Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Time waits for no man

Tuesday 6 April - Easington Utd Reserves 3 Withernsea Reserves 2
Saturday 10 April - Phoenix Sports & Social FC (home) Won 4-0
Easington Utd Reserves 2 Wawne Ferry 2
Tuesday 13 April - Hedon Rangers Reserves 1 Easington Utd Reserves 1
(Easington win 4-2 on penalties)

Goal for Farny at the Farm

Along with pre-season, April constitutes my busiest time of the football calendar. Even more so when we’ve had a winter like that just experienced, adding to the number of midweek games to be played. Then there’s the admin side of things...
On Monday night, along with the other three Committee members, I took part in the draw for the annual South Holderness Cup competition. The effects of the winter were noticeable here too, with four teams – AFC Preston, Aldbrough, Roos and Skirlaugh – all declining the invitation due to a combination of fixture backlog and injuries.
Thus just five clubs (and nine teams) were represented at the draw, which was made at The White Horse in Ottringham where a decent pint of cask Banks’s Bitter cost me a not so decent £2.80!
The draw has once again set our first team on course for a potential meeting with holders Hedon Rangers, while Withernsea will fancy their chances of reaching the final from the other half.
Tonight (Tuesday) it was back to the live action, with the Elder Slushette and me attending the Reserves’ latest match in their rather improbable-looking run in the ER County League’s President’s Cup competition, the H. E. Dean Cup.
It’s a standing joke at County League Management Committee meetings – usually cracked by me – that “we don’t do cups” at Easington; hence I rarely take notice of any dates beyond the first or second rounds of the three competitions our teams are entered into. That’s suddenly changed and Saturday 22 May is starting to figure as a potentially important date for reasons other than the club’s Annual Presentation Evening! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Fozzy (right) playing in his 137th Easington-Withernsea clash. He's won 135 of them!

Having disposed of Div 3 opponents Patrington while I was on holiday the format (consisting of a regionalised draw, with ties played on consecutive Tuesdays through April) threw up a meeting with local rivals Withernsea in round two.

"'Ave it!"

Coming three days after the Casuals had dished out a league beating to the Seasiders’ own third-string the game attracted a decent crowd (61 h/c) to The Farm.
I later observed, via a couple of “social networking sites”, that I felt it had been the most one-sided 3-2 win I’d ever seen. One of these subsequently attracted 27 comments – the most feedback I’ve ever had!
Still, I stand by the view, albeit with the caveat that I got to the game about a quarter-of-an hour in and Withernsea had enjoyed the better of things up to this point.  Shortly after my arrival the visitor took the lead when Stew Guy was allowed to proceed from a position some five yards offside and finish stylishly over goalie Phil Page.

A goal against Withernsea
Another goal against Withernsea

Frosty brought the Stiffs level with a goal of real quality and quick-fire strikes from Torres and Stumo put us well in charge at the start of the second half.

"Don't Panic!"

But as chances continued to be created and missed – just after I’d observed rather too loudly that “we could get eight or nine here” – that feeling emerged that we might just pay for our profligacy.

A goal for Withernsea

Sure enough, Withernsea got a penalty for handball. Converted; 3-2, game back on! “This’ll go to penalties” I said, my earlier optimism having completely dissipated. Thankfully, it didn’t, and, despite plenty of effort, the visitors never really looked like levelling things up.
The Stiffs’ win set up a trip to Eastside Sports Ground, new name for the former Destiny Fitness Centre at Saltend (before that the BP Chemicals Sports Ground, and before that the DCL Sports Ground and going even further back has formed part of a race track, speedway track and aerodrome!). In recent years, it has been home to Hedon Rangers FC (along with Skirlaugh ARLFC and – for a short time – training base for Hull KR).
Before the cup clash the Reserves had title-chasing Wawne Ferry to contend with at the weekend. For the second year running the Hull outfit were asked to “slum it” across the Ditch due to our CML game with Phoenix taking precedence on the ground.

