Game 6: Lye Town 3.3 Shepshed Dynamo (Midland Premier)

Game 6: Lye Town 3.3 Shepshed Dynamo (Midland Premier) 29.09.18

An unplanned game that I decided to attend a couple of hours before kickoff when I found myself with some spare time on a sunny day in Birmingham. The Sports Ground is a short walk from the train station and is shared with the local cricket club. I purchased a programme and sat down under a high barn roof style flat terrace to read it before the game. There was one stand along the far touchline and plenty of shade from the trees growing on a bank above them.

Lye opened the scoring after 18 minutes from a corner. The ball was crossed to the back post and a header back across goal found the net. The lead didn’t last long as Shepshed equalised from a comical own goal a minute later. The home keeper should have cleared a backpass but missed the ball and could only watch as the pace of the ball took it over the line. Lye managed to retake the lead three minutes later when a low pass into the box was finished well. Both teams had some chances to score before the end of the half and Lye were only denied by a couple of good saves from the visitor’s keeper.

The second half saw a turnaround in fortunes for the teams. Shepshed saw a couple of chances cleared in the area while Lye were only denied by the Dynamo keeper’s feet that deflected a shot wide. We then saw the second unusual goal of the afternoon. From the resulting corner the Lye player noticed that the visiting keeper was out of position so hit a curving shot direct from the corner and in before the defence could react. Shepshed made some substitutions and gradually took control of the game.

After 65 minutes they pulled a goal back when the ball wasn’t cleared. It was played into the area to a yellow shirt and smashed high into the net. The pressure continued and after missing a couple more chances Shepshed equalised. The ball was crossed in from the left side of the area and while the first shot was blocked, the second flew into the net to the joy of the spectators behind the goal. Moments later Shepshed should have won the game with a free header from six yards that somehow went wide. The game became end to end with several good chances but neither team managed to get a winner. An exciting finish to an unplanned tick.

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Game 5: West Ham United 8.0 Macclesfield Town (League Cup)

Game 5: West Ham United 8.0 Macclesfield Town (League Cup) 26.09.18

I decided to attend this game as West Ham were offering discounted tickets for the visit of 92nd placed Macclesfield Town in the League Cup. Tickets were available for £15 in the lower tier and I managed to find an end of aisle seat alongside the seats in the next tier of prices. It was unusual to walk through a busy shopping centre to get to the ground but it made finding some food easy before the match. I found my seat and settled down to read a comprehensive programme. The lower tiers were fairly well occupied but there were plenty of gaps in the top tier. Macclesfield brought a few hundred supporters who had a difficult journey withe delays on the West Coast mainline.

West Ham played a good mix of experienced fringe players and young players from their academy. Macclesfield had a really good chance to score early on but Adrian pulled off a blinding close range save. Rice came on as an early substitute following an injury to Sanchez and showed why he is rated highly with a good all-round performance. West Ham finally broke down the Macclesfield resistance on 29 minutes and scored three goals before the end of the half:

29 mins – Antonio heads in from a nicely floated cross from Rice.
32 mins – Snodgrass gets a tap in as Macclesfield failed to clear the ball from the goal line
39 mins – Perez hits in a shot from a Cresswell cross

The second half saw five more goals:

51 mins – Fredericks scores the goal of the game, dribbling past two players before smashing the ball in from the edge of the area
54 mins – Ogbonna was unmarked at a corner and rose up to head the ball in
67 mins – the lively Diangana combined with Perez to receive a 1-2 in the area before shooting in
82 mins – Diangana scored his second, passing the ball low into the net past the keeper.

I was impressed with Diangana who looked dangerous when he got the ball on the wing, using his pace to beat defenders and create or score goals. For the last twenty minutes West Ham took it easy and kept possession in the midfield. There was a passage of play where Macclesfield kept possession for a minute or more, every pass being met with an ‘olé’ by their supporters. They had one good chance in the second half but the ball was hit high into the stand with just the keeper to beat. An enjoyable visit to the former Olympic Stadium, the bubble machines along the sideline and the stewards with multi-coloured boots on the touchline.

