Friday, 2 December 2016

THE66POW Provisional tour dates 2016-17

December:
Sat 3 Dec - Gainsborough Trinity v FC United of Manchester - National League North - 3pm
Sun 4 Dec - Notts County v Peterborough United - FA Cup R2 - 2pm
Wed 7 Dec - Teversal v Retford United - Notts Senior Cup R3 - NCEL Prem - 7.30pm
Sat 10 Dec - Newcastle United v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 3pm
Tue 13 Dec - Clipstone v AFC Mansfield - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Sat 17 Dec - Maltby Man v Parkgate - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 20 Dec - Lincoln United v AFC Rushden & Diamonds - EvoStik NPL South - 7.45pm
Mon 26 Dec - Handsworth Parramore v AFC Mansfield - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 27 Dec - Derby County v Birmingham City - EFL Championship - 3pm
Tue 27 Dec - Ollerton Town v Teversal - NCEL Div 1 - 7.45pm
Thu 29 Dec - Lincoln United v Basford United - EvoStik NPL South - 7.45pm
Sat 31 Dec - Mansfield Town v Doncaster Rovers - EFL League 2 - 12.15pm
January:
Mon 2 Jan - AFC Mansfield v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 7 Jan - Maltby Main v Garforth Town - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 14 Jan - Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United - EFLYA U18 at Clipstone FC - 12PM
Sat 14 Jan - Rainworth MW v Rettford United - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 21 Jan - Rotherham United v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 at Parkgate FC - 11AM
Sat 21 Jan - Maltby Main v Hemsworth MW - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 24 Jan - Handsworth Parramore v Hallam - NCEL LC4 - 7.45pm
Sat 28 Jan - Mansfield Town v Lincoln City - EFLYA U18 at Clipstone FC - 11AM
Sat 28 Jan - AFC Mansfield v Maltby Main - NCEL Prem - 3pm
February:
Wed 1 Feb - Maltby Main v Staveley MW - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Sat 4 Feb - Maltby Main v Clipstone - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 11 Feb - Notts County v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 - 11AM
Sat 11 Feb -Worksop Town v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 18 Feb - Maltby Main v Clipstone - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 25 Feb - Retford United v Worksop Town - NCEL Prem - 3pm
March:
Sat 4 Mar - York City v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 - 11AM
Sat 4 Mar - Maltby Main v Pickering Town - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 7 Mar - Retford United v Pickering Town - NCEL Prem -3pm
Sat 11 Mar - Rainworth MW v Maltby Main - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 18 Mar - Maltby Main v Bottesford Town - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 25 Mar - Oldham Athletic v Mansfield Town -  EFLYA U18 - 12pm
April:
Sat 1 Apr - Chesterfield v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 - 11AM
Sat 1 Apr - Maltby Main v Albion Sports - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 8 Apr - Scunthorpe United v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 - 11AM
Sat 8 Apr - Bottesford v Handsworth Parramore - NCELPrem - 3pm
Sat 15 Apr - Maltby Main v Retford United - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Sat 22 Apr - Mansfield Town v Burton Albion - EFLYA U18 at Rainworth MWFC -11AM
Sat 22 Apr - Worksop Town v Maltby Main - NCEL Prem
Sat 29 Apr - Mansfield Town v Grimsby Town - EFLYA U18 at Clipstone FC - 11 AM
Sat 29 Apr - Maltby Main v Handsworth Parramore - NCEL Prem - 3pm
To be continued. 
More games to be added ASAP. 
Watch this space!
Note* I am impetuous by nature and prone to straying off the beaten track without prior warning, so I might end up just about anywhere else, on any of the above dates instead.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Sheffield United 0 v Walsall 1 - EFL Division One

Tuesday 29th November 2016
SkyBet EFL Division One
at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, S2 4SU
Sheffield United (0) 0
Walsall (1) 1
Amadou Bakayoko 42
Admission £18. Programme £3.
