Toolstation NCEL League Cup 2nd Round
at The Welfare Ground, Middle Lane, New Crofton
Nostell Miners Welfare (2) 4
Adam Frost 14
Mackenzie Northern 19
Matthew Johnson 88 (pen), 89
Staveley Miners Welfare (0) 0
Admission £5, Programme £1, Attendance 30
Ben Saynor, Jamie Smith, Wayne Ball, Simon Poole, Jack Hill, Jonathan Downey, Will Hayton, Darren Rushton, Mackenzie Northern, Adam Frost, Matthew Johnson
Subs: Alex Booker, Jamie Moxon, Habib Bayang, Luke Ringsell, Gareth Hamlet
Staveley Miners Welfare:
Xavier Parisi, Sam Finlaw, Michael Trench, Pat Lindley, James Colliver, Tim Whittaker, Josh Scully, Jamie Smith, Ryan Damms, Jake Vernon, Reece Littlejohn
Subs: Ross Goodwin, Nathan James, Anthony Rowley, Matt Thorpe
One could say, that the Blues were somewhat hampered by an overly busy match referee, who seemed hell bent on punishing each and every transgression they made, regardless of how minor an infringement it was, with maximum censure, whilst showing far more leniency to the home side throughout the night.
And obviously his zero tolerance approach, which meant that the visitors had to play the whole second half with nine players on the park and finish the game with just eight, saw to it that the hill they had to climb after going two goals behind, even before Mr Clayton started waving cards around like confetti, became a mountain.
The Welfare kicked off this cup tie against the NCEL Premier Division's bottom club, with a formation that consisted of three across the back.
With Jake Vernon to the fore, causing Nostell all sorts of problems from the outset through the left channel, there was little to suggest that the game was about to turn into a complete horror show for the hardy band of travellers from Staveley amongst tonight's paltry attendance who had driven up to West Yorkshire to cheer their side on.
It looked like a close call, but you have to accept that the match officials are best placed to make these judgements and the ones that go against you, usually balance themselves out with a few favourable decisions from time to time.
Least ways, that is how it usually pans out.
Any Staveley supporter perusing this match report, might want to look away now, or continue to read while peeping through your fingers with the light on, because it gets quite harrowing from here on in.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Nostell started to find their feet.
A long free kick from Will Hayton, out wide, was nodded back across the face of Staveley's goal and Adam Frost was on hand to turn it just inside the right hand upright with his back to goal.
A neat finish, but a sucker punch for the visitors who had looked more threatening than their hosts from the off, especially as the goal came from a straightforward dead ball situation, that the Welfare defence ought to have dealt better with.
Worse was to come a few minutes later, when the visitors three man defence were caught out, too far up the pitch by a precision through ball for Mackenzie Northern to run on to, he took his opportunity well and Xavier Parisi had no chance of keeping out the Nostell number 9's well placed finish from 10 yards out.
It was mainly a case verbals and squaring up ... handbags at ten paces if you must ... but amidst the posturing, Pat Lindley appeared to have pushed a Nostell player.
Strictly applying the letter of the law, the referee decided that Lindley could have an early bath for his troubles.
70 minutes to go, two goals behind and now a man light too, the game was turning into a complete nightmare for Staveley.
Obviously getting a few more league points on the board and this coming Saturday's FA Vase tie against Morpeth Town, take priority over a league cup game any day of the week, but this game was against opposition who have got a minus 62 goal difference in the league this season, so surely they were there for the taking, weren't they? Apparently not.
Another undignified stand off involving eight players flared up, on the opposite side of the pitch this time and it was now Jamie Smith (the Nostell full back not his Staveley namecheck) who raised his hands to hassle and push Michael Trench away before confronting Reece Littlejohn.
It was an opportunity for the ref to even things up, given that what Pat Lindley's red card offence was no worse than what Smith had just done.
But Mr Clayton showed him a yellow instead and then also booked Reece Littlejohn and Nostell's Matt Johnston for their part in the squabbling.
If one player lifting his hand warrants a sending off, then surely the same rule should apply to everyone.
Bearing in mind that this report will appear on the Chesterfield Post website and possibly in an official club publication, I will curb my annoyance and disbelief at this juncture and comment in a restrained manner.
The referee, at best, was inconsistent and having a complete stinker.
His somewhat unfathomable approach to 'controlling' the game was by now incensing a good number of players from both teams.
But just when we were starting to think things couldn't get any worse, they did!
This is just my version of events and eye witness account of what happened next.
I don't represent anybody else, not either football club, or any online journal that might repost this resume of events and I have no axe to grind with anybody, because I hold both Nostell Miners Welfare and Staveley Miners Welfare, and the people who work at both clubs, in very high regard and have always enjoyed my trips to both clubs over the years.
However, I would be shirking my responsibility to record an accurate overview of the game and the circumstances surrounding it, if I whitewashed over anything and sidestepped an incident that, in my humble opinion, completely overshadowed the rest of the game.
I have spoken to other witnesses who are associated with both clubs, who saw and heard exactly what I did, but I won't name any of them, or call on them to take the matter further, because it is completely between them and their own consciences if they're prepared to speak up or not.
