Saturday, 24 February 2018

Birmingham City 0 v Barnsley 2 - EFL Championship

Saturday 24th February 2018
SkyBet EFLChampionship
at St. Andrew's Stadium
Birmingham City (0) 0
Barnsley FC (2) 2
Oli McBurnie 12, 36
Attendance 19,822 (inc. 1240 away fans)
Since embarking on a mini revival (of sorts) to edge (just) out of the relegation zone, that culminated with a convincing 3-1 away win at Hillsborough, Birmingham City have lost their last five games in a row; a run which has seen them eliminated from the FA Cup, in a replay at St. Andrew's against Huddersfield Town (1-4), followed by four Championship defeats on the bounce, including today's wholly deserved loss against fellow strugglers
Barnsley, who warranted the win regardless of how their hosts played. It's been an unenviable run, during which time Blues have failed to register a single goal against: Aston Villa (A), Millwall (H) and Brentford (A), which, if the match 'highlights' recording I've seen is anything to go by, was an error strewn 0-5 reversal.
Hull City's 1-0 win against Sheffield United last night, saw the Tigers leapfrog over Birmingham in the league table... the sound of alarm bells ringing at St. Andrew's has suddenly become deafening.
Barnsley, for their part, had won just once during their last eighteen outings (at bottom placed Sunderland, on New Years Day) prior to today... and subsequently the Yorkshire based side began the game in twenty third place, two points and two places behind their hosts, but with a game in hand over Steve Cotterill's Blues.
However by virtue of this result... hmm, you do the maths, eh!?
Come 4.50PM, Barnsley had clawed their way out of the bottom three, while their hosts plummeted headlong right back into the mire.
The recently installed Tykes manager José Morais, said in the build up to this afternoon's game: "I believe we can get a result in Birmingham, I believe we can get a result in Hull, I believe we can get a result against Derby. I believe.
"I believe that they are very, very important games. I believe that we have a kind of excitement to say lets do what we have to do, lets really go for it and challenge ourselves in terms of what we can do."  
Apparently, it would seem that this Mr Morais character is a believer then... even though he must be seriously wondering why, after such a lengthy career, that encompassed coaching experience at the likes of Benfica, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea and AEK Athens (among a whole host of other clubs), a manager of his calibre has ended up at Oakwell.
Given his impressive previous employment record in football circles, Morias certainly must have learned a thing or two about the game by now. On today's evidence, he most obviously knew his stuff when it came to preparing for how Birmingham would play and set out his stall accordingly.
Not so much as to nullify their (apparent) strengths, but to exploit their weaknesses.
Though, if truth be told, there are probably far more of the latter to work with than the former.
This was a must win game for Blues (and Barnsley too, of course). That is to say: even a draw wouldn't have been acceptable, for either side, because a point would have been neither use nor ornament in the current circumstances; while losing would be tantamount to fiddling about while Rome is ablaze.
In the final analysis, both teams got exactly what they deserved, on a bright but chilly afternoon at St. Andrew's... and on the back of today's result, Birmingham City have just a dozen more games left to salvage something out of what has become yet another season of despair. 
It's gone beyond squeaky bum time at St. Andrew's and reached the point where it might be a good idea for the Blues faithful to attend games with a spare pair of underpants tucked in their pockets, just to be on the safe side.
Mr Cotterill laments that he doesn't have the squad he wants and is hampered by the fact that he couldn't add players during the transfer window, to replace some of the overpriced and underachieving squad players at his disposal... and of course, he has had to make do and mend around several injuries and suspensions.Y'know, just like every manager at every level of the game does.
I'm genuinely not looking to make the guy a scapegoat, because the problems within Birmingham City are deep rooted and can be traced back a long time, way before he was ever on the scene.
But I can't be alone in thinking that Steve Cotterill is not the right man for Birmingham City and by the same token, nor is Birmingham City the right team for Steve Cotterill.
But he is rapidly becoming a pivotal component of the problems that the club is beset with, rather than offering any solutions. 
