Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day Lacks Knockout Punch in Suffolk

The Shed - where I installed myself for the duration of proceedings!


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Wednesday 26 December 2012 at The MEL Group Stadium
AFC Sudbury 0 Needham Market 0
Isthmian League Division One North (Step 4)
Here at 3pm because of the proximity to the 11am kickoffs of the Eastern Counties League,  for the second half of a double hop and ground 499 on the lifetime list.
Pre-match preparation
18th v 12th in the table, but past form may not apply in this local derby!
This match in one sentence
The two teams did enough to cancel each other out in continuous rain.
So what?
No change in league position for the visitors, but the home side climb two places for the moment at least.  They should avoid relegation as there are three sides already distinctly adrift.
The drama unfolds
I spent a few minutes trying to decide whether Sudbury were playing a midfield diamond, a formation that never worked for me in earlier years of Championship Manager.  They certainly had D'Arcy De'ath sitting in front of the back four, but with a magnificent name like that I imagine he can sit wherever he likes.  Unfortunately he was injured in a tackle after half an hour so ended up sat in the dugout.  Needham Market were willing to commit full-backs to forward positions and often relied on just two at the back when in possession further forward.  Both teams worked hard but stifled each other as the rain got heavier.  Sudbury had the first half chance but James Baker's shot on the turn was beaten away by Louis Johnson.  Here's the scene-setter clip from midway through the first half - Sudbury are in the yellow shirts - followed by another one from about five minutes later.

To be honest, there was not much to report in the way of critical incident, shot on target or plague of frogs before the break.  The last-mentioned would have been the most likely.  (I told you that I am determined not to get too mainstream.)  0-0 at half-time

Alex Archer, keeping goal for Sudbury, was in action twice in the first minute of the second half.  First he beat away a cross-shot and then caught a close-range header.  At the other end, his opposite number Johnson came out and missed a ball at the edge of the area but Ryan Henshaw's header looped wide.

My final clip is midway through the half.  The surface is getting trickier, players are getting tired and occasionally fractious, and there is still no sign of the frogs.

As the game neared the end, Needham Market were pressing the more of the two teams but there was no golden or gilt-edged chance, and I was not at all surprised with the second goalless scoreline of the day.  Fair play to the club for getting the fixture on and to both teams for the efforts needed to play an entertaining game.  0-0 at full-time
The programme

Something random
This is a very impressive setup at step 4 and there cannot be many better places to watch a non-league game in the pouring rain.  The clubhouse is new and spacious and there is covered standing on all four sides of the ground.  The pitch held up well considering, and even the moles warmed up outside the touchline.

Hopping for Moorfields Update
The second goalless draw of the day is not too bad for the pot as a couple of sponsors helpfully chose to compensate me for 0-0 draws!  The average number of goals per game is now down to a little over 3.3 but this is still well within the bounds predicted at the start of the season and we have plenty of time.
What Next?
Ground Number 500! Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for the landmark event in due course.

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