Thursday, 12 May 2016

Clay Cross Town 1 v Collingham 3 - CMFL South

Thursday 12th May 2016
Central Midlands League (South)
The ATB Civil Engineering Ground, Mill Lane
Clay Cross Town (1) 1
Ant Lynam 9
Collingham (2) 3
George Asplin 21, Adam Stone 34, 60
Admission £3  Programme £1
Clay Cross Town:
Ryan Skidmore, Ryan Booker, Ryan Ordidge (C) (Rob Holland 79), Ryan Bates, George Slack, Charlie Oglesby, Ben Townsend, Greg Fitzpatrick, Josh Burrow (Joe Harris 65), Ant Lynam, Adam Plant
Unused subs - Aiden Ordidge, James Gee-Pembleton, Andy Thornton
Ben Tonks, Sam Biggs (Jack Wilkinson 67), Matt Ward, Sidnei Costa, Jackson Buckthorp, Jonjo McGovern, Marlon Grundy, Sam Greenwood, Adam Stone (Jake Newton 79), Jonny Drabble, George Asplin (C)
Mad Lizzy and Ellie
Prior to tonight, just two points separated these sides, who had both won a dozen games apiece in the league this season.
Pinxton provided the most recent opposition for Clay Cross Town on Tuesday and Collingham at the weekend too, and beat both of them: 5-0 and 3-0 respectively, so it would be safe to have assumed that tonight's game was going to be a close run thing, even though Collingham had already beaten the Millers 3-1 back in January.
In the event, the visitors leapfrogged their hosts in the table tonight, after repeating the score line from their previous encounter at Station Road and are now a solitary point in front of Clay Cross, with just one game remaining each left to play this coming weekend.
For remaining CMFL (South) fixtures click HERE
A lot of clubs would be envious of Clay Cross Town's playing surface at the outset of the football season, let alone at the tail end of a nine month campaign, so credit where it's due and big round of applause for their award winning groundsman (and gate man) Lee Watson.
The last time I saw the match referee Rob Rees in action, he'd been running the line at particularly bad tempered game and had handled one or two 'delicate' situations very well.
Tonight I only spotted one small thing over the entire 90 minutes that he missed, but justice will be done when I grass the perpetrator up later in this report*.
After a slightly delayed kick off, due to Collingham having been delayed en route to Mill Lane; the Millers slipped to what they have called (on Facebook) a 'clumsy' defeat in their final home game of the season.
Clay Cross took the lead early on, with an opportunist shot from Ant Lynam that would best be described as a 'bit of a bobbler' as his slightly miscued effort scudded along the ground past Ben Tonks and ended up in the back of the net.
They all count!
The visitors were almost back on level terms immediately, but Greg Fitzpatrick threw himself in front of Adam Stone's thumping shot and cleared the danger.
Ryan Bates delivered a great ball into the visitors six yard box, but Marlon Grundy scrambled it away to safety, with Lynam breathing down his neck.
The Collingham captain, George Asplin, came very close to netting the equaliser shortly afterwards when he curled the ball just wide of the post from outside the Millers area.
But the visitors got a goal back on 21 minutes... and it had been looking inevitable, when Ryan Skidmore blocked Stone's shot but could only turn the ball directly into the path of Asplin, who planted the ball firmly into the unguarded net.
The Millers went for an immediate response to Asplin's goal, but when Ryan Ordidge delivered a long free kick from out on the left wing to Ben Townsend at the back post he could only direct his header straight at Tonks.
Greg Fitzpatrick is a real live wire and battler in the middle of the park, some might even say he is unpredictable and impetuous; though I personally would argue that those are attributes and his natural ability combined with occasional improvisation, are what gives him the edge over whoever is marking him.
However Jonny Drabble isn't concerned with that sort of player by player analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses and as 'Fizz' set of towards the Collingham goal from just outside the centre circle, the visitors number 10, he clattered into him and conceded a free kick, which George Slack delivered into the goal area, where it was cleared away for a corner. It's the first time I have seen Slack play for several months and I'm happy to report, that on tonight's showing, he's come on in leaps and bounds, and from being a raw but very promising centre half, he looks far more calm and assured and instills confidence in those around him. 
Meanwhile, Drabble, Asplin and Stone, were proving to be a proper handful for the home side and on 34 minutes, the former instinctively knew that the latter would be making a well timed run through the left channel and dropped an inch perfect pass into his path from from forty yards out and Stone side footed the ball past Skidmore from just inside the area, to give Collingham the lead
Drabble and Stone came straight back at Clay Cross after regaining possession from the restart and Charlie Oglesby needed to get his foot in and make a timely interception.