Harry Redknapp went on a spending spree with the club's chequebook at the outset of the current season and bought in a lot of these square pegs, that are obviously never going to fit in, or be able to adapt to the requisite attributes required for knuckling down and digging out results on days like today. They're not all at fault or guilty of letting their manager, fans and selves down, but the set up at Blues (or any team battling against the drop) has no room for luxury players, or anybody that drifts in and out of games and isn't putting a full shift in.
I won't name names, mainly because I don't need to... the vast majority of 19,882 eye witnesses present today, will know exactly to whom I am referring to already anyway. 
In the aftermath of this unacceptable defeat, Cotterill scored a massive own goal, when he shifted some of the blame for this inept showing onto the supporters (something he did in a lesser way after the midweek drubbing by Brentford), claiming that: "They (the team) look frightened to play at home and teams coming here to play will know that." I dare say that a good number of the home fans found watching this game to be a terrifying experience too.
Might I also be so bold as to suggest that the majority of his failing team, bar a couple of notable exceptions, looked nervous and reluctant to come out of their shells on the road at both Villa Park and Griffin Road earlier this month too. The fear factor is a two way street and everyone connected with Birmingham City need to 'Keep Right On', heading in the same directions.
The Blues supporters have got a hell of a lot of passion for their club, and they're certainly not the ones going through the motions in a royal blue shirt at present and picking up a decent wage, for being decidedly average, at best, and seemingly barely committed to the cause at all.
In fact the fan base are the ones who are going through the wringer, yet again, as the club that they hold so dearly to their hearts, lurches out of the latest frying pan and into yet another fire. 
Blaming them is well wide of the mark.
Some of the home crowd turned their anger on to the manager today, chanting for him to be levered out of the club, while one person sat near the dug outs threw a plastic bottle at him and another allegedly launched his season ticket into the technical area.
The joke doing the rounds on the internet, is that the club are taking action against the fan who threw his season ticket and he is going to be severely punished... they are going to give him it back to him.
It wasn't so long ago that a good run of results under Cotterill, appeared to the the beginning of something.
But alas, a growing percentage of those who stump up their money at the turnstiles, are beginning to feel that the something in question, is actually nothing more than an end to Birmingham City's Championship status. An air of pessimistic (realistic?) resignation seems to have set in, along with a mindset whereby many people are already reluctantly accepting that regrouping and rebuilding in League 1 next season, is their probable destiny/best case scenario. It appears to have worked for Wolverhampton Wanderers and seems to be giving Blackburn Rovers a rejuvenating shot in the arm right now too.
Now that really is the question.
But the club previously known as Small Heath Alliance, aren't like Wolves and Rovers, they need to  start winning ugly games of football from now on, if that is what it's going to take to stay up stay up at all costs.
On Tuesday night Hull City and Barnsley both play their game in hand over Blues at the KC Stadium, against each other, so rejoice Bluenoses, they can't both finish the night with three points apiece.
Where there is hope, there is always a chance, albeit a very slim one... or so I'm told.
1240 Barnsley fans
I appear to have broken my New Year's resolution of: no more OTT self indulgent and overly opinionated rambling, political soap-boxing, gossiping, over analysing, eulogising and unduly pontificating in blog reports, while also smashing the back doors in of a world word-count record attempt; so without further ado, hold on tight because it's going to be a bumpy ride, but here is some stuff pertaining to the actual match itself.
You lot at the back can pipe down with your "Why are we waiting!?" stuff now.
Birmingham City:
David Stockdale, Marc Roberts, Maxime Colin, Craig Gardner, Harlee Dean, Che Adams, Cheikh Ndoye (Jota 66), Sam Gallagher, Jacques Maghoma, Jeremie Boga, Carl Jenkinson (Cohen Bramall 83).
Unused subs - Connal Trueman, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Jason Lowe, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Michael Morrison.
