Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Alvis Tanked By Romping Rouslers
Alvis Sporting 0 Bromsgrove Sporting 4
The battle of the Sportings was so one-sided that visiting goalie Jake Bedford thought he had better fall left to collect Lewis Ludford’s late, tame shot for Alvis, just to display a damp left leg in the dressing-room after the match had ended. Home ‘keeper Jack Hartopp was a good deal busier, making several decent saves and also watching a good number of other Bromsgrove efforts get deflected or simply pass by his goal-frame. Sadly, outplayed though Alvis were, some of the loss of possession by them was surely quite unforgivable and thoughtful skipper Steve Evans was obviously angry with some of his colleagues’ ineptitude. Alvis were only able to name two substitutes, whereas two of Bromsgrove’s replacements, Charlie Wilson and Danny Lennon not only contributed strongly to their team’s victory, but also scored goals. Also on the Rouslers’ bench was usual starter Sam Wills but main striker Chris Conway wasn’t even present, along with skipper Scott Smith. The 0-4 victory should have been even more emphatic and the referee often seemed more lenient with the Alvis tackling than he was with Bromsgrove’s.
|Simon Fitter and Steve Evans toss to see who gets to eat Southam Lee's saveloy...|
Early promise by Bromsgrove saw Sean Brain threaten inside the home penalty-box, following a left-wing centre, then Reece Hewitt was fouled 25 yards out but skipper Simon Fitter lifted his free-kick shot disappointingly and well over the crossbar. Will Tibbetts then ought to have at least got his shot on target, when smart footwork by Aaron Daniels slipped him in at inside-right; Hartopp then lost the ball after sliding at the winger’s feet, allowing Tibbetts to shoot left-footed at an unguarded net from a slight angle but his effort was pulled past the near post. Suddenly though, Tibbetts’ neat through-pass to inside-right let in Daniels and his strength and trickery at an angle on the right, left Alvis central defender Aaron Cheshire floundering on the turf and the forward steadied himself and foxed the motionless Hartopp, side-footing a left-footer to the ‘keeper’s right and into the net. The goalie’s expression looked like that of a stooge whose watch had been removed by a magician’s sleight of hand. This strike caused a Bromsgrove supporter to guffaw loudly and cynically, which seemed to amuse his companions.
|0-1 and Daniels has struck...|
Evans heroically headed two Bromsgrove corners clear then Brain picked up a loose ball in the penalty-area after the solid Lewis Clarke had challenged for a header from a left-wing centre. The speedy forward’s left-footer from 12 yards struck the base of the left upright and Clarke’s spooned rebound effort from even closer was palmed aside by the leaping Hartopp and Alvis survived. Brain was released by Tibbetts at inside-right but his shot was weak to Hartopp then Brain returned the compliment but with Daniels making a run to his right, the winger clipped an 18 yard effort at goal, only for the ball to bounce off the top of the horizontal beam. Clarke passed to Hewitt on the left flank and the strong runner cut across the edge of the penalty-area past two or three poor challenges, only for his well-struck shot to rise over the left side of the crossbar, with the laughing-man again bellowing his approval.
|A rugby ball finds its way onto the pitch...|
|Note the beach ball the players have resorted to...|
Bromsgrove right-back Chris Duggan was looking to pass the ball forward at every opportunity, hitting Daniels and Brain frequently, for the Rouslers’ attack lacked height, yet thus far, so little had been seen of Alvis as an attacking outfit, bar a couple of smart long Evans passes and some hopeful running by Ross Knight. However, eventually a Rousler clearance did strike Ludford’s body and rebounded to the yawning Bedford and Ludford was winded, presumably. The laughing man then took exception to the linesman near him, over some ‘shirt-tugging’ and the official took the baiting in good part, even replying smartly, causing more vociferous and disproportionate bellowing from the fellow on the rail. Brain flicked on a header for Daniels to test Hartopp from 20 yards but the effort lacked any pace then Bromsgrove were awarded a free-kick, unusually, right-side, not too far inside the byeline and touchline; Fitter planted the ball on Brain’s head (not a joke) but Hartopp collected the unchallenged 5 yard far post downward header comfortably on his goal-line. Tibbetts was not getting past his marker with any regularity on the Bromsgrove right and despite the huge territorial and creative advantage won by the visitors, they still couldn’t find a second goal.
|Steve Evans looks to get his team going forward. |
For a moment or two...
