Sunday, 30 November 2014
Inconsistent Officiating Encumbers Battle of Badger Hill
Holbrook St Michael’s 0-3 Mickleover Royals
|The toss goes ahead as a Saint uses an imaginary telescope but sees no ships...|
The referee of this encounter displayed such inconsistency that one wondered whether he had recently secured a university degree in the fault. One assistant looked on silently and incredulously as yellow cards were, or were not brandished, seemingly with a lack of common sense or authority. Some bad fouls were excused, whilst two innocuous trips by a visiting midfielder led to a pair of cards and a needless dismissal. The official erred badly when awarding a simple throw and later signalled a corner on the left, after the ball had clearly gone well wide of the opposite upright. Players and coaches alike became frustrated and rather angry with the discrepancies, which badly affected the flow of the game. Holbrook, or Hale Broc, Saxon for Badger Hill, was a new ground for me and it was clear that Saints were playing damage-limitation against the Royals, who were fielding eight different starters from their impressive FA Vase win over Willenhall Town last Tuesday evening. The guests won with something to spare, despite their profligate finishing and all three goals were disappointing for Saints to concede. Two scruffy close-rangers and a free-kick which passed through a bunch of people completed the unattractive strikes but the victory was imperative for Royals, although in truth the Saints’ general defending was stout throughout their determined ranks.
|Mickleover kick off...|
The new footballing catchphrase could be heard as the players emerged from a melee of bushes, trees and leaning fencing at The Elaichi Park: “Come on boys, eh?” It’s heard just about everywhere these days. An early throw on the offensive right for Royals led to an overhead kick from the byeline by Davy Hamson, whose work ethic was evident throughout this game but eager colleague Louis Menson headed his good opportunity upward and wayward. Joe Brockley, no doubt feeling very much at home on Badger Hill, drove in a left-flank corner for the visitors, which was punched away by beleaguered home ‘keeper Chris Dodsley, but soon a fine left-wing run by the speedy Idris Kabonga for Saints ended at the byeline, something which was rarely repeated by the hosts, as Royals forced the pace. Home midfielder Rob Inkle escaped punishment for a bad foul on Brockley and Ash Foster’s resulting free-kick crashed into the effective Saints’ defensive wall, before Dodsley reacted well to turn aside a 19 yard effort from Royals’ Kirk Francis, who would probably spend his Saturday evening counting the bruises on his legs.
|High-flyers on Badger Hill...|
Francis was absolutely scythed down by Saints’ aptly named defender Joe Fowler (his full-back partner was Jordan Butcher: surely you couldn’t make this up?) and the frowning Fowler was justly cautioned. Francis hobbled away. Foster managed a weak header wide from an awkward high cross from the powerful Peter Aliguma, who had skewed it with the outside of his right boot from the left flank. Neater passing by Mickleover led to a low Brockley shot being saved easily then following a strong run from defence by Aliguma, the ball was crossed from the right by Menson, Francis got a touch and Hamson’s bobbling effort from an angle on the left struck the outside of the near post, with Dodsley scrambling. Dodsley made a couple of fine catches in traffic but he was beaten when Francis tricked his way to the left byeline after a one-two with Gwinnutt; Francis fed Hamson, who passed inside to Gwinnutt and the midfielder squared the ball for Brockley to shoot from 18 yards. Dodsley might have seen the ball late but he threw himself down to the right and made a fine one-handed save, only for the marauding Menson to flick the ball smartly into the corner of the net from an awkward angle.
|Fowler is cautioned...|
|I asked Menson to smile at the camera if he scored, not to audition for 'Strictly Come Dancing'...|
|Menson applauds the crowd behind the goal: several cars and two people walking their dogs...|
A push by the tall and very physical Saint Adam Kay led to another Foster free-kick, this time from 25 yards being hacked clear by the hosts and then a right-side delivery by Royals’ Hamson saw Menson dive to head the ball from a few yards out but his effort flew sideways as he crashed to the mud and Francis could only fire the rebound into the side-netting from an angle on the right. Aliguma ran a long way to complain that he thought that Menson had been fouled, which was doubtful, but the referee decided that Aliguma would like to witness the yellow card trick instead. A sliced kick by Dodsley led to Menson cleverly beating Fowler and crossing for Francis to head well wide from a standing position 12 yards out, then Kieran Lynch, who showed a fine touch throughout the game for Royals, fastened onto a Saints error, fed Francis but the forward’s low shot was stopped by Dodsley. A trip by Brandon Gwinnutt of Mickleover was surprisingly punished by a booking from the official and then a one-two between Menson and Francis didn’t quite come off, Francis stretched out a foot as the ball was cleared and he too was cautioned, again causing real consternation for an aggrieved Royal.
