2013/14: Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division – Garforth Town v Thackley

If anyone was under any illusions about the task that faces Garforth Town in the coming season, then Saturday’s result against Thackley certainly focused the mind. Yes it was only the opening fixture of a forty four game league campaign, but it proved to be a real eye-opener for the players and coaching staff of The Miners.

Manager Graham Nicholas has to be applauded for getting together a team from ‘scratch’, but it will take time before the squad settles and gels as a unit, as more players sign-on and Nicholas is able to impart his vision for how he wants Garforth to play. In the case of the Thackley fixture, The Miners were up against a side used to the rigours of the Northern Counties East League and it showed. The opening twenty minutes of the game were pretty cagey as both teams tried to play passing football when in possession without really threatening or creating a scoring opportunity. However, the visitors started to dominate and Karl Martens had to react smartly to stop an effort from Thackley’s Chris Davey, before another Davey effort went wide shortly afterwards. The pressure from The Dennyboys finally paid dividends on thirty minutes and it was the dangerous Chris Davey who made the breakthrough, firing home after a Matt Morgan cross. The last fifteen minutes of the half were all about Thackley as Martens made excellent saves from Matt Morgan, Mike Garrod and Lewis Morgan, and efforts cleared off the line. The Miners were grateful to hear the half-time whistle and lucky that they weren’t two or three goals down at the break.

However, Garforth came out fighting in the second period and nearly scored immediately as Nick Black’s long-range shot hit the post. They were level though on forty six minutes when Josh Greenhalgh headed home from a free-kick and were the team in the ascendency. Lyle wasted a chance for Town when through on goal and Thackley were struggling to get back in the game. Their frustration showed when goal scorer Davey was booked for a crude late tackle which earned him a booking and the game became a little niggly as further yellow cards for Hall and Obeyami followed. Garforth were creating chances with Nick Allen bundling an effort against the post from a free-kick and Tawanda Rupere wasting a good opportunity. It looked all up for the visitors when they were reduced to nine men for the last fifteen minutes of the game. First Davey collected a second yellow for a lounging challenge on Stoher and was followed minutes later by Matt Morgan in an off-the-ball incident involving Tawanda Rupere. Garforth sensed blood but couldn’t make the numbers advantage count. With just three minutes left, Thackley broke and Josh Eastwood collected and turned before curling home a shot despite keeper Martens getting a hand to the ball. Garforth though continued to press and despite the addition of five minutes of time added on, were unable to take advantage of the chances that feel to Greenhalgh, Lyle and Moise Misambu. At the whistle Thackley celebrated what was an incredible win for nine men.

In summarising the game for Garforth from the side-lines it appeared that the players still need a great deal of direction from manager Graham Nicholas during the ninety minutes in terms of ‘who does what’ and where players should be positioned. At the moment the team seems to lack a leader as it is apparent that on the pitch they are a quiet side and also lack a bit of bite. That is not to say that The Miners should be going out intimidating sides and kicking lumps out of them, but teams need passion and the ability to make their presence felt. Garforth have showed in the pre-season and enough against Thackley that they want to play the game the right way through possession and passing football, but they need to add some steel to that to ensure that it is not another season of struggle.

2011/12: NCEL Premier Division – Selby Town v Thackley

If you were asked to name the location which was formerly a Viking settlement, was also the birthplace of Henry I, and is a market town home to an Abbey established in 1069, what would your answer be? Well, a point to you if you said Selby. The town may have a rich history, but in the present its football team is struggling.

Selby Town FC (nicknames ‘The Robins’) have had a season to forget and before the game today were bottom of the Baris NCEL Premier Division. Going into the game, Town’s league record was played 29, won 3, drawn 3, lost 23, with a total of just 12 points. Therefore it is probably no surprise to learn that The Robins have had three managers this season. Leon Sewell started the campaign in charge, but was sacked in September 2011. David Heard lasted under January 2012 before departing and now Graham Hodder is the man trying to bring about a miracle and save the season for Selby.

With nine league games remaining, of which only three are at home, The Robins knew that they had to win today to have any chance of avoiding relegation. Maltby Main were only two points ahead, and Lincoln Moorlands Railway with twenty points sat in the position above the bottom two. Thackley were the visitors to The Rigid Group Stadium, who were comfortable in the top half of the table, with an outside chance of breaking into the play-offs spots.

It was a bright and breezy day that welcomed the teams onto the pitch and a crowd of 67 was in attendance to see if Selby could spring a surprise. The opening ten minutes were pretty scrappy, with neither side able to maintain possession. Suitably unimpressed, Thackley manager Vince Brockie was soon handing out the ‘hairdryer’ treatment to his players, as his dulcet Scottish tones reverberated around the ground. To be fair it brought a response from his team and Thackley gained the upper hand and began to win a number of free-kicks in and around the Selby Town penalty area. A couple resulted in half chances although neither tested Daniel Graves in the Selby goal. On 34 minutes the momentum firmly swung in favour of Thackley when they took the lead through Kris Hargreaves. Opinion around me in the crowd was divided as to whether this was an attempt on target or a cross that went in. Regardless, the visitors were in front. Thackley continued to dominate and their lead was doubled on 41 minutes, when Keenan Ratcliffe got behind the Selby defence and skipper Mark Bett headed comfortably home. So 2-0 at the break to The Dennyboys and no doubt a few choice words from the manager.

Thackley started the second half positively and had chances to increase their lead, before Bett’s got his second goal on 50 minutes. From a corner, Selby failed to clear and the ball fell to the Thackley captain who neatly finished to take the score to 3-0. The goal failed to spark a response from the home team, who despite enthusiasm and endeavour didn’t create a decent chance throughout the ninety minutes. Both sides brought on substitutes to try and inject some urgency to proceedings, but all it did was disrupt what flow there had been. Keenan Ratcliffe was a constant threat from fullback for Thackley, but often his good work getting forward come to nothing. Still there was one last goal to come for the visitors, when with two minutes remaining, Delroy White headed to seal a 4-0 win.

Thackley undoubtedly deserved to win, in a game which they dominated without looking like they were going to overwhelm Selby. Of their last eight fixtures, The Dennyboys have five against teams above them, so could if results go their way, get in the play-offs. They will though have to play better than the performance today. For Selby, the trapdoor is well and truly beckoning and the prospect of relegation an unfortunate reality.