Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Staveley Miners Welfare 3 v Bridlington Town 3 - NCEL Prem

Wednesday 26th March 2014
at Inkersall Road, Staveley
NCEL Premier Division
Staveley Miners Welfare (1) 3
Joe Flint 29, 87
Matt Thorpe 68
Bridlington Town (0) 3
Craig Hogg 64
Rikki Paylor 71
Ashley Allanson 90+
Admission £5. Programme £1. Attendance 102
Left click image to enlarge
10th placed Bridlington Town travelled to Staveley Miners Welfare, who are currently languishing in 17th position in the NCEL Premier Division ... and you could have been forgiven for anticipating yet another dreary NCEL, end of season, going through the motions, sort of game.
But, thankfully, both teams had other ideas and a crowd of 102 were treated to a very open and entertaining 96 minutes of football here at Inkersall Road tonight.
At the weekend, Staveley had recorded an impressive result, by beating in form Heanor Town 2-1, away from home, while 'Brid' had recovered from being 3-0 down at Albion Sports, to salvage a 3-3 draw.
Though tonight's comeback was nowhere near as arduous a mountain for the visitors to climb, as the one they had conquered at Farsley on Saturday, it was probably an even more dramatic finale, given that they equalised three times over the course of the game and finally snatched a share of the points so deep into injury time, that a passing milkman had hopped off of his float, to pop in and watch the last few minutes of this pulsating, end to end, entertaining encounter.
Back ground notes:
Despite it having been a transitional period for Staveley for quite a while now, for far too long a while actually, their attendances have held up pretty well around the treble figure mark, in spite of some indifferent results and below par performances, because a lot of local football enthusiasts can see what SMWFC is about and what they are trying to achieve.
Those spectators/supporters have bought into the ethos of how the people at the club are trying to fulfil those aims.
Namely, by investing in the future and working tirelessly towards keeping a production line of talent coming through the youth ranks every year and assembling a solid structure around those players.
Staveley Miners Welfare is about developing youngsters, via the junior section, Under 19's and Reserves, to build a first team who are groomed (for want of a better word) and prepared towards doing things 'the Staveley way', which is the right way to go about doing things, in my considered and slightly biased opinion.
Neil Cluxton, who is sadly no longer with Staveley, deserves a lot of the credit for helping to create that infrastructure.
Alas, he was a major casualty in the recent struggle to get the good ship SMWFC back on course away from stormy waters, mercenary ex players and journeymen footballers, which was a real shame, because 'Clucky' is a genuinely decent guy. Being the consummate and loyal club man that he was, he stepped up the take the reins as first team manager at a time when the club was on the ropes and taking a standing count ... and for that selfless act alone, he will always be held in very high esteem by everybody who has the best interests of Staveley Miners Welfare at heart.
Unfortunately, he moved on when the first team position didn't work out for him. Personally, I was gutted that he didn't stay at the club in some capacity, because I thought he was 'nailed on' to take his old role back.
But football is like that ... and the turnover of good people moving on from clubs, for reasons that they alone will ever fully understand, is a non stop, unrelenting and (quite often) fairly brutal process, that chews up and spits out many a good man.
Neil wasn't the first and he certainly won't be the last.
The list of unfinished symphonies and 'if only' scenarios in this game is endless.
I hope that Neil returns to Staveley Miners Welfare and re-establishes himself in his development coach role at some point in the future.
Surely that would be the ideal, win/win situation for all concerned.
Back to the present day however. The league table doesn't lie, it's been an awful season at times for this ambitious football club, but you can sense, amongst those who turn up at Inkersall Road on a regular basis, that they know better times are just around the corner and that having been knocked off course by a terminal run of misfortune ... which, by some strange quirk of fate, seemed to coincide with Staveley's untimely elimination from the FA Vase at the semi final stage two years ago ... things are on the upturn again.
It could be said that the faithful are "Waiting for the great leap forward", as some pseudo agit pop protest singer from Essex once warbled.
For what it is worth, I'm more than happy to chuck my weight behind the widely held opinion, that the right first team management team are now in place, to start leading the team back in the right direction again.
Ok, they arrived more out of necessity and by accident than design, but the shoots of recovery are clear for all to see.
James Colliver and James Roper take a bow ... along with the loyal and often forgotten coaching staff at Inkersall Road.
Right, after that long winded introduction, on with tonights action:
The game was just 11 minutes old when Staveley's player manager had to leave the field having tweaked his calf, but that gave his replacement from the bench, Robbie Start, 80 minutes to show what he was capable of, having only had 20 minutes playing time for the club previously, after coming of in the second half of Saturday's win at Heanor Town. Start, along with his strike partner Joe Flint, another recent acquisition, put in a great performance, which'll no doubt see him in contention for a place in the starting 11 this coming weekend.
