Saturday, 11 July 2015

Arnold Town 1 v Staveley MW 2 - PSF

Saturday 11th July 2015
PSF at Eagle Valley
Arnold Town (1) 1 
Courtney Hastings 6
Staveley MW (1) 2 
Ross Goodwin 43, Adam Wisdom (pen) 72
Admission £3/£2. Attendance 41
Brett Marshall and Paul Ward's debut as the new management team at Staveley Miners Welfare, saw the Trojans start their campaign of warm up games with a win, against a lively Arnold Town side.
Pre-season friendly results are not all that important however and it doesn't really matter if you lose each and every one of these practice games, just as long as the team is raring to go and fully prepared on August 8th; because these fixtures are merely a dress rehearsal for the real thing, that is looming over the horizon, dangling like a carrot for all eager and hungry footballers to aim towards.
That said, winning is a good habit to get into too... and it is even more satisfying to win, when the match referee goes out of his way after the final whistle, to tell you that although the respective teams really meant some of those tackles out on the park this afternoon (ice packs don't lie), the game had been contested in the right spirit and the players conduct (on both sides) had been exemplary throughout.
Since March, possibly even sooner than that, I have seen and heard a lot of conjecture, gossip, speculation and half truths about the ins and outs surrounding the players, staff and management personnel at Staveley Miners Welfare FC. 
But those 'in the know', namely the people directly involved, have, to their immense credit, kept their own counsel, while others have been peddling unfounded and vastly inaccurate opinions to all and sundry. 
Everybody is entitled to an opinion. 
However, one must remember: opinion is just opinion... and facts are facts.
Those who know the truth, the whole truth and 'nowt but the bleedin' truth, have kept schtum, while those who don't... have over compensated for their lack of first hand knowledge, by shouting the odds the loudest, from the highest rooftops; while making themselves look bloody daft into the bargain.
People come and go at an alarming rate at all football clubs and you seldom hear tell of any long service testimonials anywhere in this day and age. 
Do you?
That, for better or for worse, is how football works these days.
The previous management team at Staveley MWFC, along with some of the club's former players and staff, are happily going their duties at Clipstone FC nowadays; for the record, they drew 1-1 with AFC Mansfield today. 
Good luck to them all, they have made their choice about where they want to work, since departing from Inkersall Road... and that it is nobody else's business but their own. 
The current incumbents of the managerial hot-seats at Inkersall Road (they are of a plush leatherette construction, situated next to the revolving door in the clubhouse, wired up to an ejector button behind the bar, just in case anybody ever starts to get too comfortable in them) are also getting on with business and they will have been very happy with what they saw out on the pitch at Eagle Valley today, where the existing players from last term, gelled well with the new signings, who they have been training alongside three times a week, in the build up to the challenge of the rapidly approaching new season.
Arnold's pitch has been problematic for the Eagles, virtually from the moment they moved into their current new(ish) home six years ago. 
The surface was conducive to 'going long', but both sides avoided taking the 'direct route' and kept the ball on the deck and tried to pass it around, as much as they possibly could.
Arnold will be familiar with the underfoot conditions, but the unpredictable bounce of the ball caught Jason Fisher out after just six minutes, when Courtney Hastings shot from the edge of the box, 'bobbled' just inside the post, when it looked as though the Trojans keeper had it well covered.
But Staveley still had 84 minutes in which to conjure up a comeback formula and Ross Goodwin pulled them level just before half time, after he'd gone close once already, along with Ryan Watters, when his glancing header went in via the right hand upright and the last defender. 
It was goalbound anyway, but, for purposes of clarification, Ross is a honest lad and he is convinced that the goal was his and no Arnold player has come forward to dispute the validity of Goodwin's claim, so that is that. 
I said so!
The second half was punctuated by a string of substitutions and a couple of water breaks, a sensible precaution given the humidity of the afternoon.
The passing, movement off the ball and interplay between the Staveley players, impressed those who had travelled across to support their team and the appreciation as to how quickly certain players were developing an understanding was clear to see. A collective nod of approval and thumbs up was evident.
The result was immaterial, but when Mohammed Tijani went to ground under a challenge as he burst into the Arnold box in the 72nd minute, the Trojans claimed the victory via an Adam Wisdom spot kick.
Outwith the result, a far more pleasing aspect about the game was the way that the intensive training sessions the club (not just the first team) have been undertaking, are already showing signs of paying dividends.
The well drilled routines, looked almost as if they came instinctively to Marshall's squad at times.
Although the players are being encouraged to play with a bit of flair and freedom by their new manager, they are also fully aware of their duties and responsibilities within the Staveley DNA club framework.
Obviously there are other club in the NCEL Premier Division, with bigger budgets than Staveley MWFC and even more grandiose ambitions, who are more likely to be championship contenders this coming term. 
However, although money will buy you talented individuals, the old adage that Together Everybody Achieves More, quite often wins the day too.
I will stick my neck out and predict a top six finish for the Trojans, but I don't personally think that the club infrastructure is actually geared towards promotion to the Evo-Stik League. 
Not just yet anyway. 
Though great strides are being made in that direction, so obviously it will be something that Staveley will have to give serious consideration to, in the next two, three or four years.
In the meantime, if today's game as anything to go by, purveyors of passing football will enjoy their visits to Inkersall Road this coming season... and Eagle Valley for that matter, because Graham Walker and Frank Corrigan seem to have the Arnold players adopting the right kind of footballing ethos too.
FT: Arnold Town 1 v Staveley MW 2