Saturday, 15 August 2015

Abbey Hey 3 v Worksop Town 1 - FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Left click team sheet to enlarge
Saturday 15th August 2015
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Road
at The Abbey Stadium, Goredale Avenue, Gorton, Manchester
Abbey Hey (0) 3
George Noon 54, Jon Hardy 75, 90
Worksop Town (0) 1
Adam Ward 49
Admission £5. Programme sold out. Attendance 180
Herein, I present my observations pertaining to today's FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie, which I have only posted after a 'cooling off period' and having given due consideration to the fact that football is only a game and we all make mistakes... and after making a few enquiries into whether the match officials in the North West Counties League use the same rules as those in the Northern Counties East League.
Be in no doubt, Abbey Hey warranted their win, they were more clinical in front of goal and worked hard for each other, while the Tigers were decidedly average at times, as they crashed to their second defeat in four days.
Hands up, I am a Tigers jinx, I will stay well clear for a while now.
But, it needs to be said, for purposes of clarification and to uphold the accuracy and credibility of this overview, whilst striving to be both objective and as neutral as possible; that there was some mighty strange stuff going on out on that pitch this afternoon and most of it centred around the match referee Mr Paul Ince.
Not the famous ex England international midfielder Paul Ince, but another one, though the former West Ham, Man United, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Wolves Swindon and Macclesfield (check that last one if you like, but I am ALWAYS right) player would possibly have been a better choice as referee.
I'm not just saying that because I wanted Worksop Town to win (of course I did), because in truth the full time score reflected both team's performance fairly and squarely, out on the Abbey Stadium pitch, on this gloriously sunny afternoon in Gorton, Manchester.
But Mr Ince had an absolute shocker.
Maybe it is a regional thing and they do actually run games differently over this way, but I doubt it... very, very much!
Of course, it wasn't only Worksop Town who suffered as a result of a few curious decisions, but when their centre half Ross Henshaw was dismissed, a major pivotal component in an already reshuffled back four, it was a massive blow for the Tigers and left them overstretched and vulnerable in the last third and it really showed.
To compound matters, some guilty parties who were involved in an unsightly few moments (see video below) escaped punishment, whilst Henshaw bore the brunt for having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, when the referee's only intention seemed to be a desire to even things up after he had decided to send off Abbey Hey's Danny Hewitt, for his part in an altercation that ensued when, with the ball still in open play, the home side's goalkeeper Jon McIlwaine threw a punch at Henshaw and wrestled him to the ground as they both challenged to get onto the end of a Connor Sellars free kick.
McIlwaine was booked for his transgression(s) and no penalty was awarded.
The home side's keeper proved to be very proficient in his chosen position and had a good game all told, which must've rubbed things in for the travelling Worksop fans who made up around two thirds of today's attendance.
But, even if the Tigers would have had a 10 against 9 numerical advantage and a substitute keeper to put under the cosh for most of the afternoon, though it pains me to say this, it is their frailties at the other end of the pitch that cost them the game and left them woefully exposed against a very well organised Abbey Hey side. Hopefully their injured players will make a quick recovery or it's going to be a very thin time for Worksop Town for a while.
This side are a joy to watch at times and play some aesthetically gorgeous football, but they have perhaps lacked that bit of steel and bite that is required to compete at Step 5 football, in the two games I have seen them play over this past week.
But, even from my (neutral-ish) position sat perched upon the fence, trying to look at things from the perspective of all three teams, namely: Abbey Hey, Worksop Town and the match officials, in all honesty I would have to say, Mr Ince made two monumental balls ups as regards his red card for Henshaw and his leniency towards McIlwaine.
After a frantic and niggly first half, Adam Ward seemed to have calmed down the Tigers nerves when he put them ahead on 49 minutes when Tom Elliott played him in on goal with a delightful pass. The referee and his assistant who hadn't kept up with play missed the fact that Ward was in a blatantly offside position, but hey ho! I believe that kind of thing is called karma, isn't it? With a strong aroma of crappy incompetence.
George Noon equalised within five minutes, when the visitors defence played pass the parcel with the ball from a set piece situation instead of getting rid of it, presenting the 'Red Rebels' with the easiest of opportunities to level things up.
Mitch Husbands came close to restoring the visitors lead from Connor Sellars cross, but then Abbey Hey came out all guns blazing and Tiger hunting season was declared well and truly open.
Thankfully, for Worksop, Ashford Blake had left his shooting boots on the bus today (so to speak) and he squandered a series of gilt edged chances.
Jon Kennedy kept Danny McDonnell at bay, but could only turn the ball away from a Sam Freaks free kick into the path of Jon Hardy who gratefully put the Gorton based side ahead.
It had been coming.
Worksop had to chuck everything into attack now, but came up against some very determined defending and McIlwaine did well to deny Elliott.
But it was a case of too little too late for the Tigers, who wouldn't be going home with any fond memories of their visit to Goredale Avenue.
Then inside the very last minute, the home side counter attacked and Hardy picked his spot from outside the penalty area and finished emphatically to seal the win that his side deserved.
As the Worksop fans drifted away, one of them levelled a volley of verbal abuse at the Tigers management team.
They weren't responsible for injuring the players who were unavailable today, nor did they go AWOL when Jon Kennedy was under siege... and they certainly didn't send Ross Henshaw off or get a first half penalty decision terribly wrong. Not that they will be looking for excuses.
Who knows, Worksop might have missed from the spot kick anyway given how things went today, or Jon McIlwaine might have saved it to really compound the travelling Tiger Army's misery, his luck definitely seemed to be in today.
All other issues aside, lets not lose sight of the fact that Abbey Hey deserve to still be in the FA Cup on merit. Good luck to them in the next round against Warrington.
Worksop are back in league action on Tuesday night at Garforth Town, no doubt they'll be relieved to hear that I won't be going.
FT: Abbey Hey 3 v Worksop Town 1

Referee's training video, this is not a fire drill, it's for real.
You Tube footage from this afternoon's game