Saturday, 12 September 2020

Battering Rams

 


Hopperational Details

Date & Venue

Saturday 12 September 2020 at Southwood Stadium

Result

Ramsgate 0 Chipstead 3

Competition

FA Cup Preliminary Round

Hopstats

Happy Birthday to the blog itself! Modus Hopper Random took its first tentative steps on Friday 10 September 2010, announcing its own birth just before heading out to Witney United v Kidlington. The match report followed two days later after I got to grips with the Blogger interface, and I’m pleased that the tradition of punning in the post title has been maintained ever since, along with some tongue-in-cheekiness. This is ground 711 on the lifetime list and I am here non-randomly because the club made tickets available online in plenty of time.

Context

Not much that can be said as it is the first competitive game of the season for both these Step 4 Isthmian League sides. Ramsgate are in the South-East and Chipstead are in the South-Central divisions respectively. The league seasons start next week, all being well.

In One Sentence

Competence from Chipstead and below par from Ramsgate, and in the end a comfortable win.

So What?

Ramsgate concentrate on the league, Chipstead are in the hat for the next round, and any other clichés applicable in this situation.

Pre-match Entertainment

On arrival in the town, a few miles around the harbour and along the promenade, taking in the uniquely English seaside vibe. Very pleasant, it has to be said. Trivia: Smack Boys were mostly from the workhouse and were the apprentices on the fishing vessels, known as smacks. At the ground, my first bacon baguette in six months followed by a bit of hanging around a cage at a safe distance from the youngsters watching Jack Downer aka Street Panna (he’s an influencer just like me (cough) except with 185x more followers and better hair) demonstrating his nutmeggery tekkers. I also observed sterling work by the club’s mascot. Now there was a man not at ease with his costume on a very warm day, but he stuck to his task – and his trousers – well.







Street Panna (Jack Downer) makes some more links

Match Report

The first half was soporific and forgettable in the warm sunshine. One Chipstead shot was beaten away, and some of the supporters started discussing politics instead. I heard the raised voices before I realised the context. It didn’t go well, and I have more to say on this below. On the pitch, at last there was some football action of note with virtually the last kick of the half. Tom Collins was fouled and hit the bar with the resulting freekick. The rebound ended up with a chance taken by Spencer Cripps to open the scoring.

Half-time: Ramsgate 0 Chipstead 1

Chipstead killed the game off more or less with two more goals before the hour mark. A bouncing ball caused defensive problems for Ramsgate. Again Collins was involved in challenging for the initial cross, and the ball popped up for Jack Beadle to loop a gentle header over the keeper and over the line. Within two minutes, the best goal of the day, and annoyingly for Ramsgate scored on the break after they had at last threatened something themselves. Sam Bell, who was frequently the outlet for Chipstead attacking moves on the right flank, broke clear into a good central position and buried the shot. 

That was more or less game over, but still with time for Oliver Pain to save a Ramsgate penalty by diving to his right. The home side will have to have better days when the league season starts up.

Pix

This is a fantastic venue with an old-school feel. Ramsgate in red. 















Opinion

Congratulations to Ramsgate FC for taking the chance to spruce up the ground before the start of the season. The stewarding and signage was very good, and very sensible and clear one-way systems were in operation for the refreshments. I arrived early and the ground was already alive with two children’s matches and street-soccer activity in the two cages at one end of the ground. It felt very warm and vibrant. Ticketing arrangements had been very good too, and I generally felt safe and uncompromised in relation to hygiene and social distancing. The manager gave an interview over the PA before kickoff and made a point of welcoming the supporters and especially the large number of youngsters in attendance.

At a couple of points during the match, the club was let down somewhat by the unchallenged behaviour of some of its supporters. Two grown men got into a very loud political argument lasting several minutes and their language, unparliamentary shall we say, was embarrassing. They have the right to hold their opinions of course but the rest of us, including the large number of youngsters in the vicinity, should not have to put up with that. The debate technique consisted of shouting and swearing loudly until the other participant gave up and walked off. I also watched a bunch of youngsters deliberately discard and crush their drinks cans, leaving them on the floor for someone else to clear up with a bin no more than ten paces away. In days gone by I might have said something in both cases, as I would in my workplace of course, but in 2020 and at the age of 62 I feel less inclined to put myself into those situations in public. It just takes a bit of the shine off the day. Mr Shouty was very concerned about protecting English culture from the invaders. If this is representative of it he can keep it, and the club and its excellent army of volunteers deserves better.

As at all of the matches I’ve attended this season, spectators were largely considerate of spacing to other people but are clearly paying scant attention to social distancing in their chosen friend-and-family groups. Certainly among the dozens of youngsters watching the cage action, there was no evidence of social distancing or of relevant parental expectation. As for me, I felt safe enough and would go again because it was possible for me to err on the side of caution and find open spaces without being forced into difficult situations.

