My last competitive football match came some time in May 2014, well over 2 years ago. Since then I’ve appeared in a couple of friendly matches and played some small-sided games, but nothing “official”
Today finally saw an end to that, with a long awaited return to the pitch for my new Sunday league side Northcroft, named after a social club that just happens to be a stone’s throw from my front door.
The Treadfirst Sudbury and Haverhill Sunday Football League covers, as you could probably guess from it’s name, teams across this part of Suffolk, primarily based around the towns of Sudbury and Haverhill. Today’s match was away in Haverhill, about as far away as we will travel this season, to take on FC Bar Vu Reserves.
Being new to the league I don’t know who’s going to be good, who we’ll turnover or even how good our own players were, but I was quietly confident going into this one.
The pitch was on a huge open playing field, up a bank and very exposed to the wind, which would prove a major player throughout the match. The surface, though fairly hard, was of a high standard with the well cut grass almost being ideal for football, something you don’t always find at this level.
We dominated the first half and were 4-0 up by half time. I had little to due during this period, mainly collecting over hit through balls and taking goal kicks. Unfortunately, my kicking was letting me down, although distance was not an issue I was struggling with accuracy, particularly when kicking from my hands. The wind was blowing strongly from behind me and often carrying them right through the opposition goalkeeper.
That said, I did manage one “semi assist”, with one of my kicks deflecting off a defender before releasing our striker through the middle who coolly slotted home.
Having been out of the game for so long, my confidence was also fairly low and I was reluctant to come flying through crowds of players to collect balls that I probably should have done, but going in at half time with a clean sheet, I was happy enough.
The second half I attempted to rectify what I felt were my weaknesses from the first. With the wind blowing strongly against us now I stopped kicking from my hands and always looked for the short option or kicked from the floor, something which definitely helped and that I was pleased with the outcome of.
I’m not sure whether it was over confidence or an underestimation of the weather, but less than a minute into the half we had conceded. I was a little disappointed with this one as I failed to push a hard low shot far enough away from the goal, giving the striker the chance to tap in from the rebound to set up an interesting 45 minutes.
We did restore the margin though shortly after, making it 5-1 and although I spent much of the half dealing with the wind, we were fairly comfortable at the back. Aside from maybe one or two low saves, the half for me was again dominated by the collecting of long balls and controlling the defence.
A penalty was given against us mid-way through the second half and unfortunately I have still yet to save one in a competitive game. Going the right way, I momentarily thought I had a chance, but it was so well hit into the side netting that I was never getting anywhere near it.
The game finished 5-2, a comfortable victory and hopefully a sign of things to come.
In terms of my own performance, I was fairly happy. I recognised my faults from the first half and tried (successfully I think) to put these right in the second period. I wasn’t overly busy and I could’ve done better for the first goal, but other than that I just need to build my confidence when coming for the ball and work on the accuracy of my kicks.
Looking forward to the next game now, bring it on!
Prior to this season, since leaving Portsmouth in June 2014, I've only played one 11-a-side game of football, which was a pre-season friendly for Wells Hall back in that summer. Today we faced that side, albeit a very different looking one to what I remember, at Cornard United's ground
Playing at a "proper" ground (Cornard are in the Thurlow Nunn league) is a different experience from the wind-swept playing fields of Haverhill on which I played my last match two weeks ago.
We were always expected to win today. Wells Hall are, shall I say, a much more "experienced" team than us and I for one was confident we could continue our fine start to the season in this one.
The first half was an incredibly quiet one for me personally, as we controlled the game and created many chances, limiting Wells Hall to aimless through balls which I was able to easily collect. The only blip was a slight misjudgement of a floated cross, which went over my head and, fortunately, out of play for a goal kick. Other than that, my kicking was consistent and I was pleased with the little that I had to do.
We went in at half time 2-0 up, but in truth it should've been much more than that. A succession of dodgey offside calls and a few spurned chances had held us back from going in at the break 4 or 5 up.
The second half was even quieter than the first. I think must've collected two, maybe three through balls and kicked only once or twice. In the end we went on to win 3-0, but the scoreline really didn't show our dominance. We sit top of the league on goal difference as it stands and it is widely expected to come down to a straight fight between ourselves and BLG United for the title. Next week we host Stoke By Clare who, before today also had a 100% record (at the time of writing their result from today has not been submitted).
Sunday marked my third game of the season and I was keen to help the team get back to winning ways after they suffered a controversial defeat the week before. The side we were playing, Acton Crusaders, had enjoyed a mixed start to the season but I was confidence we’d be able to beat them.
Unfortunately, we were on the back foot for much of the first half and I was called into action much more than in any of my previous two games. I had to make 2 or 3 strong saves in the first half, although one was as a direct result of a poor goal kick on my part, but still.
