Sunday, 24 February 2013

It's Zanone Problem for Scholars at Thamesmead

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 23 February 2013 at Bayliss Avenue
Thamesmead Town 3 Potters Bar Town 2
Isthmian League Division One North (Step 4)
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.

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