My report, written for the Harworth Colliery FC website
Wednesday 9th October 2013
at the Recreation Ground,
Scrooby Road, Bircotes, DN11 8JT
Sheffield & Hallamshire CFA Senior Challenge Cup
Harworth Colliery (0) 0
Frickley Athletic (1) 1
Ollie Fearon 6
Admission £3, programme £1
Mark Latham, Jordan hardman, Simon Brewster (Makenzie Tomlinson), James Woodward, Martyn Gee, Gary Page (Tom Cooke), Lloyd Wilkinson, Lewis Hilton, Jonathan Bownes, Tom Walker, Tom Pick (Gareth Sides).
Unused subs. Greg Fox, Tom Hogg
Tom Woodhead, Steve Gardner, Lee Stratford, Jake Picton (Phil Oniama), Joe Wilcox, Luke Jeffs, Jimmy Ghaichem, Matty Bloor, Ollie Fearon (Luke Hinsley), Korey Dyer-Stewart, Jay McFadzean (Joe Kenny 90)
Unused subs. Andy Villermann, Joe Davies
A crowd of 152 turned out for this eagerly awaited cup tie, on a bitterly cold night at Scrooby Road, where they witnessed a tight game, which was ruined as spectacle at times by the biting wind, but kept alive as a tie right until the final whistle, by the tenacity, hard graft and never say die effort of a Colliery side who were hell bent on not being an easy to negotiate stepping stone for the cup holders, en route to retaining their title.
On the Frickley fans internet forum, several Blues supporters had predicted some fairly generous margins of victory for tonights visitors in the build up to the game, but, I'm happy to report, none of their overconfident punts were anywhere near the mark.
Any thoughts of Frickley playing an under strength team against opponents who play four divisions below them, were wide of the mark too, as Karl Rose selected a very strong side, made up for the most part of players who regularly feature in his starting line up. But Gavin Allott was missing because of an ankle injury.
Harworth on the other hand, had a couple of first choice picks absent, for a variety of reasons and two players in the starting eleven on duty, who were left off of the team sheet until the very last moment as their fitness was still being assessed in the warm up to the game. Respect due to Martyn Gee and Tom Pick for battling on through the pain barrier.
The Blues started well, with the wind behind them and they almost opened the scoring in the opening exchanges when Jay McFadzean headed over from an Ollie Fearon cross.
It began to look ominous after just six minutes when Joe Wilcox played a defence splitting pass into the path of Fearon, who lobbed the ball over Mark Latham from 20 yards out, as the Harworth keeper ran from his line to narrow the angle and restrict Fearon's options.
McFadzen was in the thick of it again when he hit the post from close range and Harworth battled to get the ball clear the ball clear as Jake Picton got his head onto the rebound.
After weathering the early storm, Harworth tightened things up at the back and began to take the game to their Northern Premier League visitors, getting tight on their midfield creators Jake Picton and Matty Bloor and defending doggedly, while making inroads into Frickley territory, the home side had a great chance to equalise when Jonny Bownes broke away on the right and swung a great cross into the six yard box fro To Pick to run onto, but PIck stumbled as he attempted to steer the ball past Tom Woodhead and the moment had gone. THe Harworth striker had put his all into getting into such a great position, but if truth be told, he should still have been recuperating and was only thrown in tonight because other players weren't available, so any criticism of him for his miss would've been very harsh.
Harworth continued to contain their hosts and broke away again, when Lloyd Wilkinson was unlucky to see his effort go narrowly wide.
The industrious and always busy Lewis Hilton almost equalised, but Luke Jeffs put in a timely interception to deny the Harworth midfielder.
Jake Picton was withdrawn in the 29th minute, having taken a knock and Phil Oniama came on in his place. The Frickley substitute proved to be a real handful for the Harworth defence who had to be on their toes (and his) everytime Oniama got the ball in and around the Colliery penalty area.
Harworth's octogenarian pacemaker, whoops! I mean playmaker, had a chance to put things level just before the break, but his shot, into the strong wind, was dealt with fairly comfortably held by Woodhead.
Half time - Harworth 0 v Frickley 0
Frickley came out after the break intent on finishing off their defiant and stubborn hosts and Latham denied Oniama as he made himself space to knock the ball towards the Colliery goal despite encountering some robust defending.
Goalscorer Fearon combined with the Blues captain Matty Bloor twenty yards out and shot narrowly wide around the 60 minute mark, but as the game went into the final half hour, the wind picked up and made things even more difficult for both sides as the game became condensed into a scrappy midfield battle.
With just one goal still in it Harworth upped the ante and battled ever more resolutely to win the battle for the middle of the park, which unfortunately led to Lloyd Wilkinson picking up his second yellow card and being sent to the dressing room by the referee Wayne Cooper.
So with 22 minutes to go a patched up and down to the bare bones Central Midlands League side were now faced with the onerous task of getting back into the game against a Northern Premier League side, containing the likes of Matty Bloor, Korey Dyer-Stewart, Jay McFadzean and now Luke Hinsley who'd been introduced from the Frickley bench, a man light. When the going gets tough n all that.
Some people suggested that Lloyd Wilkinson should get the 'stinker of the match' accolade (a popular website feature amongst the players, ahem) for seeing red, but screw that, I for one am not going to criticise anybody for showing too much commitment and fire in his belly on a night when every single player out on the park had to stand up and be counted. And tourette's syndrome is a misunderstood medical condition that needs dealing with more sympathetically sometimes.
There was a moment of panic stations in the Harworth defence, when Latham and his back four struggled to deal with the ball as it misbehaved in the wind from a Steve Gardner right wing cross, but they saw the funny side as the situation was eventually dealt with. And Latham had to be alert again shortly afterwards when McFadzean tested him from outside the box.
Inside the last two minutes, Makenzie Tomlinson, the 16 year old from the village who's been impressing everyone with his performances on his introduction to the first team this season, had a great opportunity to force the game into extra time, when he ghosted into the left channel and collected the ball in space, but his wind assisted snap shot flew agonisingly over the bar. Damn those lightweight modern footballs that behave like a helium balloon even in a slight breeze.
You've got to have a dream, if you can't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true, as the song goes, but Harworth's last chance to take something from this game had now gone.
Luke Hinsley almost rubbed salt into the Colliery sides wounds inside the final minute, but he shot into the side netting. A 0-2 final scoreline would've been very unfair on the Harworth lads tonight who had battled gamely every inch of the way and at no point (well, after the first ten minutes anyway) ever looked like being over run by their illustrious visitors.
Frickley won the game, but I'd like to think that Harworth won a lot of people over tonight too.
On and off the pitch.
It's back to CMFL action on Saturday for Harworth as they face joint leaders Westella Hanson at home in a game where they'll have to pick themselves up and put in just as much effort as tonight again, while Frickley face a tricky away trip to Ilkeston.
Full time - Harworth Colliery 0 v Frickley Athletic 1
Good luck to Frickley in their quest to defend the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup, everybody connected to FAFC was a credit to their club at Scrooby Road tonight.
Hopefully our paths will cross again soon.
HCFC Player ratings - by tonight's guest judge, Rob Waite