Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Updated Tuesday 23rd August 2016 
Wed 24 Aug - Brigg Town v Hallam - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Thu 25 Aug - Worksop Town U21 v Birmingham City U19 - Friendly - 7.45pm at Shirebrook Town FC
Sat 27 Aug - Burton Albion v Mansfield Town EFLYA Cup - Venue TBC - 11am
Sat 27 Aug  - Maltby Main v AFC Mansfield 0 - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Mon 29 Aug - Retford FC v Harworth Colliery - CMFL North - 3.00pm
Tue 30 Aug - Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United - U21 Friendly - 11AM
Tue 30 Aug - Mansfield Town v Doncaster Rovers - EFL Trophy - 7.45pm
Wed 31 Aug - Maltby Main v Liversedge - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Fri 2 Sep - Harworth Colliery v Appleby Frodingham - CMFL North - 7.45pm
Sat 3 Sep - Burton Albion v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - Venue TBC - 11am
Sat 3 Sep - AFC Mansfield v Stratford Town - FA Cup 1QR - 3pm
Tue 6 Sep - Rotherham United v Mansfield Town U21 - Central League - 2pm
Tue 6 Sep - Rainworth Miners Welfare v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Wed 7 Sep - Ollerton Town v Rossington Main - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Thu 8 Sep - Mansfield Town v Southwell City - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at Rainworth MW
Sat 10 Sep - Shrewsbury Town v Mansfield Town - EFLYA LC - Noon
Sat 10 Sep - TBC - 3pm
Tue 13 Sep - Retford United v AFC Mansfield - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Wed 14 Sep - Retford United v Sheffield United - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at DN22 6QF
Thu 15 Sep - Mansfield Town v Eastwood Community FC - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at Rainworth MW
Sat 17 Sep - Grimsby Town v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - 12 noon at Cheapside, Waltham
Sat 17 Sep - Cleethorpes Town v Maltby Main - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tues 20 Sep - Rossington Main v Campion - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Wed 21 Sep - AFC Mansfield v Bridlington Town - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Thu 22 Sep - Mansfield Town v Kimberley MW - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at Rainworth MW
Sat 24 Sep - Mansfield Town v Bradford City - EFLYA - 12noon at Rainworth MW
Sat 24 Sep - AFC Mansfield v Radcliffe Olympic - FA Vase 2QR - 3pm
Tue 27 Sep - Dunkirk v Mansfield Town - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at RSSG Lenton Lane NG7 2SA
Wed 28 Sep - Espial v Swallownest MW - WVH NMU19L - 7.45PM at Chesterfield Rugby Club S41 9BF
Sat 1 Oct - Doncaster Rovers v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - 11AM at Cantley Park
Sat 1 Oct - Retford FC v Phoenix FC - CMFL North - 3pm
Wed 5 Oct - Retford United v Chesterfield - WVH NMU19L - 7. 45pm at DN22 6QF
Thu 6 Oct - Mansfield Town v Sandiacre Town - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm at Rainworth MW
Fri 7 Oct - Chesterfield v Handsworth Parramore - WVH NMU21L - 7.45pm at Play Soccer USA Arena (3G) NG16 3HB
Sat 8 Oct - Hartlepool United v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - 12 noon at Blackhall Colliery Sports Ground
Sat 8 Oct - Billingham Synthonia v Alnwick Town - Northern League Div 2 - 3pm
Tue 11 Oct - Handsworth Parramore v Hallam - WVH NMU21L - 7.45pm at Olivers Mount S9 4PA 
Thu 13 Oct - West Bridgford Colts v Mansfield Town - WVH NMU19L - 7.45pm Regatta Way NG2 5AT
Fri 14 Oct - Rotherham United v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - 2pm at Parkgate FC S62 6LA
Fri 14 Oct - Nottingham Forest v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 7.45pm
Sat Oct 15 - Mansfield Town v Wycombe Wanderers - EFL Div 2 - 3pm
Wed Oct 19 - Harworth Colliery v Handsworth Parramore - WVH NMU21L - at Scrooby Road DN11 8JT
Sat 22 Oct - Mansfield Town v Walsall - EFLYA Cup - Venue & KO TBC
Sat 22 Oct - Handsworth Parramore v Cleethorpes Town - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 25 Oct - Southwell City v Mansfield Town - WVH NMU19L - Bishops Drive, NG25 0JP
Wed 26 Oct - Brigg Town v Selby Town - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm 
Sat 29 Oct - Lincoln City v Mansfield Town - EFLYA - 11AM Venue TBC
Sat 29 Oct - Newark Town v Dinnington Town - CMFL North - 3pm
Tue 1 Nov - Eastwood Community FC v Mansfield Town - WVH NMU19L - Play Soccer USA Arena (3G) NG16 3HB
Sat 5 Nov - Mansfield Town v Notts County - EFLYA - 11AM Venue TBC
Sat 3 Dec - Mansfield Town v York City City - EFLYA - 12noon venue TBC
To be continued. Watch this space!
