The sun continued to sizzle and after acquiring drinks we made for cover. Alas the spot chosen was still under the solar power so the top was removed and my titties duly bronzed. Just prior to kick-off some young nippers were running themselves ragged in a mini-game of soccer and duly having a grand time of it (albeit with purple faces and dripping brows). Penalties settled matters and after photos were taken the pitch was cleared and the main game took centre stage.
At the sacred footballing hour matters began with both teams indulging in a bit of foreplay and duly feeling each other out (by heck it was too warm for such dastardly behaviour). No 9 (Max Rhodes) for the hosts was showing good fizz early on and was eventually released but could only send his eager shot low and slightly shy of the far stick. Dronfield continued to make the greater advancements with a throw in laid off to No 7 (Harry Walker) who sent forth a low daisy decapitator that once again strayed the wrong side of the upright.
Armthorpe Welfare, despite being on the back foot, were grafting hard but producing very little. A corner was eventually won due to No 2's (Luke Boxwell) determined running. The ball posted went long and the gent at the back post just couldn't stretch his neck enough to guide the ball on target. The guests came once more after robbing the ball from a dilly-dallier. A player dashed ahead but his number eluded me due to the shit clash of shirt and digits. Boxwell was fed and had a shot that quivered the inside of the timber. The ball was there to be snaffled up, No 19 (Daniel Boulton) was on it like a pervert on a discarded jazz mag. The ball was buried, 0-1 it was, the game needed it.
Dronfield were now asked questions, they responded with a long ball to Rhodes who took one touch, turned and had a pop. The ball failed to trouble the keeper - it should have at least been on target. With the game pattern set the guests were defending well whilst the hosts were needing to up their 'off-the-ball' work-rate. Eventually Dronfield moved with real focus and entered the box. A shot came, the ball whizzed wide, a tackle had been made and a clattering had, the referee pointed to the spot - No 10 (Samuel Bebbington) stepped up and did a Bing Crosby - 'Straight Down The Middle' - 1 - 1 it was.
As the game progressed a certain staleness crept in with no team making any great strides. A solid run from the home No11 (Joe Pearson) looked promising and when his pass found Rhodes one expected another goal to follow. Alas the punt at the netting was off the mark (again). Soon after No 20 (Callum Mawbey) was setting his sights on the edge of the box but was also guilty of missing the mark - the shooting boots were certainly in need of a bit of spit and polish that was for sure.
Rhodes for the hosts continued to be an active role player and after dashing the flank, riding a tackle and putting in a neat cross he must have been slightly frustrated by the visiting keeper who read matters well and collected with relative ease.
The half was coming to a close, Armthorpe were looking a little disjointed, the Dronfield pack seemingly growing in desire and belief. Suddenly the guests had a lapse in focus, a long ball caught them with their trousers down and conkers dangling. Rhodes was away and only had the keeper to beat which he did with a cool brow and gave his side the uplifting half-time lead. Both teams looked ready for the break with Dronfield Town displaying a certain spring in the step as they left the field.
My good lady went for the half-time drinks whilst I glazed the paps and perused my notes. There were many folks flagging in the heat and I saw one bloke take on the look of a beetroot with problematic blood pressure. At least he was art and abart though, bloody good on him and I hope a good cold beer was waiting for him when he got home.
And with the good lady rejoining me the second half got underway. Dronfield had their peckers up (in this heat I really don't know how they managed it) and created an early chance that saw the final shot end up in the awaiting keepers arms. After some AW pressure that lacked the killer touch Dronfield broke but Rhodes who was the apical component tried to execute a cheeky chip that only transpired to be a rather limp lob lob (no wonder in this heat). Down the other end we went, The robust No 5 (James Baxendale) chanced his shank with a 35 yard free-kick. The ball was sweetly belted, the direction was sound but the home No 1 (Lewis Naylor) was up to the task and produced a quality save. The resultant corner bore bugger all.
A few delays for injuries now impeded the general flow and little worthy of reporting came the way of this onlookers orbs. The visitors eventually earned themselves a corner with the delivery being sharp and with a gentle swerve. I was as surprised as anyone to see that no contact was made and the choice ball was wasted. From nowhere Pearson for Dronfield Town was released, all the player needed do was beat the back-pedaling keeper. The attempted chip was made, I immediately reached for the pen and considered scribbling such caveman descriptions as 'wank', 'shite' and 'crap-o-tastic' - I stayed rather gentlemanly and noted the miss down as a 'ruddy bad show sir'.
Shots did come at each end, somehow the scorecard stayed clear of any further blemishes. A player for the welfare had a dig that lacked weight but somehow found its way through a pack of players and kissed the upright - this was a stern warning for the leading tribe and note was duly taken. The final throes saw Bebbington for the home ranks dash forth only to see his effort palmed over. The angled hoof came, no attackers made a lunge although the ball eventually fell to No 12 (Connor Chapell) whose shot at the angle led to another corner. Again the globe was posted, the keeper fumbled and for a split second the chance to bury the game was there, somehow the AW ranks survived.
A final Dronfield corner saw a header saved on the line, a shot blocked and the guests survive by the skin of their now clammy scrotums. Soon after the game was done and the final desperate scramblings were resigned to the ranks of 'Non-League History'. A short contemplation before putting the rear in gear and Man of the Match was given to Dronfield Town's No 5 (Arran Bovill), a very solid component who put the head on the ball when needed, worked with composure and defended like a good un' on a very trying day.
We had a good journey home and were happy with our day out. A few wildlife records, a footy report and sincere thanks is all we can offer - on we go.
FINAL THOUGHTS - A grand day out again, a decent ground visited and two teams seen who are struggling so far but, with patience, commitment and belief can turn things around and get the season moving. The guests just lack a certain belief it seems and communication between players is not 100%. many a time possession was had with no options given by players off the ball and looking to make space. This left the one in possession in two minds which of course caused undue fuss, an area I feel that needs looking at. There are one or two good players in the midst of this team though, the hefty bloke at the back a man with a footballing brain, one particular example. Dronfield Town created many chances and should have grabbed more than just two goals today - is this a theme that will haunt them throughout the campaign? I liked the movement upfront and the eager effort put in by several players. Again, the movement off the ball is key to keeping the opposing forces guessing and on the back foot but I reckon I have seen enough today to note a team set to move up a few league places in the near future. A snippet of positivity, combined with some good work will help them along - here's hoping both teams do the business as matters unwind and if I can catch them again at some point my support shall be there. Onwards with the underdogs and if anyone is wondering, no we didn't dash home to watch England - that patriotic claptrap and making idols out of overpaid prima-donnas isn't for me - tha' gotta keep it real tha' knows.