Game 18: Portishead Town 2.0 Bishops Lydeard (Western 1)

Game 18: Portishead Town 2.0 Bishops Lydeard (Western 1) 22.04.17

At the start of January I made my regular resolution to try and visit the remaining Western League grounds that I hadn’t ticked before. After some careful planning, today’s visit to Portishead was my last new ground in the league at least for this season. The weather was overcast at home but as I headed into Somerset the clouds lifted and I found myself in the sunshine near the coast. There was a game taking place on the outside pitch which turned out to be a reserve cup match. I watched some of that while wandering around the pitch in the main ground.

After a nil nil draw the last time I had seen Bishops Lydeard I was hoping for a few goals, especially as three would give me a goal average of 4 for the first time at the end of a season. Neither team had anything to play for except pride but both teams put on a decent attacking display. Bishops Lydeard had a corner that was cleared to the edge of the area and volleyed back towards goal. Somehow the home keeper got a hand to it and pushed it over the bar. Portishead had a good chance but played one pass to many in the area and the final shot flew over the bar. They took the lead with eight minutes to go, a cross from the left found an unmarked player with space in the box and his low shot went in. A similar attack just before half time wasn’t as successful, the ball again flying over the bar.

Portishead doubled their lead eight minutes after the second half started. A good breakaway and pass allowed their player to beat the offside and as the visiting keeper hesitated, the Portishead player took advantage and placed a shot past him and in.Bishops Lydeard had a couple of chances and came really close to adding the third goal that I had hoped for in the 80th minute. A corner went in to the area and the shot was cleared off the line by a Portishead player who had been covering the far post. An entertaining game and a pleasant afternoon to complete the league and wrap up the season.

Game 17: Malmesbury Victoria 0.4 Bishop Sutton (Western 1)

Game 17: Malmesbury Victoria 0.4 Bishop Sutton (Western 1) 17.04.17

For my second Easter game I drove up to Malmesbury, arriving shortly before kick off. The ground was situated behind a Co-Op store with a nearby road sign directing traffic down a narrow roadway.

After a goalless 90 minutes on Friday it was a relief to get an early goal in this game. It came in the first minute when a backpass was missed by the keeper who staggered back but couldn’t reach the ball in time. Bishop Sutton had a header cleared off the line and added a second after 39 minutes. Their player got past a defender to reach the ball in the box, slotting it low into the net past the keeper. The assistant on the far side had his flagged raised and Malmesbury protested that their player had been pushed over. After some deliberation the goal stood. Bishop Sutton almost added a third before half time but hit a shot straight at the keeper.

Malmesbury gave the ball away cheaply too often in the first half but improved in the second half. Shortly after the restart the visiting keeper cleared the ball from the edge of the area and three defenders were on hand to cover the goal, one clearing a shot from distance to safety. After 55 minutes they should have got a goal back when one of their players was in the right place to win the ball unmarked in the box. Instead of chipping it over the oncoming keeper he hit it hard and straight, allowing the keeper to make the stop.

The game was end to end and both sides had shots on target and corners. With fifteen minutes to go Malmesbury missed another chance when a shot from a corner was cleared off the line with the keeper stranded. The ball made it as far as the six yard box when another Malmesbury player had a shot but in his eagerness to get to the ball he ended up hitting it high over the bar. Bishop Sutton wrapped the game up with ten minutes to go when one of their players robbed the ball from a Malmesbury defender before dribbling into the area and placing a shot under the keeper. There was still time for Malmesbury to come close with a shot before Bishop Sutton added a fourth, winning the ball near the half way line and getting the ball forward to place another shot low past the keeper.

A good result for the visitors and I’ve now gone four Western League games without seeing the home side score.

Game 16: Bishops Lydeard 0.0 Wellington (Western 1)

Game 16: Bishops Lydeard 0.0 Wellington (Western 1) 14.04.17

A bank holiday Friday meant an earlier than normal departure down the A303 which worked out well, arriving at the well marshalled car park on the edge of Bishops Lydeard half an hour before kick off. This was a local derby with the visitors at the top of the table by 2 points from Hengrove and there was a big crowd of 225 at the game. The programme highlighted the work going on at the ground with only two sides available for spectators. The far side was being prepared for a new stand and had a trench down the sideline while the far end was close to some trees. The weather was overcast but it remained dry throughout.

