Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Mansfield Town 1 v Blackburn Rovers 3 - PSF

Wednesday 17th July 2019
Pre Season Friendly
at Field Mill/ One Call Stadium
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Krystian Pearce shot deflected via Ryan Sweeney 53.
Argue about it amongst yourselves.
Blackburn Rovers (1) 3
Tyler Magloire or Matt Preston, own goal 10 (argue about that amongst yourselves too), John Buckley 52, Adam Armstrong 85
Attendance: 1,701 (inc. 247 away fans)
Tony Mowbray's Championship side: Blackburn Rovers, provided John Dempster's Stags with the opposition for their first home friendly of their pre-season campaign, which followed on from two practice matches against Glasgow Rangers and Swansea City, that were both played in Portugal... and three warm up games, all away from home, against non-league teams: Retford United, Bradford Park Avenue and Alfreton Town, which utilised a lot of Under 21 and Under 18 players, as well as giving the first team squad some all important match time too.
Tonight, saw the first of three home games in a week for Mansfield Town, against Championship clubs, namely: Blackburn Rovers, Hull City and Nottingham Forest.
Another home game, scheduled for Saturday 27th July against Stockport County, has been cancelled at the insistence of Nottinghamshire Police, apparently because they local Constabulary will all be too busy working at a Gay Pride event in Nottingham that day.
Here's Johnny! Smart but casual for Mr Dempster.
Somebody should've checked the weather forecast.
These are the sort of games that teams use to iron out their mistakes and work on flaws in their systems... and to that end the Stags will be glad to have some time to work on a few defensive frailties that they demonstrated tonight, whereby a lack of focus and concentration led to unforced errors that were punished by Blackburn for two of their goals.
Thankfully there were no points up for grabs tonight, but the Stags back-line won't be able to squander ground and possession, or allow opposition teams anywhere near as much time and space in the last third, once the action starts again for real... with, ironically, an away trip to Newport County, who were of course, Mansfield's opponents in the League 2 play offs last term.
I promise not to mention that two-legged end of season episode ever again. I genuinely understand the deep trauma that some people are still experiencing, who subsequently won't ever be able to bring themselves to watch another penalty shoot-out until the day they die.
Please forgive me, while I allow myself to get distracted from the football and have a bit of dig... but who the bloody hell ever thought that putting that over-sized, ex Wembley Stadium scoreboard over on the old Bishop Street terrace. Apart from the fact that it seldom works correctly... it's completely out of place and looks really, really crap.
There are many good things happening at Mansfield Town FC, so maybe it seems a bit churlish of me to be harping on about something that you might think is irrelevant, but I wish somebody would just fess up, that this monstrosity was a bad idea all along and revert to using the perfectly good old scoreboard at the other end of the stand. Just saying.
Blackburn's keeper had a good game and pulled off several top drawer saves, which points to the fact that Mansfield must've been doing something right... and to be fair they did play some decent stuff at times, but they were caught napping when Blackburn opened the scoring in the tenth minute and guilty of not closing down space more quickly, when Rovers Dan Butterworth received the ball from a swiftly taken free-kick, while the hosts were still organising themselves, and the visitors number twelve darted forward before striking a low cross into the six yard box, and the ball ended up in the back of Conrad Loagan's net as Tyler Magloire and Matt Preston met it at the same time. Initially I thought 'own goal', but Magloire was announced as the scorer, so que sera.
Both sides had several decent chances, and it was especially good to see Nicky Maynard and Andy Cook playing in the amber and blue of Mansfield, but it was the visitors who struck next next, when the usually super cool Krystian Pearce dropped a boob (an even bigger one than those that the Stags CEO Carolyn Radford recently invested in, to enhance her vital statistics), when he faffed around on the ball too long in his own area, which allowed John Buckley to nick possession and score from a free shot at goal, past the helpless and exposed Logan.
But within sixty seconds, Pearce had atoned for his dallying about, when he smashed the ball into the roof of Blackburn's net to pull a goal back, although the ball did actually skim off of Ryan Sweeney en route.
Whatever the decision will be as to who can claim the Stags goal, it was definitely Sweeney who had the final touch the next time the ball ended up in the back of the goal, when he inadvertently headed the ball over his own keeper; but his blushes were spared because the referee had sounded his whistle in response to an offside flag just moments before.
