Sunday, 4 December 2016

Notts County 2 v Peterborough United 2 - FA Cup R2

Sunday 4th December 2016
FA Cup 2nd Round
at Meadow Lane Stadium
Notts County (1) 2
Adam Campbell 42
Louis Laing 90 +3
Peterborough United (2) 2
Leonardo Da Silva Lopes 3
Gwion Edwards 15
Admission £17 Programme £3
Attenance 3,940 inc. 1,690 Peterborough fans
Notts County:
Adam Collin, Matt Tootle, Carl Dickenson, Richard Duffy, Louis Laing, Michael O’Connor, Graham Burke (Jon Stead 72), Rob Millsom. Vadaine Oliver (Aaron Collins 77), Jonathan Forte, Adam Campbell.
Unused Subs - Alan Smith, Scott Loach, Elliott Hewitt, Haydn Hollis, Genaro Snijders.
Peterborough United:
Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Andrew Hughes, Michael Bostwick, Ryan Tafazolli, Chris Forrester, Gwion Edwards, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Marcus Maddison (Shaquile Coulthirst 58), Lee Angol, Paul Taylor (Tom Nichols 58)
Unused Subs - Brad Inman, Nathan Oduwa, Ricardo Santos, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Mark Tyler.
Jesus wept! I only wanted a bleedin' ticket to watch a game of football.
"Do you have a previous booking history with us?" 
Yes! Loads.
"What games have you been to at Meadow Lane Stadium?" 
First team, FA Youth Cup and Ladies team. The first one was in 1976, it was a FA Cup game against Arsenal, County lost 1-0 and Trevor Ross got the only goal. The last one was youth team game against Romulus a few weeks ago, your Academy team manager left me a ticket on the gate for that one.
"Hmm, I'm not getting anything up with your name, address and postcode, I'll be back in a minute" After an irritating delay, while I considered just walking away and not giving Notts County any of my money, the young man returned, but I couldn't hear a damn thing he was saying.
I pointed to the speaker on the outside of the reinforced glass window and beckoned him to speak into the microphone that was conveniently placed around eight inches away from him at face height.
"Are you sure that you live in Retford!?" 
I didn't reply this time, but merely gave him my meanest Paddington Bear stare and shrugged. "Because I have an account with your surname, but it's on Stoke Lane in Gedling" 
I was fed up with this stupid game by now, so I humoured him and fibbed, unconvincingly, telling him that he would have to excuse me for being so forgetful about my house move to Gedling three months go.. 
"Right, there you are you see. This system never fails. I'll just activate an account for you with those details and you can have a ticket then" The condescending clot!
I have never lived in Gedling and thoughit isn't an entirely undesirable neck of the woods, I probably never will do either, but after a mere twenty minutes, the transaction was complete and I now had a ticket that would afford me entrance to this afternoon's game. 
Jimmy Sirrel and Jack Wheeler 
At this point I feel that I must apologise to Mr Waite of Stoke Lane, Gedling, about the unsolicited junk mail he is going to start receiving from Notts County FC and their associated third party companies any time soon, but I was reaching the end of my tether.
Having already taken a circuitous route around one of my old stomping grounds: the Meadows estate, for old times sake, this lunch time; by way of an advisory note, this is far less risky, though not entirely free of some quite gruesome omnipresent dangers, during daylight hours, then I strolled towards County's ground via the Navigation Canal towpath, breezing past a gathering of shell suit clad teenagers who were seemingly using discarded Lucozade bottles and used rubber johnnies as bait, while they fished this 'picturesque' stretch of water.
Hmm, what sort of a person would frequent a grotty place like this while they got laid?
Nottingham, eh!?
I still had plenty of time, even allowing for my forthcoming unscheduled time consuming episode at the ticket office, so I found a tranquil place to sit and nibble at my wholemeal, green leaf salad and low fat cottage cheese wrap.
