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Expert analysis from both camps as Hemsworth defeated by Irlam

The annals of history are filled with brave and fearless women who changed the world. Women like Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart and Emmeline Pankhurst. Today, the Bootiful Game would like to add another name to that proud list – that of our own writer and transcribing expert, Ellie Dalglish.

Ellie’s place in history was cemented yesterday when she threw caution to the wind and boarded the Hemsworth Miners Welfare team bus headed for Well’s FA Vase Second Round tie with Irlam FC in Greater Manchester yesterday afternoon. As you’ll see, Ellie not only survived the experience – she lived to tell an excellent tale of events on a disappointing afternoon for everyone at the Yorkshire NuBuilds.

Hemsworth MW Manager Wayne Benn.

Irlam started brightly. Wells found their feet, began to settle and got a lovely worked goal from the left wing on 24 minutes. It was a nicely worked team goal: a bit of sparkle from Brad Dockerty got the ball to Jason Yates, who laid it nicely at the feet of Nash Connolly to strike into the net, writes Ellie Dalglish.

The second half was barely under way when Irlam pulled a goal back, thanks to Connor Martin (51 minutes). Four minutes later (55 minutes), Conor Braithwaite pounced on a ball missed by our keeper and slotted in – a rare goal for the centre half.
Handbags at dawn ensued on the right wing following a poor tackle by Harry Viggars. The Irlam lad kicked out at Harry as he lay on the floor and Harry reacted likewise. It marred what had been a very well-disciplined game of football, particularly as both teams surrounded the players, although luckily it was a slanging match with no real aggression, and totally out of keeping with the tone of the game.

Irlam’s second goalscorer Conor Braithwaite. Credit: Ellie Dalglish.

Irlam’s score line was flattered somewhat by a dreadful mix up on that left side again. A back pass to the keeper went way past him and Irlam had two strikers on hand to slot the ball home into a wide open net. Liam Pollitt was the closest and couldn’t have believed his luck when he scored in the 90th minute.

After the game, I caught up with both Managers, and asked Hemsworth Manager, Wayne Benn for his reaction. “I’m frustrated really,” Wayne admitted. “I thought we were terrific in the first half in difficult conditions – a bumpy pitch, very windy. The squad is very threadbare with injuries and stuff. We’ve had to bring a keeper in and a centre half as well, which is never ideal. We went in front a little bit against the run of play, I think, but then we had a really good spell for twenty-five minutes at the end of the half. I can’t remember our keeper having a save to make in the first half, other than a few long throws and a few set pieces.”

Wayne Benn ponders…

“The message at half time was just to continue doing what we had done,” Wayne added. “We were closing down really well and pressing the ball. We weren’t at our best with the ball but we looked solid and we looked organised. Then the game turned on its head within a five-minute period. We had a great chance to make it 2-0 with Jase Yates, which ended up getting cleared off the line and, within a minute of that, we were 1-1 and then, a few minutes after that, it’s 2-1. Both goals were down to poor defensive marking.”

Credit: Andy Vigars.

Wayne admitted that Irlam were a different proposition after the break. “Their tails were up. They worked a bit harder in the second half; they wanted it a bit more,” he admitted. “On the flip side, I don’t think they had a shot for my keeper to save in the first half but, in the second half, we didn’t have a shot that their keeper had to save.”

“It’s disappointing in such a high-profile game to just let the game fizzle out the way it did,” a frustrated Wayne told TBG. ”The third goal was a disgrace, if I’m perfectly honest. It was just really, really poor. Communication was poor and we’re just making too many individual errors and we’re getting punished. We weren’t great today.”

Asked if fitness was a problem right now, Wayne nodded. “That’s probably a fair comment in terms of Jack Ripley, Jack Wakefield and Sam Jones. They all need game time and all are not 100% match fit but we have no excuse for everybody else. Eddie, maybe, I think he’s been a little bit in and out at Pickering but I do take that point and I think, yes, we need to have a look at that and we’ll certainly be training bloody hard this week!”

“I don’t think it’s necessarily just about fitness,” he explained, “it’s about knowhow and it’s about sticking to our beliefs. It’s about playing the way we want the lads to play. The last two games in the second half where we’ve been really good. At Brid, first half ended up being 1-0 down, compared to the second half where we just never got going and were poor.”

Wayne was happy with Wells’ first half showing, “Today, was a pretty good first half,” he told us. “We battled well, worked hard, pressed well – and then it’s difficult to explain the second half, to be honest. We have to give Irlam some credit. They were a decent side and I thought their front three were a handful, quite quick and they caused us problems all game really.”

Wayne went on, “it’s about mentality, I think it’s about desire and I think it’s about passion sometimes. In the last two games we’ve lacked that, certainly in the second half. Sometimes it’s about, when the chips are down and you’re not on top, you’ve got to fight, you’ve got to scrap and you’ve got to get through periods but, ultimately, we just concede too many poor goals. Defensively we’ve not been good enough and, at the other end, we’re not scoring enough goals. When that happens, you’re not winning games.”

Wayne had no complaints with the red card – or the officiating. “I’ve just said to Harry (Viggars) in there, if he hadn’t kicked out at the lad that kicked him, I don’t think he would have got sent off,” he confided. “It wasn’t a good tackle but, without a shadow of a doubt, I think the tackle would have got a yellow card, And the kid, whilst he was on the floor, boots him and, in my opinion, 100% a red card, but then Harry reacts and kicks him and you just can’t do that. If he’d have kept his discipline, I think he’d have probably got a yellow card and the other boy would have got a red.”

