Saturday, 25 August 2012

Welfare say Farewell to Sleaford

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 25 August 2012 at Eslaforde Park
Sleaford Town 1 Rainworth Miners Welfare 2
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Ground 470 on the lifetime list.  A long random story as to why I am here on this particular date, involving the final of the 2012 Australian Open Snooker Championship in Melbourne, a stopwatch, my Twitter feed and a recent attack of labyrinthitis.  No birds were involved.  All is documented in earlier posts.
Pre-match preparation
Sleaford beat Holwell Sports 2-0 in the last round but have lost both of their first two league games in the step 5 United Counties Premier League.  Rainworth were the first Miners Welfare team to reach step 4 and are starting their third season at that level - they join the FA Cup at this stage having won one and lost one of their league games in Division 1S of the Northern Premier League.
This match in one sentence
The fastest goal I have ever seen in any live game ultimately proved important as Rainworth held on for the win under second half pressure from a home side who took too long to turn up.
So what?
Rainworth take £1750 and go on to meet Carlton Town at home in the next round.
The drama unfolds
I estimated 10 seconds for the opening goal, and the Rainworth website says 11.  Certainly the quickest in any live game I have ever seen.  I'm not sure whether Sleaford had even touched the ball, apart from a despairing hand from the keeper Andrew Hewitt.  The scorer was Ian Holmes.  0-1

Two more efforts were ruled out for offside as the visitors took a firm grip on the game.  I was at the other end so can't and won't comment on those decisions (in my vast experience as a neutral the officials are right more often than not) but Rainworth should have had a second but Ewen Clarke headed Blair Anderson's left-wing cross wide.  Sleaford gradually got into the game but without creating a clear chance.

The skies darkened.  There were whispers that play down the A15 at Stamford had been suspended due to lightning. Visiting keeper Alessandro Barcherini had to be alert to beat Liam Tunstall to the ball, but a mazy run by Anderson at the other end led to a panicky sliced clearance over his own bar by Joe Braithwaite.  Nothing came of the corner but then the rain came down spectacularly for a few minutes. Rainworth's Ian Holmes left the field with a head injury and came back wearing another shirt and a Terry Butcher-type iconesque head bandage.  (If that isn't a word, tough. I just invented it.  OED please note.)  Sleaford managed to exert some pressure from two successive corners but then THIS happened just before half-time. Sleaford are in green.  Anderson is the scorer, and again Hewitt gets a hand to the shot.  0-2 at half-time

After 47 minutes, Sleaford missed a great chance.  Tunstall's cross from the left was met by an unmarked Tony Edwards but the header was glanced just wide.  Fortunately, he had a another chance four minutes later.  The ball came through to him in a one-on-one and his lofted shot went in off the bar.  Good finish, and game on.  1-2

Edwards advances to score and get Sleaford back in with a shout
The officials were coming under increasing and constant pressure from both sides.  There was a rush of petulant challenges and minor altercations, and the yellow card appeared several times.  Sleaford brought on big number 18 Mickey Stones as a "target man" and his headers and flicks made a number of openings.  The home side pressed more and more - again without really testing Barcherini - and with five minutes to go Rainworth settled for sending the ball towards the corners.  The final clip is a compilation of three short episodes from the closing seconds - everyone except Hewitt has gone forward in the end.  However, the visitors were strong and streetwise enough to hold on with a reasonable degree of comfort.  As I got back to the car, the heavens opened again.  Final score 1-2

The programme

Something random
This is particularly for my many American readers.  Rainworth's club nickname is "The Wrens" (not The Rains) because their town is pronounced Renn-urth, to rhyme with twopennyworth.  I hope that is clear enough for you.  It's our language, just take my word for it if necessary ;)  While it occurs to me, please put the ph back in sulphur as soon as possible.  Thank you.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Still no Dutchmen, farm animals, bicycle kicks, somersaulted celebrations, 0-0 draws or snow abandonments but this was a 3-goal game.  Please send me a pledge if you haven't already!  The end-of-season estimated value of the pot now stands at about £520, and I need a lot more support to reach my informal target of £1000 for this great cause.  Please spread the word.
What Next?
A draw in the FA Cup means that Horley Town's game on Bank Holiday Monday against Guernsey is now off so I will have to re-think my triple.  A first look suggests that matches at Crawley Down and Henley Town will still be on, but there have been some abandonments today in that area, so the weather may also be a factor.  In the meantime, can I face another jaunt down the M4 on Sunday afternoon to see who Wootton Bassett Town (see yesterday's match) will get in the next round?  Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details.

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