26th March – Match reports

Jock Mitchell Memorial Trophy  – Semi Finals

AFC Golden Eagle 4

Wragby FC 2 (After extra time)

This tie saw the runaway Division Three leaders Wragby FC take on the challenge of Division Four hopefuls AFC Golden Eagle for a place in this season’s final being  the prize. It was the home side that raced into a 2 goal lead during a first half that saw them kicking with a strong wind in their favour. The visitors were not without their own opportunities however but a hard pitch and a ball that bounced as though it was from outer space made life difficult for both teams at times. On one such occasion the ball was lobbed over the home keeper towards a completely open goal and just as it was about to enter the unguarded net it bounced up inexplicably and cleared the bar by about 6 foot! Whatever happened to the good old fashioned Mitre Multiplex?

The second half saw the visitors up their game with the wind now in their favour and their pressure paid off when they scored with a neat flicked header from a cross from the left. With just a handful of minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty when their striker was bundled over in the box and Chris Bennett, in the home goal, was sent the wrong way to take the game into extra time. The home side pressed and added 2 further goals to their tally to earn a place in the final.

Cherry Willingham FC 4

Hykeham Athletic 3

This semi final played between two new sides to the League this season produced 7 goals and a result which saw the Division Three side Cherry Willingham book their place in the final following their excellent 4-3 win over Division Four side Hykeham Athletic. They will now meet another Division Four opponent, namely AFC Golden Eagle, when the two sides meet at Sincil Bank on Wednesday 26th April 2017. It promises to be an exciting game of football.

Premier Division

After being without a fixture last week the Ivy could be forgiven for a lacklustre display this week and it proved to be the case, despite the 5-0 winning score line. The management rang the changes with the whole squad being given a chance to impress as the season reaches the business end.

The first goal arrived with 15 minutes on the clock after neat interplay between Jack Wilkinson and George Asplin, the latter teed up leading scorer Sean Cann, who couldn’t miss from 6 yards out to register his 50th strike of the season. The second didn’t take long as a ball though from Wells found Cann in the area, and after a sharp turn he was felled giving referee Darren Wallhead no choice but to point to the spot. Wells stepped up confidently to slot home into the bottom corner of the net. Whilst this settled the home side they were still unable to find any real rhythm. The third goal was route one at its finest, goalkeeper Craig Rhodes kicked the ball forward and with one bounce it fell into the path of Cann who ran clear and made no mistake past the helpless keeper. The final action of the half came when Cann turned provider, threading a ball through to Asplin who poked under the keeper’s advances to make it 4-0 at the break.

Despite having several opportunities the only real surprise of the second half was that Ivy only scored to add to their total once in the second half after more good work from Asplin saw his inch perfect ball poked home by Joe Ayres.

Credit must go to Scothern for sticking to the task when on another day it could have been double figures for the side that are now moving ever closer to challenging for the coverted top spot in the League table.

Keeper Rhodes was untroubled all morning, skipper Chenko marshalled the back 3 superbly supported by Stokes and Birdsall. Ayres and Asplin played out wide and always looked to get balls into the box. In the middle Taylor returned to a familiar role with Uzzel, who also returned after a couple of week’s absence. Wells showed his quick feet and always looked to create openings. Cann was supported up top by Jack Wilkinson and both looked dangerous when given the ball. This was always a hard game to come on and make an impression in when a side is 5-0 up but Callum Dye, Jordan Curtis and Elliot Dye all made a contribution to keeping the game ticking and contributing to another clean sheet. The management will be pleased with the result and another game was chalked off towards their title challenge.

Metheringham FC 4

Ruston Sports FC 4

On one of the best days of March Metheringham were back to league business as they hosted third placed Ruston Sports. Meg were out to avenge a 3-1 away defeat earlier in the season with manager Richard Hargrave sticking mainly to his starting line-up against Waddington in the Kelly Read Cup the previous week. He was however without a regular keeper and defender Billy Fox had to don the keepers’ jersey while Joe Smith came in for the unavailable Ben Garrick.

The visitors started in positive mood and it took a goal line clearance from Miles Lynch on 14 minutes to prevent them from taking the lead. Then, perhaps against the run of the play, Meg went ahead 2 minutes later. Jayden Driver showed some silky skills down the right wing leaving 4 Rustons players in his wake as he advanced half the length of the field. Putting a cross in it completely beat the Ruston’s keeper Rory McCracken to nestle in the top corner of the net. 10 minutes later Meg were 2 up with Driver this time the provider as he played a ball forward and striker Jac Wright lobbed it home from the edge of the box over McCracken as he tried to close him down. To Ruston’s credit they did not capitulate and within 5 minutes they reduced the arrears. A rash challenge by Meg defender Matt Robinson, just outside the box, saw Ruston’s awarded a free kick. The kick was hit low to the right of the wall and it took a deflection before arrowing into the net. From this point to the break Rustons were in the ascendency and it came as no surprise when they drew level. A surging run down the left resulted in a cross to the far post for a simple unchallenged close range header into the net.

