Saturday, 21 October 2017


There are still several gaps to fill in, but for the time being, here is a provisional list of the next twenty games I'll be attending.
I haven't seen a first team fixture at Horncastle Town before, though I have been present at a few junior games at 'the Wong', so this afternoon's trip along the A158, will mark another one of my thirty targeted 'new' territories (this season) ticked off properly, when CGB Humbertherm are the visitors. 
The last time I saw Horncastle Town play, was when they won the Lincs League Challenge Cup final against Brigg Town Reserves at the end of last season, which was played at Lincoln Moorlands ground.
The following weekend, I'll be visiting the Immingham Sports Complex, for a Lincolnshire League Cup game between Immingham Town and Skegness Town; two sides who I saw play out a keenly contested league game against each other at the Vertigo Stadium last week.
I have previously seen the Pilgrims in NCEL action, at the old Woodland Avenue ground, but following their sad demise, after 83 years of football, at the end of the 1994/95 season... and subsequent rebirth in 2016, I have yet to see them play at their current home. 
So, that will be another new entry to add into my sad anorak ledger any time soon too.
For the record, it's seven 'first visits' to grounds for me so far this season and that running total will have reached double figures by the end of November. 
I hear told that the Immingham chairman has plans to restore Woodland Avenue to it's former glory, which would be a great accomplishment and a brilliant good news story, in a game that is littered with tales of clubs going to the wall and disappearing altogether from the football map.
October & November forthcoming fixtures:
Sat 21 Oct - Horncastle Town v CGB Humbertherm - Lincolnshire League - 3pm
Tue 24 Oct - Arsenal v Norwich City - EFL LC4 - 7.45pm
Thu 26 Oct - Swallownest v Dronfield Town - WVH NMU19L North - 7.45pm
Sat 28 Oct - Immingham Town v Skegness Town - Lincs League Cup - 3pm
Sun 29 Oct - Birmingham City v Aston Villa - EFL Championship - 12 noon
Tue 31 Oct - Harworth Colliery v Thorne Colliery - CMFL North - 7.45pm
Wed 1 Nov - Birmingham City v Brentford - EFL Championship - 7.45pm
Sat 4 Nov - Retford v Radford - Notts Senior Cup R2 - 3pm
Tue 7 Nov - Ilkeston v Dronfield Town - Derbs Senior Cup R2 - 7.45pm
Wed 8 Nov - Parkgate v Swallownest - Sheff & Hallam Cup - 7.30pm
Fri 10 Nov - England v Germany - International - 8pm at Wembley Stadium
Sat 11 Nov - Campion v Worsbrough Bridge Athletic - NCEL Div 1 - 3pm
Tue 14 Nov - Shirebrook Town v Campion - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Wed 15 Nov - Worksop Town v AFC Mansfield - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Sat 18 Nov - Mansfield Town v Bradford City - EFLYA U18 - 11am at Rainworth MW
Sat 18 Nov - AFC Mansfield v Rainworth Miners Welfare - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 21 Nov - AFC Mansfield v Garforth Town - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Wed 22 Nov - AFC Emley v Ollerton Town - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Sat 25 Nov - Mansfield Town v Chesterfield - EFL League 2 - 1pm
Sat 25 Nov - Sheffield United v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 5.30pm
To be continued

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Retford United 7 (Seven) v Gainsborough Trinity 0 - WVH NMU19L

Thursday 19th October 2017
Worksop Van Hire, North Midland U19 League
at Cannon Park
Retford United (6) 7
Callum Wilson 3, 25, 28, 70
Callum Amendola 5
Liam Bennett 15
Zach Casburn 21
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 0
Admission £2. Programme 20p
Unbeaten Retford United cruised past Trinity, to finish the night in second place in the table, just one point behind Sheffield United.
Incredibly the young Badgers had already racked up a six goal lead inside the first thirty minutes, in front of a good number of 'scouts' from other clubs who were in attendance tonight to check out what all of the furore surrounding this in form side was about
It is always good to catch up with the A-Licence coach, Andy McKnight, who was in  the dug out,
in charge of the visiting side tonight, on crutches!
His recent hip operation has gone well it would seem and in spite of some wretched health problems over the past year or so, his enthusiasm and optimism for the game hasn't diminished in the slightest.
Having coached throughout Europe and in particular in Scandinavia, Andy has previously worked at Walsall and West Bromwich Albion, and besides his current coaching work with the Gainsborough youngsters and the Frickley Athletic first team, he also runs his own successful football academy, based at the Hallam University sports facilities at Brinsworth. 
And his accent his bloody hilarious.
Der, der, der. Der, der, der... Yam yam man!
Sir Andy 'Wulfrunian' McKnight
One thing that Andy spoke about before the game, was that results aren't the be all and end all of things in Development football, which is, of course, 100% true, but that was also quite ironic given how the game itself panned out.
But a lot of other coaches could learn a lot from watching McKnight in action and listening to the way he speaks to his players throughout the ninety minutes. 
Even at 7-0 nil down, he was praising both those who were making a good impact on the game and encouraging those who weren't having such a good time of things: "Put it out of your mind, get back in the zone, keep doing the right things, you've got the ability, it'll come!", "Unlucky son, great effort, keep it going, you're alright. Learn from it and move on!"
