Burnham Burn ‘Em As Fireworks Add To Their Manager’s Din…
Woodley United 0-2 Burnham
Burnham’s ‘Blues’, wearing red of course because of Woodley’s sky blue shirts and unusual grey shorts, completely ripped up the form book with a deserved victory at the Rivermoor Stadium, Scours Lane in Tilehurst, Reading. I had negotiated the Pangbourne toll bridge en route from Solihull via Oxford and it felt odd returning to the town so many years after studying P.E. at Bulmershe College which was situated in Earley, near Woodley, with its purple, yellow and green soccer and rugby shirts… Unique.
I counted 83 registered players on the Burnham roster and so it would have been anyone’s guess who turned up at Rivermoor on this Monday evening, although some of them were rather late arriving. The kick-off was put back until 8pm, many trains rattled past the ground, fireworks cracked in the distance, the Burnham manager’s voice bellowed like he was barking orders at rookie squaddies at an army recruiting base and the visitors totally overturned the teams’ current league positions by winning convincingly with a brace of goals from striker Jordan Dowdican, one being a penalty.
|CAN THEY EVEN SEE THE COIN?|
The hosts failed to trouble Blues’, er, Reds’ goalie Mohammed Sampat virtually at all, a ‘keeper who on occasions attempted to out-yell his manager, successfully too. Burnham, who hail from The Gore, often gored their hosts with some strong, quick and inventive midfield play, offering more goal chances to Dowdican and also to the unfortunate but willing Calvin Morgan. I guess it was unfortunate too for United that livewire winger and loanee Jaydyn Englefield was being marked by the more physically strong QPR youngster Charlie Fox, whose experience as a left-side central defender offered Englefield little scope throughout the ninety minutes.
|FINALLY THE LINESMAN NOTICED THE BLUE POLES ON THE PITCH...|
I hope I have the names correctly spelt in the report below and apologies to Burnham’s number 8 Kordian Morawski, whose name had been scribbled across on the official team-sheet but thanks must go to the two clubs’ Twitter accounts for clarifying the midfielder’s name…
|RED ARMY DEFENCE...|
A couple of early skirmishes forward by Woodley were rebuffed by the Reds, including a harmless header by home skipper Idris Kampara from a Jake Nicholls corner. The guests managed only a low shot by lively playmaker Conrad Joseph which home goalie Alex Reed slithered on the turf to collect. Sampat was nearly robbed by home striker Toby Briggs as he did an impression of Barca’s Marc-André ter Stegen, hanging onto possession until the final second, whilst looking for a pass to a colleague but that apart, United’s remaining efforts before the interval were stemmed by the Burnham defenders, with Luke Paris, skipper Tom Kemp and Dan Wilson often imperious. The hosts also had no height in attack and their ground play, often started by Ash Ledger too often came to nought as a final pass was intercepted or simply went astray.
The opening goal stemmed from United possession and from Englefield’s pass back to right-defenceman Michael Porter. Fox blocked the Woodley man’s clearance, so that Morawski took control on the left, fed Dowdican on the 18 yard line and he slipped the ball slightly backwards to Morgan but Morgan’s return pass did the real damage and Dowdican’s low 15 yard shot hit Reed on its way into the bottom right corner of the net.
|CELEBRATING IN THE GLOOM...|
The game had been lacking any real goalmouth excitement thus far and neither team had dominated, although perhaps Burnham’s pacy midfielders had looked more assured, despite both teams lacking penetration. A fine clipped pass by Fox dropped over the stretching Kampara in the inside-left channel but Dowdican, with only Reed to beat, lifted his right footer past the right angle of crossbar and upright. Fine play again by Fox allowed the effective and influential Greig Stewart to slip a pass into the path of Morgan but Reed was quickly off his goal-line to stub the attack. A low Morgan drive from 19 yards rolled past the left stick, a fine right-flank move by the visitors ended with a byeline set-up for Morawski, whose low pass was swept wide of the near post by Dowdican and subsequently the referee whistled for the break.
