Monday, 2 January 2012

Nostell MW 0 v Tadcaster Albion 3 & Frickley Athletic 1 v Whitby Town 2

Another day, another double.
Today, I took advantage of the early kick off time at Nostell Miners Welfare and the close proximity of the A638 to both 'The Welfare Ground' and Frickley Athletics's 'Tech5 Stadium', on Westfield Lane in South Elmsall ... to squeeze two games into this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.
The grounds are just 10 miles apart and the first game finished at 1.50pm, which gave me plenty of time to complete the leisurely drive south over Ackworth Moor Top in the bright winter sunshine, while listening updates on the radio from the closing stages of Heart of Midlothian's inevitable victory at the home of SPL relegation certainties Hibernian.
Monday 2nd January 2012,
at the Welfare Ground, Crofton Community Centre
Baris Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Kick Off 12:00 Noon
Nostell Miners Welfare (0) 0
Tadcaster Albion (1) 3 - Jamie Hopcutt 7, 65, 70
Admission £5, Programme £1, Attendance 120
Left click image to enlarge

There was a pitch inspection at 9.30 this morning at the 'Welfare Ground' but thankfully the game went ahead as planned at noon.
The pitch was obviously still very wet in a few places, but both sides provided an enjoyable game of fast flowing football ... the visitors played particularly well.
This win, combined with Retford United's 1-1 draw at home to in form Parkgate, means that Tadcaster are now 4 points behind my local side at the top with two games in hand.
Tadcaster and Retford face each other at Albion's ground this coming Saturday in what promises to be a lively game.The game was just 7 minutes old, when Albion's Jamie Hopcutt, surged down the right channel into the box, unchallenged ... and fired the ball past Gav Ainsley's reach for the opening goal.
Ainsley's was possibly the busiest player on the pitch today, because he was called into action by a very lively 'Taddy' side time and time again.
On 24 minutes he did well to rush out a block the ball at the feet of Steve Jeff (see below).
The two came face to face again soon afterwards but Jeff pulled the wall just wide of the right hand post after waiting to the last moment to shoot in a one on one with the Nostell keeper.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Nick Thompson broke free, but couldn't keep his shot down and the ball sailed over Ainsley's crossbar and out of the ground.
I wouldn't go so far as to say Tadcaster had the whole of the first half to themselves, but they had most of it.
And they came out even stronger after the break.
Prior to signing for Nostell MW, their number 10 Ernie Boafo, had
also played for Ghana Under 17's, Ajax ... and Lower Hopton!

Graeme Whitehead put an inviting ball across the face of the goal from out on the right wing, but Tadcaster's prolific striker Carl Stewart narrowly failed to get a decent touch on it and the danger was cleared.
Nostell's best opportunity so far, came when a quickly taken free kick by Toby Ritter put James Eyles in on goal, but Arran Reid pulled off a great one handed save to thwart the Nostell number 7.
A minute later Tadcaster were on the attack again and Graeme Whitehead headed against the crossbar from a right wing corner, the ball rebounded back into play and Gav Ainsley saved the day again.
On the hour, Ainsley was called into action once more, when he blocked a close range effort from Carl Stewart.
Stewart had another go a couple of minutes later and after running into the box under pressure from a very attentive defender still got his shot in ... but Gav Ainsley ... of course ... managed to turn the ball away for a corner.
In the 65th minute, Jamie Hopcutt left two defenders in his wake (see above), then delicately lifted the ball over the over worked Nostell keeper, as he charged out to narrow the angle and it was 2-0 to the Brewers.
Hopcutt then completed his hat trick with 20 minutes to go, when Steve Jeff found him in space with a great pass and he slammed the ball home from inside the box.
Ainsley had won his duels with both Carl Stewart and Steve Jeff today, but not Hopcutt ... he was in an unstoppable mood.
The home side pushed forward, looking to restore a bit of pride.
Graham Marchant's shot from outside the box took a wicked deflection, Arran Reid just managed to get his fingertips to it at full stretch.
Back at the other end, Stewart made a last ditch attempt to finally beat Ainsley, but he fired the ball straight at the keeper who made possibly his easiest stop of the afternoon.
Another Toby Ritter free kick into the Albion box spelt danger and a defender knocked the ball away with his hand.
Marchant hit the spot kick low, hard, to one side of the goal and on target, but in a flash Reid got down to his left and saved it.
A thoroughly deserved victory for Tadcaster Albion, in a game that was punctuated by two great goalkeeping displays ... alas, the busiest of them didn't have a clean sheet to show for his efforts, not that Jamie Hopcutt will be unduly concerned about it.
70 minutes later, a few miles down the A638 ...
Frickley Athletic, where the crowd are right behind you, so to speak

