Saturday, 9 September 2017

09/09/17 Review: Florence vs Redgate Clayton

Florence 3-9 Redgate Clayton (Staffordshire County Senior League Challenge Cup Second Round)
Lightwood Road

This weekend's Saturday afternoon provided me with a very rare day off, meaning that I could once again get myself over to a ground in search of football, beer and whatever other delights I could lay my eyes on. I think, although I could one day be corrected, that Lightwood Road is the location of the closest ground to my house and lying just a mere 0.7 miles away from my Dresden digs, it was bound to be one that I'd tick off the list eventually- and with the weather being hit and miss, the Potters vs United game being out of my price range and goals guaranteed, I'd have been a metaphorical mad man to let Florence's Cup game with Redgate Clayton pass me by. Having said that, I was happily dropped off at my 88th ground by my girlfriend as she headed home from our short-lived outing to a local retail park.

Nothing like a cup match on a Saturday afternoon
With a 2pm kick-off, I expected there would be at least a small scattering of fans at this match having a bit of a get together before the big game in the area later on today- the 5:30pm kick off at the Bet 365 of course, where United were in town. Earlier today Stoke's Under 18 side had played a Liverpool side led by Stevie G, so it is safe to say that the South-East side of Stoke-on-Trent was being treated to a fantastic day of football and although I wasn't at either of the Potters matches, I was still keen to support a local side rather than travelling further afield on this occasion and this meant a cup tie between two sides from the Staffordshire County League would prove to be my choice. Both sides play in the highest league of the regional division, with today's Newcastle-under-Lyme based visitors sitting in 8th after 4 wins from 6, meanwhile Florence are struggling to cope with a poor start that has seen them take just 1 victory and 1 draw in 9 league outings. Having already seen one game at this level between Foley Meir and Newcastle Town Reserves, I had made a pre-match prediction of 1-4 to Redgate Clayton today and although I couldn't have adequately prepared myself for the 12-goal free for all that was to come, I did at least expect the net to be rippling on a regular basis- unlike the 0-0 I'd sat through during the international break at Shrewsbury.

Hello shelter, my old friend
As the players came out for kick-off I found myself to be one of two people in attendance today, which was a shock as there had been a fair few more than that at the McIntosh Arena in Meir last time I went to game of this calibre. Thankfully as the game got going, plenty of families and lads sporting tinnies appeared to bring the attendance up to roughly 25 overall. My first point of note was that Florence were sponsored by Carlsberg, a decent name for the shirts in this division, and for some obscure reason the home keeper was wearing a practically identical kit to that of his outfield players, which was a tad odd. Alas, this didn't stop the home side getting off to an unexpected flyer as they took the lead within 4 minutes of game time. With the ball being plunged into the Clayton box, the ball would eventually land into the feet of the number 11 who showed composure and bit of good fortune to lift the ball over the red-shirted opponent's number 1 and into the net. Florence 1-0 Clayton. With the wind blowing in the favour of the Stokey's and the weather clearing up somewhat, I decided to leave the almighty Dynamic Ceramic Stand and go over to the area that I can only describe as "the Porch" behind the goal so that I could get a closer view of the action. Time went by and surprisingly the only real crunch challenge of the game in the opening 15 minutes came as the Florence keeper was left injured after being on the end of a 50-50 challenge from a Clayton midfielder- he must've been mistaken with an outfielder in that kit!
I knew the sun would eventually pop out
The previously mentioned tackle left Florence's shot-stopper unable to carry on and with an unscheduled break in play to allow the keeper to be treated, the Florence number 9 used this time to head over to the crowd and ask one chap why he wasn't playing today. The man, with a can of Carling in one hand and a fag in the other, told his supposed teammate that he had his boots in his bag if needed, just before the Ref called everybody back into action. With a third of the opening half now gone, it was time to witness a second goal for the day and after Redgate's number 11 outmanoeuvred a statuesque yellow and black defence, he squared the ball to the frontman who tapped home an easy equaliser. Florence 1-1 Clayton. The Florence keeper continued to struggle in the home goal and shortly after being replaced by a man in a Glasgow Rangers jersey, Florence took another well-deserved goal after yet more sloppy defensive work. The number 6 for the hosts burst into the box and on to a ball that was in the realm of the keeper, before squeezing a touch in-between the defence and keeper alike to give himself an open net to pass the ball in to. Florence 2-1 Clayton. Tensions were running high by this point for the favoured away side and eventually Clayton's left-back approached his goalkeeper and politely asked him to stop "shitting himself". This motivation style of speech seemed to inspire, or scare, the luminous green side back into life though as they began to pressure towards the back end of the half. The number 7 had a good strike saved by the sub keeper, witnessed by the injured number 1 as he hobbled back over to the bench from the changing rooms, and despite having around half a dozen corners it didn't seem likely we'd see an equaliser before the whistle. Ironically, from the place I'd moved to in order to see the action closer, I then missed the final goal of the half as a tame looking shot seemed to be gathered up initially by the Florence keeper before it eventually rolled into the net to the home team's bemusement and the visitor's relief. Florence 2-2 Clayton.

