Saturday, 27 February 2010

Maltby Main v Arnold Town - Northern Counties East League Premier Division

Saturday 27th February 2010, Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Muglet Lane, Maltby

Maltby Main (0) 0
Arnold Town (1) 3 Tony Law 2 (1 pen), Nick Hall

Admission £5, Programme £1, Attendance 45
Maltby is only a fifteen minute drive from where I live, which meant I could get a decent night's sleep after my Friday night shift before setting off and would be able to get back at a leisurely pace to start my Saturday night turn at 6PM
Of course, my forward planning is often a waste of time when it comes to football travels circa 2009-10 and falling back to sleep after my dinner combined with an head on collision between two horse carriage lorries in Blyth village, at the potentially hazardous staggered crossroads junction that every motorist in north Notts will have had at least a couple of dozen near miss tales of their own to tell, meant that in the event the short trip, in both directions, wasn't without a few fraught 'white knuckle' moments, but I made kick off just in time and I got to work with a minuscule amount of moments to spare too.
If truth be told, if I'd woken up and stayed awake when I had planned to, I would have gone to Kirkby Town v Pinxton instead for the 2PM kick off, with Hucknall Town v Frickley Athletic and Chesterfield v Aldershot pencilled in as back up games just in case the weather was up to it's usual tricks.
The latter of those games would've been for a last ever visit to Saltergate for me, because Chesterfield are moving into the newly built b2net Stadium after this season and I don't want my last ever game at that run down old venue to have been on the day they knocked Mansfield Town out of the FA Cup last season.
In the event, today would've been an ideal to bid farewell to the rickety old dump because Aldershot won.
However, once Arnold found their feet on a very sticky pitch and began to assert themselves and show some composure, today's game wasn't such a bad choice.
Maltby completely misfired today and I did have to wonder if they were having a sponsored 'air kicking' competition around the visitors box at one point, such was their propensity to swing a boot at the ball and miss it completely whenever they threatened to look dangerous in front of goal.
One especially flamboyant attempt at a diving header, under the ball, was especially amusing.
I like Maltby, the team and the village, what you see is what you get round here, a no frills, down to earth ruggedness, usually with a bit of rain chucked in, but refreshingly honest, unpretentious and welcoming (no, honestly!) never the less.
Today the local team, to be blunt (as is the Maltby way) were bloody rubbish.
Welcome to Maltby ...
the scenery opposite the football ground entrance is quite spectacular

Just after the game had started, a friendly old Arnold fan stopped for a chat on his way around the ground and told me "I'm going to the end we're defending, that's where all the action will be", he was about to be proved wrong this afternoon then.
Attacking down the slope towards Outgang Lane in the first half, Arnold went from strength to strength and were definitely good value for their half time lead.

On 23 minutes a long free kick from the right was parried back into play by the home side's goalkeeper Jason Bailey and Tony Law was on hand to put the rebound away.
Law was a handful throughout the half and I reckon the 0-1 scoreline flattered Maltby somewhat when the teams went in at the break.

After the restart, I would have hoped that Maltby would have stepped up their game and applied themselves a bit more, taking advantage of the slope, but it was more of 'how you were' from Arnold and they took control of the midfield and were already two goals to the good just two minutes after the restart.
Luke Smithson launched in a corner from the left on 47 minutes (the one in the picture above) and a Maltby player, not their goalkeeper, got his hand to it, whoops!
Tony Law put the penalty away.
There was only one team looking like taking all three points now.
On 55 minutes, Tony Law burst through into Maltby box again, he was fired up and chasing his hat trick ... from where I was stood it looked as though he was stopped in his tracks by a Maltby player tugging on his shirt, but the referee missed the incident and waved the appeals for a penalty away.
The Arnold striker was incensed and I can only assume his booking a few minutes later was for 'persistent complaining'.
Far be it from me to say the ref now had it in for Law, but from then on in every decision went against him and the player was clearly getting more and more frustrated.
Perhaps, with the points already in the bag, it was a wise decision when the Arnold management substituted Law, to remove him from a potentially worsening situation between the player and the match official.
On 79 minutes, Luke Smithson, to my way of thinking already the 'man of the match' unleashed a killer pass right through Maltby's defence for Nick Hall to run on to and Arnold's number 4 slotted the ball past Jamie Bailey just inside the post to seal an emphatic and much deserved win for the visitors.

This being a South Yorkshire v South Notts encounter, I wasn't entirely surprised to hear an octogenarian Maltby Main supporter muttering under his breath "C'mon Reds, lets win this f***ing one for Scargill!", but this was just one isolated incident out of earshot of anybody who might have taken offence. And I'd wager that even 'King Arthur' wouldn't have begrudged Arnold their three points today in what became one of the most one sided games of football I have seen this season.
Note to Arnold Town FC, well played, best team (by a mile) won, great friendly bunch of travelling fans you have etc. etc. but it would make the programme editors at the clubs you visit's job a little bit easier, if you could forward a team line up and a bit about your club history in advance (I know Bridlington Town will back me up here too) and I might have been able to recognise a few more of your players from the line ups on the back cover as a consequence.