This is what the players want/need at this stage of their development, not egotistical managers who rant and rave, eff and Geoff and throw undignified tantrums, because they are more worried about how results have a bearing on their own reputations (you know who you are), than the futures of the 
young players who they are ultimately responsible for.
Keep on, keeping on Mr McKnight sir.
Anyway, hold onto your seat, because this one goes straight for the jugular and explodes into life
from the off, before you've even opened your popcorn and got settled down comfortably.
The home side were almost ahead inside the opening minute, when Zach Casburn's curling shot flew just wide of the right hand upright, but it didn't take long for Retford to find the net, when Saif Adurraheem under hit a back pass and Callum Wilson raced past him to reach the ball before Harrison Crabtree and planted the ball into the bottom right hand corner from twelve yards out.
And on five minutes, Casburn delivered a slide rule diagonal ball, through visitors defence, to meet the run of Callum Amendola, who Trinity hadn't tracked and the Badgers number eleven made it 2-0 from an angle.
Initially, the Retford keeper, James Gamble, struggled with the spin on the wet ball from Brad Mears left wing corner, but recovered well and claimed it at the second attempt.
Casburn and Wilson battled their way, straight down the middle of the pitch, but as the latter looked to add to his tally, Joe Hayden got his foot in and steered the ball behind at the expense of a corner, which Casburn headed narrowly over from Louie Derosa's delivery.
Awais Tahir and Callum Jarvis were moving the ball around well, with Mears getting forward in support for Trinity, but they were struggling to make any in roads into the Retford area, despite the physical presence of Khalid Sully (or Said Khalid Sulieman as he's listed on the FA Full Time website).
Toby Rutherford dug the ball out of a congested midfield and played the ball forward to Casburn who, having spotted Crabtree off of his line, tried his look from thirty yards, but could only leave a muddy stain on those wall panels that somebody has painted black, to remind United's first team players where the goals are.
Amendola bustled his way through into the left hand side of the area, but Tahir was back helping his defence out and made a last ditch clearance, as the visitors conceded another corner, which was cleared, but just as it looked as though the Badgers attack might have been dispersed, holding midfielder Liam Bennett picked up the ball at least thirty yards from the visitors goal and crashed an unstoppable shot past Crabtree to put the hosts three goals in front after just fifteen minutes.
Things went from bad to worse foe the 'Holy Blues' when Crabtree got the ball caught up in his feet while making a routine clearance and scuffed it towards Casburn, who gratefully spanked it back past him. The Retford attackers were on fire tonight, but at times, Trinity were proving to be the architects of their own downfall too.
Markus Birkelund was fouled twenty five yards away from the Retford goal and opted to take the free kick himself, which deflected wide of the right hand upright. Trinity opted for a short corner routine, with Mears rolling the ball to Marcio Viera (who almost a year ago to the day, made his debut as a substitute for Maltby Main at Bottesford Town, on the same afternoon that I did. He came on in place of an injured team mate, while I was standing in for their club secretary John Mills, on a very temporary basis. His NCEL 'career' was very short lived, and my 'position' was never meant to be a long term appointment either) who turned sharply to his right, to make a cross, completely unchallenged, while the ball trickled harmlessly out of play to his left.
Moving swiftly on... just like Retford did, Casburn and Wilson made parallel runs deep into the opposition's half, some ten yards apart and upon reaching the edge of the area, the former rolled the ball sideways yo the latter and he had all the time in the world to pick his spot and whip the ball past Crabtree. 
'Twenty five minutes in and it's already 5-0', as I was texting a score update to an enquiring friend, I had to quickly amend it to: 'Twenty eight minutes in and it's already 6-0' as Wilson tucked the ball away after Liam Bennett had delivered a great long pass through a Trinity back line, who were seemingly rooted to the spot with awestruck admiration.
Viera headed wide from Mears cross as Gainsborough threatened to make the most unlikely comeback in the entire history of Association Football, for a few brief moments.
While, in the run up to half time, Wilson and Casburn both went close to heaping even more misery on their visitors and Amendola scooped the ball over the bar from inside the six yard box from a great knock forward by Adam Sparks.
Rumour has it, that the match officials: Lee Clarke, Wayne Davenport and Phil Holmes had actually gone in ten minutes early for their interval brew (and Midget Gems), because they'd had so little to do.
HT: Badgers 6 v Holy Blues 0
Positives from a Trinity perspective?
Hmm... well, they only lost the second half by a solitary goal, when Wilson lobbed Crabtree with a dipping shot from outside the area in the seventieth minute.
To be fair the visitors gave a much better account of themselves after the break, although you would have to question just how motivated a team who are already running away with the game and six goals to the good, inside the opening half a hour, might still be.
Birkelund did rattle the upright from twenty five yards out, Mears put two corner kicks into the Retford six yard box inside the space of two minutes, with Hayden almost scoring from the first as his header was blocked, while Birkelund completely missed the ball, two yards in front of the Badgers goal from the second.
Sully was proving to be a belated nuisance to the Retford defence, as Gainsborough finally started to look like a useful side, using the whole width of the pitch well.
But Wilson's fourth (and Retford's seventh) strike, seemed to deflate the life out of the visitors once and for all, pretty much like one of those farty sounding whoopee cushions that no self respecting household ever used to be without, before we had the internet and more than two telly channels to amuse ourselves on those long winter nights... and the victorious Badgers comfortably played out the remainder of the game, with Crabtree doing well to deny Wilson his fifth goal with a great save, right at the end, as the clock ticked down.
