Saturday, 31 October 2015

Handsworth Parramore 5 v Shildon AFC 4 (AET) - FA Vase R1

Saturday 31st October 2015
FA VAse First Round
at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium, Sandy Lane, Worksop
Handsworth Parramore (2) 3 - Extra time (4) 5
Kieran Wells 5, 56, 94
James Cullingworth 43
Jon Froggatt 110
Shildon AFC (2) 3 - Extra time (3) 4
Mark Doninger 29, 43, 120 pen
Gary Brown 69
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 144
Handsworth Parramore:
Andrew Sneath, Ben Starosta, James Cullingworth, Luke Fletcher, Gareth Griffiths, Richard Adams (C), Simon Harrison, Stephen Warne, Jon Froggatt, Kieran Wells, Danny Buttle
Subs - Alex Rippon, Nathan Joynes, Colin Marrison, Richard Tootle, David Ratcliffe (GK)
Shildon AFC:
Kyle Hayes, Dan Groves, Marc Ellison, Dan Moore (C), Gary Brown, Carl Jones, Mark Doninger, Lewis Dodds, Paul Connor, Ben Wood, Billy Greulich-Smith
Subs - MIchael Ray, Lewis Wing, Mark Hudson, James Harwood, Anthony Bell
Handsworth Parramore extended their ginormous unbeaten record in all competitions, as they knocked the bookmakers favourites in this season's competition, Shildon AFC, out of the FA Vase, by 5 goals to 4, after extra time, in a thrilling no holds barred contest at Sandy Lane.
Today's FA Vase game was my third in a chain that began at Inkersall Road, Staveley on September 5th, before moving on to Sandy Lane for the Ambers 3-2 win in the previous round.
Staveley MW v Cheadle Town
Click link for: THE66POW FA Vase trail, part 1: Staveley MW 3 v Cheadle Town 4
Handsworth Parramore v Cheadle Town
Click link for: THE66POW FA Vase trail, part 2: Handsworth Parramore 3 v Cheadle Town 2
I eagerly await the draw for the next round
There is talk, on the local football tittle tattle grapevine, that this Handsworth Parramore side are kick and rush, long ball merchants.
That is, of course, complete nonsense, borne out of the politics of envy.
Peter Duffield, Micky Godber and Steve Smith, currently have their team side playing a fast moving, passing, attack orientated and pressing game... and if some people equate getting the ball forward quickly to the Ambers pacey and powerful frontmen as being 'too direct', then they don't really know very much about football and they should stick to worrying about why their own teams aren't progressing through the ranks of non league football, at the same rate of knots that the 'Parras' are.
1 knot (kt) = 1.15077945 miles per hour (mph), for the benefit of those of you who haven't nodded off yet.
In a whole two hours of non stop action this afternoon, I do not recall Handsworth hoofing a hopeful long ball forward in the hope that a big target man would gamble on the percentages and take advantage.
Another myth is that they are dependent on their double edged forward line of Jon Froggatt and Kieron Wells and have very little else to offer.
For the record, there is a spine of quality players throughout the team and a quick look at subs bench today, reveals a strength in depth that their detractors would die for. Check out: Alex Rippon, Nathan Joynes, Colin Marrison and Richard Tootle, I'd wager that any, if not all of them, would be first choice picks for most teams in the NCEL Premier Division at the moment.
To my way of thinking the battle for the midfield was key to this high scoring game... and to that end, Steven Warne and Luke Fletcher are two of the best players in the NCEL in their respective positions.
But, I never set out to write a superlative strewn sycophantic essay, extolling the virtues of the home side and this afternoon's encounter ranks as the best game I have witnessed all season, because of the input of both sides who took part in a pulsating game today. 
It's been a while since I have been to Shildon, but I wouldn't hesitate to watch them in action again any time soon, when the opportunity presents itself, if their games are always as open as this one.
Gary Brown in full flight
Gary Brown, formerly of Darlington, Blyth Spartans and Durham City, was the best player on the pitch by some way and his defensive side kick, Marc Ellison, put in a box to box shift that redefined the word 'competitive'. Sadly he was dismissed in extra time as the game slipped away from the visitors, but he'd certainly made his mark on the game and in my humble opinion, he wouldn't look out of place competing at a higher level of football than my favorite non league competition: the Northern League.
Billy Greulich-Smith bust a lung getting forwards down the right and hat trick hero Mark Doninger was a handful for Gareth Griffiths and Richard Adams, who both performed admirably, all afternoon.
Possibly, if I was a football manager, I would watch games like this one, peering fearfully through my fingers in sheer horror at the amount of goals my side were conceding, but as a football fan of the completely neutral variety... give me a nine goal thriller, some proper tackles and a decent atmosphere every week and I'll be happy.