Attendance 18,343 (inc. 178 Walsall fans)
Sheffield United:
Moore, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham (Chapman 69), Sharp, Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy, Lafferty (Lavery 80), Clarke
Unused Subs - Hussey, Scougall, Done, Ramsdale, Brown.
Walsall:
Etheridge, O’Connor, Preston, Laird, Morris, Chambers, Edwards, Dobson (Osbourne 69), McCarthy, Oztumer (Ginnelly 69’), Bakayoko (Jackson 77)
Unused Subs - MacGillivray, Cuvelier, Kinsella, Makris. 
A win tonight would have seen the home side make good use of their game in hand over Bolton Wanderers, to climb into second place in the table. But despite Chris Wilder's side throwing everything they had got at the Saddlers, you got the feeling that the fates had decreed that United were not going to find the net if they carried on playing until the Northern Dairies milk float rattled its way along John Street tomorrow morning, due to some dogged determination and unrelenting hard graft from the visitors defence, a vast array of profligate finishing by numerous Blades players and the intervention of an assistant referee with a spring loaded right arm.
No expense was spared on the match advertising posters. None whatsoever!
Seventeenth placed Walsall turned up at "Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane", as all Unitedites call it, in need of any kind of positive result whatsoever, to help claw themselves away from the bottom four in the table, that currently consists of Coventry City, desperately struggling and hopefully doomed crisis club Chesterfield, Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury Town.
The Saddlers manager Jon Whitney, employed a 3-5-2 formation and would probably have been happy with a draw at a ground his side had already won at in the EFL Checkatrade Trophy earlier in the season. Those two back rows of his strategy, were so tightly gelled together at times, that you could quite easily have mistaken the game plan as a not entirely cavalier 8-1-1, for long spells as the Blades vaingloriously tried to thread their way through a defensive maze and more often than not rushed into snatching at half chances out of frustration.
A minute's silence in respect for the Chapecoense team, supporters and
others, who sadly lost their lives in a plane crash in Medellin, Columbia.
Reading the match stats on the thirty five minute train journey home (the scenery around Darnall and Woodhouse is far more aesthetically pleasing than usual when it is dark) the numbers backed this theory up, inasmuch as United had twenty one shots tonight, of which just five were on target. Walsall had their moments to, with an accuracy ratio of three from their five attempts and these figures also reflect where the majority of the game was played, i.e. in and around the visitors defensive third.
Though I have only seen a snatch of the highlights from Chris Wilder's sides 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic at the weekend, when they succumbed to a stoppage time equaliser, so I can't really pass judgement on that performance, while you could point to the fact that they have been unlucky twice over the past four days, it would also be fair to say that five points have gone begging because of United's failure to kill their last two games off.
No doubt the Blades manager will be looking at working on his sides finishing skills later this week in his sides behind closed doors friendly with Mansfield Town, that the Stags recently installed manager Steve Evans will be using to run the rule over some of he players he has at his disposal in the run up to the next transfer window opening.
Sham 69 belted out from the tannoy as I took my seat on the Kop, which is commendable and after everybody present immaculately observed a minutes silence, by way of a tribute to the Brazilian First Division club Chapecoense, whose terrible news as shaken football the world over, even though the majority of people in this country had probably never heard of them until they turned on the news this morning, the devastation has touched many, the game got under way. And for the most part it was one way... towards Neil Etheridge, the Saddlers goalkeeper.
Walsall, inadvertently rubbing their smash and grab win in to their hosts wounds, just that little bit more, by sporting a kit that looked like a retro version of another South Yorkshire teams strip (sans a pig badge motif), had the first real chance of the game, when, having absorbed some early pressure from United. mounted an attack, that was brought to an abrupt halt by Ethan Banks-Landell, who fouled Joe Edwards, twenty five yards out from the Blades goal. Erhun Oztumer stepped forward and delivered a dipping free kick and the ironic cheers of derision from behind the goal, as the ball looked to be going over, changed to gasps of relief in an instant, as it crashed back off the crossbar.
