Sunday, 24 September 2017

23rd September 2017 Billingham Synthonia (a) FAV 2nd QR

The Satnav said 49 minutes but still we went for it...I placed my faith in The Boy Mark's driving and not in modern technology. If he said we could do it in 45 minutes then I believed him. The roundabout by Tynemouth Pool, the inevitable Silverlink roadworks and the lack of signage near the ground proved to be our undoing as we arrived in Norton, Synner's temporary home, 15 seconds after the 45 minutes deadline...were we turning into a parody of ourselves? Driving more than 45 minutes to get to an away game was our no-no! You, my dear readers must be the judges!

I love coming away to Northern League grounds as they are always full of odd stands and portacabins. Norton was no exception.
Great view of the goal from this stand....'s really a house for spare, rusting goals. Should have known!

Is this the potting shed? Might find Tom in here!

It was a repeat of the team on Tuesday, which was great news and I was buzzing about today's game. However at the start of the game there seemed a distinct lack of any sort of noise: especially the woeful PA system. The expanse of fields on nearly three sides probably contributed to this as all sounds quickly disappeared into the ether. There was even a lack of people watching the big Vase game from the houses that overlooked the ground one touchline. Bizarre! They did, kindly, leave their gates open so that fans could retrieve balls that had cleared the perimeter fences. How nice. Maybe the clubs returned the favour by putting out washing for them and mowing their lawns. I'd like to think so!
No-one was watching from their bedroom windows!
There was a worrying moment when a Bay fan had a Mexican stand-off with a Billingham one but that was quickly dispelled when they began sniffing each other. It was a touch inappropriate though.
Billingham v Whitley clash #1
First confrontation of the afternoon:
helping it all ended amicably.
Clash #2 occurred soon after when the ball bounced off a lady's head and her male friend commented that she should have "Just opened her mouth next time" to catch it. That didn't go down well and we had to leave before it turned nasty.
The players certainly weren't being stand-offish and the tackles were soon sliding in. Jasper performed two forward rolls and earned himself a 3.2 and 4.7 before Jack Walker tricked his way into the box, after a neat series of short passes, but couldn't come up with the final product. The ref seemed to be letting a lot go, especially from the home side (IMHO) despite a clear ability to signal goal kicks with a particularly forceful finger and knees-bent action. 
Finally there was joy amongst the mostly pro-Bay crowd as Scott 'The Wasp' Jasper struck!
The wing wizard, Potter once again beat his defender before his cross was met by Jasper's downward header. He certainly was buzzing after that goal! However, after that, Billingham took up the attack and it was Flynn's turn to be called into action, sliding in at the feet of a home attacker. Next it was Cap'n Call's turn to come up with a timely tackle. Tom Potter managed to come up with a storming shot that had to be tipped over and then Josh Nearney showed the sort of determination Die Hard's John MacClean would have been proud of to get into the home penalty area. His effort was saved.
Disappointment at half time for Mr Twitter as Hungerbusters is shut!
It got worse they had run out of chips at the cafe by the time he got to the front of the queue.
Had to make do with a chicken caesar salad.....

Get me an Ultra Cool Synners polo, please!
As seen in the clubhouse.
Cracking read.

Handy-sized rail for half time
'hard-lad' drinks!
The second half started with the home team getting irate with the ref and began to brand some of his decisions as the "worst decisions ever" which was a bit harsh i thought. However Billingham had had a flea in their ears at half time and were putting everything into each pass, tackle and appeal. The Bay lads were still on top and looked the most likely scorers. Of course this is football and just when looks like you are going to win, it comes along and pulls the pitch out from under your feet. Synners levelled with a lob that looked to have comfortably cleared Flynn's crossbar only to dip over the hapless Thomas and under the bar. There then followed a passage of play when the Bay lads allowed themselves to be hustled into mistakes and there looked like there would be only one winner. 
The normally unflappable Flynn came out to clear a ball, only to find it bounce up and onto his head before it was hacked clear then the otherwise-superb Nearney looped a ball back to the stranded Flynn who managed to hack it clear. He then gave both barrels to his hassled defender. Next it was Jack Walker's turn to put his goalkeeper in trouble: his pass intercepted. Luckily the Bay survived.
Despite all this, Nearney nearly earned the Bay the win when he, once again, wriggled into the box with more intricate passes but his touch was lacking and the Synners keeper managed to collect the ball as well as a piece of Josh's boot which earned the young defender a booking.
I had been praying that we didn't have extra time, so typically we had an extra thirty minutes. This was a shame since I had promised to get back in time for a family meal in the big, bad Toon. There was radio silence from Mrs Blogger when I texted her to let her know of my late return.
The Boy Mark and I decided to take the opportunity to watch the first half of extra time where we were and give Thomas Flynn our support. He was not happy and told us that he needed to try to wake up. Maybe his head juggling had given him sort of concussion. 
The Bay went straight for the jugular, Cornish having replaced Thibault. They pressed Synners back so much that for the first 12 minutes of extra time Flynn hardly touched the ball. The Gods of football once again turned away from us and it was the home team who went ahead: much to the delight of the group of local lads who had snuck into the ground at 90 minutes. The ball flashed across the visiting keeper and into the far corner. This was turning into a nightmare trip. 
On came Liam Brooks for Josh Nearney as the brave Whitley management went to three at the back. The bold move came up trumps. With the moaning home team complaining about a Brooks foul on the keeper, the Prof scored one of his classic cup-poacher goals; stabbing home with the keeper on the floor. We were well pleased with that. 