The game itself wasn’t a great spectacle. Wellington had the better of the play in the first half but neither keeper had much to do. The only real pressure on the home keeper came from a couple of long throws into the box. There were a couple of shots wide or over the bar at both ends. The second half was better as the game started to open up. Wellington managed a couple of shots on target as well as several over the bar. It looked for a moment that they would take the lead with five minutes to go only for a home player to clear the ball away from the goal line. Bishops Lydeard won a corner shortly afterwards and had their best chance of the game, a shot from close range just over the bar.

So after 50 games with goals, my first “dreaded” since the start of the 2014/15 season. Hengrove had won earlier in the day and now lead the division on goal difference with three games to go.

Game 15: Oldland Abbotonians 0.4 Hengrove Athletic (Western 1)

Game 15: Oldland Abbotonians 0.4 Hengrove Athletic (Western 1) 29.03.17

Drove over to Oldland and arrived at the ground just as the heavens opened. There were a couple of brief showers before the game and a bit of drizzle in the second half. The ground was up a narrow lane with some hardstanding for parking and an overflow car park that was used tonight for the visit of league leaders Hengrove. The programme highlighted why Hengrove were at the top, 11 consecutive wins in 2017.

The rain certainly assisted the first goal when a poorly hit backpass to the right of the goal was only cleared along the ground by the home keeper. He got good distance on it but it fell to a Hengrove player who hit a first time shot towards the centre of the goal. The ball picked up pace on the wet grass and beat the keeper’s dive. The second goal came towards the end of the half, a low shot from the edge of the box.

Hengrove added a third midway through the second half, winning a disputed throw and getting a good cross in from the left side. The finish was equally as good, a header that looped over the keeper and into the bottom corner. In the last minute of normal time they wrapped up the scoring when a corner wasn’t cleared. The ball was played into the area and a good turn and shot wrapped up win number 12 for the visitors.

Game 14: Chipping Sodbury Town 0.3 Willand Rovers (Western Premier)

Game 14: Chipping Sodbury Town 0.3 Willand Rovers (Western Premier) 25.03.17

My first visit to a current Western Premier Ground was to Willand Rovers so it was a happy coincidence that my last required current Western Premier ground, Chipping Sodbury Town, would see them as the away team. The Ridings car park was busy as the facility is used by the local Rugby club as well as two football clubs. We wandered down to the football area and popped into the bar for a quick drink and the closing minutes of the Lincoln v Forest Green match on BT Sport.

It was a nice sunny day but there was a very strong wind blowing down the pitch. Willand had the advantage of the wind in the first half and came close to scoring direct from a couple of corners as the wind hurtled the ball towards the Chipping Sodbury goal. The first Willand goal came as a corner was cleared to the edge of the area and a low shot found its way through to the net with the keeper unsighted. Six minutes later and Willand won the ball in midfield and moved quickly into the gap between two defenders. The keeper came out but couldn’t stop the deflected shot going in. The final goal came five minutes before half time, a Willand player picking up a ball that had been lofted over the defence and crossing it for an unmarked team mate to slot in past the keeper. Chipping Sodbury thought they had pulled one back just before halftime but the header over the keeper was disallowed for offside.

At half time we wandered back to the bar to use the facilities and to check the half time draw results – missed out by one strip of tickets on first prize! The only real incident of note in the second half was the home keeper having to go off injured shortly after kick off. It looked like he had landed awkwardly after pushing a shot over the bar. An outfield player went in goal to replace him but wasn’t tested by Willand. Chipping Sodbury had more attacks than they had managed in the first half but didn’t force any clear opportunities.

Game 13: Inter Milan 7.1 Atalanta (Serie A)

Game 13: Inter Milan 7.1 Atalanta (Serie A) 12.03.17

A trip to Milan meant an opportunity to visit one of Europe’s iconic grounds, the San Siro. Booking tickets was straightforward online and we took the Metro out to the ground. After a quick ticket and ID check we were into the ground and walking up several flights of steps to our seats to soak in the atmosphere.

