Game 18: South Park 4.1 Molesey (Bostik South) 21.04.18
A change of scenery and my first Isthmian game for a few years with Alan and Harry. South Park play on the outskirts of Reigate with the ground in the bottom corner of a park. Unusually there were two stands behind one of the goals instead of at the side, presumably to meet the grading requirements.
Molesey were second bottom at the start of play with South Park in middle table. Molesey almost scored in the first minute of the game, one of their players taking the ball round the home keeper only to cross into an empty area rather than try a shot from a narrow angle. They did take the lead ten minutes later, a long ball from a free kick was headed high and over the keeper. The programme mentioned that the South Park manager was stepping down at the end of the season but his frustration with the officials saw him sent off after the half hour. South Park had a couple of chances before the end of the half and got an equaliser in injury time. They appealed for a handball but the referee awarded a corner. From the corner the ball was played to the middle of area and a header was drilled past the keeper.
South Park took the lead soon after the restart, a long ball was played into the area and a low shot ended up in the net. Two minutes later and South Park got a penalty for a handball in the area.The keeper guessed the right way by going low to the left but couldn’t get his hands to the ball. Molesey went back on the attack and beat an offside appeal only to see the shot tipped wide for a corner. Both teams were looking for goals and the play flowed from end to end. Molesey almost let in a goal when the ball slipped through their keepers hand. They did concede one more, a South Park sub slipping the ball past the keeper on the breakaway.
Game 17: Bush Hill 0.1 Paulsgrove (Hampshire Premier) 07.04.18
With two Premier League derbies on TV today, I decided to go to the nearest new ground in the Hampshire Premier which meant a trip to Mansel Park on the outskirts of Southampton. The park is situated in the middle of a large housing area and there were plenty of local spectators for this clash between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in the table. Bush Hill have only lost once in the league this season while Paulsgrove have two defeats so I expected a close derby match with the Portsmouth based visitors.
Bush Hill dominated the earlier exchanges and had a good shout for a penalty after ten minutes that the referee waived away. Paulsgrove took the lead after thirteen minutes when they won the ball on the edge of the area and put a shot past the keeper. The ball was cleared by a defender but the assistant flagged to indicate to the referee that the ball had gone over the line first. Bush Hill continued to press and won free kicks and corners but were unable to convert their chances. Just before half time they were reduced to ten men following a nasty stamp on a Paulsgrove player who had gone to ground off the pitch. The referee saw the incident and sent the Bush Hill player off.
The second half had only just begun when Paulsgrove missed a good opportunity to extend their lead. The ball was cut back to the edge of the area but the unmarked Paulsgrove player put his shot over. Moments later and the Bush Hill keeper was forced into a good save with his legs as Paulsgrove broke away again. Bush Hill started to pick up as the half went on and their number 9 took the ball round the visiting keeper twice from a tight angle. On both occasions he was unable to get a shot past the covering defenders. There was a brief interlude where events off the pitch took the spectators attention – a number of police cars drove around the roads near the pitch and eventually a man was arrested and put in the back of the van. With twenty minutes to go it looked like Bush Hill would get back into the game when they won a penalty. The keeper was moving towards his left before the kick was taken and got lucky as the shot went in that direction so he was able to save it. There was still time for more chances in an entertaining and feisty end to the game but it was the visitors who celebrated at the final whistle.
Game 16: Peasedown Miners Welfare 1.2 Long Ashton (Somerset County Div 1E) 24.03.18
After a morning in Midsomer Norton, I took a short drive to the Miners Welfare Recreation ground in Peasedown St John. The pitch is railed off with a covered standing area on the far touchline, changing rooms behind one goal and car parking facing the near touchline. Before the game the teams lined up for a one minutes silence.
Long Ashton started well and controlled the early play. Their best chance came from a free kick but it was hit straight at the keeper. Peasedown came back into the game and almost took the lead with a chip that went over the onrushing keeper but fell the wrong side of the crossbar. They also hit a shot across the goal that was just too far for a player at the back post to connect with. In injury time Long Ashton took the lead with a powerful shot from outside the area that gave the keeper no chance.
Peasedown had a great chance to equalise on the hour when their number 10 was tripped as he ran into the penalty area. There seemed to be some confusion as to who would be taking the kick and eventually the same player came forward for it. The keeper guessed the right way and dived to his left to save the shot. Long Ashton took a two goal lead a few minutes later from a corner. The ball was cleared to the edge of the area to a Long Ashton defender. He got the ball out from his feet and hit a beautifully weighted shot into the top corner. Peasedown continued to press and pulled a goal back in the 90th minute with a header over the keeper. There had been a couple of fierce challenges earlier in the half and as Peasedown pressed for an equaliser tempers rose. There were three yellow cards in injury time as Long Ashton did enough to hold on for the win.
