Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Ladies FA Cup draw 5th round.

You really can't beat the excitement of a cup draw. Admittedly it does take the shine off it somewhat when its not broadcast live, but never the less its still an exiting time for any football supporter. In the case this excitement was even greater, as the Women's FA Cup 5th round day is the first game of the season for WSL sides. Joining the 8 WSL clubs in this stage were 8 others sides who have battled through the previous rounds. All bar Oxford United play their football atl Premier League level.

Now the great god of cup draws can work in mysterious ways at times. To use a footballing cliche you would want a home draw. Knowing our luck i was expecting us to be drawn away at either Yeovil or Cardiff. Or maybe we could do what we have been rather good at in recent draws, and be paired with Arsenal. Or maybe we could be paired with manager Rick Passmoors (and many of our players) former club; Leeds, that would have been fun wouldn't it? Well in the end none of these predictions came to fruition as you can see below.

Full Women's FA Cup 5th Round draw.

Sunderland v Manchester City
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Bristol Academy
Cardiff City v Birmingham City
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Oxford United v Everton
Lincoln Ladies v Chelsea
Leeds United v Yeovil Town 

So it's our old pals from Chelsea first up at the Bank. The side we ended last season against with a bad tempered game at their gaff, when the Imps ran out 3-2 winners. I am pretty sure that there will be a few fireworks when the sides clash on March the 17th. And I would imagine that a couple of the Chelsea players may not be looking foward to crossing swords with Lincoln after their antics during and after the game in Twitter land. For this week only Lincoln have dropped ticket prices for the game to £4 (£6 on the day) for adults so head over to to snap up your ticket today. Personnally, i think its a decent draw for Lincoln and a game that gives us a great chance to progress. It will also give us a great opportunity to improve our FA Cup record in the WSL era. In the past two seasons we have yet to score a goal in the competiton, let alone win a game. High time to change all that i think.

Lincoln's record in the FA Cup since the FAWSL begun.

 2011 5th round Sunderland 1-0 Lincoln
2012 5th round Lincoln 0-1 Arsenal

Elsewhere in the draw, the game that sums up the magic of the cup is 4th tier Oxford United hosting WSL side Everton (feel free to insert any naff FA cup cliche you feel free here). The other tie that drew my attention was the Nottingham Forest v Arsenal tie. Although i can't see Forest winning the game, it gives the club a great chance to put themselves in the spotlight and help their bid to join WSL in 2014.  If you want my tip for an upset, then i would say the Villa v Liverpool tie could be the one for you. Villa sit 4th in the National Premier division and will be taking on a Liverpool side that seem to be signing anybody with a pulse at the moment and will take a while to gel. Whereas Villa are in midseason and in good form. Having written all this and knowing my recent record with predictions i imagine a good number of you lumping on a Chelsea-Forest-Liverpool treble.

The other FA Cup news was that Doncaster's Keepmoat stadium has been chosen to host the final. So i will be at the final regardless of who is there and cover it on here. The final is to be played on May the 26th which is just 4 days after the Women's Champions League final, for which we already have tickets booked.

While i am loosely on the theme of the blog, it's about time i share with you my ideas for it this year. As with last year i will be doing the fan blogs from all the Lady Imps games (home and away) Plus England's home matches. For the Imps games i would like to ask a fan each week just a couple of questions and their opinions on the match if you would like to take part give me a shout, dont be shy it saves me having to pester you and hunt you down...

 I am also planning on doing previews of the games with fans of other WSL clubs. Recently i have been contacting people about this, and have a decent range of guests lined up who really know their stuff about the various clubs in the League and Women's football in general; for which i am incredibly greatful (you know who you are!) But i still need a few more though contributers if you would like to get involved. This will hopefully give us Imps fans a bit more knowledge of other sides and the Ladies game and hopefully form some interesting pre game articles. As the season goes on i really would love to grow the blog even more and maybe even do the odd interview with a player (when i have plucked up the courage to ask). I do have something lined up with a player who plays her football in the lower tiers of the pyramid and has experience of playing abroad. 

I have been pondering some ideas for the blog over the winter and one thing i would like to set up at somepoint would be a Lady Imps/Ladies football podcast. However i would need help with this because if it was just me rabbiting on every week it would get very boring, very quickly. Again if you would like to help out or if you know anything about Podcasting then get in touch. You know you want to folks. Plus if you have any ideas on how i can impove this blog again please get in touch. 


