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
Spalding United 1 Guernsey 3
FA Vase Round 5.  These clubs both play at step 5, in the Premier Divisions of the United Counties and Combined Counties Leagues respectively.
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. 

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