Penn & Tylers Green play their home games at French School Meadows, a name apparently dating back to the days of the French Revolution, when a school catering for orphans of the revolution was set up in the village. The school is long gone but the name remains as does a further reference to the school in the club's colours. Their blue & white striped shirts are a nod to the uniform worn by the French children, which was blue with a white feather in their hats.
The club has spent a couple of seasons ground-sharing with the likes of Beaconsfield and Amersham because of planning problems with their floodlights, but the rather smart looking, telescopic pylons, which were finally unveiled and used for the first time two weeks ago, are now fully functional. The ground, I have to say, looked in top notch condition all round.
The football ground is actually part of a village sports complex, which also hosts cricket and tennis. It is accessed via a small service road between Penn and Tylers Green villages. The service road is quite easy to miss in the dark. if approaching from the Tylers Green, Hazelmere and Wycombe direction, and you reach the Red Lion pub, you've just missed it (just as I did). The clubhouse serves all of the sports complex and is not part of the football ground, although it is only a very short walk away. There is a small car park next to the clubhouse and an overflow car park between the clubhouse and the football pitch. One small warning. This overflow car park gets busy and you may have to wait a little while to get out after the game if you find yourself blocked in. The entrance to the football pitch is through a gate off the car park with a small hut that acts as ticket office and snack bar. All of the ground facilities are on the clubhouse/car park side of the pitch. A small covered stand, straddling half way, is bounded by the dugouts, one on either side.
Following the postponement of their game at home to Aldermaston last midweek, this match was only the second league outing for Penn & Tylers Green. They won their opening game 2-0 at home to Abingdon Town, this was followed by a brilliant 1-0 victory over local rivals Burnham in the FA Vase, and a 4-0 trouncing of Watlington Town in the Challenge Cup. All in all, a good start to the season, three wins and no goals conceded. Chalvey came into tonight's game having already played three times in the league. They opened with a 3-1 home defeat to Wallingford Town, then went down 4-1 at Wokingham & Emmbrook. Following an FA Vase exit, 5-1 at Step 5 North Greenford United, Sports then got off the mark in the league with a resound 4-2 win at Woodley United. They then followed this success up with a 4-0 Challenge Cup demolition of Stokenchurch.
Last season the sides only met once, at Arbour Park, where Sports had two players sent off in a 5-0 defeat. The previous season saw the clubs clash four times, Sports doing the double in the league, 4-0 at home and 3-2 away. In the two Subsidiary Cup meetings honours were even, Chalvey winning 5-3 at home and losing 3-2 in the away tie.
It was Chalvey who almost got off to the perfect start. The game was only two minutes old when the ball was played diagonally into the home penalty area and planted firmly past Watson into the net. However, the assistant's flag cut short the celebrations and the goal was chalked off for offside. However, I was in line with the players when the ball was played and, although one Chalvey player was offside, the finishing touch was applied by a player who, in my opinion, was onside when it was played. It was a tight decision but I believe something of a let off for the home side.
Despite the early scare it was the home team who seemed to settle into a rhythm better. Both sides were not averse to getting the ball forward quickly. I wouldn't call it a long ball because that brings aimless hoofing to mind, and neither ide was doing any of that. It was more a direct approach to to game, getting the ball to the strikers at the earliest opportunity. Having said that, Penn were also more than happy to work the ball forward with some snappy passing moves. Chalvey, with their two big lads up front, were more inclined to play it longer. Interestingly though, despite the Chalvey strikers having a a couple of inches height advantage on the Penn back-line, it was the two Penn centre-halves who seemed to be winning most of the aerial battles.
Penn had a couple of long range efforts that Giacobbe did well to get behind, especially one absolute rasping effort from George Dawson-Clark that was not only hit with great power but also seemed to be moving all over the place.
It was not all one way traffic however. In fact, despite the lack of goals, it was a very entertaining half of football.
We even had another Chalvey goal flagged for offside before the break, although this one was far more clear cut.
HT Penn & Tylers Green 0 Chalvey Sports 0. Both sides seemed keen to get the ball forward quickly but the home who side who appeared to have the more inventive play, mixing up long balls with some passing moves. Chalvey threatened when they attacked and, against the general play, had the ball in the net twice.
When the second period got under way it was clear that Penn considered themselves unlucky to not be in front at the break and they immediately set about getting the goal that their extra possession probably deserved. Their early dominance of the ball in the second 45 minutes proved to be a pattern for the rest of the half. Penn attacking, Chalvey defending resolutely but still looking as if they could cause an issue on the break if Penn let their guard down.
Time and time again waves of blue and white pushed the Chalvey defence to almost breaking point but through either stout defending or some wayward finishing, the breakthrough could not be found. Captain Dean Allen, who it has to be said ran the Chalvey defence ragged most of the game, came closest in the 72nd minute, beating the keeper but seeing his effort come back off the far post to safety.
When the referee finally blew for full-time there were stark contrasts in the response of the players, which reflected the way the game had gone. The Penn players looked somewhat dejected, not entirely sure how they had failed to win the game. the Chalvey players and bench were elated. They had been pushed back for the majority of the game, had ridden their luck at times, but overall had defended excellently.
FT Penn & Tylers Green 0 Chalvey Sports 0. The spoils somehow remained shared. Chalvey will take heart in the resolute manner that they defended and may even feel aggrieved about the first disallowed goal. However, that aside, even they would not be able to say they deserved any more than a point from the game. Penn can take heart from the fact that they have now gone 360 minutes in all competitions without conceding a goal.
Penn & Tylers Green: Watson, Barley, Burrows, Cox, Green, Cooper, Dawson-Clark, Lines, Allen(c), Shaw, Gardner. Subs: Prestridge, Hancock, Tripp, Gray, Cannings
Chalvey Sports: Giacobbe, Wall, Sandy, Creighton, Jeffrey(c), Cannon, Shingleston, Joseph, Mannion, Morgan, Harper. Subs: Marney, Cripps, Coomber, Brophy, Keadell
Ground Number: 245
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