|Programme cover, including Billy Fagg.|
He wore 11 but surely it should have been Number 6?
CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE 23 VIDEO CLIPS, including the fine goal and Tommy Maguire's superb volley...
Sunday, 29 March 2015
Kobe Kool and the Gang Break Burly Bears…
Paget Rangers 0-1 Coventry United
|Has the coin been lost?|
At Boldmere’s sloping pitch, a diagonal lean from corner-flag to corner-flag, United arrived without left-back Vallance, minus Prinzel, dismissed last week, as well as Blake, who has an injured hand. However, Rob Whaling settled in at left-back and the unique fashion guru Thomas Maguire wore the missing Blake’s 7 shirt… (Blake’s 7?) With sidelined goalie Connor also absent, Jason Fox was his replacement and it was evident from the start that Paget would test their guests to the extreme. Kobe Ntim, afforded a rest by Coventry, was soon called into action as the replacement for Whaling, then Jamie Coleman left the encounter with a nasty cut, received from Henry Mungwira’s boot. Coleman was bleedin’ awful; from the head, I mean. I had been blasting Kool and the Gang’s hits CD in my car en route to Sutton Coldfield and the smiling Ntim reminded me of the band’s smiling leader, Muhammed Bayyan, also known as Robert ‘Kool’ Bell. Ntim was to play an important defensive role for his team, as Pierre Moudime’s fine goal was clung onto by the visitors. The game would be memorable too, for an outrageous and superb volleyed finish by Tommy Maguire over namesake Peter Maguire’s motionless body, but the score was nullified by the erring referee, who blew for a free-kick, TO Coventry… The difference between Maguires Peter and Tommy was of course one of wardrobe and wardrobe malfunction.
|Paget nearly mess up the kick-off...|
Gift Mussa deflected an early Dean Morris shot for a corner to Rangers, as the hosts were keen to ‘Get Down On It’ and the subsequent right-side corner was reached by Josh McPherson’s prodigious leap with Fox stranded but the header dropped onto the roof of the Coventry net. Chris Cox, the United skipper, made a break and the sharp-looking Dan Stokes carried the move on to Brian Ndlovu on the right, only for a dummy, then a strong Paget challenge to lead to a free-kick for the guests. Maguire looked to be confident one to take it, just 20 yards out but Josh O’Grady maybe slipped as he took the shot and the ball was easily blocked by the Rangers wall. A flick-on by Ndlovu saw Maguire, left side, fire a low volley past the near upright from an angled 12 yards, before Paget came very close to opening the scoring. A deep free-kick, I think by strong and effective central defender David Arrowsmith, was back-headed with a twist by the busy Morris, unmarked, and only a good swoop down to his left by Fox, like he was nabbing a hare, allowed him to push the ball away for a corner.
|A Paget player does his Bear impression...|
The flag-kick was cleared by United and the ball went to Paget left-back Craig Gasiewski, who stumbled, fell over, then grabbed hold of the ball to ensure no further calamity. Naturally, he was cautioned. He had certainly got down on it… Martin Hutchcox, who had played the majority of the previous week’s match as a stand-in goalie, launched the free-kick forward but Ndlovu’s header bounced harmlessly across the penalty-box. Coventry left-back Whaling must have felt like he’d been harpooned when his hamstring gave way and with his recent injury history, I’m sure I heard him muttering ‘Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)’, as he was led, heartbroken, from the field by Sarah Evans. Kobe ‘Kool’ Ntim replaced the ailing Whaling but Jamie Coleman moved to the left-back slot, which seemed jinxed…
|Kurt White displays the art of ball-eating...|
|Whaling hobbles to the dugout...|
The referee wails with emotional tears...
