Monday, 23 May 2016

Basford United 2 v Clipstone 2 AET - Basford won on penalties - Notts Senior Cup Final

Monday 23rd May 2016
Notts FA Senior Cup Final
at Coronation Park, Eastwood Community Football Club
Basford United 2
Rob Darkin 90+3, 96
Clipstone 2
Andrew Fox 44, Somes 118
45 minutes 0-1 90 minutes 1-1
105 minutes 2-1 120 minutes 2-2
Basford won 3-2 in penalty shoot out
Admission £5 inc. programme. Attendance 230
Basford United:
Deeney, Darkin, Bennett, Grayson (Griffiths Junior 81), Rowley, Meikle, Hollis (Bopp 68), Smith (Hendrie 68), Wiggins-Thomas, Grantham, Dixon.
Unused subs - J Duffy, Fogg.
Francis, Royles, Randle, Salt, Magee, Ashmore (c), Wall (Holmes 83), Finlaw, Ryan (Somes 87), Fox, Walker (Dacre 90)
Unused sub - Littlejohn
A monsoon descended over Mansfield on Tuesday 10th May, when approximately six months worth of precipitation fell from the skies in the space of just a couple of hours during the afternoon, that rendered the original cup final pitch at the Stags One Call Stadium/Field Mill completely unplayable.
Mansfield Town's pitch renewal for next season is now well underway, meaning the Notts FA needed to find an alternative ground for tonight's re-arranged cup final; and Coronation Park, with it's brand new artificial surface, that has only been laid this last week, got the thumbs up.
A repeat of last years final, which Basford had won 5-3, was ultimately decided via the lottery of a penalty shoot out, which went the way of the Nottingham based side, while Clipstone now know how Ollerton Town must've felt when they knocked them out of the competition by virtue of spot kicks at the outset of their cup run.
A crowd of 230 were treated to an uptempo and fast paced game (in which the new surface at Eastwood more than played it's part), that had more twists and turns along the way than the 'Wild Mouse', big dipper ride at Skeggy Fair.
Andy Francis deputised in goal for Clipstone, in the absence of Steve Hernandez, who had been involved in a road traffic accident yesterday; while Damo Magee made his first start for three months in the Cobras defence, having been unavailable due to injury.
Magee is one player who is guaranteed to put in 100% effort and commitment for the cause, but it was evident, that once the game went into extra time, he was running on empty and will definitely be feeling a few aches and pains tomorrow morning as a consequence.
Clipstone were billed ass the underdogs against their Evo-Stik League opponents, but were more than a match for Martin Carruthers side in the opening forty five minutes and though Basford created a couple of good opportunities, most notably for Ash Grayson and Jermain Hollis, neither of whom could keep their efforts on target, although Grayson did hit the foot of the post with a header from Fabian Smith's free kick; the Cobras had the better of things in front of goal, with Oli Ryan turning Sam Finlaw's cross over the bar, while Nicky Walker flashed a shot narrowly wide of the upright from Ellis Wall's pass.
Clipstone opened the scoring on 44 minutes, with a move that started in their own half with Chris Salt on the right hand side of midfield, who switched flanks with a great knock to Luke Randle on the left flank and he fed the ball forward to Walker, who in turn delivered a pinpoint cross to Andrew Fox inside United's six yard box and he nudged the ball past Saul Deeney and Billy Bennett, the latter of who scooped the ball back into play, after it had already crossed the line, as was confirmed by the referee's assistant Kenwyn Hughes, who was well placed, level with the incident... as you'd expect from the Notts FA Referee of the Year.
Having deservedly taken the lead, the Cobras almost scored again when Oli Ryan played a sideways pass to Ellis Wall, who thumping drive deflected back towards Ryan, but the angles were all wrong for him and he put the ball high and wide of the goal.
HT: Basford United 0 v Clipstone 1
Deeney did well to get both hands behind Sam Finlaw's shot and turn it away, but as the second half unfolded, although 'Clipo' always looked good on the counter attack, Basford were beginning to get to grips inside the opposition's half and put together Smith, Hollis and Kyle Dixon all adopted a 'shoot on sight' policy, as the traffic around Clipstone's goal area began to get really busy, Chris Salt cleared from Ruben Wiggins Thomas with a saving tackle and Dixon saw his goal bound effort deflected around the post.
