Sherwood Colliery survive the storm to close the gap with win at Handsworth Colliery

Sherwood Colliery took advantage of being one of only two games to survive Storm Eunice that wreaked havoc with the NCEL fixture list as they won 3-1 at Handsworth Colliery in the Premier Division, writes Phil Kirkland.

Monday, 21st February 2022, 9:06 am
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 9:06 am
Will Norcross wheels away after netting for Sherwood.
Will Norcross wheels away after netting for Sherwood.

Handsworth are one of a number of clubs that play on a 3G pitch and while the surface causes split opinions in the football world there is no doubt that on days like these the benefits are clear.

The Wood were looking to close the gap at the top of the table with the two clubs immediately above them in the table not in action.

Injuries had hit the squad with Dale Sheppard, Ryan Ingram and Ricky Starbuck all missing.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In came new signings, both returning for second spells with the club, Jack Dando – back from a dual registration with Heanor Town – came straight into the starting XI and Lewis Weaver – signed from AFC Mansfield – bolstered the options from the bench.

Ethan Wiesztort and Eden Homer were also called in to bolster a substitutes bench that looked much stronger than recent weeks.

The worst of the wind and heavy rain had thankfully blown over as the game started and the early chance came Sherwood's way, five minutes in, Brad Newby winning a free kick 25 yards from goal, slightly to the left and Jamie York’s delivery was headed behind for the first corner kick of the game.

Newby won another free kick three minutes later - to be a feature of the game - this time popping up on the right, the free kick not causing any danger.

Ten minutes in and Hansdworth worked the ball to Ant Mackie on the right, his cross was good but eluded his front men.

The Wood responded with two efforts in quick succession, Jamie York’s effort blocked after a neat one-two with Robson Doolan before Will Norcross shot with power but over the crossbar.

The opening goal came after 13 minutes, Dando feeding Charlie Taylor who delivered a superb ball to an overlapping Jobe Shaw.

He delivered a dangerous ball looking for the lurking Gaz Curtis only for Handsworth defender Mackie – under pressure from Curtis – to turn the ball despairingly into his own goal.

Curtis was involved five minutes later, his cross well gathered by Handsworth goalkeeper Ben Townsend.

After 20 minutes, the Wood were pegged back, a quickly taken free kick catching them out of position, Leon Howarth taking full advantage of the space to score neatly into the corner of the net, leaving Turton with no chance.

Four minutes later, Handsworth missed a golden chance to take the lead, Mitchell Dunne shooting wide after creating space following Sherwood losing possession in the midfield area.

Sherwood responded with York and Curtis combining well, before Dando released Ewan Robson, whose cross was over-hit.

On the half hour, following another foul on Newby, Dando headed wide from York’s free kick delivery.

After 35 minutes, It was Robson Doolan that was next to be fouled and win a dangerous free kick on the edge of the Handsworth penalty area, Newby took the kick that was blocked by Handsworth’s defensive wall, Norcross also denied from the rebound.

But he was not to be denied just three minutes later, a superb team move with excellent possession and passing football eventually releasing Norcross, who jinked in from the left to fire an unstoppable shot low to Townsend's right to restore Sherwood’s lead.

Five minutes into the second half excellent hold up play by Newby brought Doolan into the game. He in turn found Tim Gregory who hit a fierce shot that was superbly saved by Townsend, who tipped the ball over the bar.

The referee and assistants surprised everyone by awarding a goal kick.

On 53 minutes, Newby was fouled yet again, this time on the right, but the free kick coming to nothing.

Gregory, still smarting from the injustice of his effort not winning a corner kick got involved in a bout of pushing and shoving resulting in a free kick for Handsworth that was easily defended.

Just after the hour Hansdworth did create a half chance for Dunne but his effort was tame and easy for the impressive returning Turton in the Wood’s goal.

The game became disjointed for a while, the officials not helping with a number of decisions that affected its flow.

After 69 minutes Sherwood really should have scored, Ewan Robson powered down the left wing, pulling the ball back to Newby, whose effort was saved by Townsend, Newby not quite getting enough power on the shot.

The Wood rang the changes with Brad Lathall and Lewis Weaver introduced to give fresh impetus.

Handsworth did force a corner kick after a good run by Dunne but they were finding it hard to create any danger to an impressive Sherwood back line, although they were handed a good opportunity after 79 minutes. Howarth was needlessly fouled when outnumbered to win a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.

He took the kick himself, Doolan blocking the shot at the expense of a corner.

Hansdworth were reduced to 10 men after 86 minutes, Curtis winning the ball back only to held by Robert Ludlam who received a second yellow card, no complaints as he trooped off.

Sherwood now just needed to see the game out and they put any lingering doubts to bed in the second minute of added time, Lewis Weaver getting on the ball, moving it onto his left foot before shooting low past Townsend to seal the three points.

It was an important win for Sherwood, who closed the gap at the top of the table.

They now look to a game at Knaresborough on Tuesday before a top of the table clash against Garforth Town at Debdale Park on Saturday.