Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dunkirk U19 3 v Harworth Colliery U19 1 - NMU19L Div 2

Wednesday 6th February 2013
Ron Steel Sports Ground, Lenton Lane, Nottingham.
North Midland U19 League.
Dunkirk FC U19  (1) 3
Macauley Diuk 8, Alex Eliker 80, Dan Brennan 85
Harworth Colliery U19  (1) 1
Callum Tiffany 26
Admission £3, Programme free
Dunkirk U19:
Connor Touhig, David Teague, Joe Smith, Jack Upton, Danny Brennan (c), Thomas Roper, Alex Eliker, Ben Rogers, Macauley Diuk, Joeal Earps, Alex Meehan
Subs - Mark Bernhofen, Sam Wood, Warren Howard, Kevin Hemagon
Harworth Colliery U19:
Tom Hogg, Jordan Hardman, Luke Bailey, Chris Higgins, Gareth Bonner, Jordan Nortcliffe, Enzo Guarini, Callum Tiffany, Daine McGrain, MItchell Lax, Connor Gresham
Subs - Ben Thompson, Lewis Elwood, Danny Siddall, Lewis Francis
Oh well. 
You win some, you lose some.
Harworth are still at the top of Division 2 after tonight's reversal, but they're sitting fairly precariously on that perch and could even be toppled off of it tomorrow night, if, as expected, Ollerton Town beat Sandiacre Town.
There are also a clutch of clubs coming up on the rails with games in hand, including tonight's victors and this coming Monday night's opposition Basford United.
Of course, those teams are still going to be taking points off of each other during the final run in, in fact Ollerton's next two games after tomorrow nights 'home banker' against Sandiacre, will see them facing off against both Dunkirk and Basford in quick succession.
But, that said, a win tonight would've kept Harworth in the mix as championship contenders, after losing out, to two goals in the last ten minutes, they have definitely become title outsiders and their fate is out of their own hands now.
It's not all over until the fat lady sings n' all that, but right now, you can just about hear her gargling and clearing her throat, above the noise of the orchestra warming up.
However, all is not lost. 
This is the best crop of players that Harworth Under 19s have ever had and now the pressure is off to stay in front of the race for the title, they can relax and play with the burden of expectation off their shoulders, while the other teams in the top half have to deal with the not inconsiderable millstone of worry about turning their games in hand into points.
If Glenn and Has's team just stay focussed and pick up as many points as they can, between now and the end of the season, aiming to finish as high in the table as possible, they've got nothing to lose now. 
That particular banana skin now lays in wait for the other teams at the business end of the table.
There is always a massive chasm between mathematical possibilities and the laws of probabilities, but this Harworth team must dust themselves down and dive headlong back into the fray ASAP.
Harworth had a good call for a penalty waved away early in the game, when Mitchell Lax was grounded in the home side's area, but we won't dwell on that one, because there was *possibly* an incident at the other end that balanced that decision out later in the game.
Once the prolific Dunkirk striker, Macauley Diuk had put his side ahead after 8 minutes, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the visitors, but Harworth showed that they are ready to mix it with the top sides and almost responded immediately ... Danny Brennan had to clear the ball off the line, when  Daine McGrain had rounded Connor Touhig in the Dunkirk goal, after Enzo Guarini had sent him on his way.
Brennan put in a solid performance all night and it's easy to see why he is the Boatmen's captain.
Callum Tiffany bravely got in amongst a cluster of players on 26 minutes to head home the equaliser.
Alas, Callum also picked up a booking in first half injury time, when he connected with a Dunkirk player he hadn't seen coming, while trying to play the ball, near the halfway line.
After the interval the game was mainly played in Harworth's half if I'm being honest.
Callum Tiffany had the first opportunity of the second period but his shot was charged down. The tenacious midfielder had to be withdrawn a few minutes later, because his already strapped up ankle was causing him some problems.
A goal, a booking and an injury, all in the same game, it's a hat trick of sorts Callum ;-)
Enzo Guarini had obviously been singled out as a threat by the home side and he was on the receiving end of some tough tackling out on the left flank ... all very character building I'm sure.
Following one late lunge on him, Enzo got up and swung a dangerous looking free kick into the Dunkirk six yard box, but that man, Danny Brennan, was on hand again, to head the ball away to safety.
In the last thirty minutes, Dunkirk started to turn the screw and dominated the remainder of the game for the most part.
Jordan Hardman had to make two last ditch tackles to clear Harworth's lines. One, in particular, saved a certain goal when Kevin Hemagou was clean through.
With ten minutes to go, Harworth were absorbing a lot of pressure, but it looked as though they could still hold on for a well earned point, or, with the pace of Guarini, Siddall and McGrain, even snatch a late winner from a counter attack.
But Alex Eliker gave Dunkirk a massive advantage when he pounced and got to the rebound from a Tom Hogg save first, to nudge the home side in front.
Inevitably, Danny Brennan had the final say when he scored Dunkirk's third inside the final five minutes.
But Harworth kept chasing the game and in injury time, Daine McGrain was unlucky to see his thumping shot fly over the Dunkirk crossbar, after he'd combined well with Ben Thompson.
Danny Brennan, stopped over near the touchline that I was stood next to, to tie his laces, as the game reached it's dying moments. 
"I wish you'd just tied them together and stayed there all night", I politely said, by way of a backhanded compliment.
Dunkirk, just had that little bit more in their engine than Harworth on the night and deserved all three points. Ouch!
I know that fundamentally, Under 19s football is, first and foremost, about developing players for the first team, but the NMU19L is a very competitive competition ... and losing at football is a crap feeling.
Harworth had a game plan, Dunkirk unlocked it, so fair play and well done to them ... but don't expect any niceties from me if our paths cross tomorrow morning. 
THE66POW Man of the match - Lewis Francis. 
He didn't actually play tonight, but nobody else brought a bag of rhubarb and custard sweets along to share, did they?
Remember that when you're selecting the team next week Glenn!

Next up: Tomorrow night, Retford United U19 v Hallam U19, NMU19L Div 1. Leverton Road, Retford, Notts, DN22 6QF, 7.45pm kick off.