Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shuffling The Pack

Sheffield FC 2 Arnold Town 1

On Tuesday night, Sheffield FC progressed to the Second Round of the President’s Cup thanks to a super goal in the 62 minute by Matt Roney. His near-name sake, Wayne Rooney would have been proud of this 30 yard effort which trumped into the back of the net.

It was, therefore, a big surprise when Roney was substituted, for tactical reasons in the 75th minute. Perhaps it was done on the grounds that a lighting strike was unlikely to occur again in the same net on the same night.

As on Saturday in the League game against Mickleover Sports, Sheffield FC were the better team in the first half, then they faded before eventually running out 2-1 winners.

Sheffield only had a single goal and a narrow lead to mark their first half superiority, which happened when Lee Broster diving to save a shot failed to hold onto it and Jon Pickess nipped in to put the rebound into the net.

Sheffield’s Chris White was the outstanding player on the pitch. From the left wing he sent a steam of enticing centres across, especially when his team dominated in the first half.

It was, therefore strange to hear the Sheffield players behind him giving him a alternative stream of instructions as he went into action, just as is he were a novice. Perhaps he was quick witted enough to act on these instantaneously, although I suspect it was water off a ducks back. Just like the stream of instructions coming from Arnold coach to “hold the line”.

After Roney’s effort, we nearly had another miracle goal when Rob Ward, Sheffield’s striker had his back to goal and took the ball on his instep at knee height whilst pirouetting to place the ball just over the bar. Yet there is no-one who look less like a ballet dancer.

But then Ward and the two goal scorers were all substituted in a small spell. Yet 15 minutes remained and there was still a real possibility of extra time being played. Sheffield had no substitutes left on the bench. The same happened at Saturday’s League game so that when Paul Smith was injured, Sheffield played 20 Minutes with ten men. Luckily for Sheffield the match did not go to extra time and penalties, as Peter Smith one of their substitutes ( and one of three Smith’s on the books) went on to miss from the spot shortly after he came on.

The reasoning for these moves can been discerned from the Manager notes in the official programme. Dave McCarthy points out that he needs a big squad of players to cover the season, yet he has lost three players to Belper FC in the past week as he could not find places for these on the team sheet.

In the first two games of the season, he has used up all his substitutes, seemingly to give as many players as he can a game. This means that he has played 19 players; although two changes have resulted from inquiries.

Furthermore, McCarthy is no friend of the President’s Cup. This trophy involves teams from the Premiership and First Division of the Northern Counties East League. He feels that the competition “should be scrapped” or played pre-season or restricted to the 8 bottom teams in both divisions, whose lack of success may mean they have less games to play over the season.

The lack of enthusiasm for the President’s Cup seems to be shared by the spectators. The crowd dropped from 160 on Saturday to what seemed to be just over 100. Yet the club plays in Dronfield which has a population of over 23,000 and it has a set 6 teams, plus admirable charity and network activities. So its potential support is considerable.

A successful fight for promotion this season, plus publicity around its coming 150th anniversary as the oldest club in football, could tap into its potential support. The only problem is that it will lead to an awful crush at the club’s pub bar once the final whistle blows - and I have to dash there with my walking stick!

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