Friday, 29 July 2016

Handsworth Parramore 1 v Sheffield United 5 - PSF

Friday 29th July 2016
Pre-Season Friendly
at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (1) 1
Jon Froggatt 4
Sheffield United (1) 5
Stefan Scougall 8, 90, Che Adams 56
David Brooks 59, Leon Clarke 71
Admission £6. Programme £2. Attendance 1561
'Little old Handsworth' had prepared well for tonight's visit of Chris Wilder's League 1 side, and coped impressively with the not inconsiderable task of accommodating all of the 1561 spectators who turned up on their doorstep, for this prestigious pre-season friendly.
The big turn out represents a new club record attendance for Handsworth.
The progress made at this amalgamated club. since we used to pop across to Olivers Mount to team up with Brett Price, Mark Storey and the 'Railway Enders' at Olvers Mount for Handsworth games and watched Parramore at the Don Valley Stadium (and even at the Woodbourn Stadium, just the once) in the Central Midlands League, has been nothing short of remarkable.
There are of course some detractors and haters out there, stuffed to the brim with spitefulness towards this progressive football club.
But having witnessed some of that sentiment first hand; as a complete neutral, I've concluded that blinkered envy does, from time to time, distorts people's perceptions and a reluctance to accept facts clouds over a clear view of the truth. I'll say no more on that subject.
Handsworth Parramore FC... and both of it's predecessor clubs, have always been welcoming and accommodating on the numerous occasions that I've been to watch them over the years... so don't you go believing any other hype or bullcrap.
Thanks to Ian Robinson for the team details
Thankfully, just as the other Football League club in Sheffield have found some rather unimaginative Gainsborough Trinity cast offs from the 1980's to use as their new kit this season, the Blades have reverted back to having proper stripes on their home shirts again.
Last season's effort would've been alright as an away kit, or a third choice strip, but let's be right about this; that predominantly white number with the red pinstripes, just wasn't ever meant to be a Sheffield United top. Common sense has prevailed.
Nuff said!?
Tonight's Blades line up was a very strong one and proved, at times, to be a stern test for the Ambers, but with just a week to go before the season starts for real, it was ideal preparation for them.
There is little point in taking your foot of the gas at this point and racking up an easy win and a great big score against lesser opposition from a lower league, this is the time to hit the ground running in a bid to steal a head start on all of the other contenders in the NCEL Premier Division.
Micky Godber and Mark Ward (not forgetting the considerable effort of Steve Smith) have just one game left on Monday night, when Evo-Stik League club Ossett Town visit the Windsor Foodservice Stadium on Monday night; then the dress rehearsal is over and Armthorpe Welfare await in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round next Saturday.
Connor Smythe had to be alert from the off as he nicked the ball off Leon Clarke when he looked odds on to score in the opening exchanges, but despite their lively start, the game was just four minutes old when United met the most prolific and powerhouse striking duo in the NCEL (though a couple of lads at Cleethorpes Town will be gunning for that crown this season). Steve Warne knocked a pass through the right channel, having spotted that Connor Higginson and Keiran Wells had moved into space... and the latter smashed the ball across the face of the goal to where Jon Froggatt was on hand to place the ball past George Long.
Time stood still, as the enormity of that goal sank in for everybody connected to Handsworth Parramore.
Only a few years ago, Parramore were playing local derbies against the likes of Phoenix Sports & Social from Brinsworth, while Handsworth had been ostracised by the NCEL and ended up in the Sheffield & Hallam County Senior League.
Yet here they both were, collectively, on the threshold of a very important season (their third since the two clubs amalgamated), winning in a game of football against one of the giants of south Yorkshire football.
I hope that everybody concerned had a chance to savour the full significance of their moment, because it didn't take long for the Blades to get back on level terms.
But briefly, just very briefly, the club that turned the likes of Bill 'Fatty' Foulkes, Billy Dearden, Trevor Hockey, Alan Woodward, Tony Currie, Alex Sabella, Colin Morris, Keith Edwards, Tony Agana, Brian Deane, Eddie Colquhoun, Len Badger, Chris Morgan, Del Geary and err... Glyn Hodges, into household names, were trailing to John Ward and Peter Whitehead's visionary non-league football club: Handsworth Parramore.
