Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A defining moment...or two?

Saturday 5th March - Kiveton Park (home) Won 3-0
Tuesday 8th March - Hull City 0 Burnley 1

I should have been cock-a-hoop as I first prepared this post (some weeks ago now!).  On the Saturday  - three days prior  to beginning bashing the keyboard - we had chalked up our first league win since October (which also came against "Kivo") and moved up to seventh in the Premier Division table.  
In addition, the following Tuesday I was to revisit the East Stand at the KC Stadium for the first time since the "pre-Championship-on-the-way-up" days, where a Hull City side fresh from ending Nottingham Forest's 36-match unbeaten run at home were set to entertain in-form Burnley in one of the night's most attractive looking fixtures. 

Catch of the Day
Unfortunately, however, my mood had been tempered somewhat by events that despite my not witnessing them first hand and which, strictly speaking, were out of my control I still felt in some way responsible for.  
For the first time that I could ever remember, an Easington United team (in this case the Reserves) had conceded the points from a league game AFTER actually setting off.  Their ER County League Premier Division fixture at Bridlington side Forum FC was conceded within two hours of kick-off, much to the understandable frustration of the the hosts and with possible financial repurcussions for ourselves.

Brett entertains a packed North Stand
In truth it's a scenario that has been on the cards for some time.  The Stiffs have endured a torrid time of late, not just in terms of results but having suffered more than most at the hands of the weather and seeing manager Kev ruled out of action and removed from the frontline with a broken leg sustained during one of his all-too-rare appearances at North Cave back in November.
It's a combination that has since led to a lack of bodies on match days.   But to come to a head like this is very hard to swallow.  As part of my job is to ensure that on a Saturday afternoon, each Easington team in action is at the correct venue with the correct number of players and wearing the correct colours, I took the Stiffs' failure personally.   
What I subsequently found more hurtful was the accusation by some within the Club that what happened with the Reserves wouldn't matter because the First Team won; the inference obviously being that results at senior level override all other events within the club.  As I wrote in the subsequent week's programme and on the club website, that is definitely not the case. 
That said, this is a blog primarily about the fixtures that do take place and that I actually get to see.  So, let's move on to some of the details  of a much-needed 3-0 win at Low Farm rather than dwelling on what might or might not have occured en route to Brid.
Fresh from the frustration of Nottingham, Mack took the opportunity before kick-off to highlight the fact that a run of 9 home matches in the last 13 fixtures could still see us drastically improve our league position in the CML Premier Division.  
A provisional target of 30pts was written large on the Nobo board.  Cue plenty of tub-thumping and good intentions...

A man on a mission
Not that it counted for much as we made a sluggish start to proceedings.  Again.  In fairness to our visitors (who, it must be said, are certainly among the more affable opponents in what is at any rate a very friendly competition) we were very fortunate to come off at half-time still on level terms.

"He's no Terry Butcher"
Admittedly, we weren't helped by a nasty gash to the head that forced Blounty off the park - thus splitting up our hitherto entertaining central defensive duo of Barry & Paul Chuckle.
At least Danny's withdrawal allowed the Farm Faithful their first look at new signing Ricky Kemp.  And the Barton Town man was to leave them impressied by much of what he did...although, apart from Pete Farndale, not many will take kindly to his choice of Leeds United leisurewear on match days.  Club tracksuit required ASAP.

"He's new thoo knows?"
Kiveton had definitely shaded matters territorially and created the better of the chances.  Some of their play was a pleasure to watch, slick passing and good movement off the ball; on this evidence there's no wonder they're enjoying a much better campaign this time round.
Thankfully, in a game in which it always seemed the first goal would be crucial, it fell our way thanks to Mozzer's stonking strike from 25 yards.

"One Nil"
His second, from a corner, put us firmly in the driving seat and Kivo were already a beaten side by the time Gav smacked home number three near the end.  A defining moment in our season perhaps?

Mozzer doubles up
As a side-note, the first and second goals prompted much mirth among the home Committee given that both saw the ball disappear through the back of the goal net.  Head Groundsman 'Brim' Biglin duly took the blame...

"I've put 'em right lads...in case we get a third!"
We did...and the net held firm!
An enjoyable day on the home front had also seen the surprise but welcome - albeit temporary - return to the First Team fold  of former asst-boss 'Nige'.  He enjoyed a productive run off the bench and his performance certainly gave Mack much post-match food for thought.
My collection of some overdue "fines" and a convivial post-match atmosphere involving members of the Stiffs, who'd come down to watch, also helped divert thoughts away from the obvious trouble brewing elsewhere in the "Ezzie Family". 
And given the increased tetchiness among members of the Second XI, hearing of a well-deserved point gained by a full-strength Casuals at promotion rivals Shiptonthorpe, was perhaps not the news they wanted to hear.  I braced myself for the predictable texts and emails to follow. 
Still, this was put to the back of my mind and I retired to the Granby buoyed by news of Super Matty Fryatt's winner in front of three and a half thousand travelling Tigers at The City Ground, Nottingham.  Sets things up nicely for Tuesday night thought I...

If there's one thing I've learnt as a Hull City fan of some thirty-odd years, it's that there's no club like East Yorkshire's finest for building you up only to knock you straight back down.
And so perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised by the fact that my return to the East Stand would be accompanied by defeat to one of our main  top six rivals.  A defining moment in their Play-off pursuit perhaps?
Stung by a sucker punch early on from newly-arrived Aston Villa loanee Nathan Delfuoneso, the Tigers certainly had their moments.  Super Matt couldn't quite cap one of the few incisive moves of the first half, while Andy Dawson was denied by a fine save at the start of the second half.  However, the best chance fell to match programme cover star Corry Evans on 69mins but, having been played through by Aaron McLean's excellent pass, he too was denied by Grant.

"Why couldn't he have signed a day later?"
Burnley were also forced to defend what seemed an unusually high number of corners but sadly for the majority of the 21,000 crowd, Anthony Gerrard endured a rare "threepenny bit of a head" night.  
In truth the Clarets could well have doubled their tally on the break and overall it wasn't a bad game, although you wouldn't have thought so given the subdued atmosphere inside the ground.  
The East Stand was far from the "cauldron of noise" that I'd hoped it might be and, indeed, had been for fleeting moments during my last visit to the ground for the Leeds game.  My disappointment was compounded by the glut of ignorant and innane comments generally aimed in the direction of current "boo Boy" James Harper.  It was enough to ensure I'll revert to the Upper West for my next return (at least "Arps" can be assured a better class of insult from up there).
Thankfully, despite the result, there was enough evidence to suggest that under the increasingly popular manager Nigel Pearson, this City side may take the odd step backwards in the short term but the long-term direction is very much forwards.
I went to bed wondering whether I'd be saying the same about our Reserve team in a few days time...

Photos courtesy of Colin Brammer & Burt Graham

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