Sunday, 19 March 2017

Ladies Day: Three games in five hours and ten minutes.

To peruse the Flickr Gallery from "Ladies Day - Three games in five hours and ten minutes" CLICK HERE
You know how these things start... pop in to watch the Stags Ladies Development team en route to the League Two fixture at Meadow Lane between Notts County and Barnet, then home for tea.
But, as the saying goes: Life is what happens when you're making other plans.
Arriving at Rainworth's ground at five past ten, we discovered that it was locked and their was no sign of life anywhere to be seen on Kirklington Road.
So I consulted FA Full Time on my phone and discovered that at some point over the last 24 hours, the kick off time had been put back, but hey ho!
 The other semi final to the one we had turned up to see was kicking off at Arnold's Eagle Valley ground in twenty five minutes, so without further ado... vroom!
We were on our way.
Arnold Town Ladies (A) 1 
v Bingham Town Ladies 0
Notts Ladies League Plate Semi Final
at Arnold Town FC
The respective teams from Arnold and Bingham were just finishing their warm ups when we parked up a few yards away, from the pitch nearest the A614.
Blooming 'eck, it was bloody windy and cold, the corner flags were bent almost horizontal, some of the coaches were chasing plastic training cones that were blowing across the pitch and a small plastic training goal some infants were using was doing a good impression of a box kite behind the goal that Bingham would be defending in the first half.
With 'Hurricane Arnold' taking each and every throw in and goal kick wherever it saw fit, the conditions were all but nigh on impossible for playing anything even barely resembling an organised game of football, and you'd have to say that each and every player out on the park that managed to complete the whole ninety minutes, deserves legend status.
Today's half time entertainment was
provided by a ball juggling referee.
Natasha Leach looked like a technically gifted young lady, with an array of step overs, dummies and dribbling skills in her repertoire of tricks... and she didn't expend energy chasing loose balls and lost causes. She also netted the only goal of the game with an angled shot from twelve yards out around the half hour mark.
One might have expected Arnold to add to their lead after the break with the wind behind them, but they would've needed a similar running speed to that of a Gazelle (that's 97 KMH, if you're interested) to keep up with the ball, as the wind claimed it and was reluctant to give it back.
Though I do think the Arnold Town coach who doubled up as a linesman almost matched the pace of the aforementioned Antilopinae, as he sprinted off in pursuit of numerous stray kicks into the car park. You can't blame him, those Mitre ones are a tenner each in Sports Direct y'know.
If they're telling the truth on Wikipedia, the Gazelle
will escape and the Leopard will go hungry.
The weather ruined the game as a spectacle, but thanks to both teams for at least trying to put a game on in quite horrific conditions.
So then, it was far too early to head into Nottingham yet, so we opted to head back to Rainworth for the second semi final, to see who Arnold Ladies (A) team would be playing in the final at Calverton Miners Welfare's ground.
The Mansfield Town Ladies first team manager was at Kirklington Road when we got back and after having a quick chat with him, it transpired that his side would be playing a league game against Peterborough Northern Star on the main pitch, after the development team's semi final had finished on Rainworth's training pitch. Result! That was our afternoon sorted then and we wouldn't have to bugger about getting through the weekend Nottingham traffic (and road works) to get back up north to the more desirable end of this green and pleasant county.
Mansfield Town Ladies Development 0 
v Sherwood Youth Ladies 2
Notts Ladies League Plate Semi Final,
at Rainworth MW training ground
The wind was still being a pain in the backside but at least the training ground is a little more enclosed around three sides, than the open expanse of pitches at Arnold.
But it still made controlling the ball difficult and neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock in the first half, until the visitors number 11 (sorry I didn't recognise her and don't know here name) 'spooned' a shot over the crossbar with the goal at her mercy, after the Stags keeper, Jay-Leanne Fenton, struggled to deal with an awkward cross that moved all over in the wind.
One well taken second half strike from Havana Oliver-Mighten
Two well taken second half strikes from Havana Oliver-Mighten, both set up by Grace Benjamin, were enough to put Sherwood through to the final, though Mansfield Had been desperately unlucky not to draw level in between times, when Liz Harris saw off two defenders and beat the visitors keeper, but saw her firmly planted shot come back off the right hand post.
Rhiannon Harrison almost delivered another kind of knockout blow, when she whacked a clearance in to touch, that slammed my mate 'Big Mick' (we call him that because his name is Michael and he's big) smack on the forehead.
I was just about to compliment him on his text book header, when he keeled over and landed on his back looking up dazed towards the clouds.
Being a responsible fully qualified FA first aider and compassionate sort of guy, I knew exactly what to do and sprang into action, doubling up and laughing so hard that I almost followed through.
I know you have to reassure your patient at all times and figured that if I was chuckling out loud he'd hear me and realise that his injuries weren't life threatening or serious.
I'm so thoughtful and selfless sometimes, it surely can't be long until I am officially ordained as a saint.
So Arnold Town will now face Sherwood Youth in the final.
Mansfield Town Ladies 0
v Peterborough Northern Star Ladies 3
East Midlands Ladies League
at Rainworth MW main pitch
Hmm. Our third and final game was ever so slightly one sided, as the Masfield Ladies first team struggled to get going... and though they are still top of the East Midlands League, they are now relying on results elsewhere going their way as the cluster of clubs snapping at their heels every inch of the way, all have games in hand and can mathematically overall the Stags women's team.
If you are wondering why I don't refer to ladies by their nickname of the Stagettes, it is simply because, in my opinion,if you are connected to Mansfield Town as a player, manager, coach, staff member or supporter, whatever your, race, creed religion, sexual preferences or orientation, age
and gender, then you are a Stag... not a Stagette!
We're ALL in it together, inclusively Stags.
And I know many females of the Mansfield Town persuasion who would thank me for saying so too.
Peterborough Northern Star were the better side and had that bit too much quality about them for the home side who were having a bit of an off day.
Star Ladies surged into a two nil half time lead and added a third after the break and deservedly took home all three points from what I saw. And the score finished three nil with goals from Jessica Farchica, Louise Barber and Chanade Henderson.
On the way home, Colin Slater was mumbling his way through the match commentary from Notts County v Barnet, On BBC Radio Nottinghamrambling on about all manner of things other than the actual game, in a monotone, irrelevant, boring and sleep inducing way. So I turned him off and listened to my Paper Lace's Greatest Hits CD instead.
"I heard my mother cry. I heard her pray the night Chicago died!"
So there you have it: three thoroughly enjoyable games, two hundred and seventy minutes of non stop wind assisted football and home before tea.
Next Sunday we will be travelling to the John Fretwell Centre to see if Market Warsop Ladies can clinch the Notts Ladies League title against Sherwood Youth.
The game kicks off at 1PM if you'd care to join us.