Danny Rose was upended as he motored towards the visitors goal and Otis Khan was unlucky, as he struck the resulting free kick against the foot of the post.
With just five minutes left to go, Lewis Travis 'dinked' an angled pass through a static Stags defence, that was inch perfect a well timed run by Adam Armstrong, who picked his spot and clinched the victory for Blackburn.
Twenty two year old Armstrong, a former Newcastle United player, .has represented Englansd at U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21 level.
The biggest plus of the night for Mansfield, in my humble estimation, was seeing Haydn White (who is recovering from an injury lay off), get through the entire second half completely unscathed (apart from getting 'megged' by a Championship calibre player... just the once).
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Blackburn Rovers 3

Footnote* added Friday 19th July 2019: 11:45AM
On the same afternoon that The Stags v Stockport game was postponed, after Nottinghamshire Police claimed not to have sufficient manpower to cover the game, Mansfield Town will now face Glasgow Rangers U23 at 1PM on Saturday 27th July instead.
Hmm... methinks that there are possibly more ex-pat Rangers fan within travelling distance of Field Mill. than there are East Midlands based Stockport supporters.
The truth is out there somewhere, eh!? 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Handsworth 8 v Frechville Davys 0 - PSF

Tuesday 6th July 2019
at Sandy Lane
Handsworth FC (3) 8
Alfie Dodsworth 35
Luke Francis 44, 45
Leon Howarth 46 Pen, 61, 62, 76
Bailey Hobson 84
Frechville Davys (0) 0
THE66POW Point & hope match photos: Click HERE
"Who is that number four for Handsworth tonight?", was the pertinent question on quite a few people's enquiring lips tonight, as 'one for the future' impressed no end of people, in his multitasking role, which seemed to consistent a combination of: holding midfielder, the main distribution point for a whole load of the Ambers forward play tonight (of which there was plenty) with a quite exceptional range of passing, combined with a cool head for helping his defence out, while still finding the time (and space) to be a constant danger around the periphery of the visitors goal area.
I'm imagining just how productive things could be, when he and Harry Bamforth teaming up as the engine room and spine of this team when the latter regains his fitness.
"Apparently, he's been turning out for Worsbrough Bridge, but he's signing for Handsworth", was the nearest to a straight answer that I managed to obtain... but if tonight's performance is anything to go by, we'll all know who his name is before very long, because tonight's hosts have unearthed yet another gem. Monitor the airwaves, I'm sure we'll all know exactly what 'number four' is really called soon enough.
Handsworth v Worksop Town games are never short of drama, or a bit of edge, so if you're not doing 'owt on Saturday afternoon, you could do as lot worse than getting yourself  down to Sandy Lane, for the Ambers v Tigers clash, to see how the youngsters who excelled tonight, fare against the current NCEL Champions, who of course, are finally back in the 'promised land' of the North Premier League, after blazing their way to the the league title with a phenomenal run of results in the second half of the season.
The Sheffield club have reverted back to the name of: Handsworth FC, sans the Parramore bit, since one of their joint chairman: Peter Whitehead, retired from being involved with the club at the end of last season (as did long time club stalwart Max Ross, who it was nice to see again when he turned out to show his support for the Ambers cause tonight). It'll seem strange, and actually be a real shame not to see Pet and his lovely wife: Maureen, around on match days any more, their input to the club... and local football itself, has been immense. Credit where it is due. And it's always been a pleasure whenever our paths have crossed. Good luck to both of them for the future.
John Ward will continue as Handsworth chairman, with Steve Holmes covering the roles of vice chair and club development manager. I managed to chat to both of them about their hopes, ambitions and aspirations for the Ambers tonight... and I'm looking forward to watching the club flourish from what is virtually a new beginning. I'm definitely keen to be kept abreast of the ongoing ground development project that is currently being undertaken, and quite chuffed that that nice Mr Ward is going to keep me in the loop to that end.
