Sunday, 10 May 2015

Two-Nil is a Dangerous Scoreline Again

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 May 2015 at Victory Park
Chorley 2 Guiseley 3
Conference North Playoff Final (Step 2)
Ground #569 restores my current “Top 160” (everywhere down to Step 2) which at the end of 2014-15 is 157 venues because of groundsharing by Worcester (at Kidderminster), Gloucester (at Cheltenham) and Hayes & Yeading (at Maidenhead).  The list becomes instantly incomplete again at the start of 2015-16, for example with a new ground for FC United of Manchester.
Pre-match preparation
The teams finished 4th and 5th respectively behind champions Barrow in the regular season.  The playoff semi-finals in this league are two-leggers and Chorley overcame Boston United on penalties after a very dramatic 95th-minute equaliser (an overhead kick too) which took the game to extra-time.  Chorley had been two goals down.  Meanwhile, Guiseley were impressively beating AFC Fylde home-and-away.  The league fixtures were both fairly recent and resulted in narrow home wins.  At the same stage of last season, Chorley were coming up from Step 3 as Northern Premier League champions and Guiseley were losing to Altrincham in the Conference North playoff final. In the language of the week, this one is too close to call
This match in one sentence
The archetypal game of two halves, and Chorley will point to the three enforced defensive substitutions as a big factor in the turning of the tide.
So what?
Step 1 Conference National for Guiseley
The drama unfolds
The ground filled up early.  I hadn’t realised that the match would be segregated and I entered a Guiseley gate.  As it happened I got lucky with my positioning for this dramatic game.  Fantastic for the passing neutral.  My scene-setter clip starts with the opening goal from the first corner of the game, and by the way, this is a splendid ground of character and characters.  Dale Whitham’s corner is headed in by Andy Teague and the lino confirms that the ball was over the line as keeper Steven Drench can only push it into the top of the net.  Chorley (the Magpies) are in black-and-white.  1-0 after 5 mins

Guiseley were looking shaky in defence and there were more shaky clearances before suddenly Chorley’s keeper Sam Ashton was called into action for the first time.  Chorley looked dangerous from every set-piece and another header from Teague was correctly disallowed for offside.  The second goal, as they say, was coming – it arrived when Paul Jarvis received the ball on the left flank, cut inside to beat a defender and then score with the aid of a deflection.  2-0 after 24 mins

Chorley were dominant and it took at least one more decent save from Drench to prevent further damage before the interval.  I wrote a note to myself wondering if the real Guiseley would turn up for the second half – by now they had already needed to take striker Oli Johnson off.  2-0 at half-time

I had the camera ready for Guiseley’s first corner in the second half and was very surprised to see it taken as an outswinger by a right-footer.

However, they did get back in the game with a route one goal, after Chorley had lost both goalscorers Teague and Jarvis to injury. Adam Boyes produced a great first touch to control a dropping ball and score.  2-1 after 56 mins

When keeper Ashton was also forced off, to be replaced by Aaron Grundy, you feared for Chorley.  I filmed the next Guiseley set-piece, this time an inswinger and almost the equaliser, but the clip is most notable for what happens to one Guiseley spectator just behind the goal…

The equaliser duly arrived with a header from Liam Dickinson.  2-2 after 73 mins

The winner was scored by another Guiseley sub, Nicky Boshell, sparking scenes of jubilation at the away end and probably a feeling of growing inevitability at the other.  2-3 after 78 mins

Guiseley survived most of the remaining time easily enough and had chances for a fourth, but Chorley made one final push as the game entered six minutes of injury time.  They came so, so close as sub Matt Flynn’s header hit the woodwork.  Jack Dorney’s shot was saved easily by Drench, and here is the moment of the final whistle.  Final score 2-3

The excellent Chorley website says that Harry Winter was red-carded after the final whistle but I have no insight into that.  The hosts waited on the pitch patiently and respectfully until a shambles of a presentation was finally completed.  As is traditional in these matters, a man in a suit could not get out of the way in time of the first burst of bubbly.  Well done to Guiseley, commiserations to Chorley.  I hope that plenty more hoppers turn up to visit your ground.

Ground Pix

Match Pix

1st half: Teague's effort disallowed

Jarvis mobbed after scoring the second Chorley goal

1st half: Drench keeps the deficit down to two

2nd half: Dickinson celebrates the equaliser

Something You Might Not Get in the Premier League Next Season*
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Sky Blue 2-3 Purple and there will be an end-of-season final table.  Chorley had two blue ones today.   Ashton is helped to the dugout and Grundy takes over.

Soapbox Section
I really ought to make a political statement here in this week of all weeks.  Looks like we are in for another period where competition between human beings and their organisations is more important than collaboration.  This, of course, works for some.  Like today, there will be winners and losers.  In my professional life, all I can now say to the “kids of today” is that in the next decade it will be more important than ever to get control of your adult life through being flexible, educated and qualified.  No-one is going to cover the costs of your lifestyle or even your basic needs by paying taxes for you.  You will need to sort yourself out.  If you have interpersonal skills, good communication, abilities in maths and sciences, you will be fine because you can join the winners.  Speaking more than one language will help.  Then your generation, in turn, can decide how best to ignore the rest like this one has now done.  Democracy got selfish in my lifetime, I reckon.
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  I will be going to the Scottish Cup Final between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Falkirk at the end of the month, and I usually find some late drama in the Essex Olympian League in mid-May!

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