Saturday, 8 February 2014

Askern 4 v Harworth Colliery 0 - CMFL North

Saturday 8th February 2014
at Manor Way, Askern
CMFL North
Askern (2) 4
Alex Rennie 6, Bradley Sykes 18,
Tom Dobbin 66, Chris Telling 90+
Harworth Colliery (0) 0
Admission £4 inc. free 4 page programme
The club formerly known as 'Askern Welfare' and more recently 'Askern Villa', are now simply called, just plain old 'Askern FC'. Hence a few subtle changes have been made to their ground this season. For the record, Harworth Colliery FC are no longer called Harworth Colliery Institute, so they could've blacked out part of the visitors name on the programme cover too.
Antony Sykes (C), Charlie McGough, Danny Jones, Leon Cusworth, Macauley Kennedy, Alex Rennie, Matthew Davison, Bradley Sykes, Michael Attard, Chris Telling, Thomas Dobbin.
Subs - Steve Athey, Arron Rhodes, Chris Hart, Luke Farrar
Harworth Colliery:
Mark Latham, Jordan Hardman, Jonny Bownes, James Woodward (C), Greg Fox, Tom Walker, Greg Archer, Dean Bonser, Lee Edmondson, Arron Blakey, Sam West
Subs - Gaz Sides, Ross Taylor, Tom Pick, Steve Wibberley
I cannot make any excuses whatsoever for what was, most definitely, Harworth Colliery's worst performance of the season. 
The team, management and the travelling supporters who made up the majority of this afternoon's windswept crowd, will all know, that the shift the Colliery put in this afternoon was completely unacceptable. 
Save for a few, all too infrequent glimpses of endeavour and effort, the visitors weren't just off the pace and out of sorts today, they were sloppy and unfocused ... and collectively they failed to rise to the challenge in front of them, on so many levels, it was unbearable to watch at times.
Although AFC Mansfield have games in hand over Harworth, a win today would've meant that the Bircotes side had drawn level with the second placed Bulls on points, in the CMFL North, albeit briefly.
League leaders Westella Hanson lost at home this afternoon to Phoenix FC from Brinsworth.
So three points were absolutely vital today, if Harworth were going to maintain their third placed 'outsiders coming up on the rails' challenge, but this heavy defeat all but put paid to any such fanciful notions, ambitions and improbable dream climax to the season scenarios.
Harworth may as well just lay down at let AFC Mansfield batter them when they go to Forest Town later in the season now, just to make sure that the ambitious west Notts club go up from the CMFL and are out of the way next season, for when the Colliery will hopefully make a more serious job of trying to win promotion to the NCEL.
As it stands, Thorne Colliery are now poised to leapfrog over Harworth to claim third place as a season that was so full of promise, vanishes down the crapper.
Another interesting statistic, is that Askern had only won three out of their previous 20 games this season, prior to today.
Sure the strong wind that bellowed across from the dug outs into the main stand, coupled with the rain that came down later in the afternoon, made it difficult to play neat passing and controlled football (which is why Harworth had been instructed to play a more direct game than usual today) and the pitch, pretty much the same as all playing surfaces in the area had a rating of 'heavy going', but it was exactly the same for Askern and they seemed to adapt alright.
I'd go so far as to say, one team got on with it, because they wanted it more, while the other plodded through the motions because they had completely underestimated their hosts and then lost interest altogether once they realised that it was a pointless exercise to try getting back in the game, because they had left it too late to chase what had become a lost cause.
Hopefully personal pride will kick in before next Saturday and the Colliery players will feel that they owe themselves a performance.
Ironically, next Saturday, they are at home against Askern, in the CMFL North.
Kick off is at 3pm, if anybody still wants to watch us after this afternoon's shambolic display.
The visitors will definitely be up for that one.
Personally, I'm just very glad that I wasn't doing the player ratings out of ten for this afternoon, but for what it is worth, if it was me doing them, the starting eleven's combined total wouldn't have added up to 50 after two of them would've got a 6 each.
The first action of the game saw Tom Walker's pass down the right flank, send Arron Blakey away on a run, he in turn combined well with Sam West and Greg Archer, but Askern cleared their lines.
The early signs were good that Harworth had got last weeks shaky performance out of their system, but on six minutes, Alex Rennie was afforded time and yards of space, as he ran straight through the middle of Harworth's disorganised defence and the Askern number 6 knocked home a gentle shot off of Mark Latham's outstretched hand to put Askern ahead.
Latham could probably have done better as Rennie homed in on his goal, but what really needs to be asked, is why on earth was the keeper left so exposed?
I've seen buses pass each other, side by side, through narrower gaps.
Surely the opening goal would act as a wake up call to todays team most likely to succeed and odds on favourites to win ... or so I thought, rather naively.