FT: Retford United U19 7 v Gainsborough Trinity U19 0
Anyway, if you're not doing anything next Saturday, after you get home from the football n' that, Beechy's fund raising events are always a great way to spend a night out and the bar at Cannon Park is always well stocked these days.
But if you can't get along in person, you can pledge your support via @Retfordunitedfc see the price/prize list below.
Prices/Prizes per Race
Race Sponsorship £25.00
Horse Ownership £5.00 
Winning Owner Receives A Bottle Of Spirits
Jockeys £3.00 
Winning Jockey Receives A Bottle Of Wine

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Armthorpe Welfare 0 v Swallownest 2 - NCEL LC1

Tuesday 17th October 2017
Toolstation NCEL League Cup 1st Round
Church Street, Armthorpe
Armthorpe Welfare (0) 0
Swallownest (1) 2
Nicholas Senior 26
Jack Watts 56 pen
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 55
Mike Carmody's Welfare side went into tonight's cup game off of the back of a solid 4-2 away win at Campion on Saturday, which ended a run of four straight defeats in all competitions, including a 6-0 reversal at Burscough in the FA Vase. Since I last saw Armthorpe play, when they won at Retford United last month, they've experienced a bit of a stop/go/stop/go time of things and currently occupy a safe, yet unspectacular eleventh place in the Division 1 table, six points above tonight's visitors.
The home side were relegated from the NCEL Premier Division at the end of last season, while newcomers Swallownest, who, for the record, won what was their first ever NCEL League Cup game tonight, finally stepped up from the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League, after ground grading issues had seen them denied promotion a couple of years ago.
Four days after the aforementioned win for Armthorpe at Cannon Park, Swallownest also picked up three points there, courtesy of a 3-0 win, but after drawing with Hallam in their next game and following that up a win at Worsbrough Bridge Athletic, 'Swall' then suffered a dip in form and prior to tonight had lost four games on the bounce, culminating in 7-1 home defeat to promotion chasing AFC Emley, who are riding high in the play off places wit games in hand on five of the clubs above them.
However, in spite of Swallownest's reasonable start to this transitional campaign at a higher level, where their management team of Lee Needham and Tom Hague have fulfilled the club chairmen's (there are two of them) mandate that the first team should be looking to average no less than a point per game, while the club establish themselves in the NCEL... after the heavy defeat at the weekend, the pair of them were relieved of their duties, even though they had amassed an exact total of 15 points from fifteen games. Curiously the club had also signed four new players over the past few days.
So, being of an enquiring mind and nosy disposition, I stayed up all Monday night learning the words to this song, that I sang to Mick Kent and Glenn Watts upon their arrival. And even if I have to say so myself, I did a bloody great job of the: "Heyeyeeyyeeeyeyeeeyeeeyeyeeeyeeeey! I say hey! whats going on!" bit of the chorus.
Of course, I respect the fact that, all told, it's actually none of my effing business 'what's going on?', even though, to be fair to Mick and Glenn, neither of them actually said as much, but it would be difficult for anybody with more than a passing interest in Swallownest FC, not to feel at least a slight inkling of sympathy for Lee and Tom, and no small amount of sadness that they have been jettisoned, given the absolutely massive contribution that they have made to the club's successes in recent times.
I fully understand that football is a business... and as such you have to take any sentiment out of the big decisions and turn a blind eye to what genuinely nice lads you're dealing with, when push quite literally comes to shove. But the outgoing management team must be gutted.
But without wanting to sound offensive to anyone in any kind of position at the club whatsoever, I will close my unbiased and subjective thoughts on the matter here and now by saying: that upon reading the official statement that the management team were on their way out, my overriding feeling on the matter was one of massive disappointment.
I genuinely hope that the Rotherham Road based team continue to prosper at a steady, but sustainable rate and I am more than willing to hold up my hands and say that I was wrong in suggesting that certain parties, both who I consider to be friends, have been hasty, impulsive and trigger happy, if recent events prove to be for the longer term betterment of the club.
When all is said and done, the Swallownest hierarchy have the burden of all responsibility and budget costs on their shoulders, whereas I'm just an occasional visitor, who does a few bits and pieces for their magnificently appointed and superbly presented match day programme. Though I'm very modest about it ;-)
Having won tonight's game, 'Swall' will now face a midweek journey up to Bradford, on 28th November, where they'll take on Premier Division Thackley, in the 2nd Round... and you can almost hear Armthorpe's players chuckling to themselves that they have missed out on that particular privilege.
I could try and dress up tonight's over boiled mutton fayre as a succulently crafted spring lamb dish, but that would stretching the credibility of bullshitting and glossing over things, to its outer limits.
The half time and full time tweets on Armthorpe Welfare's Twitter feed, pretty much summed things up:
"HT: Welfare 0 Swallownest 1. Poor first half display, very scrappy game, though the visitors seem more up for this
FT: Welfare 0 Swallownest 2. Hardly an advert for NCEL football, but the team that wanted it more won the game. Good luck in next round"
Though I would have to pull Steve (the author) up at this point vis a spelling typo I spotted... there is no letter s at the beginning of the word crappy!
While the visitors managerial position(s) await new incumbents, Jordan Stocks and Dan Mullooley, two of the sides experienced players took temporary charge and in fairness to the side they fielded, although the game was anything but a classic, there was obviously an element of closed ranks camaraderie bordering on a siege mentality about Swallownest's performance, that lacked nothing commitment, application or playing for the badge wise.
