Monday, 19 February 2018


THE66POW schedule February/March 2018:
Fingers crossed, that any time soon the climate is going to stop decimating the non league fixture lists to the extent that it has been doing of late. 
I've really been enjoying all of the Football League/FA Cup/League Cup excursions that I've been making predominantly recently, but I still need my regular supply/fix of the grassroots stuff too.
All of the plans that I've detaileded below are 100% provisional and 110% liable to late alterations.
It had become a fairly pointless exercise plotting too many fixtures in advance, when there were inevitably going to be so many postponements, virtually each and every day/night, over the past month or so.
Truth be told, I could actually show up just about anywhere at the moment... so have the kettle on ready just in case.
Forthcoming games:
Tue 20 Feb - Mansfield Town v Grimsby Town - Central League (Reserves) - 1PM
Tue 20 Feb - Frickley Athletic v Alvechurch - EvoStik NPL (South) - 7.45PM
Sat 24 Feb - Birmingham City v Barnsley - EFL Championship - 3PM
Tue 27 Feb - Grantham Town v Warrington Town - EvoStik NPL Prem - 7.45PM
Sat 3 Mar - Nottingham Forest v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 3PM
Tue 6 Mar - Mansfield Town v Lincoln City - EFL League 2 - 7.45PM
Wed 7 Mar - Worksop Town v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 7.45PM
Sat 10 Mar - TBC
Tue 13 Mar - Stapenhill v Clifton All Whites - EMFL - 7.45PM
Fri 16 Mar - Lincoln Moorlands Railway v Retford FC - CMFL North - 7.45PM
Sat 17 Mar - Harworth Colliery v Askern - CMFL North - 3PM
Tue 21 Mar - Selby town v Shirebrook Town - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45PM
Wed 22 Mar - Nostell Miners Welfare v Hallam - NCEL Div 1- 7.45PM
Sat 24 Mar - Wyberton v Horncastle Town - Lincs League Challenge Cup - 14.30PM
Tue 27 Mar - England v Ukraine - UEFA U21 Qualification Round - at Bramall Lane - 6PM
Fri 30 Mar - Mansfield Town v Accrington Stanley - EFL League 2 - 3PM
More games to be added in due course

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

Sheffield Wednesday 0 v Swansea City 0 - FA Cup R5

Saturday 17th February 2018
Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
at Hillsborough Stadium
Sheffield Wednesday (0) 0
Swansea City (0) 0
Admission £20. Programme £3.
Attendance 19,427
On Christmas Eve 2017, Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal, having led the Owls to the play offs in the previous two seasons, left Hillsborough by mutual consent, after a run of indifferent form and poor results, had seen his side slip to fifteenth in the Championship table.
As Carvalhal departed, the club owner Dejphon Chansiri said: "I maintain a huge amount of respect for Carlos as
a coach and as a person and he will always be welcome at Hillsborough." I don't think that anybody expected him to be back quite so soon though.
On December 28th, the highly respected Portuguese coach took up his seventeenth managerial position since 1998, with his sixteenth club (he had two spells at Vitória de Setúbal 2003-04 and 2007-08) Swansea City and he immediately transformed the struggling South Wales team's season, where he has led them up the Premier League table and out of the relegation places, since his arrival at the Liberty Stadium.
Believe it or not, Swansea are actually second in the top flight's current form table, having lost just one of their previous eleven games in all competitions since Carvalhal's arrival. For the record, the Swans had only won five of their previous twenty three games this season before he was appointed.
Following the Owls 3-1 FA Cup Fourth Round win v Reading and the Swans 8-1 Fourth Round Replay thrashing of Notts County, Wednesday and Swansea found themselves paired together in today's Fifth round tie. It's a funny old game football, innit Saint!?
Incidentally details of several Owls (and Worksop town) games are available to view on Devon Cash's excellent blog, that can be found by left clicking this LINK
Last weekend, following on from their thrashing of Notts County, Swansea beat Burnley 1-0 in a Premier League fixture, while Jos Luhukay's side drew one apiece at Oakwell on Saturday against Barnsley, then picked up three points on Tuesday night, against third placed Derby County at Hillsborough, to ease their increasing worries that sliding ever closer to a potential relegation battle, as they built up a nine point cushion above the drop zone.
