A Bleak Night For Ossett

I thoroughly expected Tuesday night down at Dimple Wells to be a good one for the town of Ossett as a whole. Albion were playing Radcliffe Borough, a team fifteen places below them in the league. Three points a certainty, I thought, and into the bargain Albion would be doing a huge favour to their beloved neighbours, Ossett Town, by defeating one of Town’s close rivals at the squeaky bum end of the table.

I was looking forward to some post match dancing and singing in the streets of good old Ossett well into the small hours of Wednesday morning. How wrong I was. I forgot about the way teams so often raise their game when faced with adversity and possible relegation. Just look at how Swansea beat Arsenal the following night, for instance. Radcliffe certainly fitted that profile well and deservedly won the match 2-0. Albion are out of the play-off places now and, it saddens me to say, I do not think they will claw their way back into the top five this season.

Their performance in the first half was abject. That might be a bit harsh, but for a team striving for promotion the supporters have maybe come to expect a little bit more composure, class and accuracy than the players offered up in that first 45. Radcliffe led 1-0 at the break with a goal after ten minutes from Banim. Things did improve in the second half, but only after Radcliffe had made it 2-0 on 48 minutes through a McMahon penalty. Albion then began pressing more, they kept possession better, found more accuracy in their passing and created several decent chances, whilst Radcliffe always remained a threat on the break.

Things might have turned out differently if Bordman had converted a penalty awarded mid-way into the second period. The Borough keeper saved well and the rebound was launched over the bar and so it ended 2-0 to the bad guys …. err … I mean Radcliffe Borough. Those three points took Borough six clear of Ossett Town, who have one match in hand as Town’s match away to Witton Albion was called off due to overpowering sunshine and heatwave conditions in Northwich. Ok, I made that bit up, it was waterlogged of course.

So there was no dancing, no singing, not even any highland-flinging in the streets of Ossett on Tuesday night but, then again, there’s always Saturday!

 

 

 

We’re Gonna Win The Cup – Ossett Town Brush Aside Darlington 1883

We’re Gonna Win The Cup! – Ossett Town’s run continues

Prior to Town’s “round of 16” match at home to Darlington 1883, Ossett tweeted that Darlington were sending a team to Ingfield for the match. That’s very gracious of them, I thought and I rather unhelpfully tweeted my suggestion that Town contact Darlington and ask them if they wouldn’t mind awfully sending their under 7’s. As it transpired, Darlington did field a youthful team with, I am led to believe, not too many, if any, first team regulars on the sheet. In fact none of the starting eleven from their last match were included in the team and I’m sure one of their substitutes had to put away his homework before coming off the bench in the second half.

Does all this mean that a team of Darlington’s stature is not taking the cup seriously? Well, possibly, but it also can be considered good practice to give young and less experienced players a chance to pit themselves against the first team of a side like Town who play in the league below. Also, a quick look at the Evo Stik Premier Division shows that Darlington are hot on the heels of front-runners, Blyth Spartans. They currently lie in third place, 11 points adrift of Blyth but have 4 games in hand. I think therein lies the answer as to why the Quakers played second string players and who can blame them. Not me.

In an entertaining match, Ossett Town played especially well as a team, building on the positive signs shown in their previous match at home to Radcliffe Borough and, this time, getting the win their play deserved. The highlight undoubtedly being Lyn’s 30 yard strike on 74 minutes which made it 3-0 and put the game out of the Quakers reach.

Although not in charge for this game, newly appointed manager, Grant Black, was in attendance and I would imagine he was pretty pleased with what he saw. I certainly was. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to see a home win. It was their first one since those heady glory days of early September 2015 when Town won 2-0 against Scarborough Athletic on a Tuesday night having also won at home the previous Saturday 1-0 against Trafford. Those two wins on the bounce representing the pinnacle of Town’s performance this season.. so far!

With new players on the way in, I would imagine many of the existing ones are looking over their shoulders and, if the last two matches are anything to go by, that’s not a bad thing at all. Many of the players are now stepping up to the plate and there is a noticeable desire which has not been present in recent times.

There was also an added bonus for Town this week when Harrogate Railway Athletic lost 4-0 at home to Spennymoor on the Monday night leaving them still two points adrift of Town but now with just the one match in hand.