Twitter @FerretImp

Some of these ideas will work some won't. But unless i try them we will never know. Lets see hows it goes. We will have fun along the way regardless. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Lincoln City 0-0 Barrow

Last Sunday about half an hour after i had got back from the Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest Ladies FA Cup tie i received a text. It simply read "Holdsworth has gone! " Instead of making a start to writing up the game i had just seen i headed over to Twitter to get more news and reaction. I think its pretty safe to say that not many Imps were sorry to see the back of 'Reg' so much for getting a blog post up on time for once (I will get my act together for the start of the WSL season though).

 My own reaction was one along the lines of "Here we go again" not one of joy or sorrow but more one of anger, as once again Lincoln City were on the hunt for yet another new manager. The new man will be the 6th person in the Imps hot seat since the start of the 2007/08 season (not including caretaker managers).
This picture pretty much sums up the club at the moment.

My own thoughts on David Holdsworth? In his defence he had an incredibly tough job on his hands when he walked through the door at Sincil Bank and was dealt a very poor hand by the previous manager.  A lot of dross had to be shown the door last season and although it wasn't pretty he did keep us up. After the chaos that was left by Steve Tilson, a high percentage of Imps would have taken staying above the relegation zone at the end of the season. Ok it was a bit 'squeaky bum' at times but safe we were. The main criticism of DH last season (and his time at Mansfield) was the amount of signings that were made. It felt as if we were making a new signing pretty much every week. Probably the highpoint of Holdsworth's side last season was the 2-2 draw at champions to be Fleetwood Town in front of the TV cameras. The low point would be the dreadful defeat at Ryman League Carshalton Athletic in the FA Trophy after a horrible 0-0 draw at Sincil Bank.

This time around though the tinkering hasn't been on the scale of last season. After a mixed start the Imps picked up and went on a ten match unbeaten run, which included a win away at League One side Walsall in the FA Cup. During this time the team pretty much picked itself and DH only really started to make changes for the FA Trophy game at Tamworth. After the defeat at Mansfield the rot started to set in. A big part of the Imps unbeaten run was down to the defensive midfield pairing of Mo Fofana and Gary Mills, especially big Mo. With these two out it exposed our defensive problems and inexperience at the back. Scoring goals hasn't been a problem for City but our failure to keep clean sheets has been a real problem. After playing out of his skin at Mansfield, keeper Paul Farman committed some real howlers and was rightly replaced with David Preece and although we looked slightly better, we were still leaking goals. All throughout January it was hoped that DH would bring in a defender but instead we signed a striker, a keeper and a couple of midfielders on loan. Pretty much anything but a defender. City parted company with Josh Gowling early in the season and looking back now, the failure to replace him could well have cost David Holdsworth his job.

And what about David Holdsworth? As i said earlier he had a pretty crappy hand dealt to him when he walked through the door. He did well in my opinion to shift all the crap Tilson had lumbered us with, and last year did what he had to do. We were dreadful at times last year, but then again pretty much every side that drops out the League has an awful first year, and its a very painful adjustment. Sometimes he didn't help himself though with his bizarre post match interview style and team selection, which sometimes alienated himself from the fans. I always felt he had the club at heart and was doing his best to turn around five years of failure and he certainly said the right things, but without the tools from the board being provided to do the job, he was always fighting a losing battle. I can think of much worse City managers during my years watching the club. Steve Wicks, Alan Buckley, and Steve Tilson were all far worse that David Holdsworth (in my view anyway). Personally i have nothing against him and for what its worth i would have let him see out the season. Whether or not i would have given him another contract next season is a totally different thing however.

So what next? It sounds strange but in a way i am almost past caring. In the last 5 years we have chopping and changed the manager and the players and to what end? The problems at the club run much much deeper than the manager. 

So which way do we go in the search for a new gaffer? We could try a former player or somebody with emotional links to the club, but we went down that road with John Schofield. Or we could get a rookie manager looking for his first break in the game, a bit like Chris Sutton. Or maybe a manager with a proven track record in the division with a promotion or two on his CV. Somebody like Peter Jackson or Steve Tilson you mean? Hmm. I know lets get somebody who knows this division and can find the odd gem here and there, another David Holdsworth.

As normal plenty of names have been linked with the job and we have had the normal line form the board about them being very impressed with the quality of applicants etc. Personally i am still impressed that people are crazy enough to want the job but there you go.
New management team?

One of the names in the frame for the job is Imps legend Grant Brown who is the caretaker manager for the games against Barrow and Mansfield. If the Barrow game was his pitch for the job then it didn't go very well. I am not for one moment blaming Grant as he has no magic wand, but the Imps were dreadful. If anything Barrow should have won as they had much better chances. Well i will rephrase that, they actually created chances. Something the boys in red and white failed to do all game.  The Imps keeper Paul Farman won the man of the match award. That pretty much tells you all you need to know.
One of the few brightspots of the day.

