Weston 4 Coach & Horses 2

Thursday 13th August 2009
Weston 4 Coach & Horses 2
Summer League
Shirley Playing Field, Park Lane
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
No admission or programme
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 40:00; second-half: 41:05

Having read the review of my good friend Aggedor’s trip to visit Weston at the beginning of June, I wondered how difficult this ground would be to find. He wrote: ‘Had fun finding the ground - Sat nav took us to the right area, but no sign of the ground. Tried following a country track for a while, and just as I said "There's no way there's a ground around here" we stumbled across it!!’

So armed with this knowledge of potential problems ahead and what looked like the location of Shirley Cricket Club, I set off to visit what I hoped would be my (lucky) thirteenth different Summer League venue on the thirteenth day of August. Being a superstitious kind of person, something was bound to go wrong…

My sat nav took me, correctly, along Park Lane, a narrow single track road, to the last house. I knew there’d be no sign of the ground at this point and it was about 100 yards or so further up the lane on the right. Park Lane, by the way, was north-west of the Saracens Head and a turn to the left where the road to Ashbourne bent round to the right. If travelling off the A52 towards Shirley, I imaging the turn into Park Lane would be sharp right on the bend before entering the heart of the village.

Shirley Playing Field has been a long standing Summer League venue, previously used by Shirley Saracens. Weston began to use the ground in 2007 after leaving their previous home at Mugginton Lane End. The unroped and slightly undulating pitch (orientated south-west–north-east) was on the far side of a larger cricket field which was enclosed on the furthest two sides by a corn field. The cricket square was adjacent to the near touchlines. Behind the near touchline, closest to the road, were the changing rooms.

Weston (22 points from 25 games) and Coach & Horses (20 points from 26 games) have had a mixed bag of results this season and as a result went into this game occupying 11th and 12th places, respectively. They both went into this game on the back of a victory on Monday evening – Weston defeated Mayfield 4-1 while Coach & Horses won 14-3 at home to Wheel Inn.

Before kick-off both managers provided me with their respective line-ups which I really appreciated, before the Weston boss gave his team talk and told his players using nicknames where they would be playing in the chosen formation.

“As you are, Coach & Horses kick,” announced the referee after meeting the captains in the centre circle and the visitors (wearing navy blue shirts, sky blue shorts and socks) duly got the action underway attacking the near goal in the first half. Coach actually started with just ten men. I opted for a position stood on the near touchline close to the cricket square.

Weston (read shirts, white shorts and red socks) went mightily close to a goal in the fourth minute. Jim Horsfield played a great througball down the middle to Paul Fazekas who lobbed the advancing keeper only to see the ball miss the left-hand post by inches.

The miss didn’t matter as Weston took the lead a minute later. Horsfield hammered an unstoppable right-foot shot from the right corner of the area into the opposite side of the net. It was a great start for the home who were looking to record a third successive victory.

Still with one man short and now a goal down as well, Coach & Horses got forward with Luke Waring lifting a 25-yard shot over the bar.

There was danger in the visitors’ area when with keeper Daniel Carter off his line, Horsfield robbed defender Scott Lyon but could only fire into the sidenetting of an unguarded goal.

With 10 minutes gone, the missing Coach player arrived at the ground.

Coach & Horses were awarded a penalty in the 14th minute for handball in front of goal by Sam Naylor. “It was going wide so not red,” explained the referee to the Coach manager after the defender escaped with just a booking. Paul Spencer stepped up to send Steve Smith the wrong way from the spot to level things up.

Before the game resumed, eleventh man Tom Conway was waived on by the referee to give Coach a full complement of players.

Buoyed by the goal, the visitors enjoyed a good spell without seriously troubling Smith, the Weston keeper. However, they almost took the lead in the 27th minute. Dan Briggs was forced to hurriedly clear danger at the expense of a corner, which was delivered from the left by Waring. Tall striker David Edge got in a glancing header which was cleared off the line by Dan Ford.

Weston were finding it difficult to get deep into opposition territory. When they did, Fazekas robbed the hesitant Carl Spencer on the edge of the area and hit the resulting shot straight at Carter.

It was no surprise when Coach took the lead in the 31st minute. Edge rode the tackle of Matt Lee on the edge of the area and confidently fired a left foot shot across the face of goal and into the far right side of the net.