Monday 2nd January 2012
Kick Off 3:00 PM
at the Tech 5 Stadium, Westfield Lane, South Elmsall
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Premier Division
Frickley Athletic (0) 1 - Ollie Ryan 76
Whitby Town (1) 2 - Andy Appleby 17, Matthew Tymon 90
Admission £8, Programme £1.50, Attendance 273
Left click image to enlarge

A couple of months ago, when Frickley were flying and giving the likes of Harrogate Town a run for their money in t'cup, you could have backed this game, quite heavily, as a nailed on, dead cert, home banker.
But the Blues are stuttering at the moment.
From what I've seen with my own eyes, it seems to me that they've been a bit flat since they didn't really do themselves justice in the FA Cup game at Gainsborough Trinity and they've lost their way and a whole load of confidence and self belief since then.
They're still creating plenty of chances, but the final touch in the last third just doesn't ever seem to come.
It's just not happening for Frickley at the moment, no matter how hard they try.
Sure, they still have their moments, but when things aren't going your way, well ... earlier in the season, when hope sprang eternal, Frickley snatched a 95th minute equaliser at Whitby through Lincoln Adams, today they conceded a goal right at the end and surrended 3 points to the same opponents. Points that would've given them a bit of breathing space and a lift before the difficult run of games that lay ahead.
A couple of player bans, meaning that Frickley were down to the bare bones and lacking in options, combined with the misplaced 'priorities' of an AWOL, mercenary, proven and prolific striker, who was away playing elsewhere, didn't help their cause today ... and neither did a couple of curious decisions by the referee.
... meanwhile in the distance, half a dozen supporters got out through a gap
at the back of the Frank Hill Stand and made good their escape over the
old (but artistically re-landscaped) colliery slag heap.

There was a very negative vibe around Westfield Lane this afternoon and Whitby Town couldn't have arrived in South Elmsall at a better time to smash and grab themselves some vital points in their own fight for Evo-Stik Northern Premier survival.
This was a 'must win' game for both sides ... or more to the point, a 'mustn't lose' game.
It would've been unthinkable a couple of months ago, that Peter Rinkcavage's team, with their top ten aspirations and ambitions, could be dragged into a relegation scrap, but with some very tricky games ahead of them, well ... the goals had better start coming from somewhere. Because as of today, they're in one.
To be fair to Whitby, they had the better of the first half, by some way.
If truth be told, they could've gone in at the break more than just the single goal in front.
But at 0-1, the game was still there for taking ... and after a half time talking to, Frickley came out showing more heart and desire ... and though they didn't get back into the game until the 76th minute, when Ollie Ryan powered past two defenders and shot them level from ten yards out, they were well on top by that stage.
"Tell them I said, they've got to play nicely and let you join in"

Alas, though there only ever looked likely to be one winner throughout the second half, Frickley just couldn't find the breakthrough that would seal the win for them and it looked as if they were going to have to settle for a draw.
With men committed forward, the Blues were hit by a late sucker punch as Whitby counter attacked and Matthew Tymon hit a late, late winning goal for the Seasiders.
The home side had the last attack of the match, but just as they forced a corner in the dying seconds, the referee blew up for full time and it was all over.
Some of the natives became very restless.
A number of them vented their anger at the ref.
Granted, if I was marking his performance today he would've been lucky to get 50/100, but it wasn't him who kept squandering goalscoring opportunities.
"Went to mow a meadow"

As we were leaving a Frickley supporting friend challenged me "to find any f***ing positives whatso-f***ing-ever to write about after that shower of sh**!"
OK, here goes.
Frickley usually raise their game and play well against better teams, but when they're up against poor or bog standard sides, they do, on occasion, seem to get dragged down to their level.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not calling Whitby Town poor, because they weren't today, especially in the first half and right at the end when they showed some great 'never say die' resolve.
But Frickley seem more interested when they have to engage their brains and compete against good quality opposition.Next Saturday they're at Matlock Town and the week after they entertain Chorley at home (with another visit to Matlock in the 'Doodson Cup' in between) ... so they've got ample opportunity over the next couple of weeks to make it look as if I do, very occasionally, know what I'm talking about ... sometimes.
Well it bloody well sounded positive to me!!!

Of the two games today, I only really enjoyed the first one.
There was too much at stake for several good friends of mine, who I have a lot of respect for, in the other game ... I was gutted for them at the final whistle.
There's a lot to be said for being a detached free spirit roaming the highways and bye-ways of planet football, without your colours nailed to any particular mast.
Thought for the day ... I wonder if those people dotted around the very top of yonder hill can see me down here?

Next on THE66POW, there are a few interesting looking midweek Under 19 games not too far from my locality over the next few days, weather permitting, but I've got nothing concrete planned until next Saturday, when I'm off to Bramall Lane, to watch Sheffield United v Salisbury City in the FA Cup 3rd Round.