Newsletter No 20 by Bill Scholes
22:10 09 Jan 13
Saturday 5th January 2013
All those New Year resolutions – to be able to start playing football again – must have worked as we had virtually a full programme for the first Saturday of the New Year. Not surprisingly a number of pitches were still dampish, and a number of players were fairly rusty and still full of Christmas pud, but Eric Harrison was heard to utter a huge sigh of relief…..or was that indigestion?
There were four hat tricks to celebrate the new year, and the prize for the first to be completed went to Anthony Anstead of St. Margaretsbury who just edged out Tom Brindley of Hale Leys Utd by a couple of minutes. Another few minutes behind these two was Jimmy Armstrong of Kings Langley and he was followed by James Ewington of Harpenden Town.
With second placed Aylesbury Utd being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Leverstock Green, leaders Dunstable Town extended their lead at the top to 9 points after they enjoyed, eventually, a 5-0 home win over Hillingdon Boro. The visitors put up spirited resistance in the first half, restricting Dunstable to just a single goal scored a couple of minutes before half time by Tony Burnett, but the second period saw the home side in control as Mark Leach, Nathan Frater, Newman Carney and Antony Fontenelle all found the back of the net. The biggest crowd of the day (146) were at Bell Close, but unfortunately they were not treated to a single goal as Leverstock Green put up a battling performance to deny Aylesbury Utd the three points they needed to keep in close contact with the
leaders. Sporting a few ex Leverstock players in their ranks, Aylesbury had by far the bigger number of chances in the game, but they were left frustrated at the end thanks to excellent goalkeeping, dogged defending and a bit of good fortune for the Greens. St. Margaretsbury’s excellent run of form continues as they walloped bottom club London Tigers 6-1 to remain in third place, separated from the Ducks only on goal difference. Anthony Anstead led the way for the Bury with a hat trick, Leigh Rose scored twice and Steve Barker added the final goal right at the death. Terence Cariba had briefly given the Tigers hope with his goal just before half time. Berkhamsted crashed to a heavy 4-0 defeat against high flying Oxhey Jets in front of the second biggest crowd of the day –by one (117). Apart from the opening 15 minutes or so, the Jets dominated the game and doubles from Lewis Putnam and Steve Brown saw them safely home. Berko finished the game with 10 men after the dismissal of Danny Power. Hatfield Town finally ended a terrible losing run that dating back to October 27 as they recorded an excellent 3-1 win over visitors Ampthill Town. Now under the guidance of former Welwyn Garden City FC man Mickey Nathan, who has taken on the role of caretaker manager following the departure of Mike Hollister, Hatfield fought back after going behind in the 27th minute to a goal from Ampthill’s recent signing Dominic Lawless, and goals from Kingsley Elenya, Matt Hodges and Jason Kayila gave them a morale-boosting victory at The Gosling Stadium. London Colney remain in 5th spot after being held to a 0-0 draw away at Hadley. Two strikes from Billy Healy, bookending the half time break, helped Hanwell Town to a 4-0 win away at Biggleswade Utd. Further goals from Charlie Baverstock and Ricky Pither enabled Hanwell to secure the win which moved them several places up the table and into the top ten for the first time this season. An early strike from Jack Sutherland (was it a shot, was it a cross, no, ‘twas a goal!) gave Tring Athletic the edge at home in their mid table clash with Colney Heath. The pitch was in excellent condition, a testament to the hard work that groundsman Darrell Bodimeade has put in and he deservedly received the Premier Division Groundsman of the Year Award before the game. Injuries, suspensions and non availabilities, coupled with the loss of their manager during the week, meant that it was an unfamiliar Colney side to many, but the young side played well, but lacked that cutting edge up front to finish off some good midfield play. There is no substitute for experience as Athletic’s Tony Field proved when he arrived in the box at the right time to drive home Tring’s second goal just after the hour mark. Encouraged throughout by “old hand” Glen Draper at the back, Colney’s young side can be well pleased with their performance, despite the result. Stotfold’s home game with Hertford Town attracted a large crowd of 116 who witnessed a 1-1 draw – the visitors taking the lead through Mason Todd after half an hour before Kim Forsythe’s equaliser on the hour mark. There is no change at the foot of the table with the bottom three clubs all losing. Holmer Green remains a point above London Tigers despite going down 3-1 away at Harefield Utd. Probably one of the things you don’t want to do when you are battling for survival is to concede early doors, but this is what Holmer managed to do –twice – in the first ten minutes. Mark Sergeant headed the Hares in front after only 3 minutes, and a Dan Fleming free kick doubled their advantage 7 minutes later. Sergeant added his second just before the break, but although Holmer discovered their belief in the second period, they only had Elliot Derby’s goal to show for their efforts. The game between Haringey Borough and AFC Dunstable was postponed.
