Friday 15th July 2016
at the Memorial Ground, Penistone
Penistone Church (0) 1
Joe Long 82
Handsworth Parramore (1) 3
Sam Denton 42
Kieran Wells 49, 85
Admission £1 Attendance 91
Though obviously their are several other worthy contenders who will be vying for those honours too.
Having secured pole position in the free and spacious club car park, I handed over my 100 new pence at the gate. Yes! That's just one English pound! To watch 'Church' playing against a team from a higher division. Take note clubs who still charge full whack for practice matches against any old opposition.
I spent 20 minutes in the bar putting the world to rights with Dean Bamforth, who was here to watch his lad Harry play, before joining Graham Slesser in the seats to watch the majority of the game from the OAP section. The two of us share a sense of humour, that is possibly on a dark, dank level that nobody besides the two of us would appreciate. That is everybody else's loss!
In the aftermath of Bamforth junior's performance, Kieran Wells, Handsworth's joint top goalscorer last season tweeted: "well done to @harrybamforth on your debut mate did very well... you didn't look out of place! keep the hard work up..." high (and well warranted) praise indeed.
Obviously there were no head on collision, bone shattering, crunching tackles or players being ritually sacrificed out on the park tonight, because this was, when all is said and done, but nonetheless this was a refreshingly well contested and competitive encounter, that gave both teams a good physical workout and opportunity deal with keeping up the tempo while being marked at close quarters.
Penistone play some lovely football, in fact under the management of Ian Richards, they have a growing reputation for getting the ball down and doing things the right way.
While Handsworth get some unfair flack for being a long ball team and going direct at each and every opportunity, which stems from hearsay and bitterness, emanating from teams who they have just given a fair and square going over.
Certainly, if they are chasing a game, Micky Godber wouldn't be overly concerned to see his side hitting the ball long to the most prolific striking duo in the NCEL Premier Division; don't all NCEL clubs wish they had such a luxury? Bbut the allegation that they exclusively employ such hit and run, direct tactics, does a disservice to some of the play makers within their ranks such as Steve Warne, Luke Fletcher and Alex Rippon... and in particular their versatile winger Danny Buttle, who has been completely unplayable down both flanks on a good few occasions that I've seen him in full flight, giving numerous full backs a torrid time..
I reckon that even I could chalk up double figures over the course of a season with that sort of service.
The visitors just about shaded the first half possession wise against their very well organised and easy on the eye hosts... and it took a special goal to separate the sides at the break, when Sam Denton planted a long range, dipping free kick into the top corner of the net a few minutes before half time.
While Archie Sneath and his first half back four had dealt admirably with several spells of pressure from Penistone.
But Penistone weren't about to roll over and let the premier division side steam roller them and rack up a hat full of goals and they gave the Ambers second half keeper, 17 year old Jake Lancini a few testing moments, which will have given him a crash course in positional awareness that will help his development no end.
The young keeper held firm until the 82nd minute, until Joe Long pulled a goal back for the 'Church' with a well executed lob from out on the right hand side of Lancini's area.
But Wells responded almost immediately and though he struck his initial shot straight at the home side's keeper and a covering defender, the ball rebounded, hit Wells and went in.
They all count.
Even the dead jammy ones.
FT: Penistone Church 1 v Handsworth Parramore 3
A fast paced and absorbing contest, that featured two sides dedicated to attacking football, putting on a great spectacle at an absolute bargain price, for the 91 spectators who'd paid in.
I really enjoyed this game and the nature that it was played in.
I shall be seeing quite a bit more of these two sides this season... and though I had both line ups and know who the new signings parading their stuff tonight were, you'll all have to go and have a bleedin' look for yourself instead of trawling t'internet for such information.
Bamforth looked comfortable with the step up (and I'm not just saying that because his dad is six foot and thirteen inches tall), Penistone did not look overawed by their illustrious and always dangerous looking visitors and will do well this season... and the roads home were all empty and I was in my des res by 10pm, result!