Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cranfield Get Sky Coverage in the Vase

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Tuesday 4 September 2012 at Crawley Road
Cranfield United 4 Bush Hill Rangers 1 after extra time
FA Vase 1st Round Qualifying – Replay
Number 477 on the lifetime list and the only practical choice for me tonight for travelling reasons.
Pre-match preparation
Bush Hill Rangers (formerly Goff’s Oak) of the step 7 Hertfordshire Senior County League have a 100% record in the league – 4 wins from 4.  Cranfield United play at step 6 in the South Midlands Division One and have 2 wins and 2 defeats so far.  The first game, only 53 hrs ago, ended in a 2-2 draw after extra time.  Cranfield took an early lead, but Bush Hill led 2-1 at the break.  Cranfield soon equalised but then had a player sent off for headbutting with 10 minutes left of the 90.
This match in one sentence
A harsh scoreline on the visitors who gave as good as they got for 90 minutes but their teamwork rather faded in extra time as Cranfield took their chances.
So what?
Cranfield will be at home to Berkhamsted of the South Midlands Premier league in the next round, and they have secured £500 from the FA prize fund.
The drama unfolds
The match started beneath a glorious sunset and a coral sky, and both sides had early chances.  Here’s a clip – the lighting conditions confuse the camera somewhat but you can still tell that it was beautiful. Cranfield are in white, Bush Hill in blue.

The game was played at a fast tempo, with plenty of slick one-touch passing but a definite physical edge too.  Cranfield looked dangerous in the final third but Bush Hill had plenty of possession and territory.  It took a moment of controversy to break the deadlock in favour of the home team after 35 minutes.  The ref pointed to the spot when a direct free-kick came back off the wall.  He signalled clearly that in his opinion a Bush Hill player had raised his hand to the ball.  Number 8 Manny Richardson stepped up and scored powerfully from the spot, even though the keeper got a hand on it.  1-0 at half-time

Some neat Bush Hill play fashioned a chance straight after the break, and the game continued to be a good contest.  The pace remained high but the foul count increased steadily, usually from tackles.  Every official decision was challenged overtly by players or management.  An excellent playing surface meant that both sides could try to play good football.

The equaliser came on the hour mark.  Bush Hill’s left midfielder reached the byline, his low cross-shot was palmed out by the keeper but rebounded onto a retreating defender and in for an own goal.  1-1

I have strung together a few short clips to show how Bush Hill had several chances from set pieces, but nothing by way of a crystal clear opening.  In fact the home team should have scored from a fast break but the header went into the inky blackness of the night.  Cranfield players were arguing with each other but they rode the storm and it was no surprise when extra time was needed again.  1-1 after 90 mins

Cranfield regrouped and started extra time more strongly.  The clip shows their breakthrough goal after 96 mins from Patrick Akwasi.  2-1

Akwasi then gave Cranfield some breathing space as he scored again after 104 minutes.  The midpoint whistle went with a Bush Hill player losing his temper and needing to be restrained by teammates – the anger was sustained and seemed to be directed against another member of his own side.  The management were still having words with him up to a few seconds before the restart.  3-1 half-way through extra time

A few minutes later there was an altercation on the touchline.  My clip starts about 20 seconds after the flashpoint and to be honest I cannot shed any more light on it from my position on the opposite side.  Play got under way (no cards were shown as far as I could see) about another two minutes after I stopped filming.  Nothing to see here, move along, unless you are a fan of hormones.

The fourth Cranfield goal came from Manny Richardson again, just before the end, and gave the scoreline an unfairly one-sided look, but Bush Hill were now tiring and beaten.  The final whistle was greeted with near-silence.  Final score 4-1 after extra time

POST UPDATE: The Bush Hill website credits their goal to Angus McLachlan and I am happy to set the record straight.  He was also running towards goal alongside the centre-back that I gave the score to!  The reporter also states that the altercation in extra-time was about alleged time-wasting by Cranfield and the sudden "disappearance" of the spare match balls.  I wasn't in a position to confirm or refute this, unfortunately.  By that stage I was edging towards the car in preparation for a quick Le Mans style getaway.

The programme

Something random
This is only the second time I have visited a “new” ground on the 4th of September.  The previous occasion was a Saturday, in 2010, when I saw Guiseley beat a valiant but outclassed Redditch United side 3-1 at Nethermoor Park.  On previous 4ths of Septembers, I am more likely to have been writing school assemblies, analysing examination results or proof-reading a draft school prospectus.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Five goals added to the tally but nothing else of financial value!  Goal count is 51 from 12 games.
What Next?
I’m still inclined to "Restore the 116" at Newport County v Stockport County on Saturday.

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