Game 15: Colden Common 1.2 Bush Hill (Hampshire Premier) 24.02.18
On a very cold and sunny afternoon I drove over to Colden Common Park to see second bottom Colden Common take on leaders Bush Hill. The ground was at the end of a long single track lane with plenty of parking at the end. The match was played on a roped off pitch on the left of the park. Before kick off I purchased an excellent programme for £1 which had plenty of details on both clubs and the league.
There was a cold wind blowing down the slightly sloped pitch and Bush Hill played into the wind and up the slope in the first half. They had an unusual way of lining up when they won a goal kick which started in the second minute and was repeated through the game. Two players stood on each side of the box, one level with the 6 yard box and one at the edge of the 18 yard box. The keeper then played a ball to one of those players instead of sending it long. This gave more space in the midfield as Colden Common chose to push players forward to try and intercept the ball in a good position.
Bush Hill took the lead after four minutes with a shot from outside the 18 yard box. They didn’t build on the lead as they overplayed or misplaced passes in the final third. Colden Common came back into the game, almost intercepting a back pass and hitting a shot across the area that both keeper and defender left and it only just went wide. The referee booked a Bush Hill player early in the half and their manager had good reason to be upset when similar Colden Common tackles went unpunished. Bush Hill’s goal kicks added more pressure as slow passes gave Colden Common time to press forward and challenge for the ball. On one occasion the ball didn’t leave the area before a Bush Hill player was forced to play the ball but the referee was too far away to spot the infringement. When Bush Hill did find a player running into space just before half time he was called back for an offside flag.
The second half kicked off after a short break for team talks held on the pitch. It didn’t take long for another strong tackle to take out a Bush Hill attacker. This time the referee booked the Colden Common player and we waited a while for the Bush Hill player to recover. Bush Hill added a second goal after 57 minutes when a powerful cross shot evaded the keeper and bounced off the post and in. Three minutes later and we came close to a third, a great shot from the left of the six yard box flew past the keeper but bounced off the inside of the post and out. Bush Hill made the most of the wind and one of their players ran undetected towards a long clearance that was allowed to bounce. The Colden Common defence couldn’t get back to stop him heading the ball towards goal but luckily for them it went wide.They had another lucky escape in the 72nd minute when a Bush Hill cross was headed powerfully against the crossbar by a defender.
Colden Common were working hard to keep in the game and managed to get on the scoresheet in the final ten minutes of the game. Bush Hill lost the ball in midfield and a pacy Colden Common player took the ball into the area where he was brought down. The referee pointed to the spot and when the kick was taken the goal keeper dived to his right as the ball went to his left. Colden Common pressed for an equaliser, forcing Bush Hill to take the ball into the corners and waste time wherever possible to hang on for the win.
Game 14: Brimscombe & Thrupp 0.2 Highworth Town (Hellenic Premier) 17.02.18
The original plan for today was to head down to Cornwall to watch Bodmin Town but with their recent postponements Alan opted to leave that until another day. Scanning the fixtures we came up with a trip to the Cotswolds and a ground that’s been on my bucket list for a few years. Brimscombe & Thrupp’s Meadow ground is unusual in that the stand and parking are on the same level as the neighbouring road but the pitch is at a much lower level. We arrived in good time and watched the FA Cup match in the clubhouse while browsing the programme. I was surprised to note that former Salisbury midfield favourite Wayne Turk was playing for Highworth, although in a defensive role today.
Visitors Highworth Town had played 15 away games in the league before today, winning 14 and drawing 1 – a fantastic record at this stage of the season and one that’s helped them to top spot in the league. They took the lead in the second minute when a ball was crossed from the left to an unmarked player on the right of the box. He took aim and fired the ball into the top corner. Brimscombe came straight back from kickoff and had a good shot well saved by the visiting keeper. There were plenty of attacking moves from both teams, Brimscombe seeing most of their shots sail well over the crossbar. Just before halftime Highworth almost added a second goal but the header came back off the crossbar with the home keeper beaten.