However, I have been to that I am contrary and impetuous by nature. So I might end up just about anywhere else instead, on any of the above dates.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Worksop Town 2 v Ashton Athletic 2 - FA Cup Preliminary Round

Arrived early today and saw local MP John Mann hard at work
laying the foundations for the new Worksop Town ground.
Alas, his digger is obscuring the  pigs flying in the background.
Sunday 21st August 2016
FA Cup Preliminary Round
at the Windsor Foodervice Stadium
Worksop Town (2) 2
Richard Adams 7
Steven Woolley 33
Ashton Athletic (1) 2
Joel Brownhill 5
Daniel Smith 52 pen
Admission £5. Programme £1. Attendance 486
For more crowd/action images click HERE
This NCEL v NWCL encounter, will have to be settled at the 600 capacity Brocstedes Park, in Ashton-in-Makerfield (WN4 0NQ, for the benefit of those of you who I know are heading up Wigan way), on Tuesday night, as these two Premier Division sides fought out a 2-2 draw in front of an impressive 486 spectators this afternoon.
While Worksop have claims to being the fourth oldest club in the world, Ashton are mere youngsters by comparison, having been formed as a Sunday League side in 1968.
It still beggars belief, that when Worksop Town turned a ripe old 150 years of age, that milestone wasn't celebrated properly, because the (then) club chairman, Jason Clark, wanted to put the champagne on ice until the Tigers moved into a new ground within the town.
He (Clark) did a lot of good for the club, but he didn't always get everything right all of the time
Please excuse my cynicism at this juncture, but I actually believe that there isn't going to be a new ground built anywhere near Worksop any time soon... and if whoever is at the helm of the club in 2061 applies the same mandate as Jason did, then the 200th year celebrations will be put on the back burner too.
Hopefully the 160th anniversary of the formation of the club, in 2021, is going to be handled better and all of the commercial marketing and merchandising opportunities, along with the inevitable publicity angles are utilised fully.
Non-league clubs are always on the look out for money, embracing club landmarks, milestones and achievements, with the correct selling strategy, is on a par to printing the stuff.
Maltby Main (formed in 1916) have a centenary history book available, you can pick one up for £10 the next time you're at Muglet Lane; but Worksop Town, a club with a substantially bigger fan base, target audience and local population than the Miners, did absolutely nothing to mark their 150 years of existence... and it makes you wonder why, doesn't it!?
Wow! Mark Shaw can afford to shop at Sainsburys
Anyway, fast forwarding to the present day, this afternoon's game, which was being played on a Sunday because Handsworth Parramore were at home in the FA Cup yesterday, when they beat Evo-Stik League side Stocksbridge Park Steels 4-1, started off at breakneck speed, with both sides keen to get an advantage early on.
The first chance fell to Worksop after just two minutes, when Steve Woolley was fouled thirty yards from the 'Ash' goal, but Fenton overhit the resulting free kick and the ball fell wide of the mark.
The visitors stormed into a lead after five minutes, when Adam Howard played the ball down the left flank to Daniel Smith who powered forward before delivering the ball across the face of the Tigers goal, where Joel Brownhill met it as he ran into the six yard box and dispatched a shot into the back of the net from close range.
The home side almost responded immediately when Adam Scott, presented with a crowded goalmouth ahead of him, lobbed the ball from twenty five yards out, but as it dropped, Michael Pearson tipped the ball over his bar, into the roof of the netting.
However, Worksop were straight back on the attack and forced a corner, which Woolley delivered from the left flank and Richard Adams forced across the line at the back post to level things up and claw back the short lived deficit.
Straight from the restart, Ashton almost went ahead again, but Adam Gilchrist struck the left hand post with his shot from the edge of the home side's area.
Scott and Jordan Hodder are developing a good understanding down the right flank and were passing the ball round well between themselves... and it was Scott who came close again when Woolley tried picking him out with a deep cross from the left wing.
Mitch Husbands limped out of the game after eight minutes, but Mark Shaw's tactics remained the same because he had Adam Somes to push into the central strikers role and, as per usual, the former Stags youngster was chomping at the bit to be involved.
The Tigers were putting the ball forward through Scott whenever they could, but Ashton had spotted this ruse and Sam Bailey tracked back and stopped the Tigers number 10 with trip as he picked up a pass from Kyle Jordan.
Bailey also blocked Woolley's free kick and deflected it over the bar for a corner. Ashton cleared Woolley's kick and a long clearance fell to Smith, but as he motored forward, Hodder, the only man left back for the set pieces, go across the 'Ash' manager and forced him to shoot early, making the stop easy for Jon Kennedy.
Jordan showed a clean pair of heels to Dan Blythe on the left flank and crossed the ball towards Woolley and when Howard got a foot in and half cleared the danger, Scott latched onto the loose ball and skimmed a dipping shot just over the crossbar.
