Game 13: Sandhurst Town 0.2 Old Bradwell United (Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy)

Game 13: Sandhurst Town 0.2 Old Bradwell United (Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy) 09.02.2019

This game caught my eye a few weeks ago in the Non League Paper as it featured two teams at different levels and in different leagues in a cup semi-final. Sandhurst are currently mid table in the Combined Counties Division 1 (Step 6) while Old Bradwell United are fourth in the South Midlands Division 2 (Step 7). The heavy rain over the last 24 hours saw many games postponed but Sandhurst managed to get this game on after some work on the pitch. Alan and I arrived in plenty of time so we could get to our plan B option so spent an hour catching up in the clubhouse over some drinks.

Old Bradwell United took the lead very early in the game. They pressed forward from the kick off and after only three minutes a low cross-shot from the edge of the area beat the home keeper and nestled into the corner of the net. The visitors kept up the pressure and came close with a couple of chances in front of their travelling supporters. The home side started to settle and won a couple of corners that didn’t come to much. On the half hour the Sandhurst keeper acted as a sweeper to try and clear the ball but was beaten to it by an Old Bradwell player. He couldn’t get the ball past the keeper to take a shot and the ball was cleared. Sandhurst had the next chance from one of their long throws. When the ball landed in the area one of their players took a stab at it but poked the ball wide. They had an even better chance after 36 minutes when a player running away from goal towards the ball was tripped in the area. The referee awarded a penalty but the visiting keeper stood tall and then guessed correctly, diving to his right to tip the ball around the post. Just before halftime Sandhurst managed to get the ball in the net but the assistant had already flagged for offside.

The second half saw the home keeper creating another chance for the visitors when he cleared the ball straight to an Old Bradwell player. The Old Bradwell player took aim and fired a shot over the keeper’s head only to see it crash off the bar and out. Old Bradwell had a chance to extend their lead but an unmarked player headed wide from close range. Sandhurst made a change and their substitute almost created an equaliser with his first touches of the ball. He ran with pace through the centre of midfield and crossed the ball low from the right hoping to set up a team mate. Old Bradwell’s covering defender reacted the quickest and managed to clear the ball before a Sandhurst player could reach it.

Old Bradwell broke away and their speedy number eleven took the ball through the Sandhurst defence and chipped the keeper, only to see the ball bounce off the bar. With his next run he reached the edge of the area and crossed the ball past the keeper. A home defender slid in to try and block it from reaching an opponent but only managed to take the ball into the back of the net with him. The visiting fans celebrated with a one man pitch invader joining the blue shirted players in their celebrations. The Sandhurst bench tried to lift their team by saying that one goal would get them right back in it but time was running out and their only chance before the final whistle saw the ball fly well wide.


Game 12: Brighton & Hove Albion 0.0 West Bromwich Albion (FA Cup)

Game 12: Brighton & Hove Albion 0.0 West Bromwich Albion (FA Cup) 26.01.19

With a damp forecast and cheap tickets on offer, I decided to take in an FA Cup 4th round match at Brighton’s Amex Community Stadium for my 300th ‘tick’. Before the game I caught a local train to Seaford for a quick explore before heading back on the train to Falmer. The ground is a short walk from the railway station and it didn’t take long to get to my seat before it started to pour down. The ground filled up close to kick off and the large PA system in the stand blasted out music to try and create an atmosphere.

Both teams made multiple changes to their regular 1st team selections and I was disappointed to note that West Brom were wearing their alternative black kit instead of the iconic green and yellow shirts. In the first half Brighton dominated possession and had the most of the play but were unable to finish any of the chances they created. They were helped by West Brom deciding to take goal kicks to the edge of their box which allowed the Brighton players to close down the ball and force the defenders into making mistakes. West Brom had a couple of chances, the best falling to Leko who ran into the box before hitting a shot well wide. Bond in the West Brom goal made a couple of good saves and had his defenders to help clear the ball on occasion after he parried it out.

The start of the second half was a similar story to the first. Brighton continued to press and play the ball neatly around the edge of the area without any real penetration. Any shots that came in were either well wide or over the bar. West Brom had a good shot from the edge of the area that went just wide before both teams hit the woodwork. Brighton had a shot that the keeper got a slight touch on to deflect it on to the post while West Brom saw a header at the back post from a freekick come back off the crossbar. Brighton made a change to bring on young Swedish international Gyokeres and he managed to dribble the ball through the Albion defence but shot early, allowing Bond to dive low to his right to push the ball wide for a corner. West Brom were playing on the counter attack but couldn’t get past the tackles from Burn and Montoya in particular when in good positions. With time running out Brighton brought on Glen Murray and he had a good chance with a shot in the 18 yard box that was just at the right height for Bond to reach. The rebound was met by a Brighton head but the player was offside and headed the ball wide. The game finished as a draw and while it was good experience for the young players, it was a shame that both teams decided to make so many changes.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Button, Bruno, Duffy, Burn, Montoya, Knockaeat, Kayal, Bissouma, Locadia (Gyokeres 72), Stephens (Propper 63), Andone (Murray 83)

West Bromwich Albion: Bond, Townsend, Adarabioyo, Bartley, Mears, Leko (Holgate 89), Field, Harper, Edwards, Robson-Kanu, Hoolahan (Tulloch 81)

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.

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.


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