No Joy at Ramblers
By Kim Miles
Visit to Deeside Ramblers brings third straight defeat.
Formby travelled to Cheshire with a squad of 13, subs now acceptable with the 2nd XI having secured their league title last week. It now seems the side will just about survive its record-shattering injury list, with just one game remaining after this.
It was to be expected that Deeside would be keen to win, in order to stand a chance of taking the league title, and Sam Birtles
was in the action in the second minute, when the defence was caught napping by a diagonal ball to the inside left position. The rebound went to a Deeside man at the right post but fortunately he foozled it off the pitch.
Formby had an impressive 20 minutes, and their first real opportunity to pressurise the defence came when Ste Wright
picked his opponent’s pocket and advanced on the circle, only to find himself isolated and unable to get near enough for a shot. Mike Davis and Josh Birtles then combined well to repel another home break.
The Formby defence was coping reasonably well with the expected pressure, and their most likely outlets were over the top. A Birtles aerial after 8 minutes might have found Felipe Davis-Guzman
in the right channel, but the ball seemed to take a sideways bounce when it landed and gave him no chance.
Formby were somewhat vulnerable to diagonal passes and Birtles did well to save to his right after a left to right example, followed by a cross-shot. Brother Josh then saved him the trouble of another save by getting his stick on another shot from the left side.
After 17 minutes Giles Hampson
received a green card for a firm challenge, which didn’t seem much more than a reasonable attempt to win the ball – his first offence. It was disappointing that there had been several similar challenges by home forwards that went unremarked by the umpires. From the restart the ball was played into the Formby circle and a fortunate ricochet delivered the ball to a man free around the penalty spot. He wasted no time getting his shot away but Sam Birtles
’s anticipation was on maximum and he took the shot full on the chest, diving to his right, at very close range.
Just as Hampson was on the point of resuming his participation, a very similar challenge on Davis-Guzman was ignored by the umpires. Davis, Will Miles
and Ste Wright
then worked the ball into the circle, but the ‘keeper just beat the latter to the ball and managed to kick clear.
On 22 minutes, Miles got the ball to Ste Wright
in space at the top of the Deeside circle. He aimed a full-bloded swing at the bouncing ball and succeeded only in controlling it for a second effort. He was about to shoot when the whistle went and the umpire awarded Deeside a free hit. Apparently, from his angle it appeared that Wright’s follow-through was dangerous, though from the other side of the pitch there was quite clearly no defender anywhere near. This proved doubly unfortunate for Formby, as, whilst some Formby protests were continuing, Deeside moved the ball quickly forward and when the Formby rearguard failed to intercept a through ball to the right side, a quick cut-back found an unmarked man in front of goal, who finished into the empty net.
Formby continued to get the worse of a number of close umpiring decisions, when a clear push in Andy Wright’s back in the Deeside 22 was penalised with a free hit, when it was hard to see how this didn’t constitute a deliberate offence, the Formby man having clearly given his opponent the slip.
Formby were working hard to cover their goal, and James Long
made a lot of ground to help out, but unfortunately couldn’t quite get the ball under control. His foot brought Deeside the game’s first short corner. This came to nothing, apart from some confusion between the officials, as first a second short corner was awarded, then the decision changed to a 16 to Formby, neither of which seemed the right view (players reckoned a bully would have been best!).Deeside soon had another chance to try their penalty corner routine as Long again got back well to interfere with a home incursion, but Tom Gooding couldn’t get his foot out of the way. He made amends by clearing well after Deeside engineered a shot by moving the ball right then left, without fooling the Formby defence, which blocked the first effort, Gooding picking up the loose ball.
The half ended with another Birtles save from a cut-back from the right side, and some more Formby protests as the umpire (who had thus far insisted on free hits being taken from the right place, allowed the home side to take one from around 20 metres wide of where the offence occurred, and broke rapidly, before a loose pass sped over the Formby back line and the half ended.
