Monday, 18 January 2021

BLOG HIATUS

THE66POW isn't going away indefinitely (you wish) but this site is currently on hiatus while I'm undergoing a self-imposed sabbatical lockdown, of sorts.
I will recommence posting on this long-winded, self-indulgent, bullshit blog (with added football content) again, at such a time as either: the inclination kicks in and/or that there beautiful game restarts as a spectator sport. 
Until then... stay safe.
In the meantime THE66POW.FM (Est. March 2006), the musical soundtrack companion to this very blog, is still being updated on a fairly regular basis. So if you're really desperate for something to listen to, follow the link.
Normal service (whatever that means these days) will be resumed...  eventually.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

The NCEL... a purely hypothetical scenario

Table One detailed below, shows the most recent and up to date standings in the NCEL Premier Division, while Table Two shows where the clubs would finish if (a word with just two letters but many connotations) the season had to end right now, without any further games being played and it was decided to deliberate the final placings by calculating a points per game average total for each team.
Table Three and Four work along exactly the same lines as One and Two, but cover the NCEL Division 1 placings instead.
Where clubs have both had the same PPG totals, I have used goal difference to separate them in their respective divisions. 
I must stress, this is purely an hypothetical number-crunching exercise on my part... and to that end I have no inside information as regards any official NCEL business, nor am I privy to anything that might already have been discussed behind closed doors. 
For the record, I don't personally favour any particular method or option as regards either the deciding of league positions, or the nulling and voiding yet another season. 
To that end, I will gladly leave that kind of stuff to all of you experts out there... and going by the huge amount of theories and opinions being posted out there on various social media platforms, there are an awful lot of you (and a lot of you are awful) who seem to think that they have all of the answers to this multi-layered and complex matter.
Table One:                                      
                                       PD  PTS  GD 
1 Yorkshire Amateur 11 29 27 
2 Bridlington Town 9 21 24  
3 Liversedge         7 21 22 
4 Garforth Town         9 21 10
5 Maltby Main         10 18  6  
6 AFC Mansfield 9 17 17  
7 Handsworth         12 17 -3 
8 Grimsby Borough 10 16  6 
9 Barton Town         11 14 -9   
10 Albion Sports          9 13  0  
11 Eccleshill United 11 13 -4 
12 Penistone Church  7 12   6   
13 Hemsworth MW  7 12   3    
14 Goole AFC          11 11 -21    
15 Silsden AFC          10 10  -6   
16 Thackley                  11 8 -11 
17 Staveley MW            6 7  -1
18 Knaresborough T      9 7       -9    
19 Bottesford Town  11 4 -24    
20 Athersley Rec          10 3 -33
Table Two:
                                          PPG
1      Liversedge          3.000
2 Yorkshire Amateur  2,6363r 
3 Bridlington Town  2.3333 
4 Garforth Town          2.3333
5      AFC Mansfield          1.888r 
6 Maltby Main          1.8000
7      Penistone Church     1.7142 
8      Hemsworth MW       1.7142
9 Grimsby Borough   1.6000
10 Albion Sports           1.4444 
11 Handsworth          1.4166
12 Barton Town          1.2727  
13   Eccleshill United  1.1818
14    Staveley MW            1.1666
15 Silsden AFC          1.000    
16 Goole AFC          1.0000     
17 Knaresborough T     0.7777  
18 Thackley                   0.7272    
19 Bottesford Town        0.3636     
20 Athersley Rec          0.3000
Table Three:
                                          PD   PTS   GD
1 Emley AFC             10    26     18
2 Campion                     11    24     17
3 Winterton Rangers       9    22     23
4 North Ferriby             10    22     11
5 Retford FC             13    21       6
6 Brigg Town             11    20     13
7 Rossington Main     12    18       5
8 Skegness Town       8    16       5
9 Parkgate                     10    16     -2
10 Hall Road Rangers     10    14     -3
11 Hallam                       8    13      4
12 Nostell MW             12    12     -8
