Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Hallam U19 4 v Staveley MW U19 3 - AET - NMU19L League Cup Final

Wednesday 8th May,
at the Jones & Co. Solicitors Stadium, Cannon Park, Retford
North Midland U19 League, League Cup Final
Hallam U19 4
Herve Sezerano 83 pen, Danny Booth 89
Alex Moseley 101, Ryan Ruddiforth 110
Staveley Miners Welfare U19 3
James Whitfield 12, Lewis Hayward 62, Ryan Watters 111
HT 0-1, 90 Mins 2-2, 105 mins 3-2, 120 mins 4-3
Admission £2 inc. programme.
Attendance 120
Staveley were comfortably seeing the game out, sitting on a two nil lead as the game entered the last ten minutes and Hallam had been reduced to ten men since the 20th minute, when Tom Bird was shown a straight red card for scything down Ryan Watters.
At this point, who would have imagined that the game was about to be turned completely on its head and that Hallam were on course to lift the NMU19L League Cup?
Funny ol' game Saint, n' all that!
Ryan Watters pace and guile seemed to be Staveley's chosen route through Hallam's rearguard and it was no surprised when he was both the foal and creator for James Whitfield's opening goal, just after the ten minute mark.
It was Watters who almost doubled the Blues advantage shortly afterwards, when he forced a save out of Lewis Barnsley, the Hallam keeper.
And of course, it was Watters who was clumsily bundled to the ground as he homed in on goal, by Tom Bird.
A challenge that meant the Hallam centre half was shown a red card.
I don't think the referee had any choice but to give Bird his marching orders, under the circumstances, not that the obviously aggrieved and outspoken Hallam management team would've agreed with me.
Some of their histrionics and loudly delivered expletives, aimed at the match officials over the course of the night, left a lot to be desired, putting it very effing mildly.
The game was now Staveley's for the taking and with Tom Bird out of the equation, they pushed on looking to make good their numerical advantage.
Sam Finlaw's free kick went over the bar off of a Hallam player.
But surely it would only be a matter of time until Staveley scored again.
However, as so often happens when a side is reduced to ten men, those who were left on the pitch in the yellow shirts of Hallam, were putting up a dogged and determined resistance.
Watters continued to be a threat, Whitfield was looking a danger one minute then dragging his markers out of position the next and Pat Lindley was directing operations for Staveley.
Just before half time, Sam Finlaw dropped a left wing corner into the path of Ross Goodwin, but he misfired from close range ... and there was still only one goal in it at the break.
45 minutes - Hallam 0 v Staveley Miners Welfare 1
Hallam came out looking for an equaliser, while Staveley still had the scent of another goal in their nostrils.
It was all good, entertaining stuff.
Just over a hour had gone, when Lewis Hayward turned in a cross from the right wing, to give Staveley some breathing space.
However, they probably took a bit too much of a breather and Hallam picked up their tempo and threw everything they had at the Blues defence.
With players committed forward, looking for a way back into the game, Hallam left space for James Whitfield to round Lewis Barnsley and roll the ball towards the Hallam goal; but a last ditch clearance gave the Countrymen (yes, Hallam FC are actually called that) a reprieve and a massive lift all in one go.
And that boost spurred them on to greater things.
With seven minutes left to go, amid a flurry of activity in the Staveley area, a Hallam player was upended and the referee pointed to the spot.
Herve Sezerano rattled the ball home and out of a seemingly lost cause, it was now game on for Hallam.
James Whitfield once again, made himself some space in the Hallam area, but missed the target. And Hallam pushed forward once more, for an all or nothing, crap or bust last minute assault on the Staveley goal.
There was a free kick, a sharp intake of breath as the ball hung dangerously in the air and then Danny Booth got his head to the ball and directed it past Mark Hicken, to force the cup final into extra time.
The Staveley lads were visibly deflated while the Hallam players celebrated like crazy.
90 minutes - Hallam 2 v Staveley Miners Welfare 2
What a dramatic turnaround ... and ten men Hallam were now in the ascendancy too.
A neutral onlooker said "I don't rate their foul mouthed manager very much, but Hallam's lads deserved that". And he was right, Hallam's players did, well and trult deserve that.
Hmm, whether or not anybody agrees with Wayne Thompson's methods, his 'rocket up the backside' outbursts had squeezed the extra effort required out of his team, so I don't suppose he'd give a flying eff what people thought of him.
Ooh look!
You can see the lights in Rob Waite's house from here
The first period of extra time was very nip and tuck, but Hallam had really found their stride now and were riding on the crest of the psychological lift that the last seven minutes of normal time had given them.
Though they were seemingly dead and buried at one point and you wouldn't have been at all surprised if the engraver had already put Staveley's name on the cup and gone home for an early night ... after such a dramatic turn around, there only looked like being one winner of this game now:
And the biggest comeback since Lazarus was almost complete, when Alex Moseley put the south Yorkshire ahead for the first time tonight, just before the end of the first half of extra time.
105 minutes - Hallam 3 v Staveley Miners Welfare 2
With ten minutes of this enthralling final to go, Ryan Ruddiforth sent his team mates into raptures when he scored Hallam's fourth goal.
Game over?
Not likely!
A notorious member of the Retford United Youth Casuals
hooligan gang, testing the breaking point of a bench seat.
Back came Staveley this time and Ryan Watters pulled a goal back within a minute of Ruddiforth's strike to set up a rousing finale.
For the record, if there was such a thing as a THE66POW team of the season, Ryan Watters would be one of my first selections.
And one or two of his team mates might get a place on the subs bench too.
Stoppage time was a frantic affair ... even the Staveley keeper Mark Hicken was up for a last throw of the dice as Chris Vickers team forced a couple of corners.
But, alas, Staveley should've put the game beyond doubt when they were playing on cruise control at 2-0 up, because the whistle sounded before they could force an equaliser and Hallam had won the cup.
And take nothing away from them, they earned this victory.
I often get asked, why I take in so many games in the NMU19L on my travels.
Well, everybody who saw tonight's game will be able to answer that question ... but I'm getting too old and stubborn to justify my actions to anyone else these days.
I noticed that the crowds are up in this league this season, so I'm not alone in enjoying football at this level. And the fact that so many other clubs want to join the NMU19L next season speaks for itself.
If you're missing out on the action, that's your own daft fault.