Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Sheffield United 0 v Handsworth Parramore 2 - HKL NMU19L Mini Shield

I hear told, that apparently a current Premier League player who represents England, used to play around these parts, but I didn't spot even the most bijou of clues as to what his identity might be, anywhere within the Bracken Moor ground upon my arrival.
Tuesday 5th April 2016
HKL NMU19L - Mini Shield
at Stocksbridge Park Steels FC
Sheffield United (0) 0
Handsworth Parramore (1) 2
Oliver Beaumont 26, 69
Admission £2 Free team sheet
"I am breathing in already!"  Steve Abbott with his flag
Sheffield United:
Josh Perryman, Jake Dunn (Nat Crofts 59), Stephen Mallon, Will Wraith (Jake Whelan HT), Manny Adebowale, William Portman, Spencer Maw, David Parkhouse, Brodie Litchfield, Jorome Slew, Danny Ramsey (C)
Unused subs - Joe Dunn, Chris Samuels
Handsworth Parramore:
Jake Lancini, James Hastings, Ellis Moore, Harry Bamforth, Oliver Beaumont, Jed Phillips (C), Jack Mason (Charlie Myers 64), Juninho Blake, Danny Bent (Ben Booth 76), Ash Cooper, Danny Beighton (Tiago Bravo 55)
For several months now, the fixtures of a couple of the teams I've been aligned to this season, in one capacity or another, have unfortunately clashed with Handsworth Parramore's Under 19 team games... and as a consequence, I haven't seen them in action half as much as I usually would have.
So, in spite of an outbreak of traffic problems on the M18, M1 and A616, compounded with the road into Stocksbridge being closed altogether from the east, I made an extra special effort to get to this match at Bracken Moor, with a 'lightweight' companion who was ticking off the milestone of visiting (only) his 250th football ground.
The 'slightly' annoying detour and extensive circumnavigation of most of south Yorkshire, was worth all of the aggro, because we witnessed a very impressive display by this young Ambers side tonight, as they confidently and comfortably saw off the Blades, with a convincing win that, if truth be told, probably merited more than a two goal margin of victory, to round of their mini shield group games with a 100% win record.
I was impressed to see that the visiting side were being supported by their Chairman (and his charming wife), along with the coaches and mangers from several of the 'Parras' sides at variety of age groups and that THE66POW player of the season Kieran Wells had braved the traffic from Clipstone to get up here to support Wayne Plant and Dean Bamforth's side, while modestly confessing "All of these lads are better players than me"
Oliver Beaumont scored twice, with both goals coming from Harry Bamforth corner kicks.
I suspect that when they study the video for this game, United will be discussing defending set pieces any time soon, because the Beaumont and Bamforth combination, made the home side's two towering centre halves look as though they were just in the goalmouth for ornamental purposes.
The Ambers attacked first, when Danny Beighton outstripped the home side's defence for pace down the right flank and drilled a cross into the six yard box that Josh Perryman had to save down by his left hand post.
Jake Dunn, United's right back, clattered into Jake Mason with a late, heavy challenge, but the match referee, David Maran, decided that a quick word would suffice rather than showing a Dunn a yellow card. 
I heard a shout from the stand of: "Are those long sleeves to cover up your Blades tattoo ref!?" Everyone is entitled to their own opinion at this juncture, but even as a complete neutral I'd have to say, that the foul on Mason and the leniency shown towards Dunn, was the first installment in a pattern of events that emerged over the course of the night... just saying.
Ellis Moore played the resulting free kick into the Blades area and the ball skimmed off the top of Manny Adebowale's head as he tried to clear his lines, but fortunately for the home side it fell harmlessly into the waiting arms of Perryman.
The Blades pushed forward when Adebowale threaded a pass through to Jorome Slew from midfield, who in turn played the ball wide to his strike partner Brody Litchfield, but the Ambers captain Jed Phillips had anticipated the situation well and moved in quickly to steal possession.