Certainly, on the afternoon that the Owls were dismembered by Birmingham City, when I visited Hillsborough for a Championship fixture earlier this month, they looked to be heading downhill faster than the French 'Snowboard Cross' gold medal winner Pierre Vaultier at the currently ongoing PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
A work associate of mine who apparently supports (but never watches) Sheffield Wednesday, told me that his team were too big to go down and had never been in any danger of getting into trouble at any time.
Poke the bee's nest that is football with a provocative stick at your peril, I say.
Incidentally, he's the same bloke who believes Alice cooper is a woman, thinks that Lobo's 1971 chart hit: "Me and You & a Dog Named Boo", is the greatest song ever recorded in the entire history of popular music... he's obviously never heard Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Nothing Rhymed", or "The Streak" by Ray Stevens ('Don't look Ethel!'), and has a notion that the internet is just a passing fad. that will never catch on.
To be fair to him though, the Lobo (real name Kent LaVoie) composed, canine influenced tune, did actually reach number 1 in New Zealand and stayed at the top of the hit parade there for four whole weeks... so now you know kids ;-)
Anyway, steering quickly back on topic from wherever this blog was just heading off on a tangent: Sheffield Wednesday FC turned 150 years old at the beginning of this season and have been celebrating the landmark accordingly.
Today, the first ever honour they won, 150 years ago this week, the Cromwell Cup, was on display in the 'Owls Megastore'.
The Cromwell Cup is the second oldest trophy in world football, pre-dated only by the Youdan Cup.
The 1868 Cromwell Cup Final was played at Bramall Lane in February 1868 where Garrick FC provided the opposition.
Wednesday won the game and subsequently lifted this highly polished trophy, by virtue of a 1-0 scoreline, after extra time.
Sheffield Wednesday:
Cameron Dawson, Jack Hunt, Frederico Venancio, David Jones, Daniel Pudil, Morgan Fox, George Boyd, Jacob Butterfield (Joey Pelupessy, 70), Adam Reach, Ross Wallace (Lucas Joao, 80), Atdhe Nuhiu.
Unused subs - Joe Wildsmith, Glenn Loovens, Ash Baker, Connor Kirby, Frederik Nielsen.
Swansea City:
Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Connor Roberts, Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Kyle Bartley (capt), Martin Olsson (Sam Clucas, 79), Luciano Narsingh (Nathan Dyer, 64), Ki Sung-Yueng, Tom Carroll, Wayne Routledge, Tammy Abraham (Jordan Ayew, 67).
Unused subs - Erwin Mulder, Federico Fernandez, Adnan Maric, Daniel James.
This result means that these two teams will meet each other again, at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday 27th February, to decide which one of them will go through to the quarter final of the FA Cup, as this stalemate ended all square and goalless, with both sides only managing to muster just four goal scoring attempts apiece throughout the entire game, during this early kick off that was being screened live by BT Sport.
The Owls have now needed replays to decide two of their three ties in this competition this season (they also drew against Carlisle at Brunton Park in the Third Round, before beating them at Hillsborough in the rematch), whilst Swansea have drawn away from home in all three rounds, before taking: Wolves, Notts County and now Sheffield Wednesday, back to South Wales for a replays.
No doubt I'm showing my age here, but in my humble (and probably minority) traditionalist and set in my way opinion, instead of lamenting about fitting replays into an already top heavy fixtures schedule, perhaps clubs should field their strongest available starting eleven in FA Cup games and endeavour to win them first time out by applying themselves wholeheartedly to the task.
This isn't the feckin' Simod Cup, the Mercantile Trophy, some pre-season knockout tournament in the Isle of Man, or even the Cromwell Cup; it is 'the greatest cup competition in the world' and it really annoys me when
some clubs (most clubs even) treat it like a major inconvenience, rather than the prestigious entity that it is (or at least was) and talk about having bigger priorities.
I'm not specifically singling out either of today's teams from my soapbox at this juncture, or irking my gander particularly at some of the post match comments their respective managers made, but it's a saddening mindset that has crept in across professional football at all levels. And let it be said that the FA themselves must shoulder a large proportion of the blame for diminishing the status of what was once their own flagship competition.
The game burst into life as early as the second minute, when Atdhe Nuhiu flicked the ball onto Jacob Butterfield out on the right flank, who played a first time defence unlocking pass into the path of Adam Reach, who advanced into the Swans area, before hitting an angled drive across the face of the goal, that Kristoffer Nordfeldt did well to push past the back post at the expense of a corner.
