Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Handsworth U19 1 v Staveley Miners Welfare U19 2 - NMU19L League Cup

Tuesday 6th November 2012, at Olivers Mount
North Midland Under 19 League,  League Cup
Brett Watts 39
James Whitfield 70, Ryan Walters 83
Admission £2, Programme £1
A very windy night, spent besides the Sheffield Parkway, watching what promised to be an enthralling game of Under 19's football, played between two of the most highly regarded local teams at this level.
I did wonder upon reaching my vantage point alongside the side of the pitch, if the worsening gale had blown all the pages away from inside my programme, but was horrified to discover that I had actually just parted with a pound for a 'wonkily' photocopied piece of paper folded in half. Oh well, it all goes towaeds paying for the match officials and such like, but I'll know better in future.
Thankfully, there was no repeat of the yellow and red card frenzy that had punctuated last week's game between these two sides, but there was also not an awful lot of the controlled, passing and cavalier football we'd anticipated either.
That was the fault of the players, I hasten to add, the wind was whipping across the pitch spoiling the game and rendering inert any hopes that this game would live up to expectations.
It was sheltered, well sort of, on the side of the ground where the clubhouse is and the players come onto the pitch, but when I went off in search of a few photos behind the goal and round the dug outs side, I was soon on the retreat back to where I'd just come from, because I'm nesh, old and the biting wind was bloody horrible round there.
As the players battled gamely against the conditions, the game became a bit of a stalemate and it looked as though they would all be going in for a warm at half time, without either side having broke the deadlock, but on 39 minutes, Handsworth's centre half Brett Watts arrived in the Staveley area right on cue, to power home a header from a right wing corner and the Ambers were ahead.
It was evident that tonight's game wasn't going to be decided on the basis of finesse, skill and pretty football, but by a combination of grit, determination, persistence and battling against the elements ... and so it proved to be.
HT - Handsworth 1 v Staveley Miners Welfare FC
With the leaves blowing from the trees and littering the pitch, the second half got under way.
Both sides got to grips with the conditions a bit better after the break, but it was still hard going.
Staveley can claim tonight, that the inspired use of substitutes won the day.
It was a bit of a slog, both to play in and to watch at times, until the 70th minute, when James Whitfield, on from the bench during the second half, advanced into the Handsworth area with the ball, took his time picking his spot...  and fired home to make the score one apiece.
At this point an optimist might say "Now we've got a game on our hands" while a grumpy old git would realise (and I did) that "Oh sh*t! We might get extra time and penalties in this bloody horrible weather now!"
But when Kurtis Morley got the ball just outside the Ambers box and threaded a precision ball through into the path of another second half  Staveley substitute, Ryan Walters, our concerns about a late finish and impending hypothermia were allayed, when he struck the ball home from eight yards and 7 inches out (OK Hristo!?), with seven minutes to go.
James Whitfield nearly added a third goal right at the death, but he shot narrowly wide from outside the box.
FT - Handsworth U19 v Staveley Miners Welfare 2
It wasn't pretty to watch at times, but all credit to Staveley who are demonstrating that they are learning fast that there is more than one way to win a game of football and they can dig in and grind out results when needs be, as well as playing the entertaining stuff they are renowned for.