13 Glasshoughton Wel     12    11      1
14 Armthorpe Wel     12    11   -14
15 Swallownest               8    10     -1
16 Dronfield Town     11    10    -11
17 Harrogate RA               8     9      -9
18 East Hull                     10     7    -23
19 Worsbrough BA          13     6    -21
20 Selby Town               6     3    -11
Table Four:
                                             PPG
1 Emley AFC              2.6000
2 Winterton Rangers      2.4444
3 North Ferriby              2.2000
4 Campion                     2.1818
5 Skegness Town     2.0000
6 Brigg Town             1.8181
8 Hallam                     1.6250
7 Retford FC             1.6153
9 Parkgate                     1.6000
10 Rossington Main     1.5000
11 Hall Road Rangers     1.4000
12 Swallownest              1.2500
13 Harrogate RA              1.1250
14 Nostell MW              1.0000
15 Glasshoughton Wel      0.9166
16 Armthorpe Wel      0.9166
17 Dronfield Town      0.9090
18 East Hull                      0.7000
19 Selby Town              0.5000
20 Worsbrough BA           0.4615
Feb 14th 2021 - Footnote:
For the benefit of those of you who have gotten all stroppy and taken umbrage with me pertaining to the vagaries of the above topic, might I politely point you in the general direction of the title of this blog post: The NCEL... a purely hypothetical scenario.
I'm neither condoning nor condemning any kind of mathematical equation for determining the NCEL's final league tables placings when the current campaign ends prematurely (and it will). 
In actual fact, my pert buttocks are full of splinters from sitting on the fence as regards any of the above.
My swingometer isn't pointing in any particular direction, because there isn't a one-size fits all solution to the complexities of this situation... which side are you dressing to?

Monday, 28 December 2020

Retford FC 5 v Worsbrough Bridge Athletic 0 - NCEL Div 1

Monday 28th December 2020
Toolstation NCEL Division 1
at the Rail Ground
Retford FC (2) 5
Matthew Robinson 44, 80 
Zach Casburn 45+1, 47 pen 
Luke Abdy 66
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic (0) 0
Attendance: 150 (no more, no less)
Jon Knight's match photo gallery: Click HERE
Twenty five minutes prior to this afternoon's kick-off, the temporary Covid-compliant attendance limit of 150 had already been reached at the Rail Ground and subsequently the Choughs were having to turn spectators away, several of whom found a perch to watch the action from on the adjacent Babworth Road rail bridge that spans over the ECML and overlooks this chilly scene.
Yorkshire Live Sports Streaming were in town today broadcasting the game live... right from the first whistle, it became apparent, during the feisty open exchanges, that they might've done well to have employed Kent Walton to do the matchday commentary.
As all of you readers of a certain vintage will know, Kent was the go to and authoritative figure in the field of televised professional wrestling, AKA undignified slapstick grappling.
Back in the day, wrestling was a sport,(of sorts) or a choreographed form of comedy entertainment, wherein a fat man (real name Shirley) wearing a ladies bathing suit, who had signature moves that consisted of the 'Daddy Splash' (i.e. knocking opponents into orbit with his big belly) and asphyxiating his victims by laying on top of them, was the king of the ring. 
He always won, of course... it's not just football referees that display 'alleged' bias at times.
'Big Will' Tomlinson. Whoops! I mean
'Big Daddy' AKA Shirley Crabtree.
The spectacle got the housewives of a certain age and the nations grannies all moist on a Saturday teatime every weekend and was very funny, if 'nowt else, in an era when television channels were still few and far between... kids these days don't know they're chuffing (or should that be chough-ing?) born.
Any road, focussing back on the matter in hand, namely: a game of Northern Counties East League Division One football, let's chuck in Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Two Tribes' (played at ear-splitting volume) as the theme tune to set the scene, stand back and embrace the wondrous sight of twenty-two alpha-male types kicking the absolute crap out of each other, based loosely around the framework of a 'well-contested' sporting event.