Could the tide be turning?… as I said in my last post, time will tell.

Ossett Town show some spirit

I didnt have a good feeling on the morning prior to the Radcliffe Borough match. Eight league losses in a row doesnt really encourage good feelings and I admit to possessing an unhealthy burden of pessimism before the match. Ossett Town had just downsized their leadership team (ok, sacked the manager!) and were, in more ways than one, rudderless.

As I sat hunched over a pre-match lager in an Ossett pub and enjoying one of my favourite pastimes, watching Manchester United lose to a relegation candidate, I felt a sense of dread. No, it wasnt a dodgy bag of Nobbys Nuts. It was a definite feeling that Town would lose today and I couldnt see anything positive to focus on for the future.

Incidentally, its quite difficult to find a decent pub in Ossett to have a pre match drink. The Sam Smiths pub is cheap and there’s the added benefit of being called “sonny” and “young man” by the locals in spite of being well into my middle age, but its hardly the most comfortable place in town. The George is always shut or at least it appears to be and another central pub the name of which escapes me or more likely ive just tried very hard to forget, smells like its full of smelly socks. The Maypole is my preferred option due to the screening of sky sports matches as an hors d’oeuvres to the main event a few yards down the road at Ingfield.

Seeing Sunderland beat Manchester United set me thinking. If some no hopers languishing at the arse end of the league can defy the odds and win against a struggling Lancashire team, then surely Town can do the same. So with renewed hope and new found optimism I skipped down the road whistling “I will survive” clutching seven pound coins tightly in my hand. I actually set off a bit early thinking that I would allow time for the queue at the turnstile. Afterall, social media had been awash all week with tweets and pokes encouraging the townsfolk of Ossett to light their torches and brandish their pitchforks to support Town in their time of need and see off the evil Lancashire insurgents. I neednt have bothered. I could tell the turnout was poor by the fact the “golden goal” tub had at least 85 tickets left in it and they were announcing the crowd changes to the players over the tannoy.

The match itself was pretty exciting to be honest. Town started on the front foot but Brown squandered an early chance to take the lead. To a man, the players looked like they were trying to impress the new manager even though they didnt know who he was yet. Town were playing well and creating chances and definitely the better side. In recent games Town appeared disjointed and lacking coordination but this was different and I dont think it was just down to the quality of the opposition.

But, just when it was looking so promising, Town conceded a goal from a corner. Foster the scorer for Borough. Backhouse then saved well from another Radcliffe attack. Town had chances to level the scores, including a penalty appeal, but all to no avail.

The second half was more of the same. Both sides had chances before Assenso scored for Town from a corner in the 73rd minute. Shortly after coming on as a sub, Mangham went on a storming run down the flank and put in a great cross to Moore, but his header was saved by the Radcliffe keeper. A 1-1 draw was looking likely but then, towards the end of normal time, Radcliffe’s Lafferty was sent from the field following a head butt incident. Im not quite sure why the referee showed the yellow (Lafferty’s second) prior to the red rather than just a red card but, whatever the ins and outs, Radcliffe were down to ten men.

There was, however, to be a horrible sting in the tail to this game when, with seconds remaining, Radcliffe scored through Foster. I have to admit to not seeing this goal. Yes, I was still in the ground, but I was otherwise engaged when it happened. I was actually checking scores from other games on my phone. So, there you have it. A good performance from Town that deserved more than the null points they got. Something to work on perhaps? A silver lining?
That sense of hopeless dread I felt in the pub before the game had lessened just a little. With a new supremo at the helm perhaps Evo Stik safety in possible. Time will tell.

Judgement Day at Ingfields: A call to arms

Graham Nicholas’s first game in charge of Ossett Town was an away win at Goole in the Doodson Cup on 10th November. Exactly three months later his last game in charge was a humbling 5-0 defeat at Northwich Victoria, an eighth league defeat in a row for Town. The Board had seen enough and the ex Garforth boss was to be allowed no more time to turn Ossett Town’s miserable form around.

It is fair to say that the loss of some key players through injury and transfer has not helped matters and Nicholas who had said upon appointment that he wanted to put his own stamp on the way things are done at Ossett was hampered almost right from the start. The only visible progress was in the Doodson Cup. Im sure the Board, players and supporters would willingly have traded that progress for some league points. As it stands, Town stand on the precipice. In their last 4 games, they have shipped 18 goals and scored just once. Form appears to be getting worse and Saturday’s game at home against fellow strugglers Radcliffe Borough is Town’s most important game of the season so far.