Hutchcox cleared a Paget free-kick and it seemed that Ndlovu would break clear over the half-way line but the ball ran away from him and the threat fizzled out like a candle being extinguished in ‘Poldark’. Billy Fagg, the small, fired-up midfield engine in a Paget shirt, fed Kurt White for a 19 yard shot but the striker didn’t connect well enough and Fox gathered easily. White had chatted to me at the reverse fixture inside The Cage and had scored that day, which he had promised to do if he was used as a replacement, just so he could have it videoed. He still has it on his phone, I believe. A couple of left-flank corners came to nought for the visitors then following some better possession by Coventry, Gift Mussa strode through the home midfield, ‘Steppin’ Out’ well and drove a hard shot straight at Peter Maguire, who held on comfortably, although Stokes felt that a pass from Mussa would have seen a more advantageous outcome.
|Coventry's fans: a motley crew...|
A generous free-kick to Paget, who, with Fagg lighting up the creativity of the team and Morris and Craig Evans powerful, like a couple of bouncers outside a Birmingham night-club, were causing some distress to the Coventry defence, led to the ball falling at the feet of slim striker Henry Mungwira, sporting a tuft of chin hair, but in his hurry, Mungwira dragged a poor 8 yard shot across the face of goal from left to right. He looked aghast, like he was watching ‘Ladies’ Night’ at a 1970s disco. Moudime then messed up in defence but his team survived and in truth, Coventry were being pulled about by Mungwira and White, leaving holes too regularly and Fagg was proving an elusive foe. Suddenly, a long ball forward towards Tommy Maguire, left edge of the penalty-box, saw him not only fouled from behind, but also able to swivel and slam a magnificent volley dipping into the far corner of the net, ‘Too Hot’ for his namesake Peter, who stood horrified like James Milner facing Messi. The referee disallowed the goal and awarded Coventry a free-kick. Poor, poor refereeing and when Tommy’s free-kick dropped over the crossbar, the look on the United player’s face said it all: he’d taken it ‘In The Heart’…
A short free-kick on the Coventry right led to Tommy Maguire’s low centre rolling in front of Peter the ‘keeper but no Coventry player moved. Another United free-kick was cleared to O’Grady, not that influential thus far but he was able to cut inside from the right and unleash a great left-footer, which skimmed the crossbar from 22 yards. As the half began to wind down, Moudime defended Fagg really well but following decent passing by the hosts, Mungwira shot low from 21 yards, only for Fox to save falling right, as the ball flew through a forest of legs. Fox was in a little difficulty as Mungwira attempted to retrieve the ball on the right byeline soon afterwards but the officials signalled a goal-kick and Coventry breathed again. Coleman had taken a high boot from Mungwira on the head and was bleeding profusely, yet reappeared for a short while after the break, before being replaced by Patrick Suffo.
The second period exploded into life with a brilliant Coventry goal. O’Grady helped out his defence, as Fagg’s run ended with a tackle. O’Grady fed the willing Moudime on the right-wing, who always appears to be attempting to escape from having to defend at all, but the right-back shoved a decent pass along the touchline to Ndlovu, onside, who simply fed the ball for Moudime to run onto and complete a fine one-two. Moudime out-ran McPherson ‘Straight Ahead’, entered the penalty-box and rasped a fine low drive past the helpless Peter Maguire and into the bottom left corner of the net. ‘Celebration’! and the cue to ‘Let’s Go Dancin’ (Ooh, La, La, La), as Coventry’s fans whooped it up in the grandstand. Me? I’ll ‘Cherish’ that one…
|Hutchcox moves a Madame Tussaud model into position...|
Suffo replaced Coleman and a third left-back was tried. Er, Tommy Maguire… Ntim produced a fine tackle, Morris drove a 23 yard shot but straight at Fox, before Evans was fortunate to escape a caution, after clobbering Ndlovu. The referee was ‘Misled’… Fagg was elusive for the hosts and his team gained a left-wing corner, from which Evans rose and glanced goalwards with a header, but although Fox was beaten, there was old baggy-breeches himself, Tommy Maguire, to nod the ball clear and Arrowsmith’s rebound overhead kick, well struck, flew into the grateful Fox’s arms. A splendid Maguire centre from the left, curling in from the right boot found Cox jumping beyond the far post but the skipper couldn’t quite direct his attempt. Morris then fed Fagg, who cut inside with a neat dribble but saw Fagg end his run with a low shot, wide of the left upright.