This saw them take the game to Meg in the second half and after just 7 minutes of the restart they took the lead for the first time. From a ball knocked into the box from the right the Ruston’s striker beat Meg keeper Fox to the ball to half volley home from close range. Meg looked a beaten side with their passes now going totally astray and their enthusiasm waning. Manager Hargrave decided to make early changes and bring on the experience of club Captain Ben Machin and Liam Hargrave and it had the immediate effect. Another of those dazzling runs by Jayden Driver, this time down the left, saw him put the ball into the box and Jac Wright was again on hand to somehow get a touch on it to loop it over the keeper into the net. Now Meg were in the ascendancy and with 10 minutes to go they scored a great team goal as Andy Anderson put a deep cross in from the left which was met first time by Jac Wright and he knocked it back across the goal for Liam Hargrave to sweep home. Despite going behind yet again Rustons refused to lie down and with virtually the last kick of the game Ben Sharp drilled home from a corner which Meg failed to clear. In fairness a draw was very much a fair result and a fine advert for Premier Division Sunday League football.

Division Two

Bassingham Bugle Horn FC 3

Fva Jerusalem 1

This game was billed by many to be the clash of the day in league 2 and it didn’t disappoint. With Bassingham about to enter a busy 5 weeks in which 8 games need to be fulfilled including a cup final, probably one of the toughest games was going to be against Jerusalem

Both teams began the game cautiously and after the first 20 minutes the away team perhaps shaded things slightly as they fashioned a couple of half chances. Bassingham finally found their stride and started to apply some pressure on the Jerusalem goal, a couple of corners came and went, as the home side sent their big defenders forward from the back, which then led to a moment of madness from the visitors centre back which resulted in a penalty award to the home side and the visiting player being dismissed from the field of play by the referee. The penalty was duly converted to give the home side the lead.

Ascendancy, as sometimes happens when a team is down to 10 men, changed to the away team as they started to have more of the ball and they created a few more half chances which came to nothing.

The home side then made a couple of tactical changes at the break including their skipper who was seeing birdies spinning round his head, and with that the home team controlled the second half up until another talking point of which Bassingham had a player sent off for something that he said to one of the Officials.

With 25 minutes remaining the visitors took control and got their equaliser from a long ball into the box that was not dealt with by the home defence only for the goalkeeper to make a brilliant save which fell to a Jerusalem striker to put the ball into the roof of the net,

This seemed to wake the home side up and they started to put pressure back on the visitors  goal and with 15 minutes remaining the ball came out to midfield maestro Mark Walker who hit an unstoppable volley high over the keeper and into the top corner from fully 50 yards. This was a goal up there to win any match and as Andy Gray once famously said “What a hit Son, what a hit, take a bow”

This pumped up the home side and with another change for the home side saw the baby face assassin come on, and he had an instant impact  driving through the defence before calming putting the ball over the oncoming keeper and wide of the net, easier to score some may say, but only minutes later he had the same joy getting behind the away defence and squaring the ball to an on rushing striker to finish emphatically into the bottom corner,

The home team saw the remaining minutes out in what surely must be a big step to a possible double, the same teams meet again a week on Tuesday evening which will be another interesting contest

Division Three

Turks Head 2

Dynamo Varsity 1

This was the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides and was settled in favour of the home side, but in truth the 2-1 score line flattered the away side, such was the one sided nature of the fixture, particularly in the first half. The game kicked off in beautiful conditions on the big pitch down at Heighington, with the hosts enjoying a large share of possession and happy to be patient on the ball. Left winger Chris Egan, who has often been employed in the left back role this season, was running riot down his side of the pitch with the home side not having to do much defending early on. The deadlock should have been broken on 25 minutes by former Varsity player Tom O’Rourke, but his point blank header smashed off the crossbar and over to safety. Soon after, Player-Manager Stu Cook narrowly fired wide and only an excellent sliding block on the line from a visiting defender kept the scores at 0-0. Varsity had done well to weather the storm and were just starting to impose themselves on the game when the hosts opened the scoring, O’Rourke tucking the ball away for his 12th goal of the season. It was no less than Turks deserved and half time was reached with the home side in front and ‘keeper Martin Ziller pretty much a spectator in the first half, which was a nice change for him!

The second half continued much in the same vein as the first, with a very attack-minded Turks looking to kill the game off. The visiting crossbar was rattled again, this time by Cook from a corner. Centre forward Steve Foley then thought he had doubled the host’s advantage with a neat header but it was chalked off for offside. Perhaps spurring him on there was no doubt 5 minutes later when he picked the ball up around 30 yards from goal before unleashing a dipping effort which sailed in over the despairing dive of the Varsity stopper. The visitors would, however, get the last word, the ball being forced home from close range following a determined run from the left winger who raced from inside his own half before squaring the ball from a tight angle. This result brought about Dynamo’s first League defeat in their last 10 League games.

Varsity awarded their man of the match award to Dan Barnes who had an excellent game throughout.

Next week’s fixtures sees Dynamo Varsity heading to Birchwood for a tough game against in-form Shakespeare Athletic while Turks Head are in derby action against Branston-based HBW United as they look for revenge following an early season 2-3 reverse.

Division Four

Saxilby Sports AFC 0

Broadley FC 7

Broadley FC carried on their title challenge with a 7-0 win away at Saxilby Sports to return to the top of the league. Early goals came from Dale Bowman, Adam Bromfield and Craig Tysoe, either side of an identical pair of James Gray headers.

Saxilby upped their game for the majority of the second half before they were undone by 2 long balls from Broadley ‘keeper Robbie Stallard – straight onto the runs of brother Stevie to grab his 21st goal of the season, and to Bowman to finish off his second goal of the match. Stallard hung on with some late saves to keep his run going of having never conceded a goal in his new Imp Pave Limited sponsored gloves!

Ian Stephenson