Saturday, 17 December 2016

Maltby Main 2 v Parkgate 0 - NCEL Prem

Sat 17th November 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division,
at Muglet Lane, Maltby
Maltby Main (1) 2
Keegan Burton 3
Josh Schofield 89
Parkgate FC (0) 0
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 85
For more pictures from this game click HERE
Maltby Main:
Danny Rusling, Callum Cheetham, Craig Mitchell (Conner White 55), Reece Wesley, Jack Greeves, Shawn Mitchell (Ollie Lawrence 67), Brandon Potts (Josh Schofield 67), Nicky Darker (C), Keegan Burton, Ryan Carroll. Jordna Snodin
Unused subs - Cory Goodwin, Liam Flint
Ben Hunter, Jed McGowan (Mick Cuckson), Dan Harris, JoshDacre (C), Nick Senior, Ryan Hall (Chris Simpkins 67), Craig Fletcher, Ash Emmett, Jsh Moore, Alex Lill, Kieran Hirst (Sam Thornton 67)
Unused subs - Chris Howard, Josh Lill (GK)
Less than eight miles and just three places in the NCEL Premier Division table, divide these two South Yorkshire sides.
Although the Miners did kick off the afternoon a considerable eleven points ahead of their visitors from Rawmarsh, who are embroiled in a tooth and nail battle to get out of the bottom three places in the league table.
The rivalry between these two sides is a very friendly, yet still competitive one; because although local bragging rights are always desirable spoils to wallow in for the victors, you could probably fill a whole book with the names of the players who have represented both of these teams... and if truth be told, quite a lot of the supporters who were present this afternoon, turn out and watch them the two of them at Muglet Lane and the Roundwood Sports Complex on a fairly regular basis anyway... and Armthorpe when they are feeling really adventurous.
Elsewhere Retford United have slid into the relegation scrap at the foot of the table and though they have games in hand over Armthorpe Welfare (as do Parkgate), they're currently carrying the heavy baggage of having accumulated the worse goal difference in the table, by virtue of suffering a few really heavy defeats of late.
The Badgers plight became even more desperate this afternoon, when they traveled to Forest Town and suffered a 13-0 (2-0 at half time) reversal at the hands of AFC Mansfield, that pre-empted the departure of their manager Darren Giovannetti (by mutual consent) and the vast majority of their players.
There is a plan B in place at Cannon Park, but the official Retford United website is probably the best place to look for official announcements about that particular team and news about the imminent 'adjustment' to points total they are getting clobbered with.
Besides Armthorpe and Retford, the other two clubs caught up in the four way scrap to avoid the dreaded drop: Barton Town Old Boys and today's visitors Parkgate, have picked up a few half decent results of late, especially since Graham Nicholas and Ross Shelton took over the Steelmen's managerial reigns, turning the four way skirmish to beat the drop into a really compelling one as a consequence, after the Rawmarsh based club, had looked as if they were doomed and bouncing on the trapdoor to oblivion, with reckless abandon, earlier in the season.
"Surely they don't expect me to go out there unescorted!?"
Maltby Main and Harrogate Railway Athletic, who by way of a massive coincidence play against each other at Muglet Lane on December 27th, should be mathematically safe from the drop into Division One now, with a big enough points gap to keep them (just) out of harms way... and you can include Rainworth Miners Welfare in that equation too.
But they could all do with getting a few more wins under their collective belts any time soon, just to make sure.
For a full breakdown of today's NCEL results and the current league standings, click HERE
"You'll be okay ref!
There is an emergency exit for unpopular match officials over there!"
"It's the most wonderful time of the year" apparently, which will have impacted somewhat on non league crowds across the country today (well, at the clubs where they don't make their attendances up least-ways) and with the two football local Football League sides round these parts, both having tempting looking fixtures today (but not tempting enough to sway us); with Rotherham United making the short trip across the M1 to Hilllsborough, while Doncaster Rovers were entertaining Grimsby Town in a 12.30pm kick off at the Keepmoat Stadium.
But the officially recorded attendance of 85 hardy souls, who turned out for this game (plus the younger members of the local community, who had bunked in over the wall), were treated to an action packed tussle, that both sides emerged from with a lot of credit for their hard work, commitment, dedication to playing attacking football and unselfconsciousness about getting stuck in with some proper full blooded challenges. Incidentally: unselfconsciousness is the second longest word to ever appear on this here blog.
