Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Birmingham City 3 v Sunderland 1 - EFL Championship

Tuesday 30th January 2018
SkyBet EFL Championship
at St. Andrew's Stadium
Birmingham City (2) 3
David Davis 28, Jeremie Boga 44, Sam Gallagher 54
Sunderland AFC (0) 1
Bryan Oviedo 83
Admission: Complimentary. Programme £3
Attendance 19,601 (inc. 1,033 away fans)
A brief resume of events before I board the 23.30PM train out of Birmingham New Street Station to Derby, where I will change trains to Chesterfield before driving the last thirty miles home to East Retford.
Lord knows how rough I will be feeling (or looking) when that 5.30AM alarm goes off in the morning. I'm getting too old for this caper and too ugly to miss out on any available beauty sleep, but my impetuous nature got the better of me again.
Birmingham City are no longer in the bottom three after tonight's convincing win that saw them leapfrog over Sunderland in the table.
David Davis spanked the ball just inside the right hand post from the edge of the visitors area, to put Blues ahead after 28 minutes, and shortly before half time Jeremie Boga doubled their lead with a downward header from Jacques Maghoma's delivery.
Birmingham's opening goal scorer Davis created the opportunity for Birmingham's third with a sideways ball that Sam Gallagher netted from close range.
Blues relaxed a bit towards the end of the game and Bryan Oviedo scored a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Goodnight and God bless you all.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Basford United 3 v Kidsgrove Athletic 0 - EvoStik NPL Integro LC R3

 Monday 29th January 2018
 EvoStik NPL Integro League Cup Third Round
at Greenwich Avenue
Basford United (1) 3
James Reid 28 Pen,  Keiran Fenton 74,  Liam Hearn 77
Kidsgrove Athletic (0) 0
Admission £7. Programme £2. Attendance 114
The visitors keeper, Dave Parton, was called into action with less than two minutes gone, when he reached Courey Grantham's effort at full stretch down by his left hand upright, the same post that Grantham hit a few minutes later after he'd been played through by Fernando Bell-Toxtle and only had Parton to beat.
Ross Davidson, the Kidsgrove captain had his sides first goal scoring opportunity, but couldn't keep his shot down and cleared the crossbar from outside the area.
Basford were having the better of things but when Lee Cropper made some space for himself twelve yards from their goal, they would've been relieved as he struck his shot against the post.
Approaching the half hour mark, the home side took the lead as Jamie Reid made no mistake from the spot after Courey Grantham had been fouled inside the Kidsgrove penalty area.
It was Grantham's first game back from injury and on tonight's showing, where he was offering the home side no end of options, his presence is going to be like a new signing for Basford as they head into the second half of the season.
Both sides threatened from long range shots as half time approached, with Kyle Diskin forcing a save from Saul Deeney, while Parton was well placed to collect  Bell-Toxtle's dipping effort and Thornhill's well struck piledriver.
Kieran Wells, was making his presence felt and seemed to be enjoying inflicting his typically robust approach on the visitors in a manner befitting a decent prop forward (don't ever change pal) and he almost doubled the hosts lead when he directed a header narrowly off target, moments before the interval.
HT: United 1 v Athletic 0
The game ebbed and flowed but as the second half moved on, Basford began to take over proceedings, Aidan Austin had two chances, Grantham saw his angled shot fizz across the face of the goal before Parton got down well and held onto it and despite some rugged defending and a great performance by Parton, Kidsgrove were finally put to the sword with two goals in the space of three minutes, when Fenton connected well with Reid's left wing corner and bulged the back of the net shortly before Lewis Carr's right wing cross, glanced off the bum of visiting defender into the path of the vastly experienced striker Liam Hearn who shot into the ground from close range, before the ball bounced past Parton to give Basford an unassailable three goal cushion.
Kidsgrove, who had arrived in a mini bus just twenty five minutes before kick off, had had their moments earlier in the game, but now looked like a well beaten side, as a flood of amber shirts towards their area, signalled how dominant Martin Carruthers side had been after half time.
The finaloutcome was a fair and just one, and the best team on the night won.
Good luck to Basford United in the quarter final of this competition.
