Sunday, 30 September 2018

Stafford Stuffed by a Bamber Bridge Bombardment



Hopperational Details
Date & Venue
Saturday 29 September 2018 at The Sir Tom Finney Stadium at Irongate
Result
Bamber Bridge 6 Stafford Rangers 1
Competition
Northern Premier League (Step 3)
Hopstats
A threshold hop for me today as I complete “The 248” for the first time with ground number 657 on the lifetime list.  The 248 is actually 246 at this precise moment – it comprises the top seven tiers (eleven league tables) of English football from the Premier League, through the three divisions of the Football League, the three divisions (in two tiers) of the National League, and the four regional leagues at Step 3.  Truro City are tenants at Torquay United, and Kingstonian are tenants at Corinthian Casuals.  Several other sides are tenants at lower-tier clubs.  My 248 will remain intact until Tottenham Hotspur move to their new stadium.  This is the 30th ground I have visited where trains are directly visible from pitchside.
Context
Both sides are in mid-table.  Bamber Bridge are undefeated at home in the league, but they were trounced in an FA Cup replay in midweek by a side from a tier below.  There has been talk of team changes in the press.  Stafford have won one of their four away games.
In one sentence
The home side took more of their chances in a very open and entertaining game as Stafford fell apart defensively in the last half-hour.
So what?
Bamber Bridge climb to 11th place, only one place and one point behind Stafford Rangers.
Match Report
Someone will need to explain to me why the club have the soporific John Denver imploring us to take him home on country roads to West Virginia as their gladiatorial entry music.  I suggest that leaving him in West Virginia in the first place is the better option.  In bright sunshine, the teams started to attack each other and Bamber Bridge clipped the bar before Alistair Waddecar opened the scoring with a dipping shot over the keeper after the ball had fallen kindly.  He could have had a second when he headed over.  Unmarked, he should probably at least have hit the target.

1-0 celebrated

1-1 as Coulson heads past Byrne
Rangers drew level with a looping header from centre-back Sam Coulson from a second corner kick in quick succession, the first of which had originally arisen after a flying save by debutant home keeper Oliver Byrne, on loan from Blackburn.  However, parity lasted only two minutes as Waddecar set up Andrew Howarth for a good low shot into the corner to restore the lead.  The game continued in this open fashion with the ball spending plenty of time in the box and the defences working hard.  Harrison Holgate was getting into good positions from full-back down the left flank for Stafford – one cross led to a shot hitting the bar and then a fantastic block by Matt Lawlor to prevent the second equalising goal.  Maybe that was the game’s hinge point – or it could have been the goal-line clearance in first-half stoppage time that protected the lead from another corner.  Stafford would have gone in at the interval feeling confident that they could get back into the game and maybe they should even have been in front.

I moved from the stand to the touchline for the second half, and the game continued in the same vein.  A glancing header from Waddecar made it 3-1 and then I moved again in order to be a greater distance from the World’s Worst Dad.  I decided that I was neither brave nor stupid enough to intervene as his stream of expletives and insults set the worst of examples to his young son.

Waddecar channels Shearer for celebration
I arrived at the other side of the ground in time for Bamber Bridge substitute Jordan Darr to arrive at the back post to score from close range, possibly with his first touch.  4-1 was beginning to feel harsh on Stafford (I am a Staffordshire lad by birth after all) and when they hit the bar again (maybe touched on by Byrne) you felt that it was not their day.  Nice approach work by Darr led to a trip on fellow substitute Matthew Dudley, and Waddecar powered his penalty kick into the top corner to complete his hat-trick.  The man-of-the-match award was even announced before he added his fourth, an insult-to-injury sixth for his side, rounding the keeper as we entered stoppage time.
  
Now that is a top-corner penalty - look closely. Waddecar's hat-trick.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this turned into a drubbing which would not have been expected from the first half displays.
Pix
Bamber Bridge (white and black strip) are recent arrivals in Step 3.  The main stand is excellent.  The playing surface is very good.  Arrive early if you want street parking nearby. 















Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
New this season – a pre-match prediction based only on keeper top colours as a preliminary test of the data.  Proper statistical significance test to follow in due course.  Based on the last 158 matches that I have watched.

Today, Yellow beats Orange, but no clean sheet for either, and no change in league table position.


Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:
Prediction:
Away Win
Was the prediction correct?
No
% of correct predictions so far
69% (9 from 13)

Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. For new readers the odd .5 was caused by a shocking half-and-half shirt and the .1 was due to a substitute goalkeeper in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.  It may not be statistically significant as yet, but football coverage ignores this point as a matter of routine.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
10.0
5.0
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.0
20.0
2.000
Blue
39.1
17.0
7.0
15.1
55.0
14.0
73.0
1.867
Grey
47.5
22.0
10.0
15.5
79.5
13.0
61.5
1.295
Green
83.0
42.0
10.0
31.0
139.0
21.0
102.0
1.229
Fire Cracker
3.0
1.0
0.0
2.0
6.0
1.0
2.0
0.667
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Purple
17.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
38.0
4.0
6.0
0.353
Radioactive Bile
19.0
9.0
0.0
10.0
37.0
3.0
5.0
0.263
Orange
36.5
11.0
7.0
18.5
69.5
6.0
0.5
0.014
Yellow
32.0
9.0
7.0
16.0
66.0
5.0
-7.0
-0.219
Pink
17.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
35.0
1.0
-10.0
-0.588
Black
5.0
1.0
3.0
1.0
14.0
0.0
-8.0
-1.600
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter!  I will be concentrating on 42 Step Four grounds now, hopefully with some more randomishness along the way.  Many of these are long drives north or west so I will be restricted to Saturdays in practice. It will take me at least two seasons to complete “The 388”, which will almost certainly not be The 388 by then due to further regional restructuring of the football pyramid.  Other new stadia within The 248 will also be completed within that timescale.  There is no chance of completing the whole of Step 5 in my hopping lifetime, even if I start taking performance-enhancing drugs!  The general plan is to drop lower and local after that (I will be in my mid-sixties) in order to get to 1000 on the big list.


