Report by THE66POW
Saturday 26th December 2020 Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Forest Town Arena
AFC Mansfield (2) 2 - Silsden AFC (1) 2
Josh Wilde 3 Liam Hudson 6, 63
Ross Duggan 14
The aroma of a whole council tips worth of Lynx Africa stocking filler box sets, permeated the air, while free mince pies for all were available upon entry the Forest Town Arena, as the time honoured tradition of Boxing Day football was upheld in this chilly quarter of Nottinghamshire.
Alas, that other Yuletide custom, that inevitably follows a day of excessive annual feasting on turkey, stuffing, sprouts, pigs in blankets, red cabbage (we've gone proper posh in our house this year), stodgy pudding and too much grog was omnipresent too, as the game suffered from a really bad case of the wind, by virtue of Mansfield standing on the fringes of the tumultuous weather front that is currently sweeping across the nation, that the metrological office have bestowed the designated moniker of 'Storm Bella' upon.
'Storm Bella' blows all of the Silsden team over during their pre-match drills
The open and exposed expanse of the Welfare Ground provided the unrelenting and increasingly worsening wind with an ideal platform to demonstrate it's full capacity and ability to dominate and spoil a potentially decent game of football, played out between two sides who were both obviously keen to get three points on board as they battled gamely against each other and the elements.
Both of these teams had fallen foul of late goals last weekend when Hemsworth MW took the honours with the only goal of the game at Mansfield, while the Cobbydalers (Cobbydale is another name that the locals around those parts call Silsden) lost 2-1 at the Victoria Pleasure Grounds when Joe O'Neill netted in the very last minute for Goole Town.
The Bulls drew first blood early doors this afternoon, when Morgan James broke forward on the left and delivered a low cross towards Josh Wilde who turned the ball past Kyle Welsh with a well taken angled finish. But parity was restored within a matter of minutes, when Liam Hudson beat Hugo Warhurst with a peach of a half volley.
When setting up a template for writing AFC Mansfield match reports, one could probably get the ball rolling by cut and pasting the legend: 'Ross Duggan scored in the ******th minute', before any given game has even kicked off... and sure enough the prolific striker was on target yet again, a fraction inside the opening quarter of an hour, when he dragged the ball towards the visitors goal, mastered and brought the erratically behaving sphere under control, as the blustering wind was threatening to claim it for itself and spoil the moment, before emphatically dispatching a thumping shot in the bottom right hand corner.
The two teams continued trying to make a fist of it in horrible conditions, but there were no further goals before the break, though in fairness any failure to add a finishing touch here and there or find a teammate with a probing pass were on the whole, endeavours that were thwarted by 'wind assisted' errors.
As the teams re-emerged for the second half an Ark containing mating pairs of animals disappeared into the distance as the weather vein on the Parish Church of Forest Town Saint Alban the Martyr, on t'other side of the road was glowing red from being overworked.
Weather-wise was an horrible enough experience looking on from the relative shelter of the Welfare's viewing gallery, so lord knows how difficult it must have been out there in the vortex of the storm.
The hosts had shaded the first half, but after the break 'Sils' began to make some headway as they pushed forward in search of the goal that would put them on level terms... it duly arrived in the sixty-third minute, when Warhurst could only parry an awkward shot away and Hudson was in exactly the right place to receive a late Xmas gift of an opportunity and he tucked the ball away to level things up again.
One could sympathise with Warhurst's plight as the initial shot moved about wickedly in front of him, but Hudson wasn't about to take pity and give it back to the Bulls keeper.
Liam Marsden caused chaos in the visitors defence, when he dropped a dipping cross into the mix, but as the West Yorkshire side struggled to clear the ball away and it fell invitingly towards Duggan, just outside the area, his strike flew over the bar, snaffled up by 'Storm Bella', who by now was doubling her efforts to make a complete mockery of the whole afternoon.
Silsden went close to claiming a winning goal as the clock ticked down, but as Joe Mitchell nudged the ball across the six yard box Craig Billington couldn't quite get the finishing touch on it at full stretch as the ball cannoned off of him away from Warhurt's net.
Right at the death, Duggan tried battering his way into the visitors area, but found that they had shut up shop and when the half-cleared ball found it's way out to Luke Walker his shot fizzed past the right hand post into the side netting.
All told, the draw was a fair result, neither team had deserved to lose given the increased effort that the foul weather conditions had demanded of them, but by the same token nobody had mastered the elements to the extent that they had dominated for anything like a sustained spell either.
FT: AFC Mansfield 2 v Silsden 2
The Bulls now face two away trips to: Thackley and Garforth Town over the next two weekends (AKA next year), before returning to the Forest Town Arena on January 16th when Maltby Main will be the visitors.
Elsewhere Silsden are at home for the next four Saturday's in a row, when they'll entertain, in turn: Grimsby Borough, Maltby Main, Athersley Rec and Thackley.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!