Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Looking down on things

Monday 22nd August
Easington Utd Reserves 4 Hall Road Rangers U20 1
Thursday 25th August
Withernsea Reserves 2 Easington United Reserves 7
Withernsea Thirds 6 Easington United Casuals 4

One of the good things about this busiest time of year - pre-season - is the chance it affords to catch up with our "other two teams".  And the week leading up to the August Bank Holiday allowed me to do just that.
Having kicked-off their pre-season with a home win over HPL side St Andrews, the Reserves had been forced to wait for their next outing while new manager Meddy enjoyed a family holiday in the Florida sun.
Thus a schedule of four matches in two weeks had been arranged to enable him and incoming coach Lee to decide on who would be figuring when the "serious stuff" starts on 10th September (in the event, one of these - the away trip to Bridlington Town's new Academy side - would fall by the wayside).
First up for the Stiffs (and first chance for me to see them live) was Lee East's Hall Road Rangers U20s, members of the newly formed East Riding CFA Under-21 league competition.  As one of only four semi-professional clubs in the area, Hall Road Rangers have pedigree and their start to life in this year's NCEL Premier Division would suggest manager Billy Heath is on course to repeat the sort of success he enjoyed up the coast at Bridlington.
As such, it was thought the Under-20s would consist of some of the East Riding's brightest young talent and therefore provide a decent test for Meddy's men.  They did.
What perhaps wasn't expected was something of a ragtag and bobtail look in the kit department, which involved one of their number playing the full game in grey marl t-shirt (an obvious drawback of the "take your own kit home and wash it" policy). 
As often the case for evening matches, I was a late arrival at Low Farm (accompanied by the Elder Slushette) but I got there just in time to see Frosty - again deputising between the sticks in the absence of a "regular" goalie - produce an absolutely stonking reflex to stop to preserve parity at 0-0.
The lone Ranger's choice of shirt is usurped only by our keeper's combo!
Returning Ezzie old boys Shane Keyworth and Jimmy Dawson were again leading the line for the Stiffs, accompanied tonight in a 4-3-3 line-up by yet another "prodigal son", Paul Wilkinson.  There's some goals in that trio, I thought.
And true to form it was from one of them that we took a first half lead, Daws firing home at the second attempt.  Chances would come and go before the visitors drew level on the stroke of half-time.
The second half wasn't quite as one-sided as the scoreline would suggest.  In particular, both Andy Milbank and the aforementioned Wilks benefitted from "borderline" offside decisions at crucial times, with Shane's late goal (or was it an 'og'?) completing the 4-1 win.
Meddy again reiteretated that "there's nowt to this management lark" and whilst things will get decidedly more difficult once the league campaign gets underway, there is a growing feeling that the Stiffs are building a very competitive squad this term.
A goal on Wilks' return prompts much, er, indifference among the Faithful
This was reinforced three nights later at the Hull Road home of "rivals" Withernsea, where both our County League squads were matched up against the second and third strings of their Seasiders hosts.
I arrived in time to find us up in one, down in one and this is how the games would finish, albeit the "up" being somewhat more convincing.
Trying to combine watching both games with sorting out a suitable toilet for the Elder Slushette meant I missed out on some top quality goals.  However, I did happen to stood directly in line behind young rising star Jordan Hart as he floated in a free-kick from 40 yards that somehow ended up in the home net.
As it was a pretty convincing 7-2 win was completed by the Reserves; Shane adding a hat-trick to his impressive pre-season tally, with partner Dawson and the aforementioned Hart baging a brace apiece.
As for the Casuals, a spirited rally from four goals down to 3-4 and then again at 4-5 couldn't avert eventual defeat by six goals to four.  Still, I'm sure Maccer and assistant DC would take this in exchange for a repeat of last season's league double against the same opposition.
It would be back to the serious stuff come the weekend but for now I could rest assured that the future of the club looks in pretty good shape.

Thanks to Burt Graham for the photos

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