Saturday, 2 July 2016

Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 v Mansfield Town 2 - Green Energy Cup

Saturday 2nd August 2016
Green Energy Cup
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth
Rainworth Miners Welfare (0) 0
Mansfield Town (1) 2 James Baxendale 6, Adi Yussuf 62
Admission £6. Programme £1. Attendance 629
Thanks to Gordon Foster for the line up details
Rainworth Miners Welfare:
Townsend (Davies 72), Cheeseman, Claxton (Mansell 49), Barnett, Plant, Wankiewicz, Edridge (Weir 77), Clarke (Widdowson 64), Moxon (Russell 49), Theakstone, Sykes
Mansfield Town first half:
Jensen, Bennett, Pearce, Hurst, Shires, Benning, Chapman, Hemmings, Green (Hakeem 35), Hoban, Baxendale
Mansfield Town second half:
Shearer, Wheatley (Law 74), McGuire, Shires (Healey 67), Danquah, M. Rose, Clements, Thomas, Hamilton, D. Rose, Yussuf (Wheatley 84)
Well, it's fair to say that it's been a turbulent month on many levels since last season finished, during which time we discovered that both major political parties have direct descendants of Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus among their ranks (beware the Ides of July), witnessed an obscene amount of scaremongering and barely disguised viscous hatred from both camps during the EU Referendum, while an ever widening chasm is threatening to tear the country in two, because people no longer respect the opinions, cultures and lifestyle choices of others, nor pay any heed whatsoever to the very foundation on which democracy itself is built.
What a mess!
Remember kids, political opinions are like eggy trumps, people can only stand the smell of their own.
Topical as always: Brexit was actually explained in full, inside the front cover of today's programme; it's a verb for what a big lass from Barnsley does when she sits on one of those cheap, white plastic chairs.
So nar tha' knows!
Over t'other side of that there Channel Tunnel, Roy Hodgson showed us all that he wasn't the man with a plan to work around the deficiencies of the national team after all, in fact his bodged attempt to mask their limitations and paper over the cracks was painful to behold, as the majority of his team misfired and had an off day in the so called 'round of 16'.
But surely nobody really expected England to actually win the tournament in France though... did you?
It is easy in the aftermath to dissect team selection, tempo, tactics and an insistence on employing players out of position in unfamiliar roles, because hindsight is a wonderful thing.
On the whole, EURO 2016 has been a poor tournament, which was (and still is) in effect, there for the taking.
But, alas, England fell some way short of what was required to make the quarter final stages.
Hodgson resigned/reached the end of his contract* and the search for a new England manager begins.
'Twas certainly a Summer of discontent if ever there was one.
I genuinely thought the national team were starting to turn the corner in many respects, but they evidently haven't even found a corner yet... and even if they had, they would only give a tall and prolific 'good in the air and dangerous at set pieces' centre forward the job of taking it.
It is going to take time, a whole lot of patience and time, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right... and sort out the political and national football team mess; far longer than even the most eternal optimist ever dare envisage.
But lets not dwell on the negatives...
When I woke up this morning, the sun was shining brightly through a crack in my plush, luxurious drapes, optimism abounded and I was feeling as giddy as a (big) kid waking up on Xmas morning and discovering that Santa had been... and all because football is back.
Granted, it's only the pre-season preparation games, practice matches and friendlies, but this dog scraps and budget shopper (dare I say Iceland) end of the food chain, is the perfect antidote to a really torturous to watch at times, European Championship tournament.
That bright sunlight came and went throughout the afternoon, as did slate grey skies and heavy precipitation, which tempted some people to stay in the Welfare, just across the road from the football ground (you know who you are), but it was a perfect climate for nurturing the playing surface, even if my programme and team sheet were turned into a paper mache paste over the course of the afternoon.
Oh! Wankie, Wankie.
Wankie, Wankie, Wankie, Wankie,
Hopefully Rainworth Miners Welfare made plenty of money out of today and the same applies to Clipstone, where the Stags rae playing next Saturday lunchtime too.
629 spectators paid in this afternoon, including a good number who seemed to be hungry and very thirsty too... kerching!
Both Rainworth and Clipstone were brilliant hosts for the Stags U18 team last season and this term they'll be hosting the U19 and U21 set ups too... we're all Mansfield aren't we!?
AFC Mansfield were also approached about hosting some Stags youth team games last season, but although they were well up for the idea, their landlords: Forest Town Welfare, were less than receptive to the suggestion.
Obviously, it is still only the first weekend in July, so the game was hardly going to be played in a gung-ho fashion or at a 'crash, bang, wallop' pace, but both sides could still take plenty of positives out of their respective performances today.