Daniels moved onto Duggan’s accurate pass and burst past Paolo Razza, who, along with Evans, remains from Alvis’ title-winning team, although Rob Whaling wasn’t present, but Hartopp raced from goal to deny the dangerous Daniels 15 yards out. The break arrived, the evening remained mild, Alvis replaced Knight with Alex Mills in attack and it became very quiet where I stood, for the Rousler fans, including the laughing-man, had congregated at the opposite end of the ground to watch their team’s goals from a closer proximity.
|The bus hasn't arrived yet...|
Straight from the kick-off, Daniels simply ran at the home defence, which they Sportingly allowed him to but after reaching the left byeline, the striker’s pass across goal was slashed high over the crossbar from close range by the supporting Bromsgrove workhorse, Ryan Mahon. Tibbetts, who had been hurt in the opening half, was soon replaced by Danny Lennon and in truth, the substitute looked extremely lively, immediately moving onto a Bedford punt and poking a low shot from the left to Hartopp. He was then pushed in the penalty-box but the referee simply reacted by bending one knee, leaning and pointing an arm, like he was counting out a boxer, something he did with regularity throughout the match. Brain made a smart run into the 18 yard box but Hartopp reached the ball first then a couple of attacks by the visitors involved a good number of passes and controlled possession but to their coaches’ frustration, no end product emerged at all. Finally, Lennon’s persistence fed Hewitt for a run inside from the left but as he looked to shoot, Clarke thumped the ball high over the crossbar from 19 yards.
|View of Bedford...|
Bromsgrove looked creative again but over-played it and lost possession but Alvis were so woeful in their offensive ball-retention that the guests were quick to reclaim the ball. Chris Sockett, having success from left-back, made a surging run to the byeline but his cross was too far for Brain and then a home player took a throw on the far side of the field by raising his back leg like he was gliding on ice: the officials failed to notice. Dexter Robinson replaced Jordan Hiscox for the hosts but Alvis surrendered possession again, Lennon ran at inside-left and although Daniels was free in the middle, the striker understandably shot for goal, only to be denied at the near upright by Hartopp’s right knee. Again Alvis gave away the ball and this time Brain took possession, made good ground, cut inside from the left and drove in a rising shot, which Hartopp saved superbly, turning the ball away to his left for a corner. A short corner was taken, Sockett’s cross was cleared straight to Hewitt and he drove a rising 22 yarder past the helpless Hartopp and high into the right side of the net to increase the Rouslers’ lead.
|0-2 and Hewitt has scored...|
The slight Bromsgrove tension had been released, Clarke was replaced by the more creative Charlie Wilson for the visitors and he was soon to make his mark, moving to the near post to glance a great header from Daniels’ fine left-wing centre goalwards, only for Hartopp to fly left and at full stretch catch the ball stylishly: yes, catch the ball… Soon, the ball fell right from Daniels’ aerial challenge at 20 yards to Brain, who cut inside and shot low from the edge of the penalty-area; Hartopp fell left but failed to hold the shot and there was Wilson, following up alertly, to slide the rebound into the left corner of the net.
|Wilson has added Bromsgrove's third goal...|
Jozsef Jakab replaced the troublesome Daniels, whose pace had been telling, then Lennon cut in from the left-flank but shot at Hartopp, who was covering the near post and then a quick Fitter free-kick freed Lennon on the left side again but again Hartopp blocked the near post shot safely. Brain also cut inside from the left flank, his shot took a slight deflection and the corner was taken short on the right. The Alvis defenders seemed mesmerised by Lennon, who had roved inside and even Hartopp was forlorn as the striker’s shovelled left-footer from 18 yards curled inside the left post to complete the scoring.
And then Bedford dampened his knees, saving a neatly set-up shot by Ludford, albeit one which lacked any pace and it only remained for a Fitter pass to feed Brain on the left-flank, he cut inside again, his shot took a slight deflection again and another corner was won. In the dying seconds, from the resulting flag-kick, Lennon had a shot deflected for yet another corner and the referee kindly put an end to the one-sided encounter. Hewitt, Lennon, Wilson and Brain impressed at times, offensively, for the visitors but Brain was unfortunate not to find the net. Central defenders Fitter and the solid, dependable Craig Jones looked strong and the full-backs were full of running. Alvis were obviously served well by Evans and Hartopp, and Cheshire, who took a nasty knock after the break, gave his all, as did his other defensive colleagues.
It was strange to see Lee from Southam as the barman, eating his bag of chips and eyeing a remarkably juicy-looking saveloy, which was nestling like a potent reptile in the greasy paper. Also it was good to spot other Southam representatives at their own ground, but apart from the Alvis and Bromsgrove contingents, including the very decent Tankman Dave Taylor, I chatted also to the Coventry United guests, but how Alvis could have done with the trio snapped up by United from them on this night: Tommy Maguire, Leon Kelly and Patrick Suffo… Life, eh?
