Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blakey and his magic boots

Yesterday I went to see Thetford play Halstead in Divsion 1 of the Eastern Counties League. Going into the game Thetford had played 8 and won 8 in the league and are also still in the FA Vase having beaten Premier League high-flyers Dereham 3-0 away in the last round. Considering that they have gone on this run without centre forward Matt Blake or winger Bruno Tavares playing much of a role is even more impressive. Both Blake and Tavares were back for the game, but as Halstead themselves had a record in the league of won 5 drawn 2 and lost 1 it didn't look like it was going to be a pushover.

The game started off with both teams appearing to be fairly equal, although Thetford had the best of the early chances. A speculative shot by Bruno Tavares on 7 minutes nearly went in over the keepers head and Matt Blake had the ball in the net on 11 minutes, but was offside. Matt Dixon, who in Blakes absence has scored 7 league goals and 7 cup goals came close 26 minutes and hit the crossbar.

Just 1 minute later Thetford took the lead. As Blake got onto the end of a long pass from Tom Cusack to beat the keeper. What made the goal even more special was that Blakey had a broken stud when he scored and had been about to change his boots before running on to score. As soon as he did score he changed his boots got back up got on the end of a ball through by Tavares and it was 2-0 just before the half hour mark.

On 36 minutes Bruno Tavares ran through the Halstead defence and could have crossed to give Blake a hat-trick, but instead slotted the ball in the bottom corner to give Thetford a comfortable 3-0 lead.

You felt that Halstead might have got back in the game in the second half, but just 3 minutes in and Matt Blake crossed from the right, it looked like the ball had eluded everyone, but Tom Cusack was galloping in from midfield and connected with it to go 4-0 ahead.

Thetford weren't finished yet though as on 63 minutes Blake somehow got the ball in the back of the net to make it 5-0 and to make his personal record for the season so far played 2 scored 5.

That was it as far as the goal scoring went, but in true Eastern Counties League Fashion Thetford continued to try to score. Sean O'Donnell had the ball in the backl of the goal on 79, but was offside. Not a lot happened in the last 10 minutes, but who can blame them for sitting back a bit.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Club Focus - Halstead Town

On Saturday I will hopefully going to see Thetford take on Halstead Town in Division 1 of the Eastern Counties League.

Halstead town at first glance look like they are probably a pretty likeable team, who can't like a team that where quartered shirts like it's still the nineteenth Century? Their record in the Eastern Counties League and the way they lurch from unparalleled success to abject failure also endears them. At the moment they are in one of their boost rather than boom periods. That said I shouldn't get my hopes up too much, as they will perhaps turn out to be an objectionable bunch as teams who wear black and white quite often do!

Halstead were formed in 1879, but due to the relative geographical isolation of the town only played friendlies until they were admitted to the North Essex League in 1894. Their first piece of silverware coming 8 years later when they beat Chingford in the final of the 1902 Essex Junior Cup.

After this early success Halstead flirted with various different local leagues until the end of World War II when they added Town to their name and joined the Essex & Suffolk Border League. During this period they also moved to their Rosemary Lane Ground that they still play at, although in the first season they had no changing rooms and had to change in a local hardware store. They also went on to win division 1 in 1950 and 1952.

In 1958 after promotion to the Premier Division they won the league and the league cup beating Lakenheath 11-4 over two legs in the final. They also went on to win the league in 1969 and 1978 before joining the Essex Senior League in 1980.

In 1988 Halstead joined the newly formed division 1 of the Eastern Counties League. In the first season they finished 2nd and were promoted to the Premier Division. In 1994 they finished runners up in the league and beat Canvey Island 2-0 to claim the Essex Senior Trophy. In 1995 and 1996 they finished top of the league and in 1996 managed the double after beating Fakenham 4-0 in the League Cup Final. They didn't build on this success by applying for promotion and just a few years later in 2001 they were again relegated to the first division. They didn't hang round with rebuilding yet again though as in 2003 they won Division 1 and the Division 1 Cup. It now seemed that Halstead were building momentum again and in 2005 they won the league, but in true Halstead fashion they were relegated again in 2007. They have been in Division 1 since then.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hibernian shirt history

Hibernian at the moment seem intent on bringing out even more shirts than Borussia Dortmund, so it seemed like a good idea to have a look at their history of their shirts.
Recently they brought out a shirt to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their Scottish League Cup Final victory over Dunfermiline.

