Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Handsworth Parramore 0 v Frickley Athletic 2 - Sheffield & Hallamshire Cup SF

Tuesday 4th April 2017
Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Senior Cup Semi Final
At the Windsor Foodservice Stadium
Handsworth Parramore (0) 0
Frickley Athletic (2) 2
Joe Pugh 22
Luke Mangham 27
Admission £5. Programme £1.50
Attendance 106
The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Senior Challenge Cup, which was first contested in 1876, is the joint oldest cup competition known to mankind, that is still being governed by a County Football Association.
It's an accolade that is shared with the Birmingham County FA's parallel competition.
Overall, these two County Cup finals are the joint fourth oldest knockout contests in the world, and are only pre-dated by the FA Cup which was inaugurated in 1871–72, the Scottish FA Cup that began in 1873–7, and finally; the East of Scotland Shield which started a season earlier than the Sheffield and Birmingham tournaments in 1875.
Last Tuesday, while Handsworth Parramore were beating Thackley 1-0, courtesy of a Will Eades header (on a school night); Shaw Lane were booking their place in this season's final, with a 3-1 win over Penistone Church, meaning that they would face the winner of tonight's second semi, at Bramall Lane, in the showpiece final on Wednesday April 19th, assuming that they turn up.
By way of as brief an explanation as possible, as to why I've just said that: Shaw Lane 'ducked out' of last years final against Frickley Athletic, because they had a backlog of fixtures to fulfil in the league, amidst a successful push for promotion from the NCEL, and they thought that it was unreasonable for them to have to squeeze an extra game in, on the particular date it was allocated to, so they 'prioritised' and withdrew from the competition.
Personally, although I wholly agree that the final day that all NCEL fixtures have to be completed by, should be set in stone, which is only right and good, because it prevents any club gaining an unfair advantage; I did think that the County FA could've put the date of their final back, just a week or so, to accommodate the needs of one of their member clubs.
But they didn't/wouldn't, which is a shame
2015-16 was a season where a lot of games were lost to the weather and the club formerly known as Shaw Lane Aquaforce (a name they had to shorten when they entered the Northern Premier League, Division One, due to rules on advertising in team names), suffered more than most with postponements.
So, eventually, after the County FA had deliberated, Frickley were awarded the cup, by virtue of having reached a final that never actually took place, and as a consequence the south Elmsall club have won the 'Sheff Cup' fourteen times to date, a record that is only equalled by Sheffield Wednesday.
Following tonight's win that saw Karl Rose's side reach their fifth County Cup final in a row, they now have a chance to become the winners for a record fifteenth time.
But ironically, given last years palaver, this season's final falls in between two vital fixtures for Frickley, who need to concentrate on winning as many points as possible to drag themselves clear of a desperate fight against relegation.
Hip Hopping Yorkshire in the area
By virtue of the circumstances detailed above, the Blues arrived at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium tonight as cup holders... and to be honest, outwith a lively opening fifteen minutes from their hosts, they appeared to have a firm grip on the silverware.
Moving away at a tangent for a few moments; while I'm on the subject of honours: congratulations to Wayne Plant, Louis Axcell and that other bloke, along with everyone else involved with the Handsworth Parramore Under 21 side, on officially being confirmed as champions of the Worksop Van Hire, North Midland U21 League, yesterday.
The Amber production line just keeps on giving.
And joking aside, well done to Dean Bamforth for his continued success with the Handsworth development sides, encompassing several different age groups.
He's a top lad who can dish the banter out as well as take it, in equal measure.
And into the bargain, he has a talented son, a very beautiful wife and a sponsored club car.
It's nice to see Bamf is finally getting the recognition that he so richly deserves.
Aaron Moxam having a John Terry photobombing  moment
Unless any of these players have entered one of those very lucrative crossword competitions in 'Take a Break', tonight represented some of them's last opportunity, to cling on to any lingering hopes of winning anything this season.
Handsworth set off at a cracking pace and were unlucky not to be ahead inside the opening two minutes, when Aaron Moxam made himself some space to the right hand side of the visitors goal and drilled a low and firmly struck shot just wide of the left hand upright.
Frickley had been expecting a stern test against their NCEL opponents tonight and early on, it looked as though that was exactly the way the game was shaping up, as Reece Fielding managed to deflect Jon Froggatt's close range shot round the post.
Simon Harrison's corner kick almost found it's way over the line to open the scoring, but Sebastian Malkowski, 'the Pole in the goal' for Frickley, managed to keep it out.
Harrison was involved again soon afterwards, when he won the ball and fed a pass into the path of Danny Buttle, but Gary Stohrer moved in smartly to make a challenge and halted the Ambers left sided attacker, before he could get his cross in.
Buttle spotted a gap in Frickley's defence and knocked a diagonal ball through for Moxam who met it with a darting run forward, but his burst of pace didn't just deceive the opposition defence and the linesman waved his blue and white scarf in the air to signal to the referee that he thought Moxam was offside when the ball was played.
You should try keeping up with play liner!
Stohrer, who proved to be a tower of strength for the visitors tonight, floated a long free kick into the Ambers area from out on the right, that Tyler Williams connected with, but his shot took a deflection and went narrowly wide.
Frickley were soon backon the attack from another set piece, when Macauley Parkinson found Joe Pugh with a lengthy delivery from the left wing, but he diverted his header wide.
As well as turning out for Frickley, on work experience terms, Fielding and Pugh both play for Doncaster Rovers Under 18 side in the EFL Youth Alliance... from what I have seen of them thus far, 'Donny' have got themselves two very good prospects on their hands in this pair.
Fielding had the unenviable task of man marking Jon Froggatt and Pugh definitely caught the eye tonight, with some great touches, clever positioning, build up play and close control and quick movement.