Ding, ding... 'Seconds out! Round one!'
As the teams locked horns and the ensuing tussle began, it was pretty clear that the referee: Colin Bailey, was going to need eyes in the back of his head today, not least because his front pair appeared to be malfunctioning quite badly.
Whether he had adopted a policy of letting a few hefty challenges go, in an attempt to let the game flow, or was genuinely missing a lot of things that were happening outside the sightlines of his peripheral vision, is open to conjecture. I suppose there is always the possibility that the match official enjoyed a good old scrap and his pre-match meet and greet with the team captains, had consisted of just seven words: "Get stuck in!" and "Gladiators are you ready!?"
Either way, even though it was no hiding place for the faint-hearted out there on the field of battle, it was still a very entertaining contest nevertheless. 
But, let's be frank, nobody present was expecting, or wanted, to see any of that three across the back, buggering about with the ball in front of your own keeper, tippy-tappy variant of the game, that is channelled into our homes via satellite dishes and cathode rays. We'd all turned out to see some proper football. That's not meant disrespectfully or as a slight on the very willing and able coaches at these respective clubs, because needs must on a sticky wicket in the middle of Winter, when there are three points at stake. I don't envy whoever will be forking and rolling this lot over in the morning... assuming that we're not all under a foot of snow by then. Those clouds moving in from over Bill's mother's house looked weighed down with the horrible stuff.
Matt Robinson almost put the Choughs in front from the first attack of the game, but Luke Forgione's WBA cleared their lines... and once we'd seen a couple of potential flare ups come and go as the players from both sides decided to indulge a bickering festival, it needs to be said that the visitors looked anything but a side who are struggling along near the foot of the table.
People will no doubt look at the final result and respective league placings tonight and assume, incorrectly but quite understandably, that fifth placed Retford completely rinsed their lowly opponents.
The home side deserved their win, there is no disputing that... and there were some quality finishes among their impressive haul of goals that were forged out of sheer ruthlessness at a particularly critical period of the game. But on the balance of play, I personally felt that the Briggers were unlucky to have been on the wrong end of such a top heavy margin of defeat. 
Alas, it's a time-honoured ritual and brutal tradition, that teams occupying the lower rungs of any given division are forbidden by the football gods to claim anything like their fair share of any 50/50 rub of the green decisions, while Dame Fortune will turn her back on them completely at the same time as well.
And if you should ever find yourself getting sucked into such a downward spiral, don't be expecting any favours from the likes of Mr Bailey either.
Harry Scott in the visitors goal was well placed to deal with several promising raids on his goal by the hosts, the most threatening of which saw Jack Johnson pick out Jake Scott with a quickly taken throw-in on the left, that the industrious playmaker took under control before quickly switching the ball into the right channel into the path of Haydn Goddard who took a touch before letting fly with a stinging shot from fifteen yards out, that the visitors keeper did well to deal with.
The turning point in the game came in the thirty-eighth minute, when during yet another argument between players from both sides, just outside the visitors area, that had erupted following a heavy  lunge by a Worsborough player, the referee was subsequently subjected to a string of 'potty-mouthed' invective and decided to sin-bin Worsborough's Lewis O'Connor for an alleged abusive comment.
Dissent and swearing towards officials is wrong and needs stamping out, however... our entourage were stood pitch-side approximately twenty five yards from the incident, and we were all surprised that O'Connor had been given a detention, because it wasn't his challenge that had sparked the row off and it also didn't appear to be the visitors number eight that had actually badmouthed the harassed official either. 
And, to my way of thinking, it did seem grossly unfair that O'Connor was singled out to sit it out, when the man in the middle had been letting so many other things go unpunished thus far. 
But apparently, the official wanted to make an example of somebody (anybody seemingly) to defuse the frequent squabbling and stand-offs that had punctuated the first-half.
Retford exploited their numerical advantage to the full, as you would expect any team in a similar situation to do, so fair play to them for making good of the imbalance that they had been gifted. 
