Saturday, 5 September 2015

Staveley MW 3 v Cheadle Town 4 - FA Vase 1RQ

Saturday 5th September 2015
FA Vase 1st Round Qualifying
at Inkersall Road
Staveley Miners Welfare (1) 3
Courtney Hastings 44, 57
Jamie Brown 61
Cheadle Town (1) 4
Luke Hincks 25
Luke Pearson 72 pen
Richard Whyatt 74, 86
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 139.
For Flickr photo group click HERE
"Life is like a box of chocolates" according the eminent philosopher Forrest Gump.
If he called it right... and let's make no bones about this, he usually did, then it would seem, on today's showing, that Staveley Miners Welfare have ended up with a whole layer of soft centres in their box.
So then, a seven goal thriller?
Well, that is what the final score suggests, isn't it?
But, a defensive horror show by the home side, would be a more apt description of how this afternoon's game unfolded if truth be told.
However I won't go singling out individual culprits and pointing the finger of blame at anyone, the truth of the matter is: Cheadle wanted it more, they worked harder than Staveley and they battled until the bitter end.
With twenty minutes remaining, 'the Trojans' were 3-1 ahead and it should have been a formality for them, but they imploded and Cheadle Town grasped the opportunity to run amok, with both hands.
Left click to enlarge
The pre match form book showed that although the step 6, NWCFL Division 1 side, Cheadle Town, are always likely to score plenty of goals (they had drawn 5-5 on the opening day of the season), they are also prone to conceding a few as well.
Staveley, for their part, are currently sat in a mid table position in the NCEL Premier Division, having only kept one clean sheet so far since the beginning of the this current stop/start season.
Their last outing saw them overcome championship contenders Worksop Town 4-3 at Sandy Lane, a week ago; on the same ground where their FA Cup adventure tumbled to a halt at the first hurdle, when Handsworth Parramore despatched them 6-0 last month.
A goalless draw was never likely to be on the cards today then.
An away tie against either Handsworth Parramore or AFC Liverpool awaited the winner of this game (in the event Handsworth won that one 1-0).
Cheadle employ a human triangle to give Michael Kennedy
the height advantage over Staveley captain Matt Varley
The Staveley chairman has often said that he would dearly love to have another crack at the FA Vase, after his side came so close to reaching Wembley in the competition in 2012, when they got as far as the semi final stage, before narrowly losing to Dunston UTS over two legs. Click HERE for more details.
Well, unless they are moving the Sheffield & Hallamshire cup final (that Frickley Athletic will win anyway) to Wembley Stadium this year, the dream of paying a visit to the national arena are already over for Terrance Damms for another season.
But Staveley's current choice of manager, Brett Marshall, is more of a slow burning lover than a quick knee trembler merchant... and he usually does the business over the course of a whole season, in the league, rather than excelling in one off games and cup competitions.
Brett's tenure is part of a long term plan and to that end these are only the early, prototype and transitional stages of a four or five year cycle.
And although the Welfare have made a bit of a stuttering start to their campaign, it is worth noting that they are only actually three points off of third place in the NCEL and as of yet, it is still only early days.
Staveley's new signing from Basford United, Fabian Smith, had the first goal scoring opportunity of the game, but his effort was well wide of the mark. 
It would probably be fair to say that the Inkersall Road faithful didn't exactly see the best of Smith today, as he failed to make the kind of impact he would have hoped for on his debut, as part of a midfield trio, in a 4-3-3 set up that didn't really work this afternoon. 
Jamie Brown, Jamie York and Adam Scott in particular all had their moments going forward in the final third, where Courtney Hastings was given plenty of ammunition, but ultimately it was the battle for the midfield that decided the outcome of the game and it was the visitors who showed more tenacity and desire in the middle of the park. 
Hastings came close with the second real chance of the game, but it was the Greater Manchester based side who broke the deadlock after 25 minutes.
The whistle happy referee, turned down two penalty appeals for the visitors, before Chris Sherrington set up Luke Hincks, who thumped the ball past Fisher, who had already made a couple of good stops.
Staveley pulled level just before the break when Hastings headed home Adam Scott's corner, after Ross Goodwin's blistering shot had taken a deflection past the upright.
HT - Staveley MW 1 v Cheadle Town 1
Jason Fisher had to be alert again when Richard Whyatt threatened to restore the visitors lead, but, in the main, it was Staveley who looked to be on top of things after the break.
Adam Scott once again provided Hastings with a precision cross from out on the right, that the Staveley striker nodded past Stephen Piggott to give the home side the lead just before the hour mark.
On 63 minutes, Jamie Brown picked his spot and rolled the ball past Piggott, to make it 3-1, from another Adam Scott assist and it now looked like plain sailing for the home side.
Brown almost sealed things for 'the Trojans', but a last ditch block deflected the ball into the side netting, although it did look for a moment as though Staveley were now home and dry with a three goal cushion from where I was stood.
Such are the narrow margins between triumph and despair.
It would take an Herculean effort from Cheadle to get anything out of this game now, or an abject capitulation from Staveley for them not to sail comfortably through to the next round. Whoops!
Cue one Herculean effort and abject capitulation combination, as the visitors pulled off a comeback that old Lazarus himself would've been proud of.
Smith and Goodwin got in a tangle with what should have been a straight-forward passing manoeuvre, that allowed Darrhyl Mason the opportunity to nick the ball and home in on the Staveley goal, he went to ground as Goodwin tried to rescue the situation and the referee blew up for a foul and awarded a penalty.
Luke Pearson stepped forward, kept his nerve and although Fisher went the right way, the visitors left back struck the ball just beyond his reach. 18 minutes to go, game on? Surely not!
16 minutes to go, game definitely on!
The home defence went AWOL as Ben Brooks stole a whole acre of space for himself from a throw in and crossed to Richard Whyatt, who diverted an angled shot past Fisher and into the Staveley goal, which raised a very serious question: 
Where the **** had the back two rows of Trojans players collectively vanished to?
Talk turned as to whether there would be extra time, penalties, or a replay etc. 
In the event there would've been an extra thirty minutes played, followed by a replay at Cheadle on Wednesday, if the sides were still level at the end of 120 minutes. 
Cool! I haven't been to Cheadle's ground yet. 
But my groundhopping tendency induced joy was to be short lived... and I will have to find somewhere else to go on Wednesday night now instead. 
Hastings came close to snatching a late winner for Staveley but Cheadle cleared their lines, and Whyatt nipped in and took advantage of some hesitant defending at the other end to nick an even later one for the visitors, when he collected a long pass from Jonathan McLaughlin and was allowed the time and space to knock the ball over Fisher, to add the finishing touches to a quite remarkable turn of events.
You reap what you sow.
FT - Staveley MW 3 v Cheadle Town 4
In the event, both teams got exactly what they deserved this afternoon.
Cheadle showed desire, tenacity, commitment, a great work ethic and remained focussed until the very end... and Staveley didn't!
And though the home side played some decent football at times, especially at the start of the second half, with Brown and Scott terrorising the visitors down the flanks, the way 'the Trojans' waved the white flag towards the end, was, to be frank, quite embarrassing. 
For the record, I'm moderating my thoughts at this juncture, because I have a lot of friends at Inkersall Road and I am mindful of sparing their feelings.
But I would hope that they're all honest enough to accept heartfelt criticism when it is merited.
Credit where it is due to Cheadle Town though, you can only beat what is in front of you and although Staveley were awful in the last twenty minutes and failed to put up even a token resistance towards the end, that was a monumental fight back from Terry Hincks side.