United put six passes together, but they were restricted to playing sideways instead of being able to move forward and when Spencer Maw saw half a chance to go for glory, he knocked a rather tame shot well wide of the 'Parras' left hand upright from outside the area.
Steven Mallon pushed forward down the left flank, but over ran the ball and ran too wide and with no room left to  manoeuvre, he collided with a Handsworth defender and the moment was seemingly gone. But the referee awarded Mallon a free kick anyway... however justice was done when Danny Ramsey put too much purchase behind his free kick and the ball flew well wide of Jake Lancini's  goal.
Ramsey drilled a low free kick into the Ambers goalmouth, James Hastings managed to get between the Blades incoming attacking duo of Litchfield and Slew and turned the ball just wide of his own right hand post. It looked like a clumsy interception to some onlookers in the stands, but it was actually a very timely and vital one.
From the resulting flag kick, Ramsey's dipping cross ended up on the roof of the net.
Adebowale made a last ditch clearance as Beighton and Mason attacked in tandem as Handsworth began to get to grips with the game and started to look more threatening in the final third.
The impressive looking Beighton was causing problems for the home defence and when Juninho Blake dug the ball out of a crowded midfield and picked out the lively winger with a pinpoint cross, he slipped a pass to Ash Cooper whose first time angled shot was well saved by Perryman.
Handsworth forced a corner out on the left. Bamforth curled the ball towards the back post, to where Beaumont had timed his run to perfection and he netted from close range, to give the visitors the lead after 26 minutes.
Note to the Sheffield United defence: Remember that routine and take notes, it might come in useful later.
David Parkhouse slipped the ball into the path of Ramsey as he picked up pace towards the Parramore goal, but Beaumont blocked his shot and took the sting out of it for Lancini, who collected it with ease.
Bamforth played a long pass into the Blades area, which their defence hooked away, but only as far as Hastings, who rolled the ball back to the Ambers play-maker, but Bamforth curled a 12 yard shot wide of the post.
United tried to attack again, but Phillips didn't give Ramsey any time to settle on the ball and snubbed out the potential danger with an uncompromising block tackle. It was a moment that typified the focus and application employed by the Handsworth side tonight, as they grew in both confidence and stature as the game went on.
Once more, Bamforth was the architect of the visitors attacking designs, as he picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played it to Blake, who with his back to goal, turned Portman who was all over his back like a rash and rolled the ball sideways to Beighton. The Blades managed to crowd out the move but could only clear the danger as far as Hastings and he picked out Mason with a first time cross, who directed the ball towards the goal only to see it cleared off the line.
Blake having got the better of his marker, who must've have been over a foot taller than him, looked visibly lifted to be getting the better of his formidable opponent and he was playing with a spring in his step as a consequence.
Against the run of play, Stephen Mallon knocked a long ball into the Ambers goalmouth on the stroke of half time, but Litchfield couldn't kkep his shot on target.
HT: Blades U19 0 v Ambers U19 1
Among the discussions at half time, the subject was raised as to how well this young Ambers side compares with those from previous seasons. And it was universally agreed that together, as a unit, this crop are up there with the best... and when all is said and done football is a team game. There are several stand out players, but it would be wrong to single them out, when the key to overcoming United tonight was the collective effort that each and every player in an Amber shirt had put in.
Litchfield and Slew were quick off the mark after the restart, but Hastings was quicker and he stole the ball before rolling it back for Lacini to clear. The Blades picked up the loose ball in midfield and went route one in an effort to get back in the game, but Lewis Moore had positioned himself well and made a goal line clearance.
Blimey! Look, a clue... it was Jamie Vardy that played here. How
come I haven't seen anything about that every time I turn the telly
 on or read a newspaper? You'd have thought that was newsworthy.
A combination of Handsworth's work ethic, seemingly bottomless reserves of stamina and hard graft was keeping the football league hopefuls from Bramall Lane in check and with the Blades having to commit players forward, there was always the risk that the visitors creative midfield, armed with a range of quick and accurate ball distribution and pace up front to exploit, especially Danny Bent who could probably even beat Forrest Gump in a race, would undo United again.