Time to leave the Porch End in search of beer
My half-time adventure on this occasion involved a somewhat long-winded voyage to find a pint of Carlsberg Export in the clubhouse adjacent to the Bowls Green, an awkward interaction with the keeper who was almost certain that I'd won the half-time raffle prize of a box of choccy's, all before a mooch back to the Stand to listen to the latter part of a conversation that seemed to be about the Florence number 11 being married to a Mexican drug mule. Yup, roll on the second-half.

Sat comfy and ready for goals, goals, goals
Although there was still a further 8 goals to see here, amazingly until the 68th minute the score remained at two-all and on the hour-mark Florence could've altered there eventual destiny as the number 6 broke well and passed the ball to 10, who was unlucky not to score from a very impressive counter-attack. At the other end Clayton struck a post and one Florence player was told to "close his legs" after being megged by the all out attacking lime green's. The deadlock was eventually broken by a midfielder as the number 8 for Redgate pranced past a legged-looking defence before hitting home a left-footed drive into the net. Florence 2-3 Clayton. The floodgates seemed ready to burst by now and just two minutes later the number 9 for Clayton doubled his tally for the day as he pinged home a perfectly-placed long-range strike and caused mild excitement amongst the Dynamic Ceramic Stand. Florence 2-4 Clayton. In what would be a third goal in five minutes, a ball from the left was accurately placed into the path of the Clayton 10 and he made no mistake in putting the win beyond doubt. Florence 2-5 Clayton. Everybody on the Florence team looked ready to call it a day with ten minutes still left on the clock, apart from the number 11 who took the ball into his grasp on the halfway line- flicking the ball over a towering centre-back before outpacing him to hit home a great consolation goal that was perhaps goal of the day. Florence 3-5 Clayton. One lad joked that he ran like was dodging the Mexican mob as he showed a great turn of pace to score, but despite this there would be no more joy for the hosts in front of goal. Seconds after that goal the Florence lads imploded again as another cross from the left was this time met by 9 who completed a hat-trick with his headed strike. Florence 3-6 Clayton. In what seemed like an age in comparison to the last 15 minutes, we then had to wait a further five minutes before the centre-back of Redgate scored from a corner as the tenth goal of the day went in. Florence 3-7 Clayton. Stoppage time proved to be a cruel ending for Florence as the keeper misjudged the bounce of the ball as it rose above and over him, into the path of the number 10 who found himself bundling home his second tap-in of the afternoon. Florence 3-8 Clayton. And as if a cake of this type needed icing, we then saw the away side number 11 cap off the rout with a simple finish after latching on to a pass through the middle as he ran in across the right-hand side. Florence 3-9 Clayton.

12 goals at the footy, and in the meantime Reginald and Arthur have managed half a frame of Bowls
As some headed off to the Bet 365 in search of more live action, others and me included walked over to the pub to watch Soccer Saturday and calm down with a cold beer after an absolute monster of a goal glut. Despite being humbled by the away side, I'd say that the hosts could take pride in their performance in the first 65 minutes or so and in all honesty it was the fitness and quality of Redgate Clayton that saw them through to the next round. Next up for Clayton is a trip to Walsall to face Phoenix, whilst Florence host Eastwood Hanley and will hope for more stamina as they look to pick up much need points. For me, I don't have any firm dates in the diary but if plans work out I'll be at Wolves vs Bristol Rovers in a couple of Tuesday's time to see the continuation of the Carabao Cup. Cheers for reading!

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