|Barely a jump between them...|
|Aliguma is cautioned...|
|...so is the shocked Francis...|
|Gwinnutt is also ominously booked...|
Aliguma fed Foster for a shot which Dodsley dropped to save, before Kay barged into Hamson and received a caution, but that challenge too seemed hardly worthy of a yellow card. Menson then threatened on the right side, following Blockley’s pass and drove in a near post shot, which Dodsley blocked with his poised legs but Menson was unable to do anything with the rebound. Half-time was signalled by whistle, not by yellow card, the players trudged back into the shed at the bottom of the garden and the cloudy afternoon began to look a trifle murky. Matt Cole, Kay and home skipper Charlie Holman had defended with real aplomb for the hosts but despite their undoubted dominance, Royals had squandered too many opportunities and had been careless too, preserving hope in the Saints’ ranks.
|West is cautioned now...|
Following the break, Menson, a little frustrated thus far, made a positive run at inside-left but the frustration intensified as his shot passed harmlessly wide of the Saints’ goal. Francis was then crudely floored by the fortunate Fowler, who was not shown a second yellow card, but was merely advised, in the company of his skipper, not to repeat the misdemeanour. This incident should be remembered by the reader, for it has a bearing upon later developments. Menson then nodded a Brockley free-kick past the upper region of the left upright, as Royals continued to dominate but following neat build-up play, the visitors were awarded a free-kick, just outside the penalty-box and some 15 yards from the byeline. Foster managed to clear the undermanned defensive wall with his delivery and the ball somehow sneaked past everybody and entered the Holbrook net. 0-2 and the points were all but safe, even at this stage of the match.
|Royals are home and dry...|
Foster poked a low shot from Ryan Thompson’s right-side centre but a deflection won a corner, which Dodsley failed to claim, under pressure from the leaping Aliguma but Menson, beyond the far stick, could only lash a wasteful shot well wide of that upright. Sensible thinking by Holbrook’s coaching staff led them to replace Fowler with Mitchell Robinson, for they surely realised that one more foul by the right-back could end up in a dismissal. Hamson chased back to tackle an opponent near the half-way line, was hacked to the ground himself but no foul, or warning to the perpetrator were forthcoming, yet the game carried on and Francis set up Menson just 12 yards out for what ought to have been a third Royals goal, only for the winger to hurry a terrible rising shot off target. Hamson scrapped for a right-wing delivery by Thompson and managed to scuffle the ball back for Foster, whose decent 19 yard shot veered just past the right angle of bar and post, as Dodsley threw himself through the air like a circus acrobat.
Mickey Dunn replaced the hard working, if largely ineffective Mike Smith (not the legendary M.J.K. Smith, the famous Warwickshire cricket captain) but immediately a bad foul on Francis, just 23 yards out, brought merely a free-kick, as a Saint escaped a deserved card. Dodsley palmed down Foster’s subsequent drive, as if he was demonstrating an illegal basketball dribble but the ball eluded the lurking Hamson and the hosts breathed again. Royals then squandered another opportunity, following a fine turn towards the right byeline by the impish Hamson, whose centre fell at the near post for the criminally unmarked Francis, who could only lift his difficult shot over the horizontal beam. A Brockley corner bounced off Francis for Dodsley to clutch on the goal-line, like a squirrel grabbing a partially buried peanut, then Saints actually got the ball deep into Royals’ territory, which was a relief for my neck, constantly turned to the right since the interval. Robinson fed Jordan Butcher but his shot rose closer to the top of a huge tree way behind the actual target, than the goal-frame. He failed to hit the tree, also.
