Sunday, 7 March 2010

Prescottt's Fables.


Baker had a word in Friday's Courier that a score was to be settled today, and it was. Home truths from last Saturday have woken the Shaymen up to not get complacent and tighten up a little. With two relatively easy home games this week we seem to have grasped the formula, and an 8–0 aggregate should seem acceptable to all Town fans.

Our second opportunity to respond was against Prescot Cables, the most idiosyncratic team I have ever known, merrily rocking back and forth in their own little world in mid-table glee.

Now, Prescot and Town have a history. A history that goes back two games, but still quite some history! Prescot showed us that even a team like FC Halifax Town under Aspin reign is not infallible to Unibond league teams, and the second 1–0 defeat after the one to Wrexham in the cup came as a great frustration. The ball pattered to and fro in the 90 minutes of gameplay including 15 or so minutes of stop-game nonsense here and there between. The post-game trauma lived on in the minds of Shaymen up until this date.

After half an hour of today's match, it seemed to be more of the same. Prescot were hard to break down and not the most gallant effort was made. Me sitting in the Skircoat seems to lead to the worst in some ways though, for the stand is dotted with beacons of infinite grump. A guy behind us was moaning at Marshall (because y'know, if you don't score in a little while that makes you destitute and totally unfit for the squad). Another middle aged man turned round from in front and glared at us for actually making a bit of noise, whispered to his spouse who turned around and gave the most awkwardly long stare. Crazy, crazy people!

The first half seemed to be more of the same from November really, just not as horribly macabre. Barely a shot, except there was a little control over the game though the ball wouldn't bounce in ways as unpredictable as a rugby ball, unlike at the previous away fixture. The single, and really really massive thrill of the half was Winter's strike of the season, as he immediately hit a ball headed out of the box at screaming speed past their goalkeeper, who couldn't attempt to stop it, though he did try. Bless. And a hit so perfect would be worth 45 minutes of boredom any time.

So it was a lead that brought us into half-time, if a lead hanging on a thread that could be cut by a lucky break from them Cables. The team's second half performance was glowing and eager. Topping-off goals were inevitable. One was a fart in from Marshall as he was perfectly laid on and beat the goalie while dribbling. The second was a Lowe goal after Dean's was deflected. Domination continued again, and Cables even shared a few attacks towards the end, but nothing that we couldn't push back out. The biggest plus to take home from this game at a playing perspective was the improvement of the defending unit. Riley and Payne were accomplished in headers and made very few mistakes, Aaron Hardy also making sure their attack had no say on things.

So that tells the story on the goal-scoring side. The rest of the goings-on made for some proper, proper northern football.

The first thing to be said is that we had yet another Unibond-standard referee. We can be happy that this one had no bias, but his bumbling incompetence redeemed that. With a very stupid accidental Winter foul going in early on in the game he surprisingly gave the free-kick to us and saved him from the book. His unperceptive display was kept up for the whole ninety however, and the best of games was prevented from his stop-start means of carrying the match forward.

His big moment of the match came halfway into the second period. Tom Baker and Prescot captain Rob McIntosh went in sliding for the same ball, and McIntosh came out far worse, with him lying on the pitch for five minutes as Alan Russel Cox's lot took him off. The referee immediately gave a much-debatable red card. Many adjudged it to be a 50–50 and a fair challenge, others worthy of a straight red. Baker has had a history of rising out of such challenges and his small stature has made many referees lead themselves to thinking he has been fouling. Nevertheless, he received a rapturous applause as he came off, had played a fine game and to all so many including myself, the red only came from how badly the Cables cap'n came out of the foul. No malice from the Doctor at all. A laddy Tom Baker.

Either way, it didn't really matter. We took the disadvantage as a wake-up to use the space of the pitch and continued to outperform the Tigers. They had no chance of getting back into the game before their number three was sent off after exhausting the referee's warnings with all too aggressive play. Get an ovation he didn't, and we were so enthusiastic to give him a bye-bye that we almost missed a near-goal experience from Deano!

The opposition players continued to drop like unarmed soldiers in no man's land for every tackle possible. In fact, the chiding for McIntosh's fall was in no doubt brought on by him being yet another recumbent player. At best this was down to an unfit Prescot who hadn't made the most out of their training and couldn't stay on their feet for a full game, but I suspect they were trying to attract the inept referee's attention by collapsing on the floor over and over again.

Their keeper was up to his usual jokes again. The kind of jokes that make Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans seem funny. He'd whimsically jog to the other side of the box and spin the ball about in his gloves at a goal kick, and it took him to throwing a ball that landed on the top of the net into the vacant North Stand for the referee to react and run over to tell him to get his act together.

Looking back on November too he was already complete pratt, and no Shayman is wondering why he was given the marching orders this last Tuesday night. Ball goes out, it takes a little while for the rat-faced louts behind the Prescot goal to give it back to the keeper, and they then throw a few more on after the next is kicked out so the game is stopped. Another ball goes out; the Prescot coaches pretend they haven't any left! The keeper then shared the success in his special little plan to your board members that evening. A strange mammal who yet again took the flak he received as a personal achievement.

The rest of their eleven showed determination not to be caught out actually playing a game of football too. Beyond falling about everywhere their football was absolutely cynical. Oh wait, they didn't actually attempt to play football! The FC in Prescot Cables FC could stand for all sorts of nasty little things, but "Football Club" cannot be one of them. Though we weren't the cleanest we've been, that sort of display was far from one-way traffic. To cap it all, they had the acting talent of freshers from Pineapple Dance Studios.

So how could I sum up a wonderful afternoon? Poetic justice; November's performance redeemed. The tubby behind the net was made to hurry up. Their fans hadn't a cup final win to cheer about. Their players weren't allowed to run wild and free, though whether they wanted to play football or not was up to them. They declined. In front of a decent crowd (1322) the Shaymen sounded the gong of a resolute win, a second, earnt clean sheet, and hopefully a wave goodbye to a grotty team, and a fixture fans from both sides will be glad to never have to see again.

Entertaining stuff and fine play, my points going to Winter, Riley and Phelan without underestimating the rest of the side. The unlikeliest of Lancaster losses (1-3 away at Harrogate) and further point drops from Skem and Curzon have freed us a few more rungs and this week will doubtless come to be one of the most tremendous of the season.

[Better quality game coverage can be viewed on the Shayman Player, which is now giving away free 14-day trials giving match highlights and interviews, as well as access to over eighty other clubs with a similar service. Get it before it's too late.]


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