Kyle Jordan broke away down the left, but had to go it alone as he had sprinted forward so fast that nobody was up with him and Howard got across to win the ball and mop up the danger for the visitors, while barracking the assistant referee for not flagging the Tigers winger offside. He did have a point though, but there was only a few yards in it.
Bailey and Gilchrist combined with Callum Wilson, spraying passes about at will just outside the Worksop goal area, Hodder stepped out and disrupted their flow, but Bailey chased the loose ball down and rolled it into the path of Brownhill, who cleared the bar with his first time shot.
Scott, in full flight, danced past three challenges before chipping the ball towards Somes on the penalty spot, but Dan Regan headed the ball away, only to see it come flying back past him as Woolley cracked an unstoppable shot past Pearson from twenty yards to give Worksop the lead.
Howard and Brownhill pushed deep into the home side's territory, but there was nobody in Kennedy's goalmouth to put a finishing touch to the latter's cross and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Adams was doing a great job of keeping tabs on Gilchrist, the visitors number 9 and covering the centre and right hand side of the defence well, which was freeing up Hodder to get forward and help with the attack. And right on the stroke of half time, that is just what the Tigers right back did, cutting a swathe through the left of Ashton's defence, with a quick passing triangle manoeuvre involving Somes and Scott, that Pearson did well to thwart when he got down to smother the ball.
HT: Worksop Town 2 v Ashton Athletic 1
Despite the fact that Ashton gave a very good account of themselves in the first half and always looked more relaxed on the ball than the all out attacking 100 mph Tigers, I honestly thought that the home side had the better of the first half by quite some way.
However, after the break, rather than consolidating their lead, at a time when the next goal would prove to be critical, they did a very passable impression of a group of players who were hell bent on travelling up to Ashton in Makerfield on Tuesday night.
Bailey and Regan were standing out as a two man pivotal engine room for the visitors as they began to impose themselves more and more. It was Bailey who came close to pulling back a second goal for 'Ash', but his ambitious shot from out on the left flank flew wide of the right hand upright. Nevertheless, it was a statement of intent and the alarm bells were sounding loud and clear now.
Dan Smith makes it 2-2 from the penalty spot
Brownhill picked up the ball and keeping it close to his feet and burst into the penalty area towards Kennedy, there was a crack of boots as Callum Harrison tried getting a tackle in and Brownhill, obviously in pain, went to ground.
There were appeals from both sides, but in the event, the referee, Martyn Fryer pointed to the spot.
You can never be too careful when putting your foot in towards an opposition player who has got pace and forward momentum in his favour, because if you clip him, even if it isn't deliberate, then it's a penalty. Especially when the sound effects back the split second decision making process up.
Kennedy went the right way, but Smith had planted the ball just beyond his reach and made it two apiece.
Kennedy was then forced to make two saves in quick succession, from Gilchrist and Smith, with Regan filling the role of chief goal scoring chance creator.
Somes held off a challenge and teed up a chance for Scott, but Pearson positioned himself well as he stopped the shot and held onto the ball.
Once again Regan put Smith on his way with a measured pass and as the Worksop defence closed in on the Ashton forward he laid the ball off to Bailey whose shot sailed a fraction over the bar.
The Tigers were nowhere near their best as Ashton kept chipping away at them, but with the scores still level, the game was still there for the taking.
The Tigers manager freshened things up and threw Jack Hawkins into the fray from the bench and the tempo of Worksop's forward movement picked up no end. With the Tigers sub slotting in behind Scott, 'Ash' had twice the problems to deal with out on that flank, particularly with Hodder and Alex Nightingale playing just off the pair of them.
Hawkins drew the full back towards him and threaded the ball into the space he'd created to Hodder who raced in on the overlap and was unlucky that the impressive Pearson had read the situation and got down in the way of his goal bound shot.
Mark Fereday had also come on from the bench and was buzzing around Ashton's defence like a swarm of hornets, until Luke Holden used his right foot to swat him with. Woolley took the resulting free kick and though Howard sliced his clearance Bailey was on hand to help the ball out of play and away from immediate danger.
Having been pegged back for most of the first half, Worksop were at least finishing the game with a flourish now. Woolley found the towering Adams with his flag kick, but the Tigers centre half crashed a downwards header against Adam Somes and the visitors cleared the ball once more.
Regan, having a bit of a change from dictating the pace of the game from midfield, got back just in time to deflect Scott's stinging ten yard shot round the post.
And right at the death, Howard made a last ditch clearance after Fereday had nudged Nightingale's flick on into the path of Woolley.