Barnsley:
Nick Townsend, Zeki Fryers, Joe Williams, Liam Lindsay, Oli McBurnie (Christoph Knasmullner 77), Andy Yiadom, Adam Jackson, Kieffer Moore, Brad Potts, Gary Gardner (Matty Pearson 87), Mamadou Thiam (Connor Mahoney 60).
Unused subs - Adam Davies, Tom Bradshaw, George Moncur, Dimi Cavare.
During a fairly evenly matched opening spell, both sides went close to opening the scoring, when Zeki Fryers flashed a shot just over David Stockdale's bar from outside the area, while at the other end, Nick Townsend (a former Blues youth team player) did well to keep the home side out with a double save, initially pushing Jeremie Boga's goal shot away, before thwarting Che Adams who got to the rebound first.
In the thirteenth minute, Barnsley were ahead, when Andy Yiadom took a throw in on the right level with the home sides area to Mamadou Thiam, and he knocked the ball back to the Tykes number seventeen who turned away from the approaching defenders and played a back-heel down the line to Thiam who had continued his run towards the bi-line, from where he whipped a low cross to Oli McBurnie, who made light work of steering it across the face of goal and into the far corner of the net.
In recognition for his goal scoring prowess, Birmingham then granted McBurnie the freedom of final third of the pitch for the next five minutes and only two top drawer saves from David Stockdale prevented him from adding to his tally.
The ex Barnsley defender Marc Roberts, presented his former team with a penalty for old times sake, when McBurnie went to ground under his challenge ten yards from goal and got back up to take the spot kick himself... and struck his shot low and with precision, but Stockdale did well to get down to his left and turn the ball away, while the Blues fans behind his goal celebrated and raised the tempo in anticipation of a comeback, with the save acting as the vital key moment that would turn the shape of the game on it's head as Cotterill's side went on to pick up the three points that would rocket them up the table towards safety. But both teams decided to ignore that version of events entirely and as Sam Gallagher took Adams cross in his stride but poked it just wide of the post, Barnsley took up the initiative again.
As three Blues players dithered in the corner, pondering over who was going to take responsibility for clearing the magical white orb that they all seemed afraid to approach, Thiam outstripped them all for pace as he sprinted round their static group and hooked the ball towards the far side of the six yard box, where Keiffer Moore's header back across the face of goal was poked home by McBurnie from close range, as Stockdale vaingloriously tried to gather the ball. With just thirty six minutes on the clock, the game was slipping away from Birmingham already.
As half time approached Gary Gardner hooked a long range shot just over Stockdale's bar and then at the other end of the pitch when Townsend could only parry Adams' strike and Roberts pounced, the flag was already in the air for an offside, before he planted the ball into the back of the net.
HT: Blues 0 v Barnsley 2
Between checking scores elsewhere at half time, I read the pre-match interview from on the home side's website, where Steve Cotterill was asked if he'd ever been a position like this before. Apparently, he couldn't recall having such a thin time elsewhere, however lets see if this jogs his memory... and maybe even offers a few crumbs of comfort to the beleaguered Blues hordes in their hour of need. Excerpts from a brief resume' of Cotterill's managerial record at Nottingham Forest (six years ago), who by way of a coincidence, will provide Birmingham's opposition at the City Ground next weekend.
Cotterill began his Forest reign with a 2–0 win over Middlesbrough and a 2–1 win at Blackpool. The turnaround was short-lived however, as a run of seven games, without scoring a goal, during which time Forest suffered six defeats, left them in the bottom three at the turn of the year... 
But without taking up even more column inches, reciting Forest's subsequent results as the current Blues manager turned things around down by the banks of the River Trent, I'll skip forward to the happy ending of this tale.
... and this culminated in Forest finishing 19th and ten points clear of relegation.
Blues huffed and puffed with slightly more vigour after the interval, but as they struggled on, Barnsley looked far more composed and assured and dealt with their hosts frantic efforts to get back into the game.
Cheikh Ndoye jostled with Moore for a number of high balls in the middle of the park and though their personal tussle finished just about honours even, this battle for the land of the giants it was obviously not providing the home side with any momentum going forward, so Ndoye was replaced by Jota shortly after the hour mark.
