Ambers beat Staveley to stay top
Two first half goals saw The Ambers comfortably beat their old rivals ....
There was just one change to The Ambers starting eleven from last time out, with Adam Johnson coming in for the injured Alex Rippon as the visitors looked to extend their winning run to six games in the league.
It was a good start from Handsworth with an early strike from Joe Thornton being deflected wide and the home side having to defend three successive corners which tested them, but they were equal to the challenge and rebuffed the balls into the box.
A good one-two on the left flank between Thornton and Jamie Green opened up the Staveley back line but Johnson’s scuffed effort was blocked and the ball was cleared, but not for long as the impressive Jason Yates made a strong run into the heart of the home defence, James Ashmore eventually striking from distance after the ball ran loose.
From the ensuing short corner, The Ambers broke the deadlock, Green’s inch perfect cross being met by Jon Froggatt who expertly guided his header past the diving Leese to claim his 18th goal of the season, and his customary one against today’s opponents.
With Steve Istead driving the side forward, The Ambers were irresistible and The Trojans were having to work hard to keep the wave after wave of attacking intent at bay. Yates fired a long range effort just wide before his far post tap in was disallowed for a foul by Froggatt in the build up, and Staveley were then indebted to Leese who made an excellent reflex save after a cleverly worked corner kick routine saw Thornton meet the ball perfectly on the volley.
With The Ambers so dominant, home attacks were rare, but when they did occur, the back door was quickly shut to snuff them out and lay the platform for the next Ambers attack. Leese was again the home hero when he clawed a Johnson header off the line as everyone stood and waited for the net to ripple, but on the stroke of half time, the lively front man got his just desserts when he bravely headed home at the near post from a Froggatt cross after Green had once again opened up the productive route on the left flank with a clever ball.
Unsurprisingly, after such a chastening half, the home Manager made some much needed tactical changes to combat The Ambers, and the second half was a much more cagey and equal affair. Rawson and Nelthorpe in the centre of the Trojans midfield certainly made life a little more uncomfortable for the visitors, but despite seeing more of the ball, Gary Stevens remained relatively untroubled for the second game running, and it was The Ambers who created the better opportunities.
A yellow card for Ollie Yates for a robust challenge led to a series of full blooded clashes all around the pitch and a couple of home bookings too, but in the cold conditions, the game never looked like boiling over. Thornton continued his good recent form on the left, and Froggatt almost capitalised but Leese saved his header.
Johnson was substituted with quarter of an hour left, and his replacement Aaron Moxam gave a good cameo performance as he put himself about, and almost got the goal he deserved when his rasping drive only just cleared the bar. As the clock ticked down, Parirs Dixon and Pat Lindley made their entrances as The Ambers went solid across the middle to close out the game.
HE Barnes Man of The Match – Steve Istead