FT: Worksop Town 2 v Ashton Athletic 2
Both sides had spells of the game when they were in control and could have finished the game off, but all told I reckon the draw was a just and fair result and now the two teams have had a chance to weight each other up, the replay on Tuesday should be an intriguing game.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Wembley 1 v Harefield United 1 - FA Cup Preliminary Round

A POSSE AD ESSE, which translates, as near as damn it, into: FROM POSSIBILITY TO REALITY; is the club motto of  Wembley FC, AKA the Lions, who were formed in 1946, as the result of a post-war amalgamation between Sudbury Rangers and Sudbury Ratepayers, two local junior clubs, who felt that the borough that housed the national stadium should have a football team of it's own.
Back in those days, Wembley was still a borough in it's own right and the lion that made its way onto the club's badge, featured on the municipal coat of arms.
As the 50th anniversary of England's only ever international tournament trophy win is taking place this year, I really also ought to mention, that during the 1966 World Cup, Sir Alf Ramsey used Wembley FC's home ground as a base for England's training sessions.
In 1980-81, the Lions reached the first round proper of the FA Cup (a competition that will always maintain a certain amount of prestige and magic in my eyes, until the greedy clubs join in after the New Year), for the first and only time in their entire history; yet the mere mention of the name of the club in the same sentence as the most famous cup competition in the known universe, is alluring enough to attract hordes of sad anoraks, non-league obsessives, football travelers, ground hoppers, hopeless football romantics and people like me, AKA those few who are beyond all help and far more absorbed in football than any of the aforementioned outsiders from the human race (I am well aware of what I have become and I'm unselfconsciously comfortable with it), from all four corners of planet football, to the 2,450 capacity 'Vale Farm' ground.
Well, there were slightly more than seventy of us there today, if the quick headcount I did is anything to go by, but bear in mind that Jesus only had twelve disciples and look how popular he became.
Either way, today was something of a pilgrimage for me.
Some of you will understand that rationale, but those of you who don't, are probably reading this blog by accident and you really need to fu... go away elsewhere and read about the Olympics, or Curling, or Rugby Union, or some other minor and unimportant sporting event.
Today was one for the holy order of seekers of the ultimate football holy grail and if you need that explaining, then it actually says more about you than me.
Mansfield Town 1987 inc. Keith Cassells (second left).
The self indulgent bit:
Prior to moving into the Football League with Watford (and several other clubs), before he reached the zenith of his career at Mansfield town, for who he scored 52 goals in 165 appearances between 1985-1989, the Stags legend Keith Cassells started out at Wembley FC.
He was a part of Ian Greaves team, that won the Freight Rover Trophy in 1987, on penalties, against Bristol City, at that slightly bigger ground just up the road from 'Vale Farm'... and he scored in the final too!
I felt that you needed to know that and you can thank me later for enriching your knowledge of this really important achievement.
For the record, Richard Caddette was also at Wembley during the formative stages of his career.
He wasn't ever good enough to play for Mansfield Town, but Sheffield United once paid a transfer tribunal decided fee of £90,000 for him, which equated to approximately £12,870 per goal that he scored for them, during his one and only season at Bramall Lane (1987-88).
Who wears short, shorts!?
Richard Caddette (right) alongside Tony Agana
"You'll do yourself a favour, when you shop at Arnold Laver"
Harefield United, in common with their hosts today, ply their trade in the Spartan South Midlands League.
The club have reached the second qualifying round of the FA Cup on no less than five occasions between 1980-81 and 2009-10.
The visitors can trace the timeline of their origins back as far as 1868 and have had several different names along the way, including  Harefield Victoria and Breakspear Institute, before settling for Harefield United when they merged with Harefield FC in 1934.
The Hares are justifiably proud of their claim to being the oldest football club in Middlesex... and why not!?
Purveyor of culinary delights at 'Vale Farm'
The Spartan South Midland League was formed in 1997 when the London Spartan League and South Midlands League merged.
Last season Wembley finished mid table in the Premier Division while Harefield United were relegated to the First Division, along with Bedford FC, with Wembley winning both league encounters between the two clubs, 3-0 at 'Vale Farm' in April and 2-1 at the Hares 'Preston Park' ground, at the turn of the new year.
Also in April, Wembley's 42 year old player manager, who joined the club in 1993, chalked up his 1,000th first team appearance for the club, a phenomenal achievement by anyone's standards. And when he's not creating records, direction operations from the touchline and pointing with amazed awe and admiration at his assistant Owen Clayton's genitals... he's also the club's groundsman.
In the Extra-Prelimnary Round, Harefield United beat Northampton ON Chenecks 9-8 on penalties, after their initial game at 'Preston Park' had finished 1-1, as did the replay at the 'Old Northamptonians', Billing Road Sports Ground.
Wembley had a more straight forward passage over their first hurdle, when they saw off Daventry Town 4-0 at 'Vale Farm'.
Prior to today, both clubs are unbeaten so far this season, but that will change when a replay at 'Preston Park' on Tuesday night, will decide who progresses through to the next round, after both sides played out a goalless 85 minutes before netting a late goal apiece, with Calvin Kasiyre putting Wembley in front after 85 minutes and Perry Price grabbing an equaliser as the game approached stoppage time.
