Saturday, 5 November 2016

Slough Despondent, Canaries Flying


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 5 November 2016 at Arbour Park
Result
Slough Town 0 Hitchin Town 1
Competition
Southern Premier League (Step 3)
Hopping
I am here because it is a rare chance to be partisan rather than neutral at an unvisited ground.  Number 599 on the lifetime list.
Pre-match preparation
To be honest, preparation mostly involved the big decision whether to take the train, but the Yappmobile’s comforts won the day despite the risks of the M25 western section.  In the end all went well with the journeys.  For the match itself, 2nd plays 4th.  The teams have a decent localish rivalry and a good contest was to be expected at Slough’s new ground.  Both sides are in good form.  Hitchin have not lost in the league since the end of August and Slough’s home league games have provided seven wins and a draw.  Pre-match chat centred on Slough’s Elijah Adeybayo, a Fulham loanee who scored a debut hat-trick last week.  They made sure Hitchin knew this with a canny presentation just before kickoff.  I was also interested to see Hitchin’s Kane Smith who apparently caught the eye of WBA in the close season.
This match in one sentence
A great awayday performance from the visitors who take the points with a freekick.
So what?
Chippenham’s simultaneous win keeps Hitchin in 4th, but Slough drop to 3rd. Still plenty of this season left to go.
The drama unfolds
Hitchin made a bright start and won several early corners with Slough keeper Mark Scott having to look into the low sunshine.  Callum Donnelly and Kane Smith linked well but the shot went wide.  At the midpoint of the half Hitchin would claim to be on top territorially but only routine demands had been made of Scott.  The best chance so far then came to Slough.  The ref had just finished booking Donnelly.  James Dobson hit the post from the freekick and with keeper Michael Johnson on the deck, Elijah Adebayo flicked the ball over the bar.


 Robbie Burns found himself clear of the defence but the ball rolled just wide.  The same player then had a half-chance after a sloppy backpass but he was forced wide and could not convert from the narrowing angle.  The more pessimistic Hitchin supporters were beginning to fear that Slough would turn up for the second half and make them pay for the series of missed chances.  So the first half ended scoreless with only a moral victory of no great value for the visitors.  0-0 at half-time


The deadlock was broken by a direct freekick from Hitchin’s Ben Walster.  1-0 after 49 minutes

Ben Walster's match-winning goal
As you might expect, the gamesmanship, or game management if you prefer, began to creep in and the atmosphere became a tad tetchy.  Slough forced Hitchin back into their own half for long periods.  They coped better when they started pressing again higher up the field.  Thomas did all that was asked of him, which was not as much as Slough would want.  We reached the 75-minute mark and it looked for all the world like another goal was coming.  Hitchin were defending very well but not retaining possession after clearances except on rare occasions they looked dangerous on the break.  Burns worked hard up front but was well shackled.

As the home side became more desperate, Scott joined the attack for a couple of corners and to be fair, Hitchin did not adapt well to that new threat.  The keeper appeared to be close to scoring from where I was standing at the other end of the ground.  Again, his counterpart Thomas did all that was necessary as Hitchin rode their luck in the final moments.  Final score 0-1

Mark Scott (in blue) defied by opposite number Michael Johnson (orange)

Ground Pix
"It'll be nice when it's finished."  (Anonymous HTFC Supporter)
To be fair, it's pretty good already.  The artificial surface will divide opinion but I'm clear on this - it made for a better game.







Other Match Pix







Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Today, orange wins and takes a clean sheet against blue.


The story so far after 96 logged matches.
3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, -1pt for a goal conceded and +5pts for a clean sheet.  Rank order by Pts per Game (PpG).


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
8.0
4.0
0.0
4.0
8.0
3.0
19.0
2.38
Blue
27.1
11.0
5.0
11.1
41.0
10.0
47.0
1.73
Green
46.0
25.0
5.0
16.0
75.0
13.0
70.0
1.52
Maroon
4.0
2.0
1.0
1.0
6.0
1.0
6.0
1.50
Orange
18.5
6.0
4.0
8.5
25.5
5.0
21.5
1.16
Grey
34.5
16.0
7.0
11.5
58.5
8.0
36.5
1.06
Purple
9.0
4.0
2.0
3.0
20.0
2.0
4.0
0.44
Yellow
18.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
33.0
4.0
7.0
0.39
Pink
11.0
2.0
4.0
5.0
25.0
1.0
-10.0
-0.91
Black
5.0
1.0
3.0
1.0
14.0
0.0
-8.0
-1.60
Radioactive Bile
9.0
2.0
0.0
7.0
23.0
0.0
-17.0
-1.89
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.11
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Next ground is number 600.  Back to work this week so nothing certain.


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