“It’s not affected the game, as the referee’s been pretty good, if I’m honest. I don’t see anywhere where the referee’s influenced the game in any way. It’s frustrating because so much was said in the dressing room about making sure that we performed and had a happy bus going home. The fans have turned out in numbers again and yet again they’ve flattered to deceive.”

“I feel like its Groundhog Day because I’m saying the same things in the media every week, and in the changing room every week. Ultimately the buck stops with me but they’ve got to defend better. If the defenders can’t defend better then I’m going to have to find new defenders. If the strikers that we’ve got can’t score goals, then we’ll have to go and find new strikers that can score goals.”

Benn looking on during a recent game. Credit: Ken Allesbrook.

“The lads are good enough but, they’re just lacking a little bit of belief at the minute, for whatever reason. Only they can get us out of it despite our horrendous injury list. We can complain about it all day but it doesn’t change anything, the eleven that started this game today were good enough to win the game. We’ve brought a couple of lads in who’ve gone in and they’ve done fine: no problems whatsoever. I can’t have a pop at the keeper who’s travelled 80 miles to come in and help us out.”

Wayne is keen for his players to recapture a bit of their swagger, but accepts that the absentees aren’t helping his cause. ”You can lose confidence” he admitted. “You look around the dressing room and you’ve got five, six, seven players missing and that can eat away at you. But we haven’t got time to sulk or feel sorry for ourselves. We’re right in the midst of probably eight to ten teams who can win promotion this year. We have fallen down the league primarily because we haven’t played one league game in four weeks due to Cup matches and not having a game on 20 October, so, we shouldn’t lose confidence about falling a few places down the league when we have only played once in four weeks. What we need to do is to make sure these games in hand get us back some points and get ourselves back in contention. We can do one point off the top of the league if we win the games in hand and that’s how we should be thinking.”

Wayne continued, “I’ll say it again… on the day these lads are capable of being right in the mix, they are producing some of the best football in the division. We’ve got weaknesses, we’ve got failings and we need to work hard on that and we need to stop conceding as many goals as we have, then we can be a bit more productive in front of goal. It will come and I have real belief in these lads. We will continue to try and improve the squad and we will eventually get the injured players back, which will help us. Financially we’re not the best paying club in the world but we’ll keep working hard. We’ve just got to get through what’s a little bit of a sticky period and the best way to do that it to try and win the game against Athersley next Saturday.”

“Hopefully one or two of the wounded might be back available for next week,” Wayne told us. “We’re obviously looking to try and strengthen as well. We need to bring in a keeper, which we will, and we’re always constantly looking to try and improve the squad. If there are players out there who we feel can do that, then we’ll do it.”

Irlam boss Michael Dodds.

I also caught up with Irlam Manager, Michael Dodd and asked him for his take on his side’s win. “I’m delighted to go through,” Michael told us. “It didn’t look like it was going to happen for large periods. I think we started the game quite well but then Hemsworth took over the first half and started to move the ball around. We were under the cosh a little bit and when we went 1-0 down, probably deservedly so, we felt there was a lack of energy on the pitch.”

“We spoke about this lack of energy and intensity at half time,” Michael admitted. “We wanted to put more pressure on the Hemsworth players and we did that straight away from the start of the second half. We got a goal, which always helps! That buzzed the lads up and we quickly got a second goal.”

“From then on, we rarely looked in trouble even against a very good side,” was Michael’s assessment. ”The two forwards at Hemsworth are very good – the two wingers were very good as well – so we were certainly up against it but we started to defend really well as a side. Certainly, the goal at the end was a bit of a breakaway goal, which makes the result sound a little bit nicer, but we’ve come up against a very good side today and it’s a great result for our club to beat Hemsworth.”

I wondered if today’s win would impact on Irlam’s League form. They’re twelfth, having won four of their last eight games. Michael felt that success in the knock out competitions had had an effect. “I think our league form was affected a little bit early on by how well we did in the FA Cup and the FA Vase,” he agreed.

“By doing so well in those competitions it’s been hard to then do the same in the League. We are now unbeaten in five in the League coming into this game and we’ve picked up again. We look a really good side again. We were missing a few players for a couple of weeks when we lost three or four on the bounce but we’ve put a stop to that. We’ve had some really good results recently and we were in great form coming into this game, with what is probably the strongest squad we’ve had together all season.”

“We’ve come through the game unscathed today so we really are now looking to push on,” Michael told TBG. “We only have the League and the FA Vase so we have no real excuses and we have not got loads of distractions.”

Michael agreed that it had been a good day for his side. “I can’t remember the last time the club got this far in the FA Vase as we go into the Third Round proper now,” he beamed. “They may have done previously but I can’t remember it in the last few years. The lads have done really well resulting in a great energy around the club at the moment. They are a young group that have done well to have beaten the more experienced Hemsworth side today. The lads have shown great character to win the game.”

“And on we go now!”

The Bootiful Game would like to thank Wayne Benn and everyone at Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC and Michael Dodd and all at Irlam FC for their excellent contributions to Ellie’s piece.

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