Teams

West Ham United: Adrián, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Obiang (Coventry 45), Sánchez (Rice 9), Ogbonna, Diop, Fredericks, Pérez, Antonio (Powell 61), Diangana

Subs: Fabianski, Balbuena, Yarmolenko, Masuaka

Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Fitzpatrick, Lowe (Welch-Hayes 68), Kelleher, Grimes, Marsh, Smith (Blissett 58), Napa (Arthur 58), Maycock, Pearson, Whitaker

Subs: Simpson, Hodgkiss, Wilson, Vincenti.
Attendance: 24833

Game 4: Royal Wootton Bassett Town 0.4 Bashley (FA Vase)

Game 4: Royal Wootton Bassett Town 0.4 Bashley (FA Vase) 15.09.18

This was the nearest FA Vase tie at a new ground and an opportunity to add another Wiltshire ground to my list – for some reason I thought I’d been here in the past so never ticked the old ground. Alan joined me for this Hellenic v Wessex fixture and after a short drive we popped into the excellent clubhouse for lunch.

The game started with a few chances at each end. Bashley looked more composed on the ball and it wasn’t a surprise when they took the lead. A free kick was floated into the area and a Bashley head clipped the ball over the keeper and in under the bar. It took ten minutes to double the lead, a shot deflected off the keeper and nicely into the path of a Bashley player who couldn’t miss an open goal from short range. Just before halftime the tie was effectively over when a curving shot went across the goal from the right and in off the post.

Both teams and assistants were ready to start the second half on time but there was no sign of the referee for several minutes. Royal Wootton Bassett Town had a couple of half chances, the best of which was a cross that was headed wide. At the other end their keeper had to be out quickly to make a low save as a Bashley striker beat the offside trap. The ball rolled out to the edge of the area and a follow up Bashley shot was cleared by a defender. Bashley broke through again and the same striker took the ball around the keeper at the edge of the area only for the keeper to bring him down. Despite complaints from the visitors, the referee correctly gave a free kick and booked the keeper. From the free kick Bashley looked like they would cross the ball into the area but it was cut back to the edge of the area. It was a clever free kick as at the ball went to an oncoming team mate who placed a hard low shot into the back of the net with the home keeper unsighted.

Game 3: England 1.2 Spain (UEFA Nations Cup)

Game 3: England 1.2 Spain (UEFA Nations Cup) 08.09.18

After watching the Barnet game I caught the tube down to Wembley with a stop off at Morrisons to pick up some supplies for tea. Arriving just as the turnstiles opened I went in to the ground and found my seat. The atmosphere built up towards kick off and as the teams came out there were thousands of England flags waving in the air. Harry Kane was presented with the Golden Boot for his World Cup exploits and the crowd got behind the team as the game started. It didn’t take too long for the first goal, Shaw breaking down the left wing and pushing the ball forward into space. I thought that Spain would close it down as it looked like he had overhit the ball but their defence didn’t see the danger. Shaw played a great ball low into the area that curved beautifully into the run of Marcus Rashford and he finished low past De Gea.

Sadly the lead didn’t last long. A couple of minutes later Cavajal took the ball past Shaw who dived in with a challenge and played it into the area to Rodrigo. He took a touch to beat Maguire and get a cross to Niquez who beat two defenders to the ball and hit a first time shot low past Pickford. The Spanish frontline were making some great runs off the ball and Ramos was controlling the ball and sending some excellent accurate passes around the pitch. The second Spanish goal came when Trippier made a late challenge on Alonso near the touchline. There were a couple of Spanish players standing offside just before Alcantara hit the ball low into the area. Neither of them interfered with play but it seemed to lull the English defence into claiming offside while Rodrigo ran from an onside position to knock the ball in from close range. England came close to equalising from a short corner. Lingard played a cross into the area which Rashford headed towards goal only to see De Gea make a good save.

