Ambers finish season with another win
A fifth successive victory saw The Ambers finish the campaign in 4th place ....
With the recently unveiled Management Team watching on, The Ambers were looking to extend their winning run to five under the temporary joint stewardship of Jon Froggatt and Dean Bamforth and, as was to be expected, despite being a dead rubber, this game turned out to be anything other than a drab, end of season affair.
Harry Bamforth set the scene with a couple of robust challenges early in the game which seemed to upset the locals, and it wasn’t long before both sides were going at it toe to toe. Both looked more comfortable in the attacking sphere with defences being stretched but just about holding out under pressure at both ends.
Skipper Connor Smythe, partnering Bamforth in the middle of the park against the more experienced pairing of Patterson and Smith, went close when a long range strike whistled just over Bailey’s crossbar, and in response a Smith header from a long throw was well held by Gary Stevens.
Some good play down the left involving the excellent Danny Buttle opened up the Main defence but Bailey got down to parry Aaron Moxam’s drive, before a searching ball from Richard Tootle put Joe Thornton in the clear but his lob over the keeper also cleared the bar.
Maltby hit back with a good run by Hemmingway which set up Burton but his weak header drifted wide, and The Ambers were soon back up at the other end forcing a corner. Bamforth’s delivery found Alex Rippon at the front post, and for the fifth consecutive game, the striker found the back of the net in what was his 100th appearance for The Ambers. It was a poignant moment as the resultant celebrations were clearly dedicated to the memory of Nigel Goodinson.
Main were clearly not giving up on this one though, and within five minutes they were back on level terms when Burton produced an excellent turn and shot from the edge of the area which left Stevens grasping at thin air.
It took The Ambers even less time to regain the lead just before half time as Moxam and Smythe combined to carve out an opening in the Maltby back line, which the striker was quick to take advantage of as he claimed goal number 47 of a prolific season. On the stroke of half time, the home side were adamant that a ball into the box was cleared by the arm of a Handsworth defender, but the referee waved away the appeal.
The second half continued in the same vein, with Nodder firing a good effort narrowly wide before some fantastic interplay down the left between Rippon and Smythe laid waste to the Maltby defence and when the ball was played to Moxam in the area, only a crude challenge from Adams stopped the striker. Why the Main players and support deemed it necessary to harangue the official for what was as clear a penalty as any I have witnessed is a mystery, but after a long delay, Moxam despatched the spot kick.
The game was in danger of getting out of hand, and luckily, the pre-arranged break on 58 minutes to pay tribute to Nigel Goodinson, certainly took the sting out of the game. The minute’s applause was impeccably observed by all, and from everyone at Handsworth, a big thank you to the players, officials and supporters of Maltby Main.
The remainder of the game passed without too many flash points as the hosts threw the kitchen sink at the visitors, but the longer the game went on, the stronger the Ambers defence were and all attacks were repelled before they reached the limping Stevens.
Indeed, it was The Ambers who came closest to adding to the score line when Smythe was desperately unlucky to see his terrific strike thud against the bar ten minutes from time.
And so, a season that started with so many hopes and aspirations, came to a close with The Ambers finishing in 4th place, well short of the achievements of Champions Cleethorpes Town, but with a new Management team in place and raring to go, the future remains bright…. The future is Amber!
Belgrave Motor Company Man of The Match – Danny Buttle