With six games left to play in their Toolstation NCEL Premier Division season, Worksop Town took a massive step towards the title yesterday with a 2-1 home win in a titanic clash with nearest challengers Penistone Church at Sandy Lane, opening up a nine-point lead over Ian Richards’ team having played a game more. An unbelievable – and record – NCEL crowd of 1628 took in a crucial win for Craig Denton’s Tigers, one of whom was Worksop’s former Head of Media operations, Nottingham Forest fanatic, dog lover and Bootiful Podcast host, our good friend Jake Brown, who offered (well, sort of) to summarise yesterday’s action for TBG. We hope you enjoy Jake’s piece as much as we do… (Main photograph by Lewis Pickersgill)
The last afternoon I spent at Sandy Lane back in November left me with a feeling of ‘same old, same old’ as the team huffed and puffed but were ultimately beaten by a Hemsworth side much better on the day, writes Jake Brown for the Bootiful Game.
That seemed to be the catalyst for a side that have grown in both character and belief ever since, culminating with a win yesterday that may well seal the Tigers’ place in the Evo-Stik league once again.
As I took my seat amongst a packed out Main Stand I watched Craig Denton saunter across the pitch to watch the lads’ warm-up in what would be their most important game for five years.
The opening exchanges were as tense as could be expected with the visitors forcing early set-pieces, it was the home side though that took advantage of the nerves from both sides.
Matt Sykes got the home fans purring with some neat turns and passes, Craig Mitchell then found himself with a great opportunity inside the box and duly smashed home a half-volley after just six minutes, the celebration from the big striker seemed to get more intense as the enormity of the goal sunk in around him.
Denton’s percentage football was paying off once again, his mix of ball winners, battlers and magicians must be applauded having been assembled over one short summer. Sykes was again the stand out, drawing applause and admiring noises through the stadium, on the fifteenth minute mark he danced forward and unleashed a shot with the outside of his boot from 25 yards which flew in the top corner. The forward will be more than capable a league above and Worksop will hope there aren’t too many admiring glances his way in the coming months.
Tactically I couldn’t help but think if the Tigers were to hit Mitchell’s feet up top and play off him, they’d have even more success with the movement of Penistone’s centre halves a clear weakness.
Ian Richards side should probably have gone in at half-time with at least the one goal; Worksop were caught up field and Sam Scrivens was one on one with Reay, he opted to square it to Andrew Ring for a tap in but the veteran was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out – cue sarcastic jeers.
The whistle then blew for half-time with the Tigers two up; the players will have played this game in their heads all week long and it was the home side that could be happier with how it was going.
Into the second-half and Denton’s sides mentality may have been clear; one of the under 7 players in the stand kicked the ball back into play away from taker Lee Hill who was in no rush as he remarked ‘that’ll do’.
It was a solid defensive display full of character in the second half with Penistone failing to find a telling way through a determined back line. Andrew Ring did pull a late goal back to add panic to the game as he tapped in from close range with ten minutes remaining.
The importance of this and the remaining fixtures was epitomised when Steve McDonnell was seemingly trampled over after a challenge on the half way line, the striker was visibly angry with the offence and it took a number of Tigers players to get around him and urge McDonnell not to lose his head and calm down, something which spoke volumes for the characters in this team.
Despite the obvious tension at the end for once it didn’t feel like an equaliser might be coming, Steve Woolley spent a good five minutes teasing, coming inside for a shot, then taking the wiser option by coming back out to the by-line to waste more time.
Full-time drew applause for both sides, a good battle which unfortunately spilled outside the ground between both sets of fans.
Worksop will be delighted with the position they now find themselves in, after-all, a year ago they were breaking records for the amount of losses in a row. Time, it seems, is a great healer.