The U18 league is, of course, primarily about the development of teenage players, but it is  worth mentioning (again) that reigning champions Mansfield Town are five points clear at the top of the table with four games left to play.
Oh! I've mentioned that recently on this blog already have I?
Several times you say.
Well, thank you for paying attention.
Coming up against such a lively opponent, who has the good habits and maturity of a player ten years older, wouldn't have done the Handsworth youngster Richard Tootle any harm at all with his own development as he progresses towards becoming a first team regular.
And almost as if we had been rehearsing this report in advance, Pugh unleashed a shot from twenty five yards, but Tootle had anticipated the situation well and made a useful block to avert the danger that the Rovers number seven represented.
Moxam did well to dispossess Fielding inside the Frickley area and he quickly put a cross towards the back post, where Froggatt turned his effort wide of the target.
Handsworth had definitely had their chances, but the EvoStik Northern Premier League team were starting to find their rhythm now.
Reece Hands and Stephen Warne were trying to get the home side moving forward, but weren't getting very much change out of a well drilled Frickley midfield, who were by now containing the Ambers supply chain and effectively taking control of the middle third of the pitch and proving to be just that bit too strong for Handsworth.
Pugh got free down the right and when Griffiths headed his cross away, Waide Fairhurst was loitering with intent just outside the area and the Ambers breathed a sigh of relief as he crashed hs shot narrowly over the bar.
Nathan Valentine found his path to goal blocked by Will Eades, but still managed to hit an improvised shot towards the Handsworth goal, that Gary Stevens did well to keep out with his feet.
Pugh broke forward to the edge of the area and cleverly flicked the ball back to Fairhurst who was following his run, but Eades was involved again and got a foot in before playing the ball towards tthe halfway line.
That man Pugh popped up again, this time out on the right, where he took the ball down with his right foot before motoring away to his left, leaving three Ambers plays in his wake; he continued his run forward as he took a return pass from Stohrer, then sharded a good old fashioned one/two wall pass with Luke Mangham before picking his spot and clipping the ball past Stevens from ten yards out.
A great move started and finished by Pugh had broken the deadlock in the 22nd minute.
Handsworth pushed forward from the restart but Buttle's cross was cleared and Frickley cranked things up a gear and really started to impose themselves on the game now.
Just five minutes after the opening goal, Pugh, who else was it likely to be!? Nudged the ball through to Mangham just inside the Ambers area and in spite of the close attentions of Gaz Griffiths, the Frickley striker scored from an angle.
Parramore almost got a goal back, Harrison directed a free kick towards Froggatt, but with Fielding covering him the prolific striker could only flick the ball on and Storher was on hand to make yet another clearance.
Williams broke in at speed from the left flank and drove a stinging shot into the side netting.
At thispoint of the game it didn't look as if there were only going to be two goals in this game.
More good play down the left wing from the visitors, led to Fairhurst making strides towards Stevens goal, where she unselfishly opted to lay the ball off to Sam Akeroyd, who missed the goal... by a considerable height, width and distance.
Fieelding almost got on the score sheet but his headed flick from Parkinson's free kick skimmed over the bar.
Handsworth had a couple of chances just before half time, when Malkowski turned Moxam's shot away into the path of Harrison, who cleared the bar from close range, but nearly atoned for his miss almost straight away when he lofted the ball towards Moxam who nearly (but not quite) caught Malkowski out with a crafty knock towards the bottom right hand corner.
Frickley camped out down the left hand side of the pitch at the start of the second half, but found their former defender Stuart Ludlam to be in a stubborn mood as he marshalled his right back berth well.
It was Ludlam who tried releasing the double attacking spearhead of Froggatt and Moxam with a long ball for them to run on to, but it was just that little bit, say ten to twenty yards maybe, too long and Malkowski gathered the ball up safely.
Fairhurst couldn't shake off Eades from Parkinson's free kick, but forced the Handsworth youngster into conceding a corner.
Harrison played the ball across the Frickley area towards Moxam, but Malkowski moved quickly to claim possession.
Although there was an overriding aura of inevitability hanging over this game now, with Frickley failing to build on their lead, due in the main to Stevens who was playing out of his skin to get toa stream of crosses that was fast becoming a flood, a Handsworth goal would change the complexion of the game completely.
Just after the hour, Micky Godber made three substitutions in quick succession in a bid to freshen things up, but it was Stevens who kept the home side in the game again almost immediately after the changes had been made, when he pulled off a great stop from Fairhurst.
And minutes later it was Stevens to the rescue again, as he faced Williams in a one against one shoot out and managed to turn the lively winger's shot away, while Ludlam hooked the ball to safety with Akeroyd almost getting a decisive touch.
Harrison, who I would have to say was quality for Handsworth tonight, chipped the ball in towards Alex Rippon, but he couldn't quite get his header on target.
Moxam made a step-over (of sorts) on the edge of the Frickley area, which afforded him the sapce and time to cross to Harry Bamforth, whose attempted shot was closed down by in a crowded goalmouth and as the visitors broke on the counter attack, Bamforth wasted no time in getting back to help out his defence and actually made the tackle himself that broke up Williams attempt to force a final opening for Karl Rose's side. 
Williams tried an audacious long shot, that didn't have enough power to trouble Stevens and right at the death, Malkowski smothered the ball to stop Rippon pulling a goal back.
FT: Handsworth Parramore 0 v Frickley Athletic 2
Good luck to Frickley in the final, I'll see you all at Bramall Lane by which time you will hopefully have picked up some much needed points and climbed up the league.
Handsworth will have been disappointed tonight, some of their team bust a gut for the cause, others probably didn't, but they won't need me to name names.
See you guys again at Maltby on May 29th... I'm already looking forward to it!