FT: Basford United 3 v Kidsgrove Athletic 0
A decent game all told.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Huddersfield Town 1 v Birmingham City 1 - FA Cup R4

Saturday 27th January 2018
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
at the John Smith's Stadium
Huddersfield Town (1) 1
Steve Mounié 21
Birmingham City (0) 1
Lukas Jutkiewicz 54
Admission £15 Programme £2
Attendance 13,047 (inc. 2,473 away fans)
Huddersfield Town:
Joel Coleman, Chris Löwe (Scott Malone 82), Terence Kongolo, Michael Hefele, Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonathan Hogg, Danny Williams (Philip Billing 36); Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley 57), Abdelhamid Sabiri, Collin Quaner, Steve Mounié
Unused subs - Jonas Lössl, Christopher Schindler, Tommy Smith, Laurent Depoitre
Birmingham City:
David Stockdale, Cohen Bramall, Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean (Jonathan Grounds HT), Michael Morrison (c), Carl Jenkinson, Jason Lowe (Craig Gardner,88), Jota, Cheikh N’Doye, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Che Adams (Jérémie Boga 76)
Unused subs - Connal Trueman, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Steve Seddon, Charlie Lakin
Upon arrival at the Kirklees Stadium, currently known as the John Smith's Stadium, and formerly called the Alfred McAlpine Stadium from 1994 to 2004 and then the Galpharm Stadium between 2004 and 2012, I was advised by the car park attendant at the ground that I wouldn't be able to leave my car there but would be welcome to use the Bradley Mills parking at a cost of £7. So I did a quick u-turn and parked (legally) a couple of hundred yards from the ground for free on side street just off Leeds Road in pole position to get away quickly after the game, pretty much the same as most people did; then walked back to the ground through the half empty official car park, via a stop off at a nearby bijou quality food emporium.
Did you know, that Huddersfield Town are the only team to have played at each of the top four levels of English football at two different grounds? Or that some people still call the Terriers home the 'new ground' even though they moved into it almost a quarter of a century ago? 
Kinnell! Recalling the times that I visited their former home on Leeds Road, that makes me feel really old. Okay, as I career full steam ahead to my next 'significant age' birthday, I concede that I am actually really old, but Ihave a mental age of nine or ten, so that must count for something. But I digress.
Last month, when Chelsea visited Huddersfield, the number of the away supporters serenaded the Terriers fans, with a rendition of: "Champions of England! You'll never sing that!"
Well, you see those three stars that today's hosts proudly wear above the club crest on their shirts? They didn't get them for working in McDonald's y'know.
Long before their post Second World war decline and subsequent current re-emergence as a top flight team, Huddersfield Town were the first ever club to win the Football League First Division championship (it's what they used to call the Premier League before it was bastardised) three times in a row across the 1923–24, 1924–25, 1925–26 seasons, they were also runners up for the two following seasons. Maybe those deluded Chelsea fans (I'm sure that they all can't be that stupid) don't know their history and think that Rupert Murdoch invented football in 1992 and owned it until Roman Abramovich bought it off of him in 2003.
Today's hosts are currently in fourteenth place in the Premier League, four places but only two points above the relegation places. However, whoever started the chant in the away end this afternoon of: "You're going down with the Baggies!", should have familiarised themselves with the Championship table first.
Some recent good results have given Birmingham a fighting chance of getting out of the mire at the bottom end of the second tier, as they prepare for Tuesday's vital game against fellow strugglers Sunderland at St. Andrew's. Consequently Blue manager Steve Cotterill (and his opposite number David Wagner) made seven changes for today's cup tie. Huddersfield are also back in action on Tuesday night, when they will hoping to pick up points from a home game against Liverpool.
Sam Gallagher's second half strike was enough for City to see off Burton Albion by a solitary goal at home, in the third round, while a Rajiv van la Parraat strike and a long range deflected shot by Danny Williams, were enough for Huddersfield to get through to round four with a two-one victory at Bolton Wanderers, who are also among the teams at the foot of the Championship, just two points and three places above Birmingham.
Almost 2,500 away fans made the 114 mile trip north from Birmingham and noisily got behind their team from the off, who responded by making a decent start to the game, with Jota and Che Adams combining well, deep inside the Terriers half.
Although the game was often and end to end affair, especially during the second half, actual clear cut chances were at a premium, but Birmingham fashioned the first one when Carl Jenkinson delivered a cross to the near post, that Lukas Jutkiewicz reached after battling off the presence of Michael Hefele, but could only poke the ball wide with Hefele continuing to unsettle the big front man.
