Shirebrook Town’s recent run of poor form continued with a below par performance at a very wet Langwith Road on Saturday. But they still managed to pinch a hard-earned but very valuable point with Tom Mullen’s equalising goal in stoppage-time against local rival’s Teversal.
And Shirebrook manager Mark Shaw will no doubt be glad to see the back of November, a month which began with an end to a twelve-game unbeaten run and which has seen his injury-blighted squad dumped out of both the Derbyshire Senior Cup and the FA Vase, and also lose ground in the chase for promotion with only four league points banked out of a possible twelve, after only one win and two draws in seven games in all competitions.
Shirebrook were once more without striker Dan Williams (knee) and midfielder Jack Barnett (hamstring), whilst striker Jason Bradley was absent for a second game with a groin strain and striker Jordan Lemon had to be left out after badly bruising a foot in midweek against Walsall Wood. Midfielders Carlos Forbes and Sam Eckhardt were both unavailable, but keeper Ben Hallam and midfielder James Cottingham returned for the game.
And the home side almost gifted the visitors the perfect opening start when a weak back-header by central defender Brandon Cardwell in the third minute fell to Daniel Pearson who failed to take advantage from 16 yards.
But Shirebrook got an early grip on the game two minutes later when the ball came to Mullen at the far post off Chris Timon’s headed flick-on at the near post from Jake Vernon’s throw into the box from the left, and the young striker scored the first of his two goals in the game, firing the ball into the net off Teversal keeper Ryan Brooks.
The home side should have pushed on from there, but instead they allowed the visitors back into the game nine minutes later with some slack defensive marking and Oliver Wood was under no pressure at all when he headed the ball into the Shirebrook net from 10 yards at the near post, off William Harcourt’s unchallenged cross from the right.
Teversal almost took the lead two minutes later, but Pearson couldn’t get a toe to Wood’s flick-on, whilst at the other end a minute after that, Vernon’s venomous shot from 25 yards on the right whistled past the outside of the near post.
Wood went close for Teversal soon afterwards and with ten minutes to go Shirebrook keeper Ben Hallam pulled off a cracking point-blank save from Daniel Claridge’s far post header, even though he didn’t know it wouldn’t have counted anyway had it gone in, with the assistant referee’s flag already raised for an offside.
Four minutes later Tom Rowbotham fired over the Teversal crossbar with a 22-yard half-volley on the left at the start of a good attacking spell for Shirebrook, who arguably finished the final few minutes of the half on top.
It could have been anybody’s game after that as both sides went in search of a winner from the start of the second half, but the visitors looked the more determined and the home side failed to take advantage of the slope and the slippery conditions as the rain continued to fall.
And Teversal looked to have all three points in the bag when the Shirebrook struggled to clear their lines and Joe Flint’s deflected 14-yard shot on the right found its way into the net with just over twenty minutes to go.
The visitors always looked dangerous on the break after that, whilst the home side were having little joy in getting behind Teversal’s stubborn back line as they desperately tried to get something from the game.
But Shirebrook’s reward finally came a minute into time added on at the end when Mullen forced his way around a group of Teversal defenders in their box and fired across Brooks from 14 yards on the right to salvage a point the home side – a point they hadn’t honestly looked like getting.
Shaw said after the game: “It was a game of two halves again for us. A positive first half and I thought we did really well in the first twenty five minutes. During that time we took the lead, but then we switched off and allowed them back into the game.”
“I’d like to think we were the better side in the first half, but in the second half they came out and wanted it a lot more than us. They took a good lead and if it wasn’t for us having a no-die attitude, then we would have lost the game.”
Shaw refused to blame the wet conditions, saying: “I thought they weren’t that bad. Obviously it’s going to be greasy, but that’s going to help both teams pass the ball around.”
And the Shirebrook manager concluded: “I’m happy that we’ve got back into the game and that we’ve picked up a point rather than picked up nothing. But it’s obviously just not good enough from us. We should be better than that.”
Next Saturday Shirebrook Town continue their league programme and travel to North East Lincolnshire side Grimsby Borough for a 3 o’clock kick-off. Meanwhile, Shaw will welcome a week’s rest from competitive football for his squad when he’ll be able to concentrate on the training and recuperation of the players ready for the new month of December, and the all-important run-in up to the end of this calendar year.
Shirebrook Town: Hallam, Ludlam, Rowbotham, Walker, Timons, Cardwell, Gee (Jordan 76), Mullen, Husbands, Vernon (Rowley 66). Subs not used: Hemsley, Thompson, Briggs.
Teversal: Brooks, Harcourt, Goodacre, Henshw, Witcombe, Tobin, Cockerill, Pearson, Wood, Flint (Groves 89), Claridge (Atkins 78). Subs not used: Dickinson, Turner, Jones.
Referee: David Godwin (Derbyshire)