Alas, the game didn't sustain it's early impetus, but the hosts showed enough of themselves to emerge as the better team in the first half, while the Swans picked up the pace after the interval, but not enough to actually dominate the game or give the Wednesday defence too many problems, as they looked more comfortable this afternoon, adapting to the strategy of the Luhukay regime, than they did when I saw them in action (twice) previously, towards the end of last month.
The visitors perhaps should have had a penalty, when Tammy Abraham was shoved in the back of the neck by the left hand of Cameron Dawson, as the young keeper rose to punch the ball away with his right, while Daniel Pudil also barged into the Swans number ten to help him on his way to the deck, but the match referee Paul Tierney, who seemed to be well placed, interpreted things otherwise and the Owls escaped any kind of punishment.
At half time I viewed the action replay of the incident on one of the screens on the North stand concourse and the evidence strongly suggested that Mr Tierney had called things wrongly... and it was another one of those decisions to put into the 'these things balance themselves out over the course of a season' folder. Maybe those 'lucky elephants' stood outside the main doors at Hillsborough, do have talismanic properties after all.
Dawson was right in  the thick of things again, when he pulled of an acrobatic and agile save, to turn the ball over his crossbar, from Mike van der Hoorn's thumping close range header, after Kyle Naughton had picked out the run of the Swans central defender, with a pinpoint delivery from out on the right. Naughton too, had been forced to start the game at the back for the visitors, after Alfie Mawson had to be withdrawn from Carvalhal's team late in the day, when he tweaked his knee during the pre-match warm up.
Swansea for their part, were displaying an eye-catching array of passing and retaining the ball while being closely
marked, but were being restricted to doing so in areas of the pitch that weren't likely to cause any problems for their hosts, for whom Reach had made a good start, switching which side he was running at the Swansea defence from to their consternation, Nuhiu showed a few good touches on the floor, that belied his big target man reputation, while Pudil, Frederico Venancio and David Jones linked up well with the Owls midfield from defence; but in truth, what both teams needed going in at half time was some blue pills and a quick look at Porn Hub (whatever that is), because they all really needed to get their rockets up and show some belated penetration.
Moments before the whistle sounded for the interval, Reach got his head to a Ross Wallace from out on the left wing, but glanced the ball wide of the target.
Thus far, putting it in layman's terms, the tactics employed thus far had very much been a case of: all balls and no willy.
HT: Owls 0 v Swans 0
Neither side were asking enough questions of their opponents in the final third as the second half dragged on... and on and on, even though: Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer, both of who were second half substitutes for the Swans, tried to catch Dawson out with speculative long range shots, that didn't really have enough purchase in them to trouble the Wednesday keeper unduly.
Venancio, the Owls player who had been responsible for recently gifting a couple of goals to visiting teams, wasn't causing Dawson any grief this time out and actually put in an accomplished performance this  afternoon.
That said, a comedy intervention or two might've provided the crowd with a bit more entertainment than was actually on offer for most of the second half.
Hunt slipped the ball through to Nuhiu on the edge of the visitors area, who twisted and turned to give himself room to get his shot away and Nordfeldt would've been relieved to hold onto the ball  as it bounced back into play off the right hand post.
Lucas Joao was inches away from finding the net from Reach's cross right at the death, but as his improvised close range effort trickled past the left hand post, the referee's assistant had already raised his flag anyway.
FT: Sheffield Wednesday 0 v Swansea City 0
Before the two sides meet again a week on Tuesday to decide who will reach the quarter final, Swansea have a home game against Brighton & Hove Albion in a Premier League game next weekend, while the Owls have an away trip to Millwall to look forward to on Tuesday night, followed by a home game against Aston Villa next Saturday.
And as for me; well, my next game kicks off in just over 40 minutes, when Hallam take on Swallownest at Sandygate in a NCEL First Division local derby match, which is why I arrived at Hillsborough early today, to bag one of the optimum parking spots for getting away in double quick time on the final whistle.
*Note to a pest of a pedestrian.
The pavement is where you should walk, not along the A61, so if your big fat arse is bruised from where a wing mirror 'allegedly' thwacked you really hard, then that is your own stupid fault. I have it on very good authority that the driver saw the funny side of it.