|STROLLING OFF FOR A CUPPA & FOR THE BURNHAM REDS TO LEARN THE NAMES OF THEIR COLLEAGUES...|
Burnham had been galvanised by the goal, Woodley had been stunned and indeed, their form had dropped alarmingly as their party-pooping guests began to exploit their hard won middle-third ascendancy. The hosts needed to change things up after the interval but once the second goal had been conceded it would become clear that Woodley just hadn’t quite got what it needed to threaten the Reds, who were constantly driven on by their frightening coach… During the break I chatted to one of three Burnham replacements with splendid names, Oscar Valencia Alonso, the others being Walter Rizo Neva and Brian Leandro Toro Arias. Sadly only Rizo was used, for ‘we likes the Brians…’
|ENGLEFIELD: LITTLE CHANGE OUT OF THE IMPRESSIVE MR FOX...|
A forceful run to the right byeline by Stewart won the first of two corners for the visitors, before a fine rush by Fox badgered the home defence but from a good position, Morgan rapped his 22 yarder high into the cold night air. Then a left-side cross by United was flicked on by Briggs’ forehead at the near post but as he celebrated and the ball dropped into goal beyond Sampat, a linesman’s flag waved to rule out the goal. And how Burnham responded… A quick volleyed pass over the home defence by Morawski sent Dowdican running and as Reed advanced, his baulking block on the forward, like a New Orleans Saint blocking a Denver Broncos running-back, resulted in a penalty.
|PENALTY AWARDED, YELLOW CARD SHOWN...|
A yellow card for Reed followed but that might have been a red one in other games, involving other officials but in truth the true punishment was meted out by Dowdican who got up and smashed a fine spot-kick into the top left side of the net.
|...& DOWDICAN GOES TO THE DUGOUT TO GET SOME LOVE...|
Dowdican fancied a massage then and he was replaced by Rizo Neva, before lying down on the sideline to be pampered by Alice the physio’…
|...& SOME ATTENTION...|
Three substitutions were made by Woodley: Sam Guze, Callum Samuel-Harman and Greg Beckett replaced Owen Davies, Ledger and Jordan Goddard but there was little improvement for United, bar one attack when the ball was sliced upwards, Sampat tried to catch it but dropped it like his cat was covered in fleas, causing a melee but again a flag was waving and Burnham survived. Another great run by Fox resulted in another chance for Morgan which he rifled too high again. Then Rizo Neva fed Morgan for a shot from 23 yards which was on target this time but Reed plunged left to push the ball away well for a right-side corner. A last chance for Morgan saw him get onto Stewart’s pass in the inside-right channel but Reed’s advance was enough for the striker’s shot to hit the upright ‘keeper’s body.
All that the hosts could manage was a free-kick from 21 yards by leading scorer Danny Horscroft who had battled so hard but with little real service and his left-boot effort dropped just over the target. The game ended then but almost every time the guests had counter-attacked after the break, following intercepted or inaccurate Woodley passes, they had looked a threat. Stewart, Morawski, Joseph and Fox had surged forward several times each but United seemed powerless to stop them and in contrast, despite the efforts of Nicholls and Ledger, so little offense was mustered throughout by Woodley. A few sorties on the left by Goddard and Davies had brought no rewards but their commitment had been undoubted.
|ALICE DECIDES SHE'S GONNA WEAR EARPLUGS NEXT TIME...|
A long trip back to the Midlands followed, albeit not via the toll bridge in Pangbourne and I was back home by 11.50pm. Thanks to Woodley’s officials who welcomed me so pleasantly and as I strolled past the silent fairground rides in total darkness to near the riverside homes where I had parked my car, I thought back to my college days of watching Reading at Elm Park, when their two goalies were Death and Pratt…
You can’t make THAT up…
ALEX REED, MICHAEL PORTER, JORDAN GODDARD, JAKE NICHOLLS, IDRIS KAMPARA (CAPT), MITCH COOPER, JAYDYN ENGLEFIELD, ASH LEDGER, TOBY BRIGGS, DANNY HORSCROFT, OWEN DAVIES.
JAKE WHITE, SAM GUZE, LUKE TURNER, CALLUM SAMUEL-HARMAN, GREG BECKETT.
MOHAMMED SAMPAT, KYLE JEFFREYS, CHARLIE FOX, DAN WILSON, LUKE PARIS, TOM KEMP (CAPT), CONRAD JOSEPH, KORDIAN MORAWSKI, JORDAN DOWDICAN, CALVIN MORGAN, GREIG STEWART.
OSCAR VALENCIA ALONSO, WALTER RIZO NEVA, BRIAN LEANDRO TORO ARIAS, JACK POOLE.