Saturday, 19 March 2016

Handsworth Parramore 7 v Athersley Recreation 1 - NCEL Prem

Saturday 19th March 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Windsor Food Service Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (2) 7
Kieran Wells 25, 36, 90 Alex Rippon 50, Simon Harrison 74,
Jon Froggatt 82, Connor Smythe 90+1
Athersley Recreation (1) 1
Adam Podmore 33
Admission £5. Attendance 91
Programme £1.50 (Another great effort by Ian Robinson)
What a complete roller coaster ride of emotions today turned out to be. 
Having climbed to the top of the table by virtue of a comprehensive win at Staveley in midweek, Handsworth Parramore well and truly showed their championship credentials today, with a quite devastating display of quality finishing.
It was all smiles, friendly waves, thumbs up and handshakes as I left for home, with the cheery and celebratory strains of Madness echoing around the ground, a smashing end to a great day.
But as I finished off a 'chippy tea', with my other half and checked out Twitter to see how results had gone elsewhere, I happened upon a succession of messages saying that David Wragg, Handsworth's secretary, who had been associated with the club for as long as I've known him, had passed away earlier today.
It couldn't be true and I really didn't want to believe it.
This unexpected news had come as a massive shock, completely out of the blue. 
But when I read a post from Max Ross paying tribute to his old friend, I realised that 'Wraggy' genuinely was no longer with us. It was a truly devastating moment.
David was a complete gentleman, a man of honour, honesty and integrity. 
Please excuse my bad language, but football is full of some total shit houses who are involved in the game for all of the wrong reasons, but Mr Wragg was the complete opposite of those sort of people. 
His warmth and helping nature stood out like a beacon.
There are far too many of the wrong kind of characters within the game and so few who could even hold a candle up to Mr Wragg. 
At times like this, words could never be sufficient enough to embrace the magnitude of feeling invoked by David's passing, nor to underline the massive influence he had on local grassroots football, both in and around Handsworth and further afield. 
I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife, family, friends and everyone involved at Handsworth Parramore FC/Handsworth Junior Sporting Club and share your grief.
So, under the circumstances, is it even apt to contemplate finishing writing a match report that I had already started on a day like today?
Having given it some careful consideration, I think that David Wragg would want people to read a glowing account, of how a club, who are in no small part both his and his brother Mick's legacy, are soaring at the moment, in pretty much the same way he would have been enthusing about the club's Under 18 side winning their cup final this week.
Rest in peace David Wragg
Out of respect to all concerned, I have waited until after Handsworth Parramore FC had finished a shutdown on social media and their own website, while they came to terms with these tragic events, before posting this report.
Handsworth's goal machine Kieran Wells had his first effort on target inside four minutes, but he shot straight at the 'Penquins' keeper Neal May... but he'd be back soon enough.
Danny Cawley almost opened the visitors account shortly afterwards but he drilled the ball wide of the upright from just outside the area.
Jon Froggatt chipped the ball over three opposition players and into the path of strike partner Wells, but Dec Welford got his foot in and launched the ball away to safety.
The Ambers were soon back on the attack again, when Danny Buttle picked out Froggatt with a right wing cross, but his backwards header was gathered by May.
Tom Claisse fed the ball into Wells on the edge of the box, but he had three defenders around him and had to play the ball back to Steve Warne who shot wide of the mark.
Adam White and Ryan White were getting stuck in and battling well for the Rec, pretty much as you would expect of them both, they'll never be the next Messi and Ronaldo, but they always give 100% for Athersley and let any opposition player they come up against know that they've been in a game. When I retire and buy a pub, I'm going to ask them to man the doors for me.
Cocking two fingers to those who say that Parramore are buying their way to the title, rather than giving the youngsters from their successful development section an opportunity to shine, Micky Godber gave Brad Nicholson his first team debut at centre half today and he became the third 17 year old to break into the first team over the past couple of weeks. 19 year old Billy Wright was back in the fold at right back too. Just saying.
I think it would be fair to say that Nicholson was so composed this afternoon that you couldn't tell from the stand that he was an inexperienced teenager 
In the twenty fifth minute, Athersley piled the pressure on the home sides goal and it wasn't ever slightly looking as though this game was going to finish 7-1 in the Parras favour at this point.
Danny Cawley shot from 12 yards but the Handsworth captain blocked the ball, which Adam Podmore narrowly failed to connect with as it rolled out for a corner.
Wells towered above the visitors attack and headed Martyn Scully's corner away over his own crossbar.
Scully picked out Cawley with his second delivery, but he turned the ball wide.
Wells and Froggatt combined and went on the attack in tandem again, but Tom Copping thwarted them with a timely interception.
Athersley were giving as good as they were getting still, but Tom Claisse unlocked them with a thirty yard through ball straight through their midriff that Wells raced onto and placed the ball past May to put the home side ahead.
Nicholson almost celebrated his debut with a goal, but nodded the ball just the wrong side of the post from another inch perfect cross from Parramore's very own 'Mr Assist', AKA Danny Buttle.
If you wanted to sum Athersley's first half efforts up with one word, then it would be 'tenacity'.