Fryers and Matt Mills looked solid in defence for the visitors and were seldom second best in their quest to prevent Sam Gallagher from taking advantage of Birmingham resorting to some traditional, up and under direct stuff, which even saw Stockdale aiming for the Blues striker with some box to box punts.
One thing that I personally think stood out glaringly, was that Barnsley actually looked like they were actually enjoying the game, while a number of the home players appeared to be getting increasingly frustrated, both with their teammates and themselves.
Thiam and Yiadom had combined well throughout the first half, giving the Tykes the edge creativity wise while terrorising the out of sorts Blues defence... and the visiting fans rose as one to applaud Thiam from the pitch when Morais made a tactical switch midway through the second half.
Though it would be easy to focus on a number of Birmingham's shortcomings this afternoon, because their was an endless list of ifs, buts and maybes to pick away at, the overriding reason why Barnsley won the game, was that they had been more daring, creative and by and large the better team.
Blues didn't entirely throw the towel in after being put to the sword before the break, but they lacked that necessary incisive touch inside the final third. 
Harlee Dean and Graig Gardener both had chances to reduce the arrears but put the ball past the wrong side of the upright.
Carl Jenkinson got down the flank and delivered a few dangerous balls into the visitors area and Gallagher wasn't too far away from scoring when he glanced a header wide after connecting with one of Jenkinson's crosses.
Gallagher set up a great chance for Adams, but with Townsend stranded, Lindsay made a timely block. And right near the end Jota and Jacques Maghoma, took turns to hit speculative, but barely worthwhile, efforts over the crossbar... a really bad day at the office for Birmingham City and a massive three points for Barnsley.
FT: Birmingham City 0 v Barnsley 2 
The race to stay in the Championship is probably going to go all the way down to the wire.
And I suspect that it will climax in a who dares wins scenario yet again.
So hold on tight... and scream if you want to go faster baby!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Frickley Athletic 1 v Alvechurch 2 - EvoStik NPL (South)

Tuesday 20th February 2018
EvoStik Northern Premier League (South)
The Big Fellas Stadium AKA 'Wezziecana',
Westfield Lane, South Elmsall
Frickley Athletic (1) 1
Tyler Walton 11
Alevchurch FC (1) 2
Josh March 39
Luke Yates 64
Attendance 224
Thanks to Ruth Simpson for the team sheet and to Ryan McKnight and that Spencer Fearn bloke for their generosity.
For a gallery of some professionally done photographs from tonight's game, click here: ONION BAG
Great work as always Jerry mate.
The last time that these two sides met, back in August, a goal apiece from Tom Turton and Josh March, either side of half time, gave Alvechurch a 2-0 win at Lye Meadow, on an afternoon that 'Church' became the only side to keep a clean sheet against Spencer Fearn's Blues this season, which is actually quite an achievement on the part of tonight's hosts, to say that this impressive record is still intact as of right now, towards the end of February. Even though Frickley misfired at times and had spells when they struggled to get a foothold in tonight's game.
Because of Frickley's recent points deduction, which was well publicised in the Non League Paper (on the front cover and page three) this week; they started the night in third place on fifty three points, while Alvechurch were in fifth, on fifty two points, with three games in hand on their South Elmsall based opponents; meaning that this result saw the visitors leapfrog over their hosts and climb into second place, much to the obvious delight of the away supporters who'd made something like a four hour midweek round trip to be see their team in action. Credit where it is due.
In the aforementioned newspaper article, the Northern Premier League chairman spoke of the "absolute priority" of clubs adhering to a robust system of regulations; but with so
many clubs falling foul of the rule book, would it be considered impertinent of me to ask, if it would be too much trouble for the league(s) and FA themselves to take the initiative to revise and simplify their own procedures and publications, to avoid such problems occurring quite so often in the future, instead of over-complicating their own legislation.
At times, the role of a club secretary can be akin to tip toeing, blindfolded, through a cluttered minefield of ambiguity, in a pair of bloody great big hobnail boots, while coming under fire from all sides... even your own.