Tonight's Staveley team, once again, included a healthy quota of players who are home grown, which led to one 'terrace wit' shouting out "Come on Staveley Under 19's!"
Craig Palmer almost opened the scoring for 'Brid' in the tenth minute, but Ben Townsend managed to push his well struck 25 yard free kick away and recovered in time to save again from Shaun Day who pounced on the rebound.
A succession of corners for the home side came to nothing, before Joel Sutton tried his luck against Townsend from long range, but once again, the Staveley keeper gathered the ball safely.
The Seasiders keeper, Paul Fraser, was called into action, when Josh Scully's effort from the edge of the box fell kindly for him, via a deflection, after Joe Flint had knocked a sideways pass into the path of the industrious midfielder, who was having to work even harder than usual tonight, given that his player manager was now off the pitch and Jamie Smith was on the bench, having picked up an injury in the warm up at the weekend.
To that end, Michael Trench was covering an enormous amount of ground too.
Joe Flint, making only his third start for the Welfare, opened the scoring on 29 minutes, when the visitors defence made hard work of clearing a corner from Scully and the powerhouse striker smashed a low shot into the back of the net that Fraser had no hope of stopping.
It was Flint's second goal in Staveley's colours, he opened the scoring at the weekend too and by the end of the night, his goals per game ration would read 3 from 3.
Surprisingly, given both team's gung-ho approach to attacking football, Flint's strike was the only goal of a very open, end to end first half.
HT: 1-0
Forthcoming fundraiser for SMWFC Under 14's team
Quite often, games that have promised much during a lively opening 45 minutes, fail to deliver after the interval, but not tonight. And both teams came back out fully intent on carrying on with their respective all out attack tactics. 
Which was good to see. 
Effectively, neither side have anything left to play for this season, so entertaining the crowd is the best policy to adopt ... and it will keep them coming back for more of the same. I fully expect both of these sides to be amongst the frontrunners in the NCEL Premier next season, time will tell of course, but I'm quietly confident that you will be able to quote me on that in 12 months time.
Bridlington were almost on level terms on 50 minutes, but Michael Trench was on hand to clear the ball off the line and Staveley immediately broke away up the other end, where a well weighted forward pass from Matt Thorpe sent Joe Flint tearing away towards the goal, but his shot was flew high and wide of the target and the ball vanished into the car park.
Robbie Start, repeated Flint's party piece, by blazing the ball over the stand after carrying it all the way to the goal area from Staveley's half.
Inevitably, straight after the two glaring misses for the home side, Bridlington attacked down the left flank, the ball was played into the box and Craig Hogg fired home the equaliser.
Within four minutes the home side were back in front, when Jamie Smith, on as a substitute on the hour, combined well with Start through the left channel, the latter floated the ball into the box where Matt Thorpe headed home the ball by the right hand post.
On 71 minutes the game was level again, when Rikki Paylor rose to powerfully head home Ashley Allanson's right wing corner via a towering leap by the front post.
Bridlington should've been in front when Joel Ramm squared the ball into the path of Joel Sutton, nut the visitors number 10 scuffed his shot wide. The same two players were involved moments later and they switched the ball across the 18 yard line to Allanson who also missed the target.
Nick Hague took advantage of a defensive slip, but his audacious lob came to nothing.
Both sides continued to take it in turns to attack at will, but it looked as though Staveley had won the game, when Flint whacked home his second goal of the night, after Jamie Smith had played the ball to him on the edge of the box.
In injury time, Fraser kept the visitors in the game, when he turned Trench's effort round the post, after Jonathan Wafula had made a great run into the left hand side of the penalty area and delivered a low cross to the Staveley captain.
Deep into injury time, Bridlington mounted one last assault on the Staveley goal and as they raced forward en masse, Ashley Allanson delivered the hammer blow that secured a point for the Seasiders from 12 yards out.
Wow! What a finale!
FT: Staveley Miners Welfare 3 v Bridlington Town 3
Staveley would've been disappointed to have conceded a goal so late in the game and were probably wondering where the referee Joe Simpson had found so much stoppage time from, but on the balance of play, a draw was a very fair result. 
All in all a great advert for the NCEL. 
As Paul Weller would say ...
Don't worry David, I'll put some Slim Whitman on next week ;-)
Follow this link to Jim McIntosh's match report from this game in the --> Chesterfield Post