Monday, May 11, 2015
Well, it was a long time coming, but Sean finally got to see Villa win a league game and it was probably the first time he had been at Villa Park when the 'feel good factor was there'. Villa are still in slight danger of relegation, but recent wins against Spurs, Everton and an FA Cup Semi-final victory over Liverpool have only been slightly tempered by a defeat away to Manchester City where Villa should probably have got something. The crowd was in good spirits and the place was filled to near capacity. Villa were superb in the first half and we were right behind the goal where Jack Grealish jinsed in to set up Tom Cleverley for his 31st minute winner and third goal in three games. Villa should really have put the game to bed before half time. However, they went into the break with a slender lead and were forced to dig in a bit in the second half. It was a nervous end to the game, especially as West Ham had the ball in the net, but were offside. Villa deserved the win and Tim Sherwood was happy with the proffessional display. That said, there really was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew. All of the players deserve a mention, but especially the midfield who were brilliant at times.
Shay Given - had a very quiet first half. He was called into action in the second half on a couple of occassions, but saved well when needed. His kicking was also notably a lot better than Guzan's.
Leandro Bacuna - He really isn't a defender, but the way he gets forward is a real asset to the team. He also came close from a set piece. He was substituted for Hutton later on when it was time to shore up the defence.
Kieran Richardson - Again he's a bit too forward thinking for a defender, but put in a shift on Saturday.
Ron Vlaar- Grew into the game, he defended resolutely later on, but made a couple of mistakes which may have been punished by better forwards. He also had a couple of chances from headers from set pieces, but they weren't the best efforts you would ever see.
Jores Okore - Was playing injured, but you would never know. He epitomises the 'fight like lions' philosophy at the club at the moment.
Charles N'Zogbia - I thought he had a decent game, although a lot of the media thinks otherwise and his pace troubled the Hammers. He perhaps didn't look that great compared to the superb efforts put in by the rest of the Midfield. He came off late on to be replaced by Gabby, who really should have scored when Jack Grealish put him threw. We would have had a better last quarter of an hour if he had!
Tom Cleverley - Much maligned Tom wasn't a hit with the Villa fans for a while, but since Sherwood arrived he has been transformed. He scored the winner and fought for every ball. I would have awarded him Man of the Match.
Fabian Delph - Fabs is always Fab and his vision, movement, commitment and ball control was excellent, as it usually is.
Jack Grealish - Super Jack has finally been given a run in the team and he hasn't disappointed. He has been tremendous and set Cleverley up for the goal. West Ham couldn't get near to him apart from to kick him! He was given a standing ovation when substituted for Carlos Sanchez when the defence needed to kick in. I thought Cleverley was slightly more influential, but nobody can begrudge him the Man of the Match award.
Christian Benteke - Had a quiet day by his standards, but as he had just one player of the month then that isn't surprising, it's always a curse.
So, a great performance from the lads and we finally went home happy from Villa Park. There are still two games left and Villa still need to win them to be sure of survival and then there is the FA Cup final against Arsenal. It's been a tough few years, but the future is hopefully bright.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
On Saturday it was Ely's last game of the season. They were already relegated and Stanway were in third with not a lot to play for either. The game was typical end of season fair. The weather was good, but the football was dull. Stanway struck early in the second half and late on a goalkeeping blunder gifted Ely an equaliser and that was about it.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Yes that isn't a typo! Hopefully, a team with a similar name can get some silverware at the end of the season too!
I like the local cup finals that they have down at Ely City this time of year, unfortunately due to being away or bad advertising I've missed the others, so when I found out about the Creake Charity Shield Cup Final being down there I was interested, when I found out one of the teams was called Ashdon Villa I knew I had to be there.
The opponents were Cherry Hinton Reserves, who play in a division below Villa. From the start it was clear that Villa were the better side, but the Cherries had a fantastic defence and neither side had a real chance in the first half, although Villa dominated the play.