The close call spurred the Blades into action and it only looked like a matter of time until they would be inflicting some serious damage on their West Midlands visitors, as Mark Duffy unlocked the Saddlers defence twice to set up Leon Clarke, who put both chances narrowly wide of the target.
Duffy looked to be the Blades best bet of overcoming Walsall's stubborn resistance and he was only inches away from breaking the deadlock, when he looked up, saw that his options were severely limited by the crowded defence in front of him and unleashed a long distance shot past the post.
The Blades centre half Jack O'Connell got up into the visitors goalmouth and beat Etheridge with a downwards header from a Paul Coutts corner, but Joe Edwards made a last ditch goal-line clearance.
United were keeping the ball down on their well watered pitch and Etheridge did well to keep out Lafferty's well struck low shot.
Three minutes before the break, the United players collectively switched off allowing Otzumer to hit a hopeful long ball foward, that landed in the path of Amaduo Bakayoko, who rolled the ball into the back of the net as Simon Moore ran off his line in a desperate attempt to cut out the unexpected opportunity.
HT: Blades 0 v Saddlers 1
United had gone into tonight's game off the back of a fifteen game unbeaten run in the league, you would have expected them to cement that impressive sequence of results and come out all guns blazing and put the world to right's after going in at half time a goal down, a scoreline that was so against the run of play, it was audacious.
But it just wasn't going to be the Blades night... and after the match day announcer had heaped even more misery on the home support by playing 'Last Christmas' by Wham! at half time... it's still November for crying out loud! It was the visitors who almost struck first after the break, when Moore had to tip Otzumer's angled shot over the bar.
O'Connell thought he'd levelled the score for the home side, when he headed past Etheridge, after short corner routine from Coutts' flag kick, but the linesman in front of the South Stand, who wasn't entirely endearing himself to the home crowd, signalled that he had spotted a foul and the referee, Darren England ruled the goal out.
The home crowd were incensed by some of the referee's decisions and though you have to take into account that they are, by nature, partisan and biased, some of them to a particulary extreme degree; from my neutral, impartial and objectively unprejudiced viewpoint, I would have to say that he will definitely have better games and he probably contributed to the Blades downfall at times.
Billy Sharp was blatantly shoved in  the back as he advanced on the Saddlers goal through the right challenge and lost his footing: nothing given. Adam Chambers headed a cross away from under the Walsall crossbar at the expense of a corner, but Mr England awarded a goal kick... you get the picture!?
The Kop reacted angrily to what they saw as Etheridge taking too long with every goal kick that came his way.
He launched one such delayed clearance into the Blades half of the pitch and the referee blew his whistle, ran  from the half way line to admonish the Saddlers keeper for time wasting and then instructed him to take the kick again.
The guy sat a few seats away to my left, with the home made Sheffield United tattoo on his right hand, that looked more like two crossed chip forks than the rather simplistic but tasteful blades on the proper design (but I was too polite, worldly wise and frightened to point this out to him), almost went into a complete mental meltdown as Etheridge simply carried on faffing about with the ball until he eventually retook the kick.
I kept a straight face, the cold eating away indiscriminately at my fingers and toes was already causing me more than enough pain already, I'm ugly enough already without getting punched ever again..
I'm not sure who Zak Dingle is but was told he was here tonight.
Maybe Etheridge is a master of the dark arts, it would certainly explain the apparent force-field around his goal.
Fleck struck a long shot over the bar and Chris Basham headed wide after Duffy's free kick had wrong footed Etheridge and left the goal at the Blades number six's mercy.
Lafferty somehow managed to divert yet another chance for United over the bar from Fleck's lobbed pass.
The Saddlers keeper was already proving to be unpopular with the massed ranks on the Shoreham Kop behind him, when he got down well to his right to turn Duffy's free kick around the post.
Perhaps Etheridge is slightly hard of hearing and thought that a couple of thousand noisy and passionate South Yorkshiremen, where chanting "Anchor!" at him, whenever he received the ball.
