Fightback is in vain as 10 men Shirebrook Town are beaten 5-3 by Handsworth

THE preparation for this game could hardly have been ideal for Shirebrook with a five week spell of no competitive games. Handsworth on the other hand were on the back of a seven match winning run.

Despite an encouraging opening 10 minutes that saw the visitors go close twice the first half showed how rusty Shirebrook actually were.

Within 20 minutes the home side were two up courtesy of a Scott Bates double and it didn’t get much better for the Shirebrook faithful for the remaining 25 minutes of the half.

Handsworth piled on the pressure and without the safe hands of Jason White the score-line would have been insurmountable by half-time.

What was needed was an early goal and that is exactly what Shirebrook got. The second half was less than a minute old when Danny Naylor shot from 40 yards and, although Rob Poulter got a hand to it, the ball powered past him.

Shirebrook were reduced to 10 men minutes later when Naylor and Faffi Gnindi slid into a 50/50 challenge for a ball.

It was probably not the best decision either player has made as both were left injured.

From the resultant free-kick and, with Shirebrook still shell-shocked, Handsworth increased their lead through Ryan Johnson on 53 minutes against the run of play.

Shirebrook rolled their sleeves up and despite being a man down and a two goal deficit took the game to the home side.

Their hard work was rewarded on the hour mark when Mitch Slawson advanced into the box and fired into the roof of the net leaving Poulter stranded.

The equaliser came two minutes later following another great move down the left flank involving Julian Topliss and Lewis Jackson.

The ball eventually found Pete Stubley and another clinical finish went past Poulter.

All this effort was going to take its toll, but Shirebrook were hit with another sucker punch courtesy of the match officials.

On 77 minutes a long ball was tipped onto the bar by White, before Tom Roebuck tapped the rebound home.

But, despite appearing to be well offside, the goal was given sparking some delayed celebrations by both Roebuck and his team-mates.

Shirebrook still tried to take the game to Handsworth but were caught on the break after 82 minutes. Luke Broadbent rounding the keeper before forcing the ball home.

HANDSWORTH: Poulter, Johnson, Tootle, Colliver, Griffiths, Gnindi (Hill 65 mins), Roebuck, Patterson (c), Smith, Bates (Broadbent 70 mins), Ward.

SHIREBROOK: White, McLane, Jackson, Ludlow, McGurk (c), Thomas (Briggs 70 mins), Naylor, Pride, Slawson, Topliss, Stubley. Subs not used: Jenkinson, Hackett, Guest, Rodger.

REFEREE: Martin Chester of Lincolnshire.

ATTENDANCE: 76.

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Julian Topliss.