Worksop Town hosted Penistone Church yesterday in front of over 1,600 fans – a record attendance for a NCEL league game, which the Tigers edged 2-1. (Main photograph by Mike Holmes)
Craig Denton was first up with his take on the classic game which saw the Tigers now 9 points clear of Church. “It was an amazing day. It was great, in all honesty. That wonderful attendance you mentioned saw us beat a good Penistone Church side. To start off we had plenty of chances and we came in at half-time 2-0 up but we really should have come in at the interval 3-up. I thought we limited Penistone’s chances in the first-half. To reiterate, if we don’t concede we take the three points, as we said at half time.”
“We started a little bit sloppy. Penistone had a handful of chances but it was quite an even game in the second-half. They got their goal, which is what they deserved; they put us under a lot of pressure. We just had to ride it out to the end to collect the three points, which we did so we’re obviously delighted with that.”
You’re rewriting history. It’s now twelve League wins on the bounce. You’ve also got the record attendance for the Northern Counties Eastern League for a league game. If you go on to win the next few games the title will be yours.
“What we’ve got to do is make sure we prepare right again for Saturday’s game against a very competitive Staveley side, who we know have taken some great wins in recent weeks. I know that they lost the game against Maltby at the weekend but, up to that, they’ve got some late game winners and that makes it difficult for us.”
“Nothing’s won yet. We’ve still got some strong sides to play and I think we should take each game at a time. Saturday’s win means absolutely nothing at the moment but we do know it is for us to throw away.”
You had over 1,600 fans there. Do you think you’ll be able to eclipse that and target 2,000?
“That would be an aim. It would be phenomenal. I think 1600+ is amazing when our target was a thousand but on Saturday we absolutely smashed that. I think Penistone Church played a huge part in that. I thought the club advertised the game really well and the Penistone Church supporters came out and supported their local side, which was fantastic to have. We thought it helped having the international break. It would be amazing if we could get anywhere near those numbers in the remaining part of the season.”
4% of Worksop’s total population was inside Sandy Lane on Saturday. Those sorts of numbers and you’re talking EFL clubs so it’s amazing how much support you are getting at the club.
“It’s so valuable for us to have those supporter resources. Financially it’s great for us but, for the players, it’s much more than that. Having that twelfth man, those chants away, it really gets another 20% out of our players. What I’m obviously delighted about is that we pay them back with the games of football, which we have done this season.”
Whilst Church boss Ian Richards was reflective on the game. “Credit to Worksop in that they scored early. Two real class strikes then defended very well. It’s a results business – people call it the business end – and they got the result.”
“I’m extremely proud of our players’ performance. I’m extremely proud of the way they reacted to going 2-0 down early in front of a big crowd. I’m extremely proud of the football that we tried to play and the way they conducted themselves. I think, if people are being honest, we were the better team over the ninety minutes in terms of performance but it’s a hollow victory because it’s all about three points at this time and that puts them with one and a half hands on that title.”
“What we’ve got to do now is, we’ve got seven games left and we’ve got to try to win seven and see. Finish as high as we possibly can because these players deserve to do that and deserve to get that recognition of hopefully finishing top two.”
“In terms of the game, there were some excellent individual performances, also it was a good team performance. I don’t think not playing for three weeks helps us against a team that have been playing one or two games a week so had a huge momentum. I think it obviously doesn’t help that Craig Mitchell hit a 20-yard half-volley on the run, which stayed half a metre off the ground all the way in – hitting the back of the net. Then it doesn’t help that Matt Sykes has cut inside and hit one with movement that’s moved twice into the top corner from 25-30 yards on an angle. So that doesn’t help you!”
“But then we reacted and got a good grip on the game and created chances. We’ve got to go with what the linesman thought on the offside. Obviously [Andy] Ringy, with his huge experience, thinks he was level and the ball was played in front so therefore he can’t be offside, which, if he scored, that changes the complexion of the game. The ‘keeper’s made a brilliant save against Nathan [Keightley], who’s done again a great one-two with Sam [Scrivens]. Corners I thought all game were excellent. We attacked them well and they defended them well. We got into good areas.”
“The end product wasn’t as good first-half. Second-half we talked about playing higher, which we tried to do first half; playing higher and getting in front of their midfielders, pushing their defence back and we did it. Second-half towards the end was one-way traffic. You get the hit on the break and you get a couple of chances, which always with a good side you’re going to do that. The way we conducted ourselves and the way we played and the performance second-half was excellent. When we changed formation to go even higher up the pitch with four up front, we’ve played well. We did play that well. There were some real stand out individual performances and collectively with the performances we’ve been the better team and we’ve been the better over the last two games but Worksop have got the six points.”
“It’s about results. It’s about being effective and scoring goals and they’ve done that. That’s why they’re nine points clear and that’s why they’ve won twelve in a row. Huge credit to Worksop; I wish them all the best. We will keep fighting until it’s mathematically impossible. We will keep fighting to try and win this title. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the people from Penistone, who I thought were excellent watching the game. Again, we appreciate that round of applause and the ovation we got at the end. The players really appreciate it.”
“There was a lot of high emotion in the changing room after, I won’t lie: there were a couple of tears. There were a couple of people who had lumps in their throats because it means a lot to us. A number of us – seven or eight of us – are from Penistone. There are a number of us here who have been here five seasons plus; probably 75% of the squad. Those lads who have come in they’ve bought into everything about Penistone Football Club so it was an emotional changing room.”
“They’ve got nothing to be sad about in terms of their performance and their endeavour and their effort and their play. They’ve come in front of a huge crowd and not let that affect them. They didn’t deserve to lose but that’s football.”
“We’ve got a great opportunity to put it right on Wednesday at Albion Sports. I hope we have that same support from everybody. We’ll be going about it in the same manner and we’ll be hoping to get three points and bounce back.”