Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another trip to Craven Cottage

Yesterday I went on what seems to be my annual trip to Fulham's Craven Cottage to see Fulham take on Wigan. I think I may have been banned from Villa games down there by Scott, so the most neutral of games was probably seen as a good idea (by him). That said, it was a sell out crowd mainly because Fulham charged a very resonable fiver for the game.

The game itself was a bit one sided with Fulham's Clint Dempsey scoring both of Fulham's goals in the first half. Predictably he was named as man of the match by most of the Sunday newspapers, but I think that Baird, Salcido and Dembele were also as impressive if not more so.

Andy Johnson, who many thought would have to retire after a horrific injury earlier in the year, also came on late in the match and added to the Fulham forward line.

In general not a bad game, but a bit one sided.

The picture shows Fulham's Zoltan Gera tackling Wigan's Hugo Rodallega.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Club Focus on Wigan Athletic

Wigan were formed in 1932 and kicked around in the Lancashire League and the Cheshire League. Their first application for the league came in 1950 when 4 clubs were added to the league; 2 to Division 3 North and 2 to Division 3 South. However, they lost out to Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury.

In 1954 the Latics took Newcastle to a 3rd round replay in the FA Cup and they felt like they would be elected to the league, but they weren't. After several other aborted attempts at getting into the league they became founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968. In 1971 after narrowly losing to a strong Manchester City in the FA Cup they again thought that they had a good chance of getting in the league, but again it wasn't to be. As a protest the following season they applied to join the Scottish League, but they didn't get a single vote and in England the place that they coveted went to Hereford United.

In 1975 they won the NPL for rhe second time, but they weren't in any state to join the league with financial problems and average gates of less than 650 in what has always been a rugby league town. Nevertheless, the following season they joined the league at their 35th attempt. They had only finished as runners-up in the Northern Premier League, but Boston United's ground wasn't up to scratch, so Wigan finally got their place in the League.

After 2 seasons in the League Wigan introduced the 'tree and crown' badge. The crown representing the plantagent dynasty, which is also a feature of the town's coat of arms and a rowan tree. The rowan tree is known locally as a 'wiggin' tree or Wigan tree. It is also interesting to notice that the prominent colours are red and white rather than the blue and white that the club wear. However, they did wear red and white up until the outbreak of the 2nd World War.

In 1989 the club then changed the badge to the local coat of arms:

During most of their period in the League Wigan kicked around in the lower divisions and seemed to go from financial crisis to financial crisis. That all changed in 1993 when David Whelan started bank rolling the club that saw them go from the basement when he took control to the Premier League in 2005, where they have been since. In 2008 they also reintroduced the tree and crown motif, which was a popular move with the fans.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Firsts of the season

On Tuesday night rain called off a game for the first time this season with the Ely City v March Town United game in the Eastern Counties League game being called off and Saturday sees my first Premier League action of the season with Fulham taking on Wigan. I might even get back in time to catch it right at the end of match of the day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photos from Soham Town Rangers v Daventry Town

Above are a couple of photos of the stand at Soham Town Rangers.

The terrace at Soham

The clubhouse at Soham.

Soham warm up before the game.

Daventry Town warm up.

Greens and purples at Soham Town Rangers

There were no games in Ely yesterday, so I decided to go on the relatively short journey to Soham to see Soham Town Rangers take on Daventry Town in the Southern (Zamaretto) League Central Division.

At the moment Soham are propping up the division and although their pre-season performance at the Unwin against Ely suggested that they would struggle this season they actually played pretty well and I feel were unluck not to come away with more than a 0-0 draw.

In the first half Daventry probably had the best of the chances, although I never felt like they really looked like scoring. The Soham defence however looked a little vulnerable and on several occasions failed to clear their lines, which against a more clinical team could have led to problems.

The second half was all Soham though and if it hadn't been for the diminutive Daventry Keeper with a foghorn of a voice Soham could have easily been 2 or 3 up in the first few minutes after the break. However it wasn't to be and although Dubi Ogbonna came close to scoring for Soham near the end the score remained 0-0.