I felt that the Weston defence had lost its shape and discipline and Coach went close to a third goal. Edge hit a curling left footer which was turned round by Smith. I was over the other side by this time on a walk around the pitch and passed a lady with a small white and browen dog walking in the opposite clockwise direction.

I got my seat out of the car at the interval and positioned it near halfway by the cricket square.

Weston made a substitution for the start of the second half with Sean Williamson replacing Guy Birmingham, who was able to continue.

The home side lined up for the start of the second half in an attacking formation. They resumed in determined mood and straight from the kick-off Fazekas burst through to hit a long-range shot that Carter comfortably stopped.

Fazekas made his presence felt again when he controlled the ball and hit a right foot volley that flew over the bar from fully 30 yards out. Weston continued to press after making a second substitution – Dan Scorer replaced Ford - and Naylor fired over the bar after good work by Fazekas.

The lively Fazekas got between two defenders and latched on to Scorers’ throughball and shot wide of the right-hand post.

The lady with the tireless small dog commenced another circuit of the pitch!

The Weston half-time team talk certainly had an impact and they equalised in the 55th minute. Briggs hit a free-kick forward into a packed area which wasn’t cleared allowing Horsfield to hammer the loose ball home from 15 yards.

“C’mon lads, we’re going to do it,” urged the delighted Weston boss. Horsfield had the ball in the net two minutes later though he was flagged offside in the buiid-up.

Coach’s Paul Spencer became the second player to receive a yellow card just before the hour mark for a foul on Scorer near the half-way line ten yards inside the Weston half. Mark Warren sent the resulting free-kick forward down the left which was successfully chased by Scorer. He pulled the ball back towards Fazekas who fired Weston into the lead at the far post in what was the 61st minute.

The visitors looked to respond in this increasingly feisty content and were inches away from an equaliser. Edge cut in from the right and sent a rising left-foot shot which beat Smith and flicked the outside of the far left post.

Waring delivered a dangerous right wing cross which was heading for the far top corner until the leaping Smith palmed the ball clear. As Coach & Horses kept up the pressure, Edge’s long throw fell to Sam Wibley who fired wide at close range.

Weston survived and extended their lead with a fourth goal scored in the 71st minute. Scorer propelled a long throw into the area towards the near post where Williamson got in a shot which Carter turned round. Stacey Hamlett delivered the resulting left-wing corner deep which Fazekas met with a downward header that crept in despite defenders on the line.

A minute after the goal, Coach’s Waring was booked for a foul and shortly after both Waring and Weston’s Naylor, also on a booking as well, were giving a final warning.

Weston mounted a strong finish to this game that was anything but boring and, during the closing stages, Wibley twice made important tackles to prevent further shooting chances for the home side. The sounds of distant church bells gave a pleasant end to the entertainment.

As it turned out it was a case of lucky thirteen on the thirteenth – found the ground OK, got the teams without a hitch, enjoyed the game, saw six goals, didn’t rain and got home OK.

Weston (red/white/red): 1. Steve Smith, 5. Sam Naylor, 3. Matt Lee, 7. Mark Warren (capt), 11. Dan Briggs, 15. Alex Zappolofski, 6. Guy Bermingham, 4. Stacey Hamlett, 17. Dan Ford, 10. Paul Fazekas, 9. Jim Horsfield. Subs: 14. Sean Williamson (for Bermingham, ht), 8. Dan Scorer (for Warren, 43).

Coach & Horses (navy blue / sky blue / sky blue): 1. Daniel Carter, 7. Sam Wibberley, 6. Carl Spencer, 5. Scott Lyon, 4. Oliver Bez, 8. Luke Waring, 2. Adam Yeomans, 10. Paul Spencer (capt), 15. James Dawson, 9. David Edge, 3. Tom Conway. Subs: 14. Alex Todd (not used).

Referee: Rowland Smith.

1-0 Jim Horsfield (5)
1-1 Paul Spencer (15)
1-2 David Edge (31)
2-2 Jim Horsfield (55)
3-2 Paul Fazekas (60)
4-2 Paul Fazekas (71)

Weston: Sam Naylor (YC, 15).
Coach & Horses: Paul Spencer (YC, 59), Luke Waring (YC, 72).