The shirt appears to be pretty accurate, despite being made by a different manufacturer and the original can be seen below, as worn by Keith Wright scoring in the 2-0 victory over the Pars.

That said it all seems like a bit of a con for the Hi-Bees faithful with them also having a new home and away kit and a third kit. What they need to have a third kit for is anybody's guess, but they have brought out the lilac effort below that was worn in a home game a couple of weeks ago agianst Motherwell. They lost and Motherwell also wore their away kit.

The lilac kit has been advertised by the manufacturers as a homage to yesteryear, but Hibs, who were formed in 1875 first wore a white shirt with a white harp and white and green trousers. The players were responsible for providing their own kit and a cap too.

The team of 1875 grew up in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, which due to its high number of Irish immigrants in the area, hence the harp on the shirt and the club motto of 'Erin Go Bach' (Ireland forever). The first manager of the club was a Father Hannan of the local St.Patrick's church and it was soon decided that any profits from the club would be drilled back into the local, impoverished community. However, the club were banned from having any contact at all with members of the Scottish FA, but Heart of Midlothian broke the embargo by playing them on Christmas Day 1875.

In 1876 Hibs had adopted a green and white hooped shirt and were allowed into the Scottish FA. Hears perhaps regreted their friendly gesture though, as one year later Hibs knocked them out of the Scottish FA Cup and the first of many punch-ups between the clubs broke out.

In 1879 Hibs adopted an all green shirt that would form the basis of the kit until the 1930s although they regular changed the colour of the shorts mainly alternating between white and blue ones.

By 1887 Hibernian were considered one of the elite clubs in Scotland and in that year they won the Scottish FA Cup. This formed the catalyst for 'Hibernian' clubs to be set up by Irish communities across the country. One notable Hibernian club of the period being the Glasgow one, which became Celtic, who were formed by a Father Walfrid. Celtic as they were to become though actually served a few blows to their Edinburgh brothers, as despite being founded on the same altruistic ideology Celtic even then were much more commercial. By the following year Celtic had 'stolen' Hibernian's best players and the Edinburgh club was in meltdown.

In 1891 the lease ran out on their ground so as well as losing players they also lost their ground at the start of the year. In May their manager Father Hannon died and the club wound up. In 1892 the club was back up and running though and in February 1893 the club played their first game at Drum Park, which is on the same site as their Easter Road Ground, a makeshift team losing 3-2 to Clyde. In 1902 they won the Scottish FA Cup and in 1903 they won the League.

Just before the outbreak of World War II the Hi-bees introduced the white sleeves to their green shirts in honour of the Arsenal team of the period.

It seemed to do the trick as the post-war period was the most successful in the history of the club. They won the league in 1948, 51 and 52 and in 1955 became the first British club to take part in the European Champions Cup.

The next piece of silverware after these heady days came in 1972 when they won the league cup wearing this kit.

The 1980s were a lean spell for the Edinburgh club, but after bouncing back Hibs managed to win the League Cup in 1991, were runners up in 1993 and finished 3rd in 1994. In 1998 Hibs were relegated but in 2001 they reached the SFA Cup Final with Alex McLeish's Hibs going down 3-0 to Martin O'Neill's Celtic.

Not much good has happened since then unfortunately. This season the team are wearing the kit below, if they aren't wearing a commemorative shirt that is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Aston Villa legends

A new feature in the Villa programme is where fans choose their team of Aston Villa players from the ages. I also spent many a cold winter night debating this over a bottle of cheap brandy in Kyiv and on the what now seem like prehistoric internet chat sites of a decade or so ago.

After having a decent think of it here is mine.

Goal Keeper: Nigel Spink 361 Villa League appearances (0 League goals)1977 - 1996

Spinky joined Villa from non-league Chelmsford City when he was only 18 years old. He had to wait nearly 5 years until he made his debut though, and what a debut it was. He came off the bench, well legend has it he was actually having a hot dog in the stand to make his Villa debut in the European Cup Final in 1982, which Villa went on to win 1-0 against Bayern Munich, which was thanks in no small part to his goalkeeping prowess.

He went on to become a regular in the Villa team for the best part of 14 years and the poster I had of him on the wall nearly faded out.