Alas, a herd of killer ducks got annoyed that I wasn't chucking a few crumbs their way and climbed out of the canal to surround and harass me.
It was no laughing matter, I was being bullied out of my dinner, but I'm a big coward and wasn't going to put up much of a struggle, so I threw the food as far as I could and made good my escape while they were chasing after it.
I was in need of sustenance, so I went into the Trent Navigation pub, an establishment that is popular with beer tickers because of it's impressive array of real ales and ciders and ordered a coffee before vanishing into a corner to avoid the pitiful stares that partaking in a non-alcoholic beverage were attracting and settled down to watch Curzon Ashton v AFC Wimbledon on the telly.
An Adam Morgan hat trick put the home side 3-0 in front and I figured that would be that and made tracks to my final destination. I was surprised when I was just about to take my seat and the match day announcer read out the final score: Curzon Ashton 3 v AFC Wimbledon 4... 'kinnel!
A sparsely populated ground, apart from a good turn out from Peterborough, in the visitors section of the Jimmy Sirrell Stand, greeted the teams onto the pitch.
Maybe all the missing County fans were still queuing at the ticket office, being denied access to the ground because they didn't know that they had relocated to Gedling.
Hopefully the guy selling the tickets only works on Sunday's and is doing his usual shift at McDonald's if they ever get a big crowd to cater for on a Saturday.
"We've got more fans than you!" Sang the Posh contingent... and their boastful estimation wasn't all that far out.
Following a respectful silence observed in honour of Chapecoense FC, the game got underway and the visitors were straight on the attack.
Inside the second minute, Marcus Maddison shot narrowly wide of the left hand post and the referee Ben Toner incurred the wrath of the home fans who were in line with the incident, because he awarded a corner, despite the fact that no County player had got even a slight touch on the ball.
Nott'm Forest & Notts County, pictures taken from
the same spot next to the Meadow Lane Lock
I was also in line and the agitated fans and protesting County players, had all been wronged by the referee. Maddison delivered the corner into the goalmouth, but the Pies cleared the ball out of their area, where it fell to Leo Da Silva Lopes, who buried an angled shot from twenty yards into the left hand corner of Adam Collin's net, before the Notts keeper had even had a touch of the ball.
The injustice of the opening goal, led to several players surrounding the official as he walked back to the half way line, but it was pointless, because he wasn't going to change his mind now.
The visitors had a lucky escape, when Adam Campbell nudged the ball wide at the back stick after Graham Burke's right wing free kick had been flicked across the face of Luke McGee's goal.
But the visitors movement off the ball was excellent early in the game, they were compact and as tight as a gnat's chuff-piece, for the first thirty minutes or so anyway, as they denied County little space if any to make in roads into their domain.
It would be fair to say that the home defence looked shaky, and while we've already touched on the subject, gossamer thin at times... they collectively backed off as Da Silva Lopes advanced straight through the middle of County's soft centre, but shot just wide of the target.
Michael Bostwick went close to snatching a second goal for 'Boro' before the visitors increased their lead, in the fifteenth minute, with a goal that for County was worryingly similar in it's creation to the Posh opener.
Paul Taylor broke forward and hooked a left wing cross into the mix that the Pies defence struggled to clear beyond the edge of their area again and Gwion Edwards got to the loose ball first and spanked it past Collins.
If this is how Notts defend set pieces and crosses, why don't they employ bodies to collect the ball from short clearances? To either pick up the momentum and create a counter attack, or simply finish the job off and get the ball away from where it can, will and did cause them damage.
My attention was drawn away from the pitch, as Meadow Lane's resident Mr Angry, sat just a few rows away from me, unsupervised, went into an uncontrolled and expletive strew rant, that encompassed the misdemeanors of just about every single player ever, who has pulled on the black and white stripes of County; not the white and black stripes of Brigg Town, you understand, which is why they are called the Zebras, whereas Notts and Newcastle United are nicknamed the Magpies... obviously! I think he is related to the purple guy who plays drums on the Muppets.