Owen Brown had replaced Brockley for the guests, then Matt Savage replaced Hamson and Francis took a break to nurse his ills, for the introduction of Oli Buxton. Richard West replaced the brilliantly named Fenwick Butcher for the hosts, before another thoughtless and wild challenge by Saints led to another free-kick for the guests, 25 yards out, but yet again, the referee failed to issue a warning or a card to the transgressor. Aliguma nudged the ball to Foster and his shot was deflected for a right-wing corner, which the official awarded as a left-wing corner, until he was talked down. Soon afterwards, as Gwinnutt, effectively running the midfield now for the Royals, challenged an opponent, a trip was correctly signalled by the official but then Gwinnutt was dismissed, after receiving a very harsh second yellow card, which even the Saints players must have been aghast at. Good job Jordan Butcher had been replaced then, if this was the level of inconsistency being shown…
|The unhappy Gwinnutt is dismissed...|
Kabonga, rarely seen by this time, took a free-kick shot from 25 yards and he somehow scooped a dreadful shot way too high, to his own anger and frustration, then Aliguma, chaperoning the ball out of play for Mickleover, was shovelled down from behind by home striker Charlie McCormack, who received, er, no card at all. The third Royals goal was unfortunate for Kay, who had escaped further punishment for fouls given away; the ball struck his arm as he attempted to control it, Savage stole possession, ran towards the 18 yard line but fell as he poked a left-foot shot, which bounced off Holman’s foot, then the advancing Dodsley’s boot too, leaving Menson to chase with Robinson and as the pair slid like Quarterbacks getting a first-down, the ball rolled apologetically into the net.
It only remained for Holbrook to push forward again and when Alimuma headed a left-side centre out, West sent a fine angled volley across the face of the visitors’ goal. The referee blew for the game to end, maybe attempted to hide his embarrassment and had probably left the ground before the Holbrook staff had taken the nets down. Can’t blame him, really. Mickleover should have won the game more convincingly but as Chris Dodsley kept reminding his team-mates, until the third goal, they had never been out of the contest. Dodsley, Kay and Holman had done their best but in truth, Kabonga, the one realistic danger, was rarely fed and Royals’ Thompson nullified the threat well. Lynch looked good for the visitors and Simpson held his men steady. Hamson and Francis were dangerous for Mickleover but Foster was prominent in midfield and was always willing to shoot.
|'Keeper Chris Dodsley looks totally fed up...|
I looked at the Holbrook club badge of a knight on a charger but the Royals had convincingly won this joust. I wondered whether one-time owner of the land, Edmund Crouchback would be squirming in his grave at the performance of the officiating Sheriff… Me? Eggs and chips in the faraway hamlet of Shirley in Warwickshire. It’s what I do…
Holbrook St Michael’s: Chris Dodsley, Joe Fowler, Jordan Butcher; Matt Cole, Adam Kay, Charlie Holman (Capt); Mike Smith, Rob Inkle, Charlie McCormack, Fenwick Butcher, Idris Kabonga.
Subs: Mickey Dunn, Mitchell Robinson, John Pearce, Richard West.
Mickleover Royals: Ash Warner, Ryan Thompson, Kieran Lynch; Jordan Simpson (Capt), Peter Aliguma, Joe Brockley; Louis Menson, Brandon Gwinnutt, Davy Hamson, Ash Foster, Kirk Francis.
Subs: Oli Buxton, Matt Savage, Danny Martin, Owen Brown, Jake Pritchard.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
|Saint Bodging of Holbrook and Coxbench takes a back-seat...|
Gods, I'm scared...
