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Sheffield FC 4 Armthorpe Welfare 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 28/02/04
 
The Coach and Horses escaped the big freeze to stage a one-sided clash between local rivals Sheffield and Armthorpe. With a ten match unbeaten run in the League, and having won 2-0 in the previous encounter in October at the Welfare Ground, Sheffield were always going to start favourites for this game. But Armthorpe, despite losing their last two league games, were in a deceptive position in the league with a pretty impressive away record under their belt, and have always been an awkward proposition on their recent visits to Dronfield. Today however, the game went to form with the Sheffield front two Caine Cheetham and Duncan Bray getting a brace each.
 
The actual end result didn't look likely in the opening ten minutes as the Armthorpe side looked to have adapted a lot quicker than Sheffield, choosing a long ball approach as opposed to the short passing game the home team used. Things looked potentially dicey for Club as Jason Brown missed an absolute sitter after just ten minutes, with the goal gaping he somehow conspired to hack the ball wide. The heavy muddy pitch seemed to tie the Sheffield midfield up, and it took them a good twenty minutes to get going, but when they finally got a grip it was with great effect. The writing was on the wall for Welfare midway through the first half after Duncan Bray found himself through on goal, the home striker let the visitors off the hook though when he took a little too long and was smothered by defender Phil Beale. It wasn't to be Beale's day after that as on 29 minutes CHEETHAM received the ball on the edge of the area, turned Beale inside out with some good football before firing past Mark Samways in the Armthorpe goal to give Sheffield a one goal lead. It wasn't long before Sheffield doubled their lead; in the 33rd minute Chris Hilton played a lovely little chip into the middle to find Duncan Bray, who with good skill knocked it through to CHEETHAM who made no mistake. Sheffield were on a roll and Armthorpe looked well and truly out of the competition, seemingly chasing shadows and looking very disheartened. In the 38th minute it was effectively over as Beale, who up to being humiliated with the first goal had a sound game, dropped an absolute howler by attempting a back-pass to the keeper; the ball got stuck in the mud and BRAY nipped in to stick it in the back of the net at the second attempt.
 
There was more pressure after the restart as Sheffield piled it on looking for the big win they wanted after a period of tight games, Club seemed to be surging forward at every opportunity and it looked as if we would have a hatful of goals at the end of the day. Ryan O'Carroll went close on a couple of occasions early on, the best effort was when the winger was set up by Cheetham, and his shot unfortunately was deflected wide. The fourth goal came in the 51st minute, and the provider was an unusual source in a classic "turning defence into attack" moment. Sheffield keeper Darren Bonnington had to be on hand to clear an apparent problem at the edge of his area and cleared the ball deep into Armthorpe territory, the Welfare defence were too slow to spot the danger unlike BRAY who was quick enough and took the ball round the flailing defender to hammer home for a clinical finish. The pressure was incessant from Sheffield, even with a four goal lead, the only disappointment was the inability in the last forty minutes to get the fifth or sixth they deserved. With the game lost Armthorpe started to adventure a little further forward; Bonnington even had to make a save, a point-blank effort from an Anderson volley. In the 70th minute Armthorpe finally got a consolation goal, a neat move which eventually saw Jones head across the face of the goal to Danny SHARPE who headed into the empty net. Even though Club returned to pressing on at the Armthorpe goal, a fifth just would not come; Darren Holmes set up Asa Ingall, who could only direct the ball towards Samways, was the pick of the chances, either way Club had all three points and never looked troubled.
 
In the end a great performance once more from Club, a result that moves Sheffield into fourth place in the table, star man without a doubt was Richard Carrington who tormented the Armthorpe defence all afternoon. It was also good to see the strike force duo of Bray and Cheetham finding the back of the net, Duncan now on 22 goals for the season, with quality like that up-front the rest of the promotion chasing pack will sit up and take notice. Another great display today was from the unsung heroes of the day, the groundstaff! A big well done for getting the game on when everyone else around was being called off, this will no doubt help when the season run-in starts and the fixture congestion takes hold.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Richard Carrington
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton ©, Jones, Hobson, Ingall, Stewart (Tilly), Carrington (Naylor), Cheetham, Bray, O'Carroll (Holmes).
Armthorpe Welfare: Samways, Bennett (Pugh), Beale, Jarvis (Sharpe), Golightly, Erskine, Ridley, D.Jones ©, Brown, G.Jones, Anderson.

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Sheffield FC 1 Brigg Town 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tuesday, 24/02/04

It goes without saying that Sheffield will feel hard done to with the outcome of the third top of the table clash of the week, coasting along a goal to the good without being in any danger, then in the 92nd minute of play an equaliser out of nowhere. With a chance of completing a rare double over their Lincolnshire opponents, on a freezing sub-zero evening at the Coach and Horses, fate somehow conspired against Club after they seemed to have done enough with a gritty performance that could have ended Brigg's hopes of taking the title. However, as with the previous two games this week, the game ended in a draw with Sheffield ruing a golden opportunity at taking all three points.

The game started in a flurry of snow, and with the awkward pitch contributing to the difficult conditions it was the home team who seemed to adapt to the situation the quickest. The first chance came the home side's way on 12 minutes a Chris Beaumont cross reaching Caine Cheetham in the middle whose glancing header went safely into the hands of Brigg keeper Damien Steer. Both sides took a bit of time sizing each other up in the early exchanges, but it was Sheffield who were creating the better chances; Ben Naylor was denied on 20 minutes by Steer, this time the keeper coming out on top in a one-on-one situation. On the half hour Club got the breakthrough they deserved and were looking for; a weak backpass to the Zebra's keeper was a little short, CHEETHAM won the challenge with Steer, and calmly walked the ball into the empty net for the Sheffield striker's first goal at his new home. The goal not surprisingly spurred Sheffield on and the hosts started to press forward with more determination sensing a bit of frailty in the visitors' defence. Ben Naylor almost found his name on the scoresheet after cutting in on the right wing to shoot against the upright from a tight angle with the keeper rooted to the spot. Cheetham also had a chance towards the end of the half to grab his second, a one-on-one with Steer, as before with Naylor's effort, coming out on top.

Club carried this sustained spell of pressure over into the second period, and two minutes after the restart Club Captain Chris Hilton was desperately unlucky to see his header clawed away by the increasingly fortunate Steer. Brigg never really troubled Sheffield throughout the half, with Darren Bonnington a virtual spectator during the game, only a long low shot from Simon Roach causing the home keeper any work. Club looked to have the game tied up, a good midfield display helped the hosts to hold firm and stifle any threat from the Brigg outfit. Darren Holmes marked his introduction to the game by nearly scoring; his chip had Steer stretching slightly but the keeper showed a good pair of hands to hold the ball. With time running out, and having had nothing to do for the previous ninety minutes, Bonnington had to produce a save of the highest order from substitute Drayton's header, the keeper spectacularly tipping the ball over the bar. Whether Brigg sniffed they had a chance can't be said, but from the resulting corner the visitors grabbed their share of the points; for once the Sheffield defence didn't completely clear the ball, only reaching as far as ROACH some thirty yards out, a hopeful lash at the ball from the Brigg player had Bonnington totally beaten and the visitors ha their sights on an unlikely point. Even so, there was still time for Sheffield to nearly grab all three points moments after the equaliser; Holmes lofting a ball into the area that had Steer totally dumbfounded and beaten, amazingly the ball hit the post and even more amazingly rebounded to safety.

This was the fourth draw on the trot for Sheffield, the third against promotion rivals, although this result will hurt the most due to the nature of the game. Bearing in mind the difficult conditions this was a good performance by Sheffield; hopefully this can be translated into goals on Saturday against more lowly opposition. Brigg didn't look like a team perched in top spot, however they have the points in the bag and with the majority of their remaining ten games against teams from the lower half, and they can feel this was a well earned point. Having played all but one of their games against the other teams in the top five, Sheffield will hope they can finish the season with a winning run to take them into a promotion spot.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Neil Cluxton

Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton © (Vernon), Jones, Hobson, Ingall, Cluxton, Tilly, Cheetham (Bray), Naylor (Holmes), O'Carroll.
Brigg Town: Steer, Housham, Haltham, Blanchard, Hope, Richland ©, Roach, Chatterton (Drayton), Bowman, Carter, Brough (Thorne). Sub Not Used: Baxter.