Much is made in certain learned circles, where the honourable pastime of association football is discussed, about Alvechurch being a village team, who play at a respectably high level the non league football pyramid, having reached the Northern Premier League (South) by virtue of being champions of the Midland Football League Premier Division last season.
But a quick glance at the most recent population census of cities, towns and villages in the United Kingdom (yes folks, Wikipedia has been keeping me company, through those insomnia gripped wee small hours again), reveals that the West Midlands based smallholding (just off the M42, near Bromsgrove, eleven miles to the south west of Birmingham) actually has 75 more inhabitants than South Elmsall itself. And the local club round these parts used to play in the Gola League (Football Alliance)... or the National League/Conference as you younger readers might call it these days. Mind you, the Blues glory days, save for several Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup Final appearances, are becoming so distant a memory, that they were filmed in black and white.
It was difficult to gauge, from the comfort of a spacious back row seat, quite how much the the stiff breeze that was blowing across this beautifully preserved time capsule of a traditional football stadium, was dictating the flow of the game and the tactics employed by both sides to overcome it. But initially, the Blues made a lively started while their visitors were obviously well geared to make an immediate transition to the requisite level of quality needed to thrive at this higher level.
Frickley opened the scoring in the eleventh minute, when Tyler Walton, directed the ball past Charlie Price, to net his first ever goal for the home side, after Gavin Allott had collected a long ball on the edge of the area, facing away from the goal and threaded a defence splitting pass with a deft back heel.
But Yusifu Ceesay went close to levelling things up almost straight away, when he fizzed the ball narrowly past the upright with a free kick from eighteen yards out.
Jamie Ashmore drilled a right wing post into the Blues goal mouth, from which Jordan Nadat got in front of Hugo Warhurst and his marker as he steered the ball just inside the near post.
Not for the first (or last) time tonight, the visitors manager Ian Long loudly voiced his severe displeasure when the goal was ruled out for offside.
Obviously the referee's assistant had a better sight line of the incident that me, but I'd have to say that must have been a close call and a very tight decision... and within a minute Nicky Darker almost rubbed salt into Alvechurch's wounds, when his shot on the turn skimmed wide of the target off Price.
As this evenly balanced first half chugged along towards half time, Teddy Bloor had to be alert to another dangerous cross from Ashmore into the Blues six yard box and he intercepted the ball and swept it away at the expense of a left wing corner, with Nadat homing in, in an attempt to reach the ball.
The flag kick was fielded and half cleared out towards the far side of the area, but amid a scramble Alvechurch managed to hook it back across the six yard box to where Josh March got his head to it and planted the ball past Warhurst. Meaning that March has scored against Frickley on both occasions that he as played against them.
The one apiece half time score was just about a fair reflection on how the game had gone thus far, although the 'Church' were beginning to impose themselves more towards the end of the opening forty five minutes.
HT: Blues 1 v Church 1
Frickley took the game to their West Midlands opponents at the outset of the second half, as Darker and Jacob Hazel combined down the left, before the latter crossed towards Tom Dugdale, but Andy Parsons rose to head the ball away from danger.
Hazel cut in from the left and rushed a speculative shot, that had little in the way of accuracy about it, but enough power and pace to reach the corner flag on the far side of the pitch.
Allott fed a pass out wide to Hazel and continued his run to meet the return ball, five yards from goal, but it got caught up under his feet as he tried to direct it towards the Alvechurch goal.
In the sixty fourth minute, Luke Yates netted what proved to be the decisive winning goal for the visitors, after March had rolled a sideways pass to Nadat whose cross was met by Yates with what could only be described as a pirouette and well dispatched back-heel combination, as the ball found
the back of the net, via Warhurst outstretched fingers.
The visiting supporters celebrated for all they were worth and thought that their side had sealed the win with a third goal, after March set up Yates who drilled the ball past Warhurst, but they were denied by the offside flag again, although this time around it was far more of a clear cut decision than the Nadat's episode in the first half.