|All I can say is that the colour co-ordinates nicely with the accompanying car...|
|Another set of seats for parties of 5 only...|
|Net-view of the facilities...|
|Copse and car-park @ Holbrook St Michael's...|
|Defeat and Dishonour? No, not at all...|
|More really unusual seats, reminding me of sets of broken dentures...|
|AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! More seats...|
|Mickleover's Ash Warner pretends to ride a Blackpool beach donkey in the warm-up...|
|A man wearing a silly hat and one odd sock lurks around a fence @ Holbrook...|
|The players emerge from captivity in Holbrook Safari Park...|
|Holbrook's goalie Dodsley (wearing green) cannot believe that his opposite number could possibly wear mauve, which clashes so horrendously with the Holbrook yellow...|
|Peter Aliguma attempts to extricate a boot from between his buttocks...|
|Hands shaken, the Royals jog off...|
|...but Peter Aliguma (5) sprints joyously, after managing to rescue that boot from his crevice...|
|By the looks of one collapsed leg, it seems that one Saint has fallen asleep in the huddle...|
|With 8 different starters from their FA Vase win against Willenhall, skipper Jordan Simpson asks the players to introduce themselves...|
Thursday, 27 November 2014
|The Bodging checks out the programme...|
Relentless Rouslers Hound Harassed Vics
Borrowash Victoria 0-5 Bromsgrove Sporting
(FA Vase, Round 2, played @ South Normanton)
Marauding Bromsgrove midfielder Ryan Mahon epitomised the demon ‘Harry-ca-nab’, who once hunted the Lickey Hills for wild boar, which he killed with his bare hands. His monstrous hounds, his ‘Rouslers’, with their single hairs just visible on their mist-shrouded heads, did Mahon’s bidding in this encounter, ran amok during the final half-hour of this FA Vase match and basically, tore the Borrowash prey to shreds, leaving the Vics relieved that the scoreline wasn’t even more embarrassing. Already having been denied several times during the first period, Sporting lashed home three goals in four minutes on the hour and even then used two attacking substitutes to demoralise Borrowash further but of course excite and please their astounded and pleased followers, who had braved fog, the M42, the M1 and variable speed limits to get to South Normanton. Vics had been resolute for much of the game, with central defenders Kane Jellyman and Ben Rushby stubborn and stout, whilst goalie Gary Young made some good saves but Sean Brain’s impish attacking saw him snaffle a hat-trick to please his master: the frightening, fiendish and foul Ryan ‘Harry-ca-nab’ Mahon.
An early latch onto a loose ball by home striker Danny Briscoe ended with a hurried 21 yard volley, which flew over the right angle of bar and post but Sporting adhered to the warning, rarely allowing Briscoe to get free again. The central defensive Rousler hounds, alias Smith and Jones, Scott and Craig, were as solid as brick shit-houses for the visitors and ‘keeper Jake Bedford had only a couple of saves to make. Reece Hewitt reached the left byeline for Sporting but trundled his low centre straight to Young, before the goalie turned a low Brain effort wide for a corner. The game was even enough and the contest between Jellyman and Aaron Daniels was becoming keen, critical and callous, but home forward Lee Sutton did hit a long shot, which was deflected for a right-side corner and the flag-kick delivery struck Sutton’s skull before lobbing into Bedford’s gloves under the horizontal bar. Daniels threatened on the left for Bromsgrove but when his miscued cross was turned inside the left post by the lurking Brain, an assistant’s flag signalled an offside decision to nullify the strike.
Another dangerous run on the left by Daniels, past marker Jellyman, led to a fine low centre, which beat the shaken Young, but also the supporting, sliding shoes of Will Tibbetts at the far upright. Once more Daniels ran at the home defence and cut inside from left of centre to power a fine shot from 20 yards, which Young dived left to turn away spectacularly. Brain then pushed a low centre across the penalty-box from the right but Daniels was unable to capitalise, before Vics won a right-side corner and Jellyman slipped in towards the near post, only to turn Dave Moon’s smart corner wide. Home skipper and midfielder Sam Kellogg did so well to turn away a superb deep free-kick by visiting skipper Simon Fitter and Young made a reflex save from the corner, somehow throwing out a glove to stop Smith’s goal-bound header at the far stick. The ensuing melee saw Vics survive, with Brain unable to convert in the chaos.
|Fitter prepares to take a free-kick, whilst Sam Wills practises his 'Tiger Feet' dance routine for the Sporting Christmas party...|
So cool, Sam...
Three Bromsgrove corners brought no reward but from the second of them, hampered and hounded ‘keeper Young simply punched the ball over his goal-frame, like he was a boxer in a fairground attraction. An overlap by Fitter on the Sporting right ended with a hard delivery drifting behind the goal-frame and the interval was signalled by a plaintive whistle. The fog was drifting about aimlessly and with Kellogg on the field of play, with my camera and video function, I actually felt like what Paul Simon once wrote about in a song: “…a Kellogg’s Cornflake, floating in a bowl taking movies…” for the ground was like a bowl at one end and I was floating in damp mist throughout the game. Ah, such is life…
Certainly not enough had been seen of Vics’ left-winger Ryan Baker but skipper Kellogg had been strong, stolid and strapping in midfield, although the home forwards had effectively been stifled by the Bromsgrove defence, with Fitter and left-back Dan Morris looking as accomplished as Smith and Jones. Sam Wills was having a quiet game for the visitors but Hewitt always had that ability to cut inside dangerously from the left, with Tibbetts busy on the opposite flank. Fitter drove way too high from a 25 yard free-kick following a foul on Wills as the second period began, after Bedford had run left to tidy up a long Vics pass, despite the raised and dangling boot of an opponent getting in his way. Tibbetts then fed Fitter for a fine right-flank cross, which Hewitt rose to nod impressively downwards but his header bounced many metres wide of the right upright. A goal was imminent and it was Hewitt who provided it, cutting in from the left flank after Young had fumbled a simple delivery moments before. The wide-man struck a vicious 16 yard drive into the roof of the net, leaving Young helpless as the ball powered into goal.