The Geography:
There are other ways of reaching 'Vale Farm', but the easiest one I found, is by using London Underground's Piccadilly Line sevice (westbound) to either Rayners Lane or Uxbridge and alighting at Sudbury Town. Leave the station via the main entrance (above) and walk straight to the bottom of the road and turn left, following the copious number of signs that appear along the route of what is only a short walk, which only took an unfit and bone idle old codger like me around 7 minutes, up a very slight incline, which of course becomes a pleasant downhill stroll on the way back.
A cautionary word. 89% of westbound underground trains on the Piccadilly Line go to Heathrow, so make sure you're on the right service.
Halfway along the route you pass Sudbury & Harrow overground station. North Wembley station on the Bakerloo line is slightly further away as you approach the ground from the opposite direction, but the number 245 bus service that encompasses the route between the two underground outposts, passes 'Vale Farm' and there is a bus stop on Watford Road about 30 yards away from the sign depicted below, it is only the second stop from Sudbury Town, so I don't know why anybody wouldn't walk instead, but each to their own.
If you choose to drive, there is ample free parking around the ground and in the nearby side streets or a pay and display car park (£1.50 all day) approximately half a mile away from the ground.
Saturday 20th August 2016
The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
at Vale Farm, Watford Road
Wembley FC (0) 1
Calvin Casirye 85
Harefield United (0) 1
Perry Price 88
Admission £6. Programme £1.
For more 'Vale Farm' images and match action click HERE
There are 158 FA Cup Preliminary ties being played this weekend, my personal Saturday game of choice, was this Middlesex derby match, played at 'Vale Farm, a ground that has shelter on three sides, a very tidy stand along the length of the far touchline from the entrance and clubhouse and an array of smaller structures and several different examples of seating arrangements dotted around at various locations.
For those of you who don't like 'new builds' or big (and expensive) all seater stadiums, this one is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area. Or if you just happen to be in the vicinity, because you're treating the family to a trip to London that includes shopping, a show and tourist attractions tickets, while you nip off for a couple of hours because "Madam Tussaud's isn't really my kind of thing, but enjoy yourselves and I'll find something else to do for a bit". A mutually agreeable compromise and everyone's happy.
Who says I never make compromises for my nearest and dearest when family and football time overlap!?
Left click to enlarge image
Wembley had more than enough chances to finish this game off at the first attempt without the need of a replay on Tuesday night; but Harefield, driven on by an impressive range of long passing and free kicks from Adam Willis, definitely hadn't approached this game in a manner that suggested they were in no mood to sit back and slip into the 'plucky underdog' role against their Premier Division opponents.
Christian Barrett looked strong in the middle of United's defence while the Wembley left back, Charlie Weir, was getting forward down his flank in support of the Lions attackers and causing the Hares a few problems.
Sadly both of these players had to leave the field of play during the opening half a hour when they picked up injuries in separate incidents.
This was a competitive, yet never dirty game, well officiated by referee Matt Ball and his assistants. Alas, it was, ironically, the competitiveness of the two injured parties that proved to be their downfall today.
Calvin Kasirye, the home side's tricky wide player was tripped as he advanced towards the Hares goal area.
Jabir Laraba played the resulting free kick out wide to Carl Pearce on the right, but Toby Webb couldn't quite direct the right back's cross towards United's goal and the ball went out of play.
Joe Wright attempted to play the ball into the visitors goalmouth, but it hit Barrett on the top of the arm and though there was very little the Harefield captain could've done to get out of the way, a free kick was awarded just outside the penalty area.
Zaied Sabti beat Jacob Ballheimer with the resulting kick, but his effort dropped narrowly over the crossbar.
Willis picked up the pace for the visitors and when his run forward was checked by Kasirye, the referee blew up for a foul. Willis took the free kick himself, but with Josh Collis and George O'Malley homing in on goal Craig McCreech took control of the situation and punched the ball away.
Weir picked out Adam Humphries from a throw in level with the edge of the Harefield area and the Lions number 6 rode two challenges before his angled shot was saved by Ballheimer.
Sabti received the ball wide right, shimmied past two defenders and crossed into the Hares six yard box, but Barrett was on hand to clear the ball away and United counter attacked, but when Darrel Harris had the time and space to have a crack at McCreeth's goal, he sliced the ball wide of the mark.
Another long clearance from Barrett found Collis twenty yards out from Wembley's goal and with the wind whipping across the pitch, he took advantage with an audacious dipping lob, that cannoned off the crossbar.
Unfortunately Barrett appeared to tweak his hamstring when he launched the ball towards Collis and after giving it a few more minutes he had to be substituted.
Paul Underwood carried the ball forward through the right channel but Wayne Walters blocked his cross/shot at the expense of a corner.
Weir made two interceptions as Harefield upped the ante, but he took a knock getting a tackle in near the halfway line a few minutes later and had to limp out of the game.