The race for the top two promotion spots is turning into one of the closest for a good few years, and as we head into the New Year all of the top 7 or 8 clubs still have grounds for feeling optimistic. Once again there is a new name at the top, as Crawley Green moved to the top of the table for the first time after a hard fought 1-0 victory against in form Bedford who had won six of their last 7 games. Crawley dominated the first half and should have had more to show than their 1-0 lead at the break. In the first 25 minutes Nicky Nolan, Peter O’Donnell, Chris Gibson and Stuart Strange all went close for Crawley but their pressure finally told after 28 minutes when Chris Gibson put through Adam Reid who drove the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Crawley failed to build on this goal and went into the break just the one goal to the good. In the second half Bedford raised their game and dominated from the start. Luigi Rocco was a constant threat and after 55 minutes Ian Thorne had an effort tipped over by Dean Bull. After 72 minutes Bedford should have equalized when Chris Johnson collected a cross from Rocco but his effort cannoned off the post. Six minutes later a free kick from Ian Thorne was cleared to safety by Lee Loasby off the cross bar. Crawley responded with a quick break and were denied a good shout for a penalty when Adam Reid was felled in the box. Bedford’s Ashley Kersey had an effort go just wide in the dying minutes but Crawley held on to secure the 3 points. Football returned to Rothamsted Park on Saturday as Harpenden Town showed no signs of rustiness by demolishing ambitious Codicote 5-1. In truth the visitors started the brighter of the teams but the prolific Jimmy Hill opened the scoring with a sharp finish inside the near post. after 20 minutes after which the Town were well on top with the strike force of Hill and James Ewington causing all sorts of problems for the visiting defenders and full back Reece May also joined the action with a speculative shot that just cleared the crossbar. The lead was increased on 35 minutes when Ewington slotted home after a mistake by the visiting defence. The dual strikers where at it again 2 minutes later when a sublime ball from Hill was met by Ewington but the powerful shot only troubled the hedge behind the goal. Bob Fowlers men don’t make it easy for themselves however and after losing possession deep in their own defence a free kick was eventually conceded and duly converted by Adam Furness from the edge of the penalty area on the stroke of half time. The talk over the interval was that the Gosling Stadium team would gain confidence from that strike but no concern should have been shown as straight from the restart the Codicote keeper failed to deal with a Hill cross and Ewington under pressure lobbed the keeper to restore the two goal lead. Town were well on top and a customary Hill free kick was just diverted past the post by the keeper’s fingertips. Further chances fell to both strikers who by now were on fire and Ewington claimed his hat trick with a great finish after good work from Stu Brown. The ball was in the back of the net again moments later but Ben Dawes indirect free kick had not found a touch and was duly disallowed. Substitutions were made and the last of which saw Jack Downes enter the fray and he was to score the goal of the game with a rising drive from outside the penalty area. Emond Protain and Lorenzo Ferrari gave Cockfosters the perfect start in their away game at Buckingham Athletic, setting up a two goal advantage in the first eight minutes. Bilal Butt converted the first of his two successful spot kicks on the half hour mark to give the Reds a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break. Ferrari made it four after 74 minutes with Buckingham's Jonny Cater pegging one back shortly after. But the final word went to Cockfosters as Butt scored his second penalty four minutes from time and Adem Ali made it 6-1 just before the final whistle. Hoddesdon Town lay just two points behind Cockfosters as they kept themselves in contention after beating Amersham Town 2-0 at home. The Lilywhites opened the scoring just after the half hour mark with a Ben Andreos penalty and Gary Simmons struck an excellent free kick to double the lead just before the Jaffa break. Amersham took the game to Hoddesdon in the second half as they strove to get back on terms, but Hoddesdon held firm. Southall remain in 8th place after their 5-2 win away at Welwyn Garden City. The visitors went into a two goal lead through Ibrahim Baah and Luke Baldwin after 15 minutes but Sandu Tiberiu reduced the deficit almost immediately. Then score remained 2-1 until the 60th minute when three goals in four minutes, one from Cristian Bahratt and a double from Denron Daniel, put Southall in total control although Tiberiu’s second in the 90th minute was a late consolation for the Citizens. Cranfield welcomed Kings Langley to Crawley Road, but they were too welcoming as Langley overwhelmed United by 9 goals to 0. The opening minutes were even, although Langley had the better chances, and Dan Green in the home goal made a great early save from Nathan Pooley. A Langley free kick was wasted with the shot sailing high over the home goal. Dave Kane for United had two chances one was saved by Ant Ladyman, and the other went narrowly wide. The deadlock was broken on 33 minutes when United failed to clear the ball on the edge of their penalty area and James Armstrong took full advantage to score. Just before half time, Armstrong scored again when he headed home a cross from Jack Pattison on 40 minutes. The half soon ended