Curiously, or so it seemed to me, whenever Clipstone broke forward, they seemed intent on playing sideways passes in front of the Basford goal, when peppering Deeney with first time shots might have reaped greater rewards. That's an observation, not a criticism.
That said, Ryan had a shot saved and Dion Meikle denied Ellis Wall the opportunity to give his side a two goal cushion, with a timely block. While Finlaw tested Deeney with a free kick from a well rehearsed routine with James Ashmore.
Meikle was also on hand to thwart Walker, as the ball reached him in the Basford area via Finlaw and Wall.
Stuart Hendrie had two opportunities to pull Basford level, but Francis and Magee took turns to keep him at bay.
Clipstone had run themselves into the ground and late in the day, Billy Fox introduced Brad Holmes, Adam Somes and Josh Dacre to provide some fresh legs and impetus to see the game out.
But deep into stoppage time, Anthony Griffiths Junior edged the ball across Clipstone's six yard box and Rob Darkin forced a late equaliser over the line from close range. Some of the Cobras players appealed and claimed that there had been a handball in the build up, but the referee Declan Bourne thought otherwise... and having already completed a grueling shift, both sides were now going to have to put in an extra 30 minutes overtime.
90+3 minutes: Basford United 1 v Clipstone 1
Six minutes into extra time, Darkin struck again, stooping to nod the ball past Francis from a corner.
Chris Salt came close to leveling things up at the other end and that man Darkin was on hand again to block a shot from Brad Holmes... but then Clipstone were forced to defend with all their might against a string of openings from the Evo-Stik League side.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas saw his shot dip over the goal as Magee got in a blocking tackle and was a whisker away from connecting with a great cross from Courey Grantham. And then Eugen Bopp slashed a shot narrowly wide and forced a save out of Francis just moments later.
Clipstone had been unfortunate to concede an equaliser in stoppage time, but they gave Basford a spoonful of their own medicine inside the last two minutes of extra time, when Somes latched onto a great pass from Holmes and slotted the ball past Deeney from ten yards out, with an assured calmness that belied the timing and urgency of the situation.
AET: 2-2
So the game went to penalties, with Clipstone kicking first.
Deeney saved two of Clipstone's from Royles and Somes and Ashmore struck the woodwork with his kick, while Fox and Salt both converted from the spot for the Cobras.
Kyle Dixon, Eugen Bopp and Deon Meikle all netted for Basford United, Griffiths Junior missed his go and there was no need for a fifth Basford kick because Clipstone had only scored two from their five attempts.
Basford United won 3-2 on penalties AET.
An absorbing game, befitting of a cup final, in which both teams shared the starring role.
Congratulations and well done Basford and well done to Clipstone too, you were bloody unlucky tonight.
From my neutral vantage point, I would also have to say that the match officials: Declan Bourne, Kenwyn Hughes and Scott Mason (plus fourth official Andrew Dallison) all contributed greatly to tonight's entertainment and the pitch at Eastwood Community Football Club was excellent.
It was great to catch up with so many stalwarts of the local non-league scene tonight whose first rate company made for a great night too.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

England 2 v Turkey 1 - International Match

Sunday 22nd May 2016
International Match
at the Ethiad Stadium
England (1) 2
Harry Kane 3, Jamie Vardy 83
Turkey (1) 1
Hakan  Calhanoglu 13
Attendance 44,866
Starting line ups:
Roy Hodgson is now the sixth England manager to have reached 50 games in charge of the national team, a total previously amassed by Walter Winterbottom, Alf Ramsey, Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Sven-Göran Eriksson.
In spite of the 100% win record in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, the England manager still has his doubters and detractors, but the underlying crux of a lot of that unfathomable criticism seems to stem from the fact that he doesn't come across as some chirpy, publicly consumable wide boy type, with a top heavy sound bite quota of witty quips (which, thankfully, also means he isn't Harry Redknapp), or that he hasn't picked player X, Y or Z who plays for some moaning chuff piece's favourite team. 
The problem with the national side, is that everybody thinks they are an expert.