Both Kempster, with a spectacular overhead effort, and Jasper, with a miles over effort, could have earned the win but it was not to be and a 2-2 draw was the final result. 

Although a number of the Bay faithful had been disappointed with the draw we were still in the cup and the lads had survived another important and painful lesson in physical play. Sub Kyle P, especially, who claimed to have been studded as the final whistle blew.
The Boy Mark and I even managed to make it home with two minutes of the 45 left - thus avoiding grief from Mrs Blogger by being able to make the family trip to the Toon. 
Easy! Easy!

See you Tuesday!

Tuesday 19th September - Penrith (h)

Thanks Mr Twitter
Pile-on programme!
There certainly had been a dearth of home fixtures so this was my first chance to see the revitalised Bay team since the defeat against Benfield in the FA Cup. Thibault was back from his holiday to celebrate his dad's birthday and the Robertasaurus was back for his first start of the season. He joined Scott 'the Wasp' Jasper up front. Apologies for my rubbish attempts at finding nicknames but we always used to call Wasps 'Jaspers' and if he sets off on a run of scoring, stinging the opposition then I will be justified! The two could provide a bit of strength up front, feeding off the skill of Kempo, Potto, younger Patty et al. It was also great to see Professor Wilko with Callumity Anderson (cause he's injury-prone? I'll get me coat) back together again. Also joining the Bay was former player Jack Walker completing what was looking to be an awesome defence with Josh Nearney finishing off the back four.
The Bay bug seemed to have caught hold of Running Keith as he returned to Hillheads for his third or fourth game of the season. He brought with him his twin (they both wore glasses) to swell the growing ranks of fans behind the away goal...there were 15 of us!
Robo! 2-0!
Penrith arrived late because of traffic delays and I was in the middle of attaching the flag to the fence when Thibault stooped to head home. Kempo's pinpoint cross had followed great wizardry on the wing from Tommy P.
83 seconds...1-0.
Top banana!
I blinked.
 I missed it.
Seven minutes later...the Robovator was back! More brilliance from Kempo to cross for Robo to dive like a bird of prey to snaffle his first senior goal of the season.
Management look to be on the
same wavelength
 "Cricket score! Cricket score!" We cried but that was it for the goal count. Penrith had their first shot in the 19th minute and probably wished they had taken an earlier bus but the Bay dominated without making it count. Thibault's scuff/lob was easily caught but Thom O'Flynn, Cap'n Call and the lads had closed the back door: Penrith couldn't find a way through. In fact, apart from the Bay's ground staff's attempts at crop circles on the pitch, the conversation tended to revolve around the opposition #4's monkish hair style which featured a Zidane-esque bald spot. Thankfully, his play didn't resemble Zidane's.
The second half saw Penrith roar back but the lads coped well with it. Aidan Haley was looking accomplished in midfield and, although it was a great shame we haven't seen anything from Callum Patton so far this season, his presence wasn't missed. When a tired Saint Aidan was finally replaced by Matty Cornish Pasty (so sorry - just can't help myself) the Bay looked energised (according to wise sage and Bay fanatic Running Keith). A bit of skill from supersub Blondie Patton with a Cruyff turn almost presented a third goal but Flynn stole the final honours with a great save, diving low to his right to palm away a Penrith screamer.
2-0 the final score and the Bay had acquired another fan as Running Keith's mate asked where he could buy his shirt! #morefans