Anyway, their wasn't only one team at Sandy Lane tonight; regardless of what the final scoreline might suggest... and Frechville Davys gave a very good account of themselves tonight and created a string of goal-scoring opportunities, especially during the first half, but the main difference between
the two sides, as you've probably deduced for yourself. was Handsworth's more clinical edge in the final third, although it wasn't until the thirty fifth minute that the Ambers broke the deadlock, when Alfie Dodsworth steered a left wing cross home inside the six yard box, before Luke Francis added a couple of coats of gloss to the half time score, with a brace of strikes within a minute of each other shortly before the interval.
The introduction of young striker Leon Howarth for the the second half paid immediate dividends, as the former Frechville (and Handsworth Under 19) forward, netted his first of four goals from the penalty spot inside his first minute on the pitch, before adding two more goals within forty seconds of each other around the hour mark... and curling in a beauty of a shot in the seventy sixth minute to complete his show stealing four goal salvo.
The Ambers had numerous openings to increase their margin of victory, but had to be content with just one more goal, five minutes before the end, when Bailey Hobson applied the finishing touch, to an eye catching, quick passing build up move.
Frechville for their part, were well beaten, due to Handsworth's ruthlessness in front of goal, but they remained disciplined and still applied themselves well, while endeavouring to play a high tempo pass and move game, when many others might've just chucked the towel in.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this Handsworth side progress over the coming months... and have provisionally pencilled in a visit to the Davy Sports Ground (another hotbed of Sheffield grassroots football) in the very near future.
FT: Handsworth 8 v Frechville Davys 0
Tonight's admission price had been set at "pay what you like", even so, I was disappointed that somebody who went into the ground ahead of me only chipped in fifty pence... it might only e pre-season but these clubs still have match officials and overheads to pay y'know.
All told, it had been an enjoyable night, with plenty of decent football and talented players on display, with a good ambience around the ground too.
Good luck to Handsworth and Frechville Davys for the forthcoming season... see you both soon.
And... come in 'number four', your time is now!
For the record, the retired football coach: Dean Bamforth, won a bottle of wine in the half time draw... as if that big chuff nugget needs any more alcohol pouring down his neck ;-)

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Doncaster Rovers 2 - PSF

Saturday 13th July 2019
Pre Season Friendly
at the Martin & Co. Arena, the Northolme, Gainsborough
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 0
Doncaster Rovers (2) 2
Ben Whiteman 24
John Marquis 32
Attendance: 1,123
THE66POW point and hope photo gallery: Click HERE
Gainsborough Trinity:
Trialist, Topliss, Green, Russell, Hotte, Stainfield, Trialist, Middleton, Worsfold, Allot, Trialist.
Subs: Chapman, Maguire, Davie, Young, James, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist.
Doncaster Rovers:
First half - Lawlor, Halliday, Wright, Anderson, James; Whiteman; Blair, Gomes; Coppinger; May, Marquis.
Doncaster Rovers:
Second half -
Jones, Trialist, McLean, Blaney, Amos; Sadlier, Sheaf, Prior, Kiwomya; Watters, Longbottom.
Unused subs - Horton, Boocock, Greaves, Walker, Gibbons, Hasani
As pre-season picks up a head of steam towards the promised land of yet another season of 'joys and sorrows', it's becoming easier to recognise the players who are turning out under the alias of 'Trialist' now, even those without shirt numbers on their backs, but out of respect to both managers, if they prefer to keep things 'hush, hush', then I'm more than happy to oblige... even the guy listed as 'Trailaist' on the official teamsheet is entitled to the same level of anonymity as anybody else; including the player who left Mansfield Town as a free agent at the end of last season and played at right back during the second half for Rovers and was named by local Doncaster newspaper's online report.
The new 'Donny' manager Darren Moore watched on from the main stand, as John Schofield, who now runs the Under 23 side at the Keepmoat Stadium, took on the duties of coaching the visitors from the bench.
In my humble estimation, Moore is something of a coup as regards the managerial post at the South Yorkshire club... and though there is always (at least) two sides to every football story, it seemed like a crazy decision for West Bromwich Albion to axe him towards the end of last season.
