Saturday 26 November 2011

Brakes Overcome City To Go Top

A closely fought 1-0 win over St. Albans City saw Leamington go top of the Evostik Southern Premier League tonight. Admittedly, they are only one point ahead of their nearest rivals and the teams below them have one, two or even three (Oxford City) games in hand. But it is still a good place to be and keeps the Brakes in contention.

A swirling wind at the exposed New Windmill Ground did not make for quality football, although it did die down a bit in the second half and Brakes were able to play the ball on the ground more.

The captain for St.Albans was the highly experienced Paul Furlong, still plying his trade. Quite what he made of the Warwick University cheerleaders who welcomed him and the other players on to the pitch is a matter for speculation.

It was a tight battle in the first half. Brakes showed some real quality in midfield, particularly through Tuohy, but their performance in the final third was often more disappointing.

City had a penalty shout, while St. Albans keeper Nick Jupp made an excellent save from a Stephan Morley free kick.

Half time: Brakes 0, City 0

Brakes keepeer Lee Evans made a brilliant save to keep Brakes in the game as the ball came at him at an angle.

The Bloke Behind Me was insisting that there was a goal in the game, while others were forecasting a dour draw. In the event Leamington were awarded a penalty and Jacob Blyth struck it home.

The St.Albans players were going to ground with increasing frequent, but the healing Spa waters soon revived them. The referee had issued just one yellow card and began to lose control of the game, not helped by a rather poor lino.

Inevitably it all kicked off after City were given a free kick and Jacob Blyth and City charm merchant Ryan Moran were sent off. The absence of Blyth will be a blow to Brakes.

Brakes controlled the final phase well and most of those in the crowd of 511 went home happy.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Battling Brakes overtake City

'You're not very good' chanted Cambridge City fans as their side went 2-1 ahead against Leamington at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon. But by the end of the game they were silenced as Brakes overtook them 4-2.

The visitors went 1-0 ahead through Craig Hammond after three minutes and this one has to be down to Brakes keeper Lee Evans after he hesitated about whether to come for the ball or leave it.

However, Brakes were soon back on equal terms through David Kolodynski after a three touch move that started with a free kick.

I missed Cambridge's second goal as I was about to buy my raffle ticket but it seems that the ball was bobbling about in the area and was not cleared properly and the next thing I saw was the old onion bag, as they call it Statesside, shaking from the impact of the ball.

Brakes missed a golden chance to score from a few yards out, but City keeper and Luton Town product Zac Barrett made a couple of excellent saves, one from a free kick.

In the early part of the game the referee, who was one of those who likes to be his Tesco clubcard the only one he shows, had mislaid his contact lenses and missed handballs and the like, although the lino on the Sheepside also seem to have problems with what was happening immediately in front of him.

Any decision the referee did take, however reasonable, was the subject of constant complaint from Cambridge's lippy captain who performed a similar role when they came last year and eventually the one yellow card of the game was shown.

Brakes equalised through a wonderful effort under the bar from Jamie Hood. They then seemed to take their foot off the pedal as half time approached, seemingly content with levelling the score.

Half time: Brakes 2, Lilywhites 2

Possibly the decisive goal of the game was scored on 47 minutes when a great move led to a goal by Jacob Blyth.

From then on a more confident side played some fluent football, keeping possession well and passing the ball around, often on the ground. Blyth put the game effectively beyond doubt making it 4-2.

Cambridge still showed an ability to threaten and the Brakes keeper made one great save on the ground, being caught by his opponent for his pains.

News came through via our departing pitch announcer of the success of Stourbridge against Plymouth and the impressive progress of AFC Totton to the next round of the FA Cup.

The referee had been given a special Fergie Time watch and managed to find considerable time to add on, but Cambridge were unable to narrow the score.

By leaving Copenhagen early this morning I was able to ensure that the crowd was 631 rather than 629 and the effort I made was more than matched by that of the team. If we keep on playing like this, attendances should improve.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Train spotters or pikeys?

Millwall fans see Charlton fans as train spotters or anoraks, rather like those sad blokes you see at London Bridge taking the numbers of electric trains. However, after a recent discussion on train matters related to Charlton on the Glynne Jones list in which even the Rickster participated, I can see where they are coming from.

What is a bit more puzzling is the Palace designation of us as pikeys. Perhaps it's just further proof that many Glaziers are one sandwich short of a picnic.

The typical Charlton fan probably has a job in IT in London rather than working in the scrap metal trade. Indeed, the median Charlton fan has always been relatively prosperous. In the 1930s and 1950s, many Charlton fans were either skilled manual workers like my father who had served apprenticeships or what were then known as 'clerks' (junior office workers).

Incidentally, when I was on the Gatwick Express recently I noticed that one has a clear view from the train of Selhurst Park. With the Olympics coming up, this is hardly a good 'Welcome to Britain' message and perhaps that side of the train could be fitted with blinds.

On the pikey theme, I was astonished when I arrived at the New Windmill Ground last night to see a large dilapidated caravan parked up opposite the vice-presidents lounge. My first thought was that a member of the travelling community had found a new pitch.

As secretary of the vice-presidents club, I sought out the chairman at half time and it turned out that he had towed it from a farmer's field. Apparently at one time it was used by Ford for displays at shows and other events. The plan is to refurbish it as a corporate hospitality centre.

Well, maybe. But then I remembered the days at Charlton when hospitality was dispensed from Portakabins on the West Stand car park. There was a great pioneering spirit, but I am not sure guests were all that impressed.

Brakes lose on penalties after Charlton last gasp equaliser

Only 204 turned up to the New Windmill Ground last night on a damp evening to see Leamington play Brackley Town in the Red Insure (league) Cup. However, those who did come certainly had an entertaining night.

Talking before the game about Tony Breeden who debuted for Kiddy on Saturday keeping a clean sheet and making one first rate save. Our new keeper looks the business though: I wouldn't blame him for Brackley's two goals.

Billy Turley started in goal for Brackley. He has had a chequered career:
Turley I remember him as keeper at Rushden & Diamonds: he had a very loud voice then.

First he got in trouble for allegedly taking anabolic steroids and then he got a six month ban for recreational use of cocaine. As someone said last night, it was a good job he wasn't a winger as he would be accused of following the white lines. He then resurrected his career at Oxford United.

Just as in the recent league game, there was little to choose between the two sides in the first half, although we were playing the ball on the ground more than we have been and making greater use of the wings.

The main incident in the first half came when the ref blew up and went over to the Brackley bench. I thought for a moment that someone had said something to the lino, but then the ref showed himself the red card. It was a calf muscle strain and a new lino was produced to applause after some delay.

Unfortunately the young lino who took over as ref wouldn't take a decision on anything (apart from anything else it appeared that the ref had forgotten to give him his cards). This cost us dear in extra time when we were denied what I thought were two clear penalty appeals.

Brakes looked sharper when Blyth came on and although Brackley took the lead, we replied with Blyth scoring from a Husbands corner. Brackley then went ahead again with an unstoppable header and I must admit that I was heading towards the corner flag when the appropriately named Charlton scored with a header to make it 2-2.

We had been getting better as the game went on but I think that our best period of play was in the first half of extra time when we really rattled the post twice, the first time from Blyth and then from Morley.

It went to penalties and unfortunately Blyth put his shot over to allow Brackley win 5-3. These things happen in penalty shoot outs. In any case I am not too bothered about exiting the cup. What is encouraging is that we look in good shape for Saturday's more important game against Cambridge City.

If the queues at Heathrow immigration aren't too long when I fly back from Copenhagen I should make it.