It wasn't pretty, but as rolling your sleeves up and digging out a result from a turgid and occasionally rough arsed and ugly runt of a game goes, Stocks and Mullooley couldn't have asked for any more of a response.
Tonight's win was all about hard work... and it was definitely bloody hard work to watch at times.
But, as Church Street's resident tweet officer suggested... 'Swall' appeared to want it more.
Right from the off, Aaron Nicholson found that clear cut chances were likely to be at a premium tonight, when he made a thirty yard surging run forward, but found himself stranded and cut off in a swamp of blue shirted defenders.
Armthorpe had a great chance to take an early lead, but Jack Waldron missed the target with a back post header from Gary Collier's corner kick, when he probably should've done better.
Blake Juninho let fly from twelve yards, but Mo Selassie put himself on the line in front of the ball, that rebounded into the path of Adam Daughty, who snatched at his opportunity too quickly and put his close range shot over the bar.
Aspinall picked out Gary Lumley with a free kick towards the dead ball line, but the Welfare number five's header across the face of goal was gathered easily by Darryl Johnson.
In the twenty sixth minute, Swallownest won a right wing corner, which Jack Watts swung into the crowded Armthorpe area, and while the home defence picked a strange moment to indulge in a quick game of: 'Simon says... stand still!', Nick Senior stabbed the ball past Liam Copley with a deft touch.
The visitors were gifted two more right wing corners in quick succession, but as Watts delivered two similar balls into the area, Swall discovered that the Welfare defence had now changed their game-plan accordingly to: "Simon says... awaaaaay! Get your phucking foot through it!"
Mitch Ward swapped passes with Nicholson and struck a dipping shot that Copley did well to keep out, down to his left.
Faint heart never won a fair maiden, nor a (s)crappy midfield tussle... and five minutes before half time a few players from both sides decided it was time for a bout of posturing, pointing, shoving and gobbing off, right in the middle of the pitch and it soon escalated as reinforcements arrived on the scene.
Credit where it is due at this point to the referee, Matt Tyers, who defused the situation, chastised and showed a couple of yellow cards to the main culprits and soon asserted his authority to avoid any further escalation of the potential hostilities... and unless he's merely taken to wearing bigger clothes, it looks to me, as though young Mr Tyers has shed several pounds too. Good for him!
As the first half ground to a halt, Ash Cooper found Watts from a throw in and the 'Swall' captain took the ball past two defenders before laying it back to Aspinall, who saw his opportunity go to waste when he thumped his shot straight at the same two players that Watts had just beaten.
HT: Armthorpe 0 v Swallownest 1
I'm not convinced that the first ten minutes of the second half even existed, because I haven't scribbled any notes down covering that segment of the game and can't recall a damn thing about it, but in the fifty sixth minute, Selassie executed a perfect judo throw on Juninho inside the Armthorpe area... and following a stoppage so that the visitors number nine could receive treatment, Watts made no mistake with his well struck penalty kick... and Swallownest had all but booked themselves a trip to Thackley.
There wasn't really any kind of flow to the game, that a whole rack of substitutions could actually break up, but as 'Swall' ran the clock down, Johnson, their keeper, had a rush of blood and lost the ball on the edge of his area trying to dribble around Alan Jackson and he was lucky that Mitch Kent was around to bail him out of difficulty as Jackson looked like an odds on cert to punish the goalkeeping error.
Following his almost (but not quite) costly mistake,Johnson commanded his area well for the remainder of the game, as Armthorpe's players all gravitated towards the left flank in the final third... because that section of the picture is nearer the dressing rooms at Church Street.
I hope that the locals who had opted to go to the Keepmoat Stadium tonight, were enjoying the game there (Doncaster Rovers v Portsmouth) more than the loyal little clique who'd turned out to watch this encounter had done.
In the final analysis, Swallownest had done just about enough to warrant their win, while Armthorpe hadn't really done much of anything at all.
FT: Armthorpe Welfare 0 v Swallownest 2

Monday, 16 October 2017

Handsworth Parramore 2 v AFC Telford United 1 - FA Youth Cup

Monday 16th October 2017
FA Youth Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
at Sandy Lane
Handsworth Parramore (1) 2
Jack Hollis Smith 9
Isaac Darien 91
AFC Telford United (0) 1
Armando Wood 86
Admission £3.
Programme 50p inc. team sheet
Attendance 88
Photo gallery by Ken Allsebrook, click HERE
HPFC resident knitwear model. Phwoar!
Tonight, marked the first night of a midweek mini tour of NCEL grounds I am undertaking, to watch games in four different competitions, namely: Monday: Handsworth Parramore , Tuesday: Armthorpe Welfare, Wednesday: FC Bolsover, and Thursday: Retford United.
We blew into Sandy Lane, upon the windy fringes of Hurricane Ophelia, in hopeful anticipation that this FA Youth Cup tie would live up the excitement provided in the previous round, at this very ground, when the Ambers youngsters narrowly overcame a very good Ossett Albion side, by two goals to one, courtesy of a last minute (and as of yet, still unclaimed) own goal.
Telford kicked off as these two sides went head to head for a place in the FA Youth Cup First Round, with the match referee, Ashley Royston, getting things underway a few minutes early, to spare the crowd from the distortion 'til deafness music that was threatening to blow the PA system speakers to smithereens at any given moment.
