Sunday 13 October 2013

An Arsenal fan's views on the game at Alfreton

The Alfreton game gave Marilyn and I an opportunity to spend a couple nights in the beautiful Peak District as well as taking in a game. We went with Alan and his wife who has only just recently given up his long held Arsenal season ticket.
I have summarised his thoughts and added some observations of my own.

Before the game

We parked within a hundred yards of the ground. Something impossible at the Emirates. The Victoria pub was cosy and welcoming. Fans of both sides sharing a drink with no animosity. Again this couldn't happen if Arsenal were playing. The police presence was minimal and good humoured. It was clear  that the team was an integral part of the local community and that the game was important. All programmes had been sold which was disappointing.

The ground
Well kept but in need of modernisation. The pitch looked in fantastic condition and being played under floodlights intensified the green of the grass. The service from the food kiosk was efficient and very friendly even if they had run out of pies. We stood behind the goal which Chester were defending in the first half amongst the Alfreton fans. With the exception of one fan who was abusive to the ref and any Chester player who touched the ball they were a friendly and well informed group. Incidentally it was very impressive how Danby remained fully professional under this hail of abuse. A part of the goal keeping art which is not often written about.

The Game
A good view of the game and great to be so close to the action. Shows how strong the players are to take the physicality of the game at this level. Alfreton looked a very impressive team and in the first ten to fifteen minutes it looked like Chester were going to struggle. They were fast, direct and strong. Gradually Chester gained control and started to look the better team.The referee was consistent with both teams and in general had a good game.Chester's defence were impressive and totally committed throughout. Titchiner was immense covering huge amounts of ground one minute attacking down the left then tracking back diagonally to cover at right back.

The goal was well worked and followed sustained pressure and some great crosses coming in from the right. Both Titchiner and Reed combined well and with a bit of luck Chester should have had more goals. Dead ball delivery caused the Alfreton defence problems with Lindfield doing a great job.

General thoughts
The warm up for Chester was noticeable for the forty yard passes that were hit inch perfect. In the game the ball was in the air a lot. Both teams looked much better when they kept it on the floor so why when they can play well on the floor do they resort to hitting it the air? The players need to be physically very strong to make a successful team in this division.

The support for both teams created a great atmosphere with the crowd of seven hundred and fifty filling the ground well. The Chester support was clearly appreciated and made a difference to the team. The recent book published by Clarke Carlisle does refer to the importance supporters make both positively and negatively. It was noticeable that there was not one person coordinating the Chester team and at times the lack of communication did give opportunities to Alfreton. Alan's final thought  after an enjoyable night was that we were entertained by two teams who are probably jointly being paid what Gareth Bale earns in two weeks!

Peter Jones & Alan Browne