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 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 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 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) 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 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.