Att: 117.

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Ossett Albion 0 Sheffield FC 0
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 21/02/04
 
For the second time in a week a six-pointer for Sheffield Club ended in a stalemate, as in-form Ossett Albion clung on to a scoreless draw at Dimple Wells. Following on from the entertaining draw the previous Saturday against Buxton, manager Dave McCarthy made just one change to the side that started that game, Mickey Stewart moving up from the bench to replace Neil Cluxton, with Richard Carrington returning to the fold as substitute. Albion were on a high after beating fellow promotion candidates Selby in midweek, although this came after a dip in form which saw them fail to win in their previous four games.
 
The first half was a fairly evenly fought contest, with Sheffield perhaps shading it in terms of possession and territory, and it was the visitors who were the first to go close to scoring with Asa Ingall heading just over. At the other end Danny Toronczak went close a couple of times; the first was comfortably dealt with by Sheffield keeper Darren Bonnington, whilst the second in the 16th minute was more of a test for the visitor's stopper as Toronczak was through on goal, even so Bonno was there to deny the big striker the chance of scoring. It was a composed display from the Sheffield boys, with Asa Ingall having an inspired performance in midfield winning just about every 50-50 ball he competed for. Club had a call for a penalty waved away midway through the half, Albion's best player by far Nicky Clee looked to have tripped Nick Tilly in the box, however to be fair it would have taken a very brave referee to award a spot-kick. Sheffield never really looked troubled; an assured performance from Bonnington, backed up by equally competence from Tom Jones and Jon Hobson saw most of the Ossett attacks amount to nothing. Sheffield for their part pressed forward consistently, with better clinical finishing the game could have swung their way.
 
For the first part of the second period the game turned into a bit of a midfield battle, and it wasn't until the 26th minute of the half that we saw the first real effort on goal; a bit of bad defending found Toronczak through on goal, however it was the same outcome as the frontman's previous two attempts with Bonnington coming out on top. More Sheffield pressure on the Albion goal saw the hosts defence look rather shaky at times, and found the Ossett team conceding a series of corners. In the 84th minute it looked as though the deadlock had finally been broken when Caine Cheetham, who'd had a quite game to this point, got goal-side of the defence to slot past Andrew Carney into the net, only a flag for offside cut the visitors' celebrations short. For the last five minutes Albion were well and truly on the back foot with Sheffield looking the only winners, if there was to be a winner at all. The introduction of Richard Carrington caused more mayhem in the Ossett ranks and some neat footwork from the youngster caused Garry Duffy to trip the Sheffield man on the edge of the area; the resulting free-kick went close, but not close enough. As time was running out Sheffield had the best chance of the game to snatch all three points; a nice touch from Ryan O'Carroll found Ben Naylor in space and bearing down on goal with only Carney to beat, unfortunately the substitute's final touch let him down and blasted the ball over the bar.
 
Albion will be the happier of the two teams with the draw, they never looked like getting anything out of the game, and they already have the points in the bag. Sheffield on the other hand could be pleased with the performance of the team; the result however doesn't help in the chase for a promotion spot as they remain in fifth spot. With Buxton drawing against Selby, it appears the top six are cancelling each other out at the moment. It looks as though the run-in to the end of the season could be very tight, and with home games against Brigg and Selby to come along with a visit to Eastwood and two games against Pickering, Club will have a big say in who gets the nod for UniBond football next season.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Asa Ingall
 
Ossett Albion: Carney, Dodd, Garrett, Wordsworth (Marsh), Watts ©, Hazelden, Duffy, Fretwell (Brady), Norbury (Ward), Toronczak, Clee.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton ©, Jones, Hobson, Ingall, Stewart, Tilly (Carrington), Cheetham, Bray (Naylor), O'Carroll. Sub Not Used: Vernon.

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Sheffield FC 1 Buxton 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 14/02/04
 
A bumper Valentine's Day crowd turned up at the Coach and Horses in miserable weather to witness an entertaining tussle between two of the Premier Division's leading contenders. On a pitch that resembled a skid-pan, both sides found the spirit and energy to produce some good football that was a credit to the both the standard of the league and the quality of the two teams on show. The game had been billed as a potential six-pointer, the first of three on the trot for Sheffield, however in the end both sides will have been satisfied the draw was the fair result.
 
It didn't look as though a draw was on the cards as the Bucks raced into a goal lead after only 72 seconds; a free kick from the right wing was knocked into the box by Carl Holmes, Jon Froggatt hacked it towards the goal and ANSON was on hand to lash it beyond Bonnington. It was the worst possible start for Club, yet they showed remarkable resilience to come back into the game given the heavy conditions. It only took until the 14th minute for Sheffield to get the equaliser, just as they were starting to get a foothold in the game. A clumsy challenge by the visitors' skipper Tim Willis on Duncan Bray had the man-in-the-middle in no doubt, awarding a penalty without hesitation. After a spell of treatment, BRAY stepped up to sweep the ball comfortably past big Jon Scargill.
 
Whilst there was to be no more scoring, there was no end to the entertainment served up by these two ambitious teams. Sheffield started to get an upper hand with Ryan O'Carroll going close on a couple of occasions; the first a curling effort just missing the upright, the second being a free-kick that caused "Arthur" one or two problems between the sticks. The half finished with Buxton looking the better of the two sides, and most likely to get their necks in front, giving the Sheffield defence one or two chilling moments. Ian Askey went close with a header for Buxton, following a free-kick from veteran ex-Clubbie Richard Peacock, whilst Froggatt went close with a rasping shot.
 
With the rain still coming down, and the conditions getting worse the second half could never be as free-flowing as the first. Both sides took the opportunity to batten down a little and get their defences sorted out; as a result both teams started playing more composed football. Still, Sheffield could have taken the lead in the 47th minute following some frantic football in the Buxton goalmouth; Asa Ingall forced a wonderful save from Scargill, the rebound found its way to Bray who thumped a rasper of a shot that shook the goal's framework before bouncing somehow to safety. Scargill came to the Bucks' rescue shortly after when he had to paw a cross-cum-shot from Sheffield skipper Chris Hilton to safety. At the other end Darren Bonnington was also being called into action with some game saving stops; the first from Ian Askey's header, somehow Bonno clawed this to safety, the second of note from the substitute Leon Wainman's header.
 
All-in-all a draw was a fair result, probably both managers would have settled for this before the game, accepting that three points would have been a bonus. Both teams should be there or thereabouts when it comes to the restructuring "Promotions" at the end of the season, for Sheffield that fate could be decided in the next ten days with successive games against promotion rivals Ossett Albion and Brigg Town. Another little bonus for Club was the size of the attendance today, despite the grotty weather, with gave a nice little earner of over £1,000 in gate money.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Duncan Bray
Valentines Day Ladies Choice Man Of The Match - Darren Bonnington (every lady in the BTF Man Of The Match Vote went for Darren Bonnington this afternoon !)
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton, Jones, Hobson, Ingall (Vernon), Cluxton, Tilly (Stewart), Cheetham (Naylor), Bray, O'Carroll.
Buxton: Scargill, Bevan, Agus, Wood, Kotylo, Willis, Holmes, Anson, Askey, Froggatt (Wainman), Peacock (Calvin). Sub Not Used: Pinder.
 
Att: 329.

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Sheffield FC 0 Glapwell 0
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tuesday, 10/02/04
 
It was a windy, cold and miserable night at the Coach and Horses for Sheffield Club tonight, where local rivals Glapwell spoilt the home team's march for a possible promotion spot by holding them to a dour goal-less draw. Sheffield were out to avenge their biggest defeat of the season, a 3-0 at Hall Corner way back in September, but a workmanlike performance from the Derbyshire outfit prevented anything close to revenge. The game also saw the long awaited, and delayed, debuts of new signings Nick Tilly and goalscoring machine Caine Cheetham, both of whom gave very promising displays.
 