Added 8.20PM Saturday 17.2.18
FA Cup quarter final draw
Ties to take place from 16th to 19th March
Leicester v Chelsea
Manchester United v Brighton
Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea v Rochdale or Tottenham
Wigan or Manchester City v Southampton

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Mansfield Town 5 v Newport County 0 - EFL League 2

Tuesday 13th February 2018
SkyBey EFL League Two
at Field Mill/One Call Stadium
Mansfield Town (4) 5
Danny Rose 6
Alfie Potter 9, 28, 61
Alex MacDonald 34
Newport County (0) 0
Attendance: 2,866 (inc 57 away fans)
The Stags started the night in sixth place, three points behind the automatic promotion places and seven ahead of tonight's visitors, play off chasing Newport County, who will no doubt have been aware of their hosts recent form, whereby Steve Evans side have lost just once in their last ten league games, when they went down by a solitary goal to nil at Swindon Town on Saturday.
The Exiles, who were actually playing in what will be their final midweek game of the season tonight, arrived in Nottinghamshire off the back of back to back league defeats on the road at Colchester United and Lincoln City... though of course, in between times, they have also played against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup twice, when they went down 2-0 at Wembley Stadium after drawing 1-1 at Rodney Parade, a game that the South Wales based side had actually taken the lead in, before England striker Harry Kane equalised with just eight minutes to go.
But I'm sure any grief that Newport felt about it was offset with the massive amount of cash that they will have made from the replay.
One can only imagine what the kind of score there might have been when Mike Flynn's side played against the in form Premier League club, if they had defended as badly as they did in the first half tonight against them.
Talking after this one sided game, the Exiles manager said: Mike Flynn: "Let's not dress it up, six nights ago at Wembley I was the proudest manager in the country, tonight I'm ashamed.
"When you let in goals like that... it is the first time this season they've let themselves down like that and it will be the last time."
Though to be fair, as poor as the visitors were, that shouldn't take anything away from the manner in which the Stags effectively tore them to pieces from the very outset. In actual fact, the damage inflicted on County could've far worse had it not been for the agility and bravery of their keeper Joe Day.
With ten League 2 games taking place on this icy cold Tuesday night, both teams would've been mindful of the fact that they would need a good result to keep in touch with all the other sides who have similar aspirations. And prior to the game I had said that it was the three points that mattered, not the level of performance, or even any kind of entertainment factor; but it was a massively pleasing night when the Stags juxtaposed all three composite elements, to convincingly and comprehensively claim the victory, in a game that they had already effectively won hands down, inside the opening thirty four minutes.
Newport had already been subjected to an all hands to the pumps rearguard action before succumbing to Danny Rose's sixth minute strike, as the home side went for the jugular from the word go, with CJ Hamilton mesmerising the opposition defence with his power, touch and speed, while Kane Hemmings and Alfie Potter both went close, as Krystian Pearce and Mal Benning provided them with the ammunition. Indeed it was Pearce who set up the goal that broke the deadlock, when he crossed from the dead ball line to Rose who added the finishing touch.
Three minutes later Hamilton burst past the visitors defence, leaving them standing in his wake like a group of bewildered spectators, before knocking the ball sideways to Potter who drilled the ball past Day from ten yards out, as the Exiles keeper sprung to his feet and lambasted his defence and demanded to know if there was the slightest chance of them giving him a hand tonight.Newport tried to recover from the early doors invasion of shock troops into their midst, but a weak finish by Frank Nouble was easy meat for Conrad Logan.
Rose stretched to meet a delivery from Hamilton, who was absolutely rampant tonight, but guided the ball narrowly past the wrong side of the upright.
Very much, in fact severely against the run of play, the visitors netted a goal , just after the twenty minute mark, when Matt Dolan's free kick deflected into the path of Joss Labadie, but he had already been flagged for offside when the kick was taken and subsequently his close range effort was ruled out.
Benning was relishing getting forward to add his presence to the Stags attack and Day would've been mightily relieved to see the Mansfield number three's crashing half volley clear his crossbar.
Hamilton won the ball from Scot Bennett and tore Newport apart down the flank once more before crossing to Rose whose first shot was blocked and then hit the crossbar as he reacted quickly to get a touch onto the rebound, and despite Dan Butler's best efforts to clear the ball Alfie Potter crashed it into the roof of Day's net.
Three nil up inside half a hour!?
Somebody pass me the smelling salts I'm feeling all giddy.
Newport won a corner... at last something for the 57 hardy souls in the North Stand who'd made a three hour journey north to cheer about. But the joy was short lived as their hosts efficiently cleared their lines and broke forward quickly from box to box, to force a corner in front of the Quarry Lane End in the 34th minute. Potter swung it in to the danger zone to where the ball found its way out to Alex MacDonald who belted it into the back of the un-sighted Day's net, who must have been thinking by now that all of those Newport players standing between him and MacDonald were only there for ornamental purposes.
