Monday, October 28, 2013

Heroes & Villains November 2013

On Saturday I picked up a copy of 'Heroes & Villains'. The cover shows the image of Andi Weimann when he scored the opportune winner against Man City and ran to the Holte End before the ball had even reached the back of the net.

Funnily enough, you can't tell if the mood of the fanzine is optimistic or pessimistic. After a fantastic home win against Man City, came a draw against Hull and then an abject defeat to Spurs. No wonder Villa fans are suffering from Schizophrenia.

As well as the usual Blues baiting there are some decent enough articles, some of the highlights are an interesting article on how technology has changed our relationship with football; more on the 'safe standing' campaign that Villa have been the most instrumental in pushing for; an article on when Villa signed a rugby league player in 1912; a look at the reasons for not following England and Di Canio's ill fated reign at Sunderland. There's also some stuff on tactics, philosophy and an interesting look at what might have been if Martin O'Neill hadn't cleared off.

A pretty decent read and not as negative as it sometimes can be.

A few Villa autographs

Sean was lucky enough to get Andi Weimann, Yacouba Sylla, Antonio Luna and Libor Kozak to sign the programme on Saturday. Sylla actually signed twice, going away to get a different pen when ours didn't work. Good lad, but as the song tells us 'he loves the Villa', or words to that effect.

The most played fixture in English football

As well as it being the 150th anniversary of the FA it was also a celebration of the most played football fixture in English football when Villa took on Everton for 215th time. There was the special programme (at the top of the page). Unfortunately, Everton won, so now they are just one behind Villa in the number of wins in the fixture.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Aston Villa 0 Everton 2

Weimann's had a few flat performances lately, but this is just a bit mad. We met the real one outside a few minutes later.

A view of the Holte end.

It's been a quiet October, but yesterday we went to Villa to see the most played fixture in English football, when they took on Everton. It was Sean's birthday game and we were hoping for a win for a change after the last few years had seen Villa draw twice and lose once on this occasion.

The day got off to a good enough start with Sean meeting Andi Weimann (the real one and not the one in the picture), Antonio Luna, Libor Kozak and Yakouba Sylla, which was a bit of a highlight and better than having to make do with the cardboard cut out in the club shop!

The game started off well enough and Villa had a great chance to take the lead in the 6th minute from the penalty spot, but unfortunately Benteke's shot was saved by Tim Howard, who was on fine form. Too good form if the truth be known. Villa had load of chances in the first half and Weimann and Agbonlahor should probably both have scored. Benteke on the other hand still looked injured and why he wasn't subbed at half time is a bit of a mystery. Villa dominated for the first hour of the match, but luck isn't something that Villa have had in recent times and particularly in front of their home fans.

After a really solid performance when they should have had the lead and Everton should have been down to 10 men after a horrific tackle on Westwood, things started to fall apart. On 68 minutes Lukaku had his first chance and put it away, it was a well taken goal from a superb striker, but you have to feel that Lambert was partly to blame. After Luna had limped off the pitch there was a need for a defensive reshuffle and the logical decision would have perhaps been to go 3-4-3. El Ahmadi has been showing great format of late, so it was probably time to introduce him. Another variant may have been to put Ciaran Clark at left back rather than bringing him on and moving him to left back. Clark was introduced, but Baker moved wide. Baker had had Lukaku in his pocket, but was pulled out of position and this allowed Lukaku to pounce.

After this, as is often the case Villa's confidence started to crumble. It wasn't helped by Gabby Agbonlahor putting a decent chance straight into the arms of Tim Howard a couple of minutes later. Then Osman came on for Everton and on 81 minutes he scored a great goal to make it 2-0 and Villa played out a dire final 10 minutes.

The positives to come out of the match were that Guzan was as solid as ever; Bacuna, who was man of the match, and Delph seem to be getting better all the time and Vlaar had a good first half; Tonev was given a rare start and his first touch was brilliant, he seems to have stopped shooting on sight and could be a good buy with more Premiership experience. The negatives were that Benteke is really not fit and should probably have been substituted if he should even have started. Teams seem also to be getting wise to Weimann and Agbonlahor, so it might even be time to try an unfashionable two up front and seeing how Helenius and Kozak get on together.

The result might not have gone our way, but it was a decent enough performance, apart from in front of goal, and as always we had a good laugh. The home journey was pretty arduous thanks to an almighty cock up at Stamford by the rail replacement people, but at least we had a laugh with some Villa, Everton and Sheffield United fans, although a 2 and a half hour journey taking 6 hours means we were glad to have an extra hour in bed this morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ely City 1 Foxton 4 - More problems at the Unwin

Ely have had a run of away games over the last 3 weeks, which it would seem is a blessing in disguise because what we witnessed last night was pretty terrible. It was perhaps fortunate that the crowd was lower than usual with England playing Poland in a must win game at the same time, as it meant not many people had to see the game. To be honest, the Cambridgeshire FA had a lot to answer for by refusing to put the games in the Cambs Invitation Cup on the Wednesday rather than on the Wednesday. I was one of the hardcore who turned up though in the hope that Ely could go one step further in winning the trophy 3 times in a row.