But it will have been agonising viewing for Lewis O'Connor, watching on as the Choughs netted three times during his enforced absence... and I don't imagine that 'fair play' are the words that he would've used to describe his predicament.
A local supporter in our midst was chuckling to himself and shouted out: "You're doing a great job referee, keep up the good work mate!" and "You're welcome back here anytime ref!"
Do these sort of things balance themselves out over the course of a whole season? 
Ask the Worsborough bench that question... but be prepared to run away fairly sharpish when they respond accordingly.
Robinson opened the scoring in the forty-fifth minute, burying the ball from twelve yards out, after Goddard had teed the strike up for him with a sideways knock, as the pair advanced in tandem towards the Briggers goal through a bloody great big chasm of space, that only a few minutes previously would most likely have been occupied by a certain player wearing a red shirt with a white number eight on the back of it. Within a minute, as the game entered first-half stoppage time, Zach Casburn found the net with a great finish, when he directed a glancing header beyond the reach of (H) Scott. 
By a quirk of fate, Casburn wasn't even in the Choughs original starting line-up this afternoon, but was only drafted in as a late replacement when Graeme Severn limped out of the warm up. 
What an inspired substitution that one turned out to be, inadvertently.
Two minutes after the restart there's a ball to hand situation just inside the Briggers area, we've all seen 'em waved away and we've all seen 'em given too. But while this particular referee and Worsborough Bridge Athletic were involved in the equation, nobody was ever in any doubt what was coming next. And Casburn stepped forward and emphatically put the ball away from the resulting penalty kick.
When O'Connor entered the fray, the resident comedian greeted him cheerfully: "Welcome back... you haven't missed much while you were away!"
In all likelihood, it was already 'game over' by now, but the diminutive Harley Holt, almost reduced the deficit when he crashed a dipping long range strike against the crossbar after the ball had been cleared away in his general direction.

To their credit, Worsborough had kept their heads up and were still trying to take the game to their hosts, but salvaging anything out of this encounter became a lost cause when Luke Adby fired a snap shot across the face of their goal, that nestled just inside the left hand upright.
Owen Wildblood (at least I think it was him) as I peered through the frost forming on my spectacles test Jon Kennedy with a thumping thirty yard shot, but the legendary keeper turned the ball away at full stretch and Retford broke away quickly from end to end, as Casburn galloped forward at full pelt, Maxim Hague wiped him out with a body check, but Mr Bailey played the advantage which the home side couldn't take advantage from.
But it wasn't long before the Choughs added goal number five, when Robinson nudged the ball past (H) Scott as he advanced from his goal and his knock had just about enough puff behind it to crawl over the line. 
Elliot Wilson was a fraction away from netting a consolation goal for the Briggers, when he showed a few good touches out on the left wing before floating over a cross that dropped just inches wide of the far post.
Ever the consummate pro, regardless of the fact that the game was heading into stoppage-time and his team were five goals ahead, 'Kendo' gave his defence a rollicking for allowing Wilson to get into such a dangerous position.
FT: Retford FC 5 v Worsbrough Bridge Athletic 0
In the final analysis, besides being a decent side anyway, the Choughs had the added elements of heaps of mettle and application in their arsenal today... and it was always going to prove difficult for their visitors to overcome such a strong side anyway. 
But Worsbrough will won a lot of people over with their approach to the game, by still battling on and trying to play football the right way, even when the game was running away from them and beyond their reach.
No doubt the sin-binning was a contributing factor to the final outcome, but it would be churlish to chastise Retford for dealing with the scenario they were gifted with in such an effective and efficient manner. In fact, quite the opposite... they would've needed their collective arses kicking if that hadn't made hay while the sun shone on them.
This visit to the Rail Ground marked my last game of 2020 and ended the year a high note. 
Away from football, it's been a fairly crap and often quite scary twelve months on so many different levels and the kind of stuff that they show you on the telly stokes up people's fears unnecessarily too. 
