Saturday 12th December 2009

Sherburn White Rose 2 Beeston St Anthony 1
West Yorkshire League Premier Division
At: Recreation Ground, Finkle Hill
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: £1 raffle; Programme: none
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry, sunny during first half
Duration: first half: 46:12; second half: 49:14

A pre-Christmas trip to relatives in Yorkshire provided an opportunity to dip my toe into the Step 7 West Yorkshire League Premier Division. At just six miles from our destination, the top of the table clash between third-placed Sherburn White Rose and leaders Beeston St Anthony was an ideal way to start a new league.

I’m a big fan of websites and have been for well over 10years. As someone who used to edit a club website, I was mightily impressed with Sherburn’s site with news from a host of team the club runs – first team, second team, third team, over-35s, under-18s and juniors. It was the photo of the ground on the home page that ultimately persuaded me that Finkle Hill was the place to head to.

The site provided a club history, most useful to get to know the club. Sherburn White Rose reformed in 1960 and been members of the West Yorkshire League for 50 years. In 2003, they benefited from a substantial grant from the Football Foundation and used the funds to build a brand new clubhouse, encompassing a bar, function room, kitchen and four modern changing rooms. West Yorkshire League Premier Division status was regained in 2006 and a year later Sherburn began to field three Saturday teams for the first time.

The Finkel Hill Recreation Ground proved easy the find. I approached the village from the west on the B1222 to the lights in the centre by The Swan and Red Bear pubs. I took the Tadcaster road uphill and the ground was 300 yards on the right, past the Co-op and just before the national speed limit signs.

The pitch (orientated west–east) ran lengthways behind the clubhouse and slightly sloped from right to left. It was railed off down each touchline and behind the far goal with dugouts positioned either side of halfway down the left-hand touchline. There was no hardstanding around the pitch, apart from an elevated area in front of the clubhouse and changing rooms. The ground boasted five floodlight posts which I guess were only used for training. As well as football, the Recreation Ground also caters for bowls and tennis as well.

A second pitch, a couple of hundred yards to the north, and next to the bypass, was used by Sherburn’s third team for their home Selby League game against Ferrybridge.

Sherburn (in third with 23 points from 13 games) were looked to bounce back to winning ways after their six-match unbeaten run in their league came to an end at Otley Town last Saturday. They lost 2-1 and had two players dismissed.

Leaders Beeston (32 points from 14 games) were also on a good run of form of eight league games without defeat since they lost 5-1 at Field in mid-September.

Nick Peacock, the home manager, was most obliging in providing the Sherburn line-up and the referee kindly let me note down the numbers of the visitors. It certainly helped that the West Yorkshire League full-time website included squad lists and recent line-ups for both sides as no programme was issued today.

There was no official admission charge or programme, though everyone including the players appeared to participate in the raffle.

“Change over,” announced referee Emma Hock and, after Beeston were encouraged to “set the tempo early”, it was the visitors (wearing green and black stripes, black shorts and green socks) who got the game underway defending the changing rooms end in the first half.

Sherburn (wearing all yellow) almost took an early lead. Adam Priestley intercepted a weak backpass header before flicking the ball over the advancing keeper and just wide of the unguarded net.

Raffle tickets came round – £1 per strip – but with my luck there was no change of my pink strip 161–165 being drawn out… and I was right.

Play was mostly in midfield with few chances created. Just before the quarter hour mark, Priestley played the ball into the path of James Middleton though the brave Beeston keeper Karl Codd left his line to dive at the feet of the attacker.

Beeston midfielder John Ward tried his luck from the edge of the edge of the area with an angled left-foot shot which missed the far corner of the net. It was certainly “worth a go”.

Around the half-hour mark, Adam Sadler got the chance to shoot 30 yards out and his right foot drive flashed past the left-hand post. Sherburn appealed, unsuccessfully, for a penalty when David Haley went down inside the area under Sean Jeavons’ challenge.

