Saturday, 26 November 2016

Handsworth Parramore 5 v Maltby Main 1 - NCEL Prem

Saturday 26th November 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (3) 5
Jon Froggatt 2, 43
Aaron Moxam 11, 90
Micky Harcourt 59
Maltby Main (0) 1
Reece Wesley 83
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 86
Since the merger of Worksop Parramore (formerly Parramore Sports, Sheffield Parramore, Worksop Parramore and Parramore FC) and Handsworth FC in 2014, the marriage of two already forward looking local clubs, has already witnessed some rapid and forward strides made within this progressive set up, both on and off the field of play, on a number of levels, including their much envied and consistently fruitful, junior and development team production line end.
After finishing in seventh place at the end of the merged clubs inaugural NCEL season, they were runners up to Tadcaster Albion last term, in the race for the solitary promotion spot, at the top of the pile.
The Ambers promotion aspirations this time around, suffered a bit of a set back in midweek, following a four game winning streak, when they lost 2-1 at home against Cleethorpes Town on Tuesday night, in a keenly fought and closely contested game.
But there is still a long way to go to the finishing line as of yet and a lot of points up for grabs.
Maltby have been members of the NCEL since its formation in 1982, when the Midlands Counties League and Yorkshire League amalgamated into one competition. And they have spent all but four seasons in the Premier Division since 1990-91.
The Miners highest finish in the NCEL's top division, came in the 1992-93 campaign, when they claimed fourth spot.
They surprised a few people last season, when a run of consistent results saw them finish in a very respectable seventh place.
However, a recent dip in form has seen today's visitors slip down the table and they kicked off this afternoon in seventeenth place, off the back of a 1-1 draw at home against Worksop Town last Saturday.
So, the scene was set...
Handsworth won the toss and chose to attack towards the clubhouse, because having warmed up there, they will have been acutely aware that the glaring sun, dipping behind the main stand, would have been shining brightly straight into the eyes of whichever goalkeeper started the game at that end, but wouldn't pose such a problem in the second half.
Maltby's debutant keeper Matt Leese and a couple of his defenders certainly seemed to be unsighted inside the second minute of the game, when Danny Buttle picked out Jon Froggatt with a right wing corner and he turned the ball into the goal from close range to open the scoring for the afternoon.
In the eighth minute, Handsworth had the opportunity to double their lead when Froggatt was tripped inside the visitors area, by... err, possibly it was Peter Winn of Cleethorpes, arriving late from a challenge he had attempted to complete on Tuesday night ;-), or more likely it was a Maltby player, who I couldn't actually identify because the sun was in my eyes! Any takers? Thought not!
The league's top scorer Aaron Moxam stepped up and drilled the ball low, hard and on target from the spot, but Leese dropped to his left to make a save, before recovering quickly to keep a combination of of Moxam and Simon Harrison at bay from the rebound.
But Maltby's reprieve was short lived, because Danny Buttle knows the mandatory pack drill that all the best fighter pilot's employ: Keep the sun behind you! 
Another corner from the west was turned in at the near post by Moxam after eleven minutes.
The visitors responded to the Ambers two goal whammy, with Ollie Lawrence knocking the ball over the home side's defence for Ryan Carroll to run onto, but the former Handsworth player, who turned 21 yesterday (many happy returns) was thwarted by Archie Sneath who advanced quickly from his line to claim the ball.
Moments later, Josh Schofield flicked the ball into Lawrence's path just inside the home side's area, but Micky Harcourt moved in quickly to clear the danger.
Jon Froggatt was given the man of the match award today for his all action and unselfish role up front for Handsworth, where he weighed in with a couple of goals, but I don't think Harcourt could've been more than a few points behind the prolific striker and he would actually have got my vote, as he looked strong and unflappable alongside his ever reliable sidekick Gaz Griffiths.
Maltby's man marking of Danny Buttle was slightly excessive.
Buttle crossed, yet again and picked out Tom Claisse, but his attempt on goal deflected past the post.
"Buttle's not done much today" muttered a dissenter in the stand. I fussed his guide dog, gave it a biscuit and refused to get embroiled in an argument about the relative merits of any of the players. Partly because I am a peaceable chap who avoids any kind of confrontation at all costs, but mainly because it gets boring being right all of the time ;-)
Harrison floated a long free kick towards Griffiths that was cleared for a corner and as Maltby cleared their lines and countered, Harrison had already got back to block Schofield's forward run.