The Lions had a great chance to break the deadlock, but when Laraba played Joe Wright in with a well aimed cross, Rob Ratcliffe put in a timely interception and the visitors cleared their lines.
But Laraba was soon back, when Sabti knocked trhe ball into his path but Sean Managan did enough to make things difficult for the live-wire attacker and Ballheimer saved with his feet.
The wind was picking up now and making things difficult as it got to grips with the ball.
Willis, Collis and O'Malley were trying to take advantage of the space vacated by Weir, but Webb who had moved back from midfield to slot into the left back berth, was doing a great job of covering that position.
Kasirye displayed some trickery as he slipped the ball through to Wright, but Hatfield's defence closed ranks and the ball was cleared out of the area, but only as far as Pearce, who tested Ballheimer with an angled shot from twenty yards that the Hares keeper did well to hold onto.
Gustavo Mota conceded a free kick when he caught O'Malley with a late challenge.
Willis, with yet another delivery into the Lions goalmouth picked out O'Malley at the back stick, whose first shot was parried by McCreeth while his second off the rebounded thumped against the upright.
The axis of the game swung the other way and Laraba released Pearce, but Ballheimer got down to keep his effort out.
The home side came close again, when Wright headed wide from Sabti's cross.
Harefield broke away again and Underwood was only denied by Webb's outstretched leg.
On the stroke of half time Ballheimer saved at Laraba's feet after Webb's long pass down the left had picked out his run.
HT: Lions 0 v Hares 0
Wembley bared their teeth straight from the restart, putting Harefield on the back foot, but the visitors defence was showing a lot of resilience.
The Hares also pushed forward, with Willis in the thick of things again. He delivered the flag kick that O'Malley had won to the near post, but the ball was cleared back towards him, so he dropped his second attempt onto the head of O'Malley who diverted the ball wide of the post with a glancing header.
But in the main it was the home side who were getting forward more as the second half ticked along.
Webb was getting forward and at the Harefield defence down the left, Wright crashed a shot narrowly over and Laraba's goal bound effort deflected off of a defender.
Wembley had a bit of a scare when Willis' cross caught up in the wind and evaded McCreeth, but dropped wide of the right hand post. If that one had gone in, 'the wind' won have got you some bonus points if you'd got it in your 'dream team'.
Joe Wright tangled with Managan on the edge of the visitors penalty area, but Mr Ball saw it as a six and two thirds honest collision and the LIons had to settle for a corner instead of a penalty kick.
Sabti swung a viscous kick into the goalmouth, but sadly for Wembley, when Walters connected with the ball, it was with the back of his head and he deflected the ball away from the goal and straight to a grateful Harefield player.
Darrel Harris tried his luck, when he dispossessed Brown and attempted a shot into the wind across McCreeth's goal from out on the left, but it was blowing so strongly now that the ball held up and fell wide of the near post.
Credit where it's due, both teams were battling against the difficult elements, but still providing the crowd with a half decent game.
Wembley's centre forward Wright almost opened the scoring, but his header from Webb's cross skimmed over the bar. And shortly afterwards Willis tested McCreeth with an inswinging free kick that took a turn in the stiff wind, but the Wembley keeper stretched backwards to hold the ball.
Wright once again, was the width of a Durex fetherlite ultra thin (for enhanced pleasure) away from heading past Ballheimer from Kasirye's long ball into the Hares six yard box.
In the 85th minute, it looked as though Wembley had cleared another hurdle on the road to Wembley (albeit a very short road), when Webb played the ball out wide to Pearce, whose inviting cross was met by Kasirye who connected well and scored with a great diving header.
As the Hares manager Jason Shaw reshuffled his pack, knowing that time was running out, he replaced Willis, who had done the work of two men this afternoon with Perry Price. "Bloomin' heck, look at him, you've got to be good to wear pink boots like those" chuckled an elderly onlooker.
Ballheimer had to move quickly off his line as Bogdan Patrianca flicked a long ball on towards Wright, but the visitors keeper held on tight.
Wembley were all for shutting up shop and seeing out the game down, but in their eagerness to keep Harefield out of harms way, they conceded a free kick just inside their own half.
With Willis now off the pitch, Underwood took over free kick duties and he whacked a long range exorcet into a scrum of players from both sides, to the right of McCreeth's goal. 
Amidst the jostling and pushing that ensued, a recently introduced player, going by the name of Price, looking resplendent in his pink boots, got across the front of Brown, picked out the trajectory of the ball to perfection and diverted it just inside the right hand upright, to grab the visitors a late lifeline... and they celebrated as though they had just scored a winner at that big ground across the other side of town. 
And that was it... neither side wanted to take any more risks so late in the day and they'll have to do it all again at 'Preston Park' on Tuesday night.