The Non-league Paper gave man of the match to Ogbonna, but I think that Deakan Napier on the wing caused the visitors more problems. I also found the game pretty entertaining despite the lack of goals so I don't agree with the 1 star the NLP gave the game either.

That said I also had a free day out as I won £25 for having 'no goal' in the golden goal competition. It's also not often you see a team in green take on a team in purple and moreover with both teams wearing their first colours.

It was only my second trip to Soham, but I enjoyed and hopefully I'll go back there again when Ely are away at place I can't get to.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Value for money?

Supporting a club who haven't won a trophy for ages and having spent years away following local clubs who don't really have a sniff at a trophy I don't really understand how cups have become 'devalued' to the extent where everybody seems to field weakened teams. The trend seems to have caught on so much that last night Ely City fielded a weakened team against Fulbourn Institute in the Cambs Invitation Cup. The starting line up only included 4 first teamers and two of them were coming back from suspensions (Richard Chadwick and Ben Lawrence), one had been missing for a while (Simon Warren) and the other was left back Kenthoh Gray (there aren't that many left backs around). However, unlike some bigger teams Ely still charged 6 quid to get in last night, which is a bit of a cheek when you consider Villa are charging a tenner for the Burnley match in the League Cup and Burton dropped their prices to a fiver for the Paint cup thingy. When you consider that 6 quid is about the same as it costs to get into a Werder Bremen game it really does seem a bit steep, although I don't really resent paying it when the first team play.

Mind you on another level if value was measured in goals we did OK, there were 7. And as it was a cup game in meedweek it obviously went to extra time so we got another half hour there. And I doubt that I would be complaining if things had carried on the way they started.

The game kicked off and Ely were 1 up within 20 seconds when Chadwick broke through the defence to slot the ball home past the keeper. Fulbourn had a chance that they fluffed badly on 5 minutes after the Ely defence slipped up, but for the rest of the first half hour it was all Ely. On 8 minutes the goalkeeper flapped at a chance and Ely could have easily been 2-0 up and they also hit the post on 18 and 20 minutes. However, Fulbourn got back in the game and grabbed an equaliser when a cleverly worked corner saw them passing the ball back 30 yards for an on running midfielder to blast the ball into the back of the net. Ely still looked more likely to go into the break with the lead though and again bothered the woodwork on 38 minutes and then on 43 minutes Chadwick was upended in the area and the Robins were rewarded a penalty. Grant Robbins stepped up to take the penalty, but unfortunately rather than the back of Fulbourn's net bulging for the second time, the wooodwork was hit for the fourth time in the half.

The second half started off the second half more brightly than Ely coming close straight from kick off and dominating for the next 10. However, Ely showed some intent on 59 minutes when Kenthoh Gray went on a run through the whole of the Fulbourn team. Nothing came of that move, but Fulbourn then went up the other end to put themselves into the lead for the first time in the game.

After the Fulbourn goal things were quite unsettled and neither team seemed to have much control in midfield, although Ely mixed things up a bit with the introduction of 'the man with no name', well we didn't recognise him and his shirt was completely blank without a sponsor or even a number. Whoever he was he did seem to gain control of the midfield and Ely perhaps could have equalised on 72 minutes if Grant Robbins hadn't stumbled over the ball. Amends were made a couple of minutes later when the mystery substitute crossed brilliantly to Robbins who finally got his name on the score sheet.

Robbins had a chance to make a double ammends on 82 minutes and send us home on time, but again he hit the crossbar. The last 10 minutes were played out without many chances and the game went into extra time.

The first 10 minutes of extra time looked like we would be going home after penalties, but then Fulbourn took the lead and it was curtains for Ely. The second half of extra time saw Fulbourn add 2 more goals to their tally to finish the game as 5-2 winners.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ely City v Wisbech Town, more great football but still no win

Last night Ely took on Wisbech in a Cambridgeshire Derby at the Unwin.