Blimey! He doesn't hang about.
Maltby tried getting into the game as Schofield slipped the ball into the path of Jordan Snodin, the son of the former England U21 international Ian, but Harcourt was well in control of his domain this afternoon and stepped up once more to intercept the ball and put it out of harms reach.
Connor Smythe ghosted past Stuart Ludlam on the left hand side of Maltby's area, but Leese held onto his shot.
"Respect my authority! Wow! Don't mess with this ref.
Buttle cut in from the right, but Jack Greeves intervened and got a touch to the wide man's right wing cross at the expense of a corner. The Parras number eleven dropped the flag kick into the six yard box, Maltby made a mess of getting the ball away and Jon Froggatt accepted the gift of a loose ball a few yards out and netted what is known in the football industry as a poacher's goal, because they don't use phraseology like 'goal hanger' these days.
The visitors had been keeping their shape well and refusing to be pulled out of the position, when the Ambers back four played the ball sideways across the final third in an attempt to entice them to open up and leave gaps to exploit; they weren't diving into tackles and had they kept the score down to two-nil at the interval, their position would still have been salvageable, particular if they had grabbed a goal on the break early in the second half, but their undoing had been their failure to defend at corners and conceding a third just before the break, had given them a whole range of mountains to climb, with a severely depleted team. 
Hopefully Danny Reilly and Shawn Mitchell will be back from injury next week and Steve Hopewell's absence and recovery time won't be as long as is being anticipated. 
I'm speaking from a completely neutral perspective of course.
The third goal stung the Miners into life and they almost pulled a goal back, but Sneath was relishing his one versus one tussles with Carroll this afternoon and positioned himself well to preserve the home sides three goal advantage.
Right on the stroke of half time, Lawrence and Carroll combined to make an opening for Nicky Darker on the edge of the Ambers area, but as the Maltby skipper stepped forward to unleash a shot, he lost his footing, fell over backwards and... well, let's just say, he didn't keep the ball on target and I'll leave it at that to spare anyone's blushes.
HT: Ambers 3 v Miners 0
Stuart Ludlam delivered the ball into the Miners goalmouth just seconds after the restart, but Jack Greeves cleared it away. Moxam picked up the loose ball and played it out wide to Harrison who picked out Froggatt with a first time cross, but Liam Flint denied the Handsworth striker his hat trick with a timely blockage.
Buttle escaped down the left flank, but Craig Mitchell had tracked his run and got an outstretched leg to the anticipated left wing cross and conceded a corner.
Harrison delivered the ball under the Main's cross bar but Brett Watts headed the ball away from danger.
Maltby won a free kick just inside the Ambers half and Flint launched the ball towards Carroll, who got up above two defenders, but Sneath had got up well and claimed the ball before the Main front man could get his head to it.
Schofield nudged the ball forward to Darker who rolled it into the path of Carroll, whose angled shot across the face of goal needed a last ditch clearance from Griffiths to keep it out.
Ironically, as Maltby were enjoying their best (and possibly only) spell of attacking pressure, they conceded a fourth goal. Once more from a set piece, which was executed by Buttle, whose final touch of the game saw him drop a free kick onto the head of Harcourt, who dispatched a well placed header into the top right hand corner of the visitor's goal beyond the reach of Leese.
I think it would be safe to assume that Maltby will be practicing defending set pieces and corners this week.
Buttle had done the damage and was replaced on the hour by Adam Ward, a former Worksop Town player who signed on with Parramore earlier this week. 
His lively running and close control gave the Miners a whole new load of problems to deal with. And Ward was almost on the score sheet within a few minutes of him entering the fray, when Alex Rippon played him through on goal but Leese saved at his feet and Moxam put the ball over the bar from the rebound.
Smythe pushed forward on the left, fancying a piece of the action for himself after providing Buttle with great service for the opening hour, the flying left back rode a foul, stayed on his feet, saw off a challenge from Schofield, but shot straight at Leese from twenty yards out.
That kind of thing is always worth a go when your four nil up and the clock is ticking down.
