A stunning crowd of 367 gathered at the Oldest Football Ground in the World yesterday to watch a fine Toolstation NCEL Division One clash between Hallam and AFC Emley – and when all was done and dusted, the Countrymen had moved level on points with third-placed Grimsby Borough after a come-from-behind 3-1 win in a game which provided further evidence that the Pewits fifteenth-place is a poor reflection of their abilities; the game was watched by TBG’s Colin Muncie.
With an early kick-off FA Cup snooze-fest at Hillsborough allowing Owls fans a double football fix, and the usual passionate following from Kirklees making the trip to South Yorkshire, the crowd saw Emley hit the front after the diminutive – but lightening quick – Arnold Ndiwene cut in on his left foot to draw a super flying save from home keeper Archie Sneath. From the resulting corner, a left-wing cross was headed home at the far post by Daniel Naidole just before the half hour, to delight visiting caretaker bosses Darren Hepworth and Marlon Adams. A long-distance screamer almost doubled the visitors lead, leaving the cross bar bouncing for half an hour, but the game turned on a wild couple of minutes before the break; first, Keiran Watson ignored claims for a foul on the Emley defender to expertly round the keeper and level in the 44th minute; then Emley’s Greg Porter was given a second yellow after a lunge on Scott Booth, who needed a fair bit of treatment before continuing. Both incidents led to a fair degree of apoplexy in the away dugout, but the half ended level at 1-1.
With the returning Jake Currie deployed in midfield behind the Hallam front three, the home side hit the front thanks to Sam Smith’s header four minutes after the interval, and Watson just about clinched the points with a close-range third on the hour mark. The visitors never gave up as they fought to get back into the game, but the whistle blew to give the home side the best possible start to the year and leave Treasurer Sharon Fudge wondering where to put the gate receipts.
Joint Manager, Scott Bates told TBG that the win had been every bit as difficult as he had expected. “To be fair, and in my honest opinion, the sending off changed the game,” he acknowledged. “We did really well to capitalise on the extra man and to score so early in the second half, which I thought knocked the stuffing out of them. Emley was definitely a hard team to beat, so I’m really pleased with the outcome.”
Joint Manager, Stephen Whitehead was pleased to get back on the winning trail after last weekend’s narrow loss at Nostell. “Great to bounce back,” he told us. “We took our time to get into the game again, but we stayed in it. We knew it was going to be hard with Daz (Hepworth) coming in and giving them the boost, a management switch can, and they started really well – but we dealt with it and got the bounce-back performance all good sides have in them.”
“On to the next one – and let’s see what next week brings.”
Assistant Manager, Dean Bamforth noted the change in mentality at Hallam these days, and paid tribute to the brilliant army of volunteers at Sandygate. “It was a great start by Emley who will massively improve now,” Dean admitted. “I thought the red was correct but it can sometimes work against you; but in the second-half we controlled the game and should’ve been out of sight really.”
“I’ve seen Hallam sides who wouldn’t have come through today against a highly motivated and physical side – but this lot are different,” Dean warned. “We will no longer get our bellies tickled, and long may it continue.”
“The crowd here today again proves that the club is doing things superbly too. Well done all.”