Saturday, 26 December 2015

Clipstone 3 v Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 & Retford United 2 v Worksop Town 2 - Boxing Day NCEL Prem double header

Right then, that's the celebration of the approximate birthday of Jesus Christ over and done with for another year and now we can start getting back to normal again.
Boxing Day, it's actually got nothing whatsoever to do with the Marquess of Queensbury rules, or the 'sport' of boxing itself.
Traditionally, it was all about workers and servants receiving a 'Christmas box' from their employer; which wasn't necessarily a box at all, or even in one; but a gift (or payment) of gratitude, for a job well done throughout the year gone by.
Boxes are okay and they certainly have their uses, but I think most people prefer a tax free bung.
It is also, apparently, a day for local derby matches at 'the football'.
However, today... Mansfield Town were given a 'local' away fixture at Morecambe, courtesy of the SkyBet Football League fixtures computer, whilst Notts County were dispatched in the opposite direction to Hartlepool.
In the event of it being 'grim up north', both of those games were postponed following pitch inspections this morning.
There will always be anomalies and geographically isolated clubs to fit into the equation, but I can think of one fairly obvious fixture option that would have made more sense for fans of Football League clubs in Nottinghamshire today. Mansfield Town v Notts County at the Wonk Hall Stadium would've gone ahead today too!
Morecambe are heading to Meadow Lane, to face the 'Pies' on Monday, logistically it's all a bit daft really innit!?
For the record, Nottingham Forest's Boxing Day home game v Leeds United has been switched to tomorrow (Sunday) tea time, which means both of their Monday afternoon games have been moved back to Tuesday night. Cardiff City away in midweek... unlucky!
Of course, there was a fertile crop of non league games to choose from in the local area today (weather permitting) and it made sense that some clubs had tweaked their kick off times, to allow ground-hoppers, bloggerists and anorak wearing sad sacks like me, the opportunity to fit two games in over the course of the day... and still be home in time for that all important family meal and seasonal movie at a reasonable time.
I'm sure nobody wanted to miss 'Murder on the Orient Express' on Channel 4, did they?
Saturday 26th December 2015. 12.45pm kick off.
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
At the Worksop Van Hire Stadium (Lido Ground), Clipstone
Clipstone (1) 3
Nicky Walker 21, 54 pen
Alec Denton 75
Rainworth MW (0) 0
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 125
Steve Hernandez (C), Liam Royles, Luke Randle, Brad Holmes, Chris Salt, Damo Magee, Jahmal Smith, Nicky Walker, Oli Ryan, James Ashmore, Adam Somes
Subs - Brad Jones, Alec Denton, Ellis Wall, Pat Lindley, Andy Francis
Rainworth MW:
Alan Widdowson, Ricky Hanson (C), Connor Smythe, Jack Barnett, Matt Plant, Jack Andrews,
Jamie Yorke, Sam Dockwray, Liam Morris, Matt Thompson, Matt Sykes
Subs - Declan Brewin, Lewis Bingham, James Weaver, Nathan Clarke
Rainworth started the game with the wind behind their backs, but failed to take advantage, or were at least prevented from doing so by their hosts... and in the event the Wrens found themselves being blown away by a lively Clipstone side instead, as the home team mounted an impressive attacking display and thoroughly deserved their three goal margin of victory in this lunch time kick off.
Clipstone have been written off by several of the NCEL 'old guard', who seem to think that they won't last the pace after making a such great start to their their first ever season at this level, but at the halfway stage they're still there, or thereabouts, so they must be doing something right.
Oli Ryan and Adam Somes looked sharp and fit today, so when you look at the Cobras attacking options, including those who started today and a couple of notable performers who were on the bench, it seems that finding the net will not be a problem for Jas Colliver and Ryan France's side, especially with Jahmal Smith, James Ashmore and recent signing Nicky Walker strung across the middle of the park. Obviously the 'Clipo' manager builds his side from the back and he he has a solid base in that department too... and of course one of the best local non league goalkeepers in captain Steve Hernandez
Rainworth have been enjoying a run of decent form of late, as you'd expect with the duo of Julian Watts and Ady Smith at the helm, but they will have been disappointed with today's result and performance, where they only looked anything like as efficient as I had expected them to be sporadically. Possibly they had an identity crisis caused by having Armthorpe Welfare's crest associated with them on the front cover of the programme and Worksop Town's on the team line ups page... you naughty editor Jim McIntosh!
