At this time of year, Hamilton normally tend to have a free weekend after being put out the Scottish Cup. Unfortunately, this year was no different as we were beaten by Rangers in round five. In recent seasons I have ventured down to England to tick off as many of the 92 as I can, but this year I had my sights set further, as my passion for groundhopping has grown massively over the last year. It’s crazy to think that sometimes flying abroad for a weekend is cheaper than going to London for a couple of days. My plan originally was to do four games in the weekend, but due to bad weather I opted to leave one and do just the three.
Saturday 29th of February 2020
Game number 69 of 2019/20 season
Fulham 2-0 Preston North End
Craven Cottage, London
Craven Cottage is an English ground I’ve been desperate to visit for a long time, and I couldn’t have been happier to attend on Saturday. The stadium lies by the banks of the River Thames and arguably has is one of the most attractive buildings in England.
Craven Cottage has a history that dates back all the way until 1780, but the work on what began on what is now Craven Cottage stadium in 1896. An interesting fact that people may not know is that Archibald Leith, the man who designed Ibrox, also designed Craven Cottage.
Fulham FC may not have the biggest collection of trophies like neighbours Chelsea, but the Whites did reach the Europa League final in 2010, where they were beaten in the final against Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
There have been many more big sporting events held at Craven Cottage such as events during the Olympics in 1948 as well as international games by Ireland, USA and Australia. Finally, they also hosted the Women’s Champions League Final between Lyon and Turbine Potsdam, with an attendance of 14,303.
Fulham kept in touch of the automatic promotion places with a comfortable 2-0 win against play-off hopefuls Preston North End.
It was a game where Scott Parker’s men simply couldn’t afford to drop points, with Leeds thrashing Hull 4-0 on Friday night.
They got the job done though courtesy of a David Nugent own goal and a late strike from substitute Aboubakar Kamara.
It was Alex Neil’s men who started the side the much better side, with Fulham struggling to deal with the high press from North End.
The visitors nearly took the lead on the 7th minute when Nugent released Tom Barkhuizen down the right, before he beat his man and pulled the ball back across goal for Brad Potts, but Michael Hector made a goal-saving challenge.
This was certainly a warning for the Whites, as Preston had the ball in the net three minutes later after failing to mark Nugent from Daniel Johnson’s corner, but Sean McGuire, who tapped home the flick on was narrowly offside.
Following a shaky start from Fulham, they eventually managed to cluster their first opportunity of the game together midway through the first half when Bobby Decordova-Reid curled agonisingly wide after some nice work from Cyrus Christie.
The rain and wind swept across the Thames towards the end of the first half, and there were no further chances in what was a competitive game.
Fulham came out a different side in the second half and they pressured the visitors heavily on the wings through Ivan Cavaliero and Anthony Knockaert.
On the 58th minute the deadlock was broken. A corner from the right was swung in by Knockaert and Nugent misjudged the timing of his header and the ball went backwards into the far corner beyond Declan Rudd. If only it was at the other end, he would have been delighted.
It was a difficult afternoon for the Championship’s top goal scorer Alexander Mitrovic, who was continually being double marked by North End’s defence.
Christie nearly doubled the advantage fifteen minutes from time when he sent a dipping volley wide, but the Cottages sealed a massive three points inside stoppage time.
Substitute, Aboubakar Kamara burst forward from inside his own half before unselfishly squaring the ball to Cavaliero only for the ball to kindly fall back to the Frenchman and he made no mistake as he slammed beyond Rudd.
Rodak, Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Decordova-Reid, Arter, Cairney, Knockaert, Mitrovic, Caveleiro
Subs- Bettinelli, McDonald, Kebano Johnson, Christie, Sessegnon, Kamara
Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes, Browne, Johnson, Potts, Barkhuizen, Nugent, Maguire,
Subs- Ripley, Clarke, Huntingdon, Ledson, Harrop, Sinclair, Stockley
Referee- David Webb
Sunday 1st March 2020
Game 70 of 2019/20
PSV Eindhoven 1-1 Feyenoord
Game Number 70 of 2019/20
Phillips Stadion, Eindhoven
Attendance – 35,000 (Sell Out)
After the long wait inside Stansted Airport during the night, 6am eventually arrived and I was set for Eindhoven. Soon after a short 50 minute flight I was in the Netherlands for the first time. It was a Sunday, however, everywhere was closed and the streets were bare. 2.30pm couldn’t come quick enough.
While I was waiting in my hotel to head round to the stadium, I ended up chatting with two other football fanatics like me from Scotland, who were also attending PSV v Feyenoord. We ended up spending the whole afternoon together at the stadium and I’ve not laughed as much as I did then for a long time.
