Monday, 11 March 2019

Rites of the North-West Passage

Hopperational Details
Saturday 9 March 2019
Result 1
Bootle 4 Ashton Athletic 2
TDP Solicitors Stadium, Vesty Road
North West Counties Premier Division (Step 5)
Result 2
Litherland REMYCA 1 City of Liverpool 2
Litherland Sports Park
North West Counties Premier Division (Step 5)
Result 3
Lower Breck 6 Ashton Town 1
Anfield Sports Centre
North West Counties Division One North (Step 6)
Result 4
St Helens Town 1 Garstang 3
Arcoframe Stadium, Ruskin Drive
North West Counties Division One North (Step 6)
Numbers 683-686 on the lifetime list. Second time that I have been able to complete four games in one day.
1: 2nd v 6th and both teams said to be in good form.
2: 14th v 1st but both teams with mixed results of late.
3: 3rd v 11th
4: 18th v 10th
In one sentence each
1:  A very good, competitive game under the conditions with the result in doubt until well into the second half after Athletic had drawn level from a two-goal deficit.
2:  Litherland really had a go at the league leaders who brought considerable support, but City of Liverpool held on nervously at the end for the win.
3:  Lower Breck scored some lovely goals but Ashton Town were better than the scoreline suggests.
4:  Like the second game in that St Helens briefly looked likely to spring a surprise once they had equalised, but Garstang managed to get a two-goal cushion for comfort in the latter stages.
So what?
1:  The teams remain 2nd and 6th respectively.
2:  Litherland drop one place, City of Liverpool stay top and retain their five-point lead.
3:  Ashton Town drop a place to 12th, Lower Breck remain 3rd.
4:  No change for St Helens, Garstang jump two places to 8th.
Match Reports

Bootle's ground is simultaneously uplifting and depressing. To describe the collection of huts, fences and barriers as ramshackle would be complimentary.  However this is a club in good order, going well in the league, with a large clubhouse, friendly volunteers and a healthy community ethos.  Character and characters in abundance.

On the pitch, Bootle took control with two goals in 20 minutes, both scored by Carl Peers, with Athletic having hit the woodwork in between.  Adam Gilchrist pulled a goal back with a neat first-time left-foot finish, and so it stayed until the interval.

Charlie Munro completed the equalising process just after the restart, and we witnessed a good contest given the tough conditions.  With about 20 minutes to go, Ryan Cox scored for Bootle, receiving a rebound from the Ashton keeper.  Ashton were forced to commit players forward, and a stoppage-time break led to Steven Jones finding time and space on the break for a fine finish.  A great game to start the day, from which Athletic should take heart for the rest of the season.

Litherland REMYCA had prepared well for a crowd of 500 since the visitors were well supported.  I must mention the excellent chicken curry and blueberry muffins.  In some ways this fixture is more interesting for the teams than the stadium, which is a pitch in the middle of an athletics track.  REMYCA clearly have huge community presence and City of Liverpool were only recently formed as a club "on socialist principles".  I'm a couple of years older than REMYCA, and CoL still count as infants.

On the pitch the hosts had the temerity to take the lead with a penalty taken by Paul Foy in first-half stoppage time.  Conditions were again blustery and difficult.  Both keepers made good saves before an equaliser was blasted in by Daniel Dalton just after the hour.  It only took ten more minutes for the winning goal to be scored by Karl Clair.  Litherland pushed for an equaliser.  The final few minutes was notable for the flurry of cautions, for a mixture of pushing, shoving and falling over, but City of Liverpool held on.

Lower Breck also made the hopping hordes very welcome.  Clearly another vibrant club on the patch.  This is an artificial pitch, caged but with a spectator corridor on two sides.  The home side took their chances better to create a rather harsh 3-0 half-time scoreline.  The opener was a nice turn and shot into the top corner by Ste Milne, who would go on to get a hat-trick.  The other two came from Peter Moore and James Colbeck.  Jamie Henders hooked in at the near post from a corner before a late Ashton consolation from sub Matthew Johnson came in between Milne's other goals.  6-1 felt harsh on the visitors but fair play to Lower Breck for their greater sharpness and ruthlessness in front of goal.

St Helens Town have a great display of their history pitchside, and my eye was drawn to the presence of Bert Trautmann before his move to Manchester City. This was another pitch-in-a-cage setup although with a bit more covered space for spectators.  Garstang started well and took an early lead through Richard Coar but could not add another before half-time.  The home side were "up" for this fixture and a scruffy but deserved equaliser was either nodded or poked in from close range just after the restart.  Liam Diggle gets the credit.  They had the chance for the lead almost immediately but fluffed the header and that turned out to be the game's hinge point.  Garstang's second came from Shaun Sailor (insert your own steadied ship gag here) and it took a penalty from Jonathan Hothersall to calm the nerves more fully.  St Helens did not look like a beaten side and had a few half-chances for another consolation goal, but Garstang held on.

Fantastic day of football despite the conditions.

Other Pix
From Bootle (Bootle in blue):

From Litherland REMYCA (REMYCA in red):

From Lower Breck (Lower Breck in red and white):

From St Helens Town (St Helens in blue):

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 was not a good day for #keepertopcolourstats predictions as the success rate fell below 60% for the first time in over 180 games.

Pre-match Predictions based on Keeper Top Colour:
Prediction 1:
Was the prediction correct?
Prediction 2:
Away Win
Was the prediction correct?
Prediction 3:
Away Win
Was the prediction correct?
Prediction 4:
Was the prediction correct?
% of correct predictions so far
57% (24 from 42)

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 half-and-half tops or 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 that orange is the best colour for a goalkeeper because it changes the behaviour of other players around the box.

A full recalculation will appear next week, and see previous post for the rank order before the start of this weekend’s hop.  So far, Orange has done well enough to overtake Purple.  Green has not done well, but not badly enough to drop a place in the table.

What Next?
Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter!  Another day of northwestern fun tomorrow.  When I say fun I mean standing next to a northern pitch with sleet and 45mph winds while dressed up like the Michelin Man.

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