Saturday, 8 September 2012

I'm an Englishman in Newport

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 8 September at Rodney Parade
Newport County 0 Stockport County 0
Conference National (Step 1)
Having restored my 92 with last weekend’s trip to Rotherham, this was a trip to restore my 116, needed because the home side have switched grounds this season.  For non-hopping readers, 116 is the number of teams in the Premier League, Championship, Leagues One and Two and the Conference National all added together.  In other words the top five tiers of professional football in England.
Pre-match preparation
Newport County won their first five league games, including all three at home, but have lost the last two.  They start the day in third place.  Stockport County are 16th and will be disappointed with that as a start to the season.
This match in one sentence
An undistinguished match which could have gone either way, but was arguably a moral victory for Stockport.
So what?
The teams go to 4th and 15th places respectively.
The drama unfolds
Fair play to the happy but overcharged (see below) band of Stockport supporters who kept up some drum-assisted singing for most of the first twenty minutes of a very ordinary game.  Here’s a scene-setter clip, Stockport are in blue.  This is a good playing surface considering the sharing with rugby union.

Jefferson Louis had two half-chances in quick succession to put Newport in front.  A spin and left-foot shot was just wide, then a missed clearance let him in for a right-footer that hit the base of the post.  To be fair, the keeper Ian Ormson probably had it covered.  His opposite number in the Newport goal, Lennie Pidgeley, then came for a corner and missed, but there were enough defenders back to block the shot.  Pidgeley then had to make a decent save from Sam Sheridan as Stockport finished the half strongly.  This clip is just before the break.  0-0 at half-time

Defences remained on top as the clock reached the hour mark.  Either side looked as if they might score – it wasn’t a terrible game, but both sides were playing well-organised and well-drilled formula football, largely cancelling each other out.  Here’s a clip from 63 minutes which shows Newport hitting the bar, though it would not have counted because of the offside flag.  Play the clip twenty times to see if you agree with the decision.

Ormson made a good save and then another Newport tap-in was disallowed for a foul on him as we approached the last few minutes still goal-less for the day.  My final clips are with 11 and 5 minutes left respectively.

Then in the 90th minute, Stockport substitute and new signing Alex Meaney rattled the crossbar with Pidgeley beaten.  Unlucky.  Final score 0-0
The programme

Something random
I took this picture on the way out …

… the reason being that I noticed that several Stockport supporters were unhappy about the “on-the-day” price hike to £17.  After a complaint, a word-of-mouth message spread that if you took your ticket to a certain steward near the gate you would get a £2 refund.  There was no tannoy announcement.  At half-time the steward ran out of coins in his pocket and went off to get more.  He did not reappear before the start of the second half, and was not there at the end.  Very unusual, and not very classy.  I hope Newport put my £2 towards a book on public relations for dummies.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
This is the first 0-0 draw of the season, which is not too bad as I have some sponsors who are specifically covering this eventuality.
What Next?
Hoping for a midweek FA Cup replay, and then hoping that Truro City still exist next Saturday.  (They have significant financial issues as a club at the moment.)  They play at the last current step 2 ground I have yet to visit, so I very much hope to see them play Bromley in the Conference South to complete my 160 for the first time.  That is, if I "allow" Whaddon Road, Cheltenham to count for Gloucester City who are groundsharing there as tenants at the moment.  The Modus Hopper Random Rules Committee (i.e. me) will make a ruling this week.

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