Thanks to Tim Rowland for this supporters view;-
Three league games to go against the two teams competing with the ambers for promotion and matters were in our own hands. A point today and we would be promoted in only our second season in the NECL, some achievement. Who said ‘you can’t do it with kids’. We had won 13 league games on the trot and today this was to prove unlucky. Our opponents were Glasshoughton Welfare and they had defeated promotion contenders Albion twice recently in back to back games and eliminated them from the race but then inexplicably lost in midweek to Rossington 4:0. They now had to defeat the ambers twice and hope that Parramores slip up having Handsworth still to play. This was our second visit to the Glasshoughton Centre in Castleford having seen the ambers lose here last year 1:0 on a tight, sloping pitch. The Railway End standard was not flying and the omens were not good. Wes Hill replaced Tootle in the only change to the starting line up from the Appleby game & only a couple of changes on the bench with Hindley absent. Poulter, Johnson, W Hill, Colliver, Griffiths, Gwindi, Patterson, L Hill, Smith, Bates, Ward. Subs – Ingram, Tootle, Torr, Crapper & Broadbent. We took our place on the far side opposite the dugouts and Welfare’s excellent hospitality area. The game began with smiles all round as Griffiths played the ball back to Poulter under tremendous pressure but he managed to clear to apologies from Gaz. First time I’ve ever seen Poults not want the ball. The ambers had an early free kick right hand side but as has happened too often this season the ball hit the wall instead of the target. In fact a very uneventful first half from an amber point of view passed without one meaningful effort on goal. The home team were not much better as the pressure was probably getting to both teams and the ambers also had an eye on Wednesday’s cup final. The ambers were looking quite comfortable and Paul came up with a new name for Sir Jas, “The Coollivator”. Welfare are a very strong, physical team and it looked as though Smith had caught an elbow but his Dad later informed us that it was no more than a slap but nevertheless did spoil the looks. This was to set the tone for the game as at times I’m sorry to say it did look like men against boys with a “this is effing rubbish” from the manager. Welfare’s best player for me their number 10 shot wide and then the fullback was given room to shoot from the right hand side and Poulter at full stretch pushed the ball round the post and a corner. An excellent inswinging corner was met by a powerful free header from the number 4 and the home team were in the lead with half an hour gone. 8 went off injured for Glasshoughton and the targeted Smith was felled and Ward delivered the free kick on to Johnson’s head who found Smith on the edge of the six yard box and the keeper made himself big to parry. The only real chance of the half and ears would be ringing in the changing room as this had not been a good performance. It was clear from the outset of the second half that the home team were prepared to defend what they had got and hit Handsworth on the break and the warning signs were there as 11 broke free to see his shot saved. Next it was 10’s turn to outpace Wes down the right and his cross found 9 at the back stick and a simple header 2:0 with only 7 minutes of the half gone.. Number 10 escaped again but this time the move was snuffed out. A foul on a Handsworth player and a group discussion ensued followed by 5 bookings in a game that had been quite physical but up to this point the ref had refused to get his notebook out. 3, 9 & 10 for Glasshoughton and Patterson & Gwindi for the ambers, yes squeaky clean Faf, how will he explain this in church tomorrow. Forgive me father for I have sinned. At this point Broadbent replaced Bates and with a mountain to climb this seemed to spur the team into action. The free kick found Johnson again with springs in his heels and his header found Smith who missed the target. The ambers were playing better and the ball broke free to Gwindi on the edge of the box who struck the ball first time through a crowd of players and into the corner of the net and a lifeline with nearly half an hour still on the clock. It was all Handsworth now and surely with so much time still in the game it was only a matter of time but a combination of resolute defending, bad luck and poor finishing meant promotion was put on hold. Broadbent was excellent when he came on with a fantastic work rate and he was the perfect foil for Smith and his cross from the right just eluded Hilly sliding in at the far post. Johnson had a header saved by the keeper and then the liner’s flag went up for an off the ball incident as the ambers were about to take a free kick. Yellow cards for number 6 and Broadbent & now 7 in the game. Smith volleyed over from just outside the box and then Gwindi shot wide as the pressure was mounting. Ward was replaced by Torr although surprisingly Alex went right as Hill was operating on the left. However I must say that Hill was winning his fair share of headers against the full back and the keeper saved his header and then the same player saw his goalbound effort blocked by a defender 12 yards out. Johnson had yet another header and the keeper saved point blank to groans from the Handsworth faithful and seconds fell to Griffiths who scooped the ball wide. Booking number 8 as Handsworth were clean through only for the ref to bring the game back to the halfway line and a yellow card for 14 as Johnson had made a great surging run evading 3 tackles. Next, and yes you guessed it, a Johnson header and yes, wide of the goal. The clock was ticking and Glasshoughton made what felt like their second attack of the half, and probably was, and 9 returned the compliment this time crossing to 10 for a tap in & 3:1. Difficult to say injustice as Handsworth had not been at their best despite a strong second half comeback. They could have nicked the required point in the end but I think fate has set up the last home game of the season on a Friday night at Olivers with a bumper crowd to see the ambers promoted. In the meantime, small matter of a cup final on Wednesday against Barton Town. Come on the Ambers!