When the official announcement was made, that Moore was the new name at the helm at Rovers, after Grant McCann had defected and moved to Hull City, there was a tangible relief amongst the Doncaster fans who I work with, after they had seen the stories pertaining to a certain Steve Evans having been in the frame for the job. Such a scenario had prompted them to turn the air blue with expletives, to a degree that shocked even me, i.e. a person afflicted with advanced Tourette's syndrome, who invented the world's longest ever swearword: cuntastical, for the purpose of being offensive about somebody (who effing well deserved it) within the rambling off piste and oft meandering trail of (semi)consciousness, that (just about, but barely) passes for social commentary, insight and reportage on this very blog.
Alfie May set up the first goal scoring chance of the afternoon, rolling a sideways pass to his right, where Madger Gomes met the ball and launched a sweetly struck right footed shot towards the bottom left hand corner of the net, that Sa... whoops! I mean the 'trialist' in Trinty's goal, did very well to reach at full stretch and push around the post.
The lively Gomes was involved again shortly afterwards, rolling a well weighted pass into the path of Ben Whiteman, who unleashed a pile-driver of a shot from fifteen yards out, that the Trinity keeper did well to block, before May scooped the ball over the bar from the rebound.
Gomes hooked the ball forward for John Marquis to run onto, but Nathan Stainfield had read the situation well and got across the path of Marquis to cut out the danger.
Rovers took the lead in the twenty fourth minute, with a sublime long range strike from Ben Whiteman, that nestled just inside the right hand post. It was a quality strike, that Whiteman should be justifiably proud of... even though the matchday announcer credited it to Tom Anderson.
Joe Wright cleared up at the back for Trinity as May delivered another dangerous cross into the area, but Doncaster's second goal wasn't long in coming, when Anderson put an angled ball into the path of Marquis, who took it down cleverly on the run, before doubling the visitors advantage from inside the D on the edge of the Holy Blues area.
Having found his range, Whiteman was enthused and confident enough to try his luck with another strike from outside the area, but this time he leathered the ball against the foot of the left hand post.
HT: Holy Blues 0 v Rovers 2
Wholesale changes at the interval, saw a completely different Rovers eleven line up take their places to start the second half, but even so, their pressing game was just as relentless, as it had been when the more senior players had been strutting their stuff before half time... while the 'Trialist' in goal for Trinity, was still passing this afternoon's audition with flying colours, while Stainfield, who'd earlier done a great job of tracking Marquis (who'd ultimately only needed the one opportunity, and brief moment of freedom, to make his mark), had a similar pass rate against Alex Kiwomya during the second half.
Stainfield, who has previously turned out for Spalding United, Hucknall Town and Boston United, has impressed me no end over the last couple of weeks, against League One opponents, in 'Donny Rovers' and Lincoln City.
The second half saw a lot of hard graft and slog, but no more goals. The Trinity trialist goalkeeper took a heavy knock when making a clearance in an improvised sweeper role on the edge on the Trinity area late in the game.
While the hosts went close to forcing a consolation goal at the end, but were thwarted when Louis Jones pulled off a great save right at the death, from another 'Trialist'.
Ironically, Jones and this afternoon's Trinity keeper who was substituted to great acclaim in the eighty eighth minute, by another 'Trialist' have featured on opposing sides several times in the not so distant past, when Doncaster Rovers youth team have faced Mansfield Town.
'Twas a decent workout for all concerned I reckon.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Doncaster Rovers 2
As we walked around the open end of the ground, during stoppage time, to stand near the exit gate opposite where my car was parked, a scuffle broke out nearby, between two small groups of Doncaster fans.
Least said the better methinks. But I'll put it on record, that we were only a few feet away from what happened and I can confirm, that no Trinity supporters were involved in the short heated skirmish that flared up... but that several people who did have a hand in the incident, were even older than me.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Frickley Athletic 2 v East Stirlingshire 6 - PSF

Friday 12th July 2019
Pre Season Friendly
at the Big Fellas Clothing Sizes 2XL to 8XL Stadium
Westfield Lane, South Elmsall
Frickley Athletic (2) 2
Sam Cable 16, Jack McMenemy 40
East Stirlinghshire (1) 6
Peter McDonald 27, 65, Bobby Barr 50, Mark Millar 61, Nicky Low 68, Jamie Dishington 82
Frickley Athletic:
Tom Jackson, Brad Mears, Ben Bodle, Todd Jordan, Jack Harrison, Luke Hogg, Sam Cable, Jack Burton, Jack McMenemy, Johnny Pugh, Jacob Hazel
Subs - Lewis Bowring, Brandon Howard, Liam Carrick, Oliver Russon, Kyle Simpson
East Stirlingshire:
Jamie Barclay, Martin Orr, Reid Peggie, Andy Grant, Jordan Tapping, Evan Horne, Matt Flynn, Mark Millar, Jamie Dishington Peter McDonald, Bobby Barr
Subs - Nicky Low, Jamie Gallagher, Connor Greene, Del Ure, Brian Bell, Andy Shirra, Norrie Bremner
Sam Cable and Johnny Pugh both had shooting opportunities early on, with the former firing wide, while the latter's effort deflected wide for a corner.