But, I'm happy to keep schtum and leave it all in Roy's capable hands, he knows what he is doing and he is the best man for the job.
He knows the strengths of the players at his disposal. And... probably more importantly, he knows the limitations and weaknesses of his squad too. Give me realism and solid foundations over flamboyancy any day.
The chief belting out the national anthem
Talent alone will win nothing, team work, hard graft and resilience are required too, the England team is heading in the right direction and Hodgson deserves a lot of credit for charting it's course.
Isn't it time the country got behind Hodgson's side and grew out of the negative mindset that prevails every time England qualify for a major tournament?
Northern Ireland and Wales won't win Euro 2016, but I don't see any of their fans getting into a state about it.
Embrace the positives, wise up to the vast amount of progress that is being made, enjoy the growth that is flourishing from the seeds that are being sown for future generations... and shut the fuck up moaning!
No doubt the attendance figure at the Ethiad Stadium, was affected by the game being played on a Sunday evening, when staying at home and watching the game on TV would mean avoiding the logistics of getting home from the north west for a lot of supporters.
The FA had also staged both the Vase and Trophy finals at Wembley Stadium earlier today in front of 46,781 non league fans, which is an impressive number, even when you consider that Hereford, Halifax Town and Grimsby Town will have had decent followings there.
Regardless of what a few knee jerk reactionary types were mithering on about on Twitter, I have very serious doubts that either of today's football events would have had impacted on the crowd figure at the other one. 
Personally I have attended numerous Vase and Trophy finals (and not all of them were contested at Wembley Stadium), but if England didn't have a fixture today, I would have gone to Newcastle, for the Rugby League 'magic weekend' at St James' Park instead, which, in the event, was attended by a record attendance of 68,276 this tear.
The Ethiad Stadium is a brisk 20 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly railway station, though it does take a little while longer if your dearly beloved is suffering from severe back pain and needs to take things a bit more leisurely.
I treated her to a bus ride on the way back into the city centre, which cheered her up no end, until she saw the ridiculous amount of people that First Trans Pennine Express were attempting to cram into our two unit locomotive for the eastbound trip home via Sheffield.
The ensuing forty five minutes were akin to getting shoved head first into an unpleasantly hot (no air con) cross between the traditional annual Shrovetide Tuesday fixture in Ashbourne and a mass (and very sweaty) version of Extreme Twister, played out to a backdrop of cringe-worthy songs from: "Now that's what I call Tourette's" (think Black Lace with Chubby Brown on vocals, you get the picture) and the puke worthy stench of beery farts.
When. Not if. But definitely when... somebody gets seriously hurt due to OTT overcrowding on a train, the operating companies will eventually get around to rectifying the situation.
Who could ever have imagined, that the sight of Sheffield Midland Station coming into view could ever pre-empt such a massive outpouring of raucous cheer and goodly vibes?
Who was it that used to say: "Let the train take the strain" on those TV adverts?
Oh yeah, I remember... Jimmy Saville!!!!
Oh... and while I remember; there was a game of football being played at Manchester City's new(ish) ground today too.
Turkey have been on a roll of late and were unbeaten in 13 straight games, over the past 18 month, prior to today.
England were minus any player who took part in yesterday's FA Cup Final and Turkey had a few pivotal players missing from their ranks too.
Harry Kane opened the scoring on three minutes, but the lively Turks equalised after 13, through Hakan Calhanoglu. 
Jack Wilshere demonstrated a quite remarkable range of passing and looked very comfortable in possession. It needs to be said that the Arsenal player was strong in the tackle too and never shied away from any physical stuff, like so many others understandably do when returning from injury. 
Kane missed a second half penalty, but Jamie Vardy netted the winning goal with 7 minutes left to go.
Mr Hodgson tried out different tactical formations in each half, Raheem Sterling didn't seem particularly effective as part of either system that was employed. 
Vardy looks more comfortable playing centrally than wide... and there are dozens of match reports elsewhere on line, written by real reporters, who all have a better vocabulary than me and do this kind of thing for a living. They can describe all the fleshy parts between the skeletal overview that I have provided. So if you need to know 'owt else... go and seek out what they've got to say about the game, because I'm having the rest of the night off.
In the mean time, here are a few more photographs that I took this evening.