Ely were further down on numbers with yet more injuries and suspensions, so much so there was only one outfield player on the bench. Wisbech on the other hand had players on the bench that would have started in most teams in the Eastern Counties League. Furthermore, Wisbech have had a good start to the season, although it has to be stated that most of the good results they gained came from home games at their new ground, which has a bit of a hostile atmosphere or so I here.

Despite the lack of available players and the supposed quality of the opposition Ely got off to a great start with Andy Pettit heading the Robins ahead on 3 minuites. This set the scene for most of the first half with Ely playing a nice passing game with the ball on the floor and also creating numerous chances. In fact Ely could have easily been 2-0 up at half time when Andy Pettit hit the crossbar on 35 minutes. Wisbech's first real chance came 2 minutes later, but they didn't manage to get a shot in when Chris Strecki managed to steal the ball from the attacker at the last minute. Unfortunately though a mad 10 minutes followed which started with Robbie Mason getting booked after completely losing his rag and culminated with Wisbech getting an equaliser on 43 minutes. You just have to wonder if things would have finished differently if Ely had managed to hold the lead going into half time.

The second half didn't start off so well for Ely with a Wisbech dorward skipping through the defence before skillfully planting the ball in the back of the net just 4 minutes after the restart. Ely weren't finished yet though and on 49 minutes they came close to an equaliser on 51 minutes Robbie Mason came close and a few seconds later he came close with a rocket of a shot that bounced over the unfortunate Wisbech keeper into the back of the net to make the score 2-2.

However there was still three quarters of an hour left on the clock and with half an hour left Wisbech made it look all too easy to beat the Ely defence and the Fenmen were 3-2 up. Wisbech could have gone further ahead on 71 minutes when a brilliant move went just over the bar. Not that Ely didn't have chances either Andy Pettit was judged to be offside on 74 minutes in a move that would have probably led to a goal and on 76 minutes Robbie Mason again had a blaster that looked like it was going in.

That was to be Ely's last chance though and the last 10 minutes or so saw the referee go a bit mad shall we say. First on 82 minutes Strecki was sent off for a challenge which at worse was a booking and a couple of minutes later he gave Wisbech a free kick on the edge of the box after one of the best dives seen outside the Premier League. However, nothing came of that and the game finished 3-2 to Wisbech. You also have to wonder if the referee had been sent mad from all the arguing of the Ely players. It can't really do them any favours and the lack of empathy and or sympathy of referees that we see at the Unwin is probably connected with the lack of respect taht they tend to get. Maybe I should just shut up though and not be so judgemental.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No goals at the Unwin

It's really rare to see a 0-0 at the Unwin, in fact the last 0-0 I can remember was not at the Unwin, but an away game to Newmarket at the start of last season, though I might be wrong.

Ely had a makeshift defence due to injuries, illness and suspensions and they were up against Kirkley & Pakefield who going into the match were top of the league with a goal difference that suggested they had a decent forward line and a decent defence.

However, it was Ely who had much of the early play and they nearly went ahead on 5 minutes when Robbie Mason hit the post and they also had a decent chance 5 minutes later when there were a few chances for players in the box to make contact with the ball, but it somehow went past everyone.

The best chance K&P had in the first half was on 29 minutes when one of the forwards was clear through on goal, but Adam Dalby forced the plater to go wide. The reason that this was the only real chance the visitors had during this half was probably testimony to how well the 2 Adams, Dalby and Wallace were able to clear the ball and the way in which the defence as a whole was more organised than usual, despite the fact that they weren't used to playing with each other.

The second half wasn't all that exciting as both teams cancelled each other out. And if I could be bothered to navigate the Kirkley & Pakefield website I think I might find that most of their goals came at home (and probably against Histon Reserves ! :)) and that they play a more cotaining game away. They seemed to be limited to trying to hit Ely on the break, and they came close on 72 minutes, but Lee Pacey saved. In defence they seemed to be effective on at hustling Ely off the ball. Anyway, it finished 0-0 which was probably a fair and not too disappointing result.