With just six minutes to go, Fleck's eighteen yard shot was blocked by James O'Connors outstretched hand in the visitors area and it looked as though the long awaited breakthrough for the home side was finally on the cards as they were awarded a penalty.
But Etheridge dropped to his left and kept Billy Sharp's tame kick out.
That is to say... the Saddlers goalkeeper laid down on his left hand side and waited for Sharp's awful goal attempt to roll, nee trickle, towards his waiting hands.
It was a shocker!
And if I was Chris Wilder, I would order my players to restrain Billy Sharp and keep him out of the way the next time his side are awarded a spot kick.
Sharp thought he had made amends for his awful miss, when he bundled the ball into the Saddlers goal as the game entered stoppage time, but the referee chalked that one off, claiming that the Blades number ten had used his hand to help the ball over the line... though it did look as though it had actually gone in off of his chest to me,
The same player probably just wanted to lay down and cry in added on time, when he diverted the ball wide of the post from a good position... and that was that!
The Blades unbeaten run was gone, Walsall had taken all three points and the referee was left in no doubt about what the Blades support thought of him as he left the pitch.
FT: Sheffield United 0 v Walsall 1

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Handsworth Parramore 5 v Maltby Main 1 - NCEL Prem

Saturday 26th November 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (3) 5
Jon Froggatt 2, 43
Aaron Moxam 11, 90
Micky Harcourt 59
Maltby Main (0) 1
Reece Wesley 83
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 86
Since the merger of Worksop Parramore (formerly Parramore Sports, Sheffield Parramore, Worksop Parramore and Parramore FC) and Handsworth FC in 2014, the marriage of two already forward looking local clubs, has already witnessed some rapid and forward strides made within this progressive set up, both on and off the field of play, on a number of levels, including their much envied and consistently fruitful, junior and development team production line end.
After finishing in seventh place at the end of the merged clubs inaugural NCEL season, they were runners up to Tadcaster Albion last term, in the race for the solitary promotion spot, at the top of the pile.
The Ambers promotion aspirations this time around, suffered a bit of a set back in midweek, following a four game winning streak, when they lost 2-1 at home against Cleethorpes Town on Tuesday night, in a keenly fought and closely contested game.
But there is still a long way to go to the finishing line as of yet and a lot of points up for grabs.
Maltby have been members of the NCEL since its formation in 1982, when the Midlands Counties League and Yorkshire League amalgamated into one competition. And they have spent all but four seasons in the Premier Division since 1990-91.
The Miners highest finish in the NCEL's top division, came in the 1992-93 campaign, when they claimed fourth spot.
They surprised a few people last season, when a run of consistent results saw them finish in a very respectable seventh place.
However, a recent dip in form has seen today's visitors slip down the table and they kicked off this afternoon in seventeenth place, off the back of a 1-1 draw at home against Worksop Town last Saturday.
So, the scene was set...
Handsworth won the toss and chose to attack towards the clubhouse, because having warmed up there, they will have been acutely aware that the glaring sun, dipping behind the main stand, would have been shining brightly straight into the eyes of whichever goalkeeper started the game at that end, but wouldn't pose such a problem in the second half.
Maltby's debutant keeper Matt Leese and a couple of his defenders certainly seemed to be unsighted inside the second minute of the game, when Danny Buttle picked out Jon Froggatt with a right wing corner and he turned the ball into the goal from close range to open the scoring for the afternoon.
In the eighth minute, Handsworth had the opportunity to double their lead when Froggatt was tripped inside the visitors area, by... err, possibly it was Peter Winn of Cleethorpes, arriving late from a challenge he had attempted to complete on Tuesday night ;-), or more likely it was a Maltby player, who I couldn't actually identify because the sun was in my eyes! Any takers? Thought not!
The league's top scorer Aaron Moxam stepped up and drilled the ball low, hard and on target from the spot, but Leese dropped to his left to make a save, before recovering quickly to keep a combination of of Moxam and Simon Harrison at bay from the rebound.
But Maltby's reprieve was short lived, because Danny Buttle knows the mandatory pack drill that all the best fighter pilot's employ: Keep the sun behind you! 
