Sunday, 14 March 2010

What the POOK!!!!!!!!

Saturday 13th March 2010
Football League 2
Pirelli Stadium

In 2009 Burton Albion followed their predecessor and became the fourth team from the town of Burton-upon-Trent to play in the Football League. The first team to do so was Burton Swifts who joined the second division in 1892, while just two years later Burton Wanderers joined them after being elected from the Midland League. Wanderers stay only lasted three years before re-joining the Midland League. The two teams then merged in 1901 to form Burton United though the stay in the Football League only lasted until 1907 when the club were no re-elected. Following this they joined the Birmingham League but at the end of the 1909/10 season folded. Before Albion’s formation in 1950 the last team to carry the town’s name to have any significance was Burton Town. Town who were previously known as Burton All Saints played in the Birmingham Combination, Birmingham League and Midland League until the outbreak of the Second World War but did not reform when the war ended. Like previously stated Albion were formed in 1950 and joined the Birmingham League. They remained in the league for eight years before joining the Southern League. Twenty-one seasons were spent in the Southern League before being transferred to the Northern Premier League (NPL) due to reorganisation following the formation of the Alliance Premier League (now Conference). The club spent just eight seasons in the NPL before switching back again to the Southern League in 1987, while another switch back to the NPL for a second time came in 2001. The 2001/02 season saw Albion crowned NPL champions and with it promotion to the top tier of non-league football in the Conference. Seven seasons were spent in the Conference before the club were promoted to the Football League as champions.

The town of Burton-upon-Trent (population in 2001 64,449) is located in Staffordshire and is the administrative centre for the East Staffordshire district. The town is most well known for the brewing industry with Coors being one of the five breweries in the town. Both the River Trent and Trent & Mersey Canal wind their way through the town.

The reason for the choice of game is that I have a very good friend who is a supporter of Burton’s visitors today Cheltenham Town and this fixture gives us a chance to meet up for the first time since mid-December when we took in the Cirencester Town – Thatcham Town match in the Southern League. (report can be found here: I never managed to get to Burton’s old ground of Eton Park so I am looking forward to this fixture. One word of warning to Cheltenham Town supporters is that I have seen them play four times in the midlands over the years at Notts County, Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City and they have lost all four games without scoring a goal. If this trend continues then I have a feeling that I will be barred from attending any further games watching Cheltenham away from home!!!!!!! At the start of play Burton have made a solid start in the debut season in the Football League, currently occupying 12th place with forty-nine points on the board, while Cheltenham who were relegated from League 1 last season are in a relegation fight. The Robins sit one place above the relegation zone but have a four point advantage over Grimsby Town having played a game less. If I were a betting man then I predict either a 2-0 or 3-1 victory for the hosts this afternoon.

The Pirelli Stadium has only been Burton’s home since 2005 and has a capacity of 6,912. The ground is covered on all four sides with one seated main stand and the other three terracing. Away supporters are housed in the terracing behind the goal on the Derby Road side and are allocated a section of seating in the main stand.

The game itself was one of the old football clich├ęs, a game of two halves with the second forty five minutes one that I am struggling for words to describe. The game was only two minutes old when a mistake in the Cheltenham defence allowed Shaun Harrad to score with a low shot past visiting keeper Brown. A good move from the home side saw Steve Kabba come within inches of connecting with a Harrad cross to double their advantage. Further confusion in the visiting defence saw an attempted lob by Harrad well saved by Brown. Around the half hour mark Lee Ridley brought down Harrad in the penalty area who subsequently stepped up and made it 2-0. Half time could not come quick enough for Cheltenham who were playing with no confidence and it appeared they had no hope of getting anything out of the game. Whatever was said in the dressing room by manager Mark Yates seemed to work as on 53 minutes they pulled a goal back. Following an error in the Burton defence David Hutton crossed for Justin Richards to stab the ball home from a couple of yards out. Just three minutes later and it was all square when Medy Elito scored the goal of the game when he struck a superb first time shot from the edge of the penalty area into the top right hand corner of the net. Only five minutes had passed before Burton re-took the lead when Cheltenham skipper Michael Townsend diverted a Cleveland Taylor cross into his own net. The home side then had further chances to restore their two goal cushion before, on seventy two minutes Kabba did just that. The game then calmed down a bit before it reached the 84th minute when things just got silly. A free kick on the edge of the area was struck low past the home wall by Michael Pook to set up what we thought would be a tense finish. A minute later and Burton though were two goals to the good for a third time when Kabba got his second of the match after turning in a Harrad cross. Game over right? Wrong. Pook got his second on the 87th minute when his deflected shot looped over the home keeper Krysiak to make it 5-4. On the stroke of ninety minutes Justin Richards reached a long ball first to slot the ball past Krysiak to give Cheltenham an equaliser and send the visiting supporters into raptures and completely stun the Brewers fans. Deep into injury time and Pook completed his hat-trick with a twenty yard volley to give the visitors an astonishing victory that will no doubt go down in Cheltenham folklore and be talked about for years to come.

Trying to summarise the game is very difficult but the second forty minutes is something that will be with me for a very long time. What a way for me to end my jinx of watching Cheltenham away from home – the first time I’ve seen them score and they score six and the first time I’ve seen them won. In all the years I’ve been watching football this is the first 5-6 scoreline I have witnessed and only the third in which I have seen 11 goals scored. The last time this happened was at the end of September 2008 when Sileby Town won 8-3 at FC Dynamo in the Leicestershire Senior League.

Wow is my final world on the game.

Admission: £13
Programme: £2.50
Badge: £2.50
Attendance: 2,500


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