If I was from Nottingham and had a season ticket sat near this guy, I would ask for a refund, or swap to the opposite side of the ground, or even the other side of the Trent, to avoid him. Because we have far too much in common and would probably end up scrapping at every game and rolling down the stairs like Johnny Weissmuller and a crocodile, from back in the days when Tarzan was a real man.
Perhaps County could supply tranquilizer darts along with tickets, for those sat near this loon.
The other County fans sat around me were just fine by the way, knowledgeable, good humoured and steeped in the kind of pragmatic realism that comes from watching lower league football in Nottinghamshire for a prolonged period.
If Chesterfield's current plight saw them actually go to the wall any time soon, I wouldn't bat an eyelid.Yet in spite of my Stags leanings, I don't actually regard Notts as a rival side, not in any kind of bitter and hostile kind of way, they're simply that other team of fellow sufferers from just up t'road. Bragging rights over neighboring teams is always fun, but though I probably wouldn't go as far as to say that I have a fondness or soft spot for the Pies, there are a lot of kindred spirits within the ranks of both clubs supporters. And me not having to hide my allegiances while sat among the Notts loyals, demonstrates that point.
Forest have a mutual hatred pact with Derby, Stags and Spireites despise each othe;, but County fans, well at least a small but very vocal minority of them, only seem to have a problem with their own team.
But they're not alone in that respect... are they!?
Another goal for Peterborough now would possibly have seen the bookies paying out on an away win and shutting up shop and going home because the game was looking increasingly like a foregone conclusion.
But something about the visitors psyche was all wrong, possibly they thought that their task was simply proving to be far too easy and stepped off the gas, seeing as they were in complete control of the game, but the Pies picked up on their visitors complacency and as gaps started to appear in the 'Boro' ranks, County began to exploit them.
Michael O'Connor, the Notts captain, was booked for a rash challenge on Andrew Hughes, but moments later, he was channeling his frustration more positively as he tested McGee with a thirty yard drive, that the visitors keeper did well to hold onto by the foot of his post.
Peterborough kept their team travel costs down to a minimum.
This could actually explain a lot about the way this game turned out.
Burke fizzed a shot wide as the home side started to build up a head of steam, while Valdaine Oliver diverted a header over the bar from Jonathan Forte's well aimed delivery into the area.
Da Silva Lopes responding to the way that the tide was turning, but having made a great run to make a chance for himself from a breakaway, he scuffed his shot wide of the goal
Campbell struck the ball well from outside the area, but McGee dived to his right and plucked the ball from the air.
The shouty man a few rows behind me imploded: "Campbell, what the **** was that! Campbell, get off you're a ******* waste of space you clueless ****!Whoever thought that you were ever a footballer is a fu...oh! He did alright there for once!" Right on cue that ******* **** Campbell took the ball down on his chest and rifled an unstoppable shot past McGee. 
What a ******* great ******* goal that ******* was, eh!? 
I say Jack... I wish that shouty bloke would shut the f*ck up!
Forty two minutes gone, hold the back pages.
Out of what seemed to be an irretrievable situation for John Sheridan's side, with nothing but more inevitable pressure from United beckoning for them, County were back in it.
As half time beckoned, right at the bottom of our staircase, the Posh striker Lee Angol battled his way along the left touchline, with Matt Tootle nipping at him from behind and inexplicably slowed down, turned round and shoved his hand into Tootle's face.
Obviously, if you raise your hand, then you're going to be first in the bath tub and Angol had no excuse for his bout of the red mists. But it was a push, not a punch, or even a hard slap and though I understand that Tootle had to go down to make sure that the referee saw the offence (he was missing plenty of other stuff after all), I did check to see if 'irate of Nottingham' had maybe bumped the Notts number 2 off with a sniper rifle.
HT: Pies 1 v Posh 2
Woo hoo! 