The air raid siren sounded and the visitors area was put under siege as Frickley adopted a horses for courses direct approach, while Nicky Darker's long range throw ins became a dominant feature of the closing exchanges.
But having got their noses in front, Alvechurch weren't going to let the home side back into it now and they showed an admirable amount of back to the walls strength to hold on for the three points, which, all things considered and on the balance of things, they probably deserved, in my humble opinion.
FT: Frickley Athletic 1 v Alvechurch 2
Frickley now travel to Bedworth on Saturday, before facing a tricky hurdle in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup at Swallownest in a weeks time.
Alvechurch, who showed tonight that they are a very worthwhile addition to the NPL, entertain Peterborough Sports at home this coming weekend.

Mansfield Town 5 v Grimsby Town 0 - Central League (Reserves)

Tuesday 20th February 2018
Central League (Reserves)
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth Miners Welfare FC
Mansfield Town (4) 5
Jacob Mellis 20, 40
Lee Angol 21, 24
Paul Digby 82
Grimsby Town (0) 0
Admission £3 inc team sheet
Attendance 104
A very one sided game, that saw a strong Stags line up, take on a predominantly youthful visiting Mariners side.
The score would've been far more top heavy in the the home side's favour, if they hadn't taken their foot off the gas in the second half.
Mansfield needed to give some game time to some of their first team squad and Grimsby's development will have benefited no end from coming up against a team of full time pros, pretty much the same way that the Stags youngsters will have done when they were beaten at Port Vale last week.
Beating other youth teams week in week out, is all well and good, but it doesn't harm anybody in the youth ranks to come up against a tough as teak men's football team every so often, to demonstrate to them (the upcoming players) just how high they are going to have to raise the bar to make the grade.
LINK: MTFC v GTFC (RESERVES): THE66POW PHOTO GALLERY

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hallam 3 v Swallownest 0 - NCEL Division 1

Saturday 17th February 2018
Toolstation NCEL Division 1
at Sandygate
Hallam FC (1) 3
Callum Greaves 11
Mitchell Dunne 81, 88
Swallownest FC (0) 0
Admission £5. Programme £1.50
Attendance 184
For more photos from this game, click HERE
Thanks to Mark Radford for the team line up details
Having made light work of getting through the back roads of Sheffield and the usual Saturday bumper to bumper traffic, en route from my first game of the day at Hillsborough, I entered 'the oldest football ground in the entire known universe', around ten minutes before kick off, after doubling my journey time driving around in circles looking for a place to park in one of the side streets in the vicinity.
A few minutes after I'd paid my five pounds to get in and purchased a programme, Dean Bamforth, the third in
command to Scott Bates and Stephen Whitehead in the managerial hierarchy at Sandygate dashed into the ground, with just moments to spare.
Apparently he had been delayed when his photo shoot for the new 'Man at Poundstretcher' catalogue had overrun... and he had to skedaddle across "right onto Manchester Road and left at the Crosspool Tavern" in double quick time, still wearing their new Winter/Spring range.
Swallownest got the game underway and woosh! 
The first half seemed to pass by in no time at all, as an absorbing game of football ensued, played at a breakneck pace, featuring two sides giving it their all and charging up and down the infamous Sandygate slope to their hearts content, as the lumpy and bumpy surface cut up in places and added to a certain amount of unpredictability to how the ball was going to behave.
Danny Mullooley almost gave 'Swall' the lead inside the opening three minutes, but his shot was blocked, virtually on the line.
But as the game continued at a rare old pace from end to end, Hallam took the lead on twelve minutes, when Pat Carrig combined, out on the right, with Jake Currie,who dropped a shoulder and saw off two challenges to make himself a yard of pace, before powering forward and drilling the ball across the face of James Pollard's goal, where it a nick off of Jay Atkin, the Swallownest central defender and fell kindly for Callum Greaves, who picked his spot and cracked a shot off into the back of the 'top end' goal from ten yards out.