Despite going a goal behind as early as the sixth minute, Rainworth defended doggedly at times, particularly that Steve Wankiewicz bloke, who the swear word filter omn my old PC would never let me write about, back in the day when he was the star turn for Worksop Town Under 19s, and on today's showing  they'll be hard to break down this coming term, as they look to improve on last season's 9th placed finish.
With Julian Watts and Ady Smith in command, the Wrens could well live up to the high expectations that hold sway at Kirklington Road, in the NCEL Premier Division and I would imagine that any success that comes their way would be universally popular among Mansfield Town supporters too.
That opening goal was netted by James Baxendale, via the upright, after the ball fell to him after Matt Green had forced his way into the Wrens area and challenged Ben Townsend, the Rainworth keeper, who had a decent game this afternoon, before being rested for the final twenty minutes and replaced by Jamie Davies (the perpetually shouty one, who played really well for Retford United last season) and in fairness there was very little any goalkeeper could've done about the second goal Townsend conceded just after the hour, when Adi Yussuf netted from 25 yards out, straight into the top corner.
It's always nice to start the season with a win, but the result wasn't relevant today, these games are all about building up fitness, towards peaking at the right time and it needs to be said, the visitors looked particularly sharp as they retained the ball well and knocked it around with consummate ease, after the break.
Corbin Shires looked very comfortable at the heart of the Stags defence, before he gave way for Cameron Healey, who did well, especially when you consider that he spent last season in a central midfield role for the Under 18 side.
Along with the new signings who paraded their stuff to great effect this afternoon, Louis Danquah, another one of John Dempster's championship winning youth side, caught the eye, playing at left back and getting down the flank in support of his forwards. Danquah very nearly added to the scoring during the second half, when he battled gamely with a Wrens defender and refused to give up chasing the ball down, only to see his cross cum shot from a tight angle, fall narrowly wide of the right hand upright. Closing the ball down in such optimum areas is a habit that the development coaches encourage in the youth team, evidently their work is paying off.
Jack Barnett went close for Rainworth with a free kick towards the end of the first half, but Brian Jensen had positioned himself well and held onto the ball with both hands.
Right on the stroke of half time, Rhys Bennett delivered a telling cross from the right wing that picked out Pat Hoban, whose attempted scissor kick would have made for a blinding goal if he hadn't actually nudged the ball just wide, to a cacophony of groans from the assembled masses.
Apologies at this point to my glamorous match day sidekick, who had inadvertently looked away from the action momentarily and didn't see Hoban's near miss, so we concocted a fib on the spot that her son, Zayn Hakeem, who had come on in place of Matt Green for a ten minute run out at the end of the first half, had just missed a sitter instead.
HT: Wrens 0 v Stags 1
It was all coming up Roses for Mansfield at the outset of the second half, as Mitch and Danny pinged the ball around on the edge of the Rainworth area, but Townsend and a couple of last ditch blocks denied the Stags.
Jordan Edridge couldn't keep his effort on target as Rainworth almost pulled level, but the majority of the game was being played in the home sides half by now and it was no surprise when Yussuf dispossessed Barnett and put the ball beyond Townsend's reach and into the top left hand corner of the goal.
CJ Hamilton went close for Mansfield on a couple of occasions, as the visitors threatened to turn the screw, but in spite of them having taken the second half by the scruff of the neck and creating a few more chances, including one where Yussuf missed a sitter after Davies struggled to hold onto Danny Rose's shot, the Stags didn't quite ram home their second half territorial advantage and as Danquah's deflected shot flew wide of the target in the final minute, they had to settle for a two goal margin of victor, as they retained the annually contested Green Energy Cup.
FT: Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 v Mansfield Town 2
In the final analysis, it was all about fitness and practicing tactical drills, and to that end both sides had good reason to be pleased with their efforts this afternoon.
The Stags visit Clipstone next Saturday, for a friendly game that has a noon kick off (and a barbecue if you fancy dining out and the Cobras gate man David Brunt hasn't already eaten everything) before moving on to Carlton Town for a 4pm kick off.
Adam Murray said that both games will feature a mixture of first teamers and fringe players.
Rainworth are also in action again on the same day, when they entertain Gresley AFC at Kirklington Road, in a pre-season friendly game that has a 3pm kick off.
Also in the locality, if you feel the urge to scratch a football itch in midweek; newly promoted Ollerton of the NCEL Division 1, who had a delegation present at today's match, have a home game v Worksop Town on Wednesday night, which kicks off at 7.45pm.
You know that you're sorely tempted to be there, I certainly am!