My kicking is causing me some concern at the moment. Ground kicks are fine (although could be better), but for some reason I seem to have lost the accuracy of my drop kicks, which used to be one of my strong points. I’ve lost some confidence in them as a result and prefer to drop the ball and kick from the floor when possible, but it’s something that I will look to improve.
Unfortunately, we did go behind in the game. A ball down their left wing somehow found its way to the corner of my area and was squared across to be knocked in at the back post. We had 2 or 3 chances to clear it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about that one.
We levelled things up before half time and grabbed two more in the first minute of the second half, which I think led to a bit of complacency. They began to apply the pressure again and got another goal back from a corner. The ball was floated in deep and, to be fair, I should’ve come for it, but chose to stay on my line. I was annoyed because I pulled out a really good save from the close range header to tip it onto the bar, but with me on the floor, Acton followed in for an easy header from a yard out.
We did go on to win the game, but they did grab another goal late in the game. A hoofed clearance down the middle evaded both our central defenders and I was arguably a bit slow at coming out. By the time I got the edge of my box to try and close down the striker, he was already in control of the ball and tucked it into the corner.
But we did win the game 5-3, the same scoreline as the opening game of the season. In 3 games I have conceded 6 goals, which I’m not overly happy with, but I don’t think there was much I could do about many of them and I will take the clean sheet against Wells Hall away as a positive as I miss the next few games.
Our next game is on Friday night at AFC Sudbury, but I am away from Friday to Sunday so will miss that. I will also miss the next Sundays after that meaning my next game (if I get back in the team!) won’t be until the 30th October. Hopefully we can continue our push for the title during this time and I come back to a winning team.
I’m really enjoying playing again and this performance was definitely my best so far this season, having been forced into a number of really good saves. I feel that I’m getting better with every game and can’t wait for the next one!
After missing the last three games, I was really looking forward to getting back out there, especially against Bar Vu Reserves who played right at the start of the season and had already beaten, so I was confident we could do so again.
We were actually on the back foot for much of the first half but somehow took the lead. Despite the pressure, all I really had to deal with though were a few errant through balls and some hopeful efforts. I was called into action eventually though and pull off a smart save up high at my near post to divert the ball out for a corner.
Unfortunately, from the resulting corner, the referee decided that I had pushed the attacked in the back and pointed to the spot. In hindsight, maybe I had been too obvious, but he was there purely to stop me getting to the ball, not to try and win it himself, so I'm not sure how that's allowed, but I can't try and get him out of my way. Anyway, they tucked the penalty away.
Shortly afterwards we were behind. A ball was passed back to me and I didn't get enough distance and my clearance. Their midfielder picked it up and ran forwards before being brought down. Despite the free kick initially coming to nothing, it eventually found it's way to their striker who shot low across me and despite getting a hand to it, I couldn't keep it out.
We were much more dominant in the second half and I had less to do. My kicking from my hands was much improved today and my goal kicks are getting stronger too, so I was happy with that aspect of my game.
They did grab a third goal before the end of the game. Their striker broke into the box and I moved across to cover my near post. Again it was hit low across me and into the far corner.
Despite my initial frustrations with the penalty, I think I picked myself up to have a decent game today. It wasn't my best performance, but I think my kicking is improving and I even managed to come and get my hands on a couple of crosses, something which has also been a week point of my game, so overall I'm fairly happy.
Four appearances and four wins for me this season, so here's hoping we can keep our momentum going.
OK, so I forgot to write anything about this game and it was a hell of a match to play in.
Whilst I can't remember much about my own performance, the manner in which we won the game was certainly memorable, coming from 2-1 down going into the final minutes to emerge 3-2 victors!
My 6th game of the season and still holding onto that 100% winning record! Unfortunately, this wasn't one of my best games and there were a few aspects which I was particularly disappointed with.
For much of the first half I was happy, collecting through balls and long-range efforts with little issue, but I wasn't really tested. Again, I was happy with my distribution which is definitely the most improved part of my game, the defense showed really well too allowing for lots of short throws in order to maintain possession, which worked well for us.
The first goal we conceded was the result of a long ball over the top. In hindsight, I should've come to clear the danger but hesitated, by which point it was too late. I tracked back to cover my near post as the player advanced towards the near post, making sure I wasn't going to be beaten there. Unfortunately he had a team mate unmarked at the back post and squared it across for him to tap into the empty net.
The second goal I have no complaints about. A direct free kick was stupidly given away on the edge of the box. I assembled a big 5-man wall and positioned it well, but unfortunately we are not the biggest of teams and the ball was hit right over their heads and into the top corner, well beyond my reach.