Jutkiewicz is often mistaken as a Polish national, but he was actually born in Southampton and Birmingham are the ninth English club he has played first team football for, including Huddersfield on loan. He also scored twelve goals in thirty three starts for SPL club Motherwell during the 2009-10 season. Rajiv van La Parra conceded possession cheaply inside his own half, but Terence Kongolo, the Huddersfield central defender, moved across swiftly to block the lively Jutkiewicz as he attempted to test Joel Coleman from long range.
From their first real attacking move, the home side went in front, when Collin Quaner laid the ball out wide to Florent Hadergjonaj who delivered a first time pinpoint cross that Steve Mounié met with a powerful downward header that beat David Stockdale and gave the Premier League side the lead.
The timing of the goal, twenty one minutes, almost caused an awkward situation, as that was the precise time that Huddersfield Town had requested that the crowd should hold a minutes applause in memory of Joe Brook, a twenty one year old Terriers fan who had died in a road traffic accident earlier this month. But once people realised the significance of the time, all four sides of the ground respectfully joined in with the clapping, including those from the West Midlands who wouldn't have seen the announcement on the scoreboard above them, but definitely saw the goal that had just been scored right in front of them.
Good manners cost nothing, and with all due respect, though this isn't really the place to discuss such things, maybe the recently established practice of timed tributes during games, would be more apt, if a minutes applause/silence was observed before games, to avoid any potential misunderstandings occurring, like they very nearly did today, which in the event would've been sad for all concerned.
Chris Löwe saw off the attentions of Jenkinson and crossed towards Mounie and as Adams struggled to clear the ball, Quaner tried his luck, with a curling left foot shot that Marc Roberts blocked with a brave header and Abdelhamid Sabiri shot wide when the loose ball reached him.
Cohen Bramall did well to force his way forward to the dead ball line, but Joel Coleman managed to push the ball away to safety.
Right on the stroke of half time, Stockdale smothered the ball down by his right hand post as Mounié connected with his head from Löwe’s  free-kick.
HT: Terriers 1 v Blues 0
Kongolo, who put in a quality shift all afternoon, thwarted an attack whereby Jota had used his pace and trickery to open the home side's defence with Adams in tandem and Huddersfield cleared their lines.
But nine minutes after the restart, the visitors were on level terms, when Coleman's poor clearance fell straight to Bramall, who ventured forward and played a pass out towards Jutkiewicz to his left, whose initial cross was blocked by Hefele, but he struggled to bring the ball under control and for some strange reason thought that running out of his area with it, instead a launching a clearance away from the danger zone, was a good idea, but Jutkiewicz had anticipated well and kept running, nicking the ball off Hefele and crashing it into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Cue pandemonium in the away end.
Huddersfield pushed forward and when the ball was only cleared as far as Philip Billing just outside the area, Stockdale did well to keep out at full stretch.
Jota shot narrowly wide from around twenty yards out as Birmingham grew into the game and Huddersfield could consider themselves fortunate, that when Jason Lowe sent a measured ball into their area, which Jutkiewicz sent over Coleman with a dipping header into the net, the assistants flag went up and judged that the visitors number ten was offside... these things balance themselves out over the course of a season, but that one was a very, very close call indeed.
The game switched ends again and Stockdale was called upon once more, standing is ground to repel Jonathan Hogg as he advanced into the area from the left.
Juliewitz continued to be a thorn in the Huddersfield's side and Coleman had to tip a shot from him over the bar, while Jota was showing some good touches along with the visitors late substitute Jérémie Boga.
In stoppage time, the ex Birmingham City development team player Joe Lolley was put through, directly in front his former sides goal, by Quaner's sideways knock, but he spurned the opportunity and lashed the ball off target from just ten yards out. Phew! That was a close shave.
The two sides now go head to head in a replay at St. Andrew's on Tuesday week (6th February), after Birmingham first have two important Championship games to deal with, v. Sunderland at home and Sheffield Wednesday away. While Huddersfield have back to back Premier League games against Liverpool at home and Manchester United away during the interim.
FT: Huddersfield Town 1 v Birmingham City 1

Friday, 26 January 2018

Sheffield Wednesday 3 v Reading 1 - FA Cup R4

Friday 26th January 2018
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
at Hillsborough Stadium
Sheffield Wednesday (1) 3
Atdhe Nuhiu 29, 54, George Boyd 61
Reading (0) 1
Cameron Dawson OG 85
Admission £15. Programme £3
Attendance 14,848

Sheffield Wednesday
Dawson, Hunt, Venancio, Loovens (C), Pudil (Palmer 63), Fox, Boyd, Pelupessy, Reach (Jones 71), Matias (Rhodes 89), Nuhiu.
