Sunday, 24 February 2013

It's Zanone Problem for Scholars at Thamesmead






Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 23 February 2013 at Bayliss Avenue
Result
Thamesmead Town 3 Potters Bar Town 2
Competition
Isthmian League Division One North (Step 4)
Hopping
Last minute decision to be here after my step 3 target game at Ashton United was called off – ground 509 on the lifetime list
Pre-match preparation
Quick look at the table – this is third v eighth.  Then load the postcode into the SatNav … that was my first mistake. When I was sent down the M11 southbound I didn’t think too much of it at first.  It was only when I turned into a queue (from which there was no easy escape) that I realised that the Woolwich Ferry had been chosen as the way over the Thames.  Bad, bad move.  My leisurely journey became a final sprint and I made it with only five minutes to spare.  Fortunately, there were plenty of programmes left.

"In four hundred yards, turn left into the river..." - 14:05 indeed - I made it at 14:55 !!
This match in one sentence
A keenly-contested in-your-face match between two strong and well-organised sides, as Thamesmead came back twice from losing positions.
So what?
Thamesmead remain third and look a good bet for a playoff place.  Potters Bar slip one place to ninth.
The drama unfolds
Let’s be clear about one thing – it was cold, but I’m glad the Woolwich Ferry turned up just in time – this was a very good game for the passing neutral.

A Thamesmead set-piece caused a bit of defensive panic in the opening moments, and then their keeper Rob Budd had to palm away a stinging shot at his near post.  Potters Bar then took hold of the game.  Here is my scene-setter clip – the home side wear green.



As I struggled to make notes with hands that were turning blue and splitting at the pointy bits, Thamesmead had two chances of their own in quick succession.  It was becoming a good contest – quite physical though I wouldn’t say brutal or malicious – nevertheless the officials came in for regular questioning.

The opening goal was scored by Potters Bar and came from a hotly disputed freekick.  The outswinging cross from the left was met with a glancing header.  Budd made a superb reflex one-handed save low to his left, pushing it unfortunately towards Lewis Tozer whose own reflex clearance was sliced into the roof of his own net.  0-1 after 16 minutes

Chris Doyle, in a forward position from left back, nearly added a second as he got past his marker and shot from a narrow angle.  I was just at the right place to capture Budd’s diving save.


 

Thamesmead drew level before too long.  Stuart Zanone shot low into the right-hand corner.  1-1 after 25 minutes

Here is a clip from the half-hour mark,



It was now a very even game.  Potters Bar should have scored after 44 minutes as Gary Wharton found a yard of space to meet a right wing cross but he put it just wide.  Then they did score in stoppage time.  Thamesmead felt that Daniel Ailey was offside (I wasn’t in line so can’t comment) but the lino didn’t and he took the chance well.  1-2 at half-time

Thamesmead started the second half strongly and Chris Edwards timed a run from midfield to meet a right-wing cross from Enoch Adjei but he headed over.  Then the equaliser came with a thunderous shot from Zanone from about 25 yards.  2-2 after 55 minutes

Zanone's second - the ball is the blurry thing
Here is what proved to be the winning goal.  It’s Edwards arriving from midfield again, and it’s a well-taken strike.  3-2 after 63 minutes



I have kept five more short clips, and my notebook suggests that it was surprising that there were no more goals.  (I had a couple more but the players’ language is not suitable for a family-friendly website!)  There were several set pieces for each side as tempers began to fray, and Potters Bar had their chances to draw level.  One header in particular (in clip 6) should have hit the target.  Thamesmead had to work hard for this win, and it is a very good result for them as part of an impressive home record this season.  Final score 3-2










The programme


Something random
For me, groundhopping is more about the game and the context than the location, which is good because it is very hard to romanticise at the moment about the beauty of Bayliss Avenue.  Vandalism has been a problem.  Thamesmead is a club whose spirit must be in good shape despite crowds around the 50 mark, but the ground is a work in progress (a polite way of saying “building site”) and with the main stand not in use the spectators gravitated to the dugout side.  There was more noise on the pitch than off it.  I’m not sure what has happened to the project, which seems to be stalled or running very late.  Work has been in progress since 2009, it would seem.  The game itself deserved better than a crowd of 50 – but this level of support is not uncommon in this division.