After Villa he went on to play for West Brom where at 39 years old he became their oldest goalkeeper ever. I also caught up with him when he was Forest Green manager in a game against Burton Albion. Nowadays he's a gaolkeeping coach at Sunderland.

Right Back: Chris Price 111 (2) 1988 - 1992

Villa have had some decent right backs in the past, but unfortunately I'm too young to remember some of the legends and have therefore opted for Chris Price. He hardly ever missed a game in his 4 years at Villa, which were sandwiched between 2 spells at Blackburn. He was also one of those full backs that loved to get forward, which was a bit more unusual then and unlike a lot of today's full backs who love to get forward he could defend as well. He always gave 100% to the team and he had no hair and we didn't care.

Nowadays he lives in Australia and in January miraculously survived being washed out to sea.

Left Back: Colin Gibson 185 (10) 1978 - 1985

Colin Gibson was a member of the Villa team that won the league in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982. It was a close call between him and Tony Dorigo. Since the days of Gibson and Dorigo the number 3 shirt at Villa seems to have been cursed with Mark Delaney and Freddy Boume suffering from horrendous injuries and Stephen Warnock suffering from the curse of Gerard Houllier. That's not to take anything away from Gibson who had his best years at Villa before going on to play for Man United and Leicester City, where he played under another Villa legend: Brian Little.

Centre Back: Allan Evans 380 (51) 1977-1989

Alan Evans was what is known as an old fashioned centre half in era when defenders were men with feminine hairstyles Evans was a colossus and great leader of the club. He also had a fantastic record from the penalty spot that most people have forgotten about, if goalkeepers got in the way they usually found themselves in the back of the net too.
He was also an ever present on the bedroom wall of my childhood, wore brilliant sweat bands and looked decidedly hungover whenever the Villa News & Record took photos of training sessions.

Centre Back: Paul McGrath 252 (9) 1989 - 1996

Paul McGrath started his professional career at Man United, however the drinking culture that grew up amongst McGrath, Norman Whiteside and Bryan Robson led to Alex Ferguson getting rid of Macca. That's the biggest mistake he made. Despite recurring knee problems and a severe booze problem McGrath at Villa became the best centre half in the world, possibly ever. As well as being an inspiration at Villa until his knees finally gave in and he was put out to pasture at Derby the big man was also inspirational for Ireland in the 1990 and 1994 world cups. Still the hero of Villa fans and still known as God by the Holte End and so good they put him on the stamps in Ireland there was no way he wasn't going to make this team.

Midfielder: Tony Daley 233 (31) 1985 - 1994

Tony Daley used to go down the Villa wing like a torpedo and although maligned by pundits at the time was a player of mercurial if sometimes maverick skills. He won the League Cup with Villa in 1994 and almost scored, hitting the post before Dalian Atkinson drilled home.

The first time I came across TD he was a youth player and collecting money outside the ground for charity. The first time he came to the wider public's attention was probably when he scored a ridiculous bicycle kick for Villa in a 2-0 win against Everton from a cross so good by Chris Price that he celebrated it on his own. I also remember him going on a mazey run in a 6-2 drubbing of Everton where he beat the whole team of Toffees to slot home. Howard Wilkinson's response: 'he should have passed that'!

TD later went on to play for Wolves, but his speed had gone as I told Clint Poppie when I saw him pogoing around a nightclub in a Wolves shirt shortly after his defection. He also ended up at Forest Green with Spinky.

Midfielder: Gordon Cowans 288 (42) 1976 - 1985 and 117 (7) 1988 - 1991

Sid Cowans is a legend to all Villa fans and although he played for several clubs he always remained a favourite of the Holte End. A member of the Championship and European Cup winning team, he returned to Villa after a spell at Bari to help them climb up the table under Graham Taylor in his impressive first spell as manager of the club.

Midfielder: Tony Morley 137 (25)

Tony Morley is yet another member of the team that won the league and the European Cup. He played for several clubs during his career, most notably West Brom. However it was at Villa where his wing play was the most effective. He set up the goal that Peter Withe scored in the European Cup Final and in 1981 won the goal of the season.

