Monday, 17 December 2012

Staveley MW U19 3 v Retford United U19 3 - NMU19L Div 1

Monday 17th December 2012, at Inkersall Road
Baris North Midland U19 League, Division 1
Staveley Miners Welfare U19  (1) 3
Brad Jones 13
Jack Smith 61
Sam Finlaw 90 (+5)
Retford United U19  (1) 3
Bobby Johnson 7
Reece Thompson 47, 66 (pen)
Admission £2 (a bargain for a game of this quality),
Programme 50p
Staveley Miners Welfare:
Mark Hicken, Danny Plant, Jordan Claxton, Pat Lindley, Lewis Hayward, Sam Finlaw, Josh Fields, Kurtis Morley, Brad Jones, Jake Smith, James Whitfield
Subs - Oliver Byne, Ryan Bates, Jordan Hendley, Saul Asquith, Ryan Watters
Retford United:
Rory McCracken, Danny Snape, Jason Swannack, Shaun Nesbitt, Alex Tittcomb, Kyle Dennett, Alex Colton, Jack Munn, Reece Thompson, Bobby Johnson, Luke Walker
Subs - Jack Aldred, Adam Ellis, Sam Hutchinson, Kyle Blow, Declan Bacon
A fantastic, end to end game of football, between two sides who like to get the ball down and play a bit.
The general consensus of the majority of people who were present at this enthralling match tonight, seemed to be that a draw was a fair result. 
However, over the whole 90 minutes, I thought that Retford had marginally shaded it. 
In fact, if the referee had blown time after the full 90 had elapsed, the visitors would of claimed all three points, because they were 3-2 ahead at that point.
But, a resilient Staveley side, who simply don't know when they're beaten, kept plugging away and snatched a dramatic late equaliser, in the 5th of the 7 minutes 'stoppage time', that Mr Heley had added on.
This season, having watched both of these sides play on a regular basis, I knew this game would be a close run thing.
But nobody could've ever imagined just how tight it would actually go to the wire.
Staveley are used to challenging near the top of Division 1 on a regular basis. And this season, Retford too, have stepped things up a notch and are rubbing shoulders with some illustrious company, near the business end of the table, on merit.
Rich Williams, the Badgers U19's manager, on the basis of having inherited some the foundations of a decent side from his predecessor Chris Howard; hasn't really been given the credit he deserves for assembling the majority of this season's side, or for getting them playing the way they are.
Sure, any team that has Reece Thompson, Bobby Johnson and Luke Walker playing up front for them, is going to be the envy of anyone in the NMU19L, but each and every one of those players as improved beyond recognition since last term and that can't all be down to either luck, or coincidence.
And Staveley, well ... they'll just keep on doing things the 'Staveley way'.
It's a blueprint of how to go about things in the correct manner and the Inkersall Road outfit deserve their great reputation and standing in local football, for the way they encourage and develop young footballers. Weather permitting, pop over to see their reserves in action on Thursday, for further evidence of the ethos that is adopted right the way through this club, from the kids, youths, reserves to the first team.
Staveley set off at a cracking pace tonight and the game was just three minutes old when Kurtis Morley fizzed a shot narrowly wide of the post.
Despite looking dangerous from the outset, the home side failed to take advantage of their early impetus and pressure and they nearly fell behind to a sucker punch, when Luke Walker came dangerously close to heading an opening goal for the visitors, but he didn't get over the ball enough and headed over the bar instead.
United had really started to find their feet now and on 7 minutes, they were ahead.
Reece Thompson slightly miss-hit a shot from just inside the block, which allowed Lewis Hayward the opportunity to get a block in, but the ball cannoned into the path of Bobby Johnson, who drilled it into the net from 10 yards out.
Four minutes later the home side were back on level terms, when Brad Jones added the finishing touch to some neat interplay between Sam Finlaw and  James Whitfield.