FT: Wembley FC 1 v Harefield United 1
The magic of the FA Cup is alive and well in Middlesex. I enjoyed that, a lot, we should have another family day trip again soon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Bottesford Town 2 v AFC Mansfield 1 - NCEL Prem

Wednesday 17th August 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Bottesford Town (1) 2
Daniel Boulton 5
Josh Nichol 84
AFC Mansfield (1) 1
Ollie Fearon 19
Admission £5. Programme £1. Attendance 87
Left click image to enlarge
Bottesford swept Barton Town Old Boys away by a margin of 5-1, in their opening league game at Birch Park on Saturday, a week after a Martin Pembleton goal had been enough to squeak past Radford in the FA Cup Extra-Preliminary Round.
The Bulls had won three from three starts so far, prior to tonight; beating Liversedge at home and Harrogate Railway Athletic away in the league and impressively seeing off Shepshed Dynamo 4-0, away from home, in their FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie.
AFC Mansfield won automatic promotion to the NCEL Premier Division at the end of last season, by virtue of finishing second behind runaway Hemsworth Miners Welfare in Division One... and the Poachers joined them a week or so later via the play offs, after beating both Hallam and AFC Emley (after a dramatic penalty shoot out) in the inaugural NCEL play offs.
The Nottinghamshire side won both of the games between these two sides last season, by the same scoreline: 2-0.
Ironically, when I watched the play off final at Bottesford last season, I was sat with the AFC Mansfield stalwart Pete Craggs, while his chairman was at the other end of the ground, schmoozing up to his fellow NCEL committee men and getting himself featured on the front cover of the first issue of the Bootiful Game, (a newly established tome dedicated to this, the greatest league in the world) into the bargain.
Issue one is currently available from all NCEL with a third of the cover price going to whichever NCEL club you buy it from.
There are a couple of pages (and photos) by this humble scribe in the current edition, but other than that it's a decent publication and worth tracking down if you haven't already had the pleasure.
A win for Rudy Funk's side tonight would have seen them leapfrog over the league leaders, who ironically are Hemsworth Miners Welfare, at this current moment in time, to go two points clear at the top, but in the event, Bottesford are now in joint second place, along with Handsworth Parramore, who have also won both of their opening games.
In all honesty, the Bulls never looked liked winning tonight though, as the home side deservedly took all three points.
Danny Boulton opened the scoring after just five minutes, taking advantage of the space afforded to him when Chris Timons backed off a yard, to tuck the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net beyond the despairing reach of Jason White, having opted to go for precision as opposed to power.
"Me and...
The live-wire Boulton proved to be a handful for the visitors all night, until he was substituted late in the game, to generous and highly deserved acclaim from the home crowd.
Ollie Fearon looked to get Mansfield straight back into the game, but having run from in his own half and into the Poachers goalmouth, through the left channel, he underhit his pass to John D'Laryea and Danny Gibbons was on hand to make a clearance.
Bottesford attacked again and Reece Newell played the ball to Boulton twenty five yards out, who saw off three challenges but lost his footing before managed to shoot.
Josh Nicholl threatened to double the Poachers lead, but Matt Plummer got the ball away from White's goal at the expense of a corner. Pembleton picked out Gareth Barlow with the resulting kick, but he squandered the chance in spite of being unmarked.
... my shadoooow!
Slightly against the run of play, the Bulls were on level terms after nineteen minutes, when Ryan Williams picked up the ball out on the right from Newell's attempted clearance and crossed to Fearon, who diverted a looping header over Aaron Busby to make it 1-1
The home side, broke forward quickly from the restart and Boulton led the cavalry charge, but was denied as White saved his twenty yard effort.
Bottesford came again and while trying to clear Pembleton's through ball, Plummer inadvertently nudged the ball into the path of Boulton who saw his close range effort thwarted by White who twisted and managed to tip the ball over his bar.
Jack Cross, out on the right flank, delivered the ball to the back post, where Pembleton knocked it back across the face of White's goal to Boulton, who netted from six yards... but the flag was up and the goal was ruled out.
Brad Wilson's long free kick bounced up awkwardly in front of Craig Mitchell, who couldn't make a proper contact with the ball, but Busby still had to move quickly to keep the improvised effort out by his upright.
The Bulls were almost presented with a gift of a goal, when a miscued clearance landed in front of Fearon, but he rushed his unexpected chance and shot wide from twelve yards.
White was in action again, reacting well to keep out Pembleton's free kick from just outside the left hand side of the area.
The visitors attacked on the break but Williams cross was headed clear by Ollie Donald and Bottesford picked up the momentum again, but when Pembleton set up a half chance for Scott Matthews, he scuffed his shot.
Plummer picked up possession in the middle of the park, but instead of looking to bring his forwards into the game, he opted to shoot from all of forty five yards, but didn't get enough power behind his shot to trouble Busby.