To put things into perspective, here's a statistic, that I have stolen from Handsworth's Twitter feed in the wake of tonight's result: "Out of 418 non league teams to enter the #fayouthcup in the qualifying rounds. We are 1 of 38 left in 🎩for first round"... it's a big deal and make no mistake!
Given the lightweight construction of modern day footballs and the strength of the wind that was blowing regular deposits of tree debris across the Sandy Lane turf; hitting the ball long would've been a pointless task tonight, not that I would imagine either team would go direct at this stage of their development... they can save that sort of stuff until they graduate until the results driven world of first team football, so a patient approach was required initially, until the players got to grips with the conditions.
Such a taking caution with the wind approach suited Aaron Mushet, the Handsworth number nine, who is  evidently adept at holding the ball up in an unfazed and un-rushed manner to bring his teammates into the game.
The opening exchanges boded well for the hosts, as their captain Ziah McClaren patrolled the full length of left flank, combining well with both Tyler Bradley and Alfie Dodsworth, while making the extra man himself in attack on the overlap.
Jack Charlesworth added even more options in attack and would make a telling contribution from a good number of dead ball situations over the course of the night.
Telford too, had a couple of players who immediately caught the eye, with Ethan Roxchelle in particular, stamping his influence all over the visitors approach play.
It was Roxchelle who created the Bucks first opening with a perfectly weighted through ball to Jack Downing, who struck the ball first time on the turn but drilled it high and wide of Callum Turner's goal. Dodsworth and Bradley attacked United down the left flank in tandem, but it was Roxchelle who stopped them in their tracks with a timely interception. 
Once again Roxchelle sent Downing on a run towards the Ambers goal, but Connor Cutts moved across swiftly like minesweeper and calmly took control of the situation, before striding forward in possession and instigating the attacking move from which the home side opened the scoring in the ninth minute, when John Acton did well to save Dodsworth's angled shot, but couldn't keep out Jack Hollis-Smith's precision strike from the rebound.
Handsworth went close again twice inside the next few minutes, as they upped the ante in a quest to build on their lead, but when Bradley knocked Dodsworth's delivery into the Telford area, back into Ollie Sullivan's path, his stinging shot was deflected wide of the post and when the visitors only half cleared the resulting corner as far as Charlesworth, the wind intervened and helped his curling shot past the right hand upright.
Having withstood a few hair raising moments and close scares, Telford began to move the ball around smartly themselves, which was aesthetically pleasing to watch, but needed to be complemented by some kind of end result. Maybe it would be unkind to say that they were passing the ball to death in zones of the pitch where such an approach was never going to hurt Handsworth, but such an analogy wouldn't actually be too far from the truth.
Rifat Ata tried to take advantage of the blustery weather with a long range effort that shifted all over the place in flight, but Turner dealt well with the erratic movement of the ball.
Roxchette broke through into the Ambers area but paused as Turner advanced from his line and scuffed his shot.
With the visitors leaving gaps as they looked to get back on level terms, it afforded Charlesworth with the opportunity to try his luck from twenty five yards out, but his well struck drive whizzed just past the wrong side of the upright. 
Turner braced himself to deal with Reece Taylor's shot, but the Bucks captain didn't strike the ball with enough force to trouble Turner. 
Unperturbed by his failure to hit the net, Taylor was back on the attack moments later, but when the Handsworth defence slammed shut in front of him and the loose ball ran to Josef Pratt, he blazed his shot over the bar.
Once more, moments before the whistle sounded for half time, Charlesworth made another well timed run but nudged the ball wide of the target.
It's the sign of a good front man to keep making those sort of runs time after time and plucking away even when the ball isn't finding the back of the net as often as you'd like... and to that end it was good to see that Charlesworth, and Bradley later in the game too, didn't let their heads drop.
HT: Ambers 1 v Bucks 0
Handsworth came out after taking on their half time nutritional energy food intake of two Weetabix apiece, a protein shake and a hand full of fig biscuits and tore straight into their Shropshire based visitors, who were feeling uncomfortable now after making the ninety mile journey north on a luxury coach, as their hosts tore into them like an armed to the teeth platoon of shock troops. 
Acton was in action right from the restart, fielding Dodsworth's free kick as it dipped in the wind.
Charlesworth's free kick from out on the left flank, cleared the Telford defence, but found the side netting.
Chris Wood, the visitors number six, miscued a clearance into the path of Charlesworth, whose half volley was goal bound, but deflected wide off of Harry Walton.
McClaren picked out Bradley with the corner kick, but Acton held onto his header.
Bradley threatened again, having taken the ball off Wood's right foot before advancing towards Acton, but his shot lifted over the bar.
It was hard to believe that it was still 1-0... and with so many chances going begging it was still a big worry for the home side, that a quick breakaway goal for the Bucks would change the complexion of the game in an instant.
Right on cue, Downing broke free on the left hand side of the Ambers area and lashed a square ball across the face of Turner's goal, but Hollis-Smith got a vital touch and helped the ball out of harms way.
Mushet powered forward, straight down the middle, before knocking the ball sideways to Dodsworth who played a diagonal ball for Bradley to run onto, but Acton was out quickly to gather the ball at the luckless number eleven's feet.