Ben Townsend was tripped as he tried pushing forward from midfield, but Mr Rees sensibly waved play on because Fitzpatrick had the ball and the momentum and only a good save from Tonks prevented the Millers youngster from restoring parity.
Skidmore did well to get down to his right and turn a thumping long range free kick from Drabble round the post.
Asplin managed to turn Oglesby, but Slack got across quickly to cover and blocked a goal bound shot.
Collingham were upping the tempo as half time approached and Stone slipped the ball through to Grundy, but as he was about to shoot from close range, Slack cleared up the potential damage again.
Right on the stroke of half time, Sam Townsend tried his luck from thirty yards out, but he shot straight at Skidmore.
HT: Clay Cross Town 1 v Collingham 2
I recognised a lot of the Collingham players as they left the field at half time, no doubt I'll be seeing them again soon, at next Tuesday's North Midland Under 19 League Mini Shield Final at Sheffield FC, against the all conquering Handsworth Parramore.
Clay Cross went on the offensive straight from the restart and when Plant crossed to Lynam, Sonei Costa nicked a touch on the Millers' goalscorers shot as it went wide. It was a very timely interception, but the referee, who was positioned behind Plant and Lynam, never saw it*
Sorry Robert Rees but I'm marking you down a couple of points for that one ;-)
Both sides provided a couple of comedy touches for the spectators, who seemed to be mainly huddled behind the goal nearest to where the Tunnel Cafe was serving hot drinks, as the temperature began to plummet and wee all nostalgically yearned for the 56 hours of Summer that came and went again earlier in the week.
Clay Cross went first, when Ryan Ordidge whipped the ball across the face of the Collingham goal where it only needed the slightest of touches from Josh Burrow, but he couldn't connect and Collingham had a let off, countered attacked and watched on in disbelief as Asplin's shot was saved from point blank range by Sedgewick, but ricocheted back to the visitors number 11, who launched the ball away into the darkening night sky with an open goal at his mercy.
Bates cut in from the right flank and his cross cum shot almost wrong footed Tonks as he advanced from his line, but he recovered well to hang on.
Right on cue, as one of the learned elders on the touchline exclaimed to nobody in particular, "The next goal is a vital one!", Stone lashed the ball past Skidmore, to claim the 'vital' strike on the hour, after the Clay Cross players in the area collectively decided to abdicate responsibility of getting the ball away to each other, instead of putting a foot through it just to make sure.
Lynam tried opening the Collingham defence by flicking the ball on to Plant, who collided with Sam Biggs as he got to the ball first and cleared it. It was purely accidental, but hurt Biggs enough that he had to limp out of the game a few minutes later.
Clay Cross must've know that it wasn't going to be their night, when Plant's shot struck a defender and rebounded to Lynam whose initial shot was pushed away by Tonks back to the Millers striker who got to the loose ball first but put his shot over the bar.
Skidmore kept the game alive when he tipped Grundy's dipping free kick over with ten minutes left to go.
Fitpatrick combined with Rob Holland down the left flank and tried to put Lynam through on goal, but Collingham knew that all they had to do now, was keep the ball away from their goal and let the clock tick down.
With Clay Cross committing players forward, Greenwood took advantage of the space and forced a save out of Skidmore, while Asplin almost added a forth goal for the visitors, when his shot on the turn narrowly cleared the crossbar.
In the 89th minute, with the game all but won, Costa talked himself into an unnecessary yellow card, by voicing his opinion in an unacceptable manner to the match officials. As moments of untimely head loss go, that was right up there.
In stoppage time, Bates rolled a short corner to Fitzpatrick who dropped an ambitious effort just wide of the left hand post and Lynam blazed a long distance shot wide of the target.
FT: Clay Cross Town 1 v Collingham FC 3
The full time whistle sounded and Clay Cross disappointingly finished their home campaign off by recording a seventh straight game in a row without a win, since they beat Holbrook St. Michael 5-0 on 12th April.
They'll want to finish on a high at mid table Swanwick Pentrich Road at the weekend, while Collingham will have been very pleased with their efforts and the result tonight. They travel to 15th placed (in an 18 team league) Mickleover Royal British Legion on Saturday.
It was great to catch up with quite a few familiar faces from the Derbyshire non league circuit tonight and I'm always made to feel very welcome whenever I roll up at Mill Lane, which is greatly appreciated.
Both of tonight's teams are capable of making a better go of things in the CMFL South next season than they have this time around and I genuinely hope they do and wish them well to that end.