Sparkling Debuts Help Tulips Secure A Point
A pulsating encounter, played on the worst surface seen this season, must have sent the crowd home happy!...
After a two-week break from action the Tulips returned to the front line at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Saturday 10th February and reaped hard-earned reward in the form of a vital NPL Evo-Stik South point against higher placed Stocksbridge Park Steels, writes Ray Tucker.
On a very difficult, heavy, sticky playing surface it was not an occasion for pretty football but a day when both sides showed an abundance of full-blooded commitment and at the end a share of the spoils was perhaps the fairest outcome.
For the Tulips, showing a number of changes in line-up, it was the inclusion of two loanee signings who hit the headlines.
Arriving on loan from King’s Lynn Town, striker Thomas Siddons was a real threat to The Steels defence, particularly in the first half, and he signalled his arrival with a smartly taken goal in the tenth minute. As well as Siddons, Lincoln City second year ‘scholar’ Michael Antkowiak, replacing regular ‘keeeper Michael Duggan, crowned a very promising debut by denying the visitors overall victory with a 94th minute penalty save, going full-stretch to get fingertips to the ball and turn Rory Coleman’s seemingly perfectly-placed spot-kick onto the outside of a post.
Also back in Royal Blue attire was dual-registered (with Worksop Town) Matt Varley who replaced the unavailable Lee Beeson in midfield.
Teenager Antkowiak was called into early action with a solid punched clearance from the head of Steels’ Joe Lumsden, and a few minutes later confidently rose high to collect the ball in a crowded area following a corner-kick.
It was the Tulips who broke the deadlock following a crisp left side movement. Paul Walker’s finely-threaded forward pass was perfect for Siddons who sidestepped his marker and coolly drove the ball past the advancing David Reay and into the unguarded Steels’ net.
The pitch was proving to be a problem with many a player slipping and sliding, but Lumsden managed to remain upright to unleash a stinging shot which rattled the Tulips’ bar. The 18th minute produced a similar effort by Matt Varley which rebounded from the visitors woodwork.
The best of the goal-area action was provided by the Tulips with ‘keeper Reay twice denying Siddons from close range. The striker was then provider for James Tricks whose shot from the edge of the area missed the target by inches.
Play switched constantly from end to end. Steels’ skipper Liam McFadyen went close to levelling the scores with a firm header, but the 35th minute brought the equalising goal. Neal Spafford conceded a free-kick just outside the 18-yards area. Varley cleared at the expence of a corner but Coleman scored direct from the resulting flag kick, an effort which the young debutant 'keeper tried valiantly to prevent but found himself just shy of a much-needed inch in that instance: he would go on to better things.
Only a well-timed challenge by Coleman on Siddons denied a swift reply and a good effort by Cenk Acar was palmed over the bar by Reay as the opening half drew to a close.
Second-half play followed a similar pattern with both defences tested to the full, the Tulips’ James Hugo in action at both ends of the field, and with the goalkeepers constantly involved and Antkowiak’s spot-kick save in added time pivotal to the final result.
Team: Michael Antkowiak, Jack Fixter, James Hugo, Matt Varley, Ellis Humble, Neal Spafford, Paul Walker, Conor Marshall, Thomas Siddons, James Tricks (Jonny Lockie, 73 mins), Cenk Acar. Subs (not used): Haydn Havard, Scott Floyd, Michael Duggan
Tulips' Man-of-the-Match: Jack Fixter
Match Report by Tulips Press Officer, Ray Tucker
This coming Tuesday 13th February the Tulips travel away to Sheffield FC for a re-arranged NPL Evo-Stik South clash. For any supporters wishing to travel and support the team, a minibus will depart the Sir Halley Stewart at 3.45pm sharp. Cost for travel is £10.00 Return; in addition there will be an admission charge to pay at the stadium in Yorkshire. All interested parties are urged to confirm their intention to travel by emailing the Club Secretary, Mrs Louise Maplethorpe via firstname.lastname@example.org