Tigers finish the league season with another win as they lift the NCEL League Title.
The game very much had an “end of the season” feel to it. It was a very slow affair and any attempt for an attack was thwarted by the strong wind.
The visitors opened the chances in the fifth minute. Adam Shaw was played through on goal by Jake Thompson and the forward set his sights for the far corner, however Dave Reay got down quickly and pushed the ball wide of the target, where Max Pemberton scampered back to clear before Matthew Mather could pounce on the free ball.
Sam Jones made his first start for the club and has really impressed since his progression from the Under-19s. He went close on nine minutes when he took on his man before firing an effort from thirty yards, which unfortunately landed into the midriff of Eccleshill ‘keeper Harry Stead who held onto it.
Ten minutes later, Connor Brunt escaped the offside trap to latch onto a ball down the right. Brunt shot first time from an acute angle, but as expected from his position, he saw his effort whistle across goal and wide of the upright.
On the half hour mark, Dave Reay was called into action twice in as many minutes. Firstly, the Tigers shot-stopper reacted quickly to get down and save Jake Thompson’s low drive at goal. Moments later, the ball fell to the feet of Khurram Shazad on the left side of the box, who took the ball in his stride before seeing his effort palmed wide by Reay.
Steve Woolley tried his luck from range as he danced past his marker and rifled an effort towards goal which Stead spilt into the path of Lee Hill, but unfortunately he was in an offside position.
The half ended on a worrying note as Ross Goodwin seemed to have rolled his ankle and was replaced by Michael Trench.
The second half kicked into action from the start. The Eagles pumped the ball through the middle where an unmarked Shaw ran clean through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Shaw panicked as soon as Reay rushed off his line and the forward passed his shot wide of the near post.
United were left to rue those missed chances as the Tigers took the lead. A Woolley corner saw Brunt lose his marker with an angled run, which allowed the forward to power a header towards goal which flew in via a deflection.
The pendulum swung further Worksop’s way as they added a second in fine fashion. A game of head tennis commenced in the area before Craig Mitchell headed the ball to the edge of the area where Matt Reay was situated. The centre-half dispatched a left-footed volley which looped into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Stead rooted to the spot.
The visitors didn’t lay down though, as with twenty minutes to go they halved the deficit. Joshua Grant swung in a lovely ball into the centre where Mather rose highest and headed powerfully past Reay.
Two minutes later, they should have been on level terms. A ball from the right was poorly punched by Reay into the path of Nathan Woodward, who brought the ball down with his thigh before rifling an effort towards goal where Reay recovered to dive down and parry away to safety.
The last two chances fell to the Tigers.
Firstly, Woolley threaded Brunt through on goal who had made a darting run into the area from the left. Brunt’s cross deflected back into the path of Woolley, who produced a sizzling volley which landed into the side-netting.
Finally, Matt Sykes cut in from the left and rifled a shot towards goal which was superbly tipped over by Stead, the visiting goalkeeper reacting very swiftly.
The final whistle went to confirm that the Tigers would finish the season with 90 points from a possible 114.
Now the League season is over, we turn our attention to our important league cup semi-final against Hemsworth Miners Welfare on Tuesday, 30th April.
Goals: Brunt (48’), M Reay (55’); Mather (72’)
Line-up: David Reay, Sam Jones, Lee Hill (Kyle Jordan), Steve Woolley, Matt Reay (Danny Patterson), Steve Wankiewicz, Max Pemberton, Ross Goodwin (Michael Trench), Matthew Sykes, Craig Mitchell, Connor Brunt
Unused Subs: Steve McDonnell, Calum Ward.
By Devon Cash