No doubt I'll see some of you at Eastwood Community FC's Coronation Park ground for tomorrow night's Notts Senior Cup Final between Basford United and Clipstone, which kicks off at 7.30pm.
FT: England 2 v Turkey 1
Cautious optimism is pumping within my heart, for the long term development of the England team.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Yorkshire Main 5 v Doncaster Deaf Trust 4 - Doncaster Senior League Div 1

Saturday 21st May 2016
Doncaster & District FA Senior League, Division 1
at Edlington Road
Yorkshire Main (3) 5
Aaron Harrison 13, Adam Butler 25
Danny Bell 33, Dean Platts 51, 62
Doncaster Deaf (0) 4
Sykes 70,
Gareth Denmead 83, 84
Ash Hunter 88
Thanks to Marc Smith of Yorkshire Main FC for kindly writing me out a copy of their team sheet.
Ta also to the Donny Deaf Trust manager (apologies I didn't catch your name) for scribbling me a list of his players down too, that I managed to work out and amend once the game got going.
My plan today was to take in this Donacster Senior League game, then drive the short distance to watch the 6.30pm kick off between Donny Belles v Arsenal Ladies.
Alas, upon arrival at the Keepmoat Stadium, as I took my seat and skimmed through the programme, the heavens opened and it rained so bad, that the pitch flooded in places and the game was postponed about ten minutes before it's scheduled kick off time.
Oh well, it was a damn inconvenience, but at least it afforded me the opportunity to get home and catch up with this weeks episodes of Hollyoaks that I had recorded... and wow! What a dramatic seven days it has been on the only TV soap opera that is worth watching, since Brookside vanished from our screens.
Elsewhere, it's FA Cup Final day and once upon a time, I would sit glued to the telly all day (except for when I actually attended several Wembley finals), feasting on Cup Final Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Grandstand and World of Sport, while flicking between channels (which in those days meant actually getting up and walking over to the television to press a button) to peruse all of the latest news, interviews and pre-match build up, "Ooh, just look at the Southampton captain Peter Rodrigues enjoying a plate full of Marmite soldiers, before he leads his own troops into battle as the the Saints go marching in"
Later in the day, after Bobby Stokes had scored the only goal of the game as the second division side beat Tommy Docherty's Manchester United, Rodriques himself said ""Our bus hit a spectator on our way to Wembley and everybody was very concerned as we went into the dressing room,
"Lawrie quickly went back to check on this guy who was hit, he had just stumbled off the kerb and the boss came back and reassured us that he was all right, then we began our preparations"
You just don't get the same kind of intimacy any more... nor players like Rodriques and Stokes, which is why, I think, that so many people cling on to the non-league game like some kind of security blanket for the over forties.
Cup Final Day, was the one Saturday of the year, when I didn't sulk if I couldn't watch the wrestling, compered by Kent Walton, which actually became crap when Big Daddy split from his tag partner in crime Giant Haystacks, stopped being an 'orrible baddy and marketed himself as a good guy and housewives choice instead.
To this day, I can still never find anything nice to say about Mick McManus... and it didn't surprise me a few years back, possibly even a whole decade ago, that a friend of mine who worked in a old folks home in Knaresborough, complained that McManus was a complete bastard to all of his appointed carers.
My grandmother's favourite wrestler was Jackie 'TV' Pallo, but she also listened to Liberace a lot, so there is no accounting for taste.
I genuinely hope it wasn't all stage manged back then, like it is nowadays and that Pallo actually suffered no small amount of pain and distress when Johnny Kwango headbutted him.
Ah, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
But I'm going off on one, again, this is a football related blog, not a wrestling fanboy's cathartic diary, although Yorkshire Main's Ricky Caldwell seemingly struggles to make the distinction between association rules and the grappling code... and as for the FA Cup circa 2016; well to be perfectly honest, I can barely raise a flicker of interest for the greatest cup competition in world any more, once it reaches the later rounds.
Of course, the Scottish Cup Final was being shown live and theirs still kicks off at the traditional time of 3pm. But Hibs v Rangers? Really!
You'd have to be desperate for a low grade fix of football to watch that shit.