Meanwhile, this is from the current Wikipedia page on the club: “The clubs mascot is Tommy The Thamesmead Toad. Tommy is a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) green toad, dressed in the Thamesmead Town kit. Tommy can be seen at home matches, warming up with the players, celebrating every time Thamesmead Town score a goal with a slick dance move and regularly berating assistant referees offside decisions.” I am sorry to report that Tommy was nowhere to be seen today, and I fear that he has joined the golden toad (Bufo periglenes) on the list of extinct amphibians.  Readers can add for themselves the two apostrophes needed in the above paragraph.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Five goals (good ones at that) take us up to 159 from 48 games at an average of 3.31 goals per game.  Nothing else of note to report.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
All perfectly normal – a standard 58g bar for the national average (mode) price of 60p.
What Next?
I expect to have warmed up by next Saturday, and I hope (weather permitting) it will be an FA Vase Sixth Round tie for my afternoon’s entertainment.  If work commitments allow I will also take in Hitchin Town v Chesham on Monday evening.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Canaries and Robins Are Shot Down





Hopperational details
Dates & Venues
Monday 18 February at Top Field &
Wednesday 20 February at The AlderSmith Stadium
Results
Hitchin Town 0 Leamington 1
Frome Town 0 St Albans City 3
Competition
Southern League Premier Division (Step 3)
Hopping
Half-term week so a chance for some midweek action.  Have been to (and blogged from) Top Field many times, but this is a first trip to Frome which becomes ground 508 on the lifetime list and leaves me with 9 more to complete every current stadium from Premier League to “non-league” step 3.  I hate the term “non-league” and will only use it in ironic quote marks.
Pre-match preparation
Monday: Hitchin are low in the table but in good form and John Frendo has successive hat-tricks to his name. Leamington are league leaders.
Wednesday: Frome had two players sent off on Saturday and are in lower-mid table.  St Albans are under caretaker management and still aspire to the playoffs.

Other than this, a nice sunset over Wiltshire on the A303 as I headed way out west.


These matches in one sentence each
A smash-and-grab road win for Leamington who withstood plenty of worthy Hitchin pressure and nicked a stoppage-time goal.
A comedy third made the scoreline at Frome rather unflattering for the hosts, but the St Albans win had already been secured with two splendid goals.
So what?
Leamington cement their place at the top of the division.  Frome and Hitchin still have some work to do to ensure Southern Premier status for another season, but should be confident.  The St Albans promotion dream is still alive.
The dramas unfold
Hitchin started brightly and had plenty of possession, causing the Leamington keeper to work.  They had several half-chances and they played with confidence that belied the league table gap.  Leamington, however, are top for a reason and they coped with it pretty well, and on the half-hour cut Hitchin open down the left.  The ball flashed low and at speed across the goal but no-one got a touch.  No goals, but a thoroughly entertaining and competitive game so far.  0-0 at half-time

It was more of the same in the second half.  The first clip, from 65 minutes, starts with the Moon and Jupiter high in the clear night sky as the temperature dropped.  I took two more (77 mins & 86 mins) as Hitchin continued to threaten.  Hitchin are in yellow.







The smash-and-grab goal came in stoppage time – a real sickener for Hitchin but credit must go to a resilent and streetwise Leamington team.  Ricky Johnson was the scorer.  Final score 0-1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
On Wednesday, I watched the game in the affable and knowledgeable company of Twitter friend @Yasser11 and, although at risk of hypothermia on a bitter night, we put the world to rights while the teams set about the game.  Right on schedule just before kickoff, the International Space Station appeared from the west and disappeared from view as it arrived in the same section of the sky as Jupiter and the Moon (still there!).  Sadly, I have to report user incompetence as my video clip is unusable.  Never mind, Yasser was there, and he witnessed it and tweeted it.

