Shirebrook Town came back from a goal behind at half time against Barnsley-based side Worsbrough Bridge Athletic to edge a five goal thriller at Langwith Road on Wednesday night.
Like their hosts, Worsbrough were looking to extend an impressive five-game winning run and the visitors played some neat attacking football in the first half, and they went into the interval a goal to the good thanks to Martyn Scully’s 25-yard strike just before the half-hour.
It was a fine individual goal from Scully, but Shirebrook came out fired up for the second half and Dan Williams pulled the home side level with a poacher’s goal five minutes after the restart, when keeper James Jenkinson could only parry Sam Eckhardt’s fierce shot from 22 yards on the right, and striker Williams was on hand to pick up the bits from close range.
And Darren Norwood gave Shirebrook the lead 15 minutes later with a scrambled effort that had a touch of controversy about it, Norwood toe-poking the ball into the net at the near post after Jenkinson failed to hang onto Eckhardt’s low cross whipped in from the left.
Worsbrough were claiming an offside, but the assistant referee was in line and had a clear view of the action, and both he and the referee were happy for the goal to stand.
However, the visitors were not so happy, but they could have no argument five minutes further on when Jake Vernon doubled Shirebrook’s advantage with a near post header off Jack Barnett’s ball back into the box from the left, when the ball came out to him after his initial free-kick from about the same place was cleared.
And with that the points looked to be safe for the home side, but the visitors halved the deficit with six minutes to go after Shirebrook failed to clear a lofted ball into their box and Worsbrough skipper Lee Gardside fired in from 16 yards to set up a tense finish.
Nevertheless, the home side held out solidly for the victory to extend their winning run to an impressive six games in all competitions.
Shirebrook manager Mark Shaw said after the game: “I thought we were the better team tonight, and that’s probably the best the side has played since we took over.”
“I thought we created some good chances in the first half, and in the second half we probably had the better of the chances, and we deserved to win in the end.”
“Worsbrough Bridge have a very good team. They were on a very good run, but something had to give tonight and if we wanted to show our mettle for the season, then I think it was a case of us having to win the game. It’s kept our own run going, so I’m happy.”
“A few individual performances need to be mentioned – Tom Rowbotham, a young lad who has had a very good debut for such a young person. Sam Eckhardt on the right has also had a very good debut.”
“And also we’ve got to mention keeper Ben Hallam, who has been struggling since Saturday when he kept us in the game with an unbelievable save near the end, but got injured for his efforts and had a twinge of his ankle ligaments.”
“Tonight Ben’s played with heavy strapping and after taking painkillers, and I think everyone ought to know he’s been in pain every time he’s kicked the ball.”
“You’ve have to feel for him, so Ben’s a man of steel for me. He’s played tonight and he’s done his job, and I think lots of credit has to be given to him, although the team performance has been a much, much better than Saturday, and it’s what we’re trying to work towards here.”
“And it was good to see the supporters staying behind and clapping us off the pitch at the end.”
“It makes you really feel part of something, and it makes you want to do more when you see people are prepared to wait around and show their appreciation. We’d like to see more people down here.”
“We’ve kind of got on a roll now and tonight has been good all round. Good for the three points and good for some outstanding individual performances, and we’re very happy about that.”
The win moves Shirebrook to fifth place in the table and they will be hungry to pick up three more points on Saturday when they make the trip to Sheffield for a 3 o’clock kick-off and take on Hallam FC.
Shirebrook Town: Hallam, Ludlam, Rowbotham, Walker, Timons, Norwood, Barnett, Gee (L Jackson H/T), Williams, Eckhardt (Rowley 76), Vernon (Lemon 90). Subs not used: Jordan G Jackson.
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic: Jenkinson, Whittington, Roberts, Goodyear, Atkinson, Forgione, Scully (Morley 73), Broadbent, Garside, White, Anthony (Podmore 71). Subs not used: Westney, Hilton.
Referee: Martin Watts (Derbyshire)