Alvis: Jack Hartopp, Jordan Hiscox, Oli Basham; Steve Evans (Capt), Aaron Cheshire, Paolo Razza; Ellis Layfield, Dean Kimberlin, Ross Knight, Lewis Ludford, Anthony Hatton.
Subs: Dexter Robinson, Alex Mills.
Bromsgrove: Jake Bedford, Chris Duggan, Chris Sockett; Simon Fitter (Capt), Craig Jones, Lewis Clarke; WillTibbetts, Reece Hewitt, Sean Brain, Aaron Daniels, Ryan Mahon.
Subs: Peter Christmas, Sam Wills, Charlie Wilson, Jozsef Jakab, Danny Lennon.
|The Bodging pulls a pint in the Southam clubhouse with Lee...|
|The Bodging gets ready to roll out those bumpy bits @ Banbury Road...|
|The chilly grandstand...|
|Net-view: it's what I do...|
|I like this one...|
|A strong breeze catches the Southam flag...|
|A clubhouse hides there somewhere...|
|"Gimme shelter..." sang Bromsgrove manager Mick 'Smudger' Jagger...|
|Emerging from the gloom...|
|4 Fitter, but he forfeited nothing at all...|
|Alvis: Sporting on the night...|
Sunday, 26 October 2014
Uttoxeter On the Rails, As Sporting Manage Dead-Heat
Uttoxeter Town 1 Bromsgrove Sporting 1
This clash of two in-form teams was memorable for two missed penalties, a somewhat harsh dismissal, goalkeeping errors and excellent saves, a defensive stand that the Romans at Stramshall nearby would have been proud of by the hosts, a rainbow and a pouring forth of Bromsgrove attackers in an attempt to salvage at least one goal. They did so, in added time, bringing a degree of drama to the encounter too. I stood in fine rain for some of the first-half, minus a hat, a reminder that Samuel Johnson once did so in Uttoxeter too, as a penance, for when he was young he had refused to help out at his father’s bookstall in the town’s market. I felt an affinity with him at last, more so than when I was bored to death at school, having to read Boswell’s accounts of Johnson’s life. Uttoxeter also saw the final major surrender of Royalist troops in the Civil War, in 1648 and at the death in this match, Town surrendered to Bromsgrove too and parity was restored.
|Standing on one leg catching flies seems easy @ Uttoxeter...|
The kick-off was unusual, for the Rouslers’ Sam Wills hooked a long ball towards the speedy Aaron Daniels on the left flank, who forced goalie Alex Langridge to race right and head the ball into touch. Surely the earliest in a game that a goalie has ever headed the ball? Neat pressure by the visitors ended with a shot on the turn by Chris Conway from 15 yards, after Reece Hewitt had headed down Will Tibbetts’ right-side centre, but Langridge reacted well on his goal-line and dived low to turn the ball away. A clever free-kick trick by Wills and Tibbetts on the right ended with a melee in the home penalty-box, then a long Simon Fitter clearance found Tibbetts again, who passed inside to Hewitt but the attacker drove a decent opportunity high and wide from 19 yards. Daniels fed Hewitt from a left-wing corner and the resulting low delivery towards the near post nearly caught out the ‘keeper, who was forced to drop and smother the ball for another corner. Another long Fitter clearance caused Town more defensive consternation and it was fortunate that their central defenders, Lee Bagley and Doug Price were in belligerent moods on the day. Wills then blasted a 30 yard volley off target.
|Simon 'Quick' Fitter's humour amuses James Curley but failed to impress the serious officials...|
After another Wills shot flew wide from distance, I remembered that Uttoxeter too had forwards and on their first sortie forward, they scored, although credit for the assist should maybe go to Bromsgrove goalie Jake Bedford, wearing 13 and suffering ill-luck. The fairly aimless cross from the right he moved out to catch was so mundane that I didn’t even switch on the camera to video the incident but striker James Curley ran forward and jumped in front of the goalie as he raised a pair of gloves to make the simple catch. Curley’s nod lobbed the ball into the empty net and with the concession of that goal, Sporting’s ascendancy and confidence began to suffer.
|Head down, Sowter has missed a penalty...|
Matt Redshaw showed neat skills and pace for Town but dropped a centre over the goal-frame but the game could, and should have been over when Liam Sowter fell under a Bromsgrove challenge to earn a penalty, which he took himself. Bedford watched with interest as Sowter lifted a right-footed spot-kick beyond the upper part of the left upright. A bad miss. Conway was then shoved in the back by a home defender and that was the point when Sporting’s general attitude became less than er, sporting. Daniels was caught offside on the left flank and suddenly there was a little hustle and bustle between players, as if someone had been copying someone else’s homework and after the rather staid referee had finished pointing and beckoning, frowning and gesticulating, he cautioned both Langridge and Daniels, before awaiting the presence of Rousler Ryan Mahon, who had been rather vociferous in complaints since the goal had been shipped, and he too was offered a yellow card. No surprise there.