Joe Wallis, one lad who definitely didn't want this game to run over, because he needs to be up for his paper round in the morning, sprinted forward in pursuit of a long clearance, took the ball in his stride a drew Acton off of his line before knocking a sideways pass to Bradley, who was tackled by a bobble in the pitch, twelve yards in front of the virtually unguarded visitors net and he was a whisker away from putting this cup tie to bed.
Handsworth forced a corner out on the left, that Charlesworth swerved just underneath the cross bar, but Acton managed to claim the ball among a crowd of players.
The longer that the home side went without getting something on the end of the plethora of chances they were creating, to score a second goal, the bigger the threat that all of their hard work was going to be undone by a late sucker punch grew.
Josh Trewartha advanced on the left wing for Telford and aimed a looping cross towards Downing, but Cutts stepped up to the plate and planted a firm header back towards the halfway line.
A frantic finale was picking up pace, with tackles flying in all over the places, as leaves, twigs and even a few small branches rained down on the players.
Liam Walton lofted a long free kick in to Parramore area that was cleared, after a fashion, but only to Wood, whose clumsy connection saw the ball fly wide of the target. Sorry pal! If you turn up in rough and ready Worksop on a dark grim night such as this, sporting a top knot in your hair and wearing pink boots, you've got to do better than that... or have skin as tough as a rhinoceroses. Thankfully he won't have heard much of the ribbing because of the strong wind rattling out a jungle drums rhythm on the corrugated stand roof. 
The clock was ticking down towards full time now and Telford must've thought that their chance to grab something out of this game had gone, when Armando Wood threaded a pass through to James Bloor, but Cutts snuffed out his goal scoring opportunity and shepherded the ball to safety.
Surely that was it now?
But it wasn't. Not by a long way.
(A) Wood picked the ball up out by the left flank, cut in field and stunned Handsworth with a curling shot from twenty two yards out that nestled inside the far post, inside the final four minutes.
All of those chances that went begging and missed opportunities count for anything when you get suckered like that late in the game, by such a great finish.
But Handsworth still had an ace up their sleeve in the form of Isaac Darien, who'd come on late in the game to good effect... with the Telford fans still celebrating and wringing their hands at the prospect of half a hour's extra time, that had never looked likely until now, Darien, who'd just had a long pass towards Joe Wallis plucked out of the air by Acton; picked up the ball out on the right, just inside the Bucks half and sprinted towards their goal, passing Usain Bolt, the missing racehorse Sherger (he was in a tin of dog meat that Bolt was carrying by way of providing a comedy prop for me), and a stampede of gazelles (they are the fastest runners of all in the animal kingdom, but the leopards don't like you knowing that) and crashed the ball over Acton's head and into the roof of the net, to claim a winning goal, worthy of settling any game, in stoppage time.
What a finale!
FT: Handsworth Parramore U18 2 v AFC Telford United U18 1
Wow! It was a long hard slog and a battle against the elements at times, but if it's entertainment, late drama and an unexpected sting in the tale you want... don't ever leave an Handsworth Youth Cup game early. 
Well done Ambers! I'm made up for you.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Skegness Town 2 v Immingham Town 1 - Lincs League

Saturday 14th October 2017
Balcan Lighting Supplies Lincolnshire Football League
at the Vertigo Stadium
Skegness Town (1) 2
Jake Gibson 32
Sam Turner 86
Immingham Town (0) 1
Gary Nimmo 59 pen
Admission £3. Programme £1. Attendance 66 (HC)
Click HERE for more photos from this game
Burgh Road memories #1
It's been eight years since I last saw 'Skeggy' (who were my local side, for almost a whole season once upon a time), play a couple of home games at Burgh Road. And it must be said, it was a really depressing experience to see what a state of neglect and disrepair, the Lilywhite's ground had fallen into, since I lived just around the corner on Roman Bank in 1981.
My description of the blot on the Burgh Road landscape that the club had become, on the occasion of my last ever visit, when the hosts drew 1-1 with Lincoln United Reserves, was thus: "This afternoon was a bit of a trip down memory lane. The last time I was here there was a big crowd for a friendly v. Grimsby Town, today the attendance was possibly 30 plus (if you counted the club officials).
In the interim, it would be fair to say the only changes to Burgh Road have been made by wind erosion and storm damage, which is a shame, because though it is a characterful and charming enclosure with bags of room for redevelopment and scope for redevelopment ... it is also a bit of a dump!"
Burgh Road memories #2
A massive amount of TLC was needed as a matter of urgency as well as a BIG change in the attitude of the powers that be at 'Skeg'. Well, fast forward almost a decade and the reigning (back to back) Lincolnshire League champions have moved home to the Vertigo Stadium on Wainfleet Road, which is a little over a mile from the Burgh Road ground... and all told, it's got to be a good thing.
This afternoon's visitors to the Lilywhites new(ish) enclosure were Immingham Town, which is where I will be heading in a fortnight, when these two sides meet again in a Challenge Cup game.
Immingham were involved in one of the most intriguing games that I saw all of last season, when they beat Wyberton in the Lincs League Supplementary Cup Final, which was played at Sleaford Town, after extra time.
Immingham Town Ultras - Cup final celebration
"What a show, when they go, smoking up the sky, yeah!"
Prior to kick off today, fourth placed Immingham Town, sat on nine points after winning three and losing one of their opening four league games, were looking to put last weekend's defeat at New Holland, in a Lincs Junior Cup game against Shape Changers behind them.