The third goal was gifted to the opposition by one of our defenders, who failed to clear properly, passing to the attacker on the edge of the box. He shot from range and the ball bounced right in front of me. Unfortunately, I was unable to push the ball clear and presented the rebound directly to the onrushing striker to tap home - a bit disappointing.
All in all, this wasn't one of my better performances, but I don't think I played particularly bad and the most important fact is that we came away with the three points. Next week is essentially the title decider against BLG and my final game of the season (which finishes the following week) so I'm really keen to have a good game. Up the yellows!
Ooof. That was certainly an interesting game. On the one hand I'm gutted to lose my first game of the season, but on the other it was probably my best and most enjoyable game of the season, so I'm happy.
Going up against the champions-elect was never going to be easy and we were certainly the underdogs, especially as we were short on numbers in some areas of the pitch. We were on top for much of the first half with most of my action revolving around catching a few long range efforts, rushing out to get the ball and goal kicks. I was very happy with how I dealt with all of these in the first half, I definitely felt more confident than in previous weeks and felt I was getting back to my best.
We did concede before half time unfortunately though, with a low cross from the left being put in that area between the defence and the goalkeeper, giving neither the chance to get to it and allowing for an easy finish for the striker.
The second half saw the opposition on top and I was kept far busier. Against the wind, my kicking initially became poorer, but I got control of it as the half progressed and I was forced into a lot more saves throughout the half. The most notable bit of action for me was crazy 10 seconds in which I pulled off 3 saves in quick succession. Firstly, getting my hands to a low driven cross to force it away from the on-rushing striker, then stopping the follow up shot from the penalty spot down to my right, before getting quickly back up again to tip another rebound from the six yard line around the post to my left.
Their second goal came from a long throw in on the right. The ball was flicked on at the near post to an unmarked attacker near the penalty spot and he guided his header into the bottom right corner of my goal. I got down quick enough to get a hand to the ball, but couldn't quite keep it out.
All-in-all I was happy with my performance. I was more confident in coming out and claiming wayward crosses and overhit passes, my distribution was strong apart from a few poor kicks at the start of the second half and most importantly I was back making saves, something which I've not been called upon to do as much this season as we've been quite strong at the back.
That's me done now until 2017, although the team have one game remaining next week. I can't wait to get back between the sticks next year!
The Ultimate Chelmsford City Fan Site.
Since I can remember, I've always been a fan of Chelmsford City Football Club. My dad took me to games throughout my childhood and I have continued to go whenever possible since. Given my chosen career path it was only a matter of time before it combined with my number one favourite thing in the world (football), something which has indeed happened with a number of projects over the years
In February 2013 I launched ClaretArmy, a fansite for the Clarets that offered a mixture of match previews and reports, opinion posts and club news. Since then, the site has grown to include up-to-date fixture and results lists, squad lists complete with statistics for all competitions and a fantasy football competition which now helps to generate revenue for the official Chelmsford City Supporters Club.Visit Website
An interactive and useful map of my local area.
The original idea behind SudburyMap was to create a different way to list out and display historic photos of Sudbury, by presenting them on an interactive map. The markers on the map indicate a location where a photo was taken, which you can click on to see a gallery of images from this place. You can then enlarge each image by clicking on it and can scroll through images from the same location using the arrow keys on your keyboard.
Unforunately the task of gathering enough images to make it worthwhile was too much so, rather than scrapping the site altogether, it was adapted to work almost as a sort of .tourist information page. The website shows visitors the locations of local supermarkets, public toilets, sports teams, points of interest and much more all on an easy-to-use and helpful interactive Google map.
SudburyMap launched in December 2015.Visit Website
A fan site dedicated to a group of YouTube personalities
I started this site to give me the chance to hone my skills on a subject that interests me. The "Ultimate Sidemen" are a group who regularly post gaming videos to the platform YouTube and have amassed quite a following (we're talking millions of people).
Being quite early to the party I was able to procure the domain name relevant to their group and set about creating a small fan site that posted news about the group as well as links to their official channels and videos and other relevant fan accounts.
The website, albeit in a preview itteration to the current live design, even gained the attention of one the group when KSIOlajideBT Tweeted a link to the site to his 2 million Twitter followers, providing quite a bit of traffic to the site and using up a large portion of my monthly bandwidth!
Ultimate Sidemen went live in October 2014.Visit Website
Website for the football club's official supporters club.
Chelmsford City Supporters' Club chairman Luke Owers approached me to ask if I could help build a dedicated website for the SC, as they were currently occupying a single page on the official club website.
They wanted something up quickly that was very straightforward and so I created a simple WordPress site for them, which was designed and built from scratch in just a couple of days.
This project was done free of charge.
This website went live in August 2016.Visit Website