Midfielder: Ashley Young 157 (30) 2007 - 2011

OK so Ashley Young is still playing and left the Villa, but we had some good times and he really was part of the Villa revolution under Lerner and O'Neill, which now seems to be ages ago. I wish he was still at Villa, but at the same time I still hope he goes from strength to strength and does well for the national team. Does anybody remember when Messrs Hansen, Shearer and especially Lineker mocked O'Neill for calling him a genius after one especially impressive performance against Everton? Well at least he's making those tools swallow their words.

Forward: Peter Withe 182 (74) 1980 - 1985

He might have played for a myriad of clubs but he was responsible for the greatest moment in Villa's history scoring that goal in Rotterdam in 1982. There was no way he couldn't have made this team. The number of times we have drunkenly tried to relive that moment in replica shirts from the final doesn't bear thinking about.

Forward: Gabby Agbonlahor 2005 -

The only current Villa to make the team. Given a couple of years Petrov, Dunne and Bent might come into consideration, but it's Gabby who has always shown willingness and loyalty to the Villa, has scored some cracking goals and has been willing to play anywhere and be patient when he is out of the team.

Peter Withe's goal in the European Cup Final:

Tony Morley's goal of the season 1980-81

Homage to Tony Daley:

Ashley Young in that game against Everton

Derby Day Blues

On Saturday we went to the big Derby match of the weekend when Villa took on West Brom at Villa Park. All in all we had a good day out, although the result wasn't great and the refereeing from Phil Dowd would have embarrassed a referee at County League level.

Villa started off well enough and dominated the opening exchanges, although N'Zogbia and Hutton quite frankly looked out of their depth even when Villa were fully in control of the game. Villa duly took the lead when Gabby Agbonlahor was fouled in the box (the foul is shown at the top of the page) and Darren Bent popped the penalty away in style to make it 1-0 on 23 minutes.

Villa were looking comfortable, but seemed to lack the creativity of a wide man, whether N'Zogbia really is out of his depth or Mc.Leish and his disregard of the Villa tradition of exciting wing play is the problem only time will tell.

Baggies had felt aggrieved on 19 minutes when Shane Long limped off after a tackle from Alan Hutton, I think he got the ball, but it was a bit reckless and to be honest along with N'Zogbia he seemed like the weakest link as he seemed to panic every time Baggies were on the attack. That said Bannan and Petrov were controlling midfield and Dunne and Collins looked solid enough in defence; Agbonlahor was causing problems to the Baggies defence and Bent despite missing some good chances was at least in the right place.

All that changed though on 36 minutes when Chris Herd was sent off. As I was in the North Stand and it happened at the Holte End we presumed that he had done something diabolical, but as it happened Phil Dowd decided that he would send him off for apparently no reason at all and give the Baggies a penalty. It wasn't enough of a favour for Baggies though, well not yet, as Chris Brunt took probably one of the worst penalties I have ever seen and blasted the ball high and wide. You have to also remember that most weeks I watch Step 5 football at a club with the worst penalty conversions in their league and even some of their bloopers weren't as bad as Brunt's effort.

The sense of shadenfreude wasn't to last though as on 41 minutes Villa's Laurel and Hardy aka Hutton and N'Zogbia clumsily clashed heads. Some good came of it though as Carlos Cuellar replaced Hutton and it was great to see the Spaniard back and he did do a lot better job of being the right back for the remainder of the game. There was more pain to come though when Baggies equalised on the stroke of half time when left back Jonas Olsson, who is rapidly becoming one of my least favourite players out jumped the Villa defence and slotted home an equaliser.

I had thought that Villa if they could have held until half time might have regrouped and manage to battle on, but the equaliser and the sending off meant that it was always going to be hard. Solomen Tchoyi, who replaced the injured Shane Long was looking more effective than the man he had replaced and Shay Given was going to have to be on top form. Luckily Given was, but as the Olsson goal illustrated despite being one of the best shot stoppers in the game he is a bit dodgy on crosses.

The second half got under way and Villa were under the cosh from the off. The sending off meant that they started to bypass midfield and Barry Bannan and Stylian Petrov were clearly feeling the pressure. Tchoyi continued to press and Dunne, Collins and Cuellar, who despite playing really well was lacking match fitness were under constant pressure. Inevitably Baggies scored through a crossed ball to Paul Scharner on 57 minutes.