Frome dominated the early stages.  My scene setter clip (Frome are in red) is from fifteen minutes into the game.  A new stand is under construction but we were happy to stand where the seats will be fitted in due course.



As so often seems to happen when one team is in control, the other team scores.  The ball dropped nicely for right-back Chris Seeby on the edge of the box and he cracked a belting left-footer into the corner.  0-1 after 32 minutes

St Albans almost gifted Frome an equaliser when the ball was initially given away by Joe Bruce, but the defender did enough to hold up Ricky Hulbert so defensive reinforcement could arrive and the chance evaporated.  St Albans were also incensed by a handball incident – Josh Brigham appeared to trip and stumble into the ball but it was handball nonetheless and it cut out a through ball that would have given Chris Henry a one-on-one.  0-1 at half-time

The second goal came early in the second half and ensured that St Albans could be comfortable.  It was an excellent finish with a rising right-foot shot from the edge of the area by Henry.  0-2 after 50 minutes

My second-half clip is after 75 minutes.



Either because Frome were getting desperate or St Albans were getting sloppy, or maybe both, the home side had two good chances in the last few minutes.  A header (Brigham I think) went wide from a great and unchallenged position and then Nick Jupp made a super low one-handed save to protect his clean sheet.  We could have had a very interesting end to the game if either or both had gone in.  Instead what happened is that James Comley pinched the ball from between defender and keeper and had the Freedom of Frome and enough time to write his autobiography and make a speech before walking the ball into the net.  That was a bit harsh, but I know of no-one in Hertfordshire who cares.  Final score 0-3

I trust that Yasser’s body temperature has returned to normal and that his train was on time – nice to meet you at last, and hope you get to some more Wild West grounds in the next few months.
The Frome Town programme


Something random
A quick and self-indulgent hello to any former students or colleagues from St Albans who might stumble across this.  (For other readers: I was headteacher of Beaumont School from 1994-2004.)  Here’s a quick update on what I have been doing in recent years.  I worked for the county council as a secondary school adviser (and even took the exam to nominally qualify as an Ofsted inspector!) for three years but missed the cut-and-thrust of school life and got the job as head of Bushey Hall School in 2007.  I knew that the school was in difficulty, and “Special Measures” duly arrived, but I had two successful years before stepping aside so that the school could convert (as had always been planned) to academy status and the sponsors could make a new appointment.  My groundhopping really took off at that point, I discovered Twitter and a few months later I started this eclectic blog which was never meant to be totally serious.  I came out of retirement to take a part-time admin position at a small village primary school in 2011, and was in the right place at the right time to do some magnificent groundhopping in the Faroe Islands which still attracts a lot of interest from readers.  I would love some more sponsors for Hopping for Moorfields (see below) which will cost you less than the price of a St Albans pint by the end of the season.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
47 games have given us 154 goals at an average of just over three a game, so those penny-a-goal pledges will be worth about £2.50 come June.  We have had two instances of visible farm animals, 10 three-goal games, 1 eight-goal game and three goalless draws.  Sadly, no scoring keepers, bicycle kick goals or snow abandonments.  It looks like the final total will be over £500 but my target remains £1000. Email me on headyapp (at) hotmail (dot) com or contact me through Twitter if you want to jump on board.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
The Hitchin Town club shop sells them for 70p, but the second most expensive (so far) standard 58g Mars Bar in the country came into my possession on the way home in WH Smith at M3 Fleet Services Eastbound.  85p.  Shocker.
What Next?
I hope to get to another one of my Step 3 priority grounds on Saturday.  Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Wolves Bite Lions in the BBL