|Leon Kelly thinks there's a ball nearby...|
Smart passing by Coventry led to O’Grady’s second shot from distance on the day and again he struck it well but it rose too high from 25 yards. White was replaced for Paget then Maguire made a fine tackle on an opponent to relieve some pressure, before Leon Kelly, ‘Fresh’, replaced Stokes, who looked more lively on the day, possibly having recovered more from the leg injury which has plagued him recently. Ntim then made a wonderfully timed tackle on Mungwira, as the slim striker raced into the penalty-area, left side, Fagg was cautioned for complaints made, then hard-working Bears’ midfielder Tom Howard was replaced by Michael Gordon. The last real opportunity for the hosts came when substitute Sheppard's header fell for Mungwira just 10 yards out but Hutchcox made the best block of the match to keep the Bears out. Gasiewski was replaced for Paget, who wasted a free-kick opportunity by lifting the ball out of play, left side of goal, Mungwira beat Maguire to the right byeline, but crossed behind the goal-frame and Morris was cautioned for arguing, as tempers became a little ragged.
|Tommy 'Left-back' Maguire...|
|Important win for United...|
The game over, Paget can surely look to a strong performance from their powerful midfielders, a decent game by right-back Jacob Barnes and a clever display by Fagg, despite his efforts turning into ashes. Mungwira will have better days in front of goal but Coventry are a challenge to play against. Hutchcox and Ntim were immense in the second period, as was Moudime. Cox worked tirelessly and Mussa was massive. O’Grady and Ndlovu were not prominent but effective at times, yet Ntim was in his element in defence, even smacking one ball away with his left foot… (Yes, Kobe, I saw that…) The fans really like Ntim, who possibly feel ‘Stone Love’ for him… Credit? Surely to the enigma that is Tommy Maguire, for despite his clever moments, despite his brilliant volley, despite his remarkably disciplined left-back performance, there was a ‘No Show’ from his knees…
‘Take It To The Top’ played in my car on the way home, as did ‘Joanna’, which was a bit of a let-down, for she didn’t play. Maybe she will fill in at left-back next week?
Paget Rangers: Peter Maguire (Capt), Jacob Barnes, Craig Gasiewski; Dean Morris, David Arrowsmith, Josh McPherson; Tom Howard, Craig Evans, Henry Mungwira, Kurt White, Billy Fagg.
Subs: Cameron Knight, Dan Cullen, Michael Gorden, Callum Sheppard, Richard Gayle.
Coventry United: Jason Fox, Pierre Moudime, Rob Whaling; Chris Cox (Capt), Martin Hutchcox, Jamie Coleman; Tommy Maguire, Josh O’Grady, Dan Stokes, Gift Mussa, Brian Ndlovu.
Subs: Sean Kavanagh, Kobe Ntim, Patrick Suffo, Jayden Rickhuss, Leon Kelly.
|Fair play to The Bodging but after heading that ball, he fell off the crash barrier.|
He refused treatment from Sarah Evans, the Coventry physio' however...
|Boldmere: a general view...|
|The two covered areas...|
|Coventry warm up at the top of the hill.|
It took Patrick Suffo 25 minutes to get there...
|Paget scuttle about at the bottom of the diagonal slope...|
|Edwin has no idea what his colleague is saying.|
A bit like listening to Paul Lambert, I guess...