Steve Hernandez was tested early on as a Matt Sykes shot moved about awkwardly in the wind, but by the time that Nicky Walker fired home Adam Somes sweeping pass across the Rainworth eighteen yard box, in the twenty first minute, it was already evident that Clipstone were the most likely side to open the scoring and Rainworth had already survived three early scares when Oli Ryan shot narrowly over the crossbar, Walker drilled a shot wide of the upright and Somes forced a decent save out of Alan Widdowson.
It would be fair to say, that the veteran Wrens 'keeper had a busy debut.
Walker, who looks like a top class addition to the Cobras ranks, worked himself a yard out on the wing and dropped a cross in towards Somes, that Widdowson did well to claim.
The visitors had Widdowson to thank again when he parried a goal bound shot away from Ryan and then had Jahmal Smith to thank when he couldn't keep his shot on target off of the rebound.
Against the run of play, Liam Morris dived and headed the ball against the post from a Matt Thompson cross and Hernandez denied the same player with a close range block, but the home side went into the break leading by a single goal, though it probably should have been by more.
HT: Cobras 1 v Wrens 0
Rainworth looked more focused and as though they were going to make more of a game of it after the restart, but it was Clipstone who nearly doubled their lead almost straight away, when Walker whipped a right wing corner across the face of Widdowson's goal that crashed against the left hand post.
Ashmore curled in a speculative shot from outside the area, but the ball lifted and was blown off course over the top of the right hand stanchion.
Oli Ryan homed in on the visitors goal and was tripped by Matt Plant and the referee Hristo Karaivanov awarded a penalty. Walker stepped forward, Widdowson moved early to his left and the Cobra's man of the match rolled the ball into the other corner.
With thirty six minutes still left on the clock, the Wrens already looked beaten.
Morris, Connor Smythe and Jamie Yorke, all tried to attack 'Clipo' dowen the right flank, but anything that Luke Randle couldn't deal with was swept up by Damo Magee or Chris Salt as the visitors struggled to get a final touch inside the last third.
Smythe dribbled past two challenges and approached Hernandez's goal, but his shot was off target.
In a bid to freshen things up and push on for a third goal, that would really kill Rainworth off, Colliver used his three substitutes, sending on Brad Jones, Ellis Wall and Alec Denton, the latter has been wearing his shooting boots all season and he had only been on the pitch a few minutes when Walker probed the visitors defence on the left hand side of their penalty and teed a sideways pass into the path of the prolific marksman... he doesn't miss from there and Clipstone had all but claimed a convincing win with Denton's seventy fifth minute strike.
Rainworth were finished, it wasn't to be their day. They are a decent side but were second best today.
Well played Clipstone!
FT: Clipstone 3 v Rainworth MW 0
We saw the closing exchanges of the game from the side of the road, before shooting off to Cannon Park for our second Nottinghamshire derby of the day. Upon arrival with five minutes to spare, a car park attendant beckoned us in, away from the people who were abandoning their cars on the main road that passes the Badgers ground and then directed us into a muddy corner that Colin McRae would've have struggled to navigate his way out of. Grr! It's a damn good job that my anger management counselling and medication is working!
But hey ho! That fun and games would have to wait until after the match.
Saturday 26th December 2015. 3pm kick off
At the Jones & Co. Stadium (Cannon Park)
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Retford United (1) 2
Jason Bradley 37
Adam Lee 79
Worksop Town (1) 2
Kyle Jordan 5
Steve Woolley 75
Admission £6. Programme, I didn't get one
Attendance 435
Retford United:
Jamie Davie, Jack Gilchrist, Brad Johnson, Mark West, Dec Lycett, Craig Laight, Jordan Good, Johnny Roper, Adam Lee, Jason Bradley, Mark Wilson(c)
Subs - Brad Gledhill, Jake Outram, Alix Ward
Worksop Town:
Aaron Ramsdale, JordanHodder, Phil Roe, Julian Lawrence, Jamie Hadfield, Rob Henshaw, Steve Woolley (C), Callum Harrison, Kyle Jordan, Mitch Husbands, Tom Elliott
Subs - Chris Adam, Jordan Cooke, James Cottingham, Conor Hiiginson, Jack Waddle
Worksop, whose defence has been the topic of much consternation among the Tigers faithful in recent weeks, misfired in front of the opposition's goal this afternoon instead and gave Retford the opportunity to catch them squarely on the jaw, twice, with sucker punches, to earn themselves a draw; a result that hardly anyone would've predicted at any point prior to their 79th minute equalising goal when they made it 2-2 after the Tigers had laid siege to the Badgers goal and taken up residence in and around the home side's penalty area for much of the game.
