Thursday, 13 October 2011

Burridge AFC 5-4 Bishopstoke (Aet)

Burridge progress in the Trophyman League Cup by taking a tie to extra-time for the third match already this season, leaving defender Dave Williams to suggest this blog should be re-named 120 minutes of Burridge. 

Just five minutes have been played when Kev Willsher gets back to his feet and waits for the referee to send him off. He pleads innocence by putting his arms out by his side; body language that does more to confirm rather than admonish his guilt for bringing down Bishi's centre forward with a late tackle in the penalty area, denying him what would have been a clear goalscoring opportunity in the process. The referee assesses the scene of the crime. With his coiffured hair and full moustache he is similar in appearance to Des Lynam - if Des Lynam was Maltese, with a taste for Black Sabbath records. The handful of Bishi followers have already made their minds up. One jumps out of the wooden farmhouse chair we use as a makeshift step ladder to put up the goal nets with; “Fucking dirty bastard,” he shouts. To his amazement the referee waves play on. Bishi don't forgive the referee, marking him a lowly 25 out of 100 in the match card. As a result, they will have to file a report of explanation to the FA.

Burridge centre-back Kev Willsher wonders what else he can get away with

Bishopstoke play division higher than us in the Southampton Premier; where, if the current league table is anything to go by, they are having a hard time. Without a win in either of their league games, they were also been beaten 7-0 by Queens Keep in the opening round of the Southampton Senior Cup. This after being spared relegation for last season's bottom of the table finish by a league reshuffle, which saw Premier League sides AFC Redbridge, Northend United and Solent WTL pulling out entirely this year. Despite all this, Bishopstoke have talent. Particularly going forward, which they showcased in their 5-3 pre-season victory over us in August. Shame then that they're a bit susceptible to pretty much any ball plonked over their defence.

Bishi do make the brighter start and take the lead. Ryan Hurst is unable to keep pace with their particularly quick centre forward, who makes it one-nil. Marc Judd then equalises with a finely executed left-footed free-kick. It's made all the sweeter by one Bishi follower's ill-conceived habit of shouting 'spoon' almost every time we shoot at their goal. The moment he finishes the syllable the ball is in the net. However, it is Bishopstoke who go into the break leading, reacting first to the scraps of a corner kick and walloping past Jones. Having spent the best part of twenty minutes practising set-pieces during Thursday night's training session, manager Paul Dyke begins showing early signs of a stomach ulcer.

 During half-time I hear Bishi's midfield discussing the merits of our back four; “They're slow as fuck,” says one, before going on to be even less complimentary about the state of his own defence. In the second half they continue where they left of from in the first, perhaps with the goal of the game, from a good twenty-five yards out. When goals of this calibre are conceded on days like this it tends to stifle both the mind's belief and the belly's appetite for meaningful competition. Although not yet inevitable, defeat seemed heavily pencilled in when Ali Ingram was booked, somewhat unfortunately. He retreats from a Bishopstoke free-kick with his back to the ball, which is soon kicked at him. The referee books him for holding up play. Perhaps it was the bewilderment in Ali's eyes that cast doubt over the referee's own judgement, or perhaps he, like many on the field, was prone to making the odd mistake, because minutes later he's giving us a penalty kick. There is an unnecessary and clumsy push on Ali in the penalty area. One Bishi follower can be heard above the silence - “It's a man's game,” he reminds the referee. Although if the true measure of a man's strength is by pushing other men in back, it certainly wasn't featured in Rudyard Kipling's poem on the matter.

With regular penalty taker Kristian Hewitt off with shin splints, Sam Schwodler side foots the kick past the 'keeper's right. Any hopes of a grandstand finish are then seemingly dashed after a mishap in our goalmouth. Several opportunities to clear ball are bungled. Jones then calls the resulting shot on his goal safe and watches the ball nestle in the top corner - 4-2, but still time. Moments later, Chris Pye is almost apologetic for getting one back direct from a left wing cross, to make it 4-3. Then with two minutes left, Lee Fielder arrives on the end of a speculative clearance from Ryan Jones, and goes past Bishi's goalkeeper. With a clear and open goal in front of him it appears Lee is here to save the day; a view which is somewhat compromised the moment he's called upon to kick the football, which he slices wide of the post. But there is still ample time for Dyke to learn more about his players - Lee is obviously far happier when there are lots of things between him and the goal.

With time running out, Kev Willsher plays a long ball behind Bishi's defence. Lee runs onto it, steering a shot past the goalie's right. This means extra-time, in which the winning goal comes late on. Martyn Barnett splits Bishi's defence with a through-ball to Lee, who scores again. Whether or not he's mentally tough when it comes to getting over missing sitters, or he just tends to blow a little hot and cold in front of goal is not abundantly clear. However, it is his two goals that knock Bishi out. They trudge off, disappointed at a missed opportunity to progress in the cup; while Burridge move onto the uncharted waters of the third round.

 Burridge line-up: GK:Ryan Jones, LB:Marc Judd, CB:Kev Willsher, CB: Ryan Hurst, RB:Dave Williams, LM:Chris Pye, CM: Kristian Hewitt (Sam Hewitt), CM:Martyn Barnett, RM:Daniel Esfandiari, CF:Ali Ingram (Mark Sanderson), CF: Sam Schwodler (Lee Fielder)

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