Pressure

Gotta keep it up, keep it up
Keep up the pressure

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GAME OF THE WEEK

Montrose 1 Queen of the South 3 aet (1-1 after 90 minutes)

IRN-BRU Cup Round 3

Attendance: 534

Gate: £15

Programme: £2

Since the news filtered through in the Bobbins household that my much better half (think …..) was off to London for the weekend with her mother I was on my laptop planning and plotting. First thoughts were ‘bugger it is international weekend’, before I noticed it was IRN-BRU cup weekend. Where could I get to that was different for me. Only one stood out. Montrose v Queen of the South.

Everything booked, I was to Angus.

In My I went to Dundee United, the train journey to Tayside is a beautiful journey, the added part is every bit as spectacular. I also now need to get to Arbroath, looks an amazing ground. Alighting with amazing views over Montrose Basin, I made my way to The Little Mermaid chippy for an excellent lunch of fish and chips.

Off to Links Park, the home of the Gable Endies and a ground that is close to the 5th oldest golf course in the world, see educational as well as entertainment! Entry is behind the goal to the west. Opposite and to the North is the open standing area, a Main Stand to the south is a modern covered seating structure, my favourite part of the ground is the West Stand. terracing under cover with a great little extra bit in the corner.

One thing I love about this competition, the sides come out, none of that phoney handshake malarkey and we kick-off. No messing about, game underway. Get on with it. Brilliant.

Once underway it was difficult to spot which side was a couple of divisions above the other, which is all credit to Montrose. They turned up and gave it everything. Missing a golden chance early on when McLaren could not turn a rebound home, they continued to have a go, meanwhile the Doonhamers started to gain a foothold with Dobbie of Swansea City and Blackpool fame causing trouble.

Midway through the half the hosts took the lead, Masson scoring with a low effort from just inside the box. As the visitors gained more of a foothold, Fleming was called into making a point blank save and was saved by his crossbar not long before the half ended.

Due to an injury Dykes came on for Queen of the South at the restart, his performance raised the question as to why he hadn’t started. Lively, causing the opposition trouble and testing Fleming. The pressure was being cranked up and up as the half went on. The home fans getting nervy especially as McFadden, who would 24 hours later be a pundit in the Sky Sports studio for the Scotland match, came on and added even more class.

With the clock ticking towards 89 minutes the pressure told as the ball sat up nicely for Dobbie, his finish showed he had not lost his touch, great finish from 20 yards, Fleming had no chance.

So, an extra 30 minutes. There are times when you are happy with this, times when you are not. This was certainly the former.

Both sides went close in the first 15 minutes, the woodwork saving the visitors, the keeper denying them. The second period of extra-time belonged to Queen of the South as experience and fitness told. Dykes latched on to a through ball rounded the impressive Fleming and finished, before right at the death Dobbie got his second from a seemingly impossible angle. 3-1 the final score. Harsh on Montrose that.

Back to the train station and back to Glasgow. Could do with some of that girder strength they have in IRN-BRU to get me through the journey, or I could just have a kip. I picked the zzzzz’s.

ADDED ON

I have started to take the father-in-law on a tour of some of the best (and worst) grounds locally and after waxing lyrical about Winsford United’s home the plan was made to visit when Runcorn Town were the opponents on Monday night.

In all my years of being at football, many of them as a fan, but now some 400+ games as a neutral I have never seen such an awful refereeing performance. His assistant on the main stand side was not much better. To say they favoured the league leaders would be an under statement. They got the vast majority of decisions, were let off with numerous indiscretions, the main culprit being Joseph Holt. He could have been booked 8 times that I can remember, his skipper was not too far behind, neither shown a single caution, in fact I cannot think of a team-mate getting one either. Very disappointing behaviour, shocking officiating. Oh yes, they won 4-2.

Wednesday it was up a few levels to the National League and a second trip to Prenton Park and Tranmere Rovers v Leyton Orient. As Football League clubs continue to drift down slowly, games like this become more of a norm in non-league.

Raining all evening, it was the O’s who took the lead through Harrold midway through the opening 45, only for Cook to equalise minutes later sliding home a loose ball into an unguarded net. Following the half-time break the game was pretty much all one way, and with 20 minutes left it was no surprise when Rovers took the lead, Norwood nodding home from close range. 3 points to Tranmere, myself and Mr Wilks back up the M56.

So. On to Scotland. Friday off work. Early train north despite Northern Rail’s best efforts to stop me getting to Warrington, Virgin rounded off a miserable trip with very poor service on the train. Never mind, I was in Glasgow, in my hotel and soon looking to head west for Dumbarton.

Train from Queen Street took little time in getting to Dumbarton East and the ground is little more than a 5 minutes walk from there. If in doubt head for the bloody big hill. It’s right next to that. My 201st ground and a little bit of weird one. In the shadow of Dumbarton Rock with the castle on top you feel it should be a great setting. Sadly the one and only stand faces away from the view. Three sides just have a fence around them, you feel as though the club have missed a trick with the design and layout.

Stranraer came to have a go at their hosts, but it was the Sons game from the off really, after a couple of close shaves for the visitors, Barr did well to control a ball in the area and finish from close range. An injury to the hosts keeper led to a substitution on the half hour and the lead was preserved with ease to the break.

Stranraer gave it a good go after the break but they were missing that clear cut chance, with 25 minutes left Stewart powered in a header for Dumbarton’s second and the tie was over. Or was it? Still Stranraer came forward, chances started to come more often but they couldn’t take them. That was until with virtually the last kick off the match when substitute Okoh fired in from inside a crowded box.