|Net view. Great sky...|
|The Fox leaps.|
|Mere St? Surely it's Church Road?|
|Coventry's players practise for their Maypole dance in a few weeks...|
|Surely they're not lined up against the wall and shot?|
|Ah, a bit of history...|
|A fine Sutton Coldfield sky...|
|Edwin is pensive but behind him, surely Suffo isn't STILL talking?|
|United and the Bears...|
|Gasiewski, third left, forgot to have a pee before walking out...|
|Rob is left out of the huddle and begins, er, wailing...|
|Happy now, Mr Whaling?|
Friday, 27 March 2015
Pie In the Sky…
Lilac evening sky silhouetted
A black townscape,
But Bromsgrove’s faltering season,
As far as I could tell,
Seemed reflected in the delicate balance
Between joy and burning in hell,
Of opportunities scorned and then regretted…
Mauve March sky hinted
At a promotion’s
But Sporting’s promising season,
As far as truth could tell,
Seemed afflicted by the acceptance
Of joy turning to hell
And ambitions scorched and thus prevented…
Bromsgrove Sporting’s arrival at Stafford was tinged with disappointment after losing their previous two games and the sky there, with the promise of the church spire and joy, contrasted strongly with the town’s lights, seemingly below the horizon, almost like hell beneath the scene...
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Scurrying Sporting’s Steely Speed Sees Seething Stafford Slump…
Stafford Town 1-3 Bromsgrove Sporting
Bromsgrove began in a hurry. And never stopped. Utilising what appeared to be three centre-backs, with the inclusion of Sam Delaney, and Will Tibbetts seemingly attacking as a free agent, the Rouslers fashioned a number of chances and it was a surprise that only three were taken. Josh McKenzie was the focus of the offense and he weighed in with a brace of goals, Tibbetts deservedly grabbing the other. Home midfielder Grant Winwood, one Winwood who was not part of the Spencer Davis Group, was all meat and beard and he attempted to force some steel, stoutness and scariness into his own team, bellowing lots of things at his colleagues like ‘Keep On Running’ and other orders starting with the ‘f’ word mostly, but he exemplified what he wanted from Stafford: heart and effort. Both goalkeepers made errors, both conceding from them, but on a cold Evans Park evening, the players kept the generally watchable contest rumbling on until the bitter end. Fewer Bromsgrove supporters had made the journey than usual, I am certain, possibly resulting from the team’s two recent, damaging defeats but there was a fresher look about their ‘bare bones’ line-up and although Town battled hard, they were well beaten, in truth.
|Let the activities begin...|
Sporting looked lively from the start but on their first foray forward, Stafford nearly scored. Richard Greaves robbed Rousler Scott Smith, fed Adam Cunningham, whose centre from inside-left looped over Sam Delaney’s head and only a shoulder-charge by Jack Wilson and a brave fall at the feet of home skipper Morgan Hurley by Rousler ‘keeper Jake Bedford saved the day. Almost immediately, the Bromsgrove net-minder prevented nippy Town striker Craig Hulme from scoring at the near post, following a cross by the impressive Greaves, but Hurley was unable to capitalise. Incredibly, Sporting attacked down their left through Wilson, home goalie Chris Marques attempted to deal with the subsequent long pass but missed the flight of the ball and there was McKenzie to finish into a gaping net from an angle and Sporting led.
|0-1: McKenzie has netted for Bromsgrove...|
McKenzie soon did well on the right flank but the move fizzled out, before a Tibbetts free-kick was cleared for a left-wing corner but when the flag-kick was knocked out to him, Jack Wilson fired a shot horribly wide. A free-kick to Stafford was well thought-out though, Hurley deciding not to shoot but feed Nathan Cooper, who had slipped into a channel on his right but the midfielder failed to shoot on target from a promising position.
James Cresswell looked uncomfortable, no doubt hurt, for Town and he was soon replaced by James Price, but his welcome included being forced to watch a silly scuffle, as Sean Brain of Sporting and home left-back Greaves became embroiled in a playground hustle, surrounded by pushing friends and lots of nasty words like “Dolt…”, “Silly fellow…” and “Gosh…” Brain and Greaves were duly cautioned, for the officials simply had to punish a couple of the combatants, of course… The officials were certainly proving unpopular for the home followers, who vented their fury near me, but Bromsgrove attacked soon afterwards and it almost looked as though Tibbetts AND McKenzie kicked the ball goalwards at the same time, a low, trundling effort, which Marques had real trouble in ushering away as he floundered on the turf. Marques conceded a corner on the Sporting right, as he smothered the ball away from Brain, but Scott Smith’s powerful header from the flag-kick was too high.