Handsworth were absorbing their opposition's effort to breach their defence and building from the back.
Ash Cooper broke on the counter attack and only a last ditch tackle from Dunn prevented him from going one v. one with Perryman.
Litchfield was restricted to shooting from long range as the Ambers defence formed an impregnable line across their area, but he struck the ball well and Lacini needed to get down smartly to turn the ball away.
The Blades tried to turn the screw on their local rivals and put Handsworth under the cosh for a short while, peppering Lacini's goal from three corner kicks in quick succession, but the visitors kept their composure and shape and were equal to anything a busy United side could throw at them, in their desperate but vainglorious efforts to puncture a hole in the Ambers rearguard.
Parramore's back line were in fine form and during a five minute segment of the game that resembled a forwards against defence training session, they emerged victorious. Although Lacini did have to be on his guard when Slew tested him from 20 yards out.
But while United couldn't blow the Ambers house down regardless of how much they huffed and puffed, they were nearly undone by Blake who broke forward at speed before crashing the ball against Perryman's crossbar and Tiago Bravo was unlucky that the Blades keeper got his hand to the ball as he went for goal from the rebound.
Blake picked up the ball and set off towards the Blades goal again, but Ramsey flattened him with a crude challenge.
It is very easy to be judgmental of match officials from up in the stand, do let's give the referee a break... maybe he had simply forgotten his notebook and pencil tonight.
Blake playeed the ball out to Bravo on the wing, but his attempted cross was deflected behind for a corner. Bamforth's probing delivery was half cleared as far as Charlie Myers, who had just come on in place of Mason... and with his first touch he played a sideways pass back to the corner taker who rushed his shot when he probably had more time than he realised and United were spared.
Handsworth were in the ascendancy now, looking to put this game to bed and in the 69th minute Blake dribbled into the penalty area and Portman had to clear the ball for another corner.
Lightning struck again, as Bamforth picked out Beaumont at the back post and he netted a virtually identical second goal. I'm quite sure that if Perryman's centre halves weren't such a big and scary looking pair he would have been giving them a real bollocking this time.
Sadly Danny Bent turned awkwardly just in front of the Blades dug out and fell to the ground, obviously distressed and crying out in pain. Hopefully he isn't injured as badly as first thought and he recovers quickly. Credit where it is due, the United coaches were on the scene quickly with the Handsworth bench to help with giving the player the quick attention and diagnosis he needed.
When play resumed Moore threw the ball to Cooper who exchanged passes with Blake, but shot a fraction wide of the left hand upright from 25 yards.
The Blades tried to open the Handsworth defence with a long punt forward to Nat Crofts, but Lacini had a clean sheet to preserve and he dashed from his area to reach the ball first and launch it back into the far end of the pitch.
Amber sunset over Stocksbridge
Ben Booth, on in the place of the injured Dent, looked lively and keen to impress and his running was giving the home sides defence even more problems to deal with. He combined with Moore and Cooper down the left flank, as Parramore still looked hungry for another goal instead of sitting back and defending their two goal cushion. Good for them.
Cooper had put in a lung bursting effort tonight and he was unlucky not to get a goal for his efforts in the final minute of the game, when he stabbed Moore's left wing cross wide with Perryman beaten.
In stoppage time Ramsey came close to netting a consolation goal for the home side, but Lacini held on to the ball and cleared it up the field as the referees whistle hailed full time.
FT: Sheffield United U19 0 v Handsworth Parramore U19 2
The Blades had a good number of very impressive players who could knock the ball about well and were committed to playing the game on the deck. But the Ambers youngsters had all of the above, with an added extra portion of togetherness, teamwork and camaraderie, they really are all in it together: collective effort, shared responsibility, joint rewards. And the way that their coaches encouraged their lads, rather than shouting at them when a pass went astray, a shot flew over the bar, or they had left themselves exposed, was refreshing to hear. 
Some teams in the development leagues pay lip service to this sort of thing, but only a handful of coaches actually put these philosophies into practice. Credit where it's due