While 'Skeg', who won away from home in the same competition, against AFC Holton Le Clay, a week ago, were unbeaten in their three previous league games, having chalked up two wins and a draw so far, and they started the afternoon in sixth place.
In the only other Lincs League game being played this afternoon, seventh placed Wyberton entertained fifth placed Nettleham and the pair of them drew 1-1, while the six other clubs barring Brigg Town Development were facing each other in cup games.
Subsequent changes in the league table tonight, saw the Skegness move up to fourth and Immingham slip to sixth. Wyberton and Nettleham (who I hear have a decent Sunday team too) are still as you were.
Vertigo Stadium is named after the local business who sponsor the ground. And might I just say what a great name that is for a Scaffolding company.
Standing opposite Taggs caravan site, where I am led to believe at least 64% of the population of North Notts and South Yorkshire were conceived, the new ground boasts a decent sized club house, of which the pitch facing end is all glass fronted, so that you can actually watch the game from within the comfortable and well appointed environs of the facility. While outside there is hard standing on all four sides and two stands opposite the dug outs, that are split 50/50, half seating and half standing in both.
At the far end of the ground to the Lilywhites Club, is a fenced in 3G pitch, which was staging a Skegness Town Development Team game this afternoon which had kicked off at 2pm, and behind the two symmetrical stands is the home of Skegness Rugby Club.
Beyond the rugby pitch there was another football game being played on another artificial pitch, but I never did find out who the two teams 'over yonder' were.
Of course, as the Jolly Fisherman himself will tell you, Skeggy is renowned for being 'so bracing', but today, if you ignored the aroma of the fish & chip shops and turned a blind eye to the boarded up pubs, being on the East Coast of Lincolnshire was just like being on the 'Med this afternoon, so much so, I left my coat and jumper in the car and applied sun screen before settling down to enjoy the game. Next time I'm here, I might also bring some insect repellent to stave of the mosquito nips I suffered after choosing to stand just along the touchline from the benches. The insects were obviously attracted by all of the hot air, err, whoops! I meant the trees, on that side of the pitch.
One thing that this Step 7 league lacks, is actual teams.
This season, in contains only eleven sides, with Market Rasen Town  having folded last year and Heckington Town, Louth Town and Sleaford Town Reserves all having pulled out of the league before the commencement of the current season. While Hykeham Town called it a day, after a league ruling decreed that their facilities weren't up to required level for the standard of competition and they didn't fancy getting involved in a ground share with Ruston Sports.
The other team in this popular holiday resort: Skegness United, are currently playing their trade in the Boston League. 
Hopefully the FA will move to help, rather than hinder this lack of numbers towards the end of this current term. Particularly if today's host club apply successfully and then win promotion to the NCEL next season. And from what I've seen today, they would breeze through any ground grading inspection to that end. 
Please note, this opinion about Skegness Town and the NCEL, is based purely on my own conjecture. I have not spoken to anybody at any Lincs League club, or the NCEL, about the lay of the land as it stands at this present time, or how any impending situation might pan out.
And even if I ever get round to talking to anyone in officialdom, 'loose lips sink ships' and I never repeat anything I get told in confidence, or overhear by eavesdropping, on this long winded, self indulgent, bullshit blog, with added football content.
And in case you're worrying what you might have said while I was within your vicinity; years of touring with bands has left me half deaf with advanced tinnitus anyway. 
Both teams made it clear from the off, that they were really up for it this afternoon, as two of the clubs fancied by many to be challenging for the honours come the end of March, went head to head.
And though the Lilywhites emerged with all three points after the dust had settled, there wasn't a great deal in it all told.
Luke Raynor-Mistry, the home side's here, there and everywhere, creative attacking midfielder, set up the first chance of the game, but Sam Turner headed narrowly wide from his right wing delivery.
Immingham were soon on the attack themselves, but John Waugh lost his footing, have done the hard part to make himself enough time and space to shoot... and within a minute, Ryan King let fly with a long free kick, that the lads on the adjacent rugby pitch would've been immensely proud of.
Possibly the rarefied air and humidity affected the flight of the ball, eh?
A clever back-heel by Jack Gibson released (S) Turner, who burst into the left hand side of the area, but hooked his shot over the bar.
With the home side getting back effectively in numbers, Gary Nimmo had to improvise with his route to goal blocked, but when he curled a shot over the packed defence from twenty yards out, it flew high and wide past the right hand stanchion of the goal.
A comedian in the crowd called out: "You mind our new clubhouse windows"
Talking of Comedians, the seventies TV funnyman showcase programme that is... and the Golden Shot from the same era. 
Did you know, that one of the stars of those two shows: Charlie 'Mi' owd flower' Williams, who was also a time served ex coal miner and footballer for Doncaster Rovers, finished his playing career at Skegness Town after 'Donny' released him in 1959?
It was Williams, a centre half by trade, who first coined the saying, that many other ex-pros have laid claim to.: "I was never a fancy player, but I could stop them buggers that were." 
Any road mi' 'owd chuck... that's enough nostalgia for now, and swiftly getting back to October 2017, a 'reet grand' game was developing.
Dan Stevens and Stefan Melin were obviously enjoying a afternoon spent crashing into each other in a no holds barred grappling contest; but it was all just proper competitiveness, without even a hint of malice or evil intentand I'm sure they're texting each other right now, in advance of their next rendezvous in a fortnight's time.
Nimmo and Melin both went close for the visitors, while at the other end of the pitch, Liam van der Weele blocked Gibson's shot at the expense of a corner.