Yorkshire Main:
Steve Smith, Ricky Caldwell, Grant Johnson, Lee Bell, Marc Smith, Dean Platts, Aiden Ford, Zak Boiston, Aaron Harrison, Danny Bell, Adam Butler
Subs - Dan Buzza, Jason Blackburn
Doncaster Deaf Trust;
John Atkinson, Paul Allen, Seon Anderson, Jan Cresswell, Gareth Denmead, Daniel Holdsworth, Ashley Hunter, Mark Sinclair, Taljinder Singh, Darrell Sykes, Peter Wood
No subs
It saddens me to see Yorkshire Main languishing in the Doncaster and District League Division One (not even the Premier Division), such a short time after they were one of the most forward looking and successful local grassroots clubs in the area.
Their games were well attended and they attracted some of the most colourful characters you could possibly ever imagine when they were strutting their stuff in the upper reaches of the Central Midlands League.
Alas, if this afternoon is anything to go by, even the dozen or so harmless binge drinking pot-heads who used to congregate on the uncovered bank of terrace opposite the entrance to the ground have deserted their post and taken their witty banter and 'blissed out' demeanour elsewhere.
Edlington Road, a ground that used to stage local cup finals under the lights, is still potentially a cracking little arena, if only somebody had the time and money to invest in a very modest amount of TLC into a bit of maintenance; but the place has a neglected aura akin to the land that time forgot.
Rumour has it that the club will struggle to carry on after this season, if they can't get a few more people on board... and to me that would be criminal, given the prime location and setting of Yorkshire Main FC and it's adjacent Cricket club and Welfare bar. Locals take note, use it or lose it n' all that.
But anyway, after such a lengthy introduction, lets (finally) get down to the nitty gritty of this afternoon's nine goal thriller.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: a warts and all account of life in the First Division of the Donny League.
It would be fair to say that the home side completely dominated the first hour or so of the game and were good value for the 5-0 lead they had cruised into by that time.
In actual fact, the only surprising aspect of the first half, was that it took the Edlington based side a whole 13 minutes before Aaron Harrison opened the scoring after some good work from Ricky Caldwell who carried the ball from right to left across of the Deaf defence before slotting the ball towards the goal with a thumping left foot shot, that Aaron Harrison helped over the line so it wouldn't get held up in the grass, which didn't look as if it had seen a mower this side of Xmas.
Adam Butler doubled Main's lead with a well taken angled shot after 25 minutes and shortly afterwards Danny Bell added a third when Dan Buzza squeezed the ball through to put him through in a one against one shootout with John Atkinson, the visitors goalkeeper.
Just before the break Butler had two further opportunities, but was thwarted by Atkinson twice, the first was a good save, the second was a blatant handball outside the area... but the referee had a neck tattoo, so nobody argued the toss with him.
HT: Yorkshire Main 3 v Doncaster Deaf 0
The visitors were on the back foot again straight after the restart, when Dean Platts broke clear but shot high and wide of the goal, while Aiden Ford was denied Seon Anderson's clearance off of the line, but 6 minutes after the interval Platts sneaked the ball in at the near post from an improbable tight angle to the left hand side of Doncaster's goal... and the game looked to be effectively over.
But having had a free kick decision go against him in the middle of the pitch, Caldwell became so animated, angry and abusive towards the referee, that he was booked. But that didn't calm his tantrum down at all and he began to aim even more vitriol at the referee, while wrestling with his team mates who were dragging him away and trying to calm the situation down. Caldwell was dismissed, but after getting dressed came out of the changing room and continued with his 'potty mouthed' tantrum at his team mates, from behind a mesh fence. Almost universally they called back at him to "***k off home and don't come back!" and I never saw the fiery red head after that again. Seriously, it is a shame that he is prone to this kind of thing, because he ain't half bad at playing in the right back berth.
L to R: Ricky Caldwell, Ash Hunter
Once normality, after a fashion, was restored, Ford and Butler combined down the left for the home side and Platts made it 5-0 with a superb fish from just outside the left hand edge of the penalty area,
With 20 minutes remaining Pete Wood drilled a right wing cross into the Yorkshire Main six yard box and Darrel Sykes finished from close range to pull a goal back.