The visitors went close when Peter MacDonald flicked a backwards header over the Blues crossbar from Mark Millar's pinpoint free kick. Millar proved to be a thorn in Frickley's side for most of the night, both in open play and through an array of deft touches at set pieces.
Craig Spink's side claimed the lead after sixteen minutes, when Pugh's half volley was charged down and when the ball ran loose towards Cable, his low shot squeezed under the Shire keeper Jamie Barclay and found it's way into the back of the net.
MacDonald went close again, nodding the ball just past the wrong side of the upright from Millar's left wing corner, but the same combination combined again in the twenty seventh minute and the Lowland League side were on level terms, as MacDonald headed into the bottom left hand corner of the net from Millar's long dipping free kick from out on the right hand side of midfield.
Five minutes before the interval, Frickley restored their lead, when Luke Hogg's left wing corner was helped on by Jack Burton and forced over the line by Jack McMenemy.
HT: The Blues 2 v The Shire 1
Frickley supporters of a timid disposition, might want to skip past the remainder of this match overview and wile the remaining time away practising slogans, such as: You can't read too much into these pre-season results. It's all about building up fitness levels with a view to peaking in August. The new signings are still gelling in... and, we're stilling trying out different tactics and players, it's only a practice tonight.
I'm sure we've all resorted to that sort of pack-drill at some point. Usually straight after getting completely over-run and having been given a proper going over, by a side who turned out to be infinitely better than our own on the night.
If the alarm bells hadn't already begun to sound, as regards the link-up play between MacDonald and Millar before the break, not to mention the distribution of Jordan Tapping, who was to all intents and purposes, East Stirlingshire's engine room, then the visitors statement of intent, right from the start of the second half must've served as a warning, when Bobby Barr broke forward at pace, to create a one against one shoot-out against the Blues keeper: Tom Jackson, whose brave save denied Barr on this occasion, but moments later, the Shire number eleven netted the visitors second goal, via a deflection off of Jack Harrison, that gave Jackson just that fraction too much to do.
Jamie Dishington was a whisker away from giving East Stirlingshire the lead, but Jackson thwarted the visitors again, moments before Harrison had to make a clearance off the line from Barr's goal-bound knock.
The visitors scored a third... and it had been coming... when Martin Orr delivered an exquisite long pass down the flank to MacDonald, who forced his way into the Blue area before squaring the ball to Millar, who rolled the ball into the net from close range.
A disgruntled voice in the home crowd boomed: "Change summat Spink!"
And then three minutes later when the Frickley boss substituted all but two of his starting eleven, the same outspoken critic bellowed: "What the bloody hell are you doing now Spink!?"
Err,  I'll have a stab at answering that line of enquiry: "changing summat" perhaps... and giving his whole squad some match time. Blooming heck! Who'd ever have thought that their might be a contradictory big gob making his presence felt on the terraces of the Wezziecana.
Before the new arrivals had even had a chance to assume their positions on the field of play. the Shire scored again, when Barr crashed a shot that ricocheted off of the substitute keeper Lewis Bowring and the ball was 'snaffled up' by MacDonald who stroked it into the now unguarded net.
Yet another forward move from the visitors broke down on the edge of the Blues area and Shaun Carrington moved across sharply to make a clearance, but as he put his foot through the ball in an attempt to turn defence into attack, his kick crashed against Nicky Low and rebounded back towards the Frickley goal, where it looped over Bowring's head and beyond his grasp.
The Shire were still in the hunt for goals and Bowring did well to get his body behind a well struck effort by Evan Horne from the edge of the area.