Cheer up Imps fans. Still plenty of football to enjoy this season. 14 games to go is it? Two points from the drop zone? What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Clipstone Miners Welfare 1-2 AFC Emley

A nice localish game today. The two months after Christmas are always a strain on the old purse strings, so it suited us all to take in a local game that wouldn't cost us a huge amount. Our destination was Clipstone Miners Welfare to see a midtable battle against AFC Emley. I have done Clipstone a few times in the past, including two abandoned games against Ollerton Town and a visit on one of the CML groundhops, and its always been a decent day/night out. So i was looking forward to today's match.

Felice drove today and he too had fond memories of Clippo's Lido ground having played in the Notts Intermediate Cup final back in 1979 as he reached the end of his playing career in his late 30's.
After giving him a fair amount of stick on here about his bullshit very valid reasons for missing many, many football matches, it was great to see Lee Houseman back with us and ticking off another ground. He may still be a way off joining the exclusive 100 grounds club but he is getting there. He should make it before he reaches his 40th birthday. However by the time he reaches that landmark his family may be bigger. For as we made our merry way to Clipstone his good lady informed him via a video sent to his phone that she was seriously thinking of purchasing a parrot. You could say his reaction to this news was less than favourable (that's putting it mildly!) Still it gave the rest of us plenty of amusement for the rest of the day. The lad was almost going berserk at the thought of a troublesome bird flapping, squawking, and pooping all over the house.

We arrived in good time and had plenty of time to kill. As we approached the clubhouse we saw the recently appointed Clipstone chairman and Retford United legend Brett Marshall chatting away near the turnstiles. The guy is still quite liked in Retford as we saw last Tuesday night at the Retford v Nostell game we went to. It will be interesting to watch Clippo's progress under his dynamic leadership.

Entrance was the standard £4 with the programme costing a further £1. Since i was last here the club has done a few ground improvements to comply with the promotion they gained last season. The entrance has moved slightly and they have got some second hand seats from Mansfield Town and placed them in them in the covered area behind the goal. They are in decent nick and look as if they have hardly been sat on.

Mention the name of today's visitors to any Lincoln City fan and the odds are they will mention the infamous FA Cup defeat to them in the 1997/98 season. At the time City were flying high on what was then the 3rd division (now League Two) while Emley were in the Unibond league. City scrambled a 3-3 draw at home thanks to a 97th minute equaliser from Terry Flemming which meant a replay. The replay was staged at Huddersfield's ground and with 20 minutes to go, City led 2-0. However the part timers fought back to force extra time. Each side scored in extra time and so a shootout was needed. Needless to say we lost the shootout and Emley went on to play Premiership side West Ham United at Upton Park and lost 2-1. Although that club technically no longer exists due to a split in the club when they moved to Wakefield for ground reasons, this club is seen as its descendent.

Although there isn't a clubhouse at the ground there is a decent little tea room serving up hot food and drinks as well as cans of beer (£2 for a can of Fosters) So we had somewhere to sit whilst we waited for the game to start and discuss parrots etc.

Both sides were firmly locked in midtable and although there was little to play for, both sides really got stuck in. The pitch wasn't the greatest so both sides reverted to the long ball game, and with both sides committing plenty of fouls. The visitors looked slightly the better side though, and on 31 minutes they took the lead with a thumping header from a corner.  However they were pegged back just before halftime; Emley failed to clear their lines, and the ball got a kind deflection off one of the Emley defenders, and fell to a Clipstone player who made no mistake and fired across the keeper to make it 1-1. The away side may have claimed that Clippo got lucky but that's life. And the key to being a good striker is being in the right place at the right time.

The game didn't really get much better in the second half. Clippo had a goal disallowed (looked a decent goal to me) And that swung the game. Emley grabbed the winner via an own goal. A cross was swung in from the right which found the head of a Clipstone defender who in trying to clear the ball only succeeded in looping it over his own goalkeeper. In a way it summed up the game.

Emley held out for the three points but the real footballing story was elsewhere. At halftime Lincoln City led 1-2 away at Hereford United. However the Imps conceded 2 goals in 4 minutes in the second half to lose 3-2. Bugger.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Sheffield United 1-5 Nottingham Forest

 Women's FA Cup third round.
(Played at Retford United fc)

 This weekend was FA Cup weekend, and there were some truly mouth watering ties about. Arsenal v Blackburn, Manchester City v Leeds, Luton v Millwall etc, but i was at the big one; Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Ladies FA Cup. And the prize for the winners? A three hour plus trip to Women's Southern Premier  League side Gillingham Ladies FC. (The Southern Premier League is the 3rd tier of the Women's game)

 The Ladies FA Cup; a brief summary.