Zak Boiston set Ford up for what should've been his sides sixth goal but Atkinson saved and Butler placed a shot narrowly wide as the clock ticked down and a comfortable home win seemed to be inevitable.
But with Mark Sinclair directing his side (and abusing me with sign language on the touchline because he thought I was involved with Yorkshire Main in some capacity... I'll assume he understood my rudimentary hand gesture reply), Gareth Denmead tipped the game on it's head when he scored twice for Doncaster inside the space of a minute and came very close to claiming his hat trick, when he headed wide from Jan Creswell's in swinging cross.
Inside the last two minutes Ash Hunter muscled his way into the area and beat Steve Smith from ten yards.
5-0 to 5-4 and still two minutes plus stoppage time to go. Those of you who deride the standard of this league really don't understand the level of entertainment that you are missing.
A ground hopper from Wealdstone, who'd travelled up to watch the same two games as me today, was certainly enjoying himself (and when the next game on the menu was called off so late in the day, my disappointment was tempered somewhat by the fact that he'd had such an arduous semi-wasted journey, while I was only twenty minutes from home), but Yorkshire Main held on by the skin of their teeth to a win that had 'dead cert' written all over it until the closing twenty minutes, when they went AWOL.
FT: Yorkshire Main 5 v Doncaster Deaf 4
It has to be said, that one way or another, it is never anything but entertaining at Yorkshire Main.
Hopefully they'll still be around in some shape or form next season.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 1 - Doncaster & District FA Cup Final

Friday 20th May 2016
The Dawson & Burgess Doncaster & District FA, 
Challenge Cup Final
at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster Rovers FC
Houghton Main (0) 0
Swinton Athletic (0) 1
Ash Emmett OG 63
Admission £4. Programme inc. raffle £2
Houghton Main:
Damon Watson, Danny Burkinshaw, Jake Ward, Liam Graham, Aaron Tate, Danny South, Ashley Emett, Adam Stead, Sam Garforth, Kieran Hurst, Jake Simon
Subs - Scott James, Jordan Watson, Ben Day, Ryan Beadling, Nicky Harper
Swinton Athletic:
Ryan Morton, Craig Mitchell, Drew Sawdon, Shawn Mitchell, Curt Wilkinson, Jon Billups, Enzo Guarini, Mark Clare, Ryan Doxey, Alex Wilkinson, Justin Greenwood
Subs - Matt Beevers, Hayden Barnett, Scott Snodgrass, Jordan Beardsley, Joe Dungworth
Both sides had recorded big wins in their respective semi finals, with Houghton having seen off South Elmsall United Services by 5 goals to 1, while Swinton beat Denaby Main 4-1; to set up this 31st Chalenge Cup showpiece final, between two clubs who had never previously won this prestigious local tournament.
Alas, in spite of the two teams approaching the game with an emphasis on attacking football, tonight's finale to the season, was decided by a solitary goal and a rather scrappy one at that, when Houghton's Ash Emmett turned the ball into his own net in the 63rd minute, while vaingloriously trying to make a last ditch clearance, under pressure from both Curt Wilkinson and Justin Greenwood, the latter of who may well have had a good claim of his own, as to who actually scored of the winning goal.
I'm sure Emmett won't really want the credit.
Houghton started the game on the front foot, with Sam Garforth shooting just wide from a solo run inside the opening two minutes. Meanwhile Swinton had to clear a goal bound header from Danny South and saw their defence split open with a precision pass from Emmett for Kieran Hurst to run onto, but having got into a good position, he couldn't keep his shot on target.
Enzo Guarini and Drew Sawden tried to get Swinton going down the left flank, with some neat interplay on the halfway line, but Aaron Tate intercepted the ball.
But Athletic were back again moments later, when Ryan Doxey threaded the ball through to Guarini who cut in through the left channel before curling a shot towards the right hand side of Damon Watson's goal, but South managed to reach the ball and headed it out of the area, where it fell to Curt Wilkinson, whose thumping shot was blocked.
On 16 minutes, Justin Greenwood picked up the ball just inside his own half, out to the right, but before he could weigh up his options and play a pass, Garforth clattered into him, with a rash challenge, that earned him a straight red card.