|A problem on Damson Wood Infants School playground, perhaps...|
Quite remarkably, it was an accurate left-side centre from Greaves, which brought a surprise equaliser for the hosts. Bedford, under no pressure at all, no jumping needed, simply mishandled the cross and fumbled the ball towards the far post, where Cooper lurked to fire a low and simple finish into the gaping net. Bedford was crestfallen, curling up like a hedgehog fearing a fox, inside his 6 yard box. Cooper, however, was rather pleased…
|A whole lotta marking going on...|
|1-1 and Cooper, in the distance has equalised for Stafford...|
It wasn’t long before Wilson made a strong run for Bromsgrove, left of centre and Reece Hewitt’s low drive towards the near post was saved, but spilled by Marques, right into the path of the predatory Tibbetts, who gleefully restored his team’s lead from a central position, a few yards out.
|Looks like an UFO has been sighted...|
|Tibbetts has edged Bromsgrove into a 1-2 lead...|
More Bromsgrove attacking, through Reece Hewitt and Wilson on the left, ended when Brain cut inside and drove wastefully high but Stafford countered when Hulme’s left-wing cross was headed clear by Delaney but only to Cooper who took a 20 yard potshot, which rose well over the visitors’ crossbar. McKenzie, showing strength on the ball, worked a shooting opportunity at inside-right but Marques fell right to shuffle the low effort wide for a left-wing corner, which Tibbetts took short but Brain again wasted the offensive chance by firing well wide of the left upright, with the words of a coach reverberating around the ground, something to the tune of “…playing for the team…” Wilson, beginning to relish the freedom of left wingback, set up Tibbetts for an angled shot inside the penalty-box but Marques did well to block the shot, possibly with a shoulder. At the opposite end, Hurley managed to get to the right byeline but drove his cross straight at Bedford, who was covering his near post.
|Winwood, bearded, one knee, displays the fight...|
After some lax Bromsgrove defending, Hulme powered a good 19 yard shot, which was acrobatically turned over the goal-frame by the leaping Bedford, before a decent pass by Winwood led to a side-foot volley by Cooper, who was unmarked, due to the lack of a usual left-back, which Bedford clutched, falling left, like he wasn’t allowing anybody to have one of his Easter eggs. A promising free-kick position for the guests ended when the ball was played backwards by Wilson and thus possession was duly surrendered. Before the interval, Chris Duggan, the right wingback for Sporting, who had been underused, got across to the left to deny the opposition with a fine challenge and the referee blew his whistle to signal the opening half’s end.
Hulme had always been busy for the hosts and the vociferous, sturdy presence of Winwood had usually been seen and heard, but the busy Tibbetts and the foraging McKenzie in the Bromsgrove attack had proved to be very threatening to the battling home defence. The evening became colder, the sky clearer and Sporting kept up the pace after the break. The second period began with Stafford’s replacement of Hurley by Seth Ellis.
|Josh McKenzie, right, impressed for Bromsgrove much of the time...|
The pattern of play remained the same, with Bromsgrove’s offense rushing at the Town defensive zones like wasps at a jam sandwich and Wilson was proving to be a good outlet on the left, when he ushered himself into those wider positions. He struck a fine delivery from the flank onto the inside of the upper regions of the right post, leaving Marques scurrying, tarrying and worrying but the visitors didn’t have too long to wait before the third and devastating goal went in. It came from a left-flank Hewitt centre, Brain was involved, jumping with Tom Vaughan and the ball ran loose towards the right stick, wrong-footing Price, where the looming presence of McKenzie hovered to smash it into the roof of the net from 3 yards or so, with spectacular venom, over the totally helpless covering and sliding Marques.