Leon Clarke, on the occasion of his first outing for the Blades had two quick opportunities to level things up, but his first skimmed past the post and his second was well saved by Joe Green, but Stefan Scougall got to the rebound first and fired home the equaliser after eight minutes.
Louis Reed tried his luck and unleashed a shot, but Green was equal to it.
I'm a big fan of 'Archie' Sneath, the Parramore goalkeeper, but signing Green (along with the younger keepers at the club) will provide some healthy competition for places, which must be good for all concerned.
Incidentally, Joe Green was featured in a previously on THE66POW, when he was man of the match in a cup final; see HERE
And he's also played in two other games covered by this blog this season already. Small world, innit!?
Tom Dugdale is looking like a useful signing for the 'Ambers', he very nearly restored the home side's lead, before combining with Froggatt to force Long into action.
But despite the home side giving their illustrious visitors a few scares, Chris Wilder's team were dominating for lengthy spells and dictating the ebb and flow of the game.
Handsworth for their part, didn't so much park the bus, as circle their wagons around the goalmouth and dig themselves in for a concerted effort.
And much as the Blades tried to carve a way through, they were up against no small amount of dogged and determined defending, not least by Gareth Griffiths, who despite being kept bust by Clarke had time to pop up at the other end to try to keep up his goal scoring record from last season, but he headed wide.
Green tipped a crashing effort from Che Adams over the bar as the visitors pierced the Handsworth defence, but in spite of their relentless bombardment of the final third, the score remained at one apiece as the sides went into the break.
HT: Ambers 1 v Blades 1
Adams has been subject to two size-able bids from Championship side Birmingham City this past week, the most recent of which was reported to be in the region of £1.7 million pounds, that were both knocked back. Whether Blues manager Gary Rowett comes back with an improved offer given that protracted takeover talks at St. Andrews are taking longer than expected to complete, Adams rise from youth team football at Ilkeston has been meteoric. He's destined for bigger things, without a doubt, but evidently he features in Wilder's plans at the minute.
Indeed it was Adams who finally put United ahead, in the fifty sixth minute, when the home defence showed him a rare chink in their Armour and the highly rated striker only needed a sniff of a chance to drill the ball into the back of the net, just moments after Green had just denied him.
Sadly for the hard working NCEL side, their dreams of pulling off a 'giant-killing' were all but finished just three minutes later, when David Brooks placed a well executed shot past Green from outside the goal area.
Things might have been different if the referee had spotted that Long had missed the ball completely when he dashed off his line to punch clear, but had 'landed one' on Dugdale instead.
But as is often said, usually by someone who has just benefitted from an iffy decision that went their way; these things balance themselves out over the course of a whole season. 
Dugdale will still be feeling the effects of getting thumped in the morning no doubt.
Simon Harrison came close to pulling a goal back for Parramore, but he knocked a dipping long range effort over the bar.
Clarke had been a real handful for the Handsworth defence all night and it was almost inevitable that he would find the net eventually. His seventy first minute strike was a quality effort, that went in via the upright.
Worksop Blade (and Tiger) Taff, fulfilling his lifetime 
ambition of appearing on THE66POW ;-)  
Young Harry Bamforth, a player that Godber and his coaches have a lot of faith in, came on at the back against the team his family supports with fifteen minutes to go, in place of Tom Claisse who had run himself to a standstill, while Sneath took over from Green in goal for the last ten. He was called upon twice as the Blades kept up their relentless hunt for more goals and it was probably a bit harsh on the 'Ambers', after all of the hard graft and effort they had put in, when Scougall added a fifth for the Blades, when he swept the ball past Sneath in the very last minute.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 1 v Sheffield United 5
This was the Blades final outing before their opening league game of the season at Bolton Wanderers next Saturday, who are charging visiting United fans £30 quid for the privilege of watching the game. 
Daylight robbery!
But if anybody who attended tonight's game and held on to their ticket stub and presents it at the gate at the Windsor Food Service Stadium, it will entitle them to free admission for a Handsworth Parramore, NCEL fixture this season... not all clubs are out to milk the fans dry like Bolton. 
That's a pretty awesome gesture on the part of the 'Ambers' and a great initiative for which they deserve to be applauded.