|'Misty' Hewitt celebrates...|
Immediately, Daniels knocked the ball forward at inside-right and Brain was clear, which was surprising in the murky conditions and the nippy forward lobbed a confident shot over the advancing ‘keeper to offer Sporting comfort in their superiority. No more than a moment later and the lead was 0-3, for Brain made a run through the centre, ignored Daniels on his right but veered left and lost possession, only for Young and a defender to collide and mess up like they were featuring in a Mr Bean episode, which Brain watched and was amused by, before latching onto the loose ball and walking it into the empty net. Three goals ahead, Sporting kept up the pace, thankfully, instead of taking a more lax approach, which kept the game alive for both teams and thus Moon fired a fine 22 yard effort at goal for the hosts, which Bedford dived right for and saved well. Bedford also excelled to get a fist to the ensuing corner in a crowd, before Tibbetts took a rest, Jozsef Jakab replaced him and soon, Hewitt was cutting inside again, only for Young to get a vital touch to a lower curling shot this time and deflect the effort onto his left upright.
|0-2 and Brain has scored...|
|Sean Brain: great evening for him...|
|0-3: Brain again...|
A nasty foul on Fitter led to another free-kick for Sporting but it was Vics who threatened with a low 25 yard drive by replacement Joe Ilston, which Bedford fell left to save and smartly hold onto. Danny Lennon joined the action for Bromsgrove and he was soon to leave his mark on the game but first, following a short Sporting corner, Smith’s downward header allowed Wills to turn well but his 15 yard curling effort passed by the left upright. Fitter’s fine right-side clipped pass to Lennon allowed the replacement to cut inside from the left and he fired a low curling shot past the crestfallen Young and into the right corner of the net. 0-4 and by now, Borrowash probably wanted to go home.
|0-4: game out of reach for the Vics...|
Lennon then passed to Wills, whose shot was stopped by the sprawling Young, only for Jakab to be ruled offside as he tapped home the rebound. Charlie Wilson replaced Wills for the guests, before the final nail was hammered into Borrowash’s evening by Brain, who followed up, after Lennon had broken clear on the left and had seen his angled shot blocked heroically by Young. Brain poked the ball into goal off a defender’s boot near the left post. There was still time for Brain to shoot low at Young and for the ‘keeper to make a fine low diving save to his right from Jakab’s 20 yard free-kick after the striker himself had been fouled.
|Aaron Daniels: deserved a goal...|
The game over, Bromsgrove’s fans were justifiably elated but that period of 4 minutes, when Borrowash caved in had changed the game shockingly, despite the visitors having looked the more likely winners throughout. Decent efforts by Vics’ two Daves, Leigh and Moon, supported the skipper Kellogg well but the offensive side of their game was lacking on the night and so it was that Ryan ‘Harry-ca-nab’ Mahon took the spoils of his Rousler hounds, frowned frumpily, failed to raise more than a grim demonic smile and set off back to the Lickeys.
Me? Raced home to Solihull along a foggy M42 and guzzled a mince-pie. Well, it’s what you do…
|Scenes at the end...|
Borrowash: Gary Young, Dave Leigh, Tom Gillott; Kane Jellyman, Ben Rushby, Dave Moon; Lee Stevenson, Sam Kellogg (Capt), Lee Sutton, Danny Briscoe, Ryan Baker.
Subs: James Rushby, Joe Ilston, Lee Barrow, Matt Pearce, Thom Kellogg.
Bromsgrove: Jake Bedford, Simon Fitter (Capt), Dan Morris; Ryan ‘Harry-ca-nab’ Mahon, Scott Smith, Craig Jones; Will Tibbetts, Reece Hewitt, Aaron Daniels, Sam Wills, Sean Brain.
Subs: Chris Sockett, Chris Duggan, Charlie Wilson, Jozsef Jakab, Danny Lennon.