Saturday, 9 April 2016

Singing the Blues' Praises

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 9 April 2016 at Hanbury Stadium
Haywards Heath Town 5 Mile Oak 1
Southern Combination League D1 (Step 6)
Ground 585 on the lifetime list, here because of the postponement of the Isthmian League fixture at Burgess Hill Town.
Pre-match preparation
All rendered irrelevant by a pitch inspection while I was crawling round the dreaded M25 in the Yappmobile.  I was headed for Burgess Hill v Hendon which was called off late morning.  Most hoppers will know that dawning realisation on pulling on to a car park which looks worryingly empty.  This happened to me at 2.25pm so it was very much a quick look at the map and the fixtures for the next tier.  Haywards Heath jumped out as reachable and I made it with ten minutes to spare but having no idea whatsoever of the context for the fixture.  Thank you to Doris the Satnav for a flawless performance.  The first clue was the visitors forming a guard of honour for the hosts as I took my place in the stand.  First impressions of this club were very favourable and the standard of the surface deserves a mention.  Sorry that I didn't realise that the league trophy was being presented after the game or I'd have stayed a bit longer.
This match in one sentence
A comprehensive home win for the divisional champions.
So what?
The almost-invincibles of Haywards Heath will have three more celebratory games.  Mile Oak’s promotion hopes are mathematically still alive.  This groundhopper's day was rescued from disaster.
The drama unfolds
A quick look at the programme during the early exchanges confirmed that the hosts had won the league two games ago by beating today’s opponents 4-0 away.  In fact they have won 27 (twenty-seven!) in a row after losing the first game of the season, and not conceded a goal in eight.  Impressive.  Mile Oak just about have a mathematical interest in promotion from third place, but they would need a win today.  This looked unlikely from the outset as Haywards Heath contrived to miss a number of chances.  Number 9 Max Miller caught the eye as he created chances for Freddie Barker (skied) and Danny Turner (just couldn’t make contact) whilst hitting the post himself in between.

Into low-earth orbit for this early chance ...
Haywards Heath were on top but it took an odd goal to break the deadlock.  Mile Oak’s keeper Aaron Stenning came out into the sweeper position but his clearance went to the left wing, and the ball was hit in from a fair distance by Jamie Weston.  They got a second through Miller almost immediately despite Stenning getting a hand to his shot.  2-0 after 36 minutes

Two minutes before half-time and in a goalmouth siege, Haywards Heath hit both posts but from a neutral’s perspective the game was kept alive in first-half stoppage time.  The home defence allowed a left-wing cross which was buried by Eric Wedge-Bull at the far post.  2-1 at half-time

The Mile Oak comeback was snuffed out by Miller with a nicely-worked goal early in the second half.  They then added two more late on. Fullback Scott Marshall looked as surprised as anyone when his excellent shot made it four, and then sub Alfie Rogers scored the fifth. It sealed a comprehensive win for the champions who will go up to step 5 next season.  Final Score 5-1

Number 2 is mobbed for scoring number four

Number five is scored ...
... and celebrated

Ground Pix

Only the lower half of the main stand is in use at the moment
Match Pix
Haywards Heath are The Blues.

Five Years of Modus Hopper Random
Five years to the day since my first game on Faroese soil and the start of a sequence of blogposts that still gets more hits than anything else I have ever written.

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Green versus green so nothing gained or lost today.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  New term starts on Monday and it will be a last-minute decision next Saturday given that it is GCSE coursework moderation week.

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