Sunday, 23 December 2012

On the Surface, a Fair Result

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 22 December 2012 at The Gallagher Stadium
Maidstone United 2 Worthing 2
Isthmian League Division One South (Step 4)
Ground #497 on the lifetime list
Pre-match preparation
Nothing specific – I had originally been expecting to head north today for non-football reasons, but then on this day of umpteen postponements, the chance emerged to head to the newest non-league stadium and its weatherproof artificial surface.
This match in one sentence
The league leaders came back from two goals down to earn a point in a thoroughly entertaining game.
So what?
Maidstone lead the division by two points plus a game in hand, and Worthing are 7th with an eye on the playoff positions.
The drama unfolds
Player ID in this report will be sketchy - I recorded the team announcement from the excellent PA system, or I would have done if I had pressed the "start" button.  Ooops.  So I have been cross-referencing with other sources, as they say.  Thanks to the NLP and the Maidstone website for helping me decipher my notes.

Worthing started well, and after only three minutes and their third corner in quick succession, the ball was driven in hard by their number 10.  Jamie Brotherton celebrated as if he had deflected the ball home, but everyone seems to agree today that this was an own goal by Maidstone's Alex Brown.  0-1 after 3 minutes

Maidstone had their first sight of goal after 10 minutes, but Alex King was muscled out, and then Brotherton glanced a header just wide at the other end after 15.  Here is my scene-setter clip (Maidstone are in the amber-and-black) which ends with a neat defensive tackle (Tom Mills, I think), and clip 2 follows on immediately.

Worthing had edged the half in terms of threat and territory, but their keeper JJ Banasco-Zaragoza almost got embarrassed after coming a long way out of the box to tidy up a long ball.  Fortunately, by the time Maidstone got the ball in midfield, the keeper was back in time to catch the 50yd shot as if nothing had happened.  The league leaders caused a couple of minor tremors in the visiting defence but Worthing held the lead to the interval.  0-1 at half-time

I reckon most of the crowd expected Maidstone to come out with dry hair for the second half (so to speak) but actually Worthing went two up with a scruffy goal.  Keeper Deren Ibrahim reacted well to save a deflection but Matt Daniel was in the right place to score from close range.  0-2 after 56min

As might be expected, Maidstone made attacking substitutions.  Here's a clip.

However, the next notable event was an excellent save by Ibrahim after Worthing exploited the extra space to create a clear shooting chance on the left.  That might, with the benefit of perfect hindsight, have to go down as the hinge point of the game.  Maidstone created their clearest chance so far after 69 minutes when sub Ade Olorunda headed just wide arriving at pace from a right-wing cross, but then they had a goal back with a "route one" goal.  It was a lovely weighted ball, and King's neatly lobbed finish was excellent.  Game on in all senses of the word and the momentum had switched.  1-2 after 70 minutes

This clip is from 78 minutes.

There was a momentary panic as a curling Worthing free-kick needed another Ibrahim save, and then full-back Steve Metcalf almost scored with a header at the far post.  This would prove costly, because, with my watch showing 85 minutes, this happened.  The scorer is Ade Olorunda.  2-2 after 85 minutes

The rain came down hard in stoppage time for my final clip.  Maidstone pressed for the winner but Worthing held on for the point.  Final score 2-2

The programme

Something random
I’ve had a bit of Faroe Islands nostalgia this week, with one of my photos of the ground at Eiði winning a prize courtesy of the lovely people who look after the European Football Weekends group.  So as it happens, I have written about football on artificial surfaces before, on the page that remains the most-hit on this blog: 

However, today’s match at Maidstone was interesting in that both teams were playing the traditional English style anyway.  The ball was up in the air and down the channels a lot more than I saw in the Faroes, but it was noticeable that players stayed on their feet more.  I have to say that I am a fan, and the FA really do need to have a re-think about their position.  This was the only game on across the region.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Four goals taking us to 123 from 35 games, round about half-way for the project at an average of just over 3.5 goals a game.  At the moment, the penny-a-goal pledges look to be costing about £2.50 each by the end of the season.  You can add a pledge at any time by contacting me via Twitter or by email – headyapp (at) hotmail (dot) com
What Next?
Weather permitting, a Boxing Day double to take me to 499 on the lifetime list and the big 500 before the end of the calendar year.  No idea where as yet – there will be randomness involved if the rain allows!  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for the announcement in due course.

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