At the moment the Ladies game in England is played all year round. At the top end the Super League is played over the summer. All other leagues below this operate in the winter months. The Ladies FA Cup spans over both seasons. As in the men's competition, sides enter at various stages depending on their league status. Whereas in the men's version, the top sides enter in the third round, the big guns in the ladies game join in the 5th round which is the first game of the season for Super League clubs. The final has no set venue (last year's was at Bristol City) and at the time of writing, this year's venue has yet to be announced.

Given the weather we have had recently, some clubs have had a backlog of games to try and get through. One of the games that was badly affected was Nottingham Forest's 2nd round match with Bradford City. Due to this delay they have effectively been a round behind. This third round tie was meant to have been played last week but again the weather put paid to that. Thankfully the weather was much better today so it was game on.

Although i have been connected with Ladies football for over a year now, I haven't much experience of the game below Super League level, so it was high time i changed all that. Sheffield United play their home games in Retford so i didn't really have an excuse for not taking in a game or two at some point. I had planned to watch them in the previous round against Durham Wildcats (a 2-1 victory) But the dreaded night shifts put paid to that idea.

First thing i needed to do was work out where each side sat in the pyramid. At the top of the women's game we have the WSL, then the next step down is the National Premier division. Below that we start to regionalise and have the Northern Premier division and the Southern Premier division. Forest are currently playing their football at this level (in the Northern section). Below this level we have another four regionalised divisions, called the combination leagues and it is at this level we find Sheffield United community FC who are members of the Northern combination (Are we keeping up at the back?). When it all boils down to it, what we had here was a 4th tier side hosting a 3rd tier side with an away tie at a 3rd tier side the prize for the winners. Hope that simplifies it for you. Quite why we need all the fancy titles for Leagues is beyond me.

Entrance to the game was £2 and i don't think anybody can complain about that. One thing that i often hear about Ladies football below Super League level is that the ladies teams aren't that well supplied when it comes to kit and stuff. This certainly wasn't the case here as both sides wore carbon copies of this season's men's side kits. Somebody in the Forest dugout was even sporting an IPad. This isn't something i have seen before at football. It's certainly not something i would want to be wafting about when there are footballs flying around here there and everywhere, but each to their own i suppose. Plus it gives you something to look at if the game is boring.

Thankfully this game was anything but boring. As a neutral when you have a cup tie featuring sides in different divisions you want the lower ranking side to take the lead to really set the cat amongst the pigeons, so to speak. And that's what happened after only 4 minutes; Forest had been pushing forward in the opening few minutes and were totally caught out when Tania Marsden latched onto a clearance and outpaced the the Forest defence to then blast a powerful shot past the keeper.
Forest did look a tad rattled by this, but soon found their feet and began to turn the screw. The Blades keeper was kept busy at times, but to be honest it Forest were their own worst enemy, as they squandered a hatful of chances. Sheffield were still happy to sit in and hit on the counter and did have a golden chance to go 2-0, but the effort went over the bar. Sheffield were defending well but on 37 minutes they finally succumbed to an equaliser. As the ball was sent out wide to Aileen Whelan who cut inside and fired home the equaliser.

On 45 minutes Forest took the lead that they had deserved. A teasing cross was lobbed over from the Forest left, which was placed in that danger area between goalkeeper and defender. Whelan just got on the end of it before the defender and poked the ball home.

 HT 1-2

Forest started the second half in the same vein as they did the first, and put clear distance between themselves and the Blades on 52 minutes. Santoro in the Blades goal had pulled off another smart save at the expense of a corner. The resulting corner wasn't cleared far and Forest's Stephanie Smith picked up the loose ball and volleyed home. Although Sheffield never gave up and kept battling, they struggled to get back into the game. Whelan completed her hatrick with a smart finish before Andi Bell completed the scoring for the visitors. The Blades did have their moments and threatened from set pieces, but didn't quite have enough composure to finish when their chances did come along.

In my humble view they did however have the best player on the pitch. I know that it may sound a bit daft seeing how we had a player who notched a hatrick on show, but for me Sheffield's Demi West at number 5 was a real rock for her team. Her positional play was spot on all day and helped her team mates out on plenty of occasions. No fuss, no frills, and was in the right place at the right time. A defender very much in the Sophie Bradley mould. Had it not been for her, the scoreline could have been much worse. This is the furthest Sheffield United Community FC have ever gone in the competition, and they can hold their heads high.