with Langley in control. The second half saw United attack and a home effort was deflected just over the Langley crossbar. Two corner kicks for the home team followed in quick succession but did not threaten the Langley goal. Just when United felt that they were getting back into the game, Langley scored again. A through ball found Armstrong and as he tried to evade a lunge by keeper Green he was fouled and a penalty kick was given. Green received a yellow card, which was correct and Armstrong took the penalty himself to score and complete his hat trick on 54 minutes. Another Langley goal soon followed when a great shot by Shaun Owens was parried by Green, only for Liam James to head the rebound into the net on 58 minutes. Goal number five soon followed when Tom Carter headed in a free kick from Pooley on 64 minutes. United then seemed to fall apart as further goals came at regular intervals with Pooley scoring on 77 minutes. Owens then completed a quick double by scoring two cracking goals in the 79th and 85th minutes. The final nail in the United coffin arrived just before full time when substitute Gary Coyle scored from close range on 87 minutes. United were spared a double figure total when a shot from Andy Burneil hit the bar in the last minute of the game. Whilst Cranfield battled for most of the game, they were given a roasting by a good Langley team. Kentish Town did their chances of escaping from the relegation zone no harm after they edged out fellow relegation candidates Winslow Utd 3-2 at home. Two goals from Joe Fox and Tarek Azwai put Town firmly in the driving seat at half time, leaving Winslow Boy in the depths of despair, but he perked up after Claude Seanla and Vinnie Shrieves brought Winslow level with half an hour left. However, despair returned after Sean Flaherty’s penalty just before the end gave Kentish all three points. A goal three minutes into added on time from Brandon Lloyd enabled Wodson Park to come away from Forde Park with a 1-1 draw after hosts Langford had seemed certain to secure all 3 points following James Adams’s goal in the 57th minute. The game between Sun Postal Sports and Chesham Utd Reserves finished all square after neither keeper had recourse to retrieve the ball from their respective nets.
With Aston Clinton involved in cup action, Kent Athletic drew level on points with the leaders after beating Tring Corinthians 2-1 at home. Trevor Gibbs put Tring in front two minutes before the break, only for Adam Currington to equalise immediately before the whistle, but Kent’s winner, from Jason Penman, came with 5 minutes left. Broxbourne Boro (3rd) and Mursley (4th) kept up the pressure at the top as both won their respective matches on their own patch. Broxbourne beat Aylesbury Reserves 3-0 with goals from Jamie Smith, Kieran Smith and Dan Pett, whilst Mursley overwhelmed Caddington 6-2. The home side were six goals to the good 50 minutes after courtesy of a brace from Sam Folland and singles from Liam Gallagher, Ben Brill, Steve Mooney and Andy Cleere, before Caddington woke up and replied with a couple from Gary Canzano and Tom Hawksworth. Risboro Rangers came from behind to emerge 2-1 winners after making the long trip up to Wolverton Town. The hosts scored after 5 minutes, but Risboro battled back, hitting the bar twice without success. Lawrence Clark levelled the scores after 50 minutes and skipper Andy Hird hit the all important winner with 12 minutes left. A rejuvenated Old Bradwell have now taken 10 points from their last 4 games after beating Totternhoe 2-1 away with a Sam O’Neill double. Nathan Miller replied for the home side.
DIVISION TWO CUP - 2nd ROUND
Hale Leys Utd moved into the next round, helped by a hat trick from Tom Brindley, after beating The 61 FC 5-3 at home. The Luton based side took a very early lead through James Potter but Hale Leys bounced back quickly with goals from Brindley and Nathan Graham. They then added another, unfortunately though it was in their own net, but Brindley’s second and one from Carl Moreton put Hale Leys 4-2 up at the break. The second half brought a swift response for The 61 as Paddy Downes reduced the deficit, but Brindley completed his hat trick soon after to restore the shopping side’s supremacy and confirm Hale Leys place in the Semi Final, where they face the short trip to play the holders and local rivals Aston Clinton.
BERKS & BUCKS INTERMEDIATE CUP - 4th ROUND
The SSMFL will have two representatives in the Quarter Finals as both Pitstone & Ivinghoe and Aston Clinton made it through. Pitstone came back from visiting Burnham Reserves with a 3-2 victory, Ashley Higgins scoring a brace and Kieran Dougherty adding the other, whilst a 5th goal from Sam Ward was enough for Aston Clinton to record an excellent victory over their Division One opponents Stony Stratford Town. Their reward is an away tie against South Reading, whilst Pitstone will also have to travel as they visit Frilsham and Yattendon. Both of these clubs are in the Reading League –South Reading are in the Senior Division, which is higher than the Premier Division where Frilsham play!
F.A. COACHING DAY
Thank you very much to all those clubs who replied in the affirmative expressing interest for at least one of their managers/coaches to attend the F.A. Coaching Day at the Beds FA. Over 50 persons have intimated their desire to attend, which is more than enough for us to proceed with the event. Availabilities of both the Regional FA coach and the facilities are currently being examined, and I hope to be in a position to finalise the date in the next week or so.
All news, views etc for inclusion in the Newsletter to Bill Scholes