Unused subs - Wildsmith, Butterfield, Joao, Wallace.
Jaakkola, Gunter (C), Bacuna (Evans 79), Moore, Ilori, Edwards, Clement, Beerens, McCleary (Barrow 65), Böðvarsson, Kermorgant (Smith 79).
Unused subs - Mannone, Aluko, Blackett, Kelly.
Wednesday reached the fourth round of the FA Cup when Marco Matias and Atdhe Nuhiu scored a goal apiece in their third round replay against Carlisle united, after the Owls had initially drawn nil-nil at the League Two side's Brunton Park ground.
While Reading also needed a replay to see off another League Two side: Stevenage, with a hat trick from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson that saw them safely through in the Madejski Stadium replay, following a goalless draw at Broadhall Way.
Neither side have exactly been having the best of seasons in the Championship so far this term, with the hosts stumbling along in seventeenth place with Reading struggling one place and three points beneath them, so I wouldn't imagine that a FA Cup tie would have been at the top of Jos Luhukay, who recently took over the managerial reigns at Hillsborough from Carlos Carvalhal, or his fellow Dutchman: Jakob "Jaap" Stam, the Royals manager's list of priorities.
Which would explain the apparent lack of urgency by either team tonight at times.
Reading looked well organised and assured on the ball from the off and were effectively bossing the pace of the game during the opening exchanges, which was, for the most part, being played in the Wednesday half of the pitch, where the home side were guilty of some woeful distribution and sloppy passing early on.
The first goal scoring opportunity of the night, after four minutes, belonged to Reading too, but they were thwarted by the quick reactions of the young Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson, after Leandro Bacuna had threaded a pass from midfield into the path of Dave Edwards, who'd timed his run in behind the Owls defence to perfection, but Dawson spread himself and blocked the resulting goal bound effort.
Another stray pass inside their own half caused Wednesday more problems at the back as Pelle Clement picked up a loose ball and pushed forward towards the Owls penalty area, where he was blatantly and cynically pulled backwards right on the edge of the area by Joey Pelupussy.
It was squeaky bum time for the hosts and they would've been relieved that the match referee had ruled the offence was just outside the area and in spite of Clement being in a goal scoring position with a clear run on goal, Mr Brooks opted to only show Pelupussy a yellow card instead of a red.
Reading's French striker Yann Kermorgant rifled his free kick straight into the Owls defensive wall and shortly afterwards Kermorgant scuffed the ball after getting on the end of right wing delivery from Jon Bodvarsson.
The home side seriously needed to buck their ideas up, which they did after taking the lead against the run of play. And though it would be wrong to single out any individual for criticism given the lackadaisical way the home side had started, I don't ever recall seeing a professional footballer look as uncomfortable on the ball as the highly rated Frederico Venancio, who didn't seem to be reading from the same hymn sheet as the rest of his team mates from the outset, and as a consequence several attempted moves forward from deep positions faltered, because the Owls Portuguese defender (on a season long loan from Vitória de Setúbal) had opted to pass the ball back to his keeper unnecessarily, or spray a string of aimless passes across the back three, putting pressure on his fellow defenders instead of eliminating the danger that the pressing Reading forwards were already creating.
Pelupessy had Wednesday's first opportunity to score, but having been restricted to shooting from long range, shot over the Reading goal and into the empty seating in the lower tier of the Leppings Lane End of the ground (the Reading fans were located in the upstairs seats).
Reading fans
Ironically when the home side finally did make meaningful progress into the Royals half and opened the scoring in the twenty ninth minute, it was a sublime pass from the aforementioned and previously lacklustre Venancio that unlocked the visitors defence for Atdhe Nuhiu to run on to and score.
The visiting defenders appealed that Nuhiu had been in an offside position when Venancio played the ball and pointed to the action replay on the scoreboard screen as evidence to their claims, but as Nuhiu planted the ball emphatically under the dive of Anssi Jaakkola, his was a well taken and perfectly legit strike, that had taken full advantage of the Reading back line getting caught out strung in a static row too high across the pitch, that had virtually invited Wednesday to take take advantage.
