Saturday 22nd January - Parkhouse (Cup Replay, home)
Saturday 29th January - Thoresby Welfare (away)
That's the problem with a mid-season break - it takes you just that little bit longer to get back in the swing. And so, while I have just about kept on top of things in terms of completing the weekly admin side of this grassroots football malarkey, my ability to post regular blogs on the subject has been significantly lacking. Not that I suppose you'll have noticed...
Life seemed so much easier when the postponement of games had become so routine that by the Monday I was already finalising alternative plans for the following weekend. And there was enough "other stuff" going on to help you overcome the lack of Saturday afternoon action; not least of which was England's tremendous march to retention of the Ashes.
But the snow-covered pitches would appear - for now at least - to have gone the same way as our wins 'Down Under' (this one-day stuff isn't proper creekit anyhow) and my working week has once again become a necessary distraction to the prize that awaits me every Saturday afternoon.
|Low Farm, oh how I've missed you!|
Having returned to action with the frustrating draw at FC 05, described in the previous post, the First Team have played twice more since. The first of these games saw progress made to the last 16 in the CML Cup, the second saw progress made to matching last season's tag of "draw specialists".
After four failed attempts, our long-awaited Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup first round replay against Parkhouse was finally given the nod on Saturday, 22nd January - some ten weeks after Andy G's late header at Mill Lane had actually earned it!
Although Mack had gone on record as saying that progress in the competition was very much secondary to league success (despite the North/South decision seemingly taking promotion out of the equation) he was still very keen for his players to complete the job begun back in Clay Cross in November.
Visitors Parkhouse were definitely making no secret of their intention to progress; manager Paul Murtagh wrote on the club website that he intended to use the trip to Easington to kick-start his side's hitherto disappointing season.
Prior to kick-off we observed a minute's silence in memory of T. W. Graham, something we'd kept from Burt and Andy but which, pleasingly, both were very appreciative of.
Hopes of seizing on Parkhouse's current low confidence were raised as early as the seventh minute when a somewhat controversial handball call in the box gave Chav a second chance in as many weeks to convert from twelve yards. But for the second week in a row he missed.
Parkhouse will no doubt feel they were dealt some rough cards, not least when defender Steff Holland's race into the box was halted abruptly by Chaz just inside the box. right on half-time. To say the visitors' management were unhappy was an understatement - I thought we were going to have another away dressing room door repair to contend with!
Still, chances came and went at both ends. Frosty looked to be impeded at a free-kick while Chaz produced two stonking saves to keep Parkhouse out.
After waht seemed like a never-ending period of injury-time, referee Rich Roberts finally blew for full-time and the vast majority of the forty-odd spectators could breathe easily again.
|Chav can't have the chance to miss three pens in a row!|
But we too passed up several opportunities and the grit and determination on show by the boys just about merited the passage to the last sixteen. Sorry "Murts"!
|The Barnett Clan have again taken the home end!|
The week after - and a fortnight on from our trip to Bilsthorpe - we found ourselves making the journey south to the same part of Notts again, this time to the Edwinstowe ground of Thoresby Colliery Welfare.
Last season's corresponding fixture was played at nearby Clipstone due to cricket commitments at Fourth Avenue. Hence my keenness to make sure I attended this time around; ground tick!
Thoresby are not dissimilar to us in that they boast a proud history (stretching back to 1930 in their case) and began life "playing on a farmer's field in Edwinstowe". They also declare themselves "proud of their roots in the local community", they are fellow members of the Club Website family as well as also having their own Wikipedia page and they boast a Twitter account (@Thoresbycwfc).
After a downturn in fortunes, Thoresby's attempts to turn things round saw them apply for the CML, wherein they were accepted in 2001/02. Under joint-managership of the affable Lee Tryner and Nick Shaw they're currently enjoying a fine run of form and came into this game on the back of just two defeats in 11 games, included among which was October's dramatic late victory at Low Farm.
|While Thommo (left) accepts his fate, AM tries one last attempt to force his way in!|
It was only on arrival at Fourth Avenue that we realised the game had ever been in doubt. Overnight temperatures of -5C had threatened to play havoc with the fixture list; thankfully ours survived.
Our hopes of smooth preperarations were disrupted by a combination of factors including late arrivals and last minute fitness tests. Oh, and my forgetting the team sheet didn't help!
The fitness test invovled Andy M and eventually meant relegation to the bench for our leading scorer, with Farny taking his place. Thommo also found himself demoted after a run of games in which he'd struggled to recapture the spark so evident during last season's run-in. Frosty was the benefactor of that switch...although it might well have been shortlived had the match officials noticed his baring his arse in answer to jibes from the home support during the first few minutes!
The ground at Edwinstowe is on the other side of the cricket square, removed from the pavilion that doubles up as changing rooms. There is a low brick-built shelter running along the far touchline, flanked at either end by the two dugouts (of which the home one looks far more modern than the visitors'!).
It was from within this shelter that I decided to watch the first 45mins, a period that saw Charlie keep out everything Thoresby could throw his way at one end, while we looked increasingly threatening at the other.
We capped things off with two well-taken first half goals; Chav finishing in style following a neat five-man move and Moz volleying home a Chav corner from close range.
Two up as the HT whistle blew, I joined Pistol Pete, Shotgun Burt and the Barnett Clan for a much-needed half-time cuppa.
Spirits were lifted further by news of a successful game against the Dutch Veterans at Low Farm and an invitation to reciprocate the trip next year!
I opted to stand on the near side touchline for the second half (having conducted a debate as to whether it was colder standing on grass or concrete). On today's evidence Thoresby attract similar numbers to ourselves and it was the home contingent who would enjoy the second half more.
After Chaz had brilliantly kept out Gavin King's second half penalty, he was beaten by Jamie Tryner's fine finish before controversially conceding an equaliser just five minutes from time; the keeper convinced he'd been fouled and that sub Chris Dyson had used a hand when bundling the ball home from a long throw-in.
There was still time for Thommo to almost snatch a dramatic winner but his header came back off the bar and, as referee Scott Mason's whistel confirmed a 2-2 draw (our fourth in a row away from home) it was a subdued Ezzie dressing-room afterwards.
Like the Colliery itself, post-match venue The Thoresby Welfare Club has probably seen better days but the hospitality was good and the locals appeared friendly enough. I was intrigued to find Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen available in smoothflow. Opting for my favourite of the two, the IPA, I'm afraid to report it's not a patch on the real thing!
The lads had livened up a little by time we boarded the Riding School Express for the trip home and with the promise of a night on the lash in town for most of them, spirits had lifted even more as the Pistol gave us his usual Magic Roundabout routine on return to Hull.
As I enjoyed a couple of cans of Strongbow, I reflected on what the legendary Mickey Bo would always point out after such games: "You ain't been beat and a point's a point". Quite. Next up is Bentley in the cup but before then there's a little trip to the KC in store midweek...
Thanks to Burt for the photographs