Battling into the wind, it was Sheffield who had the best of the opening exchanges with Ryan O'Carroll coming closest; his shot however was well wide of the target. On 25 minutes Sheffield had a chance when Duncan Bray went near from a corner, it started to look evident at this point that chances were at a premium, and Sheffield's hopes of all three points would depend on their ability to capitalise on the limited opportunities. Glappy had their moments too, giving Sheffield a scare just before the break when the hosts' defence failed to clear a corner and were lucky to scramble the ball away following a goalmouth melee. Other than that, neither keeper was really tested thought the half, a trend that was to follow for the second.
 
The second half was no better for Club, now with the wind at their backs, as Glapwell set their stall out to leave the Coach and Horses with a point no matter what. Sheffield for their part found it increasingly difficult to be creative given the conditions; however Bray and Cheetham made the visitors' defenders earn their corn with some penetrating runs. Cheetham had the best opportunity of game midway through the second forty five, getting an opening in the defence but just not able to get the ball under some kind of control to make the necessary finish. The referee had a quiet game too, with very few controversial decisions and only booking Smith, Dooley and Morgan either side of half time for various shows of petulance. The introduction of Ben Naylor and Nick Tilly gave a new dimension to Club's approach, with Tilly testing the keeper with a couple of long range shots that stung Tye's hands if nothing else, and Naylor having two excellent crosses that just missed connecting with the onrushing Cheetham's head.
 
As it was the game remained goal-less, a result that will pain Sheffield more than it will Glapwell; the visitors will see this more like a point gained than two points dropped as in Sheffield's case. Club will have to pick up and start again for Saturday's visit of promotion rivals Buxton, a victory in that game looking more vital by the minute.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Tom Jones
 
Sheffield: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton ©, Jones, Hobson, Ingall, Cluxton, Stewart (Tilly), Cheetham, Bray (Naylor), O'Carroll (Vernon).
Glapwell: Tye, Colliver, Magee, Brennan, Smith ©, Morgan, Dooley, Robinson (Simpson), L.Wilson (Adams), C.Wilson, Walker. Sub Not Used: Kirk.
 
Att: 135.

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Sheffield FC 1 Hallam 2
NCEL Cup 3rd Round
Tuesday, 27/01/04
 
The snow, and a spirited fightback, came too late for Sheffield Club in tonight's League Cup tie against local rivals Hallam at a very wintery Coach and Horses. Having fallen behind to two first half goals from the visitors, Sheffield were unable to claw their way back into the game in time, and despite a late goal from Asa Ingall were eliminated from the competition they were runners up in last season.
 
Hallam took the lead as early as the 6th minute, an effort from MELLON beating Bonnington from long range. Without doubt Hallam looked the most comfortable and this belied their recent League form of losing the last three games, Sheffield on the other hand looked nothing like a team that was unbeaten in their last five games creating very few chances in a dour first half. The best effort to note for Club was a header by Asa Ingall which was directed straight at the keeper. The tie was put more or less beyond doubt in first half injury time; Sheffield conceding a penalty with a trip, CAMPBELL made no mistake dispatching the ball into the net.
 
Sheffield looked most likely to score in the second half, Hallam causing little or no problem to Bonnington's goal, prepared as they were to sit back on the two goal lead. Ingall had the best of the early chances once more, his attempt to convert Beaumont's cross was lashed painfully close over the bar. As the snow started to fall, Sheffield's leading scorer Duncan Bray went close with a header, Hallam's young keeper Scully just able to scramble the ball off the line. In the 84th minute and with time running out Sheffield managed to get one back; Hobson saw his header cleared off the line, INGALL though was on hand to head beyond the defenders to grab a deserved equaliser, the scuffle that ensued after proved that there was life in the derby after all. As it was Hallam managed to scramble everything else Sheffield had to throw at them to safety, and it was they who celebrated at the final whistle.
 
BTF Club Joint Man Of The Match - Lee Vernon/Asa Ingall
 
Sheffield: Bonnington, Beaumont, Vernon ©, Jones, Hobson, Ingall, Cluxton (Stewart), Tee (Holmes), Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll (Moorwood).
Hallam: Scully, Ashton, Broomhead, Reynolds, Hawke ©, Franklin, Mellon, Wood (Hoe), Campbell, Hague, Tibenham. Subs Not Used: Clarke, Wagstaff.
 
Att: 183.

Glasshoughton Welfare 0 Sheffield 3
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 24/1/04
 
Two of the top six form teams were in action at Leeds Road, a game which also saw the eagerly anticipated Sheffield debut of prolific striker Caine Cheetham writes Deano.
 
Club were in charge of this match from start to finish, with a controlled and professional performance with little given away and chances taken when they came along. Neil Cluxton was at the centre of everything, putting in his best performance since his move to Sheffield from Staveley. Indeed the entire team looked comfortable playing the ball around the pitch with consummate ease. With his usual jinking runs Duncan Bray was a constant thorn in the home sides defence, whilst Cheetham looked every bit the experienced goalpoacher he is, with the two appearing to have a very bright future alongside each other.
 
It took just thirteen minutes for Club to take the lead. Bray's strike from outside the box was spilled by the keeper, with Man Of The Match Chris Hilton the quickest to react, and his touch knocking the ball goalwards with CAINE CHEETHAM on hand to apply the finishing touch. A simple chance but one that might have gone begging a fortnight ago. 
 
In the 25th minute a typical Bray run into the box ended with the No 10 being clumsily brought down for the penalty. Bray appeared at first to have taken a knock and possibly in need to treatment, nevertheless he stepped up to take the kick himself only to see his shot hit the keepers legs and rebound to safety. Whilst denied the opportunity of an early two goal cushion Sheffield were in total control with Bonnington little more than an interested spectator. Three minutes before the interval the expected two goal difference was established and it was unlikely goalscorer NEIL CLUXTON on target. Just moments before Cheetham's deft header had clipped the base of the post and with the home side struggling to clear it's lines Cluxton's shot from 10 yards had just enough pace to find the keepers bottom right hand corner of the net.
 
The second forty five minutes saw more of the same from Club, although Welfare were trying to make more of a game of it. Darren Bonningtom was a little busier this half but with Sheffield's defence looking solid he was never in any serious trouble. Manager Dave McCarthy took the opportunity to give a debut to new boy Nick Tilly as all three substitutes saw action with Sheffield looking to see out the game. However, if there was any doubt that this was to be maximum points from this fixture for the second consecutive season then these were allayed nine minutes from the end. Bray turned his marker on the left wing and cut into the box beating another defender with ease before his chip found RYAN O'CARROLL unmarked eight yards out and he finished comfortably.
 
Glasshoughton will feel hard done to as they found themselves on the wrong side of the referee throughout the ninety minutes, including one sending off for foul and abusive language to the linesman just seconds from the final whistle. Whilst Ryan O'Carroll can count himself fortunate not to have seen red for pulling his man to the ground midway through the second half. However, the referees performance should in no way diminish the visitors play.  This was just the kind of performance the travelling Sheffield supporters were hoping to see. Whilst never spectacular Club dominated proceedings giving their opponents little or no opportunities. With February fixtures against Eastwood Town, Buxton and Ossett Albion coming up the fans will be hoping to see lots more of the same. 
 
BTF Club Man of the Match: Chris Hilton

Sheffield: Bonnington, Beaumont, Hilton (Captain), Jones, Hobson, Ingall (Stewart), Cluxton, Tee (Tilly), Cheetham (Stubley), Bray, O'Carroll.

