Game 8: Glastonbury 0.1 Ashton & Backwell United Reserves (Somerset League Cup)

Game 8: Glastonbury 0.1 Ashton & Backwell United Reserves (Somerset League Cup) 14.10.17

With a gig in Bristol in the evening, I decided to spend the afternoon in Glastonbury and take in a Somerset League Cup game. Both of the teams play in Division 1 West of the Somerset League, Glastonbury 11 points and six places above their opposition. The ground was a former Western League venue and old programmes were available at at the turnstile. Only one side is accessible to spectators with a covered area with picnic benches by the clubhouse and a covered terrace area next to it. Looking over to the right there was a clear view of Glastonbury Tor.

The first half saw Glastonbury dominate the play but neither team were able to score. Ashton & Backwell came close, winning the ball from a defensive error at the edge of the area and lobbing the onrushing keeper only to see the ball bounce off the crossbar and away. Moments later Glastonbury had their best chance of the half when two attempts at goal from close range were blocked.

Ashton & Backwell improved in the second half but wasted several chances in good positions by not taking the time available to line up on target shots. The referee seemed too lenient with the players and several challenges that you’d normally expect to see a booking just led to a talking to. The Glastonbury keeper had a habit of rolling the ball out to a team mate rather than kicking. This lead to the only goal of the game when an Ashton player got a quick challenge in and won the ball. His shot was saved but a team mate was able to steer the rebound home past a lunging foot of a defender. Glastonbury picked up their game and had a couple of chances late on but couldn’t force extra time with an equaliser.

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Game 7: Alton 4.1 AFC Stoneham (Wessex 1)

Game 7: Alton 4.1 AFC Stoneham (Wessex 1) 07.10.17

Decided to spend this year’s Non-League Day at Alton’s new ground to recomplete the Wessex League. In 2016 Alton Town merged with Alton United Youth FC to form Alton FC who play on the 4G pitch at the Ansty Park enclosure. This replaced the old Bass ground where I saw Alton Town play in 2004.

Stoneham took the lead after three minutes from a corner. The keeper parried the ball away only for it to come back into the six yard box where it was headed in from close range. Alton got an equaliser in the eleventh minute when a player beat his man and shot past the keeper. The turning point of the game came just before half time. Alton had a corner and as the ball came into the area there was a clash between two players. The Stoneham defender claimed he had been elbowed but his reaction in kicking out at his opponent saw him sent off. He continued to argue with the referee as he left the pitch, then slammed a gate to the amusement of the crowd. An Alton player was booked for the initial challenge.

Alton took the lead shortly after the restart. The ball was crossed into the middle and the Stoneham keeper did well to get a hand to it and clear the ball, only to see the ball rebound off a team mate and into the back of the net. Alton made the most of the extra man and hit the bar from a shot and forced the Stoneham keeper into several good saves. They scored a third late on from a free kick that was flicked across the six yard box and knocked in. There was still time for a fourth goal just before the end when Stoneham cleared the ball from a corner to the halfway line. An Alton defender launched a high ball that found a team mate on the right side who flicked it past his marker and smashed a shot past the keeper before he had time to react.

Game 6: Everton 3.0 Sunderland (League Cup)

Game 6: Everton 3.0 Sunderland (League Cup) 20.09.17

Found myself at Goodison Park for a rare league ground tick after a heads-up from Paul that he was attending the game while I was in Liverpool for the week. We got the bus out to the ground and walked around the surrounding terraced streets before taking our wooden seats in the main stand.

Both teams had made several changes from their last league game with Everton including Kenny making his debut and forgotten man Niasse on the bench. Sunderland had several ex-Everton players in their line up including Rodman and Vaughan who got a good reception from the crowd. They had an early chance when Vaughan got free only to put his shot wide. Everton started to dominate the game and took the lead in the 38th minute when Calvert-Lewin hit a great shot past Steele from inside the area.

In the second half Calvert-Lewin scored again and was unfortunate not to get a hat-trick when his diving header came back off the post. He was replaced by Niasse for the last half hour having looked very impressive. Sunderland had a couple of chances with Vaughan heading just wide with the best of them. The final goal of the game came with seven minutes to go, Niasse controlling the ball well before lashing it in past Steele to the delight of the home crowd.

Everton: Stekelenburg, Kenny, Keane, Williams, Holgate, Klaassen, Besic, Davies, Vlasic (Lennon 82), Calvert-Lewin (Niasse 66), Sandro (Lookman 73). Subs not used: Robles, Martina, Gueye, Sigurdsson

Sunderland: Steele, Love, Kone, Jones, Matthews, Gibson, Ndong, Honeyman (Williams 63), Rodwell (McManaman 55), Gooch, Vaughan (Robson 86). Subs not used: Ruiter, Oviedo, Cattermole, Asoro

Att: 23,953

Game 5: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 2.0 Corinthian-Casuals (FA Cup)

Game 5: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 2.0 Corinthian-Casuals (FA Cup) 02.09.17

Having missed Pagham’s FA Cup game against Sittingbourne due to an accident, I was keen to get to an FA Cup game with Alan today. Knowing that I like a new ground, he suggested a trip to Ashford Town (Middlesex)’s ground near to Heathrow Airport. On the drive up we heard from a frustrated Paul that his planned game at Falmouth Town had been called off at 1.30 as the visitors couldn’t get a team together.

We arrived at the ground to find that programmes weren’t available in traditional paper format but could be downloaded online. There were team sheets available for those who need some paper in their hand! It was a very warm afternoon and we watched the game from the near touchline where you could see planes departing from Heathrow.

