Sunday, January 26, 2014

King's Lynn 3 Ilkeston 1

Yesterday we went to the Walks to watch King's Lynn take on Ilkeston in the premier division of the Northern Premier. At the start of the game Lynn were in 5th place and Ilkeston were in 15th, so on paper it looked like the Linnets should bag a home victory. It didn't quite look like it was going to work out like that.

Ilkeston were quite a physical side, but they were also very well organised and in the first half they were able to extinguish fairly easily any chances that Lynn created, meanwhile the visitors looked quite dangerous on the counter attack, but also didn't look like breaking down the Lynn defence despite some decent wing play. Therefore both teams went in at half time on level terms.

The second half was delayed due to a monstrous storm, but after a few minutes we were back under way, although the pitch in places didn't look playable. The conditions seemed to suit Ilkeston more than King's Lynn and on 62 minutes Tyrell Waite hit them on the break to put Ilkeston in the lead and it looked like there was no way back for Lynn. Then Charley Sanders came off the bench and helped turn things round for the hosts. On 87 minutes he got the equaliser after being set up by Ryan Fryatt. 2 minutes later Fryatt and Sanders combined again with what looked like a last minute winner when they swapped roles and Fryatt drove the ball home. However in stoppage time there was still time for Lynn to put the icing on the cake when Ilkeston paid for a reckless challenge in the box and Ron Duffy stepped up to make it 3-1.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ely City 2 Felixstowe & Walton 3

On Saturday, it was back to the Unwin after a few weeks off watching Ely City. The opponents were Felixstowe & Walton, who have been a solid mid-table team in the league since I have been following Eastern Counties football. At the moment though they are riding high in 5th place and with a couple of key signings from Needham Market, it's probably going to be one of their best seasons. On the other hand, I've already documented Ely's short comings this season and the players that they have brought into the first team look like they are there to be utilised in Division 1, if as seems to be likely, the Robins are relegated.

Ely started the brighter of the two teams and in the opening encounters Claydon came close to giving the side the lead on 6 minutes and an impressive volley by Diaper on 21 minutes was unlucky not to find the target. Bad luck is really following Ely around lately though and inevitably Felixstowe took the lead on 27 minutes. This came just after Ely were denied a gilt-edged penalty when Claydon was brought down in the box, but the referee was George Sprague, who doesn't seem to like Ely at the best of times. Ely also had another decent penalty shout before the half ended, but again Sprague wasn't interested. On 40 minutes Felixstowe crossed the ball optimistically into the box and the ball alluded everyone and ended up in the back of the net. The bad luck just keeps coming.

It's a credit to the team that after going 2-0 down they came out in the second half firing on all cylinders and on 49 minutes they got their just reward when Adam Murray fired home a header. As always though every silver lining has a cloud when it comes to Ely this season and just 4 minutes later Pacey made a mess of a back pass, failed to clear it and it was 3-1 to the Seasiders. It was a shame as Ely were playing better football now and kept the pressure on their opponents. They finally pulled one back on 78 minutes when Claydon scored (we think he got the last touch) after a goal line scramble. Unfortunately, it was too late for an equaliser though and although Ely threw the kitchen sink at it for the last 10 minutes, time ran out and the visitors went back home with the 3 points.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A few photos from Thetford v Walsham

The team sheet

The teams line up

Walsham on the attack

Thetford Town 1 Walsham le Willows 2

After spending most of the week in luxury in a warm hotel in Malta, it was back to earth with a bump on Saturday. I had acclimatised after having spent the morning seeing Ely Crusaders beat Soham United 3-1. My original plan had been to follow this up with a trip to King's Lynn to see them take on Buxton who I used to follow many years ago. However, the trains fought against me and I decided to spend my afternoon at another muddy field and see Thetford take on Walsham le Willows.

Thetford, like Ely, find themselves at the wrong end of the Eastern Counties League table this season, while Walsham are in one of those league places where they don't have to worry about ground upgrades for promotion or being relegated.