Saturday, 22 September 2018

Steelmen at the Next Stratos-Ferric Level


It’s an online programme.  Here’s the link and a picture of the front cover on my PC screen.  Have mixed feelings about this.  Completely understand why this is happening, but printing it out for the collection will be a pain.



Hopperational Details
Date & Venue
Saturday 22 September 2018 at Lye Meadow
Result
Alvechurch 1 Corby Town 4
Competition
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round.  Two Southern League teams – Step 3 (Premier Central) at home to Step 4 (Division One Central.)
Hopstats
656 on the lifetime list.  Here because this is the penultimate ground that I need to visit for Step 3.  A kind FA Cup draw had given me the chance to see Alvechurch at home today.
Context
Alvechurch beat neighbours Bromsgrove Sporting 4-3 and then won 1-0 at Stratford Town in the previous rounds, and are mid-table in the league.  Corby Town beat Dunstable Town 4-0 away after a 3-3 draw, and then Hertford Town 2-0.  They are also unbeaten in their league.
In one sentence
Two well-taken goals early in the second half killed off any Alvechurch hope of a comeback.
So what?
Corby Town take the £9000 prize money for the round and are of course in the draw for the next round.
Match Report
A Corby contingent were already in good voice in the bar as I arrived, and they remained so as home keeper Paul Evans gifted them the lead.  The scorer was Joel Carta.  At the other end, counterpart keeper Dan George also had a couple of dodgy moments with clearances and chargedowns, but he got away with them.

This was an open game.  Corby played a high defensive line and occasionally found themselves chasing attackers who had timed their run perfectly.  They also looked a bit vague at corners, and it was no real surprise when Alvechurch equalised through Kieron Cook.  He had time to steady himself at the edge of the area before firing a low shot into the corner.

However, the switch of momentum didn’t materialise and before half-time Carta scored again for Corby to restore the lead, with a low shot into the corner from the edge of the area.

One imagined forthright words and finger-pointing in the home teamtalk at the interval, but if there were, they didn’t work this time.  Corby went 4-1 uip through two good goals, indirectly from set pieces.  A volley from Carta for his hat-trick goal, followed by a half-volley from Jamie Anton, removed any lingering hopes of a comeback.

Carta completes the hat-trick
Alvechurch never gave up.  Josh March had a chance, but it was saved by the feet of George.  A shot was deflected just over, while Corby also wasted their best one-to-one chance on a break.  Alvechurch were denied a late consolation goal by a clearance off the line, but they can’t really complain about this result.  The better team won on the day.
Pix
This is a ground with a distinct slope, and is deserving of a daylight visit because of its gorgeous rural setting.  Alvechurch in yellow-and-black.
  















Rant
I almost didn’t get there.  Setting off from Hertfordshire in late morning I first encountered issues on the M1 Northbound.  I made it with just fifteen minutes to spare, having had comedy moments at Northamptonshire roundabouts where Doris the Satnav was saying turn left and the Google Maps Lady was saying turn right.  The Google Maps Lady was also draining my mobile faster than the Corby fans drained the Alvechurch bar, so my phone was long dead before Doris failed to recall that the A5 is currently impassable at Towcester on the journey home.  At the third attempt I found a road headed in the right direction only to encounter two more holdups on the M1 Southbound.  Don’t get me started about the state of Newport Pagnell services.
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
New this season – a pre-match prediction based only on keeper top colours as a preliminary test of the data.  Proper statistical significance test to follow in due course.





This week, Pink loses to Green but no clean sheet for either.  No change in league positions, now based on my last 157 games.

Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:
Prediction:
Away Win
Was the prediction correct?
Yes
% of correct predictions so far
75% (9 from 12)

Based on conventional 3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, but also -1pt for a goal conceded (GC) and +5pts for a clean sheet (CS).  Colours ranked on a points per game (PPG) basis. For new readers the odd .5 was caused by a shocking half-and-half shirt and the .1 was due to a substitute goalkeeper in a different colour.  The Fire Cracker colour was confirmed with the help of the social media team at Dulux UK.  All of this arises from a comment attributed to Petr Cech that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.  It may not be statistically significant as yet, but football coverage ignores this point as a matter of routine.


P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Red
10.0
5.0
1.0
4.0
11.0
3.0
20.0
2.000
Blue
39.1
17.0
7.0
15.1
55.0
14.0
73.0
1.867
Grey
47.5
22.0
10.0
15.5
79.5
13.0
61.5
1.295
Green
83.0
42.0
10.0
31.0
139.0
21.0
102.0
1.229
Fire Cracker
3.0
1.0
0.0
2.0
6.0
1.0
2.0
0.667
Maroon
5.0
2.0
1.0
2.0
9.0
1.0
3.0
0.600
Purple
17.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
38.0
4.0
6.0
0.353
Radioactive Bile
19.0
9.0
0.0
10.0
37.0
3.0
5.0
0.263
Orange
35.5
11.0
7.0
17.5
63.5
6.0
6.5
0.183
Yellow
31.0
8.0
7.0
16.0
65.0
5.0
-9.0
-0.290
Pink
17.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
35.0
1.0
-10.0
-0.588
Black
5.0
1.0
3.0
1.0
14.0
0.0
-8.0
-1.600
White
1.9
0.0
0.0
1.9
4.0
0.0
-4.0
-2.105
What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter!  All being well, I complete “The 248” (meaning everywhere in England from Premier League to Step 3) next Saturday at Bamber Bridge v Stafford Rangers.