Another corner from the west was turned in at the near post by Moxam after eleven minutes.
The visitors responded to the Ambers two goal whammy, with Ollie Lawrence knocking the ball over the home side's defence for Ryan Carroll to run onto, but the former Handsworth player, who turned 21 yesterday (many happy returns) was thwarted by Archie Sneath who advanced quickly from his line to claim the ball.
Moments later, Josh Schofield flicked the ball into Lawrence's path just inside the home side's area, but Micky Harcourt moved in quickly to clear the danger.
Jon Froggatt was given the man of the match award today for his all action and unselfish role up front for Handsworth, where he weighed in with a couple of goals, but I don't think Harcourt could've been more than a few points behind the prolific striker and he would actually have got my vote, as he looked strong and unflappable alongside his ever reliable sidekick Gaz Griffiths.
Maltby's man marking of Danny Buttle was slightly excessive.
Buttle crossed, yet again and picked out Tom Claisse, but his attempt on goal deflected past the post.
"Buttle's not done much today" muttered a dissenter in the stand. I fussed his guide dog, gave it a biscuit and refused to get embroiled in an argument about the relative merits of any of the players. Partly because I am a peaceable chap who avoids any kind of confrontation at all costs, but mainly because it gets boring being right all of the time ;-)
Harrison floated a long free kick towards Griffiths that was cleared for a corner and as Maltby cleared their lines and countered, Harrison had already got back to block Schofield's forward run.
Blimey! He doesn't hang about.
Maltby tried getting into the game as Schofield slipped the ball into the path of Jordan Snodin, the son of the former England U21 international Ian, but Harcourt was well in control of his domain this afternoon and stepped up once more to intercept the ball and put it out of harms reach.
Connor Smythe ghosted past Stuart Ludlam on the left hand side of Maltby's area, but Leese held onto his shot.
"Respect my authority! Wow! Don't mess with this ref.
Buttle cut in from the right, but Jack Greeves intervened and got a touch to the wide man's right wing cross at the expense of a corner. The Parras number eleven dropped the flag kick into the six yard box, Maltby made a mess of getting the ball away and Jon Froggatt accepted the gift of a loose ball a few yards out and netted what is known in the football industry as a poacher's goal, because they don't use phraseology like 'goal hanger' these days.
The visitors had been keeping their shape well and refusing to be pulled out of the position, when the Ambers back four played the ball sideways across the final third in an attempt to entice them to open up and leave gaps to exploit; they weren't diving into tackles and had they kept the score down to two-nil at the interval, their position would still have been salvageable, particular if they had grabbed a goal on the break early in the second half, but their undoing had been their failure to defend at corners and conceding a third just before the break, had given them a whole range of mountains to climb, with a severely depleted team. 
Hopefully Danny Reilly and Shawn Mitchell will be back from injury next week and Steve Hopewell's absence and recovery time won't be as long as is being anticipated. 
I'm speaking from a completely neutral perspective of course.
The third goal stung the Miners into life and they almost pulled a goal back, but Sneath was relishing his one versus one tussles with Carroll this afternoon and positioned himself well to preserve the home sides three goal advantage.
Right on the stroke of half time, Lawrence and Carroll combined to make an opening for Nicky Darker on the edge of the Ambers area, but as the Maltby skipper stepped forward to unleash a shot, he lost his footing, fell over backwards and... well, let's just say, he didn't keep the ball on target and I'll leave it at that to spare anyone's blushes.
HT: Ambers 3 v Miners 0
Stuart Ludlam delivered the ball into the Miners goalmouth just seconds after the restart, but Jack Greeves cleared it away. Moxam picked up the loose ball and played it out wide to Harrison who picked out Froggatt with a first time cross, but Liam Flint denied the Handsworth striker his hat trick with a timely blockage.
Buttle escaped down the left flank, but Craig Mitchell had tracked his run and got an outstretched leg to the anticipated left wing cross and conceded a corner.