Maybe Venancio had been playing with his boots on the wrong feet earlier in the game, because it was a quality knock to set up the goal, which seemed to settle down the hosts and curb the home crowds growing frustrations.
Jaakola denied Morgan Fox as the home side looked to double their lead, but it was Reading who finished the half passing the ball around and retaining possession in their opponents half, although it must be said, sans any final penetration.
HT: Owls 1 v Royals 0
The next goal would be vital and though they huffed and puffed like the biggest and baddest of wolves ever trying to break into a well constructed homestead, Reading just weren't getting the rub of the green, while Wednesday rode their luck and counted their blessings that they are so well endowed in the goalkeeping department, as Dawson continued to impress.
Right at the start of the second half, Bodvarsson and Kermorgant combined and fielded the ball out wide to Garath McCleary who unlocked Wednesday with a quick return ball back across the penalty area, that Kermorgant diverted towards the Owls goal, but Dawson had read the situation well and got behind the ball to comfortably take a catch.
Venancio, the architect of the opening goal, almost created an equaliser for Reading, when he didn't get enough power behind his header back to Dawson and laid it into the path of Bodvarsson instead, who lobbed
the ball over the advancing keeper but saw his effort headed clear inside the six yard box.
Leandro Bacuna fizzed the ball across the Owls goalmouth and picked out the unmarked Bodvarsson, whose close range strike had goal written all over it, but Dawson kept it out with an excellent agile save, that had Jaap Stam's side cursing their luck that they had come up against a young keeper who was having the game of his life.
And Reading's bad luck in front of goal was compounded after fifty four minutes, when Marco Matias won the ball from McNulty out by the left corner flag and picked out the run of Nuhiu with a low cross, who knocked it into the back of the visitors net from five yards out, to double the Owls lead.
The visitors now had a mountain to climb and their position wasn't helped any when Bacuna's long range strike crashed back off the upright with Dawson (eventually) well beaten and play quickly switched ends, with Matias playing Chris Boyd through on goal, who took full advantage of the visitors keeper having a rush of blood to his head to leave himself completely stranded while Boyd rolled the ball into an unguarded net.
Dawson made two more saves; one from Bacuna's free kick that he held by his left hand post as the ball curled around the Owls wall and the other from the Royals defender Liam Moore who got his head to Edwards flick on from Roy Beeren's corner, while Jaakola was also in action at the other end, where he did well to deny Boyd, while Matias put the ball wide of the target when it looked easier for him to score.
Reading did get a late consolation goal, in the eighty fifth minute, when Venancio deflected Modou Barrow's right wing cross against the upright and the ball hit Dawson's back and ended up crossing the line.
The goal was credited as an own goal by the Owls keeper, though the visitors had followed the ball in just to make sure, which I suppose means that Venancio could claim an assist for both team's goals at that end of the ground if he was so inclined. 
FT: Sheffield Wednesday 3 v Reading 1
As I drove away from the ground, some local radio 'expert' analyst was claiming that Reading had been atrocious on the night and didn't offer any kind of threat to the dominant hosts, while also saying that Cameron Dawson was a candidate for man of the match. 
Hmm, the inaccuracy of his blatant contradiction speaks for itself.
The visitors had kept the ball well for long periods, the Owls goalkeeper had impressed throughout, numerous times... and Wednesday, particularly Atdhe Nuhiu, had been more clinical in front of goal when it mattered.
As for Frederico Venancio... on this showing, I'd advise Wednesday's new manager Jos Luhukay to stick him in the opposition half, so he can cause their defenders to have kittens instead of his own.
Before the radio show descended any further into a: "I've not been to the game tonight, but I've called to comment on how well we played" phone-in type annoyance, I turned it off.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Worksop Town 0 v Alfreton Town 2 - WVH NMU19L (North)

Thursday 25th January 2018
WVH North Midland U19 League (North)
at Sandy Lane
Worksop Town (0) 0
Alfreton Town  (2) 2
Harry Jackson 9
Kieron Hinchley 36
Admission £2 inc. programme
Attendance 77
Worksop Town lost their unbeaten record, along with their discipline at times (I lost count of the yellow cards), on a night when a very impressive looking Alfreton Town side, deservedly claimed all three points at Sandy Lane.
The Reds win saw them move up the table into fourth, eight points behind tonight's hosts and runaway leaders, but with three games in hand.
