Who’d be a football manager?
Just a few days after James Colliver had lost both of his full backs inside the first 35 minutes during the FA Cup defeat at Mickleover, he was dealt a double whammy again, when Oli Ryan and Matt Hassett were both withdrawn due to injuries during a first half that a lively looking visiting side had far the better of, as Staveley struggled to find any kind of shape, rhythm or cohesion.
Parkgate were in the faces and on the toes of Colliver’s side from the off and were intent on unsettling the home side, in a firm but (just about) fair fashion.
From the off, the visitors striker Craig Fletcher had made his intentions clear when he thumped a shot just wide of the left hand upright.
On five minutes a momentary lapse of concentration in the heart of Staveley’s defence presented Fletcher with another chance, he couldn’t and didn’t miss from there to put the South Yorkshire side ahead.
Not for the first time this season, Staveley were the architects of their own downfall by gifting the opposition a soft goal.
Russ Shelton and Scott Whittington were combining well with Fletcher, whilst Jonny Bownes was providing them with a decent supply line of crosses from down the right flank as the goal lifted the visitors and put a spring in their step.
Sam Finlaw fired narrowly wide with a speculative shot on 13 minutes, it was Staveley’s first chance of note.
Meanwhile at the other end, Fletcher stroked the ball into the path of Ben Langford who fired a rasping shot a fraction the wrong side of the goal post.
Striker Oli Ryan limped out of the game on 21 minutes and was replaced by Joe Flint, who offered Staveley different kinds of options in attack, but who is also short of match practice thus far this season due to work commitments.
Finlaw and Jack Watts were trying to make some in roads into Parkgate territory, but Steve Adams side, were defending in numbers with a dogged determination and weren’t going to give up their one goal advantage without a proper scrap.
Fletcher broke into the Staveley area through the left channel and chipped Steve Hernandez who had started to come from his line to narrow the angle, the Staveley captain contorted his frame and got back to hook the ball away with his outstretched hand just as it was crossing the line.
Parkgate appealed, claiming that the whole of the ball had crossed the line, but the assistant referee was well placed to make a decision and thankfully he deliberated that Staveley’s player of the month for August, had kept it out.
Hernandez was soon in action again, saving well from Sam Foulds, as Parkgate pushed on in an effort to increase their lead before half time.
Bownes attacked down the right flank again, seeing off two challenges including one from Matt Hassett who stayed on the ground. The Parkgate right back’s cross found Fletcher who looked to have turned the ball over the line but Austin McIntosh cleared the danger, turning the ball onto the crossbar.
Hassett sadly, couldn’t carry on and was replaced at half time by his player-manager James Colliver.
Staveley improved in the second half, but were up against a well-organised Parkgate side who were playing deep and defending in numbers.
Of course, when you are committing men forward and chasing the game, it creates leaves you vulnerable at the back and in danger of being exposed to being hit on the counter attack, sure enough, having absorbed a spell of pressure, Parkgate broke quickly from end to end and Hernandez was called on to do the business again.
Jordan Eagers advanced towards the Parkgate area from midfield and let fly with a long range shot when his marker opted to back off, but David Darwent got behind it well and held onto the ball.
Thorpe flicked the ball on for Ellis Wall to run onto, but Darwent again thwarted the danger as Matt Reay stepped into the path of Wall and blocked his run.
Nathan Forbes came close as he battled his way towards goal across the goal line on the left hand side, but Parkgate scrambled the ball away for a corner.
Sam Finlaw saw of a challenge and knocked the ball on for Flint, who shot over the bar.
It was a much improved second half performance from Staveley and Parkgate responded by taking off Reay and Whittington and sending on Luke Beedham and James Steer, to bolster their position.
But Staveley were back on level terms on 73, through a quality ‘goal of the season’ contender from Nathan Forbes following an excellent passage of build up play.
Watts, Forbes and Flint linked up excellently out on the right flank and passed their way around a tightly packed Parkgate rearguard before laying the ball back to Sam Finlaw.
The Staveley midfield mainstay lobbed the ball delicately into the path of Forbes, who danced past two challenges and planted the ball inside the right hand post to level the scores.
It was a frantic finish to the game, as Parkgate continued to crowd out any attempt by the home side to force the issue and claim all three points.
Watts and Flint came close to grabbing a winning goal right at the end, but Parkgate cleared their lines and hit a long ball out of defence in the general direction of Fletcher, who found his second wind somehow blundered his way past two challenges before taking the ball wide of Hernandez and scuffing his shot into the side netting.
A real let off for Staveley right at the end then, but they had deserved something out of the game, in light of their performance after the break, in spite of their poor first half showing. But, in fairness to Parkgate, who’d worked hard all night and had created several really good chances, they’ll probably feel they should have taken all three points home with them. And a draw was probably a good result for Staveley in the end.
Staveley MW: Steve Hernandez (C), Austin McIntosh, Jack Poulton, Sam Finlaw, Matt Hassett (James Colliver HT), Craig Fisher, Ellis Wall, Jordan Eagers, Jack Watts, Oli Ryan (Joe Flint 21), Nathan Forbes.
Subs (not used): Kurtis Morley, Pat Lindley, Chris Butt (GK).
By Rob Waite
Staveley MW are at home to high flying Handsworth Parramore at Inkersall Road on Saturday, September 20 (3pm kick off) and entertain Glasshoughton Welfare on Wednesday, September 24 (7.45pm).