Unfortunately for Villa it was Cherry Hinton who took the lead on 52 minutes when a sliced clearance by a defender saw him put it in his own goal. Some justice was done 10 minutes later when the Cherry Hinton keeper thought a cross was going to hit the side netting, but instead it hit the post and rebounded out to a grateful Villa centre forward who hammered home the equaliser.
Villa continued to attack, but the Cherry Hinton defence were resolute and some of the crosses were a bit wayward and shots a bit weak. One of the Cambs FA officials said 'it had a draw written all over it', I couldn't disagree, but with the temperature falling and work the next day I was hoping it would be finished in normal time.
It wasn't and we headed into extra time and Villa continued their bombardment. On 100 minutes a great free kick was hammered home and just the other side of extra time Villa were awarded another free kick. This time an indirect free kick in the six yard box for a back pass. Pretty often these type of free kicks are wasted, but Ashdon made sure and the game finished 3-1 to Villa.
Last Saturday the weather was decent, but the trains were a mess, so we decided to go and watch the reserves play Royston A in their last home game of the season.
The game got off to a decent start with Ely grabbing the lead on 6 minutes and Royston equalising on 8. The rest of the half saw a commited performance by both sides, although neither team seemed able to break the deadlock.
The second half was a bit less entertaining as Royston grabbed a second and then a third goal. Ely got a consolation with 10 minutes left and what a strike it was. However, Roystom ran out the winners in an entertaining enough affair.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Last night bottom placed Ely took on second placed Godmanchester. After getting only their second home win against Felixstowe last time, and the only one I had seen this season, we were not that hopeful. Ely had given a good account of themselves at Godmanchester the week before drawing 0-0, but on paper they had a much stronger side, which included ex-Ely players Tom Meecham, Austin Diaper and Lewis McDonald.
It was clear from the start that Ely were hoping for a 0-0 as they stuck 10 players behind the ball and relied on some super saves from Craig Gailbraith in between the posts. It seemed inevitable that they would eventually get something and when Austin Diaper was fouled in the box just before half time and Tom Meecham stepped up to take the penalty, it looked like Goddy were going to take the lead with a very Ely flavour. It wasn't to be though as Gailbraith guessed right and saved a penalty for the second game in a row.
The second half started in the same way as the first half had with Ely defending with some real spirit and Goddy over playing it a bit as they got more and more desperate for a goal. Their desperation finally was their own undoing though, as around the hour mark, Ed Richardson, who had been recruited from the reserves converted a corner with a header to give the Robins a surprise lead.
Godmanchester continued to press, but Ely dug in to get the points and frustrate the visitors.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Yesterday we went up to Downham Market to see Downham Town play Halstead in the last home game for Downham of the season. At the start of the game the two teams were in 10th and 11th with the visitors having the slight advantage. If this was a chance for the teams to sit back and relax they clearly weren't showing it.
The game set off at a blistering pace with both sides pressing. The home team though were clearly the ones with their bit between their teeth and started pummelling the Halstead goal.
Downham were given their first break on 18 minutes when the winger was pulled down in the box and the centre forward put the ball in the back of the goal to make it 1-0.
Downham go 1-0 up from the penalty spot.
The only shock was that it took another 13 minutes for Downham to make it 2-0 when a cleverly worked passage of play saw the centre forward get his and Town's second.
Things weren't really going Halstead's way and even the decisions were going tags isn't them. Therefore, it didn't come as a surprise when on 35 minutes Downham made it 3-0 and the centre forward completed his hat trick.
If Halstead thought that Downham were going to take their foot off the pedal in the second half they were sadly wrong. On 47 minutes they made it 4-0. Halstead were thrown a lifeline on 53 minutes when they scored a terrific free kick which broke the net. The Downham players and fans were trying to claim it had gone through the side of the net, but the linesman and us were in a perfect position to see that it had gone in.
After this it was all Halstead as they tried to play themselves back into the game, but it was all in vain, as Downham got a fifth in stoppage time as the leaped over their visitors in the table.