Cawley combined with Tom Almond and Adam White as the visitors cut a channel straight into the heart of Handsworth territory,  but 'Archie' Sneath dealt with Jack Bruce's ball into the goalmouth.
The Rec mounted another attack and Wells had to clear Scully's long free kick away for another corner.
Copping met Scully's flag kick and laid the ball back across the face of Sneath's goal, but Cawley's thumping shot deflected wide of the target. Once more, Scully delivered the goals and Podmore was on hand to crash the ball into the back of the net from close range and Athersley were on level terms.
But their joy was short lived and within three minutes, Rippon had laid Buttle's cross off to Kieran Wells and he made no mistake of placing it beyond the reach of May.
Connor Smythe, who had graced the Sandy Lane turf in the colours of Worksop Town earlier this season, arrived at Parramore via Rainworth recently. He excelled on his old stomping ground, getting up and down the left flank and cutting inside to join in with the attack, he was outstanding all afternoon.
The Ambers captain Richard Adams was near flawless today too, playing with an assured confidence alongside the young debutant Nicholson. Watch out Tadcaster, it's all falling into place for Micky Godber and Mark Ward's side.
Right on the stroke of half time May did well to hold onto a low swerving shot from Claisse.
HT: Amber Parras 2 v Penquins 1
It could still go either way... for now.
Right from the restart Claisse charged a clearance down and knock a quick pass forward to Wells, who blazed the ball over the bar from twenty yard. Never be afraid to miss pal ;-)
In the 50th minute the home side started to turn the screw, Wells picked up the ball out on the right and looped the ball over to Rippon who couldn't miss from eight yards out and headed the ball just inside the right hand upright.
Ryan White stopped Connor Smythe in full flight with a lunging foul just outside the left hand side of the area, which prompted a shout from a spectator of "Bloody hell referee! Did you forget to bring your cards today?"
Either way, May held Claisse's free kick and the moment had gone.
Alex Rippon was gifted two chances, but May saved the first with an outstretched foot at the end of a seven man passing move and then headed just over as Wells and Froggatt combined to get a cross over from out on the right.
Nicholson dispossessed Copping in the middle of the park and set another Handwsworth attack in motion, from which Froggatt headed wide from Rippon's log.
Next it was Steve Warne's turn to shine, covering 45 yards, while taking return passes from Wells and Froggatt en route, but May got down well to his right and turned the ball round the post. Warne took the corner himself and found Wells who uncharacteristically nodded the ball wide.
Wells was soon on the ball again and flicked it through to Froggatt who homed in on the visitors goal. May charged from his line and made an absolutely mental save and plunged in head first at the prolific strikers feet. While his team mates headed back to Barnsley in a mini bus, there ought to have been a secure van full of men in white coats waiting for the Athersley keeper after that interception. You need to be mad to be a goalie, not bloody suicidal!
McCauley Shillito, on from the bench for the vistors, forced a save from Sneath as his shot deflected off Warne, who in his role as all action, all over the pitch hero, was now back bolstering his defence.
Both sides made several changes and the game ensued.
Dane Hodgson and Wells both kept their eye on the ball as they went up to head it and there was a fearsome crack as they came together. Hodgson stayed down for treatment, but Wells just got back up, gave himself a shake and trotted back off down the pitch. No sense, no feeling, I s'pose.
Wells was in the wars again when Declan Welford stamped on his ankle within full view of the referee.
Handsworth's Simon Harrison was one of the recently introduced substitutes and he curled the free kick into the bottom left hand corner of the Rec's net with his first touch.
Warne and Shillito got in on the head bumping craze that was sweeping this game. Although it was probably very painful for both parties, it was a good indicator of how competitive things still were in midfield in spite of the home side having a three goal margin.
Connor Smythe put a slide rule, defence splitting pass through to Froggatt who netted for the Ambers with an assured finish, to make it 5-1 with eight minutes remaining.
Shillito broke into the home side's area, through the left channel, drew Sneath from his line and fired across the face of the goal; sadly for the Rec's lively substitute his effort was so wide of the right hand post it almost went out for a throw in.
Harry Groombridge, another teenage prodigy from the Handsworth production line, hooked a gret cross in to Kieran Wells who chested the ball down and volleyed home goal number six for his side whilst bagging a hat trick for himself in the ninetieth minute.
Look away now Worksop Town supporters.... as the game entered stoppage time, Smythe tore past three Athersley players from out on the left flank and smashed a low shot past May into the back of the net, that barely lifted off the ground while it was in flight, it was a sublime finish to round off a second half drubbing for an Athersley side who had looked to be still in this game at half time.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 7 v Athersley Recreation 1
With Handsworth scheduled to play at Tadcaster on April 9th, the NCEL Premier Division title race could still see Cleethorpes coming through on the rails.
Being completely impartial, I'll say good luck to all three teams. But, if I was a betting man, I know who my wedge would be on after what I saw in the second half this afternoon.
Handsworth football lost a great pioneer today. It is somewhat fitting that the flagship club in their set up consolidated their place at the top of the league with a 7-1 win on such a bittersweet date.