Sunday, 14 September 2014

Un 'Baller in Marske - Hero

Note to readers: have a look at the end of CLIP 2 even if you skip the rest!

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 13 September at The GER Stadium
Marske United 2 Dunston UTS 2
FA Cup First Round Qualifying
I am here for ground 544 because of a unique sequence of events which, although not random in the strict mathematical sense, certainly took the decision out of my hands and made it subject to events totally outside my control.  The final twist was Vaclav Pilar’s late, late winner for the Czech Republic against the Netherlands last Tuesday. He still has no idea of the life-changing significance of this event.

The story was played out on Twitter over two nights and is explained in the previous blogpost.  Firstly, the times of the two goals in the Switzerland v England game in Basel on Monday last gave me a shortlist of two games (this one and Burscough v Curzon Ashton).

Secondly, a random selection of four home and four away sides in the next night’s games scored 10 goals for Marske and only 9 for Burscough.  Marske were represented by Andorra (1), Czech Republic (2) , Bosnia-Hercegovina (1), Croatia (2), Bulgaria (2), Italy(2) with blanks for Turkey and Latvia.  Burscough had Wales (2), Netherlands (1), Cyprus (2), Iceland (3) and Azerbaijan (1) with no contributions from Kazakhstan and Norway.  Marske took an early lead through Bulgaria’s early win and for much of the evening were three goals ahead.  Suddenly an Icelandic brace brought Burscough close and then Gareth Bale’s second of the night gave them the lead (8-9) for the first time.  Croatia’s second made it 9-9 but this would still have been an away-goals win for Burscough – but with seconds left the Czech Republic grabbed their winner to send me NE rather than NW.
Pre-match preparation
These two teams have had good starts in the step 5 Northern League and lie 3rd and 1st, though the away side’s 2-pt advantage is offset by the home side’s two games in hand.  Marske had emphatic wins in the two previous rounds – 7-1 at home against Billingham Town and 4-1 away at Armthorpe Welfare.  The two teams met at Dunston in the first league game of the season and Marske came away with the points. They have the highest number of home goals scored and the best goal difference, and have won eight of their last nine in all competitions.

Dunston have yet to concede a goal in this season’s FA Cup and have beaten Morpeth Town (away) and Durham City (home) to get to this point.  They have won their last eight in all competitions after that early blip.
So, bound to be a dour 0-0 draw then?  (Postscript: no it wasn’t!)

On the day, my pre-match walk along the sands was shorter than planned owing to travel delays, but good for me nonetheless.

This match in one sentence
A compelling first half and a tense second, but capped with a dramatic final few seconds as the Dunston keeper kept his 10-man team in the draw.
So what?
Replay at Dunston on Tuesday.  This will be well worth seeing, trust me!  By then they will know their potential opponents for the next round after Monday’s draw.
The drama unfolds
Marske started brightly and should have taken the lead in the fourth minute.  Jamie Owens created the chance for himself through persistence but poked wide.  Then at the other end, Scott Fenwick scooped a shot over the bar after the bounce of a long high ball had been misjudged in the home defence.  Here is my scene-setter clip,  Marske are in yellow and blue.

The opening goal was a cracker.  A corner was initially cleared but fell kindly for Darren Hollingsworth.  Liam Connell made a valiant attempt to keep the shot out as it headed for the top corner, and needed treatment afterwards because he collided with the upright.  1-0 after 23 mins

Dunston responded and here is a pic of the moment that their captain Michael Dixon rose to place a glancing header into the net from a corner.  1-1 after 41 mins

The visitors then took the lead with a penalty that was awarded by the assistant referee.  It was a soft one because the ball was not really in the danger area at the moment of contact.  Fenwick sent Robert Dean the wrong way with the spotkick.  1-2 after 41 minutes

My second clip caught (in addition to some lovely interjections from locals!) the fourth goal of the game, another excellent strike, this time by Owens from a set piece.  This was in stoppage time so that the game was all square at the interval.  2-2 after 45+2 mins and at halftime


The second half was less dramatic but just as tense.  The two sides largely cancelled each other out in midfield or restricted their opponents to shots from long range.  Connell made one very good save early in the half.

After 72 minutes, Dunston were down to ten men as Daniel Halliday received his second yellow for a trip on winger Josh McDonald, who was flying past him on a break down the right wing.  No real arguments about that call.  Marske sensed their opportunity and pressed forward strongly in the closing minutes, and the third clip shows how close they came with efforts from McDonald and Owens.  I wish I’d let the camera run for another minute – with seconds left before the whistle, Connell made another quite magnificent save, from Owens yet again, to send the tie to a replay.  Final score 2-2

Ground Pix
This is a great ground with a clubhouse shared with bowls and tennis clubs, tucked away among some houses.

Match Pix

Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
A tended garden area in one corner of the ground.  Great stuff!

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
A draw and two conceded for each of the two most popular colours, green and grey.  Updated league table in a week or two.
Soapbox Section
For what it’s worth, I hope all you Scots out there will vote to stay with the UK this week and that the politicians of Westminster will go on to make the necessary changes to make us all happier with our governments so that we never need to ask the question again.  The turnout should really be very close to 100% - what could be more important than making a decision that affects the future of all your descendants?
What Next?
A trip next Saturday around the North Berkshire League with Groundhop UK on a minibus called Jane.  Four games in a day (for only the second time in my life).  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for this and other stuff.

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