The Tigers could've been ahead inside the opening five minutes when Alex Boyd powered a header just over the bar from Luke Black's right wing corner, but as the first half progressed, the visitors grew in stature and I would imagine that the Worksop management would've been glad to hear the half time whistle so they could regroup and reorganise their side.
The visitors opened the scoring on nine minutes, after Morgan Brough had been fouled by the Worksop captain Blythe Blake just outside the area and with Brough providing a foil with a dummy run, Harry Jackson struck  the resulting free kick just inside the right hand post, leaving Callum Fielding rooted to his line.
The visitors thwarted several attempts by Worksop to pick up some momentum, with a five man midfield strung across the pitch, with Jackson impressing as he anticipated and intercepted a number of balls towards Luke Black out on the right before they had even reached their intended recipient.
Jack Holden cleared the crossbar from twenty yards after Black's flag kick had only been half cleared to him, but it was the visitors who were in the ascendancy, with Kieran Larder having to be alert to the threat of Harvey Grice on the left flank for Alfreton, while Jack Holden and Luke Smith continued to probe for openings at the heart of the Tigers defence.
Blake was booked for upending Holden right on the edge of the area, while Smith's free kick flew inches past the upright from a deflection. Moments later, Blake conceded another free kick for fouling Holden again and Jackson fired over after Grice had knocked a short free kick into his path.
Larder offered his defence some respite, launching a long ball for Smith to chase, but Jack Weatherer, the Reds skipper, had spotted the danger early and moved across quickly to make a clearance, Holden picked up the ball and at the visitors through the right channel, but his diagonal shot cleared the left hand upright.
Alfreton went on the attack again and the ball broke to Kieran Hinchley on the edge of the crowded Tigers area, who had found himself a yard of space and picked his spot with a delightful curling shot that nestled in the bottom right hand corner of the net to double the visitors lead.
Worksop substituted Blake who had been attracting the attention of the referee far too much since going into the book and as he left the pitch, obviously unhappy with the sensible precaution that was being taken, he nonchalantly threw his armband to the ground in a display of petulance.
Personally, I hope he got sent to bed without any supper for his tantrum.
Fielding got down to hold Liam Harrison's shot just before the break as Alfreton continued to up the ante and comfortably knock the ball around at will.
Worksop Town team
At half time, the tigers management rang the changes, making a double substitution, which nearly paid off straight away, with one of the newly introduced players, Harry Dunbar heading over from close range in the opening minute of the second half.
Black made a run deep into Alfreton territory but was met by Weatherer, who cleared the ball into the night sky in an uncompromising manner.
The Tigers definitely looked more organised after the break, but Harrison still found the space to make a lengthy run forward before laying the ball off sideways to Ellis Evans whose shot struck Fielding on the shoulder and stayed out of the goal... I guess you could call that a save then, at a push.
Grice then tested Fielding in spite of the close attentions of two defenders, but the Worksop keeper held onto his effort from twelve yards... shortly before smothering the ball bravely at the feet of Smith.
Weatherer had a Peter Kay 'ave it!' moment and launched a long ball for Smith to chase after but Fielding reached it first. And Smith was involved again as Hinchley released him on the right hand side of the area with a great knock forward, but his intended lob over the advancing Tigers keeper also cleared the crossbar.
Alfreton Town team
The mark of a good keeper is pulling off a decent save after a period of inactivity, step forward and milk the applause: Matt Hill, who acrobatically pulled off a great stop from Christian Beaumont's well  struck effort from fifteen yards out.
Harrison played Evans in on Fielding's goal but he rolled the ball narrowly wide of the post and Josh Pearson headed against the top of the bar as Alfreton finished the game with a flourish.
Boyd managed to connect with the ball as Smith shot in stoppage time and the ball ran harmlessly to Fielding and right at death, having done the hard part of muscling his way into a shooting position,  Evans pulled his angled shot across the face of the goal and wide of the left hand upright.
FT: Worksop Town U19 0 v Alfreton Town U19 2
Worksop were beaten fairly and squarely by the better side on the night and if truth be told, the final winning margin did not flatter the visitors one bit, in fact it probably flattered the Tigers if anything.
Both teams are both back in action next Thursday in the League Cup, when Afreton entertain Espial at the Impact Arena and Worksop make the short journey to Swallownest.