Even at four goals to the good, the Stags kept piling on the pressure, with Rose and Potter both almost adding to their tallies, while Paul Anderson was unlucky not to add a fifth.
HT: Stags 4 v Exiles 0
We, that is my good self and the two eminently charming (and quite inquisitive) Central Midlands League committee people who had joined me for the night, all rose spontaneously to applaud Mansfield off of the pitch at half time, by which point Newport must've wished that they could apply cricket rules to the game and declare while they were still only four goals behind, and eff off home sharpish.
Newport belatedly adopted a damage limitation approach to the game after half time, but still rode their luck a couple of times, as Rhys Bennett thumped the ball against the post from MacDonald's free kick and Hemmings advanced forward from Rose's lay off but scooped his chance over the bar.
In the 61st minute Rose scuffed Hamilton's cross into the path of Potter, who claimed his hat trick for the night (and the first of his professional career) with a low shot that touch a slight bounce and deflection in front of Day and ended up in the back of the net.
MacDonald lined up another free kick and 'bent it like Beckham' (Vicky 'Posh Spice' Beckham) into the side netting with Day well beaten.
I think the visitors goalie would've been entitled by this point to walk off and tell his team mates that they could play Mansfield on their own, just like he had been doing for long spells of the game.
Inside the closing ten minutes Rose worked hard wide of the goal to set up second half substitute Ricky Miller, but Day denied him when he saved from close range with his legs.
Day then almost created a chance for the Stags sixth goal, when he came off his line and under hit a punt down the field which fell to Adam King in the middle of the pitch, and as the home crowd as one yelled "Shoot!" in unison, the Swansea City U23 loan player, launched the ball back over the Exiles keepers head, who back pedalled furiously to tip the ball over.
Good for him, the poor bugger deserved a lucky break or two tonight.
Day was well placed to catch MacDonald's stoppage time free kick and probably didn't talk to any of his defence all the way home, as the final whistle sounded and the Stags moved up a place in the play off positions and finished the game still three points off of an automatic promotion berth.
For the record, Notts County, who also won tonight, they were recently eleven points clear of Mansfield, and their fans were indulging in a whole load of "mind the gap!" type taunts.
Well that gap is now a single point, so unless they want to cop for a big fat custard humble pie in their collective faces when the 'Pride of Nottinghamshire' visit Meadow Lane next month, I suggest that you Pies shurrup!!
As for Mansfield's other local rivals, Chesterfuckingfield, well they lost again, inevitably and won't be a Football League club for much longer... and I won't miss them one bit, so hey ho!
FT: Mansfield Town 5 v Newport County 0

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Retford 2 v Harworth Colliery 1 - CMFL League Cup QF

Saturday 10th February 2018
Central Midlands League - League Cup Quarter Final
at the Rail Ground, Retford
Retford FC (0) 2
Will Tomlinson 80, Adam Scott 90+
Harworth Colliery (0) 1
Kenzie Tomlinson 90ish
Admission £3. Programme £1.50
Attendance 143 (headcount) 104 (paid).
Fess up! Who sneaked in?
Goals from Jack Conley and Shaun Mundy either side of half time, without reply, gave the CMFL (North) league leaders, Harworth Colliery a 2-0 win on the occasion of their last visit to the Rail Ground at the beginning of December.
Having lost just one of their opening twenty two league fixtures, the Colliery have built up a comfortable twelve point lead (with two games in hand) over second placed Collingham.
Broadcasting live to the Rail Ground
Your host with the most. Resident DJ James Birch
A great debut performance by the youngster
Since these two forward looking and progressive local rival sides last met, the visitors have undergone a change in management; with Lee Danysz having moved on to NCEL Division One club Rossington Main, taking Lee Holmes back to Oxford Street with him as his assistant, while the former Swallownest FC duo of Lee Needham and Tom Hague, who led 'Swall' to promotion from the Sheffield & Hallam County Senior League last season, joined Mark Latham in the dug out at Scrooby Road, for what has proved to be a seamless transition.
While Retford for their part, had conceded just one goal in the whole of the month of January, as they won four league games out of four to consolidate themselves in fourth position, their last game, away at Thorne was postponed. While Harworth comfortably beat Lincoln Moorlands 5-2 at home on Tuesday night in their most recent game.
