And a one, two, three, four… …give me a ‘N’…!
Northgate 4 – 0 Oasis Reds
Saturday saw a return to league action for a Northgate team hampered by injuries, availability problems and dance competitions. With regular manager Jonny Clark away in London on important cheerleading duties, the baton was passed to Rob Elkington to ‘Step Up’ to the street. Late withdrawals meant taking charge of the smallest squad so far this season with just 10 and a half men marching out onto their home turf to take on the full 90 minutes.
A Ben Davenport prior arrangement meant his departure at half time could be problematic; however at the 11th hour, hero Joe Bullen stepped up to don the shirt for only his second appearance of the season. Clark’s absence was too much for Hilsden to bear and so he too declared himself unavailable, although he denies all allegations of attending the same dance competition. This meant a return at the back for Dave Tonks who would be accompanied for the first time by Josh Slade; regular full backs Scott and Broomhall completed the back four. In the centre: Elkington himself and Jones wearing the Captain Morgan’s armband once again. Thomas and Sharrock took up the wide positions with Campbell featuring in a more central role and linking up with Roberts ahead of him to front the attack.
And boy did it pay off, just five minutes in and some clever play in the centre saw Campbell break free and run at the Oasis defence, then slide the ball into the path of Roberts who calmly slotted the ball under the advancing keeper. Spurred on by this promising start, Northgate began to create more opportunities, with more space opening up for Campbell who this time took it on himself but fired wide. Elkington and Jones were dominating the play in the centre of the park and anything which came over the top was swiftly dealt with by the Tonks/Slade partnership. Sharrock and Thomas were working the wings hard and some determined work down the left resulted in a nod down from Sharrock which was heading goal-wards only to be denied by the Oasis defender. The Oasis lack of urgency to clear the threat was pounced upon by Thomas who finished with a screamer from a yard out for Northgate’s second.
Campbell was chasing down play all over the field, and Roberts was holding the ball up well. A Jones free kick was lofted forward into the danger area evading everyone and everything in its path except perhaps the slight aura of Slade as he got slightly near. The ball was in the back of the net and as the team rallied around Jones, Slade skipped off in celebration encouraging others to follow him.
Half time arrived as did corporate kit sponsor and hero Joe Bullen at right back. This pushed Scott further up on the right, switched Thomas to the left and Sharrock took up position between the sticks. No sooner had he arrived at the woodwork when he was called into action to face a penalty following a soft tackle from Slade. The Oasis striker hit the ball low to the keeper’s left with Sharrock diving down to meet it, and as if protectively holding on to his favourite beer, there was zero spillage!
Tonks and Slade continued to be unbeatable at the back with Sharrock distributing the ball well with both kick and throw. One long ball out to the right found Scott with room ahead of him; it seemed as if time had slowed down as he carried the ball forward but eventually the cross came in and tired legs meant there was no one to meet it. Another ball forward from Jones found the head of Slade who this time made sure, pirouetting on the spot and flicking the ball beyond the outstretched arms of the Oasis keeper.
As the match neared its end the football may not have been as pretty, but spurred on by the thought of texts they could send to their manager Clark, the team refused to give up, and though legs were tiring Northgate held their shape. One final push from Oasis in an attempt to save some sort of dignity forced a diving save low to his left from Sharrock who tipped wide. The final whistle sounded and the boys could only imagine Clark’s delight as he would soon read the score-line on his phone (…after placing his pom-poms to one side…).
Northgate’s next league outing is on the 7th April at Audacious! and with reports that Clark is taking a further week away, likely to consider his future at the club.
1. Ben Davenport (GK)
2. Steve Scott (RB)
3. Dave Tonks (CB)
4. Josh Slade (CB)
5. Mark Broomhall (LB)
6. Theo Thomas (RM)
7. Ben Jones (CDM) (c)
8. Rob Elkington (CDM)
9. James Sharrock (LM)
10. Lawrie Campbell (CAM)
11. Mark Roberts (ST)
12. Joe Bullen (RB)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Josh Slade