Saturday, 16 January 2016

Handsworth Parramore 3 v Retford United 1 - NCEL Prem

Saturday 16th January 2016
at the Windsor Food Service Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (1) 3
Jon Froggatt 38, 78
Kieran Wells 50
Retford United (1) 1
Jon Roper 34
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 127
This morning, the Mansfield Town v Rotherham United youth team game at Rainworth was postponed at the eleventh hour, which is rather unfortunate timing for a scheduled kick off of 11AM... and when we arrived at the Ambers ground around 2.15pm the match referee was having a damn good look at the pitch here too.
Thankfully, it was deemed playable "as long as it doesn't get any harder", along the strip in front of the main stand, that the sun barely touches throughout the winter months.
Since Peter Duffield parted company with Handsworth Parramore, Micky Godber has stepped up from assistant manager and today he welcomed Mark Ward into the dug out beside him for his first game since being officially installed as his sidekick.
Steve Smith, a stalwart Amber if ever there was one, just gets on with his coaching job regardless of who he's working alongside.
Retford manager Chris Sellars (who is doing a great job with the first team and behind the scenes at the club too... he's impressed me no end recently) had switched his full back, the versatile Jordan Hardman, into the centre of defence, where he tracked the movements of the live-wire in form Parramore striker Kieran Wells and both players evidently relished that particular head to head and game of 'chase me'.
Jake Outram, an attacking midfielder by trade, slotted in at right right back, where he battled gamely against the pace and strength of Danny Buttle, to the extent that it didn't look like he was even playing out of position. Mind you, Buttle is a handful for anybody and he still managed to provide a good chain of supply for Handsworth's forwards, both open from play and corner kicks.
Brad Johnston and Dec Lycett, worked hard against Handsworth's attackers, with the latter organising his defence like a second captain in the Badgers ranks, but the home side are always likely to find the net against most teams; in fact I think I am right in saying that they have only failed to score in two games all season and they were both back in August.
In the final reckoning, Handsworth had just that bit more quality in front of goal, than a very hard working Retford side could hold at bay and deal with for the whole ninety minutes.
Though, credit where it is due... the visitors gave it a damn good go.
Mark Waters, Mark West and the slightly deeper laying Tom Jerrard, were always going to have their work cut out against one of the best midfield combinations in this division of Luke Fletcher, Alex Rippon and Kieron Scargill, especially with Handsworth's defenders getting forward in support too, particularly Sam Denton.
But once again, although the Ambers had slightly the better of things in the middle of the park, United kept hassling them, closing down space and not giving their promotion chasing opponents any time whatsoever to really settle on the ball.
Parramore had to battle all the way for this vital three points that maintains their challenge at the top of the table, where they are currently just a single point behind their ground sharing tenants Worksop Town, who won 4-0 at Parkgate this afternoon.
With Jason Bradley playing off of Retford's captain Adam Lee and Jon Roper providing the link up from midfield, Retford were going to have to put the finishing touches to any chances that came their way, while absorbing what was probably going to be a regular bombardment of pressure in their own final third.
The home side's back four Ben Starosa and Will Eades in the full back berths and Gaz Griffiths and Sam Denton in the middle kept a watchful eye on Retford's attackers, with Griffiths holding the forst when Denton went up for set pieces, but the combination of Lee, Bradley and Roper did give them a few problems to deal with.
The first real chance of the game fell to Kieran Wells, who got his head onto Danny Buttle's cross but couldn't keep the ball down and his effort cleared the bar.
A few minutes later, Wells hurt himself, trying to retrieve the ball as an Ambers attack broke down and despite his willingness to play on through the pain barrier, he had obviously taken a knock.
Kieron Scargill tried his luck with a shot from 25 yards out, but he struck the ball straight at the Badhers 'keeper Ben Davies.
One referee and two goalscorers
Wells passed to Buttle out wide on the left flank, his first time cross found Alex Rippon arriving at the back stick, but as the ball sat up in front of him, the Handsworth number seven sliced his shot high and wide, whoops!