Thetford were clearly up for the battle though and in the 3rd minute took the lead when a cross / strike from the left by Steve Harley caught out Duncan McNally in the Walsham goal and ended up in the back of the net. It looked from then on that McNally might struggle a bit and for the first 25 minutes Thetford were on the attack and looked like they might extend their lead. Walsham also created chances, but none that seemed to trouble keeper Scott Cruikshank. Then Walsham did turn the screw a bit, but were unable to score. Thetford also looked to score again with some great moves from Tom Bryant causing them all sorts of troubles and McNally looking short of confidence. The first half carried on in this vain until the 42 minute when an injury to Thetford forward Luke Catchpole, which luckily doesn't seem that serious led to all sorts of confusion.

After a period of about 10 minutes the ref took the players off the pitch and declared it half time. When they had finally sorted out the problem they played the last few minutes of the first half and then started the second half by just swapping ends. It was odd to say the least, but as Thetford ended up playing in an old Ely strip last week, as they had forgotten their away kit, it seems like odd anecdotes of the type Baker and Kelly are fond of follow them around at the moment.

Walsham clearly meant business in the second half and on 49 minutes Cruikshank pulled off a brilliant save to deny the visitors. At the other end 3 minutes later Nathan Birch denied Walsham by clearing off the line. It wasn't all Walsham though as Matt Dixon also came close for Thetford. It wasn't to be for Thetford though, as on 61 minutes Jack Brame got the goal over the line for the Willows after a goalmouth scramble. Both players went searching for the win, but on 86 minutes Paul Musgrove hit the winner for Walsham. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at it, McNally stepped up on his dodgy performance and Thetford unluckily went away from the game with zero points.

I think that Thetford can take some positives from the performance though. They played well and seemed to have more about them than the teams that are in trouble at the bottom of the division with them. They should be fine, but football is a cruel game.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Carrow Road a different view

Last time we were in the Aviva Community Stand. For the game against Fulham we were opposite in the Barclay. Here are a few photos from way before the game kicked off.

Norwich v Fulham programme and ticket

Norwich City 1 Fulham 1

After 5 years of being in East Anglia and never making the trip to Carrow Road, mainly due to ticket availability and prices I have now been there twice in the last month. The FA Cup offered us the chance to snap up cheap tickets and meant that we would be able to make it to a game at a time of year when the local clubs struggle to get anything put on. The opponents were Fulham and although both teams rang the changes for a game that both probably could have done without there was still a lot of quality on show.

The game started off promising enough with the Canaries peppering the Fulham goal with Martin Olsson and David Fox causing Fulham all sorts of problems on the wing, especially the hapless Zverotic who was getting in all sorts of problems. Elmander and Josh Murphy, on his full debut for the club, came close but Norwich weren't causing enough problems in the box. Record signing Ricky Van Wolfswinkel was back in the team after a 3 month lay off and the Canaries will be hoping that he improves his match fitness and bravery in front of goal. You can't help but think that Norwich would have put the match to bed earlier if Hooper had started or if Grant Holt had still been at Norwich. That said David Stockdale in goals for the visitors also played his part in the game and helped keep Norwich at bay. Inevitably, Fulham caught Norwich on the counter attack and a player that I along with the Norwich fans don't like - Darren Bent - scored with a header after a mistake by Mark Bunn in goals for the Canaries. Norwich still had the wind in their sails and continued to press and Van Wolfswinkel was kept out by Stockdale and Josh Murphy fired just wide before Robert Snodgrass scored an equaliser with a tap in, in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

The first half had been pulsating at times and the second half was going to find it hard to live up to the pace and energy shown in the first half. It didn't live up to it and was played at a more pedestrian pace. Fulham seemed wise to Norwich's wing trickery and and let them come at them while defending the box. Stockdale was also impressive and his save from Van Wolfswinkel on 67 minutes was one of the best saves I have seen live. Fulham were just having to rely on sporadic counter attacks. The game was crying out for the introduction of Gary Hooper, but he didn't come on and the game finished 1-1.

Neither teams probably wanted this game and both of them will want a replay even less, but that's what they have got. Both teams can take heart tough from some good performances by young players; Josh Murphy and David Fox for Norwich and Ange-Freddy Plumain for Fulham.