Brimscombe found themselves up against it after five minutes off the second half when one of their centre halves got a second yellow card for bringing down a Highworth player near the box. We hadn’t noticed the first card so it was a surprise to see him walk off the pitch. The officials weren’t popular with the Highworth players later in the half when one of their players was flagged for offside when the ball went to one of his team mates. There was only one covering defender so a good chance was missed. The assistant was very vocal about his decision but the players found it difficult to understand how the player was offside when he made no attempt to go for the ball and the player who did receive it ran past the defender before touching the ball. The yellow card made another appearance after the protests.
Both teams had some good chances to score before Highworth wrapped up the win with a goal in the 81st minute. The ball was played into the area and a defender sliced his clearance to a Highworth player who nicked in and placed the ball past the keeper from close range at the near post. In the final minute Brimscombe came really close to pulling a goal back. A fierce shot from distance looked to be going under the bar only for the visiting keeper to make a spectacular save. Another away success for Highworth who moved two points further ahead of nearest rivals Thatcham who are now five points behind after a home draw.
Game 13: Winchester Castle 4.3 Liphook United (Hampshire Premier) 20.01.18
The majority of the Hampshire League games were postponed due to waterlogged pitches today with only three games surviving. This game was confirmed as on when I checked on Twitter at lunchtime and I had enough time to drive over to the Hampshire County Council Sports Ground for the 2pm kickoff. The ground is on the outskirts of Winchester up a narrow lane. I was concerned that the rain was still falling heavily but when I arrived the gate was open and I could see the teams warming up in the rain as I parked up.
There are three pitches at the Sports Ground with the far railed off pitch used by Winchester Castle. This pitch has dugouts and a small covered stand. I had my large umbrella with me so decided to watch the game by the rails. The rain was fairly constant throughout the game but did ease off at times.
Liphook had a great start to the game, scoring with a great shot from the edge of the area in the second minute. They doubled their lead after five minutes from a corner – the ball was headed into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance. They came close to adding to their lead after ten minutes when they hit the bar before seeing the home keeper make a great diving save. After 20 minutes a Liphook corner was headed onto the post by a defender and to his relief the ball bounced out and was cleared. Winchester scored moments later – the Liphook keeper came off his line and couldn’t get back to stop a long range chip shot from going in.
On the half hour the scores were level. A long ball found the same Winchester player and he shrugged off the covering defender before chipping over the onrushing keeper. I hadn’t expected this after Liphook’s early dominance. Liphook had a penalty shout turned down and then saw one given when a shot from the edge of the area came off a defender’s arm. The referee deemed that the player had moved his arm towards the ball. The shot was struck to the keeper’s right but he guessed right and saved it. Liphook won a corner and saw a header go in to the net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.Just before half time Winchester Castle took the lead. A defender went to clear the ball and slipped in the mud, allowing a Winchester player to run in, control the ball and chip it over the keeper for his hat trick.
The second half continued in the same vein of attacking football although there were only two more goals. Winchester Castle scored at the start of the half when a shot hit the keeper and the ball looped up in the air and in. Liphook were awarded another penalty ten minutes later and despite the keeper diving the right way the ball evaded him on this occasion for a Liphook ball. Both teams had chances for a goal but Liphook were unable to take advantage of a late sending off to equalise. Winchester Castle were content at the end to play the ball to the corners to waste time. An exciting game on a very muddy pitch.
Game 12: Bridgwater Town 0.2 Bitton (Western Premier) 13.01.2018
First game of the year and a trip with Alan to Bridgwater to recomplete the Western League, following the home team’s relegation from the Southern League last season. Both teams are mid table this season so we expected a close game. The ground is close to the local college and the teams had to change there and walk through to the pitch as the dressing rooms had some water ingress. We had a good catch up in the bar before going through to the excellent tea hut for some chips and curry sauce.
There were few chances in the first half and both teams had a shot just over before Bitton took the lead on the half hour. The goal was a spectacular free kick from distance that flew into the top right corner, giving the keeper no chance. This woke Bridgwater up and they had a couple of good efforts from corners but lacked a finishing touch.
The second half was an even affair. Bitton came close to adding to their lead when a shot skimmed just in front of the far post with the keeper beaten. Bridgwater had a good spell just after this and had several shots wide or saved by the visiting keeper. In the 70th minute Bitton broke down the left wing and when one of their players took the ball into the area he was tackled from behind and went down. The referee pointed to the spot straight away. The penalty was struck well enough to beat the keeper as he dived to his left. Bridgwater continued to press for a goal but weren’t able to convert their chances.