Thursday, 13 July 2017

Gainsborough Trinity 1 v FC Halifax Town 3 - PSF

Thursday 13th July 2017
Pre season friendly
at the Martin & Co. Arena, the Northolme
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 1
Johnathan Williams 76
FC Halifax Town (1) 3
Martin Riley 27, Tom Denton 71, Adam Morgan 83
Admission £8. Programme £2.50 (covers five games)
Time flies n' all that, but Jesus wept!
Is it really five whole years since these two sides met each other in that epic two legged Blue Sky Bet Conference North Semi Final, firstly at the Northolme, then at the Shay?
First leg blog click HERE
Second leg blog click HERE
Ultimately, Trinity lost the actual final that season by a solitary goal, scored by Andy Brown, in a closely fought game against Nuneaton Town, in front of a remarkable home crowd of 3,946.
Play off final blog click HERE
Football's seldom a fulfilling mistress when it comes to dishing out the spoils... in actual fact she turned out to be a massive prick tease as regards the aspirations of Trinity's fan base and has dealt them some fairly thin times and unsatisfactory seasons after arousing their hopes with the play off push of 2012 and a FA Trophy run the following season, when they were just one game away from the Wembley final, before they lost against Wrexham.
I'm sure there must be a naughty wilting at the semi stage joke I could insert here, if only I was of a crude enough disposition.
FA Trophy Semi Final blog HERE
Since these two sides met in the aforementioned semi final, the Shaymen have been promoted to the top flight of non league football, missed out on reaching the Football League itself when they lost against Cambridge United in another play off semi final; been relegated back to National League North and, at the end of last season, they beat Chorley, 2-1 after extra time, to win promotion back to the National League in front of a crowd of almost 8,000 at the Shay.
Life, is indeed, a roller-coaster.
And don't the Halifax substitutes look happy to be here tonight?
Of course, a lot of water has flowed under the Trent Bridge (along with the world famous Aegir, which is a massive tourist attraction around these parts) that one must cross to reach the town of Gainsborough, over the river from the west, since those eventful back to back campaigns highlighted in the click on links further up this page, that you have just unforgivably speed read past... and a lot of it has been quite choppy and turbulent.
Mr Frecklington
But the Trinity chairman Richard Kane (who, I am happy to report, I have never heard anybody have a bad word to say about) has steadied the ship, and having replaced Dom Roma (a good coach and all round great bloke, but possibly too nice and not ruthless enough to be a manager in the Nationwide League, just IMHO of course) with Dave Frecklington, who was formerly in charge at Lincoln United and Spalding United... and if I recall correctly, filled in as assistant manager at Worksop Town for a while. And unless my spider senses have deserted me, I am detecting an aura of reborn sense optimism emanating from a fair few of the 'Holy Blues' loyal followers.
Prior to tonight's contest, which marked Gainsborough's first home friendly of the current campaign, after having been rearranged from Tuesday night, when the monsoon season arrived with a vengeance in this corner of Lincolnshire and rendered the Northolme pitch unplayable, they have won their two previous pre season outings at: NCEL Division 1 side Winterton Rangers and the NPL Division 1 South club Frickley Athletic, both by the same scoreline, 1-0.
Tonight, Halifax gave Trinity a really good test and showed where the bar needs to be set if the home side are intending to be among the challengers at the business end of the table come the end of the forthcoming campaign.
I actually think that Frecklington's team will be a top half side this season, well out of reach of a relegation battle like last year. And although the monied clubs in the National League North, who have been on a spend, spend, spending spree that would make Viv Nicholson blush this Summer, are obviously the favourites to bag all of the honours, people are going to want to raise their game accordingly when they face these 'big time Charlies' and grasp the opportunity to take such a desirable scalp.
Money talks... but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk.
Halifax pressed, squeezed, kept it tight and set up their game plan around a solid spine, pretty much as you would expect from any team sent out to compete on the field of play by Billy Heath.
The Shayman dictated the tempo, for the most part, but even in defeat, Frecklington would have learned more about his players from this fast paced and sometimes physical fixture, than he ever could from watching them pass the ball around against more polite and gentle opposition, who were observing pre-season protocol and not tackling too hard. Y'know, the polar opposite of how Heath likes his teams to approach each and every time that they play.
The visitors made a lively start to the game, with the splendidly named 'B Trialist' almost opening the scoring early on, with several decent attempts on goal, before gaining a corner for the Shaymen from a twelve yard shot that was deflected narrowly wide.
Connor Oliver took the resulting kick and picked out the former England C international Martin Riley, who neatly diverted the ball beyond the reach of Richard Walton with a glancing header.
Nathan Jarman and Alex Simmons both tested the visitors keeper Sam Johnson, but he was standing strong in the Halifax goal and commanding his area well and it was always going to take something a bit special to get the ball past this impressive custodian in this sort of form.
In actual fact, he wasn't beaten, because he was no longer on the pitch when Trinity scored in the second half.
Gary King had Trinity's best chance of the opening half, when he struck the outside of the left hand upright from fifteen yards out on the half volley.
Halifax went close when Scott McManus drilled a low cross into the Trinity six yard box, the A Trialist (not to be confused with B Trialist), nudged the ball narrowly wide at full stretch.
Alex Simmons, who had been closely guarded so far got an angled shot away from close range, but Thompson saved well.
Matty Brown bravely got in the way of Nathan Jarman's shot as the home side pushed for an equaliser before the break... and they almost bagged one on the stroke of half time, but Simmons' deflected shot from King's left wing cross was held by Thompson.
HT: Holy Blues 0 v Shaymen 1
Both teams made extensive changes at the break, but it didn't alter the pace of the game any.
Brad Wells attacked the Shaymen's rearguard down the left flank and teed up an inviting cross from which Ashley Worsfold (I think), missed an absolute sitter of a chance with the visitors struggling to clear their lines.
Wells was involved again when Johnno Williams set him up with a sideways knock, twelve yards from the Halifax goal and the lively frontman warmed Tom Nicholson's hands as Halifax's second half goalkeeper did well to get down to his left to turn the ball around the post.
Typically, having withstood Gainsborough's best spell of the game, the Yorkshire side went up the other end and scored their second goal from a left wing corner, that Tom Denton towered above Meadowlark Lemon, the roof of the stand and possibly even a couple of clouds to meet and bulged the roof of the net with a bullet header.
But Trinity dusted themselves down and set about trying to claw their way back into the game and within five minutes they had halved the deficit when Wells was unceremoniously upended just outside the goal area and Johnno Williams cracked how a low bending free kick into the bottom corner of the net via Nicholson's outstretched palm.
The home side were suddenly in the ascendancy, looking to finish the game on top. Things got so exciting that even the sprinkler system came on and dampened an attempted left wing break by Halifax.
Both sides were passing the ball around well, and all told this had turned out to be one of the more competitive games I'll witness this pre-season. 
But Trinity's aspirations of carrying on their unbeaten preparations, were thwarted in the eighty third minute, when Adam Morgan let fly with an unstoppable Exocet of a strike, from the left hand side of the Trinity area, dead opposite with the Blues Club back doors. 
Morgan almost rubbed salt in Trinity's wounds with a speculative shot right at the end, but he didn't hit the target this time.
And to be fair, the home side didn't deserve to lose by a three goal cushion anyway.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity 1 v FC Halifax Town 3