Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The return of Tuesday night football

Tuesday night football usually means horrendous weather, rain, gale force winds and storms. If it is a cup game it will go to extra time or penalties and the only time I remember it being a nice evening was when Ely drew 0-0 in an away game at Newmarket at the start of last season. So when there was a torrential rain storm on my way home from work I expected the worse. However, it was a bit overcast and a mild evening for the match and the rain had helped the pitch, which had been a dust bowl for Saturday's game.

Ely were taking on Swaffham Town, who play in division below, and after the fine performance against Hadley on Saturday I was hoping for a cricket score. Things didn't pan out like though and Nick Impey and Tony Beck, who had had good games in midfield on Saturday started on the bench and there were a few more changes.

Ely went behind early on from a well taken blaster of a goal from about 25 yards out, but managed to get a goal back when Robbie Mason equalised on the half hour mark. Both Mason and Robbins looked effective when they had the chance, but the lack of service from midfield meant that they kept being dragged out on the wings. However, Ely looked more like scoring than Swaffham, but it was the Pedlars who retook the lead just before half time.

The second half saw Ely make the changes that meant they had the same starting team as on Saturday, apart from Lee Pacey who was replaced in goals probably for the first time ever. Ely had complete control of the game in the second half and the replacement goalie didn't have much to do apart from shout at the new left back from Soham (I still don't know his name) to fall into the sweeper position. He should have kept his trap shut though, as he was probably man of the match. Ely should have finished Swaffham off, but they didn't manage, so Swaffham ran out 2-1 winners.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Club Profile -- Swaffham Town

Next up for Ely on Tuesday night are Swaffham Town. Unfortunately, I don't know that much about them. Their nickname is the Pedlars and they were formed in 1892. They spent most of their history in some of the lower local leagues and moved to their current ground, Shoemaker's Lane in 1959. They were promoted to the Eastern Counties League in 1990 and were the first division champions in 2000 and 2001. They currently play in the first division of the Eastern Counties First Division.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ely v Hadley, a few photos

I don't often take a camera down the Unwin, but here are a few pictures.
Top: Ely cathedral in the background
Middle: Hadley come close to an equaliser
Bottom: Ely push forward.

Ely and Hadley

Yesterday Ely City played Hadley in a friendly game. Hadley, who I thought were Eastern Counties Hadleigh were actually Hadley from the Spartan South Midland League and are situated in Hertfordshire. The league they play in is thought to be one of the tougher ones at this level and they are seen as a pretty strong club.

Therefore, Ely who have lost player of the season for the last 2 years Bradie Stone to Kings Lynn along with Jamie Allsop and Scott Fielding returning to St.Neots and the left back returning to CRC looked like they were going to have a tough time of it. I'm not sure if Hadley had put their strongest team out, but Ely had most of the other players who featured last season and Dion Dublin's son and the left midfielder/ left back from Soham had been drafted in.

Ely looked the stronger of the two teams and went ahead on 21 minutes when Grant Robbins scored. The new left back ( won't know his name until the paper comes out or I've had a couple of programmes ) impressed and Robbie Mason performed well and it was interesting to note that Mason has seemed to have mellowed since last season -- let's hope that continues.

It was Robbie Mason who scored the second when Ely went 2-0 up just before half time. The second half was another one of those friendly games where the teams more or less changed and despite Ely having a couple of trademark defensive wobbles they seemed to stay in control, although Hadley pulled one back and the game finished 2-1 to Ely.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Villa v Peterborough 2nd half

Really that should be Peterborough v Villa, as the game was at London Road. Not really much of an attack here, but I wasn't going to waste my time on taking photos when Villa really looked like scoring.

Villa v Peterborough first half

Posh attack in the first half, but Villa get it clear

Villa warm up before Peterborough game

Photos from top to bottom:
Various Villa players including captain Stylian Petrov warm up.
Brad Friedel warms up.
John Carew, hes' bigger than me and you and definitely the Posh mascot.
Stewart Downing has some shooting practice.

Posh and Villa the second time around

Another preseason, another birthday for me and another game between Peterborough and Villa at London Road. Last season when the clubs met things were probably looking a bit rosier for both clubs. Peterborough had just been promoted, had a fine young manager in Darren Ferguson and probably thought they had a bright future. However three managers later and a relegation sees the very experienced Gary Johnson take control of the team, which is good news for Posh I think, but when you consider that one of their players recently moved to Crawley for more money, perhaps things are not as optimistic as last season. Likewise Villa were looking to crack the Champions League this time last season, they didn't make it, a usual 6th place was coupled by a trip to the League Cup Final and the FA Cup Semi Final (both occassions being ruined by Howard Webb who reffed the World Cup Final with the same level of ineptitude). I hope that Villa can improve on that, but there seems to be a lack of funds and Man City's continued spending, Spurs being in the Champions League and Roy Hodgson taking over at Liverpool means it will probably be harder for Villa this season.