The second half was only minutes old when Luke Shaw played a header and immediately went down after inadvertently hitting the attackers elbow. After a long period of medical attention he was stretchered off the pitch. England seemed to be affected by the injury. They didn’t manage to gain control the midfield while the tempo of the game suited Spain. It wasn’t until late that they created any real chances of note. Rashford got in a great position but hit a shot too close to De Gea who managed to deflect the ball away to Kane. He took a shot first time but only found the side netting. Deep into injury time De Gea went up to collect a ball with Rashford beneath him. As the ball came down it hit Rashford on the head and came out of De Gea’s hands. Rashford acted instinctively and turned to hit the ball into the empty net but as England fans celebrated the official behind the goal indicated to the referee that there had been a foul and the goal was disallowed.

Teams:

England – Pickford, Gomez, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Lingard, Henderson (Dier 64), Ali, Shaw (Rose 53), Rashford (Welbeck 90), Kane.

Spain – De Gea, Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Marcos Alonso (Martinez 87), Thiago Alcantara (Roberto 80), Busquets, Niquez, Rodrigo, Aspas (Ascensio 68), Isco

Att:81,392

Game 2: Barnet 1.0 Maidenhead United (National League)

Game 2: Barnet 1.0 Maidenhead United (National League) 08.09.18

With a booked ticket for the evening England international against Spain, I had a look to see what non-league games were taking place nearby and chose a trip to Barnet’s new Hive stadium. Gary and Alan decided to head to the game too and we met up outside the clubshop before wandering round to the away ticket office. Being a modern stadium you had to go to the box office first to get a ticket, then scan in the ticket’s barcode to enter the turnstiles. While the regular admission was £20 I managed to get a £10 ticket by showing my England ticket. I had only found out about the special offer from the Barnet website when I downloaded the online programme that morning and it turned out a number of away fans going to Wembley later were unaware of this offer.

Before the game both teams were languishing in lower mid-table but Barnet were in good form having won their last four games under John Still. While some Maidenhead supporters spend the first half arguing with stewards about persistent standing, their team struggled to get going on the pitch. Barnet took the lead after four minutes when Maidenhead should have cleared the ball. Walker received the ball near the corner from a long throw. He beat one defender before a covering defender came in to tackle him. Instead of clearing the ball he managed to toe poke it against a team mate and Walker recovered the ball, cut into the area and angled his shot past the keeper. Barnet had several more chances to add to their lead but were either caught out by the offside flag or show well over. Their best chance came just before halftime when a player ran onto the ball in the area but pushed his shot wide from an unmarked position. Maidenhead didn’t offer much up front with a couple of long range efforts easily saved by the Barnet keeper.

Maidenhead picked up their game a bit in the second half as Barnet continued to squander good chances. There were a couple of decent Maidenhead crosses into the area but either no-one was there to convert them or the ball was hit straight at the keeper. Too often though the Magpies couldn’t beat the first man from good wide positions. The referee was inconsistent with his approach to cards – one over zealous Barnet tackle that deserved a yellow card only saw the miscreant spoken to by the referee who then booked a Maidenhead player for a similar offence. Towards the end Barnet won a penalty when a player was tripped on the edge of the box. It summed up their finishing when it was blasted high over the bar as the keeper dived the wrong way. Maidenhead pushed forward but couldn’t get an equaliser before the final whistle.

Game 1: Clanfield 0.2 Liphook United (Hampshire Premier)

Game 1: Clanfield 0.2 Liphook United (Hampshire Premier) 08.08.18

After a busy summer of World Cup watching it was good to get back to basics and drive over to Clanfield’s Peel Park ground after work for a non floodlit 6.45 kickoff in the sunshine. Met up with Alan just before kickoff and made our way past “Griff’s Cafe” to watch the game from the railed sideline. The start of the first half was fairly even, both sides producing some chances but more often than not finding an opposition player with the ball. Liphook saw the home keeper make a good diving save to keep a free kick out before missing a good chance from a header while the visiting keeper tipped a good shot over the bar.