Another Moxam effort was put wide via a combination of Mitchell and Leese, while Greeves headed clear from Ward's resulting corner kick, as the Miners belatedly remembered how to defend set pieces and pick up opposition players inside their own area.
With twenty minutes remaining Maltby made a double substitution, with Conner (with an  E) White and Cory Goodwin coming on in place of Schofield and Lawrence. They were never going to change the outcome of the game, but their fresh legs and running at least gave the visitors some much needed impetus.
But regardless of Maltby's renewed vigour, Handsworth were still in the hunt for more goals, to keep their league table differential topped up and only an excelllent save from Leese prevented Griffiths from powering a header just under the crossbar from from Ward's cross.
Mitchell played the ball down  the right wing for Carroll to chase, he struck ball firmly across the face of Handsworth's goal, but Sneath held on with White escaping the attentions of the defence and arriving behind the Ambers keeper to capitalise if 'Archie' had missed the ball.
Griffiths nudged the ball past Leese from Ward's left wing cross, but he had strayed offside and the goal was ruled out.
White picked up possession on the right hand side of midfield and paced forward, before drilling a pass into the path of Carroll, who in turn picked out Cory Goodwin whose first time shot was turned around the post by Sneath.
Handsworth fell victim to one of their own tactics, when Snodin's right wing corner zipped across the Ambers goal line and wasn't cleared, it ended up in the back of the net via Reece Wesley's chest... they all count!
It was too late to make a real dent on the final outcome now, but at least Maltby were finishing the game with a spring in their step, with Mitchell making a thirty yard run forward, before passing to Carroll, who evaded two tackles before getting his shot away, but Sneath got his angles right and held onto the ball, before releasing it quickly up the field.
Handsworth are masters of this quick box to box moving at pace stuff, so just in case Maltby were planning on a stoppage time goal every twenty seconds to salvage a point, Rippon paced forward and delivered a great pass to Moxam's feet who finished well and gave Leese no chance from eight yards out.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 5 v Maltby Main 1
You couldn't dispute, by the wildest stretch of anyone's vivid imagination that the best team on the afternoon had won comfortably. 
But if Maltby had attacked from the off against such a strong side they would have left themselves exposed at the back and allowed Handsworth more time and space to hit them from out wide more often too. December is a big month for the Miners and they will be looking to rack up a decent haul of points.
As for Handsworth, in spite of their midweek defeat, they'll keep on churning the results out, it wasn't pretty at times today, but at least they adapted well and claimed the points that keep them in the mix.
Neither Handsworth or Maltby have a midweek game and they are both on the road next week, when the Ambers travel to Liversedge, while Spencer Fearn's team make the trip to Barton upon Humber to play Barton Town Old Boys.
Maltby are nowhere near the drop zone in terms of points, in spite of finding themselves in seventeenth place in the table, but Parkgate have started to put a run of impressive results together, including an eye catching 7-0 win over Barton Town Old Boys this afternoon, so the teams perched precariously above the bottom three would do well to start getting a few decent results under their belts to avoid getting dragged into a relegation scrap.
At the business end of the table, Cleethorpes Town won 6-1 today against Armthorpe Welfare and remain in top spot, while Bridlington Town chalked up their eleventh win in a row under their recently appointed manager Curtis Woodhouse (it's actually twelve in a row because 'Brid' won the game previous to him taking the job on).
Pickering Town beat AFC Mansfield 2-1 and Thackley had to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw with Worksop Town. Albion Sports had a blank afternoon, while the two other sides in the chasing pack, Liversedge and Hemsworth Miners Welfare both scored five times as they saw off Retford United and Rainworth Miners Welfare respectively.
Curtis Woodhouse... when he was at Mansfield Town
Handsworth Parramore finished the afternoon in fifth place, twelve points behind the league leaders, but manager Micky Godber is learned and experienced enough to know that his team need to focus solely on their own games and results... and let the other teams worry about keeping unbeaten runs and promotion pushes going, in the knowledge that the Ambers are breathing down their necks.
It is good to see so many teams in with a shout this term, although Marcus Newell's Owls are obviously clear favourites to win the league, because healthy competition never hurt anyone and as regards intrigue, interest and entertainment, the NCEL just keeps on giving this season.
Ta very much to that nice Mr Slesser for the lift home... muchly appreciated pal!