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats Update

Usually accompanied by a pre-match prediction on Twitter just before kickoff. Working towards being able to compute a respectable statistical significance test by the end of the season. The full keeper top performance table from my last 212 matches is here, on this separate page.

Today, Blue loses to Purple, and the clean sheet sends Purple several places up the league table. The overall prediction success rate falls below 50% for the first time in 67 games.

Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:

Prediction:

Home Win

Was the prediction correct?

No

% of correct predictions so far

49% (33 from 67)

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. The odd decimal places were caused either by undeniable half-and-half tops or lower league sub keepers 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 (and supported by anonymous scientists of some description) that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box. It is supposedly because of an innate primeval human reaction to the colour and the colour “spreads” more in the vision of a striker at the key moment of decision. Genius or garbage? The evidence is gathering here, and is leaning in the direction of the latter.

What Next?

Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter! If possible I will tick off one of my two remaining Step 3 grounds at Atherton Collieries next weekend.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Eagles Have One of These Nights as Hatfield Take It To The Limit


Hopperational Details

Date & Venue

Tuesday 8 September 2020 at Pixmore Playing Fields

Result

Letchworth Garden City Eagles 0 Hatfield Town 1

Competition

Herts Senior County League Premier Division (Step 7)

Hopstats

Number 710 on the lifetime list and I’m here non-randomly because I live in the district. In fact, my professional career started at Fearnhill School in the town, back in 1979, so a big hello to anyone who remembers me! There were several familiar groundhopping faces in attendance, and I had a brief chat with @RussWWFC as I wandered round the touchline.

Context

Second league game of the season. The Eagles won their first game, Hatfield drew theirs. Nothing more to be said as yet.

In One Sentence

A hard-working away win from a game of great effort but few clear chances.

So What?

Still much too early to say anything sensible at this point in the season.

Match Report

Hatfield started brightly and certainly had the territorial advantage for half an hour, but at the same time neither keeper really had to do anything other than routine clearances. Both teams lacked the cutting edge to go with their midfield effort and defences were on top. Hatfield were gradually getting closer, their first real chance coming from a shot just wide on 36 minutes, but almost immediately Letchworth had their best chance of the first half and it needed a good late clearance to snuff out the chance. The half-time whistle came with the match still goalless.

Halftime: Letchworth GC Eagles 0 Hatfield Town 0

The second half was more of the same in some respects, with neither keeper called upon to make a proper save for some time, but the home side had woken up and were more in the game. At this point I would have thought Letchworth would eventually score first, but as so often happens I was wrong. A Hatfield freekick into the box was initially headed away and then a shot blocked, but a second rebound fell nicely and was drilled into the bottom right-hand corner. Check out @thecoldend for a video clip.

The Hatfield keeper made a good sharp save to protect the lead shortly afterwards and then had the presence of mind to stay on his feet to shepherd an attacker way when he could so easily have made contact and risked a penalty. As Letchworth threw men and ball forward in the closing minutes, he was needed to make another brave save to secure the points for his team.

The stream of exhortations from the Hatfield management for workrate and shape almost never ceased, and the team delivered. This was a very hard-working and determined performance.

It was a bonus to find a programme being issued, and the event felt safe enough to attend, with a crowd of around 50 in attendance.

Pix

Letchworth in blue-and-black. 











Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats Update

Usually accompanied by a pre-match prediction on Twitter just before kickoff. Working towards being able to compute a respectable statistical significance test by the end of the season. The full keeper top performance table from my last 211 matches is here, on this separate page.

Today Orange loses to Yellow, who also gets a clean sheet, enough to climb one place in the table. The prediction rate drops back to 50% for the first time.

Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:

Prediction:

Home Win

Was the prediction correct?

No

% of correct predictions so far

50% (33 from 66)

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. The odd decimal places were caused either by undeniable half-and-half tops or lower league sub keepers 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 (and supported by anonymous scientists of some description) that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box. It is supposedly because of an innate primeval human reaction to the colour and the colour “spreads” more in the vision of a striker at the key moment of decision. Genius or garbage? The evidence is gathering here, and it's leaning towards garbage.

What Next?

Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter! All being well, going to Ramsgate this coming Saturday for an FA Cup tie, and then I had my eye on fixtures at Atherton Collieries on 19th and Melksham on 26th, viruses and lockdowns permitting of course. At the time of writing it begins to look as if they won’t be happening.

 

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Draw of the UCL


Hopperational Details

Date & Venue

Saturday 5 September 2020 at Sergeants Lawn

Result

Rothwell Corinthians 1 Northampton ON Chenecks 1

Competition

United Counties League Premier Division (Step 5)

Hopstats

Ground #709 on the lifetime list, and I am here randomishly because of a convoluted series of events all over Europe last night, as explained in the previous blogpost and on my Twitter timeline. Essentially, two late goals in a match in Bratislava meant that this game was selected from a starting list of fifty-five. Regular readers have come to expect this kind of attention-seeking.