Liphook took the lead after 38 minutes when the ball was crossed in from the left, leaving the keeper stranded as he tried to close down the attack. There were a couple of covering defenders and when the Liphook player in the area scuffed his shot it looked like they would get the ball clear. Despite the initial mistake, the Liphook player did well to get his foot past a defender to poke the ball in. We didn’t have to wait long for a second goal and this one was an early goal of the season contender. A Liphook midfielder took the ball forward and launched a powerful long range shot that flew past the home keeper and in.

We popped into “Griff’s Cafe” to get some snacks and drinks before heading back out for the second half. Alan enjoyed the bargain prices and having a proper mug for his cup of tea. Clanfield came out with some better football and we thought that they would get a goal back when they were awarded a penalty ten minutes in. It looked like the referee awarded it for a home player being held back by a defender. The Clanfield player hit a good powerful shot towards the top corner but the keeper reacted well and managed to tip the ball over for a corner.

Clanfield put together a great series of passes after seventy minutes that ended up with the ball on the edge of the box under the control of an unmarked midfielder. He rushed his shot and put it well over the bar. From a similar position shortly afterwards Clanfield had an accurate attempt that was tipped onto the bar by the keeper. As the sky began to darken Liphook had a couple of chances but didn’t extend their lead.

Game 21: Panjab 3.3 Cascadia (Conifa World Football Cup)

Game 21: Panjab 3.3 Cascadia (Conifa World Football Cup) 09.06.18

After last week’s very enjoyable games I decided to take in one of the final day fixtures. With Conifa, teams get to play in placement games after the group stages. Panjab and Cascadia had qualified for the 5/6 playoff games after losing in the quarter finals and winning the 5/8 placement games by several goals to nil. Panjab represent the Punjabi speaking population around the world while Cascadia represent the states of Oregon, Washington in the North West of the USA and British Columbia in Canada. This game was played at Fisher’s St Paul’s Sports Ground which has a clear view across towards Canary Wharf and the Docklands.

This was the second game at the ground today and kick off was delayed due to a penalty shootout between Tibet and United Koreans in Japan which saw United Koreans take 11th place in the tournament. There was a mix up with the Cascadia kit and they played the first half wearing fluorescent bibs with numbers in biro on the back to avoid a kit clash. In the second half they changed into their normal away kit with white shirts. Cascadia had some former MLS and UK based players in their team and played some good passing football. Panjab took the lead slightly against the run of play after fifteen minutes when the ball was cut back to the edge of the area and a great shot beat the Cascadia keeper. Seven minutes later and it was 2.0 when an unmarked player picked up a great through ball and shot the ball past the keeper before the defence could get back to cover. On the half hour it looked like game over for Cascadia as they conceded a third, the ball slotted past the keeper from close range. They continued to press for a goal and were unlucky to see the ball fly over the bar from a header with the keeper beaten. Moments later Panjab missed a sitter with only the keeper to beat and this was a turning point in the match. Just before half time Cascadia pulled a goal back with a header from a corner that bounced down and in.

Cascadia continued the scoring at the start of the second half. The Panjab keeper parried a shot and two Cascadia players reacted the quickest. One passed to the other who didn’t miss the empty net. On the hour the game was level. A Cascadia player picked up the ball from a great through pass and scored. They almost added a fourth two minutes later but the referee disallowed the goal for offside. Panjab got back into the game and saw several chances cleared off the line or saved. The referee blew for time at the end of an exciting match and the teams got ready for a penalty shootout. The first four penalties were saved or came off the bar. The Panjab keeper had to be alert for the second Cascadia penalty as the ball continued to roll towards the goal after his save but he did well to stop it a second time. Each of the teams scored their next three penalties so it went to sudden death. Punjab scored and their keeper saved the sixth Cascadia penalty to give them the win.

One of the best games I’ve seen in a long time and a great way to finish the season. Hopefully it won’t be long until I can get to another Conifa match.