Foxton shouldn't have offered too much opposition, playing 2 leagues below the Robins, but league places can sometimes be misleading. The Robins got off to a magnificent start and Diaper put the home team into the lead after just 5 minutes after some tricky wing play from Mendes. As Ely had already had one cleared off the line it looked like they were going to disperse of the opposition in the same way they got rid of Haverhill Borough in the League Cup. Ely continued to pressure and although the final ball was never quite good enough Foxton weren't offering much opposition. Then on 26 minutes things took a turn for the worse.

Foxton were allowed to pass the ball around in Ely's half and a well worked goal let them get back on equal footing. After this Ely's heads dropped and Ely were suddenly defending for their lives, and not especially doing a good job about it. Foxton managed to take the lead before the break though when on 41 minutes Pacey misjudged the ball and Foxton took the lead.

The second half started in the same way that the first half finished and after 2 minutes Foxton were allowed to add to the tally. By now things were starting to fall apart and on 57 minutes when Whitehead was subbed and threw a fit about it and almost had a fight with Coe it just underlined how far the team seem to have fallen this season. It came as no surprise when Foxton scored another to make it 4-1 in stoppage time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Most played bands in September

September 2013 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark
Here's the bands that I listened to the most in September and what weird mix of bands I had on.

1 Reinhard Voigt – In aller Freundschaft
A bit of German techno always goes down well especially from the Kompact label

2 Бумбокс – Хвилюватися немає причин
More Ukrainian and strangely more reggae than the tune that made the play list last month.

3 Рубль – Я хуярю на гитаре
I didn't even realise I'd listened to these Russian punk rockers that much over the month, but it would appear that I had.

4 The Orwells - Mallrats
It sounds a bit like 60s US Garage meets 90s Subpop, they are American, but they are far too young for any of that.

5 Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5
Were part of the Madchester scene, but looking back they sound quite different from the rest of the set, although a lot of bands around that time copied the Hammond organ sound.

6 ESG - Six Pack
Some funky girls from 80s New York, who seem to get lumped in with post-punk, probably because they were on Factory. Great stuff.

7 Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker
I really liked the first album, but then didn't listen to them much. Sean has now decided he likes them, so I've been listening to the other albums recently.

8 65daysofstatic - Weak4
My favourite post rock band. Mogwai are greater, but I prefer the rawer sounds of 65days.

9 Nathan Fake - The Curlew
IDM music from Norfolk's finest techno star.

10 Tijuana Panthers - Crew cut
A bit of contemporary stuff that sounds like the more underground surfer bands of the 60s.

11 Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - Anytime Anyplace Anywhere
A band with a political conscience from a time when people just wanted to rave all night.

12 Times New Viking - Downtown Eastern Bloc
Just listen to them if you haven't before. They are pretty lo-fi, but no other label really works

13 Oregon Bike Trails - High School Lover
Some fairly inoffensive indie pop to finish off the play list with.

Ely City 5 Haverhill Borough 1

So far it's been a season to forget for Ely and more and more players seem to be jumping ship, so the league cup offered a chance to offer a diversion from the rigours of the league and also offered the chance for some of the new players to stake their place in the starting level.

The opposition was Haverhill Borough, who were only formed a couple of years ago and after promotion last year and a good run in the Vase are now sitting at the top of Division 1. It was difficult to know before the game what sort of opposition they would provide for Ely. They had knocked out some fairly decent sides in last year's Vase run, but at the same time the gulf between the Premier and Division 1 of the Eastern Counties League seems to have grown over the last few seasons.

The game got off to a brilliant start with Adam Murray starting up front instead of Central Defence. Striker Richard Chadwick has departed from Newmarket and Darren Coe was available again. Murray has always done well when he has been asked to play up front, so the decision was not a desperate one. The fact that it wasn't a strange decision was underlined when Murray latched on to a long clearance too steer the ball home with a header that was more powerful than a lot of players could have volleyed it. Murray had a second goal on 24 minutes when Austin Diaper and Stuart Walker combined well on the right before Diaper crossed for Murray to make it 2-0. The whole half was dominated by Ely, although on the odd occasion when Haverhill did threaten there were still question marks hanging over the defence that will need to be answered in the league. That said, Ely should have been out of sight by half time after a flurry of chances, the best one being Murray hitting the crossbar on 27 minutes. Murray and Ely though finished the half 2-0 up, but it could have been so much more.

The Robins and Muzza carried on the second half as they had finished the second half. Within two minutes Adam Murray had his hat trick after beating the offside trap and finishing with aplomb. As the game went on Ely grew in confidence and Josh Townsend on the left was particularly impressive and seems like a decent replacement for Luke Parkinson. Lewis MacDonald was also having a good game and stung the keeper's fingers on a couple of occasions. If there was one complaint though Coe and Pacey looked a bit shaky at the back and another club would have punished them.

The positives outweighed the negatives and the Robins hadn't finished. Andre Mendes came on as substitute and scored with his first touch of the game. The shine was taken off his goal a bit though, as the visitors went up the other end and scored from the restart. With five minutes to go though Mendes had his second and had restored Ely's 4 goal lead after hitting a sweet volley after a Sam Parkinson cross.

5-1 is a great result, and let's hope it has given Ely the confidence boost that they needed now that they have a run of tricky away games coming up throughout October.