Yet, right at the death, inside the final three minutes, it took an exceptional and acrobatic one handed save by Aaron Ramsdale, to stop Mark West grabbing an even more unlikely result with a crashing shot that was heading for the top left corner of the goal.
It started well for the visitors, when Callum Harrison floated a cross over the top of the United defence that Kyle Jordan got to just before Jamie Davie and rolled nonchalantly past the Badgers 'keeper.
From their next attack, Worksop should've made it 0-2, but when Tom Elliott nicked the ball under the advancing Davie, a last ditch clearance saved the home side.
A Retford attack broke down and the Tigers pounced, with Mitch Husbands sending Steve Wooley on a run past two challenges, before he shot wide.
The Badgers would have to make good use of any goal-scoring opportunities today, but Jason Bradley got his angles all wrong and planted a shot well wide of the mark from long range around the half hour mark.
Davie was in action again soon afterwards, denying Jordan, with a great save to turn the ball around the post when a certain goal looked to be on the cards.
In the thirty seventh minute, the Badgers only effort on target in the first half saw Bradley leap 'salmon like' to bury a header past Ramsdale. The Worksop fans were stunned, but not nearly as much as Retford's were!
Mitch Husbands had a chance to put the Tigers back in front just before the break, but he shot over.
HT: Badgers 1 v Tigers 1
Tom Elliott was dictating play as the Tigers knocked cross after cross into the Retford area, where it resembled a bagatelle game at times, but United were digging in deep and somehow keeping Mark Shaw's side at bay.
The Tigers fans appealed for a couple of penalties, one was for a ball to hand incident, but I would have to see the other one when Jordan hit the deck again in slow motion before passing judgement, I was zipping my Arsene Wenger coat up at the time... it came with a free pair of blinkers.
Jordan Hodder, the former Clipstone player, was having a great game at right back for the Tigers, repelling any attacking moves down his flank before they got going and getting up to join in with the attack.
Jordan (that's Kyle Jordan, not Jordan Hodder) missed a sitter when he put a through ball from Elliott over the bar.
If truth be told, the visitors should've been out of sight by now, but it doesn't matter how dominant any team is if they aren't putting the ball into the opposition's goal.
Finally, after seventy two minutes, Harrison clattered into a tackle on the edge of the Badgers box and won the ball, he laid it off quickly to Wooley, who motored forward and picked his spot in the back of the net.
Retford had worked really hard in defence against their Bassetlaw neighbours, but it now looked as though they were destined to be valiant losers, albeit by a narrow margin.
But six minutes later, as it looked as if a rare Badgers attack was breaking down, the loose ball bounced to Cannon Park crowd favourite Adam Lee and he smashed the ball just inside the left hand upright to pull the game level again.
The sheer disbelief on the faces of the Tigers fans, who probably made up three quarters of the crowd, told it's own story... as did the main topic of conversation among the United fans in the seats:
"How long is left?"
"Ten minutes"
"How long now?"
"Nine minutes and forty seconds"
Repeat every twenty seconds for ten minutes, plus stoppage time.
The swing-o-meter and Statto lists, will no doubt show that the visitors had 80% of the play this afternoon and hogged the ball for the majority of the game, but Chris Sellars must be really proud of the character, determination and tenacity his Retford side showed today against the 'top dogs' in Bassetlaw.
The Tigers are still second in the table and there is a long way to go yet this season, but this result must've felt almost as bad as a defeat to some of those ever loyal travelling supporters as they made the short journey home... likewise, a good few Badgers fans celebrated at the final whistle as if they had won.
FT: Retford United 2 v Worksop Town 2
Right then... where's that bloody car!?
I revved and revved with all my might, let off the handbrake and... yee-haw! Automobile salvaging mission accomplished.
It was just like a scene from the Dukes of Hazard I tell you, airborne and spraying mud everywhere, great fun! 
And within minutes I was at home, sat at the head of my dining table, getting stuck into a late Christmas dinner with my family, who couldn't all get home to Retford yesterday. 
Oh be joyful!