But in the event, Bradley Sykes flashed a shot just wide of the Colliery goal and shortly afterwards Latham denied Chris Telling at the second attempt, after Matt Davison had split the visitors defence open, with a telling pass from the centre of midfield.
Eighteen minutes into the game and Askern were on a roll, Sykes played a pass into the path of Telling, who air kicked at the ball which bobbled apologetically past Latham who had raced out to intercept the anticipated shot from Telling.
Latham is going to be embarrassed at conceding such a soft goal, but once more, questions must be asked about where his AWOL team mates had buggered off to again.
At the other end, Jordan Hardman launched a telling cross into the Askern six yard box, that Antony Sykes struggled to deal with as the ball swerved all over the place in the wind, but the home sides captain eventually readjusted his footing and gratefully held on for grim life.
Once again, Davison unlocked Harworth's defence with a long pass and put Thomas Dobbin through on goal, but he shot narrowly wide.
Within a minute, Telling had rattled the underside of Latham's crossbar as Askern threatened to take over.
Right on the stroke of half time, Sam West hit the crossbar from Lee Edmondson's cross as Harworth briefly made a nuisance of themselves in the final third, but the visitors brief excursion forward came to nothing.
HT - Askern 2 v Harworth Colliery 0
At an unnamed club that I used to work at,  I often cringed at the OTT ferocity of a megalomaniac manager's half time team talks and thought he was way too harsh with his players ... Big Roy at Askern FC who won the half time raffle will know exactly who I am referring to.
But today, as I warmed myself on a strong cup of sweet tea during the interval, I wanted to hear nothing less than than the sounds of a firing squad emanating from the visitors dressing room.
Harworth made a double substitution at the break.
Off came Tom Walker and Greg Fox, who were replaced by Gaz Sides and Tom Pick, as the visitors went for three at the back with more firepower up front. Though it would possibly be fair to say that three at the back, was three more than they'd had in attendance for either of Askern's first half goals.
Neither of the lads who were taken off should be held up as scapegoats for the scoreline, you could just about have stuck in a pin in the team sheet blindfolded to decide who was coming off after such an uninspiring first half.
Blakey was pulled back just as he was about to break into the Askern box as Harworth set about trying to retrieve the game. But Jonny Bownes 'wind assisted' free kick proved to be more of a danger to the dressing room doors than Askern's goal.
Tom Pick almost halved the arrears, but his shot flew just wide of the right hand upright.
Obviously there was no need to panic just yet, with plenty of time remaining and with the wind direction now favouring Harworth more than Askern,.
There was still every likelihood than the visitors would dig in and overturn the two soft goals they had conceded before the break. Alas, that was merely my naive optimism coming to the fore again ... will I ever learn?
It was soon business as usual again as Thomas Dobbin found himself in space on the edge of the Colliery area and rattled a stinging shot against the upright.
Now, just perhaps, it was actually time to start panicing.
Sadly, the referee, Mr Rob Jackson, pulled up hurt and after several minutes of attention, he decided that he couldn't carry on.
Hopefully he'll be OK soon, he seems like a nice guy and we have a couple of dubious mutual friends who are involved with a football club and a police force in Derbyshire, respectively.
CMFL league official Mick Webb was running the line and took over the duties in the middle of the park.
The first thing he had to do, moments later, was point to the centre circle, because Askern scored again from the restart.
Michael Attard's attempt on goal was half cleared, straight into the path of Dobbin, who finally netted the goal that his efforts had deserved.
Arron Blakey set Dean Bonser up at the other end of the pitch, but Sykes saved the rare Harworth attempt on goal well.
The game was effectively over now and it petered out towards the end, as Askern closed ranks to preserve their lead, while Harworth didn't seem unduly over concerned about staging an unlikely comeback.
Ross Taylor came on for Lee Edmondson and made a couple of useful looking runs into the home sides territory, but it was always going to be a tall order for the local lad made good to make any impression on the game so late in the day.
In injury time, Mark Latham succeeded in blocking Chris Telling's route to goal and forced him out wide towards the right hand corner flag, but Telling managed to turn 180 degrees on the tricky pitch and stabbed the ball home inside the near post from a tight angle.
Four effing nil!
Latham's man of the match performance last week, as acknowledged by Harworth's opponents Sherwood Colliery, effectively won that game. He will however, want to put today's calamity behind him ASAP.
Not that I'm singling Mark out, collectively it was a very poor performance by the whole of the visiting team today, spared only be a couple of average performances.
Askern, on the other hand, will be lifted by how well they played today ... and in truth they could have won by an even bigger margin in the end.
Both teams got what they deserved out of the game. Askern, three points, Harworth, bugger all!
FT = Askern 4 v Harworth Colliery 0
Click link for a great set of photograph's from Askern v Harworth Colliery, taken by Sheffield FC's Ben Webster.