Blot On The Landscape !!!
glasshoughton240104b1.jpg
The only disappointment on an otherwise excellent performance as Duncan Bray's spot kick is saved

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Sheffield FC 2 Borrowash Victoria 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 10/1/04
 
It was important the side got back to winning ways against lower opposition, which they did in style this afternoon against Borrowash Victoria writes Trev. Today saw the full home debut of new boy Peter Stubley, who started the game in the number nine shirt. After constant rain over the past few days the pitch was heavy but still quite playable, as the home side attacked the 'Sheffield' end in the first half. After five minutes, in what could be described as their first meaningful attack, Sheffield were on the scoreboard as BRAY found himself just inside the area and he slotted the ball into the corner of the goal, beyond the despairing dive of Fletcher. Borrowash were finding it difficult to get out of their own half, as a combination of neat footwork by the home side and a greasy surface were making the visitors chase shadows at times. Sheffield doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when a wayward back pass was chased down by BRAY, who rounded the keeper to put the ball into the empty net. The fact that Bonnington in the Sheffield goal hadn't had a save of note to make in the first half highlighted how one sided the match was at this stage.

Borrowash came out more strongly in the second half and at least had the chance to test Bonnington with a couple of decent efforts. However, the home side were still creating plenty of chances, with Bray once again turning the defence only to see his ball to Tee sail over the crossbar. With an hour gone and the pitch cutting up, Mark Scott was brought on to replace Stewart. Although Borrowash were trying to make a game of it, the home defence were holding firm and dealing with the visitors sporadic attacks at will. Another change saw Naylor brought on to replace Tee, and then Burke also saw action as he took over from debutant Stubley who had made a sound debut.

Once again Man Of The Match Bray used all his trickery to outfox the full back, rolling the ball along the edge of the six yard area only to see the onrushing Sheffield forwards fail to make contact. With time running out the visitors managed to get on the score sheet as an uncharacteristic error saw Bonnington drop a high ball for CARTER to knock into the unguarded goal. There are no mistakes this time though, as the team played out the remaining minutes by keeping hold of the ball.

So, another good win which sees the team keep in touch with the leaders and continues the good run of results towards the top of the table.

Attendance: 131

BTF Club Man of the Match: Duncan Bray

Sheffield: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Hobson, Stewart (Scott), Cluxton, Tee (Naylor), Stubley (Burke), Bray, O'Carroll.

Borrowash Victoria: Fletcher, Wall, Walker, Parkinson, Barnes, Carter, Swanney, Freeman, Carson, Sykes, Johnson(Hollis). Subs Not Used; Banks, Bowler.

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Arnold Town 0 Sheffield FC 0
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 03/01/04

Sheffield started the New Year feeling a little short changed, after being controversially held to a goal-less draw at strugglers Arnold Town at the King George V Ground. In freezing temperatures neither side could get the crucial breakthrough to take all three points, however Sheffield will feel the more hard-done-to after being denied an obvious goal on the hour mark.

Despite the overnight snow falls and sub-zero ground frost the game was given the go-ahead, with the pitch being a lot softer than anticipated, along with this the surface was very uneven. Despite the conditions Sheffield took the game to Arnold in the opening half, although there were very little in the way of clear cut chances Club always looked threatening. The first clear chance didn't come until around the half-hour mark with Duncan Bray seeing his shot deflected wide. Lee Broster was never really troubled in the Eagles' goal, looking composed dealing with Club's aerial attack. Richard Carrington gave Broster the hardest task of the half, the keeper having to be solid behind the Sheffield midfielder's drive. Whilst Arnold's keeper was keeping himself busy, at the other end Darren Bonnington spent the first 40 minutes virtually redundant; it was only at that point against the run of play that he had to block an effort by Hung-Chi Huynh. The closest to a goal came in the dying moments of the half with Lee Vernon's cross causing all manner of confusion in the home box; the ball fell in between Ben Naylor and Duncan Bray, with both players scrambling to get a foot to it, neither could get the vital touch.

The second half found Arnold get a bit more of a foothold; whereas Sheffield had dominated the first half, the second had to be considered shared. With conditions starting to take their toll on both sides, neither side managed to hold possession for too long, thus chances were at a premium. In the 60th minutes however came the crucial point of the game; a cross found the head of Tom Jones who directed it out to the left where Duncan Bray was lurking, his cross-cum-shot deceived everyone on both sides and curled under the bar and over the line. Sheffield's celebrations were cut short by the fact neither official appeared confident enough to award the goal, a fact that left everyone bemused by the fact the ball had clearly crossed the line by at least a yard. Nevertheless, and with great credit to Arnold, the hosts took this as a spur to try and cause some issues for Sheffield to worry about. In the 64th minute Darren Bonnington had to produce two top-drawer saves within a matter of seconds; the first an apparently straightforward block from David Wilkins, the next seconds later a top quality reflex save from David Taylor. If those were top-drawer, shortly after Club were to consider themselves mighty fortunate as another effort from Wilkins squirmed under Bonnington to hit the post, luck it appeared was on the visitors' side at last. The introduction of Paul Burke gave Sheffield more attacking options towards the end, Burke combined well with Naylor late on to lash the ball just wide, and the game however was destined to be scoreless.

So for the second year in a row Club return from Gedling Road with a nil-nil draw, and with it continue the unusual run of being unbeaten away from home on a Saturday. The controversial moment on the hour will leave a bitter taste in the mouths in the visiting players and officials, however the game should have been put to bed much earlier with a bit more of a clinical attitude. It could be said that the last two games have seen four points dropped against lower opposition, with Borrowash up next it is hoped Sheffield will get back to winning ways soon.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Darren Bonnington

Arnold Town: Broster, Davey, Boulter, Williams ©, Hodgson, Fisher, Huynh, Robinson, Back, Taylor, Wilkins (Brown). Subs Not Used: Brady, Coke.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon ©, Jones, Ingall, Stewart, Carrington (Tee), Cluxton, Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll (Burke). Sub Not Used: Griffin.

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Sheffield FC 2 Brodsworth MW 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 27/12/03
 
If you'd asked us before the Christmas double header if we'd be happy with a four point haul from our matches against top of the table Brigg and basement side Brodsworth then we'd probably have been delighted with the prospect. But, having claimed maximum points at The Hawthorns last week, and having already beaten Brodsworth fairly comfortably away from home just a few Saturdays ago, there appeared to be only one possible outcome at The Coach and Horses on Saturday writes Deano. However, Sheffield contrived to hand Brodsworth two goals on a plate, miss a hatful of second half chances themselves as they laid siege to the Brodsworth penalty area, and generally do everything but win a game that was there for the taking.

The first half was pretty much a non event, with both sides huffing and puffing in the cold conditions. Sheffield had the lions share of the possession but too many players seemed to be struggling to hit top gear after the Christmas festivities. On top of which the Brodsworth keeper was showing glimpses that he was in good form, and as the tempo of the game increased so did his athleticism ! Nevertheless, Club contrived to gift wrap Brodsworth an opening goal five minutes before the interval and David Crakovic gleefully accepted the chance. Suddenly the home side realised they were in a game.

The second half saw the Brodsworth penalty area resembling The Alamo at times, as Sheffield piled on the pressure with a succession of corners and crosses. Recently appointed team captain Lee Vernon was instrumental in much of the play, and accordingly main contributor to both Sheffield goals. Tom Jones heading home Vernon's pin point corner for a well deserved equaliser in the 66th minute. Substitute Asa Ingall entered the fray and his first touch saw the midfielder hit the bar when it looked easier to score. Another Vernon corner, this time in the 71st minute, was met by Jones again but Ben Naylor it was who had the final touch to nod Sheffield in front. 2-1 and game, set and match. Or was it ? Ingall had another simple opportunity to score but unfortunately the popular midfielder scuffed his effort, only for Club to then decide to extend the season of goodwill to the relegation threatened visitors. With the home defence going AWOL, Brodsworth's Crakovic it was who pounced again, this time in the dying seconds of the game, to hand Brodsworth a much needed point in their fight to remain in the Premier Division.

Sheffield, who had looked so solid the week before at the home of the table toppers, had thrown away a victory that had seemed inevitable at 2-1. Following so closely from the disappointment at Stone, hopefully further lessons will be learnt from this as we face two more lowly placed sides in Arnold and Borrowash in the next fortnight.