But there was little that an unsighted Bowring could do to keep out Dishington's shot through a crowd of legs, after MacDonald had rolled a square pass to him, with eight minutes left to play, that saw East Stirlingshire rounded off an impressive second half display with their sixth goal of the night.
FT: Frickley Athletic 2 v East Stirlingshire 6
There wasn't much to choose between the two sides in the first half, but, with all due respect, in truth, they probably both got what they deserved for their respective efforts in the second.
'Twas great to catch up with my many good pals in South Elmsall again tonight... and the jovial visiting supporters were a very friendly crowd too. 
Enjoy your football travels... and those Rudimentary Peni records too ;-) 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Retford United 0 v Mansfield Town U21 2 - PSF

Tuesday 9th July 2019
Pre Season Friendly
at Cannon Park
Retford United (0) 0
Mansfield Town (2) 2
Jason Law 28 pen
Jimmy Knowles 43
Attendance: 525
Retford United
Crosby, Swales, Smith, Gasui, Blakemore, Kane, Irvine, Walters, Watson, West, Dawson.
Mansfield Town:
Campbell, Walker (Cooper 28’), Stokes, Gibbens, Clarke (King 76’), McGuire, Law, Smith, Fielding (Sketchley 56’), Knowles (Scott 80’), Sinclair (Hawkins 69’). 
The Mansfield Town first team rolled into Cannon Park for a pre kick off meet and greet session with supporters, which seemed to be a very popular session for the kids (of all ages) before tonight's occasionally 'feisty' encounter got underway, whereby a few industrial strength challenges, on the part of both teams, stretched the parameters of the word 'friendly' to it's very extremes. But 'tippy tappy football' and non-contact games are no match for competitiveness as players build up their match fitness in these sort of games.
A predominantly Under 21 Stags side, augmented with a few Under 18 players and Academy coach (and new AFC Mansfield signing) Jamie McQuire, acquitted themselves well against their Central Midlands League opposition, on a night when their margin of victory might have been greater, were it not for the heroics of the Badgers keeper Tom Crosby.
Crosby saved Jason Law's penalty kick after twenty six minutes, after Jimmy Knowles had been tripped as he motored forward into United's penalty area.
It's a save!
However, during the frantic goalmouth action follow Crosby's save, the referee spotted an apparent handball and awarded another penalty... and although Crosby almost got to the ball a second time, Law placed the ball a fraction beyond the hosts keepers reach to give Mansfield the lead.
Moments later, Tyrese Sinclair almost doubled the visitors advantage, when he crashed the ball against the bar.
It's a goal!
Shortly before half time, Sinclair fed the ball to Knowles, who weaved his way through the Retford defence before adding another goal to give the young Stags a two goal interval lead.
It was good to see the former Stags youth team player (and Worksop Town legend) Jack Hawkins, introduced from the bench in the second half, to make a guest appearance for the visitors, adding his trademark battling qualities to a midfield scrap that was proving not to be for the faint hearted at times.
Sinclair (twice) and Knowles, were both denied by Crosby, as the Stags maintained a good tempo after the break, under the watchful eye of their recently appointed first team manager, former Mansfield player John Dempster, who of course, will already be familiar with the youngsters, following his successful four year spell in charge of the Academy side, after hanging up his boots.
'Demps' has already made a few impressive signings... and his appointment has galvanised Mansfield Town, inasmuch as, the Stags are now an inclusive club, with a clear pathway throughout their entire structure, as opposed to being a completely separate team, bereft of that essential spine and link, forged in the image of yet another journeyman manager, with his players, representing his team, to the detriment of the long term interests of the club. 
Of course, professional football is a results based industry... and expectations are high among the Field Mill faithful, but John Dempster is precisely the right man for the job at exactly the right time, and though Rome wasn't built in a day, given the right sort of timescale; step aside... them there Stags are coming through!
FT: Retford United 0 v Mansfield Town 2
Both clubs now face a bust few days, with the Stags travelling to Bradford Park Avenue on Thursday and Alfreton Town on Saturday. While the Badgers have an away game at Shirebrook Town tomorrow night, before they entertain their local rivals Retford FC at Cannon Park on Saturday afternoon.