For example, only this morning they were showing a trailer for the new year edition of 'Doctor Who', and it transpires that Daleks can fly nowadays. Jesus wept! Those things used to frighten me half to death when I was a kid and they couldn't even climb up stairs back then... these are bat shit crazy times that we're living in.
Being mindful of the fact that travelling between two different tier three areas, unless I'm working on t'railway or fulfilling my duties as a club official, is not an option... as things stand, my first fixture of the new year (and new decade) will hopefully be in played in my hometown of Retford too, when Clay Cross Town are scheduled to visit Cannon Park to take on Retford United on Saturday, as the top two teams in the CMFL North go head to head.
Of course, the possibility of another impending lockdown, and/or raft of postponed games because of the Winter climate dropping in on us any time soon. will probably, in all likelihood, scupper those plans.
And in truth, I'm not even slightly optimistic that I will be venturing outdoor to watch any football again for quite a while.
Though it pains me to say it, there is a very real possibility, probability even, grimly heading in, that 'non-elite' football is facing the prospect of a second successive uncompleted stop/start season.
The fact of the matter is, we should all be bracing ourselves in readiness for yet another round of debate/arguments and (heated) discussion, pertaining to 'points per game' and/or 'null and voiding' and an impending, even bigger than ever, 'what a to do' situation. 
But, there is more to life than football and we're all going to have to grasp that particular nettle, very tightly, with both hands, any time soon. 
Mind how you go and stay safe.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

AFC Mansfield 2 v Silsden AFC 2 - Boxing Day 2020 #2

Saturday 26th December 2020
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Forest Town Arena
AFC Mansfield (2) 2
Josh Wilde 3
Ross Duggan 14
Silsden AFC (1) 2
Liam Hudson 6, 63
Attendance: 105
The aroma of a whole council tips worth of Lynx Africa stocking filler box sets permeated the air, while free mince pies for all were available upon entry the Forest Town Arena, as the time honoured tradition of Boxing Day football was upheld in this chilly quarter of Nottinghamshire.
Alas, that other Yuletide custom, that inevitably follows a day of excessive annual feasting on turkey, stuffing, sprouts, pigs in blankets, red cabbage (we've gone proper posh in our house this year), stodgy pudding and too much grog was omnipresent too, as the game suffered from a really bad case of the wind, by virtue of Mansfield standing on the fringes of the tumultuous weather front that is currently sweeping across the nation, that the metrological office have bestowed the designated moniker of 'Storm Bella' upon.
The brute force of 'Storm Bella' blew the Silsden
players off their feet during the pre-match drills.
The open and exposed expanse of the Welfare Ground provided the unrelenting and increasingly worsening wind with an ideal platform to demonstrate it's full capacity and ability to dominate and spoil a potentially decent game of football, played out between two sides who were both obviously keen to get three points on board as they battled gamely against each other and the elements.
Both of these teams had fallen foul of late goals last weekend when Hemsworth MW took the honours with the only goal of the game at Mansfield, while the Cobbydalers (Cobbydale is another name that the locals around those parts call Silsden) lost 2-1 at the Victoria Pleasure Grounds when Joe O'Neill netted in the very last minute for Goole Town.
The Bulls drew first blood early doors this afternoon, when Morgan James broke forward on the left and delivered a low cross towards Josh Wilde who turned the ball past Kyle Welsh with a well taken angled finish. But parity was restored within a matter of minutes, when Liam Hudson beat Hugo Warhurst with a peach of a half volley.
When setting up a template for writing AFC Mansfield match reports, one could probably get the ball rolling by cut and pasting the legend: 'Ross Duggan scored in the ******th minute', before any given game has even kicked off... and sure enough the prolific striker was on target yet again, a fraction inside the opening quarter of an hour, when he dragged the ball towards the visitors goal, mastered and brought the erratically behaving sphere under control, as the blustering wind was threatening to claim it for itself and spoil the moment, before emphatically dispatching a thumping shot in the bottom right hand corner.