For all WVH NMU19L (North) forthcoming fixtures, click HERE

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Mansfield Town 3 v York City 1 - Central League

Tuesday 23rd January 2018
Central League (Reserves)
at Kirklington Road (Rainworth Miners Welfare FC)
Mansfield Town (1) 3
Johnny Hunt 39
George Taft 72
Lee Angol 82
York City (0) 1
James Gray 50
Admission £3
Mansfield Town:
Olejnik (GK), Digby, Diamond, Taft, Hunt, Thomas, Butcher, Atkinson, Spencer, Angol, Sterling-James
Subs: Wilson, Gibbens, T Blake, N Blake, Ward.
York City:
Simpson (GK), Law, Muggleton, Wharton, Rogerson, Rowe, Thompson, Smith, Gray (Berry 80), Morgan-Smith (Haswell 80), McNaughton
Subs: Kemp, Wilton, Lawrence
York's main threat this afternoon was Sam Muggleton's long throw ins, but the Stags defence dealt well with this oft repeated tactic, which took advantage of the strong diagonal wind blowing across the Kirklington Road pitch.
It was the home side who pressed forward and threatened to open the scoring for large swathes of the first half, with Zander Diamond, Jack Thomas and Will Atkinson all going close, while the visitors keeper Luke Simpson did well to thwart Jimmy Spencer with an excellent save.
Paul Digby, who had a really good game this afternoon, held the ball up inside the York area and instead of hitting a hopeful cross into the mix, thoughtfully kept possession and rolled the ball back to Atkinson, who spanked the ball over the bar from outside the area.
Digby then played the ball to Johnny Hunt, out on the left, who muscled his way towards the visitors area through the left channel, before unleashing an unstoppable twenty five yard shot into the roof of Simpson's net, to break the deadlock after 39 minutes.
Spencer had two opportunities to increase the Stags lead before the break, but the wind was playing a big part in proceedings, causing havoc with the ball and making things difficult for both teams.
The two sides had goals ruled out during the first half, as a game that initially looked likely to be a case of men against boys, turned out to be anything but. The Stags fielded a strong side full of first team experience, including George Taft who looked full of running and endeavour on return from his loan spell at Cambridge United, while the Minstermen had a blend of youth and experience out on the park.
Lee Angol caught the eye, but not for the right reasons, as he seemed to spend a lot of time going to ground and looking for free kicks rather than staying upright and trying to impress his first team manager who was watching on, with his ability and eye for goal... though he obviously had a change of heart late in the game.
HT: Stags 1 v Minstermen 0
Five minutes after the interval, another long throw from Muggleton caused problems for the Stags defence as the ball swung about in the last remnants of 'Hurricane Irma' and as Taft attempted to clear it, James Gray managed to connect with a shot on the turn and beat Bobby Olejink, via a deflection that wrong footed the hosts keeper.
Muggleton picked out Amari Morgan-Smith with an angled free kick, whose well placed header forced a save from Olejnik. And as the visitors began to grow in stature, Flynn McNaughton was unlucky to see his header drop narrowly wide of the upright.
In the seventy second minute, the Stags opening goal scorer Hunt, became the provider of the opening for their second, when his well delivered free kick from out on the right, was flicked past Simpson by Taft with a deft header.
York made a double substitution with ten minutes remaining as they looked to regroup and fight their way back into the game a second time, but Angol had other ideas and after having had a fairly ineffective game, saved face with a great solo goal, as he powered into the visitors area, just to the right of the D and crashed the ball into the back of the net from twelve yards out.
Calum Butcher almost added a fourth Stags goal in the closing moments of the game after Spencer slipped the ball through to him, but Simpson kept the ball out with an outstretched leg.
Omari Sterling-James put in a great shift for the home side, showing some good touches out on the left flank, that deserved more end product in the final third, but ultimately Mansfield's stiffs had just enough extra quality about them to see off their lively York City counterparts.
FT: Mansfield Town 3 v York City 1
The Stags had five players who are progressing from the Under 18 ranks at the club on the bench, but none of them got a chance to come on and shine at any time during the ninety minutes. 
It's character building for them all I suppose, if nothing else, even though I personally would like to see these lads involved in Central League games more often.
Footnote. Added at 8.15PM
Tonight we travelled to the NCEL Division 1 game between Selby Town and Brigg Town, but at 7.10PM, just after we'd arrived, the referee postponed the game... flipping 'eck!