Sometimes, when I am watching football at international level and the higher echelons of the Football League, I have to wonder to myself, if physicality and actual tackling have been outlawed by the powers that be.
But a quick drive across to Muglet Lane always restores my faith in the fact the football still has a pulse, a beating heart and an occasional need to kick some ass.
Maltby Main also have a thriving club shop these days too.
I can't wait to see my my better half's beaming happy smiling face when she opens her Christmas box this year.
But hey! She's worth it!
This was the ideal sort of game for Maltby to give two youngsters: Keegan Burton and Brandon Potts, their NCEL debut's in. 
By the time that they had left the battlefield, whoops! I meant the field of play, they had been kicked an untold amount of times, but will be far wiser from the experience, if perhaps a little bruised and grazed by way of their introduction to a properly competitive non league game.
Potts made a great contribution today, but I never expected anything else following the glowing report I had passed on to a scout from a Football League club, the last time I had seen him in action, which you can read about HERE if you are so inclined.
Burton made light of his diminutive stature and though he is only at Muglet Lane on a short term arrangement from Sheffield United, where he is currently on work experience, it looks as though he will be making a big impact on the few Miners games that he will be playing in, if today is anything to go by.
Both players will have been used to playing 'pass and move' football and were probably advised that in this league, the secret to survival is to 'pass and jump'. 
But personally lads, if you still want to be walking by the time that the new year arrives, I would dispense with the passing altogether and just 'jump' as high as you can every time anybody comes near you. 
And never try 'nut-megging' any journeyman centre half who looks like he bangs rivets into sheet metal with his forehead for a living and eats raw liver for sustenance... because he probably does!
Another good way of earning yourself a whole load of close attention all afternoon is to net the opening goal after just a few minutes.
It is in the league handbook that you won't get any protection whatsoever from the match officials until you have been duffed up at least a dozen times, if you've had the cheek and temerity to do such a thing. 
If only somebody could've warned young Burton before the game kicked off, eh!?
Welcome to the NCEL lads.
Things will never be the same again!
Left: Brandon Potts. Right: Keegan Burton. Centre: Ash Emmett (8)
Despite the universally shared school of thought, that this would be a robust encounter; the game actually commenced amidst an air of peaceful tranquility... and it was a whole thirty eight seconds, before David Jones, the match referee, had to reach for his whistle, when Reece Wesley stopped Alex Lill in his tracks, just inside the Maltby half.
Ash Emmett delivered a telling free kick into the Miners penalty area to Josh Moore who glanced the ball towards the goal, but Danny Rusling was on hand to make a save under his bar.
Potts dug the ball out of a congested midfield and used it well spraying a pass wide to Callum Cheetham, the Maltby number two motored forward and drilled a cross into the Parkgate six yard box, where Keegan Burton squeezed it over the line to open the scoring, despite being wrestled (literally) for possession of the ball by Ben Turner, who was quite possibly twice the Maltby number nines size in height.
Ben Hunter: Kinnel! He's a big lad!
Moments later, Nick Senior lost his footing on the edge of his own area while attempting to make a routine clearance, allowing Burton to advance forward, Turner ran out and forced the youngster wide, but he whipped an angled shot past the visitors keeper and would have scored again if Ryan Hall hadn't raced back to cover and clear the ball away, next the foot of the right hand post.
Ryan Carroll, playing up front alongside Burton, was keeping the Parkgate defence busy with a full on, backs to the wall shift, whereby he was fighting for every ball, working as a foil for his strike partner, proving to be an omnipresent threat and pain in the backside for his markers and jumping into people a lot.
Potts broke free on the right flank and his delivery moved about in  the air, forcing Turner to tip it over to be on the safe side as the ball almost dipped under the crossbar. 
Shawn Mitchell,who had only returned from injury today, manned the barricades alongside Darker for the best part of seventy minutes today, before being rested. He is the sort of player you need in the the thick of it on days like today and his input can't be under estimated.  
Maltby broke forward again with centre half Jack Greeves finding himself out on the left flank, he found his defensive sidekick Wesley with a cross, whose downward header was blocked by Josh Dacre and Parkgate cleared their lines.
Maltby were having the better of the first half so far, but the Steelmen found their rhythm and made it clear that they meant business too, with Rusling having to run from his area to beat Lill to the ball, while Moore almost stunned Maltby with an equaliser, when his twenty yard free kick failed to find a team mate in the Miners area, but hit the right hand upright.