After Jamie Smith, Reece Littlejohn and Matt Johnston had received their yellow cards, there was still a fair amount of bickering going on between some of the players.
Jonathan Downey, Nostell's centre half, is considerably taller than Reece Littlejohn ... then again, most people are. But this distinction between the two of them needs to be made by way of an explanation of something that was said during a vocal exchange.
He (Downey) is a very competent, uncompromising defender and as a player he stuck to his task and performed extremely well tonight. He can definitely kick the ball higher and further than anybody else out on the pitch could.
But, in spite of me being a big fan of old fashioned, uncomplicated, man mountain centre halves (and Downey definitely fits that bill), I would be very hard pushed to admire anything about him after what I saw tonight.
I accept and would usually condone, encourage even, a fair amount of banter between players, managers and spectators, it is part and parcel of the game and psychology is a very underrated science in sport.
But the line must be drawn somewhere and it is wholly unacceptable, for Downey to back up his slight on Littlejohn's diminutive stature, when he said 'Bring it on, you couldn't ****ing reach me anyway' by signing off with the words 'chocolate boy!'
I think we can safely assume that Mr Downey wasn't making the remark based on the premise that he thought Reece was made out of confectionery.
It was a disgraceful thing to say.
Even in the heat of the moment, against the backdrop of an angry exchange between several players, during a game of football that was becoming increasingly niggly and competitive in the wrong sense of the word.The referee did absolutely nothing!
That seriously needs addressing.
Whatever else he got right or wrong tonight, I do not believe that he, or his assistant, who was stood nearby, didn't hear it.
If I heard it, along with others, stood roughly ten yards away, there is no possible way that the two match officials stood closer to the incident didn't.
Two other people who were stood away from us came over at half time and asked if we'd heard the comment.
When I carefully replied: "Yes, what did you hear?", not wanting to put words into their mouths or prejudice a response, the answer I was hoping that I wouldn't hear, because I was still vaingloriously hanging onto the hope that we'd misheard Downey, was duly delivered: "That big number 6 called Littlejohn chocolate boy".
Rest assured, everybody is well aware of the fact that Nostell Miners Welfare FC and Crofton can't be held responsible for the words or actions of one person.
Crofton, in common with much of West Yorkshire, has a diverse community, the football club have a manager, players and a really big friendly supporter up in the seats we were sharing a joke with, who are all coloured.
There is no case to answer.
Possibly Downey himself isn't a racially prejudiced either and simply believes that anything goes and no subject is taboo, when winding an opponent up, but I would very politely suggested, that probably isn't the case.
Alas, before those half time conversations took place, things had got worse for Staveley ... much worse.
Reece Littlejohn, probably feeling by now that he was getting no protection whatsoever from the referee, must have been incensed by the unpunished treatment he had just received and as he burst into the box from the left flank, avoiding a couple of lunging tackles, he lashed out with his foot in an act of sheer frustration.
It was completely understandable under the circumstances, but having already been booked he knew he had to walk now.
But other things out on the pitch had gone awry and that is what this awful game will be remembered for, not the football or Adam Frost and the brilliantly named Mackenzie Northern's goalscoring prowess.
The entire mood of the game had changed completely, after an extended half time break, when the ref had summoned both club secretaries into his dressing room to discuss the fall out and the second half became very subdued.
Still managing to maintain his sense of humour, in the face of what had now become a severely unappealing game and damage limitation exercise for the visitors, one Staveley fan pointed out that the team were playing better with 9 men than they had been with 11.
Staveley's Jamie Smith and Josh Scully both had opportunities to half Nostell's lead, and Ryan Damms was unlucky to see his long range opportunist knock bounce of the crossbar with Ben Saynor stranded in no mans land.
But the visitors League Cup exit was looking ever more imminent.
Josh Scully knocked a corner back towards the incoming Michael Trench, but his shot as well off target.
I'd stopped noting all of the bookings by now, but with two minutes remaining Mr Clayton, decided to dish out another red card, for an infringement he didn't even see.
As Staveley cleared their lines from inside their own box, Wayne Ball clattered James Colliver, but the referee missed it.
Moments later the assistant referee was flagging and summoning the referee's attention.
Everyone was assuming he was going to bring play back and give Staveley a free kick retrospectively for the foul on Colliver.
But to Colliver's amazement he was shown a red card for an off the ball incident and Nostell were awarded a penalty.
Matthew Johnson made no mistake from the spot in the 88th minute and the Miners were home and dry now.
But the 'fun' and games weren't over yet.
In the final minute, Trench made a wild challenge in the area on Nostell's last man, who was in a goalscoring position. It was a tackle that possibly warranted a red card, but the ref spared Trench as he pointed to the spot.
Parisi saved Thomson's spot kick, but the ball rebounded back into the his path and he wasn't going to be denied a second time.
8 man Staveley had rallied and raised their game in the second half, but it wasn't nowhere near enough.
They will have to perform much better at the weekend.
Onward and upward!
FT - 4-0
SMWFC MOTM: Josn Scully