Thursday, 27 October 2011

Goal-Dan touch

Burridge live up to this blog's name once more, with Dan Esfandiari scoring in the 90th minute to earn a 4-4 home draw with a decent Cadnam side.

Ten minutes before kick-off at Burridge. Having completed our warm-up exercises we congregate around the water bottles, fretting over whether or not the referee will turn up. Ryan Hurst looks towards the changing rooms and asks if anyone has seen him.

Manager, Paul Dyke, tells Ryan not to worry, saying, "Concentrate on your job."

Ryan looks a bit put out; "I'm not worried - just asking, that's all."

The referee does arrive moments later, looking like a podgy version of Chris Tarrant. Any anticipation surrounding his arrival is quickly replaced with loud criticism of his refereeing style. So, for the third successive week a referee is held responsible for the outcome of the game. This time by Cadnam, who later mark him 20 out of 100. Like Bishopstoke a fortnight ago, Cadnam will be required to file a report of explanation to the FA. On the basis of this refereeing performance they are going to get used to filing reports. While it could be argued that the referee seemed reluctant to venture too far out of the centre-circle, he had shown leniency to one of his biggest critics, who played in Cadnam's midfield.  His tackle on Ryan Hurst was late and above the ankle, and could have easily resulted in a red card, as opposed to the yellow he was given.

We went two-nil up in a hurry. Martyn Barnett scored a cracker from outside the penalty area - the ball was destined for the top corner as soon as it left his boot. Like Kristian Hewitt, he does tend to score good ones. His contribution to the team will be missed during the coming weeks, having fell awkwardly on the stairs on Sunday and breaking his collar bone. We wish him a speedy recovery. Cadnam had the opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot. Although well hit, Ryan Jones managed to block it; which seemed a pointless exercise, as the ball rolled kindly back into the stride of the penalty taker. If anything the rebound was struck better than the penalty, but Jones regained his footing and blocked again. It was a save that crowned his performances in goal so far this season. In terms of reflexes there can be few better goalkeepers in the Southampton League. We're certainly giving him plenty of practise

Lee Fielder doubled the lead. Sadly, I missed the goal. As substitute, I was spending significant amounts of time up to my waist in the stinging nettles growing from the sloped bank behind Jones' goal, trying to retrieve footballs. I was at least fortunate enough to have a running commentary of sorts, from Kev Willsher's Dad, Alan - who stood at the top of the bank shouting goal. By half-time Cadnam had drawn level, with some good progressive passing football that contributed largely to an exciting game. Cadnam assumed control in the second-half, going ahead with a neat lob over Jones.  

Paul Dyke did what any manager would do with twenty minutes left and the game slipping out of reach -  he brought on Dan Allen, with instant results. Dan made a nuisance of himself on the wing, winning a penalty. Regular taker Kristian Hewitt had already been substituted, and Martyn Barnett, normally so confident, was not up for it, having missed one in pre-season. Up stepped Daniel Esfandiari. It is baffling that someone so tall and muscular can be so terribly ineffective in the air. Not that his game is built on physique, he regularly uses the outside of his right boot for God's sake. Composed and full of neat touches, he was having arguably his best performance so far in a Burridge shirt.

Cadnam's right-back decided to play mind games with Esfandiari; "You'll feel stupid if you miss."
Esfandiari took a moment to consider this, "But what if I score?" Who needs Albert Camus when you have this kind of gripping philosophical narrative? Esfandiari scored, but about five minutes later, so did Cadnam - hitting a long pass over our defence. The striker lobbed neatly over Jones. That appeared to be that for the afternoon. You know the game's up when Ryan Hurst is being deployed as an emergency centre forward. To his credit he went about his business with plenty of hustle and bustle - winning umpteen flicked on headers with his mane of blond hair, but still.

By now Cadnam were keen to establish exactly how much time was left. The referee wasn't all that forthcoming; “Plenty,” he said. This didn't go down well with Cadnam. “I don't actually have to tell you,” said the referee, therefore cementing his lowly score. With the ball at his feet outside box, Esfandiari had little choice but to shoot. A quick shuffle of the hips and a right-footed strike created merry hell in Cadnam's penalty area. Ironically their commitment in closing the shot down became their undoing. The ball took the slightest nick of a defender's slice and slid into the one place the goalkeeper could not reach. There was time only for Cadnam to restart the game.

Are you unable to distinguish between a miscarriage of justice and the referee's decision to give a throw-in to the opposition on the half-way line? Then help is at hand.

I've written for the current issue of Late Tackle Magazine, assessing the task facing the FA's Respect programme in conquering our inner beast. It is available to buy in WH Smith.  

Burridge goalscorers:

Martyn Barnett 1-0
Lee Fielder 2-0
Daniel Esfandiari (pen) 3-3
Daniel Esfandiari 4-4

4-4-2: GK: Ryan Jones, LB: Kristian Hewitt (Mark Sanderson), CB: Kev Willsher, CB: Ryan Hurst, RB: Sam Hewitt, LM: Chris Pye, CM: Marc Judd, CM: Martyn Barnett, RM: Daniel Esfandiari, CF: Lee Fielder (Dan Allen), CF: Ali Ingram.

Click here for the current Southampton League tables.

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