Saturday, 9 February 2008

Tonbridge 3 Margate 2

Match 52/07/669 - Saturday, 9th February 2008 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 3 Rook 7, 74 (2 pens) Logan 23
Margate (1) 2 Martin 11 Saunders 90
Att. 565

Entrance: £8
Programme: £2
Mileage: 26/4,252

Match Report

The difference between the teams as far as the result was two penalties from Carl Rook, but truth was that Tonbridge were deserving of this important victory. An early penalty, quite rightfully awarded and blasted home by Rook was quickly levelled as a slick passing movement allowed ex-Angel Ryan Martin to slot home. Margate looked likely to take a stranglehold on the game for a period following but when the ball broke to Fraser Logan on the edge of the box a thunderbolt of a rising shot regained the Angels lead.

Tonbridge had the lion's share of the game in the second half and Margate fans around me were none too pleased with both the inaction on the field and manager Robin Trott's off it. Another penalty 12 minutes from time sealed the game, this one not so clear cut, but from a distance it was impossible to say whether it was handball or otherwise. A late mistake from keeper Matt Reed narrowed the lead, but it was too little, too late for Margate.

The result lifts Tonbridge away from the danger zone, but the Division is very tight and they need a few results on the spin to steer them to safety.

England 2 Switzerland 1

Match 51/07/668 - Wednesday, 6th February 2008 - International

England (1) 2 Jenas 40 Wright-Phillips 62
Switzerland (0) 1 Derdiyok 58
Att. 86,857

Entrance: £30
Programme: £6
Mileage: 100/4,226

Match Report

It was hardly Fabiolous, but the Capello era got off to a winning starting in a stuttering display against a very average Swiss side.

A poor beginning proved to much for a unforgiving Wembley crowd who, after 25 minutes of misplaced passes and very little forward drive, began to turn on this new look England side. Though it had been thoroughly frustrating it was pretty unfair that they should be getting on the backs of a team showing nine changes from that fateful night against Croatia. Choruses of One David Beckham could be heard and by the end of the match it is a credit to David Bentley that he rose above this to produce one of the better performances on the night.

A goal just before half-time, well-crafted by Joe Cole and touched home by Jermaine Jenas stifled what might have been the loudest derision of the night on the 45 minute whistle. Whether Capello speaks Italian or English during his half time talk he got a positive response in the second half. Despite conceding an equaliser to a very good strike from the Swiss substitute Derdiyok on 58 minutes, England bounced back to win the game with a tap in from Wright-Phillips after good work from Gerrard and Rooney.

Most people would have gone happy with a few reservations. Mr Capello, I’m sure, would have noticed that suddenly we are devoid of full backs. Micah Richards' omission was a surprise and his deputy Wes Brown had an awful first half-hour, did improve, but is really not an international footballer. On the other flank, Ashley Cole looked out of salts and his replacement, Wayne Bridge, did nothing to erase the memory of his dreadful performance against Croatia.

Midfield was satisfactory, though Gareth Barry had probably his least effective game in an England shirt. Gerrard, given man of the match (not by me, I hasten to add), looked better on a TV second viewing, Jenas gave an England performance that I did not think him capable of and Joe Cole was just about everybody’s man of the match. I wish Cole would stay on his feet more, if only to stop Ann moaning about it every match.

Up front, Mr Capello please learn something that we have all known for some while, Wayne Rooney cannot play the lone striker, it just doesn’t work, we have been here before and take our word for it. You have had the experiment, but put that one in the bin never to resurface. Once Crouch was on the field, the real Rooney came alive and as always was worth the entrance money alone.

So it wasn’t a great night but Capello now has a platform from which to develop a side that I fear might not excite, but if they are winners perhaps we might get a atmosphere at Wembley deserving of the structure. For all its grandeur the only fans to have delivered have been the Croatians, who revelled in their victory.

Before the game a "moment" of silence was observed for the victims of the Munich air disaster. The moment lasted all of 27 seconds as a few catcalls was enough for the referee to call a halt, obviously on the instructions of the FA to save any embarrassment.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Gillingham 0 Cheltenham Town 0

Match 50/07/667 - Saturday, 2nd February 2008 - League One

Gillingham (0) 0
Cheltenham Town (0) 0
Att. 4,993

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 46/4,126

Match Report

I’ve often said that when you buy a ticket to watch a football match, there have been no reviews and nobody has seen the match before to offer a recommendation. So every now and then something splendid might come along and catch the punter by surprise and sometimes you are served up a complete plateful of dross, unfortunately today was the latter.

This was a lousy game, a lousy result and the attendance figure shows that a lot of people did know in advance exactly what was going to be served up.

The end of the transfer window had brought a new, young striker from Rushden and Diamonds, Simeon Jackson. He looked lively, had a couple of decent strikes on goal, but naturally looked to be trying a little to hard on his debut. He also had to live off scraps and he will quickly realise that goals are going to be harder come-by a couple of levels higher and this is going to be made more difficult when the service was as poor as it was today.

Two others, Barry Fuller and Stuart Lewis made their home debuts, which meant that five of the starting eleven were playing non-league football a couple of months ago, two more came off the bench and Adam Bygrave can be added having come from reserve team football. That is an awful amount of inexperience. Too much, too soon? We’ll have to wait and see, the seeds are now sown.

A crossbar hit for either side was the closest we got to seeing a goal and in truth Cheltenham were equally as bad as Gillingham. The end should have been greeted by cheers as it brought to a finish a thoroughly unsatisfying 90 minutes. Of course it was boos that rang round Priestfield as supporters naturally vented their frustration. It can be argued that helps nobody, but the reaction is natural enough when the fare has been as poor as it was today. Let’s face it, if the reviewer said in advance that the film or the opera you were going to watch was a load of rubbish, you wouldn’t turn up at all.