Nicky Darker, the engine room of the Maltby side, intercepted Craig Fletcher's corner kick and shepherded the ball away and the home side moved up through the gears again as Potts turned Danny Harris one way then the other, before forcing a save from Turner. 
Jordan skipped past two challenges and poked the ball sideways to Carroll who took a stride forward, squared up to shoot and was fouled as Hall clipped the back of his heels. But Carroll took the responsibility of pointing to the spot away from the referee, by playing on and forcing a save from Turner who gratefully tipped the ball over the bar. 
It was a foul and it should have been a penalty, but Carroll fancied his chances and there was no guarantee that Turner would've been beaten from twelve yards anyway, so that was that... and Mr Jones could hardly pull the game back once the Maltby striker had played the advantage.
I heard a few cat calls from a couple of spectators, but I reckon they would've done exactly the same as Carroll with such a great opportunity unfolding before him in  the heat of the moment.
I can't fault him for his actions at all.
Jordan was obviously getting under Hall's skin by now and found himself being exposed to some of the oldest tricks in the book over the course of the next ten minutes or so; as the Parkgate centre half put him in a head lock, a half nelson and a vertical press, while ragging him about by means of a testicular claw, tiger feint kick and a time honoured leg sweep down the back of his calf. 
All perfectly legitimate in WWF bouts, but obviously also acceptable on a football pitch if the referee thinks that such antics are beneficial to 'toughening up' a young footballer. 
Or was genuinely looking the other way every time Hall got to grips with the cheeky upstart.
Don't worry Keegan, there are some big lads in the Maltby ranks and somebody will get him back for you when the ref's back is turned.
Darker picked out Ryan Carroll, twenty five yards from goal, who chested the ball down and unleashed a shot just wide of the post on the turn.
The last action of the first half, saw Potts thwarted by Senior's tackle, but the other new kid on the block had been watching closely as Jordan found out the hard way about poking at the nest of bees that is a NCEL centre half and his psyche and was possibly already four feet in the air before Senior's man sized challenge arrived.
HT: Maltby Main 1 v Parkgate 0
Maltby had enjoyed the better of the opening forty five minutes, but Parkgate came out refreshed from their half time feng shui, herbal tea and transcendental meditation session... I think that is what all the shouting and expletives was about... and were evidently going to up the ante from the word go and as they restarted the game and went straight on the offensive, forcing a corner out on the left flank.
Maltby cleared and Darker chipped the ball into the path of Potts for him to run onto, but Harris was wise to the ways of the newcomer by now and headed the ball back to Hunter before the Miners debutant had even had a sniff of a chance.
Josh Dacre almost unlocked the Maltby back line with a well intended free kick but Craig Mitchell did what the Maltby defence had been doing just about every time Parkgate threatened to break through their ranks and got the ball away in a no nonsense fashion. 
Let the creative midfielders and young forwards do all of the fancy stuff, a defenders job is to get the ball out of the final third, with the minimum of fuss possible. Ave it!
Darker rode two fouls in the centre circle, but the referee finally blew for the third one when Ash Emmett caught him with a kick that must have smarted.
But the Miners captain got to his feet without uttering a word of complaint, accepting that a bit of rough and tumble is part and parcel of the game. 
It simply isn't in Darker's nature to nag away at referees all afternoon; now is it!?,
(C) Mitchell was replaced by Conner White in the fifty fifth minute. 
He had done his bit and more besides, while the fresh legged White slipped seamlessly into the left back/left half berth that Mitchell had been operating from to good effect.
Jordan Snodin took a free kick out on the right wing to meet the late run of Wesley, who blind sided the visitors defence but saw his header saved by Hunter.
The home side had absorbed a fair bit of pressure from Parkgate since half time, but were finding their second wind now and went close when Carroll got his shot in, in spite of being forced away from the visitors goal by Dacre, but the ball deflected wide off of Senior.
Having upped their application and work rate, the Steelmen were determined to force the issue now and Rusling was called into action three times: running from his line to dispossess Moore, dealing wiith Fletcher's corner as Moore and Lill both moved in to challenge and punching Dacre's free kick away after Darker had 'accidentally' collided with Kieran Hirst but had been penalised anyway.
