Saturday, 18 April 2015

Staveley MW 0 v Liversedge 0 - Toolstation NCEL Premier Division

Saturday 18th April 2015
at Inkersall Road
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Staveley MW 0
Liversedge 0
Attendance 163
Staveley MW line up:
Chris Butt, Tom Gambles, Greg Fitzpatrick, Ryan Bates (James Ashmore 61), Alex Pugh (Mohammed Tijani 53), James Finnigan, Ryan Watters, Sam Finlaw (C), Ryan Walters (Charlie Board 80), Ross Goodwin, Ellis Wall
Unused subs - George Johnson, George Slack

Many of those in attendance at Inkersall Road this afternoon, will have been under the impression that the predominantly teen-aged starting line up, several of whom were making their first team debuts, will have been selected out of necessity, borne out of the fact that several senior players have left the club this week (of their own vocation), following a 'mutual and amicable' agreement, between the club and James Colliver and Ryan France, that saw the management duo leave the club after Tuesday night's narrow defeat at Nostell Miners Welfare. 
Subsequently Staveley's Under 21 side coaches: Jay Roper and Steve Bates, will also be filling the first team roles in a caretaker capacity until the end of the current season.
However, today's 'experimental' side had been suggested several weeks ago and the idea was agreed upon by Colliver and France, along with Roper and Bates, to see how the current crop of up and coming players would actually fare at NCEL level.
So in spite of all the hype and rumours, today's line up had already been pre-planned as part of the young squad's education and continuing development. 
In the event, eight of the starting line up had already experienced first team football before anyway.
The game itself, started off at a frantic pace for the opening ten minutes, with a stiff breeze cutting across the field of play towards the Chantry side of the ground, but once things settled down, Staveley showed their intentions early on, with both Ross Goodwin and Ryan Walters coming close.
Staveley's back four of Tom Gambles, Alex Pugh, James Finnigan and Greg Fitzpatrick all play alongside regularly and it showed, with them all keeping a their shape well and covering each others backs when one or more of them ventured forward to join in with the attack or or link up with the midfield.
The crowd of 163 who had turned out to run the rule over the new charges and atmosphere of change at the club,  were soon won over by the passing and movement out on the pitch and were generous with their appreciative support of what they were witnessing, which made for a great atmosphere. 
As the buzz emanating around the stands reached the players, they visibly rose in stature and confidence. 
And it wasn't just a case of the crowd giving the team some leeway because of any raw naivety, it was in groundswell of approval and recognition that this so called 'kid's team' actually knew what they were doing, could cope collectively with the step up and were ready for action.
Captain Sam Finlaw, who has only missed one first team game so far this season, when he was too ill to turn out at Armthorpe, was relishing in his leading role and evidently more than ready to take up the responsibility bestowed upon him.
His through ball to the ever busy Walters, who forced a great reaction save out of Liversedge's Sam Dobbs, following some great work in the build up from Ryan Watters and Ryan Bates. 
As showcases for fringe players trying to prove themselves go, there were a lot of seamless transitions from development level football to first team standard on display today.
Liversedge managed their first effort on goal of note in the twentieth minute, but the highly rated Chris Butt, who has been attracting the interest of several other local clubs, dealt with Andy Wood's hooked shot from outside the area fairly easily.
Ellis Wall, who reaches his 22nd birthday in December, and as a consequence was one of the elder statesmen in today's team, put in a great shift all afternoon, making foraging runs forward and giving Staveley more attacking options, while Ross Goodwin made good with a similar battering ram role in support of the Staveley attack.
Tom Gambles was busying himself up and down the right flank and linking up well with Bates and Watters. While the left back Fitzpatrick was proving to be a stubborn nut to crack as Liversedge tried to advance down the right flank. Having seen 'the best centre half duo in Under 21's football' in action many times for Staveley's development team, a lot of supporters who turn out for the HKL NMU21L games, would've already known how solid this pairing are ... and they weren't to be disappointed.
Bates' free kick into the mix from out on the right, was half cleared into the path of Ryan Walters who's close range shot narrowly cleared the bar. Wall cut in from the left flank but a wall of three defenders thwarted his progress, but the loose ball fell to Finlaw who had to rush his shot and put it wide of the upright.
Half time: Staveley MW 0 v Liversedge 0