Context

Nothing really to be said as it is the first league game of the season for both teams.

In One Sentence

An enjoyable game in which Chenecks showed some defensive resilience but in the final analysis Corinthians were too wasteful and will need to convert a higher proportion of chances into goals.

So What?

Much too soon to say anything sensible. A point each.

Pre-match Entertainment

After an early morning call for grandaddery, looking after my two youngest grandchildren for an hour (K-Nex and Barbie’s Dreamplane in action respectively, since you ask), I arrived in Rothwell just after 1.00pm. A live band was doing great things in the town centre, and I enjoyed a sunny stroll. It’s architecturally very interesting and relatively unspoiled, one of those places in which almost no building is still fulfilling its original purpose, except maybe the church. My only other visit was on a dark filthy night to the now-folded Rothwell Town, pulling on to their car park just as their match was being called off, so it was good to see Rothwell in daylight. Seargeants Lawn has little or no car parking, so I left the Yappmobile in the town centre and completed the ten-minute walk past the cricket club up Desborough Road.



Match Report

Sergeants Lawn has a good surface and a wing-to-wing slope. It’s adjacent to the town’s cricket club. Corinthians took an early lead when a long throw-in from the right wing ended up in the back of the net. I was at the other end I suspect that a defender made contact with it and it will go down as an own goal. The long throw was used many times during the game and it often caused a moment or two of chaos and uncertainty, but no other home goals as things turned out. The hosts hit the post soon afterwards and they would have been frustrated at this point not to be further in the lead, especially when Chenecks equalised with their first real foray into the opposing box. A good right-wing cross was palmed away rather than caught, and fell nicely for a striker to finish. The game was now suddenly more even. Corinthians forced a full-length save from the Chenecks keeper and another home cross from the right went teasingly unmet on its way across the goalmouth.

Half-time: Rothwell Corinthians 1 Northampton ON Chenecks 1

Corinthians should have had the lead in the first minute after the restart. An initial shot was saved before the rebound was blasted high and wide. Chenecks then hit the post themselves after a great left-to-right crossfield ball from the fullback position. Nevertheless, the home team were well on top at this point and it took a succession of blocks and clearances to deny their corners and long-throws. The game became less fluent after a few meaty challenges had by now led to lots of shouting and a string of yellow cards. Corinthians wasted a direct free-kick in a good position with just three minutes left and that was it really. The game had petered out somewhat in the warm sunshine. Corinthians will feel they have dropped two points but Chenecks deserve credit for their resilience and counter-attacks. The home supporters who were querying the length of the second half were simply wrong – they had not noticed that both first and second halves had started a few minutes early. For the record, according to my watch around three minutes were added as stoppage time.

Pix

Rothwell Corinthians in red and black. 











Opinion

I arrived at the ground to find a well-organised reception with hand-sanitiser available, and my details for test-and-trace were collected. I stayed outdoors but I noted a one-way system set up for the clubhouse. It was nice to see a fairly-priced programme and the whole visit cost me less than a Wembley Stadium burger. Club volunteers have taken the chance during lockdown to give the ground some attention and it made a good impression. Everyone behaved sensibly in regard to social distancing and it felt a safe enough environment. Credit to the club for being ready. Good day for the passing neutral.

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats Update

Usually accompanied by a pre-match prediction on Twitter just before kickoff. Working towards being able to compute a respectable statistical significance test by the end of the season. The full keeper top performance table from my last 210 matches is here, on this separate page. It has to be said that the initially impressive prediction rate has largely fallen back to 50:50 and is no better at the moment than the toss of a coin.

Today, Green played Orange and there was no clean sheet.

Pre-match Prediction based on Keeper Top Colour:

Prediction:

Home Win

Was the prediction correct?

No

% of correct predictions so far

51% (33 from 65)


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. The odd decimal places were caused either by undeniable half-and-half tops or lower league sub keepers 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 (and supported by anonymous scientists of some description) that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box. It is supposedly because of an innate primeval human reaction to the colour and the colour “spreads” more in the vision of a striker at the key moment of decision. Genius or garbage? The evidence is gathering here.

What Next?

Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter! The provisional plan next weekend, subject to work, weather, pandemics and grandadding, is to take in an FA Cup tie, details to be decided and possibly random. Then on the 19th to head north to Atherton Collieries to tick off one of my two remaining Step 3 grounds. (The other one is Radcliffe but they are away from home on that day.) My other priorities, subject to ticket availability, will be the new grounds for Brentford, Boston United, Gloucester City and York City and sixteen others to complete everywhere down to and including Step 4. There are a few others under construction but it is less clear whether they will be ready during 2020-21.