Prior to this afternoon these two Bassetlaw based sides had played each other six times in all competitions since 2015, with both teams having won three games apiece. They'll meet again, in a CMFL (North) league fixture at Scrooby Road on Saturday March 31st.
Retford FC recently took nearby Ordsall Rangers under their wing, as part of their long term strategy for implementing a youth development wing at the club. The 'Choughs' have also continued to make great strides with the development of their Babworth Road site and today a newly built stand to protect supporters from the elements was in use for the first time ever.
I took up a vantage point on the halfway line, in between the dug outs just before kick off as an inter-city locomotive whistled past on the adjacent East Coast Main Line, at a speed that suggested it was one of the dozens of services per day that doesn't actually stop in the locality. 
A local comedian by the name of Ray Lucas pointed towards the train and quipped: "Oooh look, that's something you don't see every day... a virgin in Retford!" 
It was evidently going to be a very loooong afternoon. But, it needs to be said, the banter between the two benches was superb and good humoured all afternoon, even after a few wrong 'uns behaved very badly inside the Retford goal area inside the closing ten minutes of the game.
'The Bircotes Massive'
I'd been looking forward to this game ever since the cup draw was made, given the high regard in which I hold both of these in form clubs and the number of good friends that I have within their respective ranks.
Obviously both teams will respect the fact that I am writing this overview from a position of complete neutrality, but I have to hold my hands up and say that I was actually very tempted to just post a few pictures and the result, along with the goalscorers names, because I don't want to drop anybody in the brown sticky stuff by relating some of the unacceptable things that I witnessed shortly after the evergreen and nimble Will Tomlinson had given Retford the lead with a sublime dipping free kick around the eighty minute mark.
But first things first... might I please suggest that you gossip hungry types stop scrolling down to the gory details towards the end of this report right now, and actually read what I have to say about this feisty and gripping, no holds barred and thoroughly entertaining game of Association Football beforehand.
I have deliberately waited until both clubs have posted about the events surrounding the unfortunate flash-points of the afternoon on their official websites, before piling in feet first (studs up and everything) and offering my humble opinion, which I appreciate will be at odds with the views of a number of people who were watching the same game as me, particularly those with a partisan connection to one club or the other.
Willy Gamble and Chris Woodhead in the home technical area.
I feel that I captured them from their best side with this image.
Harworth will no doubt have been kicking themselves for their profligate and at times wasteful finishing this afternoon, although Retford's keeper Jon Kennedy kept them at bay with a few superb saves too as the game unfolded. Though given the manner in which they struggled to turn their dominance into actual goals, the kicks wouldn't hurt because they would probably miss them too.
The visitors put Retford under the cosh for long spells, but could they hell as like find the final touch that approach play and dedication to attacking deserved.
Although it appeared inevitable that the 'Colliery' were eventually going to find the net and take control, it never happened... and the longer they continued to draw a blank, the more incentive it was giving the home side to force the issue and nick a goal against the run of play.
One of the Retford coaching staff joked with the Harworth manager at the end of the game, as the two benches were exchanging handshakes: "You've had about a hundred and one chances today and we've only had two!" 
And from where I was stood, I'd say that his maths were only slightly exaggerated.
Lee Edmondson, the Harworth captain, almost put his side ahead inside the third minute, after winning the ball in his own half before powering forward and taking a return pass from Josh Davies before crashing a twenty yard shot against the hosts crossbar, while Jon Kennedy collected the ball at the feet of Sam Foulds as they both vyed for the rebound.
Foulds at two more chances in quick succesion, but his former team mate Ross Wicks moved across quickly to block the first at the expense of a corner, while Kennedy saved at his feet again after he had been played through one against one.
I jotted down in my spiral bound notepad (a requisite item in the arsenal of any completely unselfconscious aspiring anorak, with no sense of shame whatsoever about the path he's taken in life, AKA me), that: 'it's almost as if having Josh Davies in midfield gives Harworth an unfair advantage over other teams'. 
So, well played that man. Davies is so multi talented, that he even won a free kick at one point when he actually fell over the ball. It would be fair to say that the match referee has probably had more enjoyable afternoon's than today, in fact I'd even go so far as to say, that might apply to every single other afternoon in his entire life thus far.
It would be completely understandable if he spent tonight in a darkened room, consuming a whole bottle of Scotch and chain smoking his way through a wheelbarrow full of Marijuana. No doubt there will be a few cynical onlookers who would suggest that is how he spent this morning too. But to be fair to the guy, I wouldn't have wanted his job this afternoon. He'll just have to take the experience in his stride and treat it as character building. We're all only human and have off days, when all is said and done.