|A little scuffle...|
Wills and Conway combined, before Price was cautioned for the hosts and then Daniels’ bobbling shot bounced past the left stick. A long Price free-kick looked ominous for Bromsgrove again, for their defensive aerial prowess was proving to be poor on the day and Curley’s challenging header saw tall skipper Martin Gadsby rise for the loose ball but nod his attempt too high, beating the flailing Bedford to it, although the Uttoxeter man had already been flagged offside. Not a great Gadsby header… Tibbetts was then dispossessed a couple of times and credit must go to Uttoxeter for their pressing of their opponents and Olly Ritchie at left-back was sticking to his task well against the nippy winger. Fitter’s simple back-pass to Bedford led to a delay in clearing by the shaken goalie and his kick smacked against Redshaw but wide of the goal, fortunately. Bagley was launching himself into tackles like a demon infantryman, ignorant of German machine guns all around him in the trenches of the Somme but when Fitter blocked the path of Curley, 19 yards out, surely a booking was due? Even Fitter seemed abashed but again, Town wasted the free-kick opportunity, for Sowter shot against Hewitt in the Sporting defensive wall. Another fly-kick by Bedford struck an opponent and he was fortunate that the rebound flew away from goal, yet Bromsgrove were finding headed clearances tough to make against Curley, despite the fact that the striker was not a tall guy by any means.
|No surprise to see the combative Ryan Mahon (6) involved in a skirmish...|
Langridge rose to catch a right-side Bromsgrove corner but somehow dropped the ball and in the chaos which followed, Wills was felled by Gadsby, who had launched himself like a wrestler across a ring and the referee had no alternative but to offer Wills a penalty. Wills took it, side-booted a left-footer towards the left upright but Langridge redeemed himself, diving low to his right to make a good save, before Daniels’ rebound effort rose over the goal-frame. Finally, Uttoxeter put together a good offensive move and Kyle Elspin’s run from midfield ended with a neat threaded pass to Curley at inside-right but Bedford dived left superbly to keep out the striker’s accurate drive from 15 yards. Gadsby won a header from a right-wing centre but the effort was wayward and the half ended with a wild Tibbetts shot, which was a long way wide of the target. Bromsgrove had attacked fairly well early on, although Daniels could possibly have been more of a threat in a more central role but Uttoxeter’s excellent pressing work had nullified Tibbetts to an extent and Wills was again performing from very deep and only affected the game intermittently. Conway was unable to beat Bagley aerially but worked hard in attack. Town’s offensive play had been disappointing in truth, although Curley and Redshaw were threats, despite their team’s lack of midfield and wide creativity on the day. Goalkeeper Langridge was holding his own.
Tibbetts was penalised for pulling Bagley back, as he chased a long Fitter pass and even then rolled his weak shot wide but Wills exploded onto a headed clearance, took a touch left and drove a left-footer at goal from 21 yards but Langridge dived well to his left and beat the ball behind for a fruitless corner. Hewitt was too late to challenge home right-back Mark Springall fairly and hurt the defender, yet escaped a deserved caution, before the ensuing Langridge free-kick flew straight to Fitter, 60 yards out but the defender’s hopeful shot drifted a long way wide. A neat interchange between Daniels and Tibbetts ended with the latter’s centre from the left byeline but Conway, unmarked for once beyond the far post could only head the ball into the side-netting, although he claimed a corner. He didn’t get one. Springall was unable to continue and Harry Price replaced him, before Conway’s neat pass led to the more central Daniels rushing towards the 18 yard line, although his hurried shot rolled past the left upright. Out of the blue, Hewitt and Sowter went into a challenge and the Town man was instantly dismissed by the main official, although the decision was oddly emotional for rather a low-key referee.