FT 1-5

As for Forest, they played some great stuff at times and i can see why they are going well in the League this season. Gillingham will be a real test for them so it's a result i will look for with interest. Forest are submitting a bid to join the newly expanded Super League for the 2014 season. If you wish to help them then head over to their facebook page and sign the petition. 

Overall i must say i was pleasantly surprised by the quality on show here today. The only downside was the crowd or lack of it. Both Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest have supporter's clubs in Retford so it was a bit of a disappointment that only a handful of spectators turned up. If you aren't doing anything The Blades are at home again this Sunday against Huddersfield (1pm KO), the bar and snap huts are both open. Go and watch. You know you want to!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Lincoln Ladies FC away travel.

This week saw the release of the WSL fixture list for the 2013 season, and whilst new manager Rick Passmoor and his team are busy preparing for the up coming season on the pitch, it is time for us supporters to prepare off of it.

Lincoln's first fixture sees us embark on the longest trip of the season with an away trip to Bristol Academy women in our Continental Cup group game. The match is to be played on the Saturday the 23rd of March with a 6.00pm kick off. We are aiming to run a mini bus to this match to allow Lincoln fans to make the game and give the side the backing the team deserves. We are also looking to form a supporters club.

As with all things of this nature it really depends on numbers. The more fans that go, the less it will cost. Departure time will be confirmed once we know if we can get the numbers together to make the trip feasible. If you would like to join us or require more information on the supporters club, simply register your interest by contacting Mr Tom Johnson at, or you can "Tweet" him at @Parspool

Hope to see you all at Bristol and lets help make Lincoln Ladies the best supported club in the WSL.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Gainsborough Trinity 2-2 Boston United

Braintree Twon FC. Nothing to see here today chaps. Move along.

Today we received some great news at just gone The Imps were due to play away at Braintree Town but due to a water logged pitch, the game was called off. This gave us chance to take in the Lincolnshire derby between Gainsborough Trinity and Boston United just over the Lincs/Notts border in Gainsborough. Only two of us in attendance today as Baz was having a family day. However the talking point was the whereabouts of Lee, as yet again he was missing in action saying he was busy...Or was he?

As i didn't have too heavy a drinking session the previous night, i was up quite early, so after making plans for our departure time i headed off into town for a few drinks and to put a couple of bets on (England to win the 6 nations at 2-1 was the main one). As I sat supping my pint and studying the form guess who strolled in looking fresh as a daisy? Non other than the lesser spotted Mr Houseman! So surely you would have thought he had time on his hands to watch a rip roaring derby match? Alas nope. He must have been far too busy eating his belly buster breakfast and knocking back 12 pints of lager to attend a game of football. Either way i think we can say that he has been officially rumbled!!

As hard as it seems to believe, football wasn't the biggest story today; for today was the 2nd of February. Better known as Groundhog day! The day when a groundhog by the name of Punxatawny Phil comes out of his small burrow in western Pennsylvania and predicts the weather for the next six weeks. Will it be another six weeks of winter weather, or will it be an early spring?  At this time i feel it is only right that I recite a small verse to you all.

Away in a manger all covered in snow
A little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The stars up above will determine our fate
When winter will leave us
Be it early or late. 

And his verdict for 2013? At just gone 7.28 am eastern united states time (12.28pm UK time) Phil proclaimed... AN EARLY SPRING IT WILL BE!! Great news for all i am sure you will agree. For those of you that missed it. Here are the highlights. Enjoy dear readers enjoy!

It was always going to be tough for any football match to live up to the excitement of Groundhog day but if any game was going to do it then a Lincolnshire derby stood as good a chance as any.

In recent years Boston have had the upper hand on Trinity. They have spent time in higher divisions, attracted better crowds, and have generally been more of a force in football. However over the past couple of seasons the tide has turned in favour of the Blues. Last season Gainsborough lost out in heartbreaking fashion in the Blue Square play off final and are sat in the playoff positions this time around. Boston on the other hand finished in midtable and are in a midtable position again. Both sides went into this clash in very different form. Last time, Gainsborough ran out 3-0 winners away at Workington while Boston crashed to a 7-1 away defeat at bogey side Altrincham. The Pligrims recently appointed Graham Drury following the sacking of Jason Lee and after an indifferent start, the poor sod is already under pressure from some sections of the Boston faithful. Having said all that though, a win for the visitiors today would leave them only three points behind Trinity in the table. All to play for as they say.