Rippon surged forward from midfield again, but Brad Johnson had read the situation well and was on hand to intercept Wells' through ball.
It was Johnson who set the wheels in motion for the visitors first opening, when he advanced forward before knocking a great ball through the left channel into the path of Jason Bradley who homed in on Parramore's goal and lobbed the ball over 'Archie' Sneath who was running from his line, but it flew just over the bar.
The Badgers came again, with Mark West playing the ball into the path of the Lee on the right hand side of the area. The Retford skipper rode one challenge and got his cross in towards Bradley, which was cleared by Griffiths, but the loose ball fell to Outram outside the box, whose well struck effort cannoned to safety off of a defender.
Retford defended a cross from Buttle at the expense of a corner, that Scargill almost scored directly from, but Davies managed to punch the ball clear from under the bar.
Denton over hit a cross into the visitors six yard, but it almost worked to his advantage, because as he let out a cry of "Oh sh*t!" the ball evaded everybody and crashed off of the crossbar. He'd never have got away with claiming that he'd meant that one!
The visitors were having to dig deep as Handsworth threatened to put them under the cosh.
A quick passing move between Rippon and Wells unlocked the defence and when the ball was rolled into the path of Buttle, it took a brave intervention by the right hand post by Outram to keep the ball out.
From the corner, Buttle found Wells inside the six yard box, but his header had been anticipated well by Hardman, who got up and glanced the ball over the bar.
Having weathered a bit of a storm, Retford hit their hosts squarely in the jaw, with a sucker punch on 34 minutes, when they took the lead from a move that was started and finished by Jon Roper, who dispossessed Scargill in the centre circle before knocking a measured pass into the path of Lee, who charged forward and delivered a great cross from the byline that found Bradley, the powerhouse striker's header was cleared on the line, although their were several appeals claiming that the ball had gone in, but Roper had continued his run and hit a shot into the back of the net from twelve yards out, to clear that debate up.
Almost immediately, Ben Starosa nearly set up an equalising goal, but Froggatt headed the Parramore right back's cross over the bar.
Johnson kept his cool and shepherded the ball back to Davies as Wells went for goal.
But four minutes after going behind, Handsworth's pressing game finally paid off, when Froggatt latched onto a clearance on the edge of the box and buried an unstoppable shot past Davies.
The home side laid siege around their neighbours goalmouth for a spell, with Fletcher, Buttle and Wells all going close to putting the Ambers in front, but right on the stroke of half time, United attacked down the right and West had a shot cleared off the line by Starosa, after exchanging passes with Bradley.
HT: 1-1. All to play for.
As expected, after the break Handsworth came out on the front foot and although Retford had shown their teeth and hit them on the counter attack to good effect in the first half, the longer the game went on the more the home side cranked things up a level and played to their strengths.
It proved to be a testing forty five minutes for the visitors, but they closed ranks and refused to be completely over run, by a side who were clear favourites to win this contest.
The Badgers had taken Handsworth to the wire earlier in the season, see HERE, and although their team has gone through some wholesale changes since that night at Cannon Park, they obviously had no intention of giving the Ambers an easy passage this afternoon either.
Fletcher tried to catch Davies out with a speculative shot right at the start of the second half, but he missed his intended target by several yards. And then Dec Lycett had to be alert as he took the ball off of Froggatt's head after Buttle had picked him out from the left flank.
Give Kieran Wells an inch, even when he's carrying a knock and... THE66POW's player of the year for 2015 headed his side in front for the first time after 50 minutes, when he rose to loop Denton's cross over Davies and into the net.
The next goal would be crucial now and to Retford's credit, they were still fighting for the cause and showing some great camaraderie and togetherness.
Bradley picked out West on the right of the area, but Griffith's cleared the cross away with a timely header as Lee hovered around the area menacingly.