This Staveley line up obviously hadn't read the script about how today was meant to be about getting some experience, with the result being of secondary importance while they grabbed the opportunity to shine ... they were well up for it and going for the result.
It was impressive to see James Ashmore putting the subs through their training drills and offering guidance during the interval, his conduct today, putting aside a difficult week for the club and rolling his sleeves up and weighing in for the cause, demonstrated what a true pro he is.
He deserves all of the plaudits that come his way ... and today, there were many.
Eight minutes into the second half, Alex Pugh was flattened by a late challenge from Andy Wood. The 17 year old limped off and after a spell of treatment it was decided he couldn't carry on. Ross Goodwin dropped back into defence to cover for Pugh ... and a murmur of excitement rippled around the ground, as the effervescent 'pocket rocket' that is all 4ft 11 inches of Mohammed Tijani (TJ) was let loose on an unsuspecting Liversedge defence.
On the hour, Bates played the ball forward to Wall who released Watters in on goal, his pace sprang the offside trap and he buried the ball past Dobbs for what looked like the opening goal.
Up went the flag and the goal was ruled out ... possibly other players who had strayed forward (but they didn't have any part to play in the move described above), but Watters was very unlucky to have that one chalked off.
Bates was booked for an innocuous challenge in the middle of the field as two players challenged for the same ball and in the process, got some private one to one tuition in how to deal will a 'personality referee'.
Mr Thornhill has his own unique way of running things and today will have been a real eye opener for a few people. 
That isn't a criticism of the match official, just a general observation.
He has been officiating for over a decade ... but he is a complete one off in many respects. Nuff said!
Bates, having put in a lung busting hour was replaced by James Ashmore.
Ashmore showed an array of twists and turns and demonstrated to the younger players around him how to buy yourself a few yards of space and a few vital seconds of time, by stamping his authority all over the middle of the park.
His quality distribution and ability to hold onto possession while his team mates found space for themselves off the ball was a joy to behold at times. 
Ashmore planted a free kick across the six yard box, which Finlaw turned just wide of the upright, whilst the 'always in the wars' Watters bundled unceremoniously to the ground.
Walters won a corner off of Glen O'Gara and when Watters hoodwinked the Liversedge defence by stepping over Wall's flag kick, Finlaw was only inches away from tucking the ball just inside the left hand post.
'TJ' was flattened in the middle of the park, but Mr Thornhill waved play on, adjudging that Staveley's two forward facing players Finlaw and Wall had some kind of an advantage against the seven Liversedge players that stood between them and the goal. To compound matters nobody was disciplined for the bad foul on Tijani when the opportunity arose for the referee to deal with it.
It is not the 'Staveley way' to criticise match referees so I won't, but I believe it is part of the club ethos to report everything as honestly accurately as possible, so; Mr Thornhill, with all due respect, you got that one horribly wrong!
The ever outspoken Liversedge keeper Sam Dobbs, took a few moments off from his regular duties of shouting excessively expletive laden abuse at everyone and anyone within the perimeter walls of the ground and belted a long pass down the left flank to Jack McNorough, but 'Sedge's number seven's cross was gathered comfortably by Butt, who is now poised, quite literally to grab his opportunity to establish himself as first choice keeper for the remainder of the season with both hands.
Steve Hernandez's premature departure from Staveley is a blow for the club, but 'Butty' is ready to pick up the baton and will have learned plenty this season from working with 'Nando'. I am sure everybody connected with Staveley appreciates the work that Hernandez has done and wishes him well for the future, but Chris Butt is the Welfare's number one now and will make the number 1 shirt his own in no time at all.
Andy Sunley threatened Staveley's goal twice in the space of a couple of minutes, as Liversedge enjoyed a spell of pressure. But Staveley mopped up and went on the offensive again.
On 80 minutes, the Liversedge centre halves will have been glad to see the back of the powerhouse striker that is Ryan Walters, but found out quickly that in Charlie Board, Roper and Bates had a like for like replacement.
Board will have done his chances of being in the squad again on Tuesday no harm at all, with his fresh legged running, pulling the visitors defence all over the place.
Tijani's close range shot was turned against the crossbar by Dodds as Staveley cranked things up a notch in the last few minutes.
Inkersall Road had an approving smile on it's face and the crowd were now urging the home side to push forward and get the result their efforts warranted.
Gambles slipped the ball through to Watters, but Liversedge forced the ball away for a corner as he cued up his shot.
In the ninetieth minute, Ashmore lobbed a pass to Wall, who managed to drag the ball past the keeper and get his shot in from ten yards, but as the crowd rose as one to celebrate a richly deserved win, the ball crashed off of the foot of the right hand post and Liversedge cleared it away to hang on for a draw.

Staveley left the pitch to the sound of applause and cheers, they hadn't got the victory their efforts had merited, but they had won over any doubters in the crowd.

Full time: Staveley MW 0 v Liversdege 0