If Villa were going to get back into the game there was going to need to be a bit of creativity in midfield and a bit of play down the wings, luckily Marc Albrighton was warming up, but unluckily Mc.Leish decided to put Heskey on.

Villa did buck up a bit and Albrighton did come on on 78 minutes and made a difference after Barry Bannan had ran himself into the ground, but playing for the best part of the game with 10 men and Mc.Leish continuing to play without wingers meant that the result went to the Albion. Thanks Phil Dowd for ruining the game and Alex Mc.Leish, the wingless play may have got a result against Wigan, but it can't continue. N'Zogbia and Ireland, who have been so disappointing for Villa might stand a chance if we played to their strengths and why not use Albrighton more?

Photos from Villa V Baggies

Thursday, October 20, 2011

West Bromwich Albion shirt history

On Saturday I'm going to my first Premier League game of the season when Villa take on West Brom in what is the derby game now that the Blues have gone. They might be the local neighbours and Villa's traditional enemy, but it's certainly worth looking at their history.

West Bromwich Albion started off as West Bromwich Strollers when they were formed as a team for the George Salter Spring's Works in 1878. They got the name Strollers allegedly after they walked to Wednesbury to buy a football so that they could play. Their first strip was the rather fetching white shirt with a blue sash and hat a baggy trousers shown below. However, they didn't get their nickname 'The Baggies' from this strip rather it was from when their fans turned up to Villa straight from work wearing the baggy aprons of the metal works that got them the name not long after their inception.

Their next change of kit came in 1881 when they adopted yellow and white quarters and also wore the Staffordshire not as a badge on their shirt.

After this kit they experimented with a number of different colours in their formative years: red and white hoops between 1882 - 1883; chocolate and white the following season and a very unpopular red and blue between 1884-85, its unpopularity coming from the fact that it looked like a comedy team that performed in the Black Country at the time. In 1885 The Baggies finally settled on the navy blue and white stripes they have more or less worn ever since.

The Baggies first major piece of silverware came in 1888 when they were surprise winners in the FA Cup Final where they beat Preston North End. After winning this they had the chance to become the 'World Champions' when they took on Renton of Scotland, however it wasn't to be and the team from North of the border won 4-1. They were also not surprisingly invited to become founder members of the league.

In 1900 Albion moved to the Hawthornes, where they started out life in the kit shown below.

In 1919 Baggies won the League for the first time in their history and what is up to now their last time.

West Brom were relegated in 1927, but they came back in 1931 and also celebrated by beating Birmingham to lift the FA Cup. For the game they wore a special crest on the badge that resembled a deer even though they had had the nickname the Throstles since the early days when they had a pet bird at the club it wasn't for ages that they would have a thrush on the team shirts.

They were back at Wembley in 1935 for the FA Cup Final and again had a special crest designed for the shirt, but this time they lost to 4-2 to Sheffield Wednesday.

Just before World War II West Brom were relegated and during the war years they wore a plain blue shirt as they couldn't get the material for the striped shirts.

In 1954 Albion had a bitter sweet season when they nearly won the double. However, they lost the league to bitter rivals Wolves at the the Hawthornes. A week later they lifted the FA Cup by beating Preston North End 3-2.

The next notable trophy for West Brom came in 1966 when they entered the League Cup for the first time and won the whole competition by beating West Ham over two legs.

West Brom's most famous team since then has probably been the team of Viv Anderson, Cyril Regis and Brendan Batson who between 1978-81 reached the UEFA Cup three times and as well as the home shirt shown below also wore the cult classic yellow and green striped shirt shown.

In 1986 West Brom were relegated and have been more or less a bit of a yo-yo team since. In 2000 the throstle appeared on the shirt for the first time.

The shirt for this season is shown below:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another Tuesday and another cup game

There's a chill back in the air and the nights are drawing in, so it can only mean one thing, yes the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup is back on the fixture list. Maybe it's not one of the most glamorous competitions in the calendar and the fact that it coincides with a drop in the temperature and is usually on the same night as Champions League games means that attendances aren't great it has a special place in my affections. First of all the mixture of the usual step 5 suspects, glorified pub teams and the local 'big' teams means that there is a chance to see other teams, put a decent run together and get to a few away games at grounds you wouldn't normally visit. The first season I was down here Ely put together a decent run taking in a mammoth comedy of errors and number of games against Great Shelford, a fine win away to Soham and an unlucky defeat at Cambridge City. The last two seasons though have been a bit of a disappointment with a dreadful thrashing by CRC in 2009 being followed by a an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Fulbourn Institute in 2010. One thing to note is that all of the recent cup games all of the 5 games that I have mentioned apart from the CRC game went to extra time.

