News, views and gossip from the magnificent 72
Mike Holden and Gregg Davies
FFT.com’s Gregg Davies casts his eye over a few of the ups and downs from the weekend’s Football League action…
I’d imagine it’s a tough old job being a sports photographer, particularly a football one.
There you are, sat on a little stool – or worse, just crouching – for 90 minutes, snuggled up to the advertising hoardings while competing with several other snappers to get the best shot in the following morning’s rags.
So you could appreciate the chagrin of one camera-wielder at Deepdale on Saturday, as Preston’s Richard Chaplow slid in to edge the hosts ahead against Barnsley.
As the former West Bromwich Albion man was coolly slotting the ball home, one photographer to the side of goal was still busy picking him/herself up off their backside.
Tykes defender Dennis Souza had been attempting to safely shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick, but evidently wasn’t strong enough for Steven Gerrard lookalike and ex-Liverpool striker Neil Mellor, who promptly barged Souza into the oncoming barrier of snappers before smartly squaring the ball for his team-mate to convert.
"Blimey. I can see right up that woman's ..."
Hopefully he/she emerged unscathed and quickly hot-footed it to the opposite end of the ground, where both the afternoon’s other goals were scored as Preston triumphed 2-1.
Thankfully, there were no photographer-related incidents at Plymouth’s Home Park, where Paul Sturrock’s men did what few other teams this season have done (just three in fact) and take all three points off Cardiff.
Former Manchester City striker Emile Mpenza got among the goals for the second time in as many home games – he'd scored with his first touch after coming on as an injury-time substitute in the 2-2 draw with Charlton – to keep the Pilgrims within touching distance of the play-offs and further support manager Sturrock’s decision to bring in the journeyman striker having tracked him for most of his career.
Down a division to League 1 and at Bristol Rovers and Hereford referees continued to cover themselves in the brown stuff.
At the Memorial Stadium, FourFourTwo-sponsored – and managerless – Swindon were seconds away from a morale-boosting West Country derby win against the Pirates until Chris Lines popped up with a 20-yarder.
Naturally, what with this being a notoriously intense fixture between two sides whose stadiums are just 40 miles apart, Lines ran towards the delirious supporters, hugged one or two, and was then engulfed by his hyperactive team-mates.
Celebrations too far, though, for referee Keith Stroud – a man who’s clearly never scored a goal, let alone a last-minute one to rescue a point for his side – who promptly showed Lines his second yellow of the afternoon.
Stroud: "There'll be no celebrating goals while I'm in town..."
Refereeing grievances of a different kind took place at Hereford’s Edgar Street, as the Bulls failed to clamber out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 reverse against Northampton.
For the second time in as many games, having been blown up for the same offence in an FA Cup First Round replay at Dagenham & Redbridge four days earlier, the Bulls were penalised for offside... from a throw-in.
“I've never experienced that in my career and I've experienced it twice in five days now,” uttered perplexed Bulls skipper Karl Broadhurst.
"Officials have a hard job, everyone knows that. They are no one's friends. Players are taught to respect the officials. But sometimes they've got to be put under a bit of pressure because we've had two sets of officials in two games now which were awful.
"Today they were not as bad as Tuesday but Tuesday was ridiculous. The lads likened it to a PE teacher who didn't know the rules.”
The old adage about ‘luck deserting those down the bottom’ certainly rang true for Northampton’s second goal. Hereford full-back Richard Jackson attempted to smash the ball clear but only succeeded in directing it into skipper Broadhurst’s face, allowing Ryan Gilligan to net while Broadhurst was still counting his teeth.
It’s to Hereford’s FA Cup conquerors Dagenham & Redbridge where we go first in League 2, as for the third time in 2008 John Still’s side smacked in six goals at Victoria Road – or the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium, depending on your persuasion.
Incidentally, Chester were the other team to concede six in east London this year… twice!
Strevens: On target in all three of the Daggers' six-goal hauls
The Daggers escaped relegation straight back to the Conference by the skin of their teeth last season. But they are having no such worries so far this term as Notts County were sent back to Meadow Lane with their tails well and truly between their legs, just a week after they had a pleasant afternoon in London thrashing Barnet 4-0. Funny old game, etc.
Although County fans will, on reflection, have wished they hadn’t bothered travelling to Dagenham, at least they arrived in time for kick-off, something that couldn't be said for a desperately unlucky band of Bournemouth fans.
Gate figures tell us that 84 Cherries made it to Blundell Park to see their side come back from 3-1 down to dramatically draw 3-3 with Grimsby on a cold, miserable Friday night by the sea.
However, countless others missed the late drama – and the 89 minutes that had preceded it – after getting stranded in Doncaster with all train routes to Grimsby blocked by trees falling on the lines.
Comrades, we salute you!
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Mike Holden is the editor of www.fillyourboots.co.uk - a football analysis website dedicated to the Coca-Cola League. He is one of the UK’s leading betting tipsters, delivering consistent profits for Bettingzone.co.uk and the SportsXchange TV channel.
Gregg Davies is a writer for FourFourTwo.com
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