A large crowd was expected today so we rocked up a little early which gave us chance to sample a pint in the famous Blues club. As you would expect the bar was doing a roaring trade with a good number of fans from both clubs enjoying a pint. The blues club bar may be stuck in a timewarp but its a good time warp, the kind of place that you could spend a good few hours supping in. On TV we had the QPR V Norwich game on. I have decided that Norwich have the smartest away kit in England this year. No doubt Lee will be purchasing one at some point. The game wasn't much to write home about. QPR missed a penalty and that was about it. Anyway onto some real football.

One plus about watching either Gainsborough or Boston, is that there is normally a good number of former Imps on display. On the Gainsborough side we had one of Barry's favourite Imps in Shane Clarke, fellow midfielder Simon Russell, with Danny Hone starting at centre back. On the bench for the blues today was former Imps striker Paul Conner and recently signed midfielder Tyrone Thompson who was with the Imps last season.

Boston too had former Imps in their ranks. One time Lincoln centre back Phil Watt, former long time servant Paul Mayo, and former Imps loanee Spencer Weir-Daley all took to the field. However my favourite  former Imp in the ground today wasn't on the playing staff but on the coaching staff in the Boston dugout. None other than former Imps full back Dean West. Dean was one of the better Lincoln players when i first started watching City and came through the youth system at Sincil Bank. Unfortunately his Imps career was cut short when Steve Wicks did a swap deal with Bury for Kevin Hulme. Deano went on to play over 200 games in the championship for Bury and Burnley. Kevin Hulme on the other hand played half a dozen games or so for City and was soon out of the door when John Beck replaced the hapless Wicks. In my view this is the biggest balls up in City's transfer dealings since i have been watching the Imps. Dean had a spell coaching at Lincoln Moorlands last season and its great to see him back in the game.

There was a decent sized crowd in the Northholme today but it was still a little less than i was expecting. It was however bloody cold, which isn't really the type of thing that you want when you have chosen not to wear a woolly cap. One thing that is guaranteed  to not only to impress you, but also to warm you up, is the food at Gainsborough which is fantastic. Over the years i have been dragging my arse around various football grounds no other venue has come close to cooking chips anywhere near as good as those dished up at the Northolme. These are real chips not the crappy "fries" style you get elsewhere. I opted for the chips and peas option for a mere £2. If you haven't sampled them yet then you must put this on your list of things to do before you die.

On to the match. If i am honest the first half was a tad on the poor side. Although Boston didn't exactly park the bus, they did play a more cautious game than Boston sides down the years have done. After the tonking they received in the previous game this was entirely understandable.  If a side is serious about promotion then it has to learn how to break formations like this down and unfortunately for them Trinty spent the entire first half looking like a side that didn't have a clue how to unlock the puzzle that Boston had placed in front of them. Nether side really looked like scoring and the only real moment of quality came on 24 minutes. Paul Mayo launched a trademark long throw and was flicked on by Marc Newsham, who directed the ball into the path of Ben Milnes, who blasted in a low shot straight into the bottom corner thus giving the Trinity keeper no chance. It was a quality goal and it came totally out of the blue. This was the signal for a few Boston fans to jump onto the pitch to celebrate. Trinity did try and take the game to the visitors but they never really threatened the Boston goal. As the halftime whistle went we made our way back into the club to check out the halftime scores and get warm. It has to be said that the Trinity fans around us weren't happy with their team's efforts.

After a bit of a damp squib of a first half, the game got much better. It looked like Trinity had had a rocket up there arses, as they came out like a house on fire. They hit the bar following a corner, then on 63 minutes, the Blues were level when Danny Hone of all people produced a tidy finish to level the scores. However Trinity's joy was to be short lived as after six short minutes the Pilgrims were once again ahead. A teasing low cross was sent it which the Trinity Keeper could only push out into the path of Newsham who made no mistake from close range. Again Boston fans spilled onto the pitch and punches were thrown between the two sets of fans.
Again Trinity came back and they levelled on 77 minutes another long throw was latched onto by Jamie Yates who finished  well under pressure. In game was now real end to end stuff as both sides looked for a winner. Even as the game entered stoppage time both sides looked to win it. In the end neither did find the winner and both sides had to settle for a well earned point.

One the way out several Gainsborough fans were commenting that it was two points dropped. I on the other hand, think that given how clueless they looked in the first half and after going behind twice in the game, they should view it as a decent enough point. Boston two should be happy with their display after Tuesday night's drubbing. Both sides showed a lot of heart and fight at times today and although the quality of the game wasn't always the best, it was still a very entertaining  encounter. Certainly better than spending all afternoon in the pub because you are under the thumb, not mentioning any names of course.......