The first half started evenly and both teams created a few chances. Ashford Town scored in the 24th minute, the move starting in their own half with a powerful header forward. Corinthian-Casuals appealed for a foul but the referee allowed play to go on. The ball ended up on the edge of the area and a great shot flew into the top right corner of the goal. Alan was happy – he had purchased a golden goal ticket for the 24th minute and got to take a bottle of wine home after the game.

A few minutes later and Ashford Town added a second. The ball was crossed in from the left touchline. The ball floated towards the far post so the keeper tried to push it away from the goal. He tipped it backwards but not out of play. An Ashford player was quick to cross it into the centre and a team mate placed his shot into the unguarded part of the goal. Corinthian-Casuals had two good chances to score before half time, the first one saw the ball fly across goal when a touch would have diverted it in while the second saw a free header placed high over the bar.

The second half saw Corinthian-Casuals dominate play but they weren’t able to score. They thought they had won a penalty in the 50th minute when a player went over the keeper’s diving arm in the area but the referee blew for offside. Ashford Town (Middlesex) were still dangerous on the break. They were awarded a penalty in the final minutes when one of their players was pushed over in the area as he tried to dribble past a defender. The ball was hit hard down the middle and though the keeper dived to his left, he was able to keep the ball out using his legs. One of the Corinthian-Casuals subs was booked and then warned by the referee in injury time after another foul. He ignored the advice and was sent off after earning a second yellow card for another foul.

Game 4: South Wonston Swifts 2.1 Headley United (Hampshire Division 1)

Game 4: South Wonston Swifts 2.1 Headley United (Hampshire Division 1) 12.08.17

With no rain forecast, I decided to head over to South Wonston for an opening day fixture in the Hampshire League’s 1st division. The Recreation Ground has a modern changing room block and a roped off pitch with several park benches facing the pitch. I was lucky to get the last parking space as there are also tennis, skateboarding and exercise facilities that were all in use when I arrived.

The first half saw plenty of endeavour but few attempts on goal. South Wonston took the lead after half an hour from a penalty, awarded when one of their players was brought down in the area. After a couple of minutes waiting, the penalty taker put his shot one way while the keeper dived in the opposite direction.

The second half didn’t begin well for the player who gave away the penalty as he received a second yellow card for handling the ball. South Wonston added a second goal shortly afterwards, a through ball found their striker in space and he ran forward and lobbed the keeper. Headley had a couple of chances to pull a goal back before winning a penalty with five minutes to go. The initial penalty was saved but a Headley player was the first one to follow in and hit the ball past the keeper. They felt that they should have had another penalty for a handball moments later but the referee didn’t agree.

Game 3: Arundel 0.4 Pagham (FA Cup)

Game 3: Arundel 0.4 Pagham (FA Cup) 05.08.17

This ground has been on my “must visit” list for some time, so after working through today’s Extra Preliminary ties for the FA Cup it was top of the day’s list. There had been a heavy downpour in the morning at home so I came prepared with the raincoat and umbrella in the car just in case. The football ground has a small carpark and I didn’t expect to find a space so I parked in the nearby Mill Road overflow carpark for a couple of pounds.

Both of today’s teams play in the same division and as this was their first game this season there was no form to refer to. The programme did show last season’s table which had the visitors in a much higher position. I chose to stand near the goal Arundel were attacking in the first half for the view of the castle but most of the action took place at the other end. Pagham scored after 13 minutes, the ball was passed over from the right wing and their player controlled it well when taking on the defenders, crashing a shot in off the post. Arundel had an effort cleared from the goal mouth after half an hour and their keeper kept them in the game with a good one handed save shortly before half time.

There had been some light rain in the first half and the dark clouds continued to roll over the ground in the second half. Pagham continued to dominate the game and added a second shortly after kickoff. The home keeper came out to try and win the ball at an attacker’s feet, only for it to bounce off a covering defender back to the attacker who regained his feet and slotted the ball in. There was a brief spell of heavy rain around 70 mins in which saw many in the crowd head to the stand and terracing for cover. Pagham scored a third after 75 minutes when their player muscled an Arundel defender off the ball, turned towards goal and curved a great shot in. The scoring was wrapped up just before the end when a Pagham player hit a long range shot that the keeper couldn’t keep hold of. The ball bounced kindly to a Pagham sub who ran into the box, controlled the ball and hit in past the keeper. A good win for the visitors who now face Sittingbourne at home in the next round.

Game 2: Infinity 7.0 Hartley Wintney (Friendly)

Game 2: Infinity 7.0 Hartley Wintney (Friendly) 29.07.17

The original plan for the second part of today’s double header was a game at Winchester Castle but two sets of opponents dropped out and it looked like there would be no game after checking Twitter. This left a 2pm kick off at Infinity and a 3pm kick off at Fleetlands – given the weather I decided to head to Infinity and meet Alan. The drive across was mostly in the dry but it started to rain again as I arrived in Knowle and parked the car.

This was another match full of goals. Hartley Wintney were playing another friendly in a tournament at Basingstoke so it was difficult to gauge how strong their team was but it was no match for the hosts. Goals on 11 minutes (shot off post and in), 16 minutes (pass into box missed everyone and went under keeper), 29 minutes (breakaway with shot under keeper), 42 minutes (shot following corner) and 45 minutes (penalty) gave them a 5.0 half time lead. We almost saw another goal when the Hartley keeper missed a backpass but luckily for him the ball went wide.

As with the morning game, the goals dried up in the second half but the sixth goal again was the goal of the match – this time an outrageous shot after 57 minutes. The final goal came from an unmarked header after 66 minutes. An enjoyable start to the season despite the near constant rain.