Harrison delivered the ball under the Main's cross bar but Brett Watts headed the ball away from danger.
Maltby won a free kick just inside the Ambers half and Flint launched the ball towards Carroll, who got up above two defenders, but Sneath had got up well and claimed the ball before the Main front man could get his head to it.
Schofield nudged the ball forward to Darker who rolled it into the path of Carroll, whose angled shot across the face of goal needed a last ditch clearance from Griffiths to keep it out.
Ironically, as Maltby were enjoying their best (and possibly only) spell of attacking pressure, they conceded a fourth goal. Once more from a set piece, which was executed by Buttle, whose final touch of the game saw him drop a free kick onto the head of Harcourt, who dispatched a well placed header into the top right hand corner of the visitor's goal beyond the reach of Leese.
I think it would be safe to assume that Maltby will be practicing defending set pieces and corners this week.
Buttle had done the damage and was replaced on the hour by Adam Ward, a former Worksop Town player who signed on with Parramore earlier this week. 
His lively running and close control gave the Miners a whole new load of problems to deal with. And Ward was almost on the score sheet within a few minutes of him entering the fray, when Alex Rippon played him through on goal but Leese saved at his feet and Moxam put the ball over the bar from the rebound.
Smythe pushed forward on the left, fancying a piece of the action for himself after providing Buttle with great service for the opening hour, the flying left back rode a foul, stayed on his feet, saw off a challenge from Schofield, but shot straight at Leese from twenty yards out.
That kind of thing is always worth a go when your four nil up and the clock is ticking down.
Another Moxam effort was put wide via a combination of Mitchell and Leese, while Greeves headed clear from Ward's resulting corner kick, as the Miners belatedly remembered how to defend set pieces and pick up opposition players inside their own area.
With twenty minutes remaining Maltby made a double substitution, with Conner (with an  E) White and Cory Goodwin coming on in place of Schofield and Lawrence. They were never going to change the outcome of the game, but their fresh legs and running at least gave the visitors some much needed impetus.
But regardless of Maltby's renewed vigour, Handsworth were still in the hunt for more goals, to keep their league table differential topped up and only an excelllent save from Leese prevented Griffiths from powering a header just under the crossbar from from Ward's cross.
Mitchell played the ball down  the right wing for Carroll to chase, he struck ball firmly across the face of Handsworth's goal, but Sneath held on with White escaping the attentions of the defence and arriving behind the Ambers keeper to capitalise if 'Archie' had missed the ball.
Griffiths nudged the ball past Leese from Ward's left wing cross, but he had strayed offside and the goal was ruled out.
White picked up possession on the right hand side of midfield and paced forward, before drilling a pass into the path of Carroll, who in turn picked out Cory Goodwin whose first time shot was turned around the post by Sneath.
Handsworth fell victim to one of their own tactics, when Snodin's right wing corner zipped across the Ambers goal line and wasn't cleared, it ended up in the back of the net via Reece Wesley's chest... they all count!
It was too late to make a real dent on the final outcome now, but at least Maltby were finishing the game with a spring in their step, with Mitchell making a thirty yard run forward, before passing to Carroll, who evaded two tackles before getting his shot away, but Sneath got his angles right and held onto the ball, before releasing it quickly up the field.
Handsworth are masters of this quick box to box moving at pace stuff, so just in case Maltby were planning on a stoppage time goal every twenty seconds to salvage a point, Rippon paced forward and delivered a great pass to Moxam's feet who finished well and gave Leese no chance from eight yards out.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 5 v Maltby Main 1
You couldn't dispute, by the wildest stretch of anyone's vivid imagination that the best team on the afternoon had won comfortably. 
But if Maltby had attacked from the off against such a strong side they would have left themselves exposed at the back and allowed Handsworth more time and space to hit them from out wide more often too. December is a big month for the Miners and they will be looking to rack up a decent haul of points.
As for Handsworth, in spite of their midweek defeat, they'll keep on churning the results out, it wasn't pretty at times today, but at least they adapted well and claimed the points that keep them in the mix.
