Sunday, 31 March 2013

Wulfs Bite Country Rangers in the West Midlands

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 30 March 2013 at the Castlecroft Stadium
AFC Wulfrunians 4 Black Country Rangers 3
West Midlands Regional League Premier Division (Step 6).
Ground 510 on the lifetime list and I am here because I have been in West Bromwich for lunch at the ancestral home!  My first game for a month as it happens.
Pre-match preparation
Frankly, not much beyond “Is the game on?”  I know that both teams have been among the league leaders in recent seasons and today is 2nd v 5th.  Also, as both teams have scored over a hundred league goals each this season, this match might help get my Hopping for Moorfields total back on track after I have missed several weekends for either weather or work reasons.
This match in one sentence
Not as exciting as it might appear from the scoreline – Rangers, by now down to nine men, got two goals in stoppage time to limit the damage to their goal difference.
So what?
No change in league positions (leaders Lye Town also won today and lead by one point) but the gap between fourth and fifth is getting significant.  Lye have already beaten Wulfrunians home and away so the title will come down to how the teams get on against lower-ranked opponents in the remaining fixtures.  Wulfrunians have the better GD.
The drama unfolds
Both sides started with attacking intent and both got into good positions in the early moments, but the first decent shots came after 8 minutes or so.  Wulfs’ Kyle Brady gave a sign of things to come with a left-foot shot just wide, and then home ‘keeper Matt Martin came out to block a Jason Chilton effort with his legs.  A superb through ball then found Brady again, and this time the other ‘keeper, Jamie Wood, needed the lower limbs to block a shot.  All good stuff on a surface which was much better than I had expected to see.  Here is my scene-setter clip from 15 minutes into the game.  AFC Wulfrunians are in the red.

Five minutes later, the home side took the lead.  Brady pulled away again to the left of the front line, and a good diagonal ball sent him through on goal.  His left-footer across the keeper was good enough to find the far corner.  1-0 after 20 minutes

Alex Hammond of BCR earned a yellow card for a shirt-pull that was to prove significant later on, especially as his team-mate Leigh Pardoe earned a red card for an out-of-control tackle with studs showing just before the break.  Half-time spectator chat suggested that the ref had upgraded a yellow to a red for something said.  1-0 at half-time

Nathan Rose-Laing got a second for the home side against the ten Rangers.  Wood got a hand to his flick, but could not keep it out.  2-0 after 52 minutes

Four minutes later, however, Andrew Price scored to keep the visitors in the game and the result in doubt.  2-1 after 56 minutes

However, Hammond’s second yellow card, for a late tackle, made it an 11 v 9 game and Mike Robertson got a goal on the hour mark with a shot that Wood could only partially stop.  3-1 after 60 minutes

Mike Robertson gets on the scoresheet
Mid-way through the half, Brady got his second to open up a three goal margin and seal the win.  4-1 after 66 minutes

However, either complacency set in, or they got careless, who knows.  The Rangers got a goal from Aaron Lloyd in the last minute and got another through Shane Parkes in stoppage time.  There was not enough time after the last one for anyone to get really jumpy.  Final score 4-3
The programme
A black-and-white programme as the fixture had been in doubt all week, but the club also gave away complimentary copies of a previous programme.  Nice touch.

Something random

The rose symbol on the wall of the main stand at Castlecroft is the sign of the ownership of the ground by the Rugby Football Union.  This venue is a former Wolverhampton Wanderers training ground that was more recently occupied by England’s “schoolboy” rugby sides.  The main stand is way ahead of anything else I have encountered in Step 6.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Seven goals, so we are now up to 170 for the season.
Mars Bar Watch 2013
No purchases today, as I am working through one of my many chocolatey leaving presents from last Thursday.  (Regular readers of my tweetage will know that I am now between jobs, and I am shortly heading back into the wild and wacky world of secondary school science teaching.  This partly explains the reduction in my blog output this month.  Bear with me as I find a new position of equilibrium!  Which is in itself an A-level chemistry reference.)  Rumour has it that Asda has been selling a 4-pack of standard 58g bars for a loss-leading £1.  I will have to investigate.  Please tweet me if you can confirm.
What Next?
Hopefully crossing paths with a group of European friends as they head for Stamford v Kings Lynn tomorrow.

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