Last night it was Over Sports who Ely needed to overcome to get into the next round. Ely had to and decided to make several changes but the reserves had recently drawn with Over Sports in the County League, so it should have been a routine win for the Robins, but it was cold and it was the cup so everything pointed to the game going over 90 minutes.

The first 20 minutes saw Ely dominating and looking a lot better than the Over Sports and the unusually vocal support seemed to be spurring the team on. Taz Chisonga was finally given his first start and was causing the defence all sorts of problems and Ryan Cotton, who had an undistinguished spell at the club previously after being released by Peterborough and has more recently been at Soham was impressive at right back, which was just as well as Adam Dalby has just left for Sudbury.

Not surprisingly with all the pressure that Ely were exerting Taz put the Robins ahead with a header on 22 minutes. Ely didn't seem happy with this and pushed for a second, but on 31 minutes with their first foray into the Ely box were awarded a penalty, but it missed and Ely went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

The second half promised to have more of the same and on 53 minutes Nick Impey went on a fine run beating defender after defender before slotting the ball home for a 2-0 win. He could have and perhaps should have squared the ball to Taz, but there was a hint that Taz was offside. After this Ely seemed to calm down a bit. At the same time they looked in control and capable of hitting Over on the break and Ben Lawrence seemed capable of stopping anything that Over threw at the Ely defence and Lee Pacey in goals looked in danger of freezing. So far so good then, but that was about to change.

On 66 minutes Over scored and all of a sudden were back in the match. Ely, as they usually do decided that attack was the best way of defending their lead and it almost paid off. On 70 minutes a nice bit of ball juggling by Nick Impey resulted in a ferocious shot, but it went just wide and then on 74 minutes Austen Diaper almost forced the ball into the goal with his first touch of the game. When Over did get the ball into Ely's half Ben Lawrence still seemed to be blocking them from getting near Pacey's goal. It was too good to last though and on 84 minutes Over equalised and it looked like we were heading for extra time.

The Ely players were obviously as keen for the game not to go into extra time as the fans were though and threw the kitchen sink at getting the job done. And thankfully a blasted shot from David Wilson found the top corner of the goal and Ely were in the next round, we'd seen another 5 goals and it was done in the 90 minutes, well 94 instead of 120.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A home win but less excitement

Ely took on bottom club Wivenhoe Town at the Unwin today and after the high scoring games of late we were hoping to see the Robins bag a few more today.

The first chance of the game fell to Wivenhoe in the 2nd minute, but after that it was pretty much one way traffic with Ely having all the chances the best of the chances falling to Josh Bridgeman, who hit the post on 20 minutes and then came close again after some fantastic play by David Wilson 4 minutes later. Ely seemed to have corner after corner and shot after shot, but the ball didn't seem to want to go in the goal and Austen Diaper rattled the woodwork on 39 minutes when he hit the crossbar, but at half time it was still somehow 0-0.

Wivenhoe started the second half a bit more livelier and had a few chances in the first 10 minutes after the break, but then Ely got back in the game and finally on 62 minutes they got a goal through a Sam Parkinson penalty. Ely continued to dominate after that, but the game finished 1-0 and was a bit flat in comparison to the high octane games of late.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

CRC at the Abbey

Although it might be known locally as the shabby, Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium feels like Wembley when you are watching Step 5 football. Last night Ely City took on CRC at the Abbey in the Eastern Counties League Premier and again there were plenty of goals and unlike in recent seasons they weren't all in Ely's net.

The game started off in the drizzle and the referee seemed likely to be the star of the game after booking Richard Chadwick for diving in an innocuous looking place on the pitch and stopping the game twice as two Ely players were showing the bottom of black shorts under their red shorts, which must have 'clashed' with the black shorts of CRC. And that was about all that happened in the first 25 minutes. During this period CRC put some nice passes together and Ely showed a decent level of commitment and tenacity, but nobody showed any real ability to put a decent shot on target. Then CRC got a penalty out of nowhere, literally out of nowhere as when the player went down the nearest Ely defender seemed to be a yard away from him. CRC converted the penalty and it was 1-0. Nothing much else happened in the first half, although Diaper had a decent enough chance on 35 minutes that just went wide and the Parkinson brothers put some nice moves together on 40 that could have led to a goal, but didn't.

