it is then, with the opportunistic bonus of last night's game at Tividale en route.  After today I need Rotherham United to restore the 92, Newport County to restore the 116 and Truro City to complete everywhere down to step 2 for the first time.
Pre-match preparation
First league game of the season.  Workington have had a mixed pre-season and a long injury list and their programme has a fair degree of realism bordering on pessimism in the editorial.  Stalybridge Celtic, unusually at this level, are a full-time club.
This match in one sentence
A magnificent result for Workington, who grew in confidence after an early serious injury to the Stalybridge goalkeeper.
So what?
Too early to say.
The drama unfolds
There was a long early stoppage in the sunshine.  A collision between Workington's Phil McLuckie and Stalybridge 'keeper Andy Ralph looked innocuous from my position at the other end but it became clear that it was a bad injury for the latter.  Substitute Ashley Woodhouse came on and a few minutes later the terrace whisper that Ralph had a broken leg diffused to the corners.  The sub passed his first test by safely catching a direct free-kick.

My opening clip shows the incident that led to Workington's first goal.  They (in red of course) had been exerting most of the pressure.

Woodhouse picked up a ball that came his way from Jacob Bembo-Leta and the ref called it as a backpass.  From the indirect free-kick defender Mark Lees was judged to handle the ball in the process of being poleaxed.  Penalty kick, but no other punishment. Arnison scored.  1-0

Arnison sends Westwood the wrong way.  1-0
Within two minutes, Jonny Wright added a second, nipping in to get to the ball ahead of Westwood after a defensive mix-up.  2-0

Workington sportingly provided a goal on a plate immediately, and Mitchell Austin rolled the ball into the corner.  2-1

Just before the interval, Austin congratulated home goalie Aaran Taylor who just got his fingertips to a header.  Austin's run had been timed beautifully and who knows what would have happened in this game had Staybridge drawn level at that point.  2-1 at half-time

Five minutes into the second half, and Bembo-Leta, who will have better days, clipped Wright as he ran towards the corner.  Another penalty for Arnison - here's what happened.  Another moment where the tide could have turned.

The game remained even until midway through the second half.  There were chances in quick succession at both ends.  Arnison shot just wide, Westwood came for and failed to get to a cross but the header went over, Taylor had to be alert to tip a shot over the bar.  Crucially, Workington got the third.  Arnison seemed to take an age to line up his shot after he rounded Westwood, but the final effort couldn't be stopped by the defenders now back on the line.  3-1

Taylor made a superb if somewhat lucky one-handed save to protect the margin, and after 83 mins Workington substitute Stefan Scott gleefully volleyed in a perfect chipped cross for the goal of the day.  4-1

In stoppage time, Celtic's Greg Wilkinson sent a direct freekick over the bar and out of the ground.  It rather summed up their day.  Final score 4-1

The programme

Something random
Old-school floodlights.  Possibly the model for 1970s Subbuteo.  I know that some of you get very excited by this kind of thing.

Hopping for Moorfields Update
Another £7 or so is added to the current value of the end-of-season pot.  I am still looking for more pledges, please! @GrahamYapp or headyapp(at)
What Next?
There could well be some midweek action beforehand, but I am picking up the Sleaford Town FA Cup trail next Saturday for sure - I was originally due to see their game in the last round (as determined indirectly by Peter Ebdon failing to get out of his seat in a game of snooker in Australia, please do try to keep up).  They despatched Holwell Sports and now have a home tie against Rainworth Miners' Welfare.

My PROVISIONAL Bank Holiday Monday hopping triple is Horley Town v Guernsey, Crawley Down v Dulwich Hamlet and Henley Town v Chalfont Wasps.  All subject to checking, fixture changes, kickoff times, viruses, the rotation of the earth and trading prices for ketchup futures.

Please follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for closer scrutiny of my expenses.

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