BTF Club Man Of The Match - Lee Vernon
 
Sheffield: Darren Bonnington, Mark Scott, Lee Vernon, Tom Jones, Jon Hobson, Mickey Stewart (Asa Ingall), Neil Cluxton, Richard Carrington, Ben Naylor, Duncan Bray (Paul Burke), Ryan O'Carroll. Unused Sub: Jason Tee

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Brigg Town 1 Sheffield 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 20/12/03
 
It was important that the side got back to winning ways after the midweek disappointment at Stone, and what better way to do that than at the home of the current Premier Division leaders Brigg Town writes 'Deano' in the absence of Stu, who was busy elsewhere - see photo below this report.
 
Eyes had been cast skywards for most of the morning due to the heavy rain, and several games, including two FA Premiership games, had fallen to the conditions. However, playing conditions at The Hawthorns were excellent and remained so for the entire ninety minutes. 
 
With Darren Schofield unavailable, Jon Hobson was restored to central defence and Lee Vernon was handed the captains armband. Hobson and Tom Jones were to form the basis of a strong and disciplined performance from the team, despite the occasional provocation emanating from both on and off the pitch from the Brigg side.
 
Darren Bonnington, who was in outstanding form throughout the game, pulled off a superb full length save in the 25th minute and following this Sheffield mounted their own attack from which they were to eventually take the lead. A superb ball from Richard Carrington, ignoring the more obvious lay off dowm the wing, found Duncan Bray in the penalty area, and not for the first time this season Bray's turn outfoxed his marker, who took away the strikers feet to give away the penalty. Bray calmly stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and to continue his recent excellent scoring run.
 
Whilst Brigg were never allowed to apply constant pressure to the Sheffield goal, a sustained spell just before half time saw the home side level. Club's failure to clear their lines eventually allowed an unmarked Chatterton the opportunity to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner of the net, and whilst disappointing to concede so late in the half Sheffield were still well and truly in the game. Their slick passing and speed on the counter a constant worry to the home side.
 
The second half saw more of the same. Sheffield always looking capable of scoring on the break and Bonnington having to be at his best to deny the Brigg attack.
 
In the 57th minute Club were back in front. Ryan O'Carroll was deemed to have been tripped just outside the box, and the wingers free kick found Mickey Stewart ghosting in on the blind side and his diving header beat the Town keeper all ends up. O'Carroll had two glorious opportunities to increase the lead but his weak efforts were little more than back passes for the Town goalkeeper. However, the No 11 was unlucky when a shot from outside the area was finger tipped over the bar by the Brigg stopper. 
 
As the match entered it's final stages, tempers were becoming frayed, with the home side clearly becoming rattled that they weren't having things their own way. Handbags were the order of the day when a skirmish appearing to emanate from the Brigg Town bench resulted in almost everyone becoming involved in a pushing and shoving free for all. The referee decided not to take any action, probably deciding he would enter into the Christmas spirit a few days early. The five minutes of added stoppage time saw Brigg throw everything at the Sheffield goal but again Bonnington was dependable and in the main Town's finishing was pretty wayward. The final whistle was greeted with much delight by the Sheffield players, management and travelling support alike. 
 
As all other games involving top sides in the Premier Division were off Brigg continue to occupy top spot as we enter the Christmas period but Club now move up to fourth place and an opportunity to consolidate arises in the next home game against basement side Brodsworth.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Darren Bonnington
 
Sheffield: Darren Bonnington, Chris Hilton (Mark Scott), Lee Vernon, Tom Jones, Jon Hobson, Mickey Stewart (Asa Ingall), Neil Cluxton, Richard Carrington, Ben Naylor, Duncan Bray, Ryan O'Carroll. Unused Sub: Bob Moorwood.

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Stone Dominoes 3 Sheffield FC 2
FA Vase Round 3
Tuesday, 16/12/03
 
Sheffield's dream of FA Vase glory disappeared for another season, losing a half time two goal lead to North West Counties team Stone Dominoes. On a cold night in Staffordshire, Sheffield only had themselves to blame having the tie seemingly wrapped up at the interval only to see it fall from reach with a dismal second half performance.
 
The game started as a good contest, with Sheffield looking the more ambitious; Duncan Bray causing some defensive problems for the Stone defence, getting behind the back four with a great deal of ease. On 18 minutes Sheffield had their first opportunity of the game, Rob Hackney had to be at his most alert to claw Bray's looping header from off the line. Moments later Hackney came to the rescue once again, this time palming Tom Jones' accurate header to safety. As time went on Sheffield started to get a firmer foothold in the game and it came as no surprise when the visitors took the lead on 39 minutes; a long through ball found BRAY once more, the prolific striker showing great poise and composure to lift the ball beyond the advancing Hackney.
 
The goal seemed to rattle the hosts somewhat and spurred them into action; almost immediately they could have drawn level with Dave Walker, unmarked in the middle of the area, heading wide of the goal. Tempers started to come to the fore as well; the first of several nasty clashes between the two teams saw the referee show great leniency to both sets of players. In the 41st minute, Sheffield grabbed their second goal in just over two minutes; BRAY the man on target again, once more making space to calmly lob the keeper. The game looked well and truly in Club's control at this stage, with no sign of the debacle to come in the following forty five.
 
From the off Sheffield had the chance to put the game beyond doubt, again Duncan Bray found himself one on one with Rob Hackney, this time however he took the ball round the keeper and was unable to find the net. Perhaps this was the turning point, who knows, but almost immediately Stone were up the other end of the park and back in with a shout. With no more than 90 seconds on the second half watch, the Sheffield defence stood off Dave Shaw at the back post who made no doubt to put it in the back of the net. To that point the visitors had knocked spots off the Dominoes; the goal however saw the hosts resurgent. In the 59th minute, with Sheffield on the front foot for a brief spell, the visitors lost possession in midfield; KILLEEN collected the ball and ran fully 50 yards unopposed to slam the ball beyond Bonnington. Having looked home and hosed, the visitors were now pegged back at two each and there looked like there was only going to be one winner.
 
Two goals on the break saw Stone gain all of the confidence in the world and then started to play the ball with comfort, making the Sheffield defence look very ordinary. Andy Brownsword had a great opportunity to put the game completely in Dominoes' favour, his effort having to be beaten over by the increasingly busy Darren Bonnington. It was Stone now who were getting behind the opposing defence with ease, and the deciding goal looked inevitable. It came in 72nd minute, again the Sheffield defence looked uncharacteristically frail, SHAW managed to turn inside Chris Hilton on the left hand side of the attack, and leaving himself clear on goal he made no mistake. At 3-2, the game was over for Sheffield and despite a few raids on the Stone goal, the hosts were never troubled.
 
It has been a long time since a Sheffield side looked to have so much belief in themselves; the first half performance was one of the most composed in a long while. The second half however was totally in contrast; the Sheffield management team of Dave McCarthy and Lee Walshaw were in agreement after the game, saying "it was the worst forty-five minutes of the season" and likening it to "watching a stranded man drowning" as their side sank without trace. No-one need remind the side of the fact this was a glorious chance that went begging, the game was in the bag and somehow escaped. Hopefully a lesson can be learned from this game somewhere.
 
BTF Man Of The Match - Duncan Bray
 
Stone Dominoes: Hackney, Heath, P.Taylor, Rainton, Donnelly, Brownsword, Sumner, Harris, Shaw, Walker, Killeen. Subs: A.Taylor, D.Smith, R.Smith, Glover, Piggott.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon (Hobson), Jones, Schofield, Ingall, Cluxton (Stewart), Tee (Carrington), Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll. Sub Not Used: Higginbottom.
 
Att: 102.

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Sheffield FC 2 Thackley 1
Northern Counties East League Cup Round Two Replay
Tuesday, 09/12/03
 
A local derby date against Hallam was the reward for Sheffield's victory tonight at the Coach and Horses over Thackley. In a game played in thick fog, it was a goal from Duncan Bray that was the difference between the two sides in a very evenly matched contest. The start of the game was delayed fifteen minutes due to the referee only giving the go-ahead at 7.30 pm, when the game finally got going both teams had to brave both the bitter cold and the limited visibility.
 