Bottesford finished the first half with Matthews and Pembleton chipping away at the visitors down the left flank, but in spite of the the North East Lincolnshire side having the lions portion of chances thus far, it was still all square with everything to play for at the interval
HT: 1-1
"Bloody Mansfield! One shot on target, one goal!" Joked a local of my acquaintance, through gritted teeth, as the teams left the field at half time.
I decided not to correct him; but, for the record: the Bulls hadn't actually had any shots on target yet and Fearon had scored with a deftly placed header.
Pembleton had put in a great shift during the first half and he came charging out of the blocks like a Usain Bolt of lightning and almost got to the ball as Plummer under-hit a back pass to White; but the Mansfield goalkeeper wrong footed the Poachers play maker, by executing a 'Joanne' Cruyff turn to evade his opponent, before clearing the ball. 
White likes to venture from his area and join in as an outfield player from time to time... and more often than not, he frightens the live out of me whenever he does ;-)
Boulton had been causing the Bulls problems all night, as Chris Timons gamely tracked his every move... and ten minutes after the restart, as he broke forward through a crowded defence, Kieron Salmons, the match referee, must've been the only person in the ground who didn't see that he was quite blatantly scythed down.
That was definitely a penalty, but the match official thought otherwise and that was that.
The visitors goal area was under siege, but they have a solid defensive line up and they were keeping the Poachers at bay.
As if to illustrate my earlier point, White dashed off of his line and ran forward with the ball and was quite lucky that the Bottesford players were on the back foot preparing to deal with his long clearance when he stumbled and fell to the ground, before re-composing himself and launching another long ball for Terry Barwick to head aweay.
A bout of posturing, squaring up and finger wagging broke out in front of the stand. But it blew over fairly quickly and Mr Salmons booked both of the players who had scored in the first half, while the real guilty parties sneaked off and attempted to look all innocent.
But Fearon doesn't just score goals and get booked unnecessarily... and moments later he was blocking Boulton's attempted strike on goal after he'd advanced into the last third from Matthews' throw in.
Having been under the cosh for most of the first half, Mansfield actually began to retain the ball really well and knocked it around, just outside the home sides penalty area.
It was aesthetically pleasing but the final ball was lacking, as Barwick and his defence showed their collective mettle... a bit like heavy petting without actually getting it on, I suppose you could say, if you were that way inclined... or huffing and puffing without blowing the Poachers house down, if you're a bit prudish.
But as the Bulls horns drooped, that man Boulton took the initiative and mounted yet another attack. Plummer got across his path and blocked the Poachers strikers run, but as the two of them tangled for the ball, Boulton poked a shot narrowly over the bar from eight yards.
The ball sat up nicely for Jimmy Ghaichem on the edge of Busby's area, but having only just come on from the bench, he was probably a touch too keen to make an impact and force his claims for a starting place at the weekend and he spanked the ball high and wide of the target.
Matt Steeper was flagged offside as he got onto the end of Boulton's defence splitting pass. Those of us in line with the incident thought he had actually timed his run perfectly and was unfortunate to have been pulled up. Either way, the visitors defence had switched off momentarily and Boulton unlocked them again with another precision pass into the path of Josh Nicholl, who unlike Steeper had wandered several yards offside and was rightly halted in his tracks.
Have you nodded off over there John Rudkin?
Bottesford were pushing on as the clock ticked down, looking to maintain their 100% win record for the season and thwart their visitors bid to end the night at the top of the table.
Elliott Broughton, who has put in some eye catching performances when we've watched him previously, showed the Bulls defence a clean pair of heels and chipped the ball into the six yard box, but Plummer got up well and headed the ball away to safety.
But moments later, Bottesford were back and Josh Nicholl squeezed his way through the tightest of gaps and drilled the ball into the roof of White's net from 12 yards out.
Boulton took the applause from the crowd for his efforts as John Corbett reshuffled his pack to see the game out. I joined in, it was the very least he deserved, the boy done good!
Matt Steeper had the opportunity late on to bang the final nail into Mansfield's aspirations, but the ball sat up as he was about to shoot and he could only lob it straight into White's hands.
Danny Naylor almost grabbed an equaliser right at the end, but his effort from twelve yards deflected wide.
To be fair to the home side, it would have been unfair if they had lost all three points after putting in so much graft over the ninety plus minutes and they thoroughly deserved the win tonight.
Truth be told, AFC Mansfield probably got what they deserved too, given the balance of play, even though the final score doesn't really reflect the full story.
FT: Bottesford Town 2 v AFC Mansfield 1
Good luck to both teams in the FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday, when South Normanton Athletic travel to Forest Town to take on the Bulls, while Kirby Muxloe visit Birch Park, where they will face a lively and difficult test on tonight's evidence.
Footnote: Thanks to the guys from Mansfield and the small crowd of locals who came to my rescue before the game, when I was involved in a particularly crappy incident involving my car.
The insurance company have paid up and I will be roadworthy and on my travels again by Friday.
And I don't want to hear another effing word about it... not ever!