As Houghton regrouped to offset their numerical disadvantage, Athletic carved an opening on the left with Guarini picking out Shawn Wilkinson who in turn slipped the ball to Sawdon on the overlap and as the defence opened to track the Swinton left back he nudged a pass into the resulting gap for Greenwood to run on to, but he slightly overran the ball over the dead ball line before getting his cross in.
Jake Ward broke down the left for for Houghton, but Ryan Morton smothered the ball before any of the Main players could reach it and Swinton moved forward again, almost taking the lead into the bargain, as Doxey chipped the ball over the defence to Greenwood who'd timed his run well, but Watson was alert and advanced from his line to gather it.
Watson was in the thick of the action again, when he turned away Mark Clare's shot after Doxey had set up a goal scoring opportunity inside the Houghton area.
Clare came close again from Alex Wilkinson's through ball, but having beat Watson the ball dropped narrowly wide of the upright.
In spite of the handicap that Garforth's red card had given his side, they kept plugging away and Kieran Hurst saw off a challenge as he muscled his way towards Morton's goal, but he put his shot past the outside of the post.
As half time approached, Greenwood tested Watson again, but the Main keeper held onto his shot.
Swinton had slightly the better of the first half possession wise andHoughton were obviously missing their centre forward since his sending off, but at half time the sides were still level pegging.
HT: Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 0
The decent sized crowd, who were all housed in the West Stand, were obviously enjoying themselves as the noise they were creating reverberated around the Keepmoat Stadium, with the Swinton following in particular entertaining themselves with a vast array of partisan songs, most of which contained words that would be wholly inappropriate to repeat on a website with a family audience; but they were amusing nevertheless and fell into the 'good humoured banter' category, rather than anything you would actually call hostile.
After the interval, the flow of the game was broken somewhat as a steady flow of substitutions for both teams kept the fourth official on his toes.
Jake Ward broke down the wing from his left back berth and impressively left two Swinton players in his wake as he powered forward, but having done the hard part he made a real mess of delivering his cross, which was met by acrescendo of ironic cheers and a few choice comments from the Swinton contingent... I hope his mother never heard any of them!
Guarini got in behind the Houghton defence on the left and crossed to Clare, but Liam Graham had read the situation well and intercepted the ball before clearing the danger.
Graham had been doing a great job of helping to steady the ship for Houghton since Garforth's dismissal, but he was destined not to finish the game on the pitch.
Guarini broke into the Houghton area from the left flank and shot past Watson as he advanced from his line to narrow the angle, but Graham threw his body behind the line of the ball, in an attempt to block it on the line; but as a a clear goal scoring opportunity (the ball was destined for the back of the net) struck Watson on the arm, the match referee, Michael Leneghan, had no option but to show the influential Main player a red card and point to the penalty spot.
I had no idea that Brian Blessed is a football manager
But the nine men of Houghton were given a psychological boost, when Watson got across to pull off a great save from Alex Wilkinson's well struck spot kick.
Swinton forced a couple of corners as Clare and Doxey tried to put the overstretched Houghton defence to the sword, but Hurst came close at the other end as he dragged a shot across the face of the goal and wide of the upright from Nicky Harper's through ball.
In the 63rd minute, Swinton took the lead, when the ball ended up in the back of the net via Houghton's Ash Emmett, who had the misfortune of getting the last touch in a crowded goalmouth scramble.
Although Harper was making a telling contribution to the final stages of the game, Houghton were struggling to cover the amount of ground that being two players light was leaving for Swinton to enjoy the luxury of knocking the ball around in. And it is testament to the tenacity shown by Terry Simon's side that they dug in and didn't get overrun now.
With the clock ticking down, Harper shot over from South's knock down and Swinton attacked from the resulting goal kick and Curt Wilkinson came close to doubling their lead from Matt Beevers sideways pass.
Right at the death, Harper broke through the left channel deep into stoppage time, but his shot fizzed past the left hand upright and nestled into the side netting.
FT: Houghton Main 0 v Swinton Athletic 1
All in all, a very competitive game, played in a lively atmosphere... and well worth the drive up to 'Donny' to watch.
Congratulations to Swinton Athletic... and kudos to the Houghton Main players who held the fort after they went down to ten men so early in the game