The two teams continued trying to make a fist of it in horrible conditions, but there were no further goals before the break, though in fairness any failure to add a finishing touch here and there or find a teammate with a probing pass were on the whole, endeavours that were thwarted by 'wind assisted' errors.
As the teams re-emerged for the second half an Ark containing mating pairs of animals disappeared into the distance as the weather vein on the Parish Church of Forest Town Saint Alban the Martyr, on t'other side of the road was glowing red from being overworked. 
Weather-wise was an horrible enough experience looking on from the relative shelter of the Welfare's viewing gallery, so lord knows how difficult it must have been out there in the vortex of the storm.
The hosts had shaded the first half, but after the break 'Sils' began to make some headway as they pushed forward in search of the goal that would put them on level terms... it duly arrived in the sixty-third minute, when Warhurst could only parry an awkward shot away and Hudson was in exactly the right place to receive a late Xmas gift of an opportunity and he tucked the ball away to level things up again. 
One could sympathise with Warhurst's plight as the initial shot moved about wickedly in front of him, but Hudson wasn't about to take pity and give it back to the Bulls keeper.
Liam Marsden caused chaos in the visitors defence, when he dropped a dipping cross into the mix, but as the West Yorkshire side struggled to clear the ball away and it fell invitingly towards Duggan, just outside the area, his strike flew over the bar, snaffled up by 'Storm Bella', who by now was doubling her efforts to make a complete mockery of the whole afternoon.
Silsden went close to claiming a winning goal as the clock ticked down, but as Joe Mitchell nudged the ball across the six yard box Craig Billington couldn't quite get the finishing touch on it at full stretch as the ball cannoned off of him away from Warhurt's net.
Right at the death, Duggan tried battering his way into the visitors area, but found that they had shut up shop and when the half-cleared ball found it's way out to Luke Walker his shot fizzed past the right hand post into the side netting.
All told, the draw was a fair result, neither team had deserved to lose given the increased effort that the foul weather conditions had demanded of them, but by the same token nobody had mastered the elements to the extent that they had dominated for anything like a sustained spell either.
FT: AFC Mansfield 2 v Silsden 2
The Bulls now face two away trips to: Thackley and Garforth Town over the next two weekends (AKA next year), before returning to the Forest Town Arena on January 16th when Maltby Main will be the visitors. 
Elsewhere Silsden are at home for the next four Saturday's in a row, when they'll entertain, in turn: Grimsby Borough, Maltby Main, Athersley Rec and Thackley.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Clipstone 2 v Rainworth Miners Welfare 2 - Boxing Day 2020 #1

Saturday 26th December 2020
East Midlands Football League
at the Lido Ground
Clipstone (0) 2
Dan Sorrell 62, 
Jack Warwick 63
Rainworth Miners Welfare (1) 2
Ryan Ingram 28, 77
Attendance: 140
An early start at Clipstone afforded a good number of the local football supporting population with an ideal opportunity to do a 'double-header' this afternoon, with AFC Mansfield (just a five minute drive away from the Lido Ground) getting underway at 3PM.
Sadly, this first game of the day didn't kick-off quite early enough for my own purposes and I had to nip off before the end, to carry out my duties at the nearby Forest Town Arena, in readiness for when Silsden were the visitors this afternoon.
In the event, the referee got the Bulls game under way at around 2.55PM meaning that a good number of people missed at least a small part of one, if not both of these games.
Though I appreciate that in the current climate, it's nigh on impossible to plan two weeks in advance, let alone twelve whole months... I pondered, that if per chance next year throws up a similar Boxing Day scenario, perhaps the two home clubs could liaise and get their heads together in advance, so that the opening game of the day could start at 12.30PM instead, giving people more of an opportunity to attend both games, while attracting a good number of neutrals in too, because it is very popular among the groundhopping fraternity to visit more than one game in a day over the festive period.
