Sunday, 29 August 2010

Chasevillage 2 – 1 Halifax Town; 28/08/2010.


My longest away day since Newcastle Blue Star. It's all going to end in tears.

I would've been very surprised if I were told this scoreline prior to the match rather than watch it unfold in such a brooding fashion. Being told it at half-time, I would be very upset with my team. That's what I am now.

On paper, Chasetown would be practically the easiest away day. Promoted through the play-offs in the clearly inferior southern NPL league can surely only mean a rebound back into the depths. A fate they were getting ready for in their first two defeats before the third game of the season, when we rudely got in the way and lost to them. They were what they were on paper.

Chasetown are a tight ship. They are one of those teams that gets a moment of fame through an excellent FA Cup run, ending with Cardiff City in the third round, 2400 somehow passing through the turnstiles two years ago. If I remember right, a similar number from Chasetown previously made it up to Boundary Park, where they held Oldham Athletic to a draw. I won't lie; I'm not sure if there are that many citizens in Chasetown. It is little but a road in the south Staffordshire green belt, the green belt being a reason why they haven't been able to build a stand higher than 4', with a ground nestled into a wood clearing, threatening their future as a team attracting 350 or so to most games. I've done my research and they've come a little way to get to that. The professed zone for "Unofficial Scholars' News," ChasetownFC on blogspot, reports a game with an attendance of 83 for a mid-August Midland Football Alliance game. The second entry comes midweek, reporting a Chasetown away victory with the tantalising words, "More to follow."

We have sat in anticipation for six years.

A tight, effective ship I continue. A flawless pitch, an "oh, just quickly build a few steps here and there and get it done with" approach to ground-building, and a hint towards the intelligentsia; Staffordshire appoints itself to be "The Creative County" and Chasetown "The Scholars." Not the kind of team for those among us who left school with two GCSEs. You need a 2:1 degree at a Russell-group university at least to make the XI here, which accounts for any lack of youth team.

The first half was like returning home for me. Exactly four months after the last league match. Town cracked Chasetown and by the 20th minute were powering through them, and the goalie was being given endless abuse. Bliss. A Taylor cross perfectly went to Metcalfe's powerful head, which hit it just over, before a little while later Metcalfe squared it to Taylor, and this time with such close-range, the ball only had one place to go. The Shane MacGowan lookalike had his first league goal down.

Not too clinical again, but 1–0 to us at half time. Satisfactory, with great performances up front. Our defense I couldn't see as at these bus stop grounds you have no vantage points for that, and to most supporters of bus stop teams that doesn't matter because they're only attending for a larf and the odd massive match when they play a team like us. Expect the Chase to lose their bank holiday game emphatically.

Then, in the changing rooms, the Chasetown chairman conducted a terrible experiment, where he swapped over the brains from our players with the brains from theirs. Out came a Town team that was unremarkable both individually and as a team, and a tough Chasetown side that magically won every 50-50 and every referee decision. There were a few cries for penalties for us; warranted ones that will have to go down to the highlights for us to tell him so, but ultimately we were shocking.

Now you won't beat anyone with two shots on target, or at least shouldn't expect to beat anyone. Aspin in Friday's 'paper spoke of being clinical and it didn't happen today. Do we really have the skill to put those opportunities away? I would like evidence on Monday.

Chasetown were in many ways tough when they came together, but should be more straightforward when they come to the Shay. I suspect they will be lost without the wind and cold and will be given a good hiding. I'm fairly certain of that. I hope I can be certain of that. If that's the toughest fight they can put into a game, then all we have to rely on is not playing as shambolic as today. Aspin I'm sure will know this, and his grilling is one of the most effective we can expect of a manager. His words imply that he strongly believes in a team that can not only hold it at this level, but be depended on to tear apart certain Black Country squads.

Early days I suppose, but a team missing five players, no matter how key as they were, shouldn't fall down when we have several signings from close season who act in the very least as strong reinforcements. Perhaps we should experiment with a strong XI as close as possible to last season's strongest XI?

On the grill they all go.

Chasetown 2 – 1 Halifax Town; att. 611 (looked like more?)
Ground: 2/10
Pitch: 10/10
Programme: N/A
Talent: 4/10 (fetching physio)
Non-partisan entertainment: 7/10


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