Neither Handsworth or Maltby have a midweek game and they are both on the road next week, when the Ambers travel to Liversedge, while Spencer Fearn's team make the trip to Barton upon Humber to play Barton Town Old Boys.
Maltby are nowhere near the drop zone in terms of points, in spite of finding themselves in seventeenth place in the table, but Parkgate have started to put a run of impressive results together, including an eye catching 7-0 win over Barton Town Old Boys this afternoon, so the teams perched precariously above the bottom three would do well to start getting a few decent results under their belts to avoid getting dragged into a relegation scrap.
At the business end of the table, Cleethorpes Town won 6-1 today against Armthorpe Welfare and remain in top spot, while Bridlington Town chalked up their eleventh win in a row under their recently appointed manager Curtis Woodhouse (it's actually twelve in a row because 'Brid' won the game previous to him taking the job on).
Pickering Town beat AFC Mansfield 2-1 and Thackley had to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw with Worksop Town. Albion Sports had a blank afternoon, while the two other sides in the chasing pack, Liversedge and Hemsworth Miners Welfare both scored five times as they saw off Retford United and Rainworth Miners Welfare respectively.
Curtis Woodhouse... when he was at Mansfield Town
Handsworth Parramore finished the afternoon in fifth place, twelve points behind the league leaders, but manager Micky Godber is learned and experienced enough to know that his team need to focus solely on their own games and results... and let the other teams worry about keeping unbeaten runs and promotion pushes going, in the knowledge that the Ambers are breathing down their necks.
It is good to see so many teams in with a shout this term, although Marcus Newell's Owls are obviously clear favourites to win the league, because healthy competition never hurt anyone and as regards intrigue, interest and entertainment, the NCEL just keeps on giving this season.
Ta very much to that nice Mr Slesser for the lift home... muchly appreciated pal!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Barnsley 2 v Nottingham Forest 5 - EFL Championship

Friday 25th November 2016
SkyBet EFL Championship
at Oakwell, Barnsley
Barnsley (2) 2
Sam Winnall 5, Marley Watkins 14
Nottingham Forest (3) 5
Henri Lansbury 13, 45+, 82 pen
Apostolos Vellios 24, Ben Osborn 63
Admission £10. Programme £3. Attendance 13,180
Photos courtesy of Dan Westwell, thanks pal!
Barnsley:
Davies, Bree, Roberts, Jackson, Yiadom, Hammill, Hourihane (C), Scowen, Watkins, Winnall, Armstrong
Subs - Kent MacDonald, Morsy, Janko, Bradshaw, Williams
Nottingham Forest:
Stojkovic, Mills, Perquis, Worrall, Mancienne, Kasami, Lansbury (C), Lam, Fox, Osborn, Vellios.
Subs -  Henderson, Bendtner, Carayol, Lica, Vaughan, Grant, Cash
I hadn't planned to go to Oakwell tonight, in fact I had every intention of cranking up the heating and slobbing out on my big comfy corner settee, with my Peaky Blinders box set. But then the phone rang, it was Carl, a Forest fan from Gainsborough I know: "If you can be ready in fifteen minutes I have a spare ticket for tonight's match against Forest and I'll pick you up".
Well it would be rude not to, so I quickly chucked on as many layers of clothing as possible and we were on our way.
The spare in question was a £10 ticket, sat with the locals, near the press area, while the visiting supporters, were being charged full price of £28 to sit in their allocated end.
I am a neutral and Carl isn't the sort of person to draw attention to himself, so there shouldn't have been a problem sitting among the home supporters.
A combination of unfair pricing and cold November night game live on TV, meant that less than the expected amount of fans travelled up the M1 from Nottingham, but those who did make the trip were in fine voice and were soon regaling the home fans with songs about being on the dole, pre-empting the inevitable response from the Yorkshire hordes about a battle of egos between Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill, that the coal mining industry and the communities that it encompassed will never recover from.
Apparently the Forest fans didn't require taxis to get home.
