Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dave McArdle's Blog

‘The Beautiful Game: A Football Blog’ by Dave McArdle

It’s been another fascinating weekend in football. Man City surged to the top of the table, Luis Suarez went top of the goal scoring charts and Mark Hughes became the early favourite to be the first Premier League manager this season to lose his job as his QPR side were humbled by Southampton in a game dubbed ‘El Sackico’.

CCFL: Referee in the Spotlight

In ‘The Inside Line’ feature match on Sunday, I was in McCarthy Park in Athlone to see St.Peters take on Wolfe Tone Celtic in the Umbro FAI Junior Cup 2nd round. St.Peters dominated from the off and unlike their famous fellow Bray native Katie Taylor, Wolfe Tone Celtic looked anything but champions. St.Peters carved the Wolfe Tone defence open with ease from the off. Aidan Warde and Declan Fallon went close early on before Peters deservedly took the lead on 9 minutes – a free kick on halfway was lofted in to the area and knocked down for striker Aidan Warde who volleyed home inside the area. Peters continued to create chance after chance - as every attack seemed to exploit the weakness in the Wolfe Tone defence - and they duly got their second in the 39th minute. A cross from the byline was punched away by Wolfe Tone keeper Philip Peacock but his clearance only got as far as Kevin Boland who didn’t need to be asked twice, and he duly smashed the ball to the roof of the net to double the home side’s advantage. Peters notched a third before the break as Declan Fallon struck a low, precise shot which found the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.

The second half began much in the same way that the first half had ended, with Wolfe Tone Celtic firmly on the ropes. St.Peters got their fourth goal with barely three minutes of the half played – Kevin Boland was released down the left following excellent work from Aidan Warde in midfield and he cut the ball back for Adrian Carberry to chest home from two yards for one of the easiest goals he will ever score. Four became five just before the hour mark as Aidan Warde gambled on a hopeful high ball out from defence, and he was rewarded as the ball bounced off a Wolfe Tone defender and into his path. Ward was given a free run at goal and he never looked like he was going to miss as he waited for the keeper before calmly stroking the ball into the bottom right corner.

After the hour mark, Peters’ manager Derek Moran had the luxury of being able to make a raft of changes – and he replaced the highly impressive Aidan Warde who had bossed the game for the home side while he was on the pitch. If you’re trying to picture Warde, think of Luka Modric except playing in a more advanced position; his diminutive stature in no way takes away from his talent and he is surely one of the best players plying his trade in the Combined Counties Football League at the moment.

As the second half wore on, referee Dermot Tone took the baton from Warde and became the star of the show – but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. He irked the travelling support by sending of a member of the Wolfe Tone management before he began dishing out cards with the frequency of a postman at Christmas time. Tone booked almost every member of the Wolfe Tone team and he then proceeded to send off four of them. Incredibly, despite the amount of cards brandished, there was hardly a bad challenge in the game with the vast majority of the indiscretions being for dissent rather than foul play. Peters still had time in an eventful second half to score three more goals through David Donohue and Niall Boland (2) before, after repeated calls from the Wolfe Tone management to abandon the game, Dermot Tone blew the final whistle some seven minutes early for a final score of 8-0 which puts Peters into Round 3 where they will face Willow Park next week in what looks like a mouth-watering Athlone derby.

The Wolfe Tone players and management were incensed after the game with manager John Bishop stating that his side will not be entering the competition again if this is the way referees operate down the country. I must say at this point that the vast majority of the refereeing I have seen this season has been totally fair and unbiased and while the officials have not always made the right calls, they have tried their best and in general have kept control in what can sometimes be hostile and difficult circumstances. Being a referee is often a lose-lose situation and we should be thankful that we have many thick-skinned officials in the Midlands who go about their work with integrity and with minimal fuss. After all, without referees we wouldn’t have the thrilling and action-packed sporting occasions that we love so much.

Elsewhere in the CCFL at the weekend, there were cup wins for Kilmore Utd, Longford Wanderers, Clonmore Utd, St.James, Clonbonny, Dynamo Town, Portarlington Town, Edenderry Town, Rosenallis, Abbeyleix Athletic, Camlin Utd, Kilcormac Utd and Shinrone. In league action, three became two at the top of the Senior Division as Willow Park enjoyed a fine win away to Killavilla while Mullingar put eight past Gallen Utd at home. Several sides in the Premier Division were given a glimmer of hope as Mullingar Athletic handed CK United their first defeat of the season while Gracefield Athletic kept pace with the leaders in Division 1 and Killeigh Ramblers went top of Division 2.

Champions League Preview

In tonight’s action, Chelsea will be looking for at least a point against Juventus in Turin or they risk attaining the unwanted record of becoming the first reigning champions not to get past the group stages. Sir Alex Ferguson has the luxury of being able to give his fringe players run out away to Galatasaray safe in the knowledge that top spot in Group H is already secured. In Group F, BATE Borisov will be looking for a victory at home to pointless Lille in order to keep on the coat-tails of Bayern and Valencia at the top. In Group G, Celtic face Benfica at the Estadio Da Luz knowing that victory would extend a remarkable European campaign and see them through to the knockout stages with a game to spare. Neil Lennon has injury doubts over Scott Brown, Joe Ledley and Gary Hooper but all three could be involved.

On to tomorrow night and Dynamo Kiev will have to beat the galacticos of P.S.G in Group A if they are to maintain their slim chances of qualification for the next round. In Group B, Arsenal still have work to do and they will be looking for victory at home to Montpellier to retain their ambitions of winning the group. Malaga have enjoyed a fairytale campaign so far and sit 5 points clear at the top of Group C while AC Milan will need to win away at Anderlecht to keep their fate in their own hands. In Group D, Man City must beat Real Madrid at the Etihad if they are to keep alive their very slim hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Fantasy Folly

Finally, to those of you who followed my fantasy tips in Friday’s blog, I apologise profusely. Robin Van Persie produced his first 2-pointer of the season in what was a thoroughly forgettable afternoon for the Red Devils at Carrow Road. Also, last week’s top scorers Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez failed miserably. However, you can rest assured that I feel your pain – I captained RVP too so my arrow is as red as the rest of yours. Such is life in Fantasy Football; all I can do is offer my apologies and I will endeavour to do better with my picks this coming Friday. Enjoy the Champions League and in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘I’ll be back’.

You can follow Dave McArdle on Twitter @DaveMidlands103


Post a Comment