I headed back off into the drizzling night air and my return to Glasgow City Centre.

GAMES

Mon: Winsford United 2 Runcorn Town 4

Wed: Tranmere Rovers 2 Leyton Orient 1

Fri: Dumbarton 2 Stranraer 0

Sat: Montrose 1 Queen of the South 3 (aet)

FACTS

Games: 424

Goals:  1446

Grounds: 202

Games since a 0-0: 37

Milestone: 100th goal of the season – Dykes (Queen of the South)

SOUNDTRACK

Connected – Stereo MCs

Too Involved

Weird, but for some reason, I like it.

 

GAME OF THE WEEK

Leyton Orient 2 Maidstone United 0

Vanarama National League

Attendance: 5,085

Gate: £17

Programme: £3

You would think that after 400+ games I would be able to plan a day out correctly wouldn’t you? Well, think again. Another cheap away day courtesy of Virgin Trains and I was looking forward to a day in the smoke. Following doing my research on the good old world wide web I settled for Hampton & Richmond Borough.

Or so I thought. A final look into my plans midweek, showed engineering works that would mean I could not make it to the Beveree Stadium. Damn. I had to make a decision quickly, so Leyton Orient it was. Ticket bought on their website and I was off to E10. On Friday, I realised that th World Athletics Championships were on a little under 2 miles away. Do your research!

 

Though to be fair, the running round a track (never got that personally, I understand running from a to b, but round in a big circle? Nope, just stay where you are) games did not cause me any harm. In fact the journey both ways was more than satisfactory. Alighting at Leyton Underground, Brisbane Road, as I have always known it, is a 10 minute stroll away.

Ticket collected from the main stand on Oliver Road I made my way back round to Brisbane Road and into the East Stand. I must say that Orient’s home has to be one of the weirdest grounds I have ever been to. The West Stand on Oliver Road looks completely normal on the outside until you notice that there is a Polyclinic near the main entrance. Both sides have blocks of modern flats attached to them, to the point it is difficult to distinguish which is flats and which is club. Only the old East Stand looks normal, though at the North Stand end, the flats come right into the ground. Weird, but for some reason, I like it.

 

Pasty and drink purchased, seat found, I opened my programme. There was a little sticker album in it and a few stickers to put in it. Marvellous for the kids, both young and old. By the way, if somebody wants mine, let me know and I will get it to you.

As we waited for the teams to come out, Maidstone’s travelling army started singing, apart from at half-time I don’t think they stopped all afternoon. Sides out, into the sun and off we went. The hosts started brightly, but it only took a few minutes for United to show danger, especially on the break. In fact, the best chance of the half fell to the visitors in the 20th minute when Pigott volleyed straight at Grainger in the home goal, looked easier to score. The rest of the opening half was played out with the final ball all too often missing.

The O’s started the brighter after the break but once again there was a lack of quality in the final third, Bonne firing wide when free looked as though he was going to sum the game up. However, all that changed on the hour, an excellent cross from Dayton was headed home by Mooney, good strike that beat Worgan all ends up, and the game improved almost instantly as the hosts turned up the heat trying to find a second.

Bonne went close again a couple of times, Mooney missed a glorious chance at the far post as the hosts looked very dangerous on their right wing. As time ticked away to the final whistle, Maidstone started to throw more bodies forward and in the 90th minute they thought they had rescued a point. Pigott twisted and turned on the edge of the area, his low shot was turned away by Grainger but the ball was loose in the area, Sam-Yorke just beat Grainger to the ball and fired into the empty goal. United and their 595 fans celebrated, but only for a few seconds as the linesman raised his flag. I can only presume the Maidstone number 9 was offside for the original shot. The home fans took their turn to celebrate.

They did again a couple of minutes later as salt was rubbed into the wound, substitute Boco was away in the clear and then showed his team-mates ho to finish in such a finish, 2-0 to the O’s.

 

Time to head home, a thoroughly enjoyable day, thanks to the visiting fans for making a great atmosphere and Leyton Orient for the rest, love your ground, in a weird way.

 

ADDED ON

After a day at the cricket last Saturday I headed over the hills to South Yorkshire on Sunday to the oldest ground in the world, to watch the second oldest team in the world, play in the oldest competition in the world.

I honestly thought Bootle would win, but they were never at the races. Hallam ruled from start to finish and the 3-0 scoreline did not flatter them. A date with Atherton Collieries awaits. Don’t write The Countrymen off just yet.

Just over 24 hours later and I was back over the Penines again for a first ever visit to Bradford Park Avenue. A cracker of a game with Southport made the trip worthwhile. End to end stuff with chances for both sides going begging.

With the match evenly poised, ex-Manchester City full-back Javan Vidal saw red and the visitord nicked the game at the death.

Tuesday saw me at Moss Rose, my third visit, recently relegated Hartlepool United the visitors on this wet August evening.

Really a match of two halves as the hosts were better before the break, going in 1-0 up thanks to a Whitaker glancing header shortly on 38 minutes. The ‘Monkey Hangers’ equalising, also with a header, just before the hour through Cassidy. A draw was probably a fair outcome.

GAMES

Sun: Hallam 3 Bootle 0

Mon: Bradford Park Avenue 1 Southport 2

Tues: Macclesfield Town 1 Hartlepool United 1

Sat: Leyton Orient 2 Maidstone United 0

FACTS

Games: 403

Goals:  1373

Grounds: 196

Games since a 0-0: 16

SOUNDTRACK

A Catholic Education – Teenage Fanclub