Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Notts C 0-2 Bradford City + Teversal 3-1 Birstall Utd

Tuesday 22nd August.

Afternoon – a visit to Highfields on University Boulevard to see a Notts County Xl entertain a Bradford City Xl. This game was not advertised on either of the clubs websites and I have to thank good friend Nigel Prost for the heads up….

Mind you, he did tell me it was a 2:00pm ko and when I arrived at 1:47pm I was informed by Assistant Ref Peter Craggs that they had been playing two minutes – at least I assume that was what the two fingers signified! Apparently the teams had both agreed to kick off 15 minutes early without informing me! 

I initially parked in the Hockey Centre, which is adjacent to the Highfields playing fields. Previously this hasn’t been an issue, as the gates in the railings are usually unlocked – not on this occasion though! I watched the first half like a “chad” peering over a wall, before relocating 100 yards up the road to watch the second half up close and personal.

Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith, Steve Chettle and Magpies’ Chairman Alan Hardy were all present for this friendly game against League One Bradford City. The teams were mostly fringe players apparently, but I was told that quite a few on both sides had played for their respective first teams.

The visitors took the lead in the 38th minute – a cross from the right to the far corner of the penalty area was hammered towards the far post. From my viewpoint it looked as if it was going to fly just past the outside of the post. Notts defender Haydn Hollis must have thought it was going in though but as he stretched to clear the ball, could only manage to divert it over the line. H-T 0-1

Bradford went further ahead 10 minutes into the second half, their no. 10 latching onto a through ball, and racing into the area before slotting past the Pies keeper. The home team never gave up though, and played some very good football without really looking able to penetrate a well drilled City defence. F-T 0-2

Evening - me and Kev were at Teversal FC for an EMCL game that saw the home team welcome Birstall United. Before kick off they had played two and won two. We’d not previously seen Birstall in action so were unsure what to expect.  We spent the game in the company of Richard Lane, the previously mentioned Peter Craggs, Maurice and Paul McFarland. 

Straight from the off the visitors were on the front foot, pressing forward at every opportunity. Teversal seemed a little surprised by this and were almost behind inside the first 5 minutes when a neat corner routine almost caught them out. Instead of flighting the ball into the 6 yard box as per most corners, this time the ball was hit low and hard to the near post where it was met by a diving header. Only quick thinking by home keeper Warren Squires saved the day – the youngster just managing to stretch out a leg and hack the ball off the line. 

The visitors’ early pressure paid off in the 6th minute though - Dan Jelly received the ball on the edge of the box was given plenty of space and time to pick his spot and roll it past Squires. 

Teversal soon recovered from the early goal and began to ask questions of the Birstall defence and with 15 minutes played the scores were level.  Danny Fletcher had the relatively simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net after Elliott Shilliam had misjudged the bounce and mistimed his jump to collect a ball lofted into the area – and could only watch in horror as it fell straight to the grateful feet of the home teams no. 9. Shilliam made some amends three minutes later, saving a well struck James McCamm free-kick. 

Both teams looked very good on the ball, and the game was fairly even as we entered the last five minutes of the first half. Most of Birstall’s attacks had stemmed from the ball being played long, and it was a case of the biter being bit on 40, when Teversal hit a the ball over the top and James McCann reacted quickly to latch onto it before lobbing it over the advancing keeper. 
H-T 2-1

Home skipper Khyle Sargent saw his shot well parried by Shilliam just after the retart, but his team did go further ahead a few seconds later. Evergreen Dave Cockerill blasted the ball goalwards from the corner of the box, and although Shilliam did well to push the fierce drive away, Fletcher was on hand to fire home the loose ball. 

Birtsall tried their best to get back into the game, but the home defence was resilient and soaked up any pressure comfortably enough. Teversal’s margin of victory could have been greater if not for some superb keeping from Shilliam. Although he was arguably responsible for two of the Teversal goals, he did manage to pull off a two or three cracking saves late on in the game that kept his teams losing margin to just two goals. F-T 3-1