Anyway, enough of the doom and gloom. The Monday night kick off meant there were less people than at the fixture last year, but Villa started with a decent enough 11: Friedel, Beye, Reo-Coker, Ashley Young, Carew, Petrov and Downing all started. Villa looked like they had just come back off their holidays, which they had. However, Ashley Young put Villa ahead with a lovely goal from the edge of the box on 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the defence was still asleep and Aaron Davies got past Richard Dunne and his Welsh team mate James Collins to equalise one minute later. To be honest the defence at that time still looked a bit rusty, but I wasn't too impressed with Beye and fellow fullback Eric Lichaj played really well, but didn't really look like a defender. In fact he always seemed to be in the same place as Stewart Downing. He actullay impressed me, but didn't look like a defender.

The rest of the first half was pretty even with both clubs coming close, probably the best effort coming from Peterborough's Grant McCann, fortunately Friedel was equal to everything and Carew, Young and Petrov seemed to get into the game as the half progressed. On the stroke of half time Ashley Young crossed for John Carew who flicked the ball nicely into the corner of the goal to make it 2-1 at half time.

In the second half Villa made a lot of changes with mainly academy players coming on, although Downing and Reo-Coker stayed on for most of the second half. Of the players who were introduced, probably the most familiar names were Marc Albrighton, who had a few runs out in the UEFA Cup run the season before last, Barry Bannan, who has impressed on loan at Blackpool and might be going there permanently and Isiah Osbourne.

Isiah Osbourne reminds me of a friend who doesn't like football. You know, the sort of person you only see when the football season isn't on. He seems to disappear for the whole football season and only feature in friendlies.

Anyway, Villa extended their lead early on with Stewart Downing crossing the ball to Eric Lichaj from a corner with Lichaj powering the header in. Later on Charlie Lee, allegedly pulled one back for Posh ( I say allegedly, because it looked like an own goal from where I was).

It ended 3-2, but Villa's inexperienced side at the end made it a stressful affair.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Second half action from Histon V Ipswich

4-0 to the Tractor Boys

This was the corner that resulted in Ipswich's fourth goal after a bit of penalty area pinball.

Packed stand at Histon

... Unfortunately this might not be a regular occurance once the season gets underway

Histon v Ipswich, first half action

Histon v Ipswich, a hastily arranged match

On Friday me and Sean got the preseason started by visiting the game between Histon and Ipswich. The game had only been arranged on the Tuesday afternoon and it was a big plus to be able to go.

Not surprisingly the cash strapped Stutes who were relying on a lot of trialists, mainly from Dagenham and Stevenage struggled against, despite what the league table suggested last season, one of the stronger teams in the Championship.

The weather was great and the atmosphere at the ground was pretty good for what was a really impressive performance by Ipswich. A lot of people, including the new announcer at Histon expected Ipswich to put out an experimental team, but in fact they put out in the first half what is likely to be their starting line up on the first day of the season with the excellent Connor Wicken coming in after impressing for the England under 17s recently. This was the only change from a team that had beaten Newmarket 9-1 earlier in the week.

However, the Histon defence performed well considering and it wasn't until the 28th minute that Ipswich went ahead with a goal from David Norris. Then Ipswich extended their lead on 32 with Connor Wickham scoring and Ipswich added another couple before half time with McAuley heading a goal and Connor Wickham making it 4-0 after a slip by Gomaz in defence. Gomaz was one of the trialists and after that it was easy to see why John Beck will be turning his attention to the Eastern Counties league in search of new players.

After the break Ipswich made a lot of changes and they struggled to increase their lead further. One piece of good news for Ipswich was probably the return of Argentinian Luciano Civelli after a couple of seasons ravaged by injury. Ipswich got their 5th goal on 71 minutes when Coonago put Civelli in only for him to pass to Martin who slotted the ball into an empty net. Ipswich finally made it 6 on 80 minutes when John Steed scored a tremendous goal from the edge of the box.

The game was pretty much one way traffic, but it was a great evening out and Histon didn't look too far off the mark for the Conference, although I think that they will do well to stay up next season. They were just undone by a very good Ipswich team.

It's back and it never even went away

The World Cup will come to an end today, with Holland V Spain, and I feel like I have wasted a lot of what has been a very warm summer so far by sitting in front of a telly in a darkened room watching it and by doing far too much work at weekends. At least we managed to get to Cromer and Hunstanton on a couple of the weekends. Anyway, the World Cup isn't even over and the preseason has already started.