For the record, both Clipstone and Rainworth are only a five minute drive, or brisk twenty-five (ish) minute hike away from Forest Town, while Ollerton Town and Sherwood Colliery aren't much further away too, so there are quite a few options and possibilities available for staggered kick off times to become a future consideration or even a permanent arrangement.
Any tweaking of the fixtures calendar that could potentially bring in much needed income for local clubs, who've all been taking a financial hit right in the kisser of late, should be explored to the full.
Another possibility could be some non-league clubs in the locality playing their games on a Friday night when Mansfield Town are at home on a Saturday afternoon.
Having done a straw poll among committee people and supporters at a number of clubs, understandably a lot of established bodies are reluctant to change their ways and would prefer to keep their football activities as a Saturday afternoon pursuit. Each to their own, but if you don't want to suck it and see, how you ever going to know if embracing new ideas and giving them a go might actually provide new opportunities and appeal to a larger audience base?
The Central Midlands League have already grasped the nettle and seen a marked improvement in attendances at their 'Floodlit Friday' gatherings, so if it can work at step 7, why wouldn't it have the same desired effect on crowd figures in the higher echelons of the game in the area too? Of course there is no reason whatsoever why the CMFL couldn't be a part of any mutually beneficial arrangement, particularly as their fixtures secretary, my old pal Chris Berezai, is a dab hand at organising multi-game weekend long events elsewhere.
However, I'm here to watch a game, not to have an insomnia busting soapbox moment, so focussing on the matter in hand: Clipstone came storming out of the blocks, but couldn't convert their early endeavour into goals and as the first half moved on, the visitors grew into the game more and more, with a lot of the play now being condensed, in the main, in and around the final third that the host side were defending valiantly and with no small amount of determination.
Ryan Ingram's superbly struck free-kick from just outside the Cobras area, arced around Clipstone's defensive wall and nestled snugly into the bottom right hand corner of the net, to break the deadlock in the twenty eighth minute, much to the delight of the gathering of young Rainworth Ultras who were congregated alongside the dug outs.
But having laid the foundations, the Wrens failed to build on their slender advantage and as the game reached the halfway point, there remained just the one goal in it.
Being a man of my word, although I was enjoying the contest that was developing and unfolding at 'Clipo', I left early because AFC Mansfield had a staff shortage, causing a gap in personnel that required plugging, so the remainder of this overview is brought to you via a friend who stayed 'til the end, but missed kick-off at the Forest Town Arena: 
"Clipstone got a quick couple of goals just after you'd driven away, but that lad who'd scored the free-kick for Rainworth got another one and it finished 2-2. Clipstone were much better in the second-half and deserved at least a draw"... so now you know.
On my arrival at the Forest Town Arena, a small gathering of early arrivals were gathering outside the gate, which was stuck closed with a handful of club staff  wrestling to get it open. I looked around and found a piece a small branch and the problem was soon solved... never underestimate the superpowers of a determined Retfordian with an eight-inch stump!
Hopefully I'll be able to see the whole 90+ minutes when Rainworth and Clipstone meet again at Kirklington Road on Saturday, assuming of course that we're all allowed to go out and play still by then.
You never know what is just around the next corner these days.
Enjoy your football and stay safe :-)

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Ilkeston Town 2 - Friendly

Saturday 19th December 2020
Friendly
at the Martin & Co. Arena/ Northolme
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 0
Ilkeston Town (0) 2
Keaton Ward 67
Mason Lee 85
THE66POW Point & hope pictures: Click HERE
Two burgers!?
That is the start of a slippery slope mister chairman.
The five previous non-league games of choice that I'd recently pencilled in... and rest assured, they were all ones that I was actually allowed to travel and/or gain access to as well... were all postponed. This was due to a myriad variety of reasons, including: player unavailability affecting either one or both of the participating teams, Coronavirus issues, a flooded pitch, the ever-spiralling cost of Clock DVA records on eBay, an eleventh hour Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method discrepancy, the shortage of trifle sponge fingers in Asda during the run up to Christmas and numerous unfathomable Government graphs and equations, that have taken on the guise of the accepted day to day status quo, under whatever restrictions and guidelines the politicians (and scientists, apparently) have concocted during the so called 'new normal' way of doing things during 2020.