Thackley had the first chance of the game on six minutes, on the break hitting the crossbar, and just before the quarter hour mark Tom Jones had to be at his best to clear off the line. In the 15th minute Sheffield broke the deadlock; a one-two between the front two of Chris Beaumont and Ben Naylor found a chink in the Thackley defence, BEAUMONT managed to turn and shoot beating visiting keeper Crowley's fingertips. Immediately after the goal, Ryan O'Carroll went close to getting a second as Sheffield started to dominate proceedings. Richard Carrington headed tantalisingly close following Matt Higginbottom's cross, whilst just before the interval Beaumont went close to getting his second after a slip by Longley, only a solid block from Crowley saved Thackley.
 
The second half saw Thackley come more into the game, dominating territory more and getting Sheffield on the back foot. Even though they were pushing forward in numbers chasing the equaliser, Thackley never truly gave Neil Ferraby must trouble. Midway through the half the Sheffield stopper tipped a header over the bar, although details of this are obviously sketchy due to the fog. On 75 minutes Thackley got a deserved equaliser; following a Sheffield attack that broke down, Thackley were quick to break up the left wing, the ball fell to HOWLEY (I think!) who made no mistake driving home from the edge of the area. Rosendale had an opportunity a moment later to score for the visitors and give them what looked to be an unlikely lead. In the 78th minute though the ball hit the back of the net at the other end; BRAY once more the hero, turning swiftly to convert the ball around Crowley and inside the post.
 
In the end Club did enough to win the game and set up the tasty encounter with their rivals from the other side of town, sometime in the New Year. It's hard to say how good this performance was as I couldn't see much of it, suffice to say we won 2-1 (honest), and we're all probably glad the game is out of the way.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Chris Beaumont
 
Sheffield FC: Ferraby, Higginbottom, Schofield ©, Jones, Hobson, Cluxton (Tee), Carrington, Ingall, Beaumont (Bray), Naylor, O'Carroll. Sub Not Used: Vernon.
Thackley: Crowley, Ferrand, Tye, Longley, Shah (Armitage), Nelson, Senior ©, Hillam (Rosendale), Howley (Patterson), Burgess, Briggs.
 
Att: 70 (approx).
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Brodsworth Welfare 2 Sheffield FC 4
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 06/12/03
 
After defeat at Buxton on Tuesday, Sheffield got back to winning ways with a victory over bottom placed Brodsworth Welfare. Despite the comparative form and league standings, the result didn't come Sheffield's way without some scares. With keeper Darren Bonnington's withdrawal from the game with fifteen minutes to go, it took a tremendous hat-trick from Duncan Bray and the sending off of Broddy's big centre-back Dean Morling to truly settle the visitors' nerves and take the three points back to the Coach and Horses.
 
The Welfare Ground pitch was very uneven and not properly suitable for the passing game, even so Sheffield were on the attack from the off. It took less than four minutes for Duncan Bray to put his mark on the game, turning Luke Smith inside-out and leaving him on his backside before seeing his shot tipped around the post by Neil Murray. Club were dispossessing Welfare with a great deal of ease, who to be fair looked a side at the foot of the table, and turned this possession into territory. On 17 minutes a long ball found Jason Tee on the right wing, the bounce from the pass wrong footing Smith and setting the Sheffield man free in space; from more than 25 yards out TEE let loose a beauty of a curling shot that gave Murray no chance and sailed into the top corner to give Sheffield the deserved lead. As expected the goal sparked a bit of life into the hosts and it was they who came to the fore for the rest of the half, looking most likely to score. Ex-Sheffield player Gareth Collinson took advantage of a Chris Hilton slip on 24 minutes leaving the forward one-on-one with Darren Bonnington, this time the Sheffield keeper came off best by comfortably blocking his shot. Collinson turned provider five minutes later following a good run down the left wing, this time a lovely ball found Sean Perkins in space whose shot to be frank was woeful. Just before the break Bonnington was called into action again, this time blocking Craig Trodden at point-blank range.
 
Sheffield it seemed would need a second goal early on in the half to settle the game down in their favour, and it came on 57 minutes; BRAY showed deceptive strength to hold off Smith and get goal-side off the defender, Murray was never likely to stop the shot and Club now appeared to be in the driving seat. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, and on 66 minutes Brodsworth had pulled one back and were back in with a shout; Lee Vernon was beaten to the ball by COLLINSON who cut inside and let a sweet shot go, Bonnington had no chance and could only watch as the ball went under the bar. Not to worry though, as within three minutes Club had restored the two-goal cushion; this time a pinpoint long ball from Mickey Stewart found man of the match BRAY who had no trouble finding the net, lobbing the ball over the stranded Neil Murray. The nerves started to return on 74 minutes as some slack defending allowed Welfare to get one back, COLLINSON combining with player-manager Alan Radford to walk the ball round Bonnington to make the score 2-3. As a result of the lead up to the goal, Sheffield keeper Darren Bonnington was forced to retire from the game with an apparent shoulder injury, Club skipper Darren Schofield stepped into the number one jersey (not for the first time in his time at Sheffield it has to be said) for the last fifteen minutes.
 
To give an otherwise off-key Sheffield defence some credit they defended their keeper well, not allowing one solitary shot on goal by Brodsworth. Whether this was a reflection on the quality of the defence or the low standard of the home attack is open to some debate, but Sheffield started to pile the pressure on at the other end. A jinking run by Duncan Bray set the ball up in the middle for substitute Richard Carrington whose first touch of the game was a shot; unfortunately the ball sailed just wide. On 78 minutes came an incident that swung the game indefinitely Club's way; a through ball found Ben Naylor with an opportunity to go clear on goal, with only Dean Morling to beat the Sheffield attacker found himself poleaxed, the big defender's elbow clearly making contact with Naylor's face. To referee Ian Stewart's credit, he consulted with the linesman before producing the red card. Facing ten men, Sheffield looked a lot more at ease and had the chance to wrap the points up before the end. Ryan O'Carroll saw an effort go narrowly over, whilst a major mistake by Murray moments later allowed Jason Tee to set up Bray, with a hat-trick at stake the final shot went astray. In the last minute BRAY got his just desserts with a well taken third, a long ball allowed him to comfortable take the ball round Murray and into the empty net.
 
A good win for Club, one which would have been expected before start of play, but not one that was as easy as it looked on paper. Like most teams at the foot of the table Brodsworth scrapped for every ball and Gareth Collinson, whilst never producing the goods at Sheffield, showed what a good poacher of goals he is, continuing his rich form against Club. Hopefully Sheffield can continue with this form into an important cup week ahead, first up Thackley in the League Cup and next Saturday a trip to Stone Dominoes in the Vase.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Duncan Bray
 
Brodsworth Welfare: Murray, Fisher, Smith, Ball, Morling, Uttley ©, Wilkinson (Radford), Perkins, Collinson, Colakovic, Trodden. Subs Not Used: Slater, Walkden.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington (Carrington), Hilton, Vernon, Stewart (Ingall), Schofield ©, Hobson, Tee, Cluxton, Beaumont (Naylor), Bray, O'Carroll.
 
Att: 48.

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Buxton 2 Sheffield 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tuesday, 02/12/03
 
All good runs have to come to an end sooner or later, and tonight Sheffield saw two runs finish in one game; firstly Club conceded their first goal in 460 minutes of football, followed later by their first away defeat in ten games. Silverlands had managed to recover from Saturday's wash-out sufficiently enough to stage an entertaining encounter between two teams in good form, Sheffield on the back of the epic win over Dunston, with Buxton following on from victory over the Vase holders Brigg. Buxton ended up winners in tonight's game, but the victory doesn't tell the whole story as it took a strenuous second half performance to overcome the very confident Sheffield side.

The visitors dictated play for the majority of the first half, having more shots on goal than their hosts. Either way it was Buxton who managed the first shot in anger Leon Wainman improvising, with a shot over his shoulder just going wide. When Sheffield finally got going Buxton started to find it hard to live with them as Club launched wave after wave of attacks. Richard Carrington had an opportunity after being set free by Paul Burke; the Sheffield newcomer unfortunately lost his footing under pressure. Duncan Bray looked lively too, beating two defenders only to see his final effort blocked by the large frame of Jon Scargill. Halfway through the first half Buxton had their best chance; Lee Vernon lost his footing on the slippy surface, allowing Louis Axcell to skip down the wing and deliver a dangerous cross into the box, Caine Cheetham only needed to make contact to score but couldn't get there. Moments later Scargill denied Bray once more, this time the Sheffield striker broke free in midfield and let a shot go from 25 yards, only a spectacular fingertip save from the big keeper denied Sheffield a sure-fire lead.

