Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Harworth Colliery 1 v Phoenix 2 - CMFL North

Tuesday 15th March 2016
at the Jones & Co. Recreation Ground
Scrooby Road, Bircotes
Harworth Colliery (0) 1
Blake Freeman 47
Phoenix FC (2) 0
Steve McDonnell 5, James Cregan 42
Admission £3. Programme £1. Attendance 115
Harworth Colliery
Rick Watson, Jordan Hardman, Jacob Dawson, James Woodward (C), Greg Fox, Tommy Durrant, Nathan Millington, Josh Dickinson, Matty Robinson, Tomo Pick, Blake Freeman
Subs - Steve Wibberley (GK), Kenzie Tomlinson, Ross Taylor, Brett Garrett, Tom Walker
Phoenix FC
Jon Parker, Liam O'Brien, Matt Moorwood, Dan Payne, Andy Jones, Dan Harrison, Steve McDonnell, James Lawton, Rob Gorman (C), Andy Woodall, James Gregan,
Subs - Scott McKenzie, John Sainthouse, Tom Atkin, Kyle Skeldon, Ben Langford
If promotion chasing Harworth played like they did in the second half of this frantically paced game every week, they would've run away with the CMFL North title by now already this season.
However, if they performed as badly as they did at times in the first half on a regular basis, then they would most likely be heading for Division 5 of the Gainsborough & District Sunday League instead.
For the record, I know there are actually only three divisions in the G&DSL, but I was avoiding being offensive towards any of the teams that play in them.
But like I said, the Colliery threw everything they had to give during an all action second half assault on the Phoenix goal and deserved at least a point out of tonight's game on the strength of their efforts after the interval.
Alas, they had given themselves too much to do after allowing their visitors the time and space to forge a two goal lead during the opening 45 minutes, when the Brinsworth based side showed why they are top of the league.
Rob Needham R.I.P.
Harworth Colliery FC
Retford Town FC
Of course, this wasn't just a game of football, it was an important night in the recent history of the home club, because prior to kick off, there was a healthy turnout from around the locality, to mark the official opening of the new fifty seater 'Rob Needham Memorial Stand'.
The great man himself would have relished being involved in the sort of game that unfolded tonight.
My favourite memory of Rob as a player, would have to be when he was playing for Retford Town in a 'friendly' against Notts County, when not only did he keep a certain Brian Kilcline in check, on a night when 'Killer' was in his prime and demonstrating his entire arsenal of physical attributes, but he also got up from his centre half berth for a corner, moved in on Kilcline's blind side and nipped across the front of him, rising to meet the ball and powering a header into the roof of the net, to put the (in)famous hard man in his place.
Local football has lost a true gentleman and genuinely nice guy.
Tommy Durrant went close as Harworth started the game on the front foot, but it quickly became apparent, that although they won't get promoted this season because of their lack of floodlights, Phoenix are still very keen to push their championship credentials and in the fifth minute Steve McDonnell crashed an angled shot past Rick Watson from 15 yards. Watson is a semi-permanent prop used by this blog as my resident goalkeeper, putting in a cameo appearance for an ever growing list of teams this season. Obviously, he's in demand and very popular among local clubs.
Blake Freeman forced a save out of Jon Parker and Matt Robinson couldn't keep his shot on target from the rebound.
James Lawton provide two chances for the visitors, but Dan Harrison headed wide and Jordan Hardman cleared the ball off the line when Rob Gorman nodded the ball downwards from a left wing corner.
Lawton took on the play maker role again out on the right flank where he dispossessed Jacob Dawson and launched a long cross to James Gregan, who timed his run to the back post well, but his finish left plenty to be desired.
But the visitors number 11 made amends for his miss, shortly before half time, when the referee waved him on and played the advantage after McDonnell had been fouled and Gregan took advantage of the momentary lapse in concentration as some of the Colliery players pulled up expecting a free kick to be awarded and stabbed the ball past Watson as he advanced from his goal line to narrow the angle.
HT: Harworth Colliery 0 v Phoenix 2
The next goal was going to be vital and the home side bagged it two minutes after the restart, when Nathan Millington's right wing corner found it's way through to Freeman who hooked the ball past Parker from ten yards out. Game on!
Freeman came close to grabbing a second just moments later, but his snap shot cleared the bar.
Kenzi Tomlinson's pace was causing Phoenix a lot of problems as he attacked them down the right flank. Durrant picked the youngster out with a great knock from midfield, but Parker charged from his line and threw himself on the ball to claim it.
Once again Millington delivered another quality ball into the Phoenix area and the Colliery skipper James Woodward was unlucky to see his header deflected over the crossbar.
Freeman charged the ball down as Parker tried to clear it, but it fell a fraction too far away from Millington, for him to get a decisive touch.
Josh Dickinson worked himself a yard of space, but hit the ball over the bar from 20 yards.
Moments later the same player was back, wrestling off some very close attention, before being denied at the foot of the post by Parker.
The hosts were awarded a penalty when the referee spotted an infringement by Dan Harrison.
Freeman hit his spot kick low, hard and on target, but Parker got his body behind it and the ball spun away... it was there to go for and Matt Robinson charged in, but collided with the Phoenix keeper as he tried to force it over the line. Cue a lot of finger pointing, raised voices and angry young men gathering around each other. But the referee dealt with it fairly quickly and the game moved on.
Hardman's long cross from out on the right flank only needed a touch, but unfortunately for the Colliery, Parker provided it as he punch the ball away towards the dressing rooms.
Phoenix almost capitalised on Harworth throwing men forward, but Watson moved forward to limit Gorman's options and the visitors captain missed the target altogether.
Freeman held the ball up in front of what was by now a packed Phoenix defence and laid it back to Millington, who smashed a 30 yard effort over the bar.
Tom Walker (one of my all time footballing heroes) came on for the Colliery with just five minutes remaining, with just four and a half minutes remaining Phoenix were awarded a free kick when their full back was shoulder charged off the pitch. You do the maths!
With the clock ticking down Parker dropped Millington's cross, but the visitors scrambled the ball away, Tomlinson picked it up and launched the ball straight back into the mix, where the Phoenix keeper could only punch it away under pressure as far as Durrant who took a layer of paint off the crossbar from 18 yards out.
Moments before the final whistle, the Harworth manager ran on the pitch and threw a kitchen sink at Parker but he managed to turn that around the post too.
Actually, that didn't happen, I was merely trying to emphasise how much Phoenix were hanging on for grim death at the end of the game.
FT: Harworth Colliery 1 v Phoenix 2
As the players were walking from the pitch, Tom Walker invited Steve McDonnell round to his house to look at his stamp collection, while enjoying a generous serving of fresh cream scones, washed down with some Earl Grey... though I might have misheard him!
The Phoenix goalscorer responded to Tom's kindly invitation by sticking his forehead into the Colliery substitutes face, at which point the referee, Mr David Hunt showed the visitors number 7 a red card, for his post match afters. It was a shame his night finished that way because the lad had had a good game over the 90+ minures.