Game 11: Godalming Town 2.1 Sandhurst Town (Combined Counties Div 1)

Game 11: Godalming Town 2.1 Sandhurst Town (Combined Counties Division 1) 8.12.18

After a short drive across town we arrived at the second of the day’s games. Godalming Town play at Wey Court which has a wonderfully complicated history in terms of the club names as well as stands and fittings. The main stand was previously at Addlestone & Weybridge and was moved when that club was disbanded. It was interesting to observe each team coming from a different side of the stand onto the pitch. Behind one goal and set back against the fence was a small terraced covered area and at the other end there was a metal scaffolding covered area.

Godalming scored after ten minutes when the ball was played through the middle and one of their players was sandwiched between two defenders but managed to get his foot under the ball to carefully lob it over the onrushing keeper and see it bounce into the net. Most of the play in the first half was in the home team’s favour but they didn’t create many clear cut chances after that.

We decided to watch the second half from the main stand which proved to be a wise decision when the heaven’s opened near the start of half. The conditions could claim an assist for both of the goals in this half. The first goal after 52 minutes saw a long range shot flick off the top of a jumping defender, over the keeper and under the bar. In the 60th minute Sandhurst managed to pull a goal back when the home keeper sliced a clearance and the ball fell kindly in front of one of their players just outside the area. He ran onto the ball and kept his head to hit a low shot past the keeper and defenders who were trying to get back to keep it out. The rain was getting really heavy and towards the end of the half Sandhurst had a player sent off for two yellow cards. Godalming managed to hold on for only their fourth win of the season and we managed to get back to the car in a gap between downpours.

Advertisements

Game 10: Old Carthusians 3.2 Old Salopians (Arthurian League)

Game 10: Old Carthusians 3.2 Old Salopians (Arthurian League) 8.12.18

The first game of a Surrey doubleheader with Paul was also my first match in the Arthurian League, an amateur league set up in 1961 for old boys of public schools. Old Carthusians represent Charterhouse school and play their matches in a field across the road from the school, accessed via a wooden bridge. As there wasn’t any parking close by Paul dropped me off so one of us would be there in time for kickoff. I found that there were two games about to start and wandered over to the far pitch for this game just as Old Salopians took the lead. Old Carthusians also had time to score before Paul arrived, a header from the edge of the six yard box beating the keeper. There were plenty more chances for the home team but they didn’t make the most of their possession before half time.

Old Salopians took the lead again after with twenty minutes left to play. A crossfield pass from a breakaway saw the ball found a blue shirt and the player span round the covering defender before hitting a low shot past the home keeper. The lead lasted about five minutes when Old Carthusians were awarded a penalty as one of their players was brought down in the area. The penalty taker hit the shot with his left foot to the right of the goal, sending the keeper the wrong way. Towards the end of the game Old Salopians were reduced to ten men after a second yellow card for a defender. They managed to hold out until injury time when a good run down the left saw a shot fly low past the keeper and into the net. An entertaining game to keep Old Carthusians unbeaten league record intact.

Game 9: Brazil 1.0 Uruguay (Friendly)

Game 9: Brazil 1.0 Uruguay (Friendly) 16.11.18

A Friday night friendly and an opportunity to tick Arsenal’s Emirates stadium while watching two of the top South American international teams was too good to turn down. Met Paul at Finsbury Park and caught the train down to the ground just before they stopped running. There was a light drizzle that wasn’t a great concern as our seats were under cover near the back of the lower tier. The programme was £5 but was a good read with information about the teams, previous meetings and Brazil’s earlier visits to the Emirates.

There were a few Uruguay flags but the majority of the crowd around us were there to see Brazil or for the neutral, Neymar. The only gripe about the ground was the location of the seat numbers, difficult to spot underneath the seats. This lead to a lot of people coming in late and unable to work out where they should be sitting. The stewards did well to move people to the right area and stop people from standing in the gangways. Both teams had a mix of household names and some debutants. I was pleased to see that Cavani was playing up front for Uruguay as he’s always impressed me in televised games.

The start of the first half saw Brazil dominate with Neymar at the centre of the play. He was unlucky to see a free kick saved before having a goal disallowed early on for offside. Uruguay came into the game more as the half progressed and Cavani had an excellent shot well saved by Alisson just before halftime. Neymar mostly played off the left wing or midfield and at times it felt like he gave himself too much to do from this deep location to get into a scoring chance.

As the game went on it was difficult to see where a goal would come from. Neymar was being fouled by Uruguay players in turn and the yellow card count grew. The only goal of the game did come but it was in controversial fashion after 70 minutes when Danilo was caught by Laxalt when clearing the ball. The referee didn’t give it initially and only awarded a penalty after checking with his assistant. There didn’t appear to be much in it and Suarez and Cavani protested to the assistant for some time afterwards. Neymar wasn’t fazed by the delay and stuttered his run to the ball before smashed the penalty in.

Teams:

Brazil: Alisson, Danilo, Mirando, Marquinhos, Luis, Arthur, Renato Augusto (Allan 59), Wallace, Douglas Costa (Richarlison 67), Neymar, Firmino

Uruguay: Campana, M. Suarez (Lemos 81), Mendez, Caceres, Laxalt, Torreira, Bentancur, Vecino (Valverde 85), Pereiro (Rodriguez 77), L. Suarez, Cavani

Game 8: Pagham 1.0 Horsham YMCA (Southern Combination Premier)

Game 8: Pagham 1.0 Horsham YMCA (Southern Combination Premier) 27.10.18

My second attempt to watch Pagham and thankfully arrived safely this time. Pagham were unbeaten in the league and in 4th place before the game but faced a difficult test against second placed Horsham YMCA. After the mild weather on Thursday night the weather felt more autumnal and I was grateful for a warm coat even though I managed to leave my hat in the car. The clubhouse was busy and we had some food and drink while reading the programme near the wood fireplace.