My current domicile stands equidistant to three neighbouring counties, all of which have football teams that are close enough to my happy abode, as the crow flies, to be considered as local to me. 
My employment encompasses regular movement around all four adjacent 'tier three' territories and on occasion necessitates going even further afield too. Apparently hi-vis clothing provides me with immunity to any strain of any virus you might care to mention and it's far cheaper to mass produce than a vaccine too. 
But lockdown rules forbid, or at least frown upon very sternly (and suggest in the strongest possible terms) that any cross-border journey through the tier system maze of red tape, that I might choose to make in my quest to watch a game of football, are at best, to be discouraged and in the worse case scenario, constitute a complete no no altogether.
But I digress... while we're living under the ever tightening grip of martial law, what the effin' hell was I doing over that there River Trent, in famous Lincolnshire, this bright and chilly afternoon, watching an approximation of the beautiful game of association football ? 
Well, it's like this your honour: I started work at 6AM today, at a site just a short distance away from the Northolme, and as such, I was merely making a pit-stop on my way home when this fixture kicked off at the highly convenient time of 1PM. 
If the game had commenced at 3PM, I would've been at home already and probably would not have been able to travel back into Gainsborough for the purposes of being a football spectator. 
Loopholes are the last bastion of a scoundrel... but either way, I hadn't made an unnecessary and/or ill-advised trek to be here, I was already in situ.
It's been a long, loooong forty-five days since I last watched any non-league football and a day longer still, since my most recent visit to the Northolme, to see the 'Holy Blues' of Trinity in action.
This game was only arranged yesterday, at very short notice, after Pickering Town had to pull out of their planned visit to Gainsborough. But as a preparation stage for the apparently imminent recommencement of the Northern Premier League, this fixture ended up being a bit of a dead rubber, when it was announced late in the afternoon, before I'd even reached home, that the Holy Blues forthcoming game against Grantham Town, on Boxing Day, has already been postponed.
Obviously, the stop/start nature of large swathes of the football calendar at the moment, is going to affect the match fitness of players quite badly and prevent teams from maintaining, or even picking up, any kind of momentum. 
But these low key kind of games are actually a Godsend to sad anorak types, AKA: people just like you and I, who've been craving a football fix of some sort... well, any sort actually. 
The familiar sounds on the approach to the ground, "Second ball... shadow him... squeeeeze!!!", as the teams went through their warm up drills, the smell of the frying onions from the nearby take-away burger van and even the click of the turnstiles were all reasons to be cheerful.
Both teams gave some new personnel a first run-out this afternoon as 'Ilson' ran out 0-2 winners, which just about reflected the balance of play as the game unfolded, although the hosts did have what appeared to be a good shout for a penalty waved away during the first-half, when Lewis Dennison was upended as he cut in towards the Robins goal from out on the right, but VAR evidence supplied by Kate Simmonds, Trinity's photographer, clarifies that the referee got things right, because although the ball was inside the area the challenge was made fractionally outside.
Keaton Ward, who is on loan at Ilkeston until the end of the season from Barnsley (and was a possible contender as man of the match, on his debut), opened the scoring when he linked up well with Ollie-Brown-Hill before turning the ball just inside the left hand post with a deft touch after sixty seven minutes and towards the end of the game, Mason Lee thumped in a second to seal the win.
It's a shame that a few more people hadn't chipped in at the gate to attend this early afternoon encounter, but the last Saturday before Xmas is notoriously bad for enticing football fans away to fulfil duties elsewhere and not everybody would've spotted this additional fixture was even going ahead in the first place. Those that did turn out, all seemed to be very grateful to have the chance of taking a game in, while getting out of the house.
I have two local games lined up for Boxing Day, one of which I will be working at.
In the meantime, enjoy Christmas.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Ilkeston Town 2