Matt Bryce was putting in a good shift for Retford, getting up and down the left flank (for the most part) and taking on the role of dead ball executioner. His right wing corner was punched away by Dan Jones, but found it's way back out the the 'Choughs' number three, affording him the opportunity to pick Will Tomlinson out with a cross, which the big striker glided gossamer like in the air, to steer a deft flick inches wide of the left hand post.
Tomlinson again proved to be a threat to the Harworth defence when he advanced on their area, before laying the ball off sideways to Leigh Hutchinson, who couldn't keep the ball down as he crashed it into the air and off target.
Bryce took responsibility for another flag kick, from which he picked out the run of Gareth Campion, who thumped a header just over the visitors bar.
But having withstood a spell of pressure, Harworth picked up their game again, after Jordan Hardman (sponsored by THE66POW), had been replaced by Kenzie Tomlinson as he took a knock in the line of duty.
Shaun Mundy cut in from the left and unleashed a shot from twenty yards, that hit Campion full on in the face, ouch! That must have smarted.
Davies delivered a corner into the Retford area, that was only cleared as far as (K) Tomlinson who quickly played the ball to Jordan Woodhall, whose shot was blocked by Aaron Pickersgill.
It looked to all intents and purposes as if the visitors were about to go go ahead when Davies released (S) Mundy with a well weighted through ball, but as he tried to take the ball round Kennedy, the experienced keeper forced him into turning away from goal and he ended up hooking his effort from twelve yards out high and wide.
(S) Mundy was involved again almost straight away, knocking the ball through the left channel for Jack Conley to run onto. Conley's touch took the ball past Kennedy but went narrowly wide of the far post. Jones saved well from Martin Woodhead after Gareth Davies had teed up an opportunity for him and just before the interval.
Then when Lewis Francis made a last ditch block on the line amid a scramble in the visitors area and the referee blew up and pointed to the penalty spot. The ball shaped muddy mark above the badge on the Harworth players shirt, backed up the visiting players appeals, as did the assistant referee, who summoned his team mate over and advised him what he'd seen, and as Leigh Hutchinson spotted the ball and Jones prepared to face a penalty kick, the ref overturned his incorrect decision, moments before sounding his whistle for half time.
HT: Choughs 0 v Colliery 0
(W) Tomlinson was a gnat's chuff-piece (chough-piece?) away from breaking the deadlock right at the start of the second half, when he met Bryce's free kick with his head and diverted it just past the wrong side of the upright with Jones beaten.
While Paul Middleton made himself some space but the ball glanced off of his head in front of the Harworth goal from another Bryce delivery.
Retford had started the second half well, but the 'Colliery' were soon making meaningful strides towards the home side's goal again.
Davies found Foulds at the back post with a free kick from out on the right, but when the prolific striker played it back across the face of goal, Campion was on hand to knock the ball away to safety.
Shortly afterwards (S) Hutchinson was on hand to make a clearance from Foulds cross after Conley had  shown some good ball skills on the right flank.
Foulds header from a Davies corner was blocked on the line and as (W) Tomlinson cleared the resulting corner from inside the six yard box (G) Mundy forced Kennedy into making an excellent airborne stop. The Retford keeper must be worth at least a goal start when he is in this sort of form.
Having fallen heavily on his back, Lee Edmondson couldn't continue and had to come off in the sixty second minute, but still Harworth pushed forward, with Davies supplying more ammunition for Conley, who couldn't quite add the finishing touch.
Adam Scott, returning from injury came on from the bench for the home side, setting up a fairy tale ending for the popular wide attacker, to bring the curtain down on what was about to become a horror story for just about everybody else.
(K) Tomlinson swung a great ball towards Foulds, but Bryce blocked his way to goal. Then (W) Tomlinson played the ball sideways to Scott, who was fouled but fizzed his free kick a few inches the wrong side of the left hand post.
It was all hands to the pumps time for Retford as they defended three corners in quick succession and from the third one it beggared belief that Kennedy's clean sheet still remained intact, when Foulds nudged a right wing kick from Davies into the path of Woodhall who took aim  and blazed his shot wide.
I personally do think that there was more than enough evidence to suggest that (G) Mundy might have seen red for the way he impeded Leigh Hutchinson, with a arm/hand around his throat to prevent the 'Choughs' number eleven making good his clear route to goal as he headed through the right channel at pace. But the referee showed a quite astounding amount of leniency, as the mood of the game began to take a turn for the worse.