The opening ten minutes saw both teams testing the opposition’s defence as well as one of the assistants as Pagham were caught offside three times. Horsham had a couple of shots on target after that but had a lucky escape halfway through the half. A good Pagham move saw the ball crossed into the centre where one of their strikers was unmarked. He attempted a shot but only managed to hit the ball against his leg and straight to a defender to clear. Horsham took the ball to the other end and saw a header fly across the goal and wide from a freekick. The stalemate continued as Pagham shot wide when through and just the keeper to beat.

There was a bit of niggle with bad language directed to the officials and towards the end of the half it looked like a Pagham player had been knocked to the ground by a punch. None of the officials saw anything wrong despite the protests of the home team. No action was taken a couple of minutes later when two players squared up after a Horsham player went down after a tackle.

The second half continued in the same vein, both teams creating chances but no goals. Horsham started to dominate and only a superb save from the home keeper, deflecting a shot on to the post, kept the scoreline level. Pagham were playing well on the counter-attack and it looked like they had broken the deadlock when a high ball into the box was directed over the visiting keeper with a looping header. The celebrations were cut short as the assistant on the farside determined the scorer was offside.

Horsham were caught out moments later, the ball broke to a Pagham player who took the ball into the area, around the keeper and hit it into the empty net. The whole team sprinted to the sidelines to celebrate the goal. Horsham continued to look for a goal and one of their subs was putting some good crosses into the area. One saw a shot hit a defender for a corner and another one skimmed off a defender and was saved. Pagham thought that they had scored again from a late corner. The visiting keeper dropped the ball when challenged and the referee blew for a foul as Pagham poked the ball home. Although the game finished with just the one goal it was enough to stretch Pagham’s unbeaten league run to seven wins and five draws.

Game 7: Chelsea 3.1 Bate Borisov (Europa League)

Game 7: Chelsea 3.1 Bate Borisov (Europa League) 25.10.18

My first visit to Stamford Bridge and also the first time I’ve seen a UEFA club match. Tickets for the game were £20 and as I arrived at the ground the ‘Sold Out’ signs were up. I had a ticket for the East Stand and found myself near the top of the stand, level with the commentary booths and thankfully not behind the pillars further along the row I was in. The ground filled up quickly near to kickoff and at one end a banner dedicated to Matthew Harding, the former Chelsea vice-chairman, was unveiled.

Chelsea’s team had eight changes from the side that drew against Manchester United at the weekend. Some of the changes were tactical to rest players with Eden Hazard missing through injury. The only player I recognised in the Bate lineup was former Arsenal player Alexander Hleb who is still playing at 37. Bate had brought a few hundred supporters from Belarus and were hoping for an improvement from their last visit to London, a 6.0 defeat to Arsenal. We didn’t have to wait long for the first goal as Chelsea pressed forward in the second minute. Zappacosta crossed the ball into the area from the right and it fell nicely for Loftus-Cheek to sweep a shot past the keeper. Six minutes later and Loftus-Cheek scored again, this time from a corner. Willian crossed the ball and Loftus-Cheek managed to shrug off a defender and knock the ball in.

Chelsea should have scored from another Willian corner as the ball skimmed off Cahill’s head. Christensen got a foot to the ball but couldn’t get any power or direction on it and may have prevented the ball going in. Bate were under a lot of pressure and didn’t create many opportunities as Chelsea closed them down, won the ball and then counter-attacked. Loftus-Cheek had a chance to get his hat-trick towards the end of the half but headed the ball well wide from a good position. It was a real treat to watch Willian taking on and beating defenders.

We had to wait until the second half for Loftus-Cheek to get his hat-trick. Pedro took on the Bate defence but couldn’t get past a defender in the area. The ball bounced off the defender and fell nicely for Loftus-Cheek to side foot a shot across the goal. The keeper got his hands to it but couldn’t deflect it wide and the ball continued into the goal. The pace of the game slowed down as Chelsea were content to keep possession. It was good to see another academy product, Hudson-Odoi, come on to replace Pedro and he looked like an exciting prospect. Zappacosta had a shot on goal that the keeper managed to clear before his best save of the night, a reaction save at close range to deny Giroud a goal.

Bate’s travelling fans were delighted with ten minutes to go as their side pulled back a goal. A freekick was whipped into the back post where Rios beat the offside trap with a well timed run and couldn’t miss from a foot out. There was still time for Loftus Cheek to attempt to get his fourth goal of the game but having beaten the defender in the area he couldn’t flick the ball over the onrushing keeper.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Zappacosta, Christensen, Cahill, Emerson Palmieri, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Kovacic (Kante 78), Willian (Moses 57), Giroud, Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 60)
Unused Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Barkley, Morata

Bate: Scherbitski, Rios, Filipovic, Filipenko, Volodjko, Baha (Yablonskiy 76), Dragun, Hleb (Ivanic 59), Skavysh, Signevich (Tuominem 71), Stasevich
Unused Subs: Chichka, Berezkin, Volkov, Moukam

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.

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