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 16 February 2013 at the University of Worcester Sports Centre
Result
Worcester Wolves 98 London Lions 91 (2OT)
Competition
British Basketball League
Hopping
Court #15 on my hoopshopping list – am here because I was a few miles away in Stourbridge for the football earlier today.
Pre-match preparation
Two mid-table sides, albeit with the hosts in a better position on games played.  Both sides will be hoping to be in the top eight play-off positions but neither have any realistic hope of challenging for the title.  Wolves had a thumping win over bottom team Mersey Tigers last night.
This match in one sentence
Wolves made hard work of beating the Lions, who clawed back deficits in the last seconds of both regulation time and the first period of overtime.
So what?
With Sunday’s results still to come, Wolves are in sixth place with a decent gap, and Lions are edged out of the playoff positions after Cheshire Phoenix nicked a surprise win at league leaders Newcastle Eagles in this round of games.
The drama unfolds
It was an even and fast-paced first quarter.  Lions led at 4-6 with a Mike Martin double and then at 8-9, but there were spectacular blocks from both teams.  Wolves got into foul trouble, but three-pointers kept them just in front.  They opened up a 7pt lead at 18-11 before being pegged back, and it was 20-17 before Arturus Masiulis, who’d had an impressive start to the game, popped in a three on the buzzer.  23-17 at the end of the 1st quarter

My scene-setter clip (the lighting isn’t great) has the score going out to 26-17 and Lions getting into foulcount trouble this time.  Wolves are in white.


Wolves gradually got on top and had leads of 28-22 and 32-24.  They just executed their plays more efficiently – I imagine their percentages were just a bit higher all-round.  At 42-33, Wolves called a timeout with only 1s left on the clock, only for Lions to steal the ball and Orlan Jackman got an outrageous three-pointer to keep the gap at six.  42-36 at half time

A three from Adrien Sturt and a 2+1 from Mike Martin helped to get the Lions back to 44-22 and the next clip ends with the scores level at 49-49 with another Sturt triple.


However, Wolves opened the gap to five and then nine again very quickly – a three from Arnas Kaslauskas only just beat the shot clock.  Lions were still not down and out, though, and Tayo Ogedengbe added two on the buzzer to a three so that we had the same gap for the third time in a row.  67-61 at the end of the 3rd quarter

The next clip ends at 72-63.


Wolves pulled out a gap of 11 and it was still 9 with 6m20s left.  It was down to 7 at 74-67 with 4m24s to go, and then Sturt scored another three to get it back to 74-70.  However, with Lions in foul trouble again the game was still firmly in Wolves’ control – or should have been.  Timeout was called at 77-73 with 46 seconds on the clock.  Ogedengbe hit one from two free-throws and Wolves called a timeout after their next attack left them with only 3s on the shot-clock and 19.6s on the gameclock.  Here are the clips:



From the restart, a controversial offensive foul call against Kazlauskas put Wolves in foulcount trouble and we had further TOs at 17.3s and 11.4s after Sturt had been called for a travelling violation.


Alexi Owumi hit one of two free-throws to take Wolves to 78-74 with 9s to go.


A big three from Ogedengbe led to a TO call with 6.6s and a one-point margin.  A Lions tactical foul on the restart sent Owumi to the line again but once again he only scored the second – and there was just enough time for Lions' Perry Lawson to burst through the middle for a two-point layup to level the scores. I only just catch the moment in Clip 8.  Technical and absorbing.  79-79 at the end of the 4th quarter


Overtime is five more minutes.  Ogedengbe was the first player to sit down for the duration has he reached the personal foul limit of five.  Wolves led again at 82-79, but here’s a clip which has the scores levelling at 86-86 with a home timeout called at 2.4s on the clock.  Nothing came of it, so we went into a second spell of overtime.  86-86 at the end of the first period of overtime


Wolves had now lost Kaslauskas, and Lions lost Martin.  Two free throws gave a six-point lead to Wolves at 93-87 as other players reached the five-foul limit.  The game ended in last-ditch timeout ploys as finally the Lions ran out of resilience.  Final score 98-91


The programme


What Next?
Half-term week, so could be some last-minute decisions depending on weather and other commitments, so follow @GrahamYapp for details.


Glassboys Too Brittle as Tudors WIn Away







The ground rules are clearly listed (you see what I did there?)
 






Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 16 February 2013 at the War Memorial Athletic Ground
Result
Stourbridge 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 3
Competition
Southern Premier League
Hopping
507 on the lifetime list – here because of the chance to combine with a British Basketball League fixture at Worcester (see next post) and because it is one of my step 3 priority hopping grounds.  10 to go at this level now!
Pre-match preparation
3rd plays 2nd in the division – the visitors have the most prolific attack in the league and the hosts have the meanest defence.  A draw would suit leaders Leamington who are opening a bit of a gap – a win for either side keeps a title challenge alive.
This match in one sentence
Not as close as the scoreline suggests – the Stourbridge goals were very late in the game and Hemel ought to have seen it out more comfortably after they did the hard work in the first half.
So what?
Hemel are now six points clear of Stourbridge but will be between five and eleven behind Leamington (who also won today) once the fixtures have caught up.
The drama unfolds
This is a ground full of character and characters and I took up a position behind the goal being attacked by Stourbridge as they made the early running.  They are in red and white stripes, and who knows what would have happened if the chance from my scene-setter clip had gone in instead of rattling the bar.  Sean Geddes with the shot, says today's NLP.


That was after 11 minutes, and they had two more half-chances while Hemel resorted to “route one”.  Both sides had penalty appeals turned down.  It was Hemel, however, who got the vital first goal – they broke through with Alex Campana down their left and it looked from the other end to be an easy finish for Dave Pearce as the ball was turned across the middle.  0-1 after 26 minutes

The second was scored by Moussa Diarra only 10 minutes later.  Again, from the other end of the ground it looked to be a very straightforward goal.  0-2 after 36 minutes
Diarra went off injured before half-time but there was no further incident of note.  0-2 at half-time
I moved to the other end of the ground for the second-half.  Stourbridge were certainly fired-up and started strongly, forcing two early corners, one of which needed Ashley Timms to be alert in the visitors’ goal.  Here are a couple of clips from this stage of the game, the first of which also pans across to the cricket field and pavilion that explains why this is a distinctive three-sided ground.



However, it was Hemel who got the killer third goal just before the hour.  From the other end it looked like the defensive line had been broken in a central position after a poor clearance and it was an easy rolled finish for Ryan Charles as the keeper came out.  0-3 after 58 minutes
Stourbridge wasted a set-piece, given for a foul on the far side, as shown here.

Then their number 9, Luke Benbow, was crowded out from a good position and it was not until 79 minutes that substitute  Drew Canavan was given space to be able to curl in a neat right-footer from just outside the box.  This felt like a consolation goal.  1-3 after 79 minutes
It then became a bit tense – there was an off-the-ball incident that sent a Stourbridge player into incandescent rage.  I can’t comment any further as I was too far away to see exactly what happened.  It then got tenser for a few moments as a low driven cross-cum-shot from the right was deflected just inside the post.  Ben Billingham has been given the goal credit.  2-3 after 90 minutes
There was time for a couple of “Oooooh!” moments from Stourbridge set pieces before the final whistle, and for the lino to send the ref to have a word with the home dugout.  This is still a good result for Hemel.  These sides may yet have to face up to each other again in the end of season playoffs.  Final score 2-3




The programme


Hopping for Moorfields Update
Five goals for the season takes us up to 150, so the penny-a-goal pledges stand at £1.50 each, and they should be worth about £2.40-£2.50 at the end of the season.  Still about the same as the price of a pint, and to be fair very slightly more than the pre-match Banks’s sampled in the excellent clubhouse so I could top up my Midlands heritage.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
A standard 58g bar served from the fridge for 60p.  Standard.
What Next?
A short hop to the University of Worcester where Worcester Wolves are hosting London Lions in the British Basketball League in about two hours time... post to follow!  After that, well it is half-term so anything could happen.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter and be among the first to know.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Allen the Key as Guernsey Unlock Spalding Defences





 



Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 February 2013
at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field
Result
Spalding United 1 Guernsey 3
Competition
FA Vase Round 5.  These clubs both play at step 5, in the Premier Divisions of the United Counties and Combined Counties Leagues respectively.
Hopping
Ground 506 on the lifetime list – here because it is the nearest “unvisited” ground in the FA Vase for me today.
Pre-match preparation
Both teams are going reasonably well in their respective divisions.  Guernsey have had two seasons in the English league system and this is their first at step 5.  Their FA Vase results in the previous rounds are:

ExP: Bye / Crowborough Ath 2 Guernsey 3
P: Lutterworth 0 Spalding Utd 2 / Guernsey 2 Farnham T 0
1: Spalding Utd 3 Retford United 2 / Whyteleafe 2 Guernsey 3
2: Oadby Town 2 Spalding Utd 3 / Erith Town 3 Guernsey 4 aet
3: Sutton Town 1 Spalding Utd 5 / Guernsey 4 Erith & Belvedere 0
4: Ely City 1 Spalding Utd 2 / Rye Utd 5 Guernsey 6 aet
This match in one sentence
Spalding had the lead but conceded an equaliser just before the break, and then Guernsey opened up a two-goal margin and were able to defend it for the last half-hour.
So what?
The draw for the quarter-finals is on Monday, and Guernsey join Shildon, Spennymoor, Hadleigh United and Gornal Athletic as teams already definitely through.  One fifth-round tie was postponed, one fourth-round tie was completed (holders Dunston were knocked out by Tunbridge Wells) and one fourth-round tie was also postponed - so there may be Vase action for a few consecutive Saturdays yet!
The drama unfolds
Although Guernsey attacked within seconds of the kickoff, Spalding settled quicker and had the better of the early play.  It needed a good punch from Chris Tardie to deal with this particular cross.


My scene-setter clop is timed at 14 minutes – Spalding are in blue, and the distinctive concrete construction beyond the ground on the far side is a water tower.


As I was making a note of the time, Spalding took the lead with a splendid goal.  Tony Battersby nodded the ball down neatly to Gary King, and it sat up nicely for him to hit a superb first time shot across Tardie and into the far corner.  1-0 after 16 minutes

The rest of the half was keenly contested but with no real goalmouth action until just before the interval.  Spalding looked slightly more dangerous, but their keeper Lee Drury made the most notable save with a block from Ross Allen.  This clip is from 40 minutes and Battersby has dropped deep again to create the space for a shooting chance. 


Guernsey’s equaliser came at a really good time for them – a knockdown fell to Allen whose low shot hit the back of the net.  1-1 after 43 minutes and at half-time

Spalding made two half-time substitutions in defence but found themselves a goal down soon after.  Here’s the goal, credited to Matt Loaring, and it will be a defensive disappointment for Spalding that Allen (Number 10) got through from that angle.  1-2 after 54 minutes


The visitors earned their two-goal cushion just after the hour.  A through ball and good control gave Allen time and space – he was cool and composed in scoring the goal.  1-3 after 62 minutes


It could have been 1-4 moments later – this time Allen was provider with a flick to put Loaring clean through, but Lee Drury made the block.  Spalding had to press forward, and they went to three up front.  Guernsey had a few scary moments in their own area – Tardie was confident and assertive, but occasionally came out and missed.

The next clip is from the 75 minute mark.  Spalding are getting plenty of the ball now but are becoming increasingly desperate.  I took a few more clips of the closing stages – Tardie made a splendid one-handed reflex save (clip 7) with ten minutes to go which made sure the ending was not too frantic.  Guernsey held on reasonably comfortably in the end – Allen’s finishing and skill in the box was the main difference between the two sides.  Final score 1-3







The programme

Hopping for Moorfields Update
Four goals and the total is on track, as always planned, for the penny-a-goal pledges to cost about £2.50 each in June.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
A standard 58g bar cost 60p, very much in line with the current non-league teahut England average.
What Next?
Who knows?  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for hopping announcements alongside other puns and occasional pontification on the wild and wacky world of the English education system.