Dan Moore and Ben Wood combined as Shildon attacked from the off and 'Archie' Sneath struggled to deal with their threat but recovered just in the nick of time. But any nerves about facing the Railwaymen, who currently sit in second place in the Northern League (Division One) table with a staggering goal difference of +29, were calmed after just five minutes, when Kieran Wells played the ball out wide to Danny Buttle and knocked it past Kyle Hayes from the Handsworth wingers return pass cum cross.
But Shildon picked up the pace and Sneath found himself in the thick of it again, particularly when Paul Connor went for goal.
The visitors were on level terms after 29 minutes, when a miscued effort from Doninger squirmed past Sneath and over the line from Greulich-Smith's left wing cross.
Parramore had a couple of half chances, but the Shildon defence, particularly Brown, weren't here to mess about and they were proving to be a much tougher nut to crack than some of the less resilient defences the Ambers have come up against in several league games this season.
Ben Wood shot wide and Sneath did well to cut out a Lewis Dodds shot, but Shildon were seemingly finishing the first half on top and when Doninger netted again in the 43rd minute at the second attempt when his header from a Connor cross came back out off the post and he bundled it past Sneath from ten yards out.
It's a goal! Cullingworth makes it 2-2
However, Handsworth are renowned for doing their best business when the clock is ticking down against them and sure enough, within 60 seconds of going behind, James Cullingworth nudged the ball forwards to Froggatt just inside the Shildon area, who played the ball back to the Ambers left back who whipped a curling shot just inside the right hand upright through a crowded goalmouth.
HT: Handsworth Parramore 2 v Shildon AFC 2
After the restart, both teams jabbed away at each other, like a pair of prize fighters, looking for a dropped guard to exploit.
Wells forced a corner off of Brown but when Buttle's flag kick was palmed away by Hayes, Simon Harrison couldn't keep his shot down as he latched onto the loose ball and his shot sailed over the bar.
Froggatt got the better of his marker and nudged a header across the face of goal towards Wells who was hurtling through the right channel like an express train, the in form striker gratefully and gleefully crashed the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out, to regain the lead with an unstoppable shot.
It looked for a while as though Handsworth were taking control of the game now... and the next goal would be crucial. Fletcher was a coat of paint away from netting Parramore a fourth from Buttle's cross. 
Spurred on by their close call and having weathered a spell of pressure, the battling visitors pushed forward again and forced a free kick out on the right wing. 
The Railwaymen threw everything but the kitchen sink at Anthony Bell's delivery and Brown proved to be a thorn in the Ambers side at both ends of the pitch and he rose head and shoulders above everybody else in the area and met the ball head on, nestling it just underneath the crossbar and beyond Sneath's reach. Ironically, the free kick had been Bell's first touch of the ball, shortly after coming on as a substitute.
Game on!
Peter Duffield sent Colin Marrison and Alex Rippon on, in a bid to freshen things up and force the issue before the game went into extra time, but the visitors looked just as to finish the game off inside 90 minutes. And a catalogue of close calls and last ditch clearances ensued at both ends of the pitch.
Quite how Rippon didn't snatch the game in stoppage time is anyone's guess, as he beat the keeper but the ball crept agonisingly wide.
90 minutes: Handsworth Parramore 3 v Shildon AFC 3
Four minutes into extra time, Froggatt flicked Ben Starosta's cross on and Wells was on hand to get the last touch and squeak it across the line by the right hand post, with boots flying in all over the place.
Froggatt nearly added a fifth for Parramore who were at this point looking like the most likely victors at this point, although you obviously couldn't write this very determined looking Shildon side off just yet.
In fact, I was already collecting names for a possible trip up to Dean Street to watch the replay, it's only just up the road from my house (AKA 102 miles due north via the A1).
The pendulum swung in Handsworth's favour even further just before the end of the first period of extra time, when Marc Ellison was shown a straight red card, as he appeared to take a lunge at Wells off the ball, though my view was slightly restricted because there was a big lump belonging to one of the management teams obscuring my view... moving swiftly on!
Michael Rae was livid when the referee missed him having his shirtsleeve pulled as he homed in on the Parramore goal by, err.... oh heck! Restricted view again ;-), substitutes warming up in front of me this time... I better find somewhere else to stand for the last 15 minutes.
Extra time HT: 4-3 to Handsworth Parramore
Froggatt took advantage when Hayes parried Buttle's shot away and knocked the ball home off the rebound to give the Ambers a two goal cushion with ten minutes to go.
Wells squandered a great opportunity to make it 6-3 when he took too many touches on the ball and ended up on his backside in the Shildon area.
In stoppage time at the end of 120 minutes, the referee spotted a push in the Handsworth area and blew up for a penalty. Doninger made no mistake and claimed his hat trick from the spot, but it was a bittersweet moment, because he had netted Shildon's fourth goal with the very last kick of the game.
Extra time FT: Handsworth Parramore 5 v Shildon 4
A remarkable game of football.
I certainly made the right decision about where to go this afternoon after this lunchtime's Stags development team game v Hartlepool United had finished.
Well done to all concerned... on and off the pitch.