The Stiffs and Wawne "slum it" for a second successive season

The staggered kick-offs enabled me to venture across once the necessary formalities had been completed on the main pitch. In the twenty or so minutes I watched, we held our own with Wawne – perhaps not surprisingly – forcing the pace. But there was no end result and as half-time arrived with the teams goalless I ventured back over the Ditch, ready to see if we could claim a top five spot in the CML Premier.

"Was that you Chaz? It stinks man, even the ref's noticed!"

Back in October we’d earned a share of the spoils at Pavilion Lane thanks to Farny’s wonder-strike and Chav’s injury-time penalty. Today’s Phoenix side looked nothing like the one that had played that day as part of a one-defeat-in-fifteen-games start to the season.
Manager Daz Newson told me beforehand that his side had won through to the Final of the Rotherham Charity Cup on Thursday, after penalties, and as a result of their efforts six players had been unable to make the trip to Easington.

"I don't recognise any of this lot"

I’d already noticed that striker Mendy (“Sanko”) was absent (long-term injury apparently) while partner Matt Ellis is also currently sidelined. With only two games still to play, Newson admitted that his team’s priorities now lay elsewhere.

Size matters?

Not so us. With the proposed reorganisation still awaiting ratification by the FA, promotion to the Supreme Division is still officially up for grabs. And Manager Mack wants it.

Thommo goes down...penalty...one-nil

After a sluggish start the result was rarely in doubt once Chav had maintained his excellent record from the spot in the 19th minute, following a foul on Thommo six yards out that on another day would surely have seen a red card brandished.
By half-time the lead had been doubled, courtesy of Mozzer’s fine free-kick dispatched with aplomb from 20 yards.
Meanwhile, cheers from across the Ditch suggested that the Stiffs had overturned a Wawne goal early in the second half and were bound for what would be their best result of the season…only for a last gasp Ferry equaliser to thwart them.

"Where'd he come from?"

Back on the main arena and victory was assured early in the second half when the Phoenix defence remained statuesque as Farny stole in at another Moz set-piece. 

Job's a good 'un

Then Man Mountain capped a fine individual display by poking home Farny’s pass in the final minute.
Refusing to allow the latest shambolic news from the KC Stadium spoil my day, a very enjoyable post-match session was enjoyed in the Neptune beer garden, courtesy of a couple of pints of Black Sheep and some convivial company.
Logging on to the CML site later that evening enhanced satisfaction at a job well done. It would now seem that a top three place is really there for the taking, following dropped points by Yorkshire Main, Dronfield and Parkhouse. But with four of the last five games away, it’s still a big ask.
Thankfully, thoughts of Saturday’s tricky long trip to Bulwell Town could be put to one side as attention tonight turned again to the Stiffs’ cup campaign.
In all its guises the Saltend venue has proved “lucky” for Easington teams (and here’s hoping that continues in view of the aforementioned SH Cup draw). However, for an hour or so tonight it looked anything but.

Could it be one of those nights?

Having fallen behind to a blatantly offside goal by former player Daz Thompson, similar to the Withernsea win the Stiffs proceeded to miss a raft of chances. Front pair Frosty and Foz probably passed up the most, with sub Pursey and centre-half Nige also culpable.
Ironically, when the equaliser came it was a touch fortunate – Frosty’s attempted cross dropping in at the back stick.
Even now we missed chances to win the game and so, as per competition rules, at the end of 90mins we went to pens.
My frustration at this was compounded by the fact I’d assured Mrs Slush that I would have our eldest daughter “back by eight”. That was no longer possible. Still, listening to her cheering as Frosty, Hodgy, Brettster and Nige all converted spot-kicks, not to mention those when Pagey made a fine save and the aforementioned Thommo struck his shot wide, made the impending bollocking on our return just about worth it.  Not sure I’ll be able to swing a trip to Long Riston for next week’s quarter-final though!  Perhaps in time...

It's Friday as I finish editing this particular post - the perfect day to listen to a bit of good ol' blue-eyed soul...

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