Hirst himself was getting more and more involved in the game and was unlucky to see his shot across the face of Rusling's goal go wide of the right hand upright.
Maltby were a bit unhappy about the frequency of the linesman on the cricket field side touchline, flagging their players offside.
But we were sat perfectly in line with three decisions that were made in quick succession and can confirm that referee's assistant had called all of them correctly, even though they were close calls.
One of the young lads in the ground had just fetched a stray ball back from the adjacent field, when Wesley dashed across to intercept Lill's run from Emmett's knock down the left flank... and dispatched it over the wall.
The 'well mannered' kid merely sighed and said most eloquently in his bestest Queen's English: "F**king hell! I'll have to fetch that c*** again now you clown... but not 'til I've had a smoke!" 
You might think that is fairly uncouth talk for an eleven year old, but this is Maltby and he's probably old enough to have two kids of his own by now, probably to different mums out of the same class at school and he possibly drove here in one of the cars that was parked haphazardly/abandoned on Outgang Lane, across from the allotments. 
It would certainly explain a lot when  the rest of us tried getting out of the car park at full time. 
Both teams were using their subs as limbs began to tire, out on the ever so slightly uneven playing surface. 
One of them, Parkgate's Chris Simpkins was straight on the case like a man possessed.
Jack Greeves immediately spotted the potential threat he carried and clattered into him out on the wing, by way of a greeting, earning himself a booking along the way.
Greeves had slogged his guts out all afternoon and probably didn't fancy chasing after the energetic substitute as full time came into sight over the horizon. 
The next goal, if indeed there was going to be one, was vital to outcome of this game and Maltby thought that they had a chance to put the game to bed from the penalty spot, when an exchange of passes between Carroll and Burton in the Parkgate area, was blatantly thwarted, when a Parkgate player pushed the ball away with his hand.
Hmm... this referee didn't half like to let the game flow, especially inside the penalty areas.
***** of Parkgate got away with that one, but seeing as it's Xmas I will protect his identity. 
Just this once!
Ollie Lawrence, freshly on from the bench, had a bit of a 'Bambi on ice' moment as he slithered forward to link up with the Maltby attack, but after his initial embarrassment and the chorus of ironic cheers that greeted his clumsy entrance, Lawrence imposed himself well and was instrumental in providing a link up out on the left while offering another stubborn obstacle for Parkgate to surmount.
Hi Martin ;-)
I often think that Lawrence would be better suited to a more central role, but Maltby already have the players who made that berth their own, so his versatility probably stands him in good stead, even though he'd probably prefer to do a full ninety minutes more often. Just anobservation on mypart, mind you.
Snodin's right wing corner was flicked on but Hunter punched clear, but the ball was instantly returned from the left hand side of the area and Burton placed a shot right into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, beyond the reach of any average human's outstretched arm, Hunter, who is possibly the offspring of Stretch Armstrong himself, somehow managed to get his hand to the ball and kept it out though.
Simpkins and Fletcher, buoyed on by their keeper's worldly save, tore forward down the right flank in tandem, but White dealt comfortably with his two against one head to head and quickly played the ball forward, having nipped the Parkgate duo's attacking intentions in the bud. 
Cheetham was offering a good supply line down the right for Maltby, while the Miners central defensive pairing were closing Parkgate out and forcing them into shooting from long range.
Just as the board was held aloft for four extra minutes, Simpkins burst into the Maltby box and crashed an unstoppable shot against the crossbar.
Parkgate were still giving it their all and that one was a real let off for Spencer Fearn's side.
Ryan Carroll saw his side footed effort bobble wide of the upright at the other end. 
He had deserved a goal for all of his hard work and perseverance this afternoon, but he will have been happy to have done his bit for the team, especially deep into stoppage time when Snodin fed the ball into the Parkgate area and as Hunter blocked Burton's close range knock, Josh Schofield pounced to ram the ball into the back of the net from the rebound. 
Two-nil, game over and hard lines Parkgate.
In terms of getting points on the board after some indifferent results of late, this was a B.I.G. win for Maltby as they took a large stride away from the messy end of the Premier Division.
But one can't help but feel a bit sorry for Parkgate, who ran themselves into the ground today and probably deserved a point out of this enthralling contest, particularly in the second half.
FT: Maltby Main 2 v Parkgate 0

Neither of these two sides have another game until after Xmas now.
For a list of Bank Holiday fixtures, click HERE