The home side finally broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute, from a move that John Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol, Wim Jansen and Robbie Rensenbrink would have been proud of in their prime, when Courtney Warren surged inside from the right wing, past Darren Hanslip and Nimmo, slipped the ball to Jordan Potts, before continuing his run through the right channel and taking a return pass from the Lilywhites number ten, which afforded him a few yards o space to pick out Corey Cunliffe, who rolled a pass into the path of Gibson who rifled a shot past Craig Ritchie to put Skegness in front.
But Tom  Hobson and Nimmo, showed some good close control between each other to get Immingham deep into 'Skeg' territory and the home side rode their luck a bit, when Waugh had a goal bound effort cleared off the line, while Malin crashed the ball against the crossbar from the rebound.
I had certainly picked the right day to visit the Vertigo Stadium.
King clipped the heels of Rayner-Mistry as he advanced on the visitors goal inside the area and the referee, Mr Ian Weston had no choice but to blow up and point to the spot.
George Hobbins stepped up take the penalty kick: left a bit, right a bit... BERNIE THE BOLT! He struck it well but Ritchie got down to make a great stop, before recovering quickly to prevent (S) Turner from knocking the rebound home, before David Deane hooked the loose ball away to safety.
As play switched to the home side's area again, Ritchie shouted over to me: "Did you get that on your camera!?" 
I tried my best pal!
Gibson shot over after exchanging passes with (S) Turner and Ritchie kept Skegness at bay agin just before half time, saving at (S) Turner's feet from Rayner-Mistry's diagonal through ball.
Right on the stroke of half time, Waugh broke away on  his own, but Portas sprinted from his line to make a vital and very timely clearance.
HT: Skegness 1 v Immingham 0
All to play for still... and just one goal in it.
At half time I nipped out to my car to get a hat, the 'mozzies' had eaten quite enough of my head already for one day.
Straight from the restart, Gibson forced his way past two challenges but shot over the bar from twelve yards.
The pace of the game didn't relent one bit, as it ebbed and flowed from one end of the pitch to the other at breakneck speed.
Immingham won a free kick, thirty yards from their hosts goal and while the players from both teams jockeyed and jostled for position, the referee blew up because he'd spotted a push. I'd seen about five pushes, it's how things get done at set pieces, but despite the fact that his assistant, who was just a few yards away from the action, had remained motionless and didn't flag for any sort of offence, the referee had decided, all by himself, that Immingham were going to have a great opportunity to pull level via a penalty kick.
Maybe the young lines-person had been told he was only to keep an eye on throw ins and offsides, but the visitors player manager didn't look unduly concern either way, as he belted home the equaliser from the spot. Was it a penalty? I'd say so, and I've seen them given before, but more often than not 98% of pushing and shoving at set pieces goes unpunished and is part and parcel of each and every game.
Whatever anybody thought of the decision, the resulting goal had definitely put a spring into the visitors step and Cunliffe had to hack the ball away to safety as Nimmo and Waugh passed their way along the touchline. While Danny Scrimshaw headed wide from a Nimmo free kick.
Hobbins picked out Potts with a free kick, who slipped the ball to (S) Turner, the Skegness number nine lobbed Ritchie, but the Immingham keeper recovered and got back to tip the ball over and was well placed to deal with Cunliffe's looping header from Rayner-Minstry's corner.
Potts and Hobbins combined, but the latter couldn't quite apply the finishing touch to their neat passing move from a couple of yards out.
Ritchie was being kept busy with a string of passes, while Melin was keeping Warren on his toes as a last line of defence for the Lilywhites.
Dan Stevens free kick from outside the area, caused chaos.... among the hordes of hand car wash guys who were doing a roaring trace in the club car park.
There was still nothing to chose between these two sides and to all intents and purposes it looked as though this pulsating game, which was proving to be a good advert for the Lincolnshire League, was heading for a honourable draw.
Nimmo, who was still giving everything he had left for his team's cause, saw two left wing corners fall wide of the right hand post, as his battle weary troops couldn't quite add the finishing touch.
Portas had to head the ball away when Hobson played a long ball towards Richard Sparrow... and was involved again moments later, gathering Nimmo's right wing cross after Hobson had freed him with a great knock out wide from the middle of the park.
With four minutes left to go, Rayner-Mistry broke down the left wing and rolled the ball back to (J) Turner, who up until this point had been digging in and doing all of the unglamorous jobs for 'Skeg' out on the left, but his cross found (S) Turner, who scored with his second bite of the cherry after Ritchie had saved his first from close range.
Rayner-Mistry broke through into the left hand side of the visitors area and scooped the ball across the face of the goal but Danny Steadman could only divert his header wide.
Injuries within the Immingham ranks, meant that Chris East, who hitherto had been Gary Nimmo's eyes, ears and vocal presence on the bench, had to come out of retirement for the final five minutes.
He made a telling contribution right at the death, when Gibson took the ball round Ritchie from Hobbins through ball and the emergency substitute got across to prevent the Skegness number eleven from rolling the ball into an empty net.
The visitors made one last sweeping move forward but Portas, once again, moved quickly from his line to intercept the ball and clear his lines for the last time.
and that was that. 
Well played both to both teams.
I'm really looking forwarrd to seeing these two sides lock horns again in two weeks time.
FT: Skegness Town 2 v Immingham Town 1