The ball just got away from West at the last moment as he cut in from the right and he had to rush his shot, that went straight to Sneath.
Parramore's keeper was involved again when he raced from his line to meet Bradley in a one versus one duel... and he got their first to preserve his side's lead.
With West venturing forward to bolster Retford's attack more often, Mark Waters was putting in a double shift in the middle of the park. United have the makings of a half decent side here if Chris Sellars, Wayne Thompson and Ian Turner can keep them all together and halt the turnover of players who are coming and going from Cannon Park this season.
A succession of substitutions broke up the flow of the game a bit and it became a bit of a stalemate of a battle for the middle third for a while, with neither side looking particularly shy about tackling ea\ch other in a 'fair but firm' manner.
Retford's Mark West was booked for imposing his presence on the game a bit too often for the referee's liking... but he was dishing it out and taking it in equal measure from where I was watching.
Wells was substituted in the 76th minute, having carried on after his knock early doors, but in Bruno Holden, not a bad alternative to have on the bench, the home side showed that they had the strength in depth to maintain their promotion challenge this season.
The obvious four contenders are Cleethorpes (who must wish they had started the season slightly better), Handsworth, Tadcaster (hopefully the problems they have been having with their pitch won't derail them) and Worksop, although a quick look at the table shows that Bridlington Town are actually second at the moment and while the four aforementioned clubs will be taking points from each other (Handsworth drew 1-1 at Cleethorpes on Wednesday), any team in the top ten could get involved if they put a good run together, or win the cushion of games in hand they have.
A couple of these clubs have been criticised recently, though not directly by name, for the amount of money that they invest in their players budget over a season.
Well, that is their prerogative and nobody else's business whatsoever.
When spending isn't controlled properly it can lead to problems, as many clubs and individuals have found to their cost, but if you've actually got it why not flaunt it, if you want success for your club? Besides, some of the most outspoken critics who've added their weight to this discussion, have, in the not so distant past, chucked money at their own clubs hand over fist too.
Granted, they say that they don't entertain this practice nowadays (and you must take that claim at face value), but though paying higher wages to tempt a better standard of players on board, doesn't suit everybody... and it is always sensible to tailor your outgoings to a plan that revolves around both the pot you have available to you and some firm foundations towards club development. It doesn't mean that club backers who do have the resources available to them and are putting a lot of their wealth into non league football and community clubs, should be chastised for doing so.
But my take on it all is that, with so many postponed games recently, it must have been a very slow news week, or that one or two people have simply been on the wind up ,hoping to get a response. Well, I'll bite and here is mine xxx
But when all is said and done, this is just the opinion of a humble blogger/pundit, so what the **** would I know, eh!?
Anyway, back on with the show.
Despite their Herculean effort today, Retford were dealt a blow in the 78th minute, when Froggatt powered a header past Davies from another Buttle cross.
And within two minutes the same combination could've made it 4-1 when Froggatt crashed a diving header against the crossbar.
In the 83rd minute, Mark Wilson came off of the bench and entered the fray for the Badgers, to mark his 950th appearance in non league football.
That is a quite remarkable milestone for the ever popular 'Willy', who in the twilight of his career no longer wears his flowing locks long, or gets "Gypo!" chanted at him. I applaud your achievement good sir. Wilson's given so much to the game and deserves any plaudits that come his way, he's a bloody nice bloke into the bargain too. I would have taken a photo of his appearance to mark the occasion, but he's still too fast for my camera ;-)
Retford still kept plucking away and Sneath was kept busy in the closing stages, but although you couldn't fault the visitors performance on any level today, Handsworth had that bit more quality about them and on the balance of things I don't think that there could be any complaints about the final result.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 3 v Retford United 1
Both of these clubs are at home on Tuesday night, when Handsworth entertain Brigg Town in the NCEL Premier Division, while Retford United have a rearranged home game in the Notts Senior Cup Quarter Final against Radford.
For full details of all games featuring NCEL clubs this coming week click HERE
Somebody is happy