|1-3: McKenzie again...|
McKenzie maybe had thoughts of a hat-trick rattling through his brain when he received the ball from a left-wing throw and cut inside, only to sky his attempted cross-shot. A long, unchecked Wilson run ended with a poke past Marques AND the left upright, Brain missed the target again, then fired another shot straight at Marques. Bedford then became involved in a chaotic few seconds, as the hosts attempted to mount some offense of their own. On the ground, like he was rehearsing a mud-wrestling free-for-all on a beach in Marbella, he managed to slither and stop a low centre from the right by Cooper, but lost possession, rolled about, dived and pushed the ball away from the foraging feet of Hulme, then won it back off Smith’s unsuspecting shins and finally held on. Marques, on the other hand, showed a clean pair of hands to catch a delicate, smart left-side centre by Rousler skipper Scott Smith. Chris Conway replaced Brain for Bromsgrove, Wilson was involved again as Hewitt made a run but shot straight at the grateful Marques, then Cooper was replaced for the hosts by Jake Turner.
|Life's hard in the trenches...|
Hulme shot wastefully wide for Town, Ross Dempster replaced the tireless Tibbetts for Sporting, who seemed to have relished his role on the night, before Conway cut inside from the right, saw his angled effort blocked but not held by Marques and Dempster’s close range rebound effort deflected off the ‘keeper for a corner. Danny Ludlow replaced Wilson, who had put in a decent shift for the team but it was the tall and industrious Red, Tom Vaughan who threatened next, with a 26 yard drive and Bedford seemed aware of his earlier handling error, as he demonstratively batted the ball away, falling to his left. Dempster lifted another close-range near post effort too high off a defender, twice, from McKenzie’s work and feed from the right byeline, a Bromsgrove corner was cleared for McKenzie to shoot from 19 yards but Marques’ handling was sound under his crossbar, then the referee brought the match to an end.
After the third Bromsgrove substitution, Stafford attempted to push forward more, to their credit, but in the end, with Conway and Dempster supporting McKenzie and each other well, Bromsgrove finished the stronger of the two outfits. Craig Jones, Delaney and Smith were not too taxed on the night in the Sporting defence and the recent pair of defeats were, to some extent, put to the backs of minds. Stafford looked dangerous a few times early on and whenever Hulme was involved, but were soundly defeated on the night.
I drove back to Solihull via the M6 and became involved in a maddening crawl where two lanes were closed around Junction 6. I am a patient person but one hate of mine involves motorway signs which read: “Workforce In Road…” after attending soccer games. It would surely be more helpful to footy travellers to begin the work at 11pm? Or am I being totally selfish? I don’t care if I am, actually. Anyway, I enjoyed my bowl of Weetabix before bed.
It’s what I do…
Stafford Town: Chris Marques, James Cresswell, Richard Greaves; Andy Dodd, Ben Skelton, Grant Winwood; Morgan Hurley, Nathan Cooper, Adam Cunningham, Craig Hulme, Tom Vaughan.
Subs: James Price, Seth Ellis, Chris Alderson, Jake Turner.
Bromsgrove Sporting: Jake Bedford, Chris Duggan, Jack Wilson; Scott Smith (Capt), Craig Jones, Sam Delaney; Will Tibbetts, Reece Hewitt, Sean Brain, Josh McKenzie, Lewis Clarke.
Subs: Danny Ludlow, Chris Conway, Ross Dempster, Sam Wills.
|The gates open at Evans Park...|
|The first view...|
|The Bodging lounges on the bar, awaiting a Badger beer...|
|Steely mauve Stafford skies...|
|Inspired? Bromsgrove play better when there's a steeple in view...|
|Net-view of the impressive grandstand...|
|The moon, a star and a floodlight pylon...|
I'll win the Turner Prize with this.
|The promise of a mild heaven, or a fiery hell...|
|Ah, to be in Stafford when the nights go cold...|
|The Rouslers emerge...|
|...as do The Reds...|
Whatever turns them on...