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Three days, three games, three idiots

Hi i am back! Well in truth i have never been away. As anybody who lives in the United Kingdom will know the weather here was been pretty awful over the past few weeks. Snow, rain, hail; we have had the lot. On top of all this i had spent the first three weeks of the year on nights. These two factors have resulted in me not attending any football or ice hockey games since the Dunkirk game. I could have gone to Sincil Bank last weekend but due to a messed up body clock i got up too late to get my sorry arse over to Lincoln. In the end i didn't miss anything as the Imps went down 1-2 to the footballing powerhouse that is Forest Green Rovers, backed by there army of 35 fans. Mr Barlow snr did view the game though and by the sounds of it i didn't miss anything. With the weather picking up over Sunday and Monday it meant that at least the non league scene was able to explode back into life. Cue mass cheers from people like me and my entourage who have nothing better to do than take in lower level non league football games. So after a drought of football there was only one thing to do. Overdose on the stuff. First up a trip up to Yorkshire to Hemsworth Miners Welfare. A new ground for me and my 170th over all.

Hemsworth Miners Welfare 0-0 Albion Sports.

We had planned to watch Retford United's game at Nostell Miners Welfare, but alas that fell victim to the weather. A water logged pitch being the reason for the postponement. Never fear though, due to the power of twitter we easily found a game that had got the go ahead. And what made it better was it was a new ground for all three of us. A bit of a result i would say. Baz picked me up at just gone 6.15pm, we picked up Felice fresh from a slap up meal in Lincoln and we were on our merry way.

Today's match was in the NCEL division one, which is step 6 of the pyramid. The hosts Hemsworth sat in 13th place while the visitors Albion sports sat in 2nd position, 5 points behind the leaders but with three games in hand. It had been raining on and off all day and coupled with the wind it i didn't hold out much hope for a free flowing quick passing type of game. The entrance fee for this footballing master class was £4 with a top class programme on sale for £1. Inside was a good range of articles with lots of stats and facts although the page below was one of the highlights of the issue.

As it was raining quite hard now we headed straight over to the bar area in search of a hot drink and some light refreshments before the kebab later. I bagged myself a chip butty with Baz going for the day's special; that being a hot pork roll. Del boy resisted the temptation of the hot food but did manage to get through 2 large Mars bars. As you can imagine with the weather most people had, wisely enough, decided to take refuge in the bar before the game kicked off. The clubhouse was smart enough, even the signed Hull City shirt didn't spoil it. There was an impressive collection of pennants above the door. With clubs ranging from Lincoln City to Inter Milan.  What was pleasing to see was that the Inter pennant was above the Juventus one. Just the way things should be.

As for the ground its basic but homely. There is a small area of shelter along the side which the clubhouse is on and this is where most of the spectors congregated. There is uncovered hard standing behind both goals (not where you want to be on a night like this) with a small seated area on the opposite side of the clubhouse. Felice and Baz are getting on a bit these days so we viewed the game from the seated area in the stand.

It didn't take long to realise that the conditions weren't going to let either side get the ball down and play. The pitch was very heavy and it must have been a close run thing when it passed its inspection earlier in the day. Even with the conditions you could tell that Albion were the better side and to their credit they did try to get the ball down and play even in the face of some heavy challenges from the home side. Given all this, it wasn't too surprising that the game ended goalless. Although Hemsworth's keeper came to their aid in the last minute when he pulled off a point blank save to earn his side a point. It was a night for rolling up your sleeves and digging in for a result, in the end I don't think either side would have turned their noses up at a point. Albion looked a good side though and in this showing i wouldn't be to surprised if their name is engraved on the championship trophy come May.

On the way back we stopped off at the Buffalo kebab house, which was quite a find as it was the best kebab i have had in 2013. Top notch stuff. I can certainly see us stopping here again if we are in this neck of the woods in future. Ok it may not have been the best game we will see in 2013 but it was a nice way to start the year. If only our the 4th member of our group wasn't under the thumb so much.

Appleby Frodingham 0-2 Clipstone Welfare.

The following night we were on our merry way to Scunthorpe to watch yet more NCEL division one action. Just two of us here tonight as Felice had a prior appointment. No Lee as his girlfriend's uncle's next door neighbour's cousin twice removed postman's cat was unwell and needed a cat sitter . As Appleby Frodingham play their games in the Scunthorpe area of Lincolnshire, it's not surprising that we hadn't got round to paying them a visit until now.

Of course midweek football matches and kebabs go hand in hand and as we had arrived in good time, we headed into the town centre to discover donner delights. And what a delight we discovered, as we came upon the Turkish delight kebab house where a large lamb donner and a can of pop came in at £6. No seating in the shop so we got our scram wrapped up and ate it in the car before we entered the stadium. It was another quality effort which comes highly recommended.