Bray was giving the home defence plenty of food for thought, with the Sheffield man having seemingly endless space to cause damage; a cross from Chris Hilton was met by Bray's header, who looped the ball narrowly wide of the goal. Another player relishing acres of space was Ryan O'Carroll, the left sided midfield player dictating play for Sheffield and creating quite a few problems for the Bucks. A series of corners for Sheffield finally bore fruit in the 34th minute with Lee Vernon delivering the telling ball, STEWART bravely diving amongst the boots to head home from close range. It was no more than Sheffield deserved, but you got the feeling one goal was never going to be enough in circumstances and conditions like those at Silverlands.

It was always going to be difficult for Sheffield in the second half with Buxton, fresh from a half time tongue lashing from Ronnie Wright and Kenny Johnson no doubt, kicking down the slope and the underfoot conditions getting steadily worse. The first real chance of the half came Sheffield's way, with Scargill tipping O'Carroll's long range free-kick over the bar in the opening minutes of the half. Buxton though got to grips with the game pretty soon and mounted a sustained period of pressure, getting Sheffield with their backs up against the wall. Nick Tilly hit a blistering shot from well over thirty yards out for the hosts, everyone could only stand and admire as the ball hit the bar and to the relative safety of the arms of the previously under-worked Sheffield keeper Darren Bonnington. It took until the 64th minute for the score to be levelled, and almost in a carbon copy replay of the Sheffield goal; Carl Holmes' corner headed in by Bucks' captain WILLIS.

The deciding moment of the game came in the 75th minute with Buxton driving forward in numbers; Josť Miranda shot from 20 yards out, the ball deflected off a defender hit the underside of the bar and out of play. The referee Mr Day from Stoke-on-Trent waved play on, but after a consultation from his assistant awarded MIRANDA the goal. 2-1 could, and should have been 3-1 on more than one occasion as Buxton cut their way through the Sheffield defence with growing confidence. Only the poor finishing of goalscorer Miranda, on two occasions, and equally weak finishing from Carl Holmes kept Sheffield in with a shout. A late onslaught from Club saw Scargill comfortably deal with efforts from Bray and Carrington, with Carrington shooting into the side netting in injury time.

The statistics will show Sheffield had more shots than Buxton, and more on target, but in the end it's the number of times the ball hits the back of the net that counts. Both sides look more than capable on tonight's showing to trouble the top of the table come next summer, and both should be complimented on the good discipline shown on the night with no cards being shown to either side. After this result, Buxton move up to within a point of Club in seventh place, Sheffield remain in sixth position. Next up for Sheffield on Saturday is a chance to get back into winning ways with a trip to bottom of the table Brodsworth Welfare.

Buxton: Scargill, Pinder (Tilly) (Wood), Agus, Wood, Bevan, Willis, Holmes, Anson, Wainman, Cheetham, Axcell (Miranda).

Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Stewart (Tee), Schofield, Hobson, Carrington, Senior (Higginbottom), Burke (Naylor), Bray, O'Carroll.

Att: 230.

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Sheffield FC 0 Dunston Federation Brewery 0
(Sheffield won 3-0 on penalties)
FA Vase 2nd Round Replay
Tuesday, 25/11/03
 
Darren Bonnington proved to be the hero of the hour tonight at the Coach and Horses, as Sheffield eventually overcame Dunston Federation to earn a visit to Stone Dominoes of the North West Counties League. After four hours of goal-less football it took a penalty shoot-out to separate these evenly matched teams, and a spectacular performance from the Sheffield number one stole the show.
 
In the pouring rain, the heavy conditions didn't lend itself to fast passing football, with the chances few and far between. The first half saw Club pressing early with new signing from AFC Barnsley Richard Carrington following on from an impressive debut on Saturday with some silky footballing skills. It was a jinking run from Carrington that set Sheffield up with their best chance, making room for Duncan Bray whose effort lashed across the face of the goal. Dunston dominated much of the first half, and it was they who went closest with Dave Southern, Fed's best player on Saturday, hitting the post on 23 minutes.
 
The rain got steadily worse in the second half with both sides falling foul of some clumsy challenges; the referee didn't make many friends in Dronfield booking no less than eight players during the course of the game, five for Sheffield with Vernon, Hobson, Beaumont, O'Carroll and Stewart earning yellow cards along with Hogg, Irwin and Snaith for Dunston. The visitors seemed to adapt their play better to the conditions, the height advantage a serious factor in their favour; Sheffield on the other hand found the final ball going astray at the last moment once too often. Despite the advantage Sheffield had the best chance of the half on 67 minutes, Carrington putting an excellent cross into the box with Mickey Stewart's stretching header tipped onto the bar by Stuart Dawson. Dunston threatened to get a goal, Mark Taylor headed close but the game, as expected was going to be settled outside the regulation ninety minutes.
 
Extra time was a dour affair, Richard Carrington had the best shot of the game whistle close to the post, but a goal in open play looked anything but likely. Fed did their best to take the game before the lottery of penalties came to the fore, Andy Snaith denied by a bit of Bonnington bravery shortly followed by Mick Farley, who was denied by guess who? Yes, Darren Bonnington once more. Time eventually ran out, and with both teams as even as you could get, the loser of the shoot-out would have a good case for rough justice. Two games, two venues, four hours of football, no goals for either side, to say both of these sides were evenly matched would be an understatement. As it was the penalty finale was a no contest; with Bonno saving well from Mick Farley and Steve Holmes, the pressure was somewhat lifted from Duncan Bray and Jason Tee from Sheffield, both of whom converted comfortably. When Paul Hogg saw Dunston's third penalty spectacularly tipped round the post by the Sheffield keeper, the new boy Carrington's spot-kick was merely a formality and Sheffield move on to the next round.
 
So Saturday's man of the match turned into Tuesday's hero, but everyone in both camps deserves a mention after this epic tie. Even if it wasn't the most entertaining games of the season, it was one of the most nailbiting. Neither side deserved to lose this one, and if anyone thought it was going to be a formality for Club tonight they were sorely mistaken. Sheffield now move on to face Stone Dominoes from Staffordshire, hopefully the boys from Springbank Park won't be as hard a prospect as Dunston were.
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon © (Senior), Jones, Beaumont, Hobson, Carrington, Higginbottom (Stewart), Burke (Tee), Bray, O'Carroll. Sub Not Used: Ferraby.
Dunston Federation Brewery: Dawson, Farley, Taylor, Pickering (Snaith), Irwin ©, Holmes, Young (Shore), March, Hogg, Thompson (Milburn), Southern. Sub Not Used: Brown.
 
Att: 115.

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Dunston Federation Brewery 0  Sheffield FC 0 (AET)
FA Vase 2nd Round
Saturday, 22/11/03
 
Both teams find their names in the hat for the third round draw of the FA Vase on Monday, following a highly charged and entertaining end-to-end tie from two very good teams at a chilly Federation Park. Sheffield only had to make minor changes to the team that fought out a nil-nil draw at Thackley seven days previous, whereas Dunston were missing Richie Pitt from the starting line-up who was cup-tied, along with the injured pair of Gary Forbes and Elliot Milburn.
 
Dunston were the quickest out of the blocks, taking only twenty seconds to get their first effort on goal; Dave Southern crossing the ball into the area for Ray Booth whose spectacular effort went very close. Moments after and Southern was provider once more, this time from a corner Mark Taylor rose to head unopposed, Darren Bonnington was on hand to tip over the bar. It took Sheffield the first quarter of an hour to find their feet, but when they did they started to play some neat structured passing football, utilising a decent playing surface for all its worth. Dunston however were still causing problems, with Southern the main instigator looking very dangerous with his crossing, again providing the perfect ball for Booth, this time his header was straight at Bonnington.
 