John Francis, Town’s interim manager, has a real job on his hands but if he can motivate the players and harness the moment and if the Dunkirk spirit should prevail then Saturday may be the day Ossett Town start to turn things round and pull themselves away from the drop zone. It is to be hoped so, because a further defeat together with some tricky fixtures coming up spells trouble and a likely drop into the bottom two.

Radcliffe Borough have played three league games in January, losing two and picking up a point at home to Harrogate Railway last time out. Surprisingly, in a Manchester Premier Cup Q-F in mid-January they thrashed in-form EvoStik Premier Division side Ashton United 5-1 and last night in the semi-final of the same competition they took the lead at Conference North side Stalybridge Celtic before going down 3-1.

Whilst i would dearly like to see Ossett defy the odds and pick up all three points, the signs do not look good. The club is on a terrible run of form. Their manager has just been removed and things are in a state of flux. Confidence must be through the floor but there remains hope. So in good old Henry V manner, the supporters of Ossett Town can play a role. It’s Judgement Day and gentlemen of Ossett abed shall think themselves accursed they were not there and hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks that fought with us upon Judgement Day. In other words, let’s get behind the team and give them the best support possible on Saturday…. Apologies to the Bard!

Can Ossett Albion make it to the Final?

On Wednesday night, 10th February at 1945hrs and weather permitting of course, Ossett Albion take on Bradford Park Avenue at the Horsfall Stadium, Bradford in the semi-final of the West Riding County Cup. If Albion should triumph they will be one win away from lifting the trophy for the first time since 1999. Avenue, however will have different ideas and must be odds-on favourites considering they play two levels higher than Albion in the “pyramid”

In reaching the semi final, Ossett have defeated Knaresborough Town, on penalties in Round 1 and then Goole Town, again after a penalty shoot-out in Round 2. Both of these ties were away from home. Then, on 8th December last year, they met Garforth Town from the NCEL Premier Division in the quarter-finals at Dimple Wells and ran out comfortable winners by 2 goals to nil. 

It wasn’t until last Wednesday, 3rd February, that Albion learnt who they would be playing for a place in the final. Bradford Park Avenue overcame a resurgent FC Halifax Town from the Conference National in a thrilling match played on neutral territory at Garforth FC. After 90 mins the score was 3-3. Halifax were down to ten men and Bradford missed a penalty. Avenue won the penalty shoot-out 5-4 after 8 penalties apiece. Prior to the quarter-final win over Halifax, Bradford had “scraped” through their Round 2 match away at Albion Sports by seven goals to nil. I think it’s fair to say that both clubs are taking the competition seriously and I would expect them to play strong line ups given that the trophy is now within touching distance. In the other semi-final, Harrogate Town play Silsden. 

So, should the rain Gods allow, I shall be venturing over to the Horsfall Stadium on Wednesday night and will report on the match shortly afterwards within these blog pages. 

I’ve been to the ground before and I must admit, if they’re half as good as they have been on previous occasions, I’m looking forward to the chips! There is usually a decent atmosphere under the main stand and good vocal home support. As it’s not too far (about 14 miles or so) from Ossett, I’m hoping to see plenty of Albion colours at the ground too. 

Can Albion win the match? Well, it will be a tall order but there is plenty of room for optimism. In their last two matches, both away from home in the league, Albion have performed well and taken four points. Another solid defensive performance on Wednesday night, together with some good fortune in front of goal, could well see Albion cause a cup upset, and should they lose? …. well, they can then concentrate on the league, can’t they! 

Ossett Albion earn a hard fought point at Mossley

On a cold night when the hail and snow came down thick over the Pennine tops, Ossett Albion made the sixty mile round trip to the upper Tame Valley to take on the Lillywhites at Seel Park. Albion hoped to make it two away wins on the trot following their 2-1 victory over Droylsden last Saturday whilst Mossley had also won away from home at Prescot Cables, scoring twice without reply and moving up to 8th in the table just two points shy of the play-off places and seven points behind The Albion. I therefore anticipated a close game and this is exactly what I got.