It might be worth sticking around for the second half now ;-)
 The Mansfield Town legend Ryan Tafazolli, he who was immortalised in the song: "Supercalifragilistic Ryan Tafazolli - Stood upstraight he's six foot eight, he's bigger than your goalie" (you had to be there to appreciate the moment and you probably weren't), plays for the Posh these days. And there were a few Stags fans in attendance to watch their much missed player of the year. Well, that was their excuse, but most of them seemed to have County supporting mates ;-)
'Taffa' put in a great shift, especially in the second half when... and I swear that I am not making this up... a rampant Magpies team, pinned their League One visitors back in their own half and gave them a proper going over for long spells.
They were like an irritating rash, flaring up all the way across the edge of the Peterborough area.
But County were frustrated by Grant McCann's resilient ten men, who were all back on defensive duty barring Paul Taylor who was left in a more advanced position to pick up any stray balls and clearances... a bit like what County should have done when they conceded bot first half goals.
Stags management duo in the Derek Pavis Stand
'Gamesmanship' featured heavily in the visitors game plan now and when McGee went into the book for persistent time wasting, he was on a shortlist of five 'Boro' players who must've been close to receiving a yellow card for a similar transgression.
Tafazolli took a knock on his head and had to go off for treatment.
Shouty man was back! "******* hell! You set of *****, they have only got nine men, nine *******, hit the ******* thing long you ********* *****"
Actually, it was a good point, well made. Particularly as Notts were fannying around spraying wide passes across the halfway line instead of going for the jugular while the numerical advantage was in their favour.
Perhaps with this being the FA Cup, the Pies were indulging in some Corinthian fair play stuff until Tafazolli came back on. Either way, even I, a complete neutral, was demanding to know; "Why don't you just hit the ******* thing!"
The injured party returned and County started peppering the visitors box with crosses again.
But Peterborough countered and had Gwion Edwards not tried to be so clever, when he attempted to place the ball just inside the left hand post, with an unnecessarily extravagant back heel, when he should just have belted the ball hard and on target, when Taylor set him up with a simple tap in  from close range, then the visitors would have been in the third round draw on Monday night and the game would've been all but over.
Time was beginning to run out and, when McGee made a strong save at his near post to deny Campbell with 11 minutes to go, it looked like Posh would progress to round three.
John Stead was impeded, ever so slightly, by Tafazolli, who almost succeeded in getting the Notts substitutes shirt off over his header as he grappled with him for several seconds, but Mr Toner saw nothing wrong, with the Posh number 5's foul, blatant infringement and borderline sexual assault (see picture above, taken by Dan Westwell).
But even the ever unreliable referee, who was having a complete stinker of a game, couldn't ruin the spectacle that this game was turning into... in fact, if anything, he added to the entertainment by providing a comedy element.
Collins smashed the ball against the bar, while Bostwick made a last ditch clearance to turn Richard Duffy's header over McGee's crossbar.
The fourth official Anthony Tankard indicated that there would be five minutes of added time and in the third one, Louis Laing couldn't quite get enough power into his shot to trouble McGee, but the bobbling shot wrong footed the visitors keeper and a deflection took the ball beyond his reach.
Laing was involved again in the last few moments of the game, when he showed that he could quite easily have made the cut as a goalkeeper, as he pushed Hughes cross away with his hand. It was blatant, but the guy with the whistle in his hand obviously didn't see it.
To be fair, a mistake by the referee had led to Peterborough's opening goal and he had let Tafazolli off of the hook, but he'd certainly just denied them the drama of a late penalty. However the refereeing errors had balanced out evenly in the end... and both teams go into Monday's draw and will have to settle this tie in a replay.
I might even go to watch it, if there is a different man in the middle.
FT: Notts County 2 v Peterborough United 2
*Footnote, added Monday 5th December 2016 at 7.15pm.
FA Cup 3rd Round Draw: Chelsea v Notts County/Peterborough United.
Replay date - Tuesday 20th December 2016 - 7.45pm