The visitors seemed happy with the way things had gone in the goalless opening half hour. “We are getting there, just stay patient,” was the view of Lee McGuire. They continued to create the better chances and a cross-cum-shot from Matthew Bennett out on the right landed on the roof of the net. Simon Hudson got across well to hold a deflected 30-yard drive hit by Ryan Boden.

However, Sherburn went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 40th minute. Middleton whipped in a right-wing cross for unmarked Priestley to head against the base of the near post. Soon at the other end, the diving Hudson held John Ward’s deflected shot which was heading for the bottom-right corner of the net. “We need to drive on,” shoute done encouraged Beeston player.

Referee Hock brandished a yellow card towards Ward in the 45th minute for colourful language directed towards an assistant. The Beeston midfielder felt he should have been given a free-kick.

I’d read a previous review of a visit to Sherburn which mentioned a tea bar and, thankfully, on a cold afternoon it was up and running again from a hatch next to the clubhouse entrance.

Into the second half and Sherburn, now attacking the far end, took the lead just over five minutes after the resumption. Middleton on the right fed Priestley inside the area and the striker fired across goal into the opposite bottom-left corner of the net (see photo immediately below).

It got even better for the home side in the 54th minute when leading scorer Priestley struck a second goal. He broke down the left and sent a curling shot into the far right corner of the net. The visitors responding with a substitution two minutes later as the more attacking Lee Turnbull replaced Baggaley which resulted in a reshuffle at the back.

Playing with a sense of urgency, Besston set about reducing the deficit and put the home side under pressure. Turnbull fired across the face of goal.

In the 72nd minute, Paul McMullen delivered a deep cross from the left which was headed back towards goal by John Wardropper (aka ‘Bomber’) and cleared by Danny Graham. Sherburn quickly broke and Priestley fired into the sidenetting.

The visitors remained confident that “it’ll come” and they had a penalty appeal turned down for a challenge on Jason Bradley. Beeston piled on the pressure and Hudson did well to hold onto a low 25-yard drive from Ward.

Beeston eventually reduced the deficit in the 84th minute from soft free-kick to set up an exciting finale. There was “no need for that” when Scott Williams fouled Ward 22-yard out in a central position. Sean Jeavons stepped up to curl the ball over a six-man wall and into the net via the underside of the bar. Keeper Hudson picked up a cut in the meleĆ© that followed in front of the Sherburn goal.

It was certainly heated and referee Hock needed to work hard to keep things under control with Sherburn defending in numbers. Goalscorer Jeavons picked up a 90th minute booking for a foul of Hudson.

Raffle ticket sales continued in the clubhouse after the game with players encouraged to participate. But, alas, when the winning ticket was drawn, it was no surprise my losing raffle streak continued as ticket 216 bagged the prize.

Sherburn White Rose (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Simon Hudson, 2. Neil Dixon, 3. Danny Graham, 4. James Jollands, 5. Rob Foreman, 6. David Haley, 7. James Middleton, 8. Alex Booth (capt), 9. Adam Priestley, 10. Adam Sadler, 11. Scott Williams. Subs: Chris Thompson, Daryl Carter (both not used). Manager: Nick Peacock.

Beeston St Anthony (green and black stripes / black / green): 1. Karl Codd, 2. Mark Baggaley, 3. Ryan Boden, 4. Lee McGuire, 5. John Wardropper, 6. Ryan Thorpe (capt), 7. Matthew Bennett, 8. John Ward, 9. Sean Jeavons, 10. Jason Bradley, 11. Paul McMullen. Subs: 17. Lee Turnbull (for Baggaley, 56), Anthony Williamson (not used), Matthew Fannon (not used).

Referee: Emma Hock (Leeds).
Assistants: Jim Jones, Garreth Rhodes.

1-0 Adam Priestley (51)
2-0 Adam Priestley (54)
2-1 Sean Jeavons (84)