|Fitter (4) is probably smiling about not receiving a caution...|
|Sowter is dismissed and Fitter asks him: "Have a pee for me..."|
Already on top, Sporting now went for the kill, but their best attempts constantly came to nought. Jack Wilson, who had replaced Chris Sockett at left-back in this game for the Rouslers, then delivered the first of four wasteful deliveries from the left; one went straight to Langridge and the next three, to his own annoyance, drifted over the goal-frame, despite being untroubled by a marker. Jozsef Jakab replaced Conway for the visitors, Langridge collected a low 25 yard effort from Daniels, Chris Duggan’s long shot was deflected by the home defence, then Wills fed Wilson, whose effort flew, as I mentioned earlier, too high. Lewis Clarke and Sean Brain were sent on in place of Wills and Hewitt, although I wondered whether Wills’ left boot deliveries might have been useful from left wingback, for Wilson’s inaccuracy was continuing. Brain, Clarke and Jakab worked the ball to Wilson for another wayward release, a 12 yard Tibbetts shot, following Clarke’s head-on, appeared to strike Jakab’s back and deflect across the goalmouth and then, as the drama increased, Bedford’s punt was mistakenly headed backwards by Gadsby into Jakab’s path at inside-right but from 10 yards, the not-too-cleanly struck volley beat Langridge but was brilliantly hacked away from the goal by the agile Doug Price, with Brain lurking just 2 yards out.
Wilson’s next off-target delivery preceded two home substitutions: Jon Littler for Ritchie and George Marshman for Olly Mellor, then Jakab’s poor centre led to a wild Fitter strike from 35 yards. Still Sporting laboured to score, still Uttoxeter battled to prevent them and Langridge went down to hold onto a 25 yard drive from Fitter well. Brain showed clever feet to cut inside from the left past two defenders but his shot was weak and wide, then Scott Smith glanced a header off-target from a Fitter cross and a Brain shot was deflected for the alert Langridge to fall upon and gather, lying on top of the ball like he’d recovered a fumble from an NFL quarterback. Just when it seemed that Town had weathered the worst of what the Rouslers could rustle up, Mahon fed Daniels to his left and the forward stuttered his step-overs to unsettle Doug Price en route to the left byeline, from whence the ensuing low centre was struck goalwards by Mahon from 6 yards, only for Langridge to block it really well. For once though, the rebound favoured the guests and Mahon bundled the ball into the left corner of the net from a yard or two, after continuing his forceful run. Cue delirious celebrations…
|1-1, but why does Aaron Daniels (foreground) remind me of Darius Vassell so much?|
The game ended immediately after the restart but Uttoxeter had defended so well and had even left two attackers upfield, meaning that Sporting were not able to add even more bodies to the attacking cause but credit must go to Langridge, Doug Price and the bandit-like Bagley for keeping their team alive for so long. I liked their strikers, although I’d like to see more of them but Daniels and Tibbetts for the Rouslers will prove handfuls for most defences at this level. Sporting’s defensive weaknesses aerially were not exploited at all after the interval and it really was a matter of time before Bromsgrove struck. Mahon loved the moment, Langridge jumped up and down like Dennis the Menace in a flap in The Beano and Wills, after his penalty-miss, would surely have breathed a sigh of relief in the dugout…
I drove home via Branston, avoiding the M6 pickle and later enjoyed those Saturday eggs and chips… It’s what I do.
Uttoxeter: Alex Langridge, Mark Springall, Olly Ritchie; Liam Sowter, Doug Price, Lee Bagley; Martin Gadsby (Capt), Kyle Elspin, James Curley, Matt Redshaw, Olly Mellor.
Subs: Jack Holley, George Marshman, Jon Littler, Harry Price, Ross Bould.
Bromsgrove: Jake Bedford, Chris Duggan, Jack Wilson; Simon Fitter, Scott Smith (Capt), Ryan Mahon; Will Tibbetts, Reece Hewitt, Chris Conway, Sam Wills, Aaron Daniels.
Subs: Chris Sockett, Craig Jones, Lewis Clarke, Jozsef Jakab, Sean Brain.
|The Bodging seems unsure about the Uttoxeter weather...|
|I liked the fact that a grandstand was positioned beneath oval-ball posts...|
|Rails from the racecourse, perhaps?|
|No turnstile but instead I wanted to spin the chap round who stood in front of the hut...|
|The Dugouts Through the Net...|
Great name for a pub.
|You can't beat a few trees...|
|Could just see myself of a few years ago, leaving the pavilion in wicket-keeper's kit...|
|Infinity? Nah, only two went in...|
|Smudger sniffs snuff and walks like Mick Jagger...|
|The troops appear from a long way off...|
|The Uttoxeter skipper spots a speck of dust on his left sock...|
|Wills (10) looks like a puppet about to be straightened by strings...|
|Redshaw (10) has his crabbing on the rocks boots on...|
|Goalie Langridge doesn't appear to like the rubber spider one of his team-mates is flashing around...|
|Wills wasn't impressed that Tibbetts had aimed a little high in the warm-up...|
|Clouds of fine rain...|