Sunday, 3 September 2017

2nd September 2017 - Newcastle Benfield (h) FAC 1st QR

Cold? In the Bay? No way! Today was a glorious September day. The Sun was out and the wind gentle. There were shirt sleeves galore, and shorts, on offer as we entered the ground. A healthy crowd gathered in anticipation; later numbered 608. The Bay was actually excited about the cup. The previous round's fightback against Penrith had been a cracker and the hope was that we were in for another belter. The only disappointment about the crowd was that it numbered the injured Professor Wilkinson, 'Robo' Robertson and Callum Anderson: all resplendent in their fine Bay tracksuits. Each claimed it would be a 'couple of weeks' before they were back. Today was going to be a tough one so the lads who were fit would have to be on their metal today. 

Whitley is excited for
the big FA Cup game!
 Although the Town didn't appear to share my enthusiasm, I was buzzing about the FA Cup tie. With £3 000 on offer to the club, if they won, there was certainly a great incentive to qualify. The club had already received prize money of over £3 400 from the previous two victories and victory today would mean a near doubling of that. Making it through to the next round would certainly allow building the extension to the Tommy Tea Emporium (it always be more than a hut to me) Cafe. The measly one table and lack of an Eiffel Tower in the background is probably all that is stopping the Bay public from fully embracing the cafe culture that Tommy probably has no intention of encouraging. That and the cold weather of course.
The Emirates FA Cup
Season 2017-18
Payments made from The FA's prize fund
Extra preliminary round winners(185)£1,500
Preliminary round winners(160)£1,925
First round qualifying winners(116)£3,000
Second Round Qualifying winners(80)£4,500
Third Round Qualifying winners(40)£7,500
Fourth Round Qualifying winners(32)£12,500
First Round Proper winners(40)£18,000
Second Round Proper winners(20)£27,000
Third Round Proper winners(32)£67,500
Fourth Round Proper winners(16)£90,000
Fifth Round Proper winners(8)£180,000
Quarter-Final winners(4)£360,000
Semi-Final winners(2)£900,000
Semi-Final losers(2)£450,000
Final runners-up(1)£900,000
Final winners(1)£1,800,000

EmbeddedBenfield and West Allotment fan Long-Haired Andrew was in attendance along with his son, who had obviously been sitting in compost as he had shot up in height since our last meeting. Who knew children grew? They joined us behind the Benfield goal and had a wonderful view of old timer Brayson's over-the-shoulder-hook-cum-volley-looping-lob that sailed over the helpless Flynn in the Whitley goal in the 3rd minute. If ever there was a bad omen, it was that. An incredible shot, it summed up how the afternoon was going to pan out for the Bay. The lads tried to impose their style of play onto the match but there were too many passes astray and any crosses were far too close to keeper Grainger and the confident keeper was in no mood to let anything go. Both sides huffed and puffed and it was Flynn who had to be on his metal to save the Bay against danger-man Brayson. In fact the highlight of the first half from a Whitley point of view was when the referee told Benfield's one man wall that he could either "protect his balls or face depending which he valued most". He needn't have worried as Whitley's freekick sailed high and wide.
It looked like a half time rollocking and second half fightback would be on the cards until the otherwise reliable Haley back flicked the ball high towards the disbelieving Flynn, who was in no-man's land. Benfield's Mccarthy got there before Flynn so, in first half injury time, the Bay were 2-0 down and in need of a miracle. Even the sun disappeared as Running Keith, who had joined us once again, regretted not bringing a duvet.

Dominant Grainger ....

Things improved slightly for the Bay in the second half but the best chance fell to substitute Jasper who latched onto a ball in the penalty area. However, his half volley drifted wide. This was not our day. No matter how hard the lads battled, they just couldn't find that killer pass and in the absence of Callum Patton and the still-on-holiday Thibault didn't look like clawing back one, never mind two goals.
The game finished with a whimper and my dreams of a double Wembley trip were over for another year.
Despite the obvious effort the lads put in, the creativity was lacking. This is still a very young side and they will learn from this experience, I'm sure Nash and Woody will make sure of it. It only goes to show how important the missing players are to the Bay. The sooner they come back, the better!
Benfield deserved their win and looked tight, compact with the evergreen Brayson up front. Good luck to them in the next round!

The Bay recovers from the shock of exiting the FA Cup!