Dave Darwent, the hosts keeper, was in a determined mood this afternoon, as per usual and having thwarted Jack Denton, when he was tested with a slightly deflected shot, he also got across his goal well to keep out Ollie Grady's effort from long range moments later.
In front of Darwent, Liam Flint was putting up a great display of battling resistance to protect his keeper.
Sam Smith unselfishly laid flicked the ball sideways to Currie, who managed to divert the ball towards the visitors goal, in spite of Atkin trying to get inside his shorts with him, but Pollard was well placed to deal with the situation.
The 'Swall' keeper was called into action again moments later, when he did well to claim a long, high ball aimed towards Smith.
Jay Short challenged for the ball as Darwent gathered it up, and as the Hallam keeper cleared his lines, they exchanged a few words.
The conversation went something along the lines of: "Steady on old chap you almost kicked my gloves there"... "Well, it was there to go for, but might I offer you my profound apologies if I alarmed you in any way". I think that is what I heard anyway.
Micah Bishop drilled a ball that Pollard could only parry but as the ball fell to Cannig, it sat up on a bobble (possibly two) and his shot fizzed wide of the right hand post.
As the first half reached it's conclusion, Lloyd Gelsthorpe, who'd been making a nuisance of himself down the right flank all afternoon, crossed towards Lill, but Flint managed to intercept the ball and deny the diminutive yet prolific striker the opportunity to level things up from close range.
HT: Countrymen 1 v Swall 0 
Many of the great and goodly characters of local football had made their way to Sandygate this afternoon... and Ryan Hindley (currently between jobs) was there too. The guy always has me in hysterics (even when he doesn't mean to be funny), and I think it is fair to say that the mutual banter score was level between us today, with no offence intended or taken either way. 
Which is how local football should be. 
But I cannot post details upon a blog that is apparently suitable for a family audience, because embarrassed parents might have to field awkward questions along the lines of: "Dad, what is an 'involuntary erection in Morrisions' when it's at home". Those who need to know, will already know, those who don't... err, stay out of supermarkets!
Swallownest will probably be disappointed that the final result, perhaps didn't entirely reflect the balance of play, but between Dave Darwent, who continued to confound the visitors in the second half and Mitch Dunne, who is ironically a former Swallownest Under 19 player, the visitors were edged out by a few moments of individual application, that gave Hallam that little bit more impetus and juice in their tank to win the day.
Looking at both subs benches, there would've been a decent five aside match to be add there, given the quality of the strength in depth both sides have been building on, as they've quietly got on with their business this season.
It was the subs who kept the tempo of the game high when they entered the fray.
Gelsthorpe played the ball forward to Mitch Ward, who knocked to Short on the edge of the area, took the return pass and tried his luck with a curving shot from eighteen yards, but Darwent moved to his right and got behind the ball with the setting sun shining straight into his goalmouth, potentially causing the Hallam keeper sighting problems.
Mitch Dunne raced forward, chasing a flick on from midfield, but his shot from the left hand side of the visitors goalmouth was blocked.
Dunne was soon back though, feigning a step over on the right flank before forcing Pollard to save down by his left hand upright.
As the game entered it's final ten minutes, it could still have gone either way, but when Smith poked the ball into the path of Dunne for him to sprint after and he beat Pollard in a race to reach it before nudging the ball beyond the advancing keeper and into the back of the net, the pitch wasn't the only hill that Swallownest now had to climb.
Jay McFadzean was introduced late in the game for the visitors and he was soon involved in some goalmouth action, but Connor Chappell blocked the 'Swall' players first shot, with his posterior and when the ball came back to McFazdean, his second attempt deflected wide off of Flint's back. Top marks for putting yourselves in the line of fire you pair.
Hallam wrapped the game up with a minute left to go, when Dunne fed Sam Fewkes' overlapping run to his left with a cheeky back heel, then ran forward to meet a low ball into the mix from Fewkes, to steer the ball home from eight yards. It was a quality move to provide a fitting finale to a very lively and competitive game.
FT: Hallam 3 v Swallownest 0