Saturday, 14 May 2016

Easington United 0 v Appleby Frodinghham 2 - CMFL North

Saturday 14th May 2016
Central Midlands League (North)
at Low Farm, Beck Street, Easington
Easington United (0) 0
Appleby Frodingham (0) 2
Joe Moloney 68, Connor Couch 90
Admission and programme £2
Attendance 22
Flickr photo gallery HERE
Easington United:
Charlie Holden, Craig Smalley, Anthony Barnett, Kris Fitzpatrick, Jamie Houlton, Andy Graham, Karl Fitzpatrick, Brad Bowden (Kai Ormsby, 84), Paul Wilkinson (Stu Campbell, 78), Danny Barron (Cam Maplebeck, 75), Craig Havercroft
Appleby Frodingham:
Pat Shaw, Chris Johnson, Andy Williamson, Liam Wright, Ryan Oates, Stephen McCarron, Richard Golland, Joe Moloney, Dayle Hutson, Connor Couch, Jamie Ture
Unused subs - Dan Ellerby, Phil Doyle
A sad afternoon for the CMFL (North) in my opinion, as Easington United move on to pastures new, after 'enjoying' (for want of a better word) seven seasons of being involved with the league.
It worries me that the Central Midlands League is in danger of becoming a glorified reserve league where NCEL and Evo-Stik League sides can give their stiffs a run out, at the expense of unique and colourful clubs like 'Ezzie', with their multitude of great characters and bags of camaraderie.
Upon arrival on the Hull Riviera, it was a bright and very breezy afternoon (as it tends to be round these parts) and United's reserve team were just warming up for their final game of the season v Longhill Ravens on the top pitch, in an East Riding County Senior League Division 3 game, that was kicking off an hour before the first team game.
As if losing 6-1 against Longhill wasn't bad enough for the 'rezzies', when their game finished, three of them were drafted in as substitutes for the first team game.
When players complain about too many games, they ought to spare a thought for the lads at the grassroots end of football's food chain.
Regardless of how things have gone for the Eastenders during their spell in the CMFL, whenever I have seen them in action, they have generally gone about their business in the right manner and with a smile on their faces. But an air of sadness hung over today's game, as the inevitability and resignation that their adventure in the step 7 league was coming to an end sank in.
Frod's Joe Moloney and Richard Golland both delivered decent crosses into the home side's area during the opening exchanges, but Andy Graham dealt with one while Charlie Holden plucked the other out of the air.
Craig Smalley's tenacity combined with Karl Fitzpatrick's speed and close control, were helping "the flagship of Holderness football" to ride the tide down the right flank, but Jamie Ture was proving to be a difficult stumbling block, as he put in a 'combatitive' display for the visitors, in what would best be described as a Left half back position.
Easington's first opening saw Tony Barnett knock back Jamie Houlton's long free kick into the path of Charlie Havercroft, just outside the left hand edge of the area, but his curling shot held up in the stiff cross field wind and went wide of the far post.
The Scunthorpe based visitors cleared their lines from Barnett's corner, but he soon got the ball back when Graham rolled a pass to him down the wing, from which he picked out Paul Wilkinson, who's dipping header cleared the crossbar.
Easington went close again, when Danny Barron smashed a shot past the upright from 12 yards out.
But having been put on the back foot for a while, the Steelmen began to live up to their nickname and Holden had to race from his line to grab the ball as Connor Couch ran forward in chase of a long pass.
Hutson and Couch were causing the home side no end of problems in and around their goal area and were keeping Houlton and Graham very busy.
One half cleared effort fell to Golland just outside the Easington area and his first time shot was only inches away from breaking the deadlock.
Moloney held off a challenge and rolled the ball across the goalmouth to Couch, whose return pass was turned over the bar by Frod's tricky number 17.
The home side threatened again when Kris Fitzpatrick held off a challenge from Chris Johnson and squared the ball to Danny Barron, but he didn't get enough power behind his shot to trouble Pat Shaw.
Couch took the ball across the Eastenders 18 yard line and unleashed a left footed shot, that Holden got down well to his left to save.
Right on the stroke of half time, Holden saved his side again, when Johnson's quick throw in to Golland was squeezed through the defence to Dayle Hutson, who found the 'Ezzie' keeper blocking his path and he was denied from close range.
HT: 0-0
'Frod' made a very determined start to the second half, with Couch crashing a shot just wide of the post, Holden intercepting a long pass into the path of Couch and then Johnson skimmed a shot over the bar after Golland had chested Moloney's shot down in front of him... and that was all inside the opening three minutes.
Barron left a free kick for Wilkinson to take from 20 yards out, but he put the ball narrowly wide of the right hand post, with what was to be Easington's closest effort of the afternoon.
Graham and Golland chased neck and neck for the ball on the edge of the home side's penalty area and became embroiled in a tangle, which the 'Ezzie' defender finally won at the third attempt, in a moment that typified his team's 'never say die' ethos that has enhanced their reputation for chasing even the best hidden of lost causes.
Johnson's free kick was cleared by Kris Fitzpatrick who played the ball wide to Smalley and the home side moved forward deep into 'Appleby Frod' territory.
Karl Fitzpatrick was fouled by Ture on the right flank and the referee, had no hesitation in awarding Easington a free kick.
Alas, Barron crossed the dead ball straight to the feet of the Steelmen's right back Johnson, who wasted no time whatsoever in getting the ball forward as quickly as possible. Golland charged towards Holden with the ball at his feet, flanked by Moloney to his left and he nudged the ball sideways as the Easington keeper reached him, to where his running partner rolled an angled strike into the now unguarded net.
Ultimately, goalkeepers are a last resort, last line of defence and you can't blame them for this sort of thing, when they have been left both exposed and outnumbered.
There was to be no fairy tale ending to Easington United's tenure in the CMFL, as the visitors closed ranks and to be fair, looked like a team who were finishing the season in a top four place.
Barron dispossessed Ture 20 yards from the Steelmen's goal and hit his shot on target, but Shaw held onto the ball at the second attempt.
From then on in only some resolute 'backs to the wall' stuff from the home side's defence and two good stops from Holden, prevented 'Frod' from ending the season on a real high.
But fate still had one last slap in the face to deal out to the home side, when Couch timed a run to perfection on the left flank, at the same time that the Easington defence moved up and Moloney hit a pin point pass out wide to his hard working team mate, who might not ever get any acting work as a stunt double for Twiggy, but who'd grafted his 'nads off and bossed things in the final third this afternoon.
Holden, exposed and akll alone once again, raced out to the right hand edge of his area, but Couch punted the ball past him and netted from the most unlikely of angles to double the lead inside the final minute.
FT: Easington United 0 v Appleby Frodingham 2
Truth be told, the final score was probably a fair reflection of how the game had gone, or thereabouts.
Though it would be hard not to feel a big slab of sympathy for Easington United (and I was definitely feeling glum for them as I headed home), this isn't the sort of team would ever want people to feel sorry for them... and they won't stay down in the dumps for long either. 
They've got a bond of togetherness and a fighting spirit, rarely seen elsewhere, that has seen them come through far worse times than this, when they have lost some pivotal and inspirational characters at the club and steered very close to going to the wall a couple of times.
Wherever they end up... and the Humber Senior League is looking like their most likely next port of call, this resilient lot won't ever give up battling for what they all clearly still believe in.
Keep the faith and keep on, keeping on!