Saturday 26th October 2013
at the Recreation Ground, Scrooby Road, Bircotes, DN11 8JT
Central Midlands League (North)
Harworth Colliery (1) 2
Tom Walker 33, Ollie Chappell 84
Easington United (0) 0
Admission £3, Programme £1, Attendance 33
Steve Wibberley, Jordan Hardman, Paul Burns, Jonny Bownes, Martyn Gee (C), Makenzie Tomlinson (Gaz Sides 67), Greg Archer, Lewis Hilton, Tom Walker (Dean Bonser 73), Sam West, Arron Blakey (Ollie Chappell 60)
John Harrison, Adam Jamieson, Luke Nettleship, Craig Smalley (Lewis Andrew HT), Sam McLaughlin (C), Andy Graham, Stefan Radley, Jamie Cousins, Paul Wilkinson, Gavin Thurkettle (Tom McLaughlin), Anthony Barnett
|'Wib' checks his distances before saving from Thurkettle|
Expressing a fraction as a percentage, just over 16% of this afternoon's crowd were youngsters who had taken advantage of the free admission for kids special offer at the Recreation Ground.
Hopefully the 'next generation' will tell all of their mates just how much fun they had at their Saturday freebie entertainment and the Harworth Youth Casuals will swell to over double figures next time.
From small acorns, big oaks do grow n' all that.
Easington United currently occupy a berth in the bottom three of the table, but that is only because they started after everybody else in the CMFL North this season and still have games in hand to catch up on.
One or two questions had been asked about Harworth's work rate and focus over 90 minutes in recent games, so the 'Eastenders' visit was very timely, in so much as, these lads will chase any game for the duration and put in a full shift regardless (turning a 0-3 deficit v the Colliery into a 4-3 win, late last season, being a recent good example).
The Harworth team knew they had to graft to get on top today and then strive to stay on top once they got there, against never say die opposition.
It proved to be a character building test, but one that the home side passed successfully and they can be happy about the the way they applied themselves to the task in hand.
I think it would be fair to say, that over the course of the game, although Harrison showed some great positional awareness and agility, there were also times when his methods could politely be called 'unorthodox'.
But his style was definitely entertaining.
There then followed a spell, when United forced a succession of corners and took the game to their hosts. During a flurry of activity arounf the Colliery penalty area Andy Graham came close to breaking the deadlock, but he headed over the bar from eight yards out.
But, in spite of the visitors putting the Colliery under the cosh for a while, it was evident that there was a solid spine to the defence today, which bodes well, given that a couple of regular picks were unavailable today and this was the first time that a back four of Hardman, Bownes, Gee and Burns had ever started a game together.
Martyn Gee put in a captain's performance in place of James Woodward this afternoon, but the other three all put in an excellent turn too.
And it was evident that Steve Wibberley was more confident of those around him today than he was last week at Brodsworth as well.
When Easington did break Harworth's resistance down, Wibberley stayed on his feet until the last moment and got down well to thwart Gav Thurkettle.
But they both stood out this afternoon, working their socks off from box to box.
You could go so far as to say, that both of these players had their best games so far this season for Harworth today.
I foresee there being a lot of selection headaches any time soon for the Harworth management and it is going to be difficult to keep such a good squad of players happy to that end, but that kind of 'problem' emphasises that the quality and strength in depth of the team that Brendan Wilson is currently building.
Lets not forget the calibre of players already at the club who weren't available for one reason or another too. Player for player, as a long time watcher of local football, I reckon this is the best squad Harworth Colliery have had since the heady days of their NCEL years in the 1980's. At least when they put the effort it in like they did at times against Easington today.
Kenzie Tomlinson and Tom Walker are developing a good understanding, both providing each other with timely balls into the box and timing their runs to perfection for one another.
With the threat of the two lively newcomers Arron Blakey and Sam West busying themselves across the final third it looked inevitable that a Harworth goal would come soon.
Walker cut in for the right wing and set up a great chance for Tomlinson with a well weighted square pass, but Harrison pulled off a great reaction save as Kenzie let fly with a rasping shot.
Easington made hard work of clearing a Jordan Hardman ball into the box and Sam West was on hand to get a shot in, which deflected just wide of the post.
Tomlinson cut in from the right and played the ball into the path of Walker, who at full stretch smashed an unstoppable shot just inside the right hand post, that gave Harrison no chance.
Powerful, low, on target, a fraction inside the post ... textbook stuff.
And today Walker cemented his place at the top of the HCFC goalscoring chart and Dream League rating table. It's just a shame he is suspended for Harworth's next game.
Walker set up Kenzie again, but the Colliery youngster put the ball just over the crossbar.
Right on the stroke of half time, Wibberley once again thwarted Thurkettle.
HT - Harworth 1 v Easington 0
At the start of the second half both Arron Blakey and Sam West were unlucky not to have opened their goal scoring accounts for Harworth.
Both have been a bit short of match practice of late, but on today's evidence will have little problem in picking the pace up.
Sam McClaughlin, the visitors captain, made just enough contact with Blakey on the edge of the box (without actually fouling him) as he homed in on Harrison's goal, to unsettle the big striker and put him off his aim as he squared up to shoot.
Blakey had done just about everything except actually score when he was rested on the hour.
He looks like he's going to be a great addition to the team once he's fully fit and has regained his sharpness.
With Blakey and West now offering so many options up front, along with Blakey's replacement from the bench Ollie Chappell ... and Edmondson and Pick hoping to be back from injury any time soon, I don't envisage a shortage of goals becoming a problem for Harworth.
And with Gareth Sides and Dean Bonser also coming on in the second half to give the side extra width and some more bite in midfield, well, what more can I say without sounding like a blinkered and sycophantic loon?
With the two sides only separated by a single goal and the game still up for grabs, Easington served a reminder about what happened the last time the two sides met.
Wibberley got the faintest of touches onto a crashing free kick from Lewis Andrew that thumped against the crossbar and minutes later Tom McLaughlin played Paul Wilkinson in on goal and 'Wib' again had to come to Harworth's rescue, keeping the ball out with his feet.
If United were going down, they were going down fighting and making it as difficult as possible for Harworth.
Sam West latched on to a clearance from the visitors defence, but shot narrowly wide.
But West redeemed himself moments later, when he took the ball under his control and laid off a great ball for Ollie Chappell who finished from close range to cement the victory for Harworth.
Though Harworth had deserved the win, Easington had made it bloody hard work for them and could have had a few goals themselves, save for the woodwork and efforts of Steve Wibberley.
A grueller of a game, on what was a gluepot of a pitch in places, due to the recent 'Tsunami' that crashed across North Notts and South Yorkshire towards the end of the week. But Harworth came through it with a performance that ought to restore a bit of pride and confidence in the side after a couple of recent lacklustre displays.
The team spirit and togetherness was evident in the Pavilion afterwards, but the players must now take that work ethic and determination forwards and keep the momentum going.
There are some testing games coming up, including a quick opportunity to turn the tables on a hard working and organised Brodsworth side who exposed a lot of shortcomings in the Colliery side last weekend.
The management and backroom staff believe in this team, it's now time for the team to start believing in themselves again too.
FT - Harworth 2 v Easington 0
Report written for the official HCFC website, check it out -> HARWORTH COLLIERY WEBSITE