The beautiful Phillips Stadion is located right in the centre of Eindhoven is really easy to access. It has been the home of PSV since it first opened in 1913.
The stadium has hosted numerous Netherlands international fixtures as well being selected as one of the playing venues for the Euro 2000, which it hosted three first round group matches. Finally, the Phillips Stadion was the selected venue for the UEFA Cup final between Sevilla and Middlesbrough (4-0).
Its fair to say that it’s been a disappointing season for both of these huge clubs, with PSV and Feyenoord being knocked out of the Europa League in the group stages. This game was a massive game for Ernest Faber and Dick Advocaat’s men as both sides tried to close the gap on Ajax and AZ Alkmaar for the automatic Europa League spot.
It was certainly a lively start, with many flying tackles going in. Feyenoord had an excellent opportunity to take the lead on the fifth minute when Steven Berghuis’ free-kick landed at the feet of Robert Bozenik, who could only guide his effort wide from close-range.
Up the other end PSV also came within inches of breaking the deadlock. A corner from Jorrit Hendrix was sent deep towards the back-post, it was recycled by Ricardo Rodriguez and his cross landed on the head of Denzel Dumfries, whose header went narrowly wide of Justin Bijlow’s goal.
Feyenoord took the lead on the 33rd minute through centre-back Eric Botteghin, when he rose highest from Jens Toornstra’s corner and his lopping header went over Lars Unnerstall.
However, PSV came out flying in the second half are were soon level. A perfectly weighted through ball from Hendrix saw Ryan Thomas lay the ball up for Cody Gakpo, and he drilled an effort across goal and into the far corner. An excellent finish.
The 20-year-old nearly doubled his tally 15 minutes later when Gakpo burst forward once more and unleashed a powerful effort which went just wide of the left-hand post.
Sam Lammers nearly scored a wonder goal, but it was Feyenoord who came even closer when their top goal scorer Berghuis was given far too much space at the edge of the box and is curling effort was tipped away by Unnerstall.
It was the German shot stopper who came to the rescue again minutes later as he made an unbelievable save to deny Bozenik from point-blank range. A cross from Tyrell Malacia found the Dutchman at the front-post and his flick towards goal was clawed onto the post by Unnerstall before the ball ran across the goal line and was eventually gathered on the second attempt.
Neither side could go on and score what would have been a vital winner as it finished as a draw.
Unnerstall, Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Rodriguez, Rosario, Hendrix, Ihattaren, Thomas, Gakpo, Lammers
Subs- Ruiter, Van-Osch, Teze, Sadilek, Madueke, Gutierrez, Doan, Afellay, Baumgartl, Boscagli Bruma, Mitroglou
Bijlow, Karsdorp, Botteghin, Senesi, Malacia, Toornstra, Fer, Kokcu, Haps, Berghuis, Bozenik
Subs- Ten Hove, Marsman, Edgar Le, Geertruida, Johnson, Ozayakup, Tapia, Narsingh, Van Beek, Van Der Heijden
Referee- Dennis Higler
Monday 2nd March 2020
Game 71 of 2019/20
FC Eindhoven U23’s 0-3 FC Emmen U23’s
Jan Louwers Stadion, Eindhoven
Netherlands Reserve League
As a regular reserve league attender in Scotland, I was probably the most excited fan in Eindhoven for the game. Despite it being a reserve game, the main thing for me was ticking off the Jan Louwers Stadion, where the first team of FC Eindhoven play their Dutch Juplier League matches. I had originally planned to go to this game myself, but after talking to John and Stuart about the game, they were happy to come along also and help pass the time before our late-night flight back to Edinburgh.
The stadium is named after Jan Lowers, who was a footballer for FC Eindhoven, PSV and Roda JC. After his footballing career ended in 1967, Louwers went onto be a very successful business in the hospitality industry and in 1994, FC Eindhoven decided to rename their stadium after the former player to Jan Louwers Stadion. He died on November 1st, 2012 at the age of 82.
Unfortunately, there was no team sheets available for the game, therefore I won’t be able to provide an in-depth report.
The visitors came into the game as massive favourites, but this was majorly down to the fact that a couple of first team players were playing to get some minutes under their belts.
FC Eindhoven, who were huge underdogs, started the much better side and spurned numerous opportunities to take the lead as they hit the crossbar and missed two one-on-ones. They were punished for their poor finishing as Emmen took the lead just before half-time as Wouter Marinus headed home a cross from Camara Bos.
The visitors went on to add two more goals in the second half through Robbert De Vos and Freddy Quispel, wrapping up a comfortable win in the end for FC Emmen.