I had an enjoyable visit to Seel Park earlier in the season and witnessed a spirited Mossley defeat Droylsden 5-1. I was impressed that night with the friendliness and professionalism of the club and the overall set up they have there. So, as I entered the clubhouse bar half an hour before kick-off I was expecting to see the same. I was, however met with total disinterest from the first member of bar staff that I approached. It was clear that checking his phone was far more important than serving customers and having given up any hope of getting service from that individual I turned to the other member of staff who served me with a smile. Taking my drink to a nearby table, all I heard for the next ten minutes was the loud foul mouth who didnt want to serve customers banging on about his effing fifty quid bet. Whilst you expect choice language when you visit football matches, it always comes as a bit of a shock to me when it comes from staff, albeit volunteers, who are there to supposedly provide customer service and are, to a certain extent, the face of the club.  Anyway, whinge over. On to the match.

As stated earlier, I expected a close match and so it turned out to be. In a first half shaded by Mossley, both sides had half-chances. Albion’s keeper Souter did well to thwart Dean and Short also went close for the Lillywhites. Albion had their chances too but by half-time, the score had remained at 0-0. Albion began the second half on the front foot and whilst they had a period of possession, they created no real clear cut chances. The closest the 119 spectators came to seeing a goal was when Carroll’s effort hit the Albion post. In the latter stages, Riordan was sent off for Ossett after a second yellow card. There was not enough time left on the clock for Mossley to really press home their numerical advantage and in spite of a couple of chances, one for each team, at the end of the game, the final score remained 0-0. Not a bore-fest by any means and I sensed both sides were pleased with the point (Albion more so, I suspect) and keen to get changed and into that clubhouse bar for some quality service from Mr “Ive got an effing £50 acca bet on, so eff off and get someone else to effing serve you”

Another Match, Another Loss. Ossett Town 1 Clitheroe 5

Now, its not that Clitheroe are a bad side, they have won more games than they have lost this season but they came into this game on a run of bad form having not won in the league since they put 6 past Droylsden on the 14th November 2015.

Therefore, it was with a degree of guarded optimism that I paid my £7 at the turnstile last Saturday (£9 if you include the program – £10 including the golden goal draw too). Could Ossett Town pick up their first league points since they drew at home 1-1 with Brighouse Town on, yes, you guessed it, 14th November 2015?! As Ossett Town took to the pitch the omens certainly looked good when the sun shone brightly on an otherwise miserably wet and windy day.

It only took me until the second minute to realise that I had failed to win the Golden Goal prize yet again and only until the third minute for Ossett Town to have their first real threat on the Clitheroe goal. Although Moke failed to take the chance, surely many more chances would come. This is it, I thought. I sensed the promise of points. At least one and maybe three. I dared to dream. However the remaining 42 minutes or so of a painful first half were played almost entirely in the Ossett half and by the time the half time whistle blew Clitheroe had built an unassailable 3-0 lead through goals from Dent, Lynch and Gonzales Not even a mince pie could lift my spirits, but I thought I would have one anyway. Why break the habit of a lifetime?

The second half was again played largely in the Ossett half and Clitheroe scored twice more through Harris and Gonzales again before a late consolation by way of a Brown penalty for Ossett Town made the final score 1-5. Not a pleasant experience for any of the Ossett fans amongst the 101 in attendance and the dream I had dared to dream was left in tatters in the sleet-ridden turf of Ingfield

So, next stop Derbyshire on Tuesday night for Town’s match at New Mills and surely the best chance yet for Town to amass a point or three. Or maybe not! Its hard to imagine that a team that has only won one point in 23 games could be so much of a concern but New Mills picked up that solitary point in their last game and are therefore in the best form they have been in all season. Its a worry. This is a pivotal match for Town because should the unthinkable happen, it is hard to imagine that their confidence could get any lower. On the other hand, a win could turn things around somewhat and lead to the inevitable claims from the manager, players and fans alike that they can now “push on from here” and secure league safety.

I check the other results as I leave the stadium. Ossett Albion have come from behind to win 2-1 at Droylsden so its a day of mixed fortunes once again for the Ossett clubs. The Albion are away from home again on Tuesday night when they take on Mossley at Seel Park. Weather permitting, that is!