Shamik Das

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Leighton tame Lyon as Eagles fail to soar

Once  Twice  Three times a Croat!  "Ahtowldya! If ahtowldya once, ahtowldya twice, ahtowldya three times. Now get off mah pitch, bitch!"

Leighton Town 0-0 Bedford Town

LEIGHTON were indebted to the woeful finishing of Bedford's front men as they held their visitors to a goalless draw at Bell Close under the watchful eyes of Graham Poll.

The controversial referee - who gained worldwide notoriety last summer for booking Croatia's Josip Šimunic three times before sending him off in their game with Australia (pictured above) - retired at the end of last season.

Poll seemed at ease in his new surroundings, exchanging chirpy banter with players, managers and fans alike, and, no doubt to his immense relief, he only had to issue one yellow card all game.

"It's different and the same. You've got the same rules, wherever you're playing, at whatever level, that's the beauty of the game, that's why we love it, that's why we watch it, it's 11 v 11 and it's the same rules, whether you've got 40 people watching or 50,000," said Poll afterwards.

"It was a typical pre-season match, though it was very humid out there and both teams struggled with the heat. We saw a lot of honest endeavour. The players treated me with respect, though they questioned some decisions - which you'd expect. I enjoyed the occasion.

"I'm gonna be refereeing non-league games this season, plus the occasional charity match. And my match fee for today's game is going to charity - the Tring Children's Hospice in my home town."

Leighton Town    Bedford Town

As for the match itself, Mark Lyon was the most wasteful of Bedford's strikers, spurning the game's best opportunity when clean through with just the keeper to beat.

Lyon, one-on-one with Nigel Maarman, lost his balance at the crucial moment, stumbling back and only just managing to make contact with the ball, scuffing his shot skywards and enabling Maarman to claw the ball to safety.

A minute later Lyon turned provider, setting up James Hatch with a neat through ball, only for his strike partner to chip horribly wide attempting a Philippe Albert spectacular.

Substitute Andrew Phillips - on for Lyon - and winger Luke Knight were also off target, Phillips twice blazing over when well placed and Knight shooting narrowly wide after jinking his way into the box and beating three men.

The home side's best chances, meanwhile, fell to Andy Fagan, who out-jumped the visiting defence several times at set pieces, using his height to good effect in forcing a number of saves with a series of powerful headers.

Fagan, the very model of a typical English centre forward, came closest to scoring 15 minutes from the end, getting on the end of a Bruce Wilson free kick and seeing it scrambled clear from the goal line.

Star Man: Fagan (Leighton); Entertainment: **

Read my report in full in tomorrow's Non-League Paper.


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