(W) Tomlinson, clearly angry at what he thought was an injustice, stepped up to take the free kick and smashed it into the top left hand corner of the net, in a manner that declared he wasn't ****ing about. You don't stop those! Even if you are a former Premier League keeper.
Harworth won a free kick just inside the Retford half and as the players jostled each other in the area to gain an advantageous position, while anticipating a long delivery as the game entered the last ten minutes of normal time, all hell broke loose.
At first it was just the standard pushing and shoving that you'll probably seeing in around half of the games you watch, but things escalated quickly out of hand, punches were thrown and in a couple of cases the red mists descended.
Order of a kind was restored, temporarily at least, but as the referee started dishing out punishments, everything flared up again and went from bad to worse. Sam Foulds was dismissed for flooring Gareth Campion with a punch in his face and Campion was also dismissed for his apparent part in the incident, but the Harworth striker then threw his shirt to the floor and waded back into the fray having already left the pitch. Note, I am not singling Foulds out here, there were other players on both sides who didn't exactly cover themselves in glory either.
Tom Hague, the Harworth assistant manager was also sent off, though the only thing I had actually seen him do, was enter the field of play in an attempt to separate two warring factions (as did several other people); but as he was taking his walk of shame towards the changing room, while the irate Foulds most definitely wasn't doing, somebody who both clubs have named as a 'Retford supporter' on their respective websites, ran onto the pitch and poleaxed the Harworth number nine with a blow to the side of his head, that knocked him face first into the muddy goalmouth.
I'm sure that at least 90% of onlookers, if not every single person present, will know the identity of the culprit, given that he's somebody that both clubs will have easily recognised, who is well known to a vast majority of people on the local football circuit, but with an imminent inquiry probably pending... and for the record, there was a referee's assessor and a senior CMFL committee member present who will have seen it all... while-soever the clubs are granting him anonymity, it really isn't my place to name and shame the individual either.
"Who do you think ended up with the moral high ground from all of that mess?", somebody asked me. 
I responded that: there wasn't one.
But, that said, credit where it is due to those who were trying to stop the turmoil from escalating.
Amazingly, in my humble opinion, the game wasn't abandoned at this point, but continued as a ten aside contest, to the backdrop of an awkward atmosphere, once those who were no longer involved had gone on their way.
Conley could've equalised, but when he lobbed Kennedy from an angle he scooped the ball over the bar and his chance was gone. 
Kennedy pulled off a great save from Conley as the clock ticked down, but could do nothing about (K) Tomlinson's well struck shot into the roof of the net as the loose ball found it's way out to the best golfer in Harworth, to pull the visitors level, somewhere deep into stoppage time... I'm sure I wasn't the only person who was uncertain as to how long was left to play now, given that hardly anybody had any idea how long the unfortunate interlude had lasted

I would have applauded their decision, if the officials had decided that the 'next goal wins it', to avoid having to go into thirty more minutes of extra time. Though I'm sure that there wasn't any such collusion and skulduggery afoot on the part of the three busiest people on the pitch today. 
Either way, in the ninety somethingth minute, (W) Tomlinson knocked a pass out wide to Scott, who cut in from the left hand edge of the area, across the path of three Harworth players and looped the ball over Jones into the top right corner of the goal.
Retford had won this firecracker of a local derby with a goal right at the death, against a Colliery side who should've had the result sewn up well before half time.
For the majority of the time this had been an enthralling game and a great advert for the CMFL, but sadly I would have thought that it will be remembered long after people have forgotten the actual result, for the ill tempered stuff that kicked off during the final ten minutes, during which time football itself suffered a heavy defeat and was ultimately the loser.
FT: Retford FC 2 v Harworth Colliery 1
A couple of weeks ago I was seriously considering winding this blog up, for a whole host of reasons... and to be perfectly honest, the above match report/analysis/overview did feel in part like I was having to write a witness statement under duress.
THE66POW is a say it as you see it type project, not a means shit stirring; because lord knows, there are plenty of other places on the t'interweb where you can find that sort of crap in an abundance.
No doubt I will see both of these teams in action again in the near future, because this afternoon's craziness wasn't typical of the usual standards that they have set themselves. 
I am 100% sure that nobody involved will either Retford FC or Harworth Colliery FC will hold anything that I have said against me.
Good luck to both clubs for the remainder of the season.