Thursday, 19 May 2016


18 MAY 2016 --- 6.30PM

This game had a controversial finish when in the 4th minute of stoppage time John Pugh equalised and denied Ashover maximum points after Dean Spencer's hat trick had put the visitors into a 3-1 lead.  The number 10 should have seen his hat trick enough to have won this game but Ashover were unable to stop the ever growing threat of Pugh and the late goal sparked protests which saw Ashover manager Don Carline sent off.
With the season fast coming to a conclusion and some of the 'county' leagues playing until the end of the month after this wet winter there is the opportunity to take in a few games in leagues that would not normally be visited.  If tonight's game was anything to go maybe I need to visit a few of The Hope Valley League grounds next season this game was to be the final game of the season for the league.
The blog had planned to take in Phoenix v Appleby Frodingham in The CMFL but when the away team called off due to lack of a side it looked like this week would be a blank affair.  however thanks to Dronfield Town's twitter feed this game was spotted and with a 6.30 kick off planned, we finally got under way at 6.42, there was no transport issues envisaged.
Of course any trip to Dronfield, and tonight's was no different, involves a sampling of fish and chips at The Jolly Friar and the form book remained good at these premises, tonight there was to be no picture either!
A casual stroll, trying not to drop any chips, was made to Stonelow Rd and with rain threatening it was good to see that the game was to be played on the main pitch not the usual adjacent one so offering some cover if the wet stuff got too heavy.
Before the game there was a chance to catch up with a few of the home club officials and Chesterfield referee John Mace.
Ashover arrived and there was a quick chance to greet their manager Donald Carline for those who don't know he is a well known character and football is in his system tonight he even undertook the task of running the line, dodgy knee and all, more of which later.  Don has been manager at Ashover now for 31 years and continues to run the team with an ever decreasing number of volunteers and it looks as though he may on his own next season.  Ashover is a pretty village with a lovely setting, although reliant on the Parish Council for the pitch, if you fancy popping along to see a game there next season its is well worth the visit.  Don proudly announces the annual pre season friendly arranged with Clay Cross Town FC of The CMFL and as I remember only too well it is no pre season friendly as Don will be out to secure victory over the local rivals from the higher league.
A healthy crowd of around 25 had gathered for this end of season affair and Ashover started well with Perry Richards firing over from a good but tight position.  It was Ashover who were doing the early pushing and they did take the lead after 23 minutes when Richards with a neat lay back set up Spencer who fired home.
The visitors went into half time two goals to the good and it was Spencer again who found himself with time and space 25 yards out as he drove the ball home into the bottom left hand corner.
The game looked comfortable but the start of the second half found Ashover off the pace and Dronfield under the prompting of managers son Pugh were looking threatening.  But as so often happened the early pressure did not produce a goal and rather harshly Ashover broke away and extended their lead.  It was Stevens who was set free and as the out coming home keeper Daniel Townsend approached the striker fired into the far side of the goal to complete his hat trick.
This should have been game over but Dronfield were not giving up and on 72 minutes they pulled a goal back in bizarre fashion.  Pugh lined up the free kick just outside Ashover's box and normally this would not have troubled visiting keeper Parker but for some reason he decided to control the effort with his feet and as control was not clean the ball spun away and agonisingly fell back over the line.  Whether this is Pugh's goal or an own goal is open to debate although I guess the number 7 will want to claim it with what was about to follow.

As the game entered the final stages it was looking increasingly nervous for Ashover who were struggling to control Pugh who was never getting a bigger influence on the game.  The clock had passed through 90 minutes and we entered the 4th minute of injury time a ball into the box saw Ashover keeper Parker come to claim the ball low to the floor Pugh put a challenge in and dislodged the ball before firing home the lose ball to pull the game back to 3-3 and put in a claim for a hat trick.  Had the keeper got control of the ball within his hands?  Referee Mace decided not and Dronfield, of course, believed not too.  Ashover were non too happy with the rub of the green here and manager Carline made his thoughts clear to the referee who swiftly called him over and as the red mist was evident it was added to by a red card.
To add insult to this late goal within 10 seconds of the re start the final whistle blew and Ashover had seen red and come away with just a point, however never let it be said there was not passion right up to the end when many games at this time of the season drift away,
A sharp walk back for the return bus to base town was successful and arrival back overall was just after 10pm after a very enjoyable evening.

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