At least I think they were saying "Don't call us cabs!"
The game soon burst into life as both sides committed defensive suicide while netting two goals apiece in the opening twenty four minutes.
Barnsley's full back James Bree, making his fiftieth appearance for the Oakwell side, made an overlapping run down the wing, taking the ball from Marley Watkins and delivered a cross for Sam Winnall, who powered home a header after just six minutes to give the home side an early lead.
But Forest were on level terms before long when Henri Lansbury found the back of the net from a twenty five yards, with a low drive that skimmed along the wet pitch and settled in the bottom right hand corner of the goal with Adam Davies at full stretch, after he'd rolled an indirect free kick forward a few feet to Kasami, who steadied the ball for Lansbury to unleash his unstoppable, precision finish.
But the Tykes were back in front within a minute when Watkins took full advantage of the visitors back four playing a game of statues between themselves and took the ball down on his chest before planting it past Vladimir Stojkovic from ten yards out, after Bree, Conor Hourihane and Adam Hammill had combined on the right, before the highly rated Hourihane delivered a cross over the static visitors defence for Watkins to run on to, while the Forest players looked across vaingloriously at the linesman, hoping that he might put them out of their misery by raising his flag for offside, but Watkins had time his movement to perfection.
Apostolos Vellios scrambled the ball past Davies at the near post, after Forest's left back Danny Fox had exchanged passes with Osborn and dropped a cross into the Tykes six yard box that only needed a touch.
Wow! At this rate the game was going to end up six or seven apiece, with the combination of two elements warming the crowd on a bitterly cold night: text book crossing of the ball and slapstick comedy defending.
Right on the stroke of half time, the visitors were in front from yet another quality wide delivery, this time from Osborn, which was well met by Lansbury, who got across Andy Yiadom, stooped and glanced a well placed header that dipped over Marc Roberts and past Davies to net the visitors third goal of the night.
HT: Tykes 2 v Forest 3
This is only the second time I have watched Philippe Montanier's Forest side play this season, having previously seen them at the City Ground against Birmingham City.
As we stood queuing for a warm drink at half time, "How much!? It's a tea bag and some hot water!", Carl turned to me and said: "You'll have to come and watch Forest with me often, we always play well when you're here!"
Thankfully, most of the Barnsley public stood around us had gone into a catatonic stupor, brought on by the shock of seeing the food and drink prices and didn't hear Carl's risque faux pas.
The second half was nowhere near as hectic as the first, possibly because both defences had been given a dressing down and reminder of what playing in their chosen position actually entails during the interval.
Forest had a let off when Winnall diverted a free header wide of the left hand post, from Watkins cross.
But just after the hour mark, Osborn, the architect of much of what was good about the visitors performance tonight, glanced a header from Michael Mancienne's right wing cross, after Velios had won the ball in the middle of the pitch and sprayed it out wide.
Forest have only just won their only away game of the season, a two nil victory at Ipswich Town on Saturday, with Britt Assombalonga, who wasn't even available tonight, scoring twice, but even though they showed a lot of vulnerability at the back tonight, they were now well on the way to another three points on the road, that would see them leapfrog over Barnsley in the table into sixteenth place. While the Tykes resigned themselves to a seventh consecutive home game without a win.
The home side's frustrations were clear to see when Watkins was shown a straight red card in the sixty sixth for standing on Thomas Lam, on the halfway line.
With eight minutes to go, Forest's second half substitute, Matty Cash, was running away from the Barnsley goal, when he went down under a shoulder charge yfrom Josh Scowan, who had blatantly collided with him on purpose, just inside the home side's penalty area.
It was a completely unnecessary challenge and yet another incident that outlined the Tykes obvious disappointment; but that was of no concern to Lansbury, who emphatically put the ball away from the resulting spot kick, before celebrating in front of the travelling supporters.
Forest were home and dry, Barnsley were down and out and the visiting fans sang their heroes across the finishing line. Game over.
FT: Barnsley 2 v Nottingham Forest 5