The second half started off a lot more livelier and Ely pushed for an equaliser with Chadders coming close on 56, but they were struggling against the referee who was being easily hoodwinked by some sneaky moves by the CRC team. However on 62 minutes the referee gave another soft penalty, but this time to Ely. Unfortunately, Luke Parkinson's penalty was saved. Ely continued to press though and one minute later David Wilson scored and it was 1-1.

Things started to be moving in Ely's favour and on 67 minutes one CRC player managed to pick up 2 yellow cards in a minute and the team were down to 10 men. One minute later and Chadders was on target for the Robins to put them 2-1 up.

The lead didn't last for long though and on 70 minutes CRC were back in it when a thunderous shot from distance flew into Ely's goal. There was nothing much that Lee Pacey could have done to stop it and it could quite easily be Eastern Counties league goal of the season. Things were to get even better for CRC and worse for Ely when on 77 a CRC forward, who should have been stopped, found his way into the box and was tripped. They were successful from the spot again and it looked like Ely would be going home without any points.

Ely weren't done for and Taz was on for his super sub role while David Wilson was getting more and more into the game after being away for a few weeks and together the pressure they were exerting on CRC paid off on 88 minutes when Impey slotted home to make it 3-3 and salvage a point.

A good performance, but it does raise the question of when are they going to give Taz a start.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another goal fest in Ely

If you have bothered to click on the link below or have already seen the video on Youtube you perhaps don't need to read this report, but hopefully it gives you a better feel for the match from last night when Ely took on Haverhill in what proved to be another match full of goals.

The first 20 minutes were fairly evenly balanced with most of the play being part of a midfield battle. Ely's defence seemed to be able to deal with most of what Haverhill threw at them and Ely seemed to lack a bit of bite with the final threw ball. The two best chances of this period falling to Austen Diaper, who glanced the ball across the goalmouth on 4 minutes and Luke Parkinson who came close with a header on 14.

Ely broke the deadlock on 24 minutes when a brilliant free kick from Adam Dalby on the left was headed in strongly by Adam Murray. This seemed to wake Rovers up a bit and on 31 minutes a bit of a defensive cock up led to the ball finally being headed in and the teams were back on level terms. Ely weren't going to lie down and take it though and Ben Lawrence and his long throws, which had already been a bother to the Haverhill defence, found Austen Diaper in the box and Austen Diaper latched on to the pass to make it 2-1.

Ely continued to be the stronger team for the remaining quarter of an hour of the first half, but the best chance fell to Haverhill when one of their forwards was given the chance of a free header on 39 minutes, but it went just over the bar. Ely definitely need to do something about their vulnerability from aerial attacks and it was to be their undoing again later in the second half.

The second half started off with the Robins in the lead and in the search for more goals. When the half was just 2 minutes old Chadders beat a defender and slotted home in a style we have seen many times before to give Ely a 2 goal cushion and it looked like they might be home and dry, or were they?

As I said the aerial vulnerability was to be Ely's undoing and another free header for Haverhill got them back into the game at 3-2 on 59 minutes.

With half an hour left it looked like Ely had to hang on to what they had or push forward to get another goal. In typical Ely fashion they thankfully decided to gamble on another goal. They had plenty of the play, although for most of the next quarter of an hour the ball was pinging about in midfield and then on 76 minutes Adam Murray was flattened off the ball and Luke Parkinson stepped up to Put the Robins 4-2 up with a strangely straightforward penalty.

It definitely looked like it was game over on 81 minutes when Haverhill had a player sent off for an off the ball incident. It seemed to galvanise Rovers though and on 86 minutes they proved that they also had a long throw specialist when a ball lobbed into the box somehow found its way into Lee Pacey's goal.

Fortunately Rovers ran out of time, even though there were 6 minutes of stoppages. They had a chance to make it 4-4 in time added on, but it could have also finished 5-3 to Ely, but again the score was 4-3, but this time in Ely's favour.

Ely City v Haverhill Rovers highlights