Sunday, 24 May 2015

Brading Town XI 0 v 2 Isle of Wight

Saturday 23rd May 2015
Vicarage Lane, Brading
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 60 (estimate)
Match Rating: 2

With matches now very thin on the ground, following the FA's desire to finish league seasons as early as possibly in May, this game caught my eye, despite only being a friendly match. It was one of those days when it would be more about the day out, on the beautiful Isle of Wight on a pleasant May day, than the game itself, although it would be appealing to watch the Isle of Wight representative team in action for the final time before they take part in the Island Games in Jersey next month, where I will be heading to take in some football matches.

Vicarage Lane hosted Wessex League football for eight seasons before Brading Town were voluntarily demoted to the Isle of Wight Saturday League in 2012, and is a ground I have visited twice previously. There's still much to like about the place - a friendly feel, neat and tidy with facilities far above what one usually encounters in the league, has a very rural and scenic setting, with background views into the distant countryside, and the quaintness is finished off with the ex London Underground train trundling along the line behind the bottom goal every quarter of an hour or so. The Isle of Wight representative team won gold at the Island Games they hosted it in 2011, but did not send a team to the 2013 games in Bermuda. In next month's tournament, they will face the Shetland Islands, the Falkland Islands and the Norwegian island of Hitra in the group stage - so a semi-final berth for winning the group would appear very achievable.

On a very warm and mainly sunny afternoon, this match was exactly as one might have predicted - Isle of Wight always looking the far superior side and in complete control of the game, and that they did not finish with a more resounding win was mostly due to the game being played at a gentle tempo. Although it was the Isle of Wight who showed all of the attacking intent in the opening stages, it was Brading who had the first shot in anger, forcing a smart save to the keeper's left. The Isle of Wight took the lead on 15 minutes though, the ball was lofted into the penalty area, was headed sideways to find his fellow striker all by himself, and he stroked the ball home with a god, calm finish. They doubled their lead on 29 minutes with a rathet contentious goal. A forward ball deflected into the path of the striker, who seemed to be comfortably offside, and he side stepped the keeper and although his rather weak goalbound shot hit the desperate lunging body of a defender, but the ball still found its way into the back of the net. A third for the Isle of Wight always looked more likely than Brading pulling a goal back, but 0-2 was how it remained at half time.

Into the second half and Brading actually started strongly, still lacking any real goalscoring threat though, unlike the Isle of Wight, who always looked threatening on the occasions they got out of second gear. Brading did have an excellent chance to grab a consolation goal nine minutes from time though, when a low cross was rifled into the box, but the shot on goal was ballooned over the bar. In truth, it was a rather dull second half, but the Isle of Wight will be happy enough to head to the Island Games with a win and a clean sheet, and a good gentle workout, albeit against very limited opposition.

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