Atalanta were 4th in the table, Inter 6th going into the game so I expected a close encounter. Atalanta started brightly and Gomez put a shot just wide before Inter took control. They won a free kick near the edge of the box and when the shot hit the defence it fell nicely for Icardi to slot past the keeper. Several minutes passed when Icardi was felled in the penalty area by the Atalanta keeper. The crowd were happy to get a penalty but less enamoured with the referee when the keeper just received a yellow card. Icardi took the penalty, a perfectly struck chip down the centre as the keeper dived to the right. Icardi then added a third with my favourite goal of the game, a great run to get into space and flick a header past the keeper. A perfect hat trick scored in just over 9 minutes after 26 minutes of the game, the quickest Inter league hat trick since 1948!

Inter added two more before half time, Candreva twice cutting the ball in from the right side of the box to set up Banega. Atalanta managed to pull a goal back just before half time, Freuler receiving the ball in space on the edge of the area and hitting a great shot past Handanovic. This was the first time Inter had scored 5 goals in the first half of a Serie A game since 1964 and the first time ever that Atalanta had conceded 5 goals in the first half of a Serie A match.

After the excitement of the first half, the second half was a closer affair with Inter remaining in control. We didn’t have a great view of the sixth goal as a drinks vendor was stood in the aisle, Gagliardini striking Banega’s cross into the top of the net. The final goal of the game saw Banega score the second hat trick of the game. He hit a freekick around the wall with the keeper motionless, the first time two Inter players have scored a hat trick in the same game since 1933.

After the game we walked around the stadium and took a tram back into central Milan. A truly remarkable game to celebrate Inter’s 109th anniversary and a result few in the 59,359 crowd would have predicted.

Teams:

Inter – Handanovic,D’Ambrosio,Medel,Miranda,Gagliardini,Kondogbia,Candreva,Banega (Mario 70),Perisic (Eder 82),Icardi (Palacio 77)

Atalanta – Wolfli,Toloi,Caldara,Zubas,Conti,Kessie (Bastoni 61),Freuler,Marques (D’Allesandro 69),Kurtic,Gomez (Mounier 61),Petagna

Game 12: Chard Town 5.2 Corsham Town (Western 1)

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Game 12: Chard Town 5.2 Corsham Town (Western 1) 04.03.17

Another new ground and the first time I’ve seen a game on this day. There were a few showers on the drive down to Chard and it looked like there had been some heavy rain when I arrived with a rainbow above the ground. This was one of my bucket list grounds to do with the famous slope down the pitch meaning one end is 12 feet higher than the other.

With more rain forecast at the start of the game I decided to watch from the stand and keep under cover – a wise move as more rain fell during the game. Chard opted to kick down the slope and took the lead after a couple of minutes. A corner was cleared to the edge of the area and a well hit shot went over the keeper and under the bar. Chard scored again from a corner after 24 minutes, this time the ball went over to the right and a powerful shot found the back of the net. They were unlucky not to score a third when the Corsham keeper cleared the ball but was well out of his goal. A shot came in before the keeper could get back but from some distance and it just went wide. Just before the interval, Corsham scored somewhat against the run of play, a long ball was played into the centre of the area and a Corsham player scooped the ball over the keeper.

At half time some comments were made about the situation at Corsham and it turned out that during the week they had lost most of their regular team and had to put together a team using several young players from their reserve team. To their credit the visiting team came out in the second half and put together a good performance. They equalised from a corner after 58 minutes when the ball fell to the feet of a Corsham player in the box and his on target shot was deflected in. Both teams then had good chances to score – Corsham saw a header cleared off the line, Chard saw a cross to an unmarked player hit wide of an open goal. Corsham were unlucky when one of their strikers took the ball round the Chard keeper only to be forced wide, allowing covering defenders to clear the ball. Just a minute later and Chard almost took the lead when a shot was hit past the keeper but slowed up in the mud, allowing a Corsham player to clear.

It looked like Corsham would earn a point but a mistake allowed Chard to take the lead. With just over ten minutes to go a shot was spilt by the visiting keeper and hit fell kindly for a Chard player to score. Shortly afterwards Chard added a fourth from a breakaway attack and in injury time there was a fifth goal from a well placed shot. An exciting game, well worth the trip.