Although they hadn’t really troubled the home ‘keeper, Formby were still well in the game, and another Ste Wright
interception brought a foul on him outside the 22, from which Miles looked to have given Davis-Guzman an opportunity to get a shot in, but his first touch let him down for once. A Deeside clearance then eluded the Formby midfield and as he turned to chase Hampson found himself colliding with an opponent some way behind the ball, which reach a home forward near the right baseline, whose cross was accurate and resulted in an easy finish for 0-2. Hampson was then yellow-carded, despite the collision being largely accidental, and not affecting the outcome of the move.
Formby immediately concede another short corner as a cross from the left was deflected into Gooding’s leg. This produced a flick on target which Birtles casually knocked away with his right glove.Ste Wright
then received a green card of his own for mildly disputing a decision. A Harry Pike
intervention in his own circle resulted in another penalty corner for a push, but the home routine was well-watched by Davis and Gooding, the latter emerging in possession until he was fouled.
Miles was then penalised for a stick tackle, when if anything, his opponent was the offender (if there was any offence at all – it appeared to have been given for the noise more than anything). Formby won the ball back and were advancing on their right, when an attempted intervention from a home player around the 22 with a scything swipe which was fortunate to miss everything (but no less dangerous-looking) received merely a green card.
The home side was then awarded a free hit when the ball looked to have come up off a home defender’s stick, but the official though it had defied the laws of physics in last touching a Formby stick. Formby’s efforts to regain possession resulted in the ball going out of play to the right of the Deeside goal. They restarted from well wide of the left post, without incurring the umpire’s displeasure. What did displease him, though was that this meant they took the 16 close to Andy Wright, who didn’t appear to make any attempt to interfere, but was then inexplicably shown a yellow card for not retiring 5 metres.
Shortly after this Josh Brooker
was shown a green card when an attempt to retrieve the ball made contact with stick rather than ball. Not for the first time, this seemed unnecessarily harsh, as there had been plenty of similar challenges which didn’t apparently warrant such punishment.
Hampson was fortunate when an attempted deflection on goal, which was going nowhere near its intended target, flew into his throat, but luckily no damage was done. From the restart, after some medical attention, Formby had a chance to score, as the Deeside keeper made heavy work of a save, allowing the ball to trickle away from him and loosing his footing. Pike was on hand but had some difficulty in extricating himself from the ‘keeper, which delayed his attempt to retrieve the ball. This allowed another defender to become involved, but Pike managed to reach over his stick and knock the ball away with minimal contact with either the player of his stick. He then proceeded to put the ball into the goal, only to discover he’d incurred the umpire’s displeasure.
It was an important moment in the match, and the Formby captain expressed his view (in perfectly acceptable language), that his man had won the ball fairly. For this he received a yellow card, which at best demonstrated something of a lack of appreciation of the significance of his decision on the state of the game from the umpire (it would be nice if, occasionally, officials were to recognise that players are bound to show some reaction if they’ve been on the wrong end of a close decision in a close match?). Apparently, it was the way he said “No! he got the ball!” that merited the card.
The rest of the game produced little action of note – Andy Wright’s close control won a free hit in the 22 that came to nothing, and Brooker and Long combined, after a surging run out of his own half by the latter to work the ball into the home circle, but the final shot wasn’t worthy of the name!Ste Wright
was pushed off the ball on the edge of the Deeside circle but no whistle came as Didsbury set about a quick break, before a Perceptive pass from Miles reached Ste Wright
on the left baseline, but he decided to try his luck from an impossible angle, when he had a couple of players in support in better positions. Miles then found his with an even better pass, this time with his reverse-stick, but weight of numbers forced Wright off the ball in the circle.
Finally, a Deeside man, trying to take the pace off a firm forward pass, played the ball onto his own foot in the Formby 22. This time the umpire waved play on, claiming that he’d seen the foot but thought it didn’t make any difference (had it missed the foot, it was pretty clear from the dugout side that the ball would have continued past him and off the pitch). Fortunately, he then messed up, so no harm was done. In the end, Deeside were deserving winners.
This match had been far from dirty, yet Formby had been awarded 3 green and 3 yellow cards to their opponents’ single green. In their other 20 games this season, the count is 10 yellows and 18 greens, so this was way out of line with their averages. It is apparent that the Formby players managed to get the wrong side of the officials in this particular match, but would it be too much to hope that the officials might at least spend a little time asking themselves whether they bore at least some of the responsibility for that being the case?