Appleby Frodingham's Brumby Hall ground is part of a sports complex that includes a leisure centre, squash club, cricket pitch, and five a side pitches. In the centre of all this sits the large two tiered clubhouse that houses the changing rooms on the lower level, and the bar area on the upper. This also forms some of the covered area inside the ground. The entrance where the gate is taken is tucked away in a corner. Tonight's entrance fee was the divisional norm of £4 with the programme costing a further£1 It's not the best programme you will ever come across, but it tells you all you need to know and is smart enough. The club only averages about 40 or so fans each week and i always feel sorry for programme editors in this position as they have to produce a programme in accordance with league rules but they also know that very few people will read the labours of their work.

Again we have another basic but functional ground here. Apart from the clubhouse stand the only other covering in the ground is to the left of the clubhouse and is in the form of a small seated area known as the Dick Drury stand. Apart from that it's hard standing all the way round, apart from the far end which is sealed off. It was a good job that we did eat before we entered the ground as the food hut was only serving hot drinks and chocolate bars. Although on the plus side the hot drinks (soup in our case) were served in proper mugs. As we knocked back our soup, the great and the good of North Lincolnshire's hoppers were rocking up proudly displaying their colours. The football institutions of Bottesford Town, Winterton Rangers, and Brigg Town were all represented, with the Brigg Town fan winning the award for finest hopper attire. It was bitterly cold night and although the clubhouse stand did resemble a holiday chalet, it did offer some protection form the wind. The only downside was a bloke who plonked himself near to us and then proceeded to hum to himself throughout the entire match. Only at a lower level non league game could you find such an array of characters.

On the pitch it's not been a great season for "Frod", before the match they sat second bottom with only hapless Selby Town below them. 33 goals have been scored but unfortunately for them they have shipped 83 at the other end. Visitors Clipstone sat in 11th place and must be reasonably happy with their efforts so far, as this is their first season at this level for some time after their promotion from the CML last season. Former Retford United hero Brett Marshall has recently taken over as chairman of the Nottinghamshire side, as they look to take the next step in the pyramid.

The action on the pitch was nothing special to write home about. Clipstone as you would expect, played the better football but neither side really looked like scoring. Thankfully we were saved from a second successive 0-0 when Rob Evens produced a great finish after good work from Dom Jones 5 minutes before halftime. At the break we decided to have a look round and check out the clubhouse. This was a real step back in time; along the stairway there were plenty of images of the local steel making plants and the clubhouse seemed a throw back to that era. There was a book where guests sign in and a huge trophy cabinet full of pub game trophies. Many of the punters were in smart attire and the place was spotless. I would say that there were more folk in here for the darts match than there were outside for the football, and i can't blame them one bit if i am honest. In a way the place reminded me of my early days of drinking in Jenkins club. Great times.

The second half didn't really get any better. Clippo wasted a few chances and Frod although they worked hard never really looked like getting back into the game. The real talking point came about ten minutes from the end and was something i have never seen in all my years watching football. After Frod had made all three of their changes one of their number (I think it was the number eight but i can't be sure) decided that he had had enough and stormed off the field much to the amazement of everybody else in the ground. As he passed the management team he unleashed a torrent of abuse saying that he was fed up, and that nobody was passing to him, and he hadn't signed for the club to put up with this shite. He phrased it a little differently to that, but i think you get the jist of it. Something tells me he wont be wearing the club's colours again.

Clippo sealed the points in the dying stages of the game, when Jimmy Adcock scrambled the ball over from close range. It was a solid away performance but the football wont be the talking point after the game. The talking point for us was where abouts you can get ice cream from between Scunthorpe and Retford as Barry's good lady has a sore throat and needed something to cool her down. Always the gentleman Baz took a quick pit stop at Tescos in Gainsborough which shuts at midnight. Crisis over and ground 171 in the can.

Retford United U19 2-2 Staveley MW

Thursday night is under 19 night for much of the league. I have heard good reports about Retford's side and you always know that Staveley will have a good under 19 side. The sides played out a cracking 3-3 draw before Christmas and although this match didn't really reach those heights it was still a decent game, and at only £2 entrance fee, and £1 for a programme that would put alot of first team ones to shame it was a cheap evening. As well as the game i was impressed with the turnout which must have been in the region of 70 plus and included all the usual suspects of the Retford hopping scene. I am not going to go into huge details of the game but you can read a good match report of the game on Mr Rob Waites excellent 66pow football blog.

So there you go. 72 hours, three games of football, 6 goals, two new grounds, and two donner kebabs. Not a bad way to spend a week is it? Next up the poor man's Lincolnshire derby. Gainsborough Trinity v Boston United.