I've seen both these sides chisel out results this season, when they've been up against it and needed to, but by and large, they like to play fast paced, passing and attractive football.
And that's exactly what these two very entertaining teams were doing tonight.
There was a lengthy break, while Staveley's Danny Plant had to receive treatment, before he limped out of the game, but at half time, the ref only added a minute on for the stoppage.
Before the break, Reece Thompson almost put Retford back in front, but Mark Hickin in the Staveley goal, managed to turn the ball onto the post and held onto the rebound at the second asttempt.
HT - Blues 1 v Badgers 1
Two minutes after the restart, Jack Munn launched the ball into the Staveley box, Mark Hicken sprinted out to clear the danger but air-kicked instead and that left Reece Thompson with the easiest finish he'll get all season, into an unguarded net. 1-2, 43 minutes to go.
Both teams were still chucking everything but the kitchen sink at each other, in this high tempo game.
The Blues pulled level again, when James Whitfield broke away down the left flank and  played a diagonal ball across the six yard line, where Jake Smith was on hand to knock the ball past Rory McCracken.
Within five minute's after Smith's equaliser, Bobby Johnson knocked a great pass into the path of Reece Thompson, who was just about to get his shot in, when Pat Lindley clipped his heel from behind.
Thompson went down, it was a stonewall penalty.
Lindley was shown the red card and Staveley were down to ten men.
It was a trip, not a malicious one, but it was from behind, in the area, when Thompson had a clear goalscoring opportunity. So, when the referee applied the letter of the law, the Staveley captain had to go.
Personally, I would've shown Lindley a yellow and given him some leeway.
It was a competitive match but never a dirty one and I didn't want to see any red cards upsetting the balance of this evenly matched game.
Once Pat Lindley had left the pitch, Reece Thompson converted the penalty, to put United ahead for the third time.
And with Danny Plant and now Pat Lindley now out of the equation, Retford attempted to turn the screw and created a succession of chances, with Bobby Johnson coming particularly close to extending the visitors lead.
At the other end, Retford's central defensive pairing of Kyle Dennett and Alex Tittcomb, were playing well off of each other and giving the back four a rock solid core.
It's good to see Alex back in action.
Ticker's been out for a while after suffering from the effects of glandular fever.
He's back to his best on tonight's evidence though and was good for a few shouts rallying and helping out his team mates, besides his other input to the game too.
Alas he was too quick for my camera, but he looks better out of focus and blurred anyway, just like his dad!
After the game, I read that the Retford manager hadn't give any of his side the man of the match accolade, because it had been a great team effort all round, which is a fair call.
But I'm going to award the honour to two players, one from each side, namely James Whitfield of Staveley and Alex Colton of Retford, who both ran themselves to a standstill for their respective team's cause.
Sam Finlaw's been attracting a lot of scouts to Inkersall Road this season, including one from Championship side Leicester City - don't be disheartened Sam, I'm sure a better club will come calling in due course ;-) - and despite playing quite deep for a change and having had to cope with the man marking of the ever impressive Shaun Nesbitt, he had the final say tonight.
Deep into injury time, when it looked as though United had just about got the three points sewn up, Staveley forced a couple of corners, as they made a late determined bid to salvage something from the game.
The ball swung into the crowded Retford box (even the Staveley keeper was up there) and Finlaw, on the byline beyond the back post, powered a header into the roof of the Badgers net.
As late escapes go, it was very, very, very late!
Retford will doubtless be feeling justifiably gutted to have hung on for so long, only to see the win snatched away from them at the death.
And Staveley, despite playing so well and having shown a great never say die attitude, will no doubt be gracious enough to concede, that right at the end, they were a bit fortunate to have taken a point in such a dramatic fashion.
After the dust settled, a draw was indeed a fair result.
But given what the score was on 90 minutes, I've no doubt which side will have been happiest with the final outcome.
A great advert for the North Midlands Under 19 League, well played both teams.
Pondering ... how much ***ing longer are we going to play tonight ref?