The chances didn't appear to be coming as thick and fast for Sheffield in the first half; Ryan O'Carroll saw his free-kick deflected just wide, whilst Darren Schofield had a long shot go narrowly wide after some good build up play from Senior, Bray and Hilton. The second half though saw Sheffield pressing Dunston a lot more and O'Carroll had a great chance after he intercepted a wayward pass in midfield very early on; taking the ball to the edge of the area his shot had Stuart Dawson at full-stretch, the keeper just managing to tip the ball round the post. Dawson wasn't the only keeper having to pull out the stops to keep a clean sheet, at the other end Darren Bonnington was turning in a man-of-the-match performance. In the 57th minute the front two partnership of Ray Booth and Paul Hogg combined for Booth to shoot; Bonnington, like Dawson, had to be at full stretch to palm it one-handed round the post.
 
Southern was still causing problems for Sheffield, this time with his shooting, hitting the post from the edge of the area. The pressure was starting to tell on Club now as Dunston started to attack more freely, with Sheffield now starting to counter on the break. Southern played a telling cross in on 68 minutes, Hogg slid in but couldn't get the contact to turn the ball in. Almost immediately Sheffield were up the other end, Schofield heading over, and within minutes at the other end Booth beat the offside trap to test Bonnington to the limit, the keeper beating away the curling shot, it really was end-to-end stuff. Not only was it an exciting game that could swing either way, but it was a game played in a very fair and sporting manner with the referee not having to produce a single card. That was up until the dying seconds of normal time; the linesman flagged for an off the ball incident between Dunston's Steve Holmes and Chris Hilton, the referee chose not to produce a yellow card, but a red one for each player for an apparent kicking incident.
 
This little incident took the shine off the game a little as it went into the inevitable extra time period, with both teams threatening to do a lot but not creating the final chance. Neither team really looked like scoring with both keepers looking comfortable under pressure, the best chance came to Sheffield with Schofield crossing the ball into the danger area, Duncan Bray unfortunately couldn't stretch the extra inch to get the vital contact. So, another goalless 120 minutes for Sheffield on the road, this time though against tougher opposition from the Northern League. The vociferous Sheffield following certainly enjoyed the long trip up North, with the visitors' players to a man giving a hundred percent commitment. If the replay is as entertaining as this game, no one will leave the Coach and Horses disappointed.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Darren Bonnington
 
Dunston Federation: Dawson, Pickering, Taylor, Robson, Irwin ©, Holmes, Young, March, Hogg (Hollier), Booth, Southern: Subs Not Used: Burke, Snaith, Shore, Brown.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield ©, Hobson, Cluxton (Carrington), Senior (Tee), Naylor (Higginbottom), Bray, O'Carroll. Subs Not Used: Burke, Heathcote.
 
Att: 115.

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Thackley 0 Sheffield 0 (aet)
League Cup Second Round
Saturday, 15/11/03
 
Two hours of football failed to produce a goal in this hard slog of an encounter at Dennyfield this afternoon, as Sheffield huffed and puffed but couldn't breakdown a spirited Thackley side. Despite dominating possession and territory for much of the game, chances were few and far between with the best chance of the game coming late on from the least likely source.
 
The first half saw Club playing some neat passing football, but on a rutted pudding of a pitch the final ball went astray with the bobble defeating the Sheffield players rather than the tackle. The visitors were decidedly on top, having Thackley on the back foot and making their promising young defenders look pretty ordinary with Ben Naylor and Duncan Bray getting behind the defensive line on numerous occasions. Club had home keeper Aaron Brian flapping under pressure with some telling crosses, unfortunately there wasn't a Sheffield foot or head at the end of them. The best opportunity of the half for Sheffield came in the 43rd minute with Brian unable to deal with yet another cross, somehow though with more fortune than judgement Thackley scrambled the ball away to safety.
 
Thackley never troubled Sheffield in the ninety minutes, a resolute midfield of Senior, Tee, Cluxton and O'Carroll saw to that, not allowing the ball to get behind them; on the few times it did the centre back partnership of Jones and Schofield mopped up with ease. The hosts managed to get their first shot in anger in the 56th minute, with David Nelson shooting high, wide and handsome in the horse's field behind the goal. Moments later, Sheffield had their best clear opportunity Bray heading O'Carroll's cross straight at Brian. Despite looking dangerous and being so much on top, Sheffield couldn't get the break they needed to open the scoring; time after time the last ball or finish let them down, as time went on the less likely it looked that Club would get the result they so richly deserved.
 
The inevitable period of extra time came as expected, with a replay the most likely outcome from the day's proceedings Sheffield pushed on in the same vein. Chances started to come as the game started to open up, Ryan O'Carroll's corner reached the head of Tom Jones early in the first session of extra time, and Thackley though somehow scrambled the ball off the line and to safety. The second period saw a jinking solo run from Duncan Bray set up Ryan O'Carroll whose shot went very close. With both teams starting to show signs of tiredness Thackley seemed to see a chink in the Sheffield armour and started to go for an unlikely win. After their first spell of serious pressure and with less than a minute on the clock, Thackley defender Kyle Shah slapped the ball from over 30 yards out, and with Bonnington beaten everyone could only watch as the ball shook the cross-bar. Given the balance of play prior to this it would have been unjust if it went in, justice however prevailed and the stalemate remained.
 
Eight games on the road undefeated for Sheffield, with some very solid displays along the way. Even so, this wasn't the most spectacular performance, Thackley (like Goole the week before) is a ground where Club haven't done too well at in the past. There were many plusses from the game and very few negatives, yet another man of the match performance from Tom Jones along with a solid never-say-die performance in midfield from Jon Senior the highlights, however Lee Vernon being carried from the field for the second week running is a major concern with an appearance at Dunston looking very unlikely. Fortunately for Sheffield this was a cup game, with another bit of this particular cherry shortly, and not a league game with two potential points lost.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Tom Jones
 
Thackley: Brian, Ferrand, Shah, Longley (Armitage), Ripley, Howley, Hillam, Senior (Fletcher), Patterson, Rutherford (Buckley), Nelson.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon (Burke), Jones, Schofield, Senior, Tee (Higginbottom), Cluxton (Hobson), Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll.
 
Att: 84.

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Goole 1 Sheffield 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 08/11/03
 
Sheffield's visits to The Victoria Pleasure Grounds are usually unrewarding games and the travelling contingent would probably have been happy with a point from this fixture if they'd been offered the draw before a ball had been kicked writes Deano. However after dominating the opening period of the game, and having several opportunities to put the game out of sight of the home team, a scoreline of 1-1 ended with the feeling of two points dropped rather than one gained.
 
Club were in front as early as the 8th minute with Ben Naylor slotting home from a tight angle, after his first effort had rebounded back to him off the post. It was all Sheffield for the opening twenty minutes and both Naylor and Duncan Bray had good openings where the two front men would most certainly have expected to do better.
 
However, these misses seemed to spark Goole into action as they started to get a foothold in the proceedings. Darren Bonnington had to be alert to save a couple of long range efforts but in the 24th minute Lee Vernon was adjudged to handled the ball in the area and the referee awarded the penalty, booking the Sheffield wing back in the process. Having missed two recent spot kicks, this time full back Cameron Stuart stepped up to take the penalty but Bonnington made a comfortable stop as Goole's misery from the spot continued.   
 
As the half came to a close Bray had a further opportunity to increase the lead but the No 10 had to be content with a corner as his shot across the goal took a slight deflection. 
 
Duncan Bray was prominent in the early stages of the second half, shooting narrowly wide in the 48th minute but the home side were to make Sheffield pay for their missed opportunities five minutes later. The defence failed to clear and a Goole forward was on hand to slot the ball home. 
 
It was all to play for now and Goole centre back Dawson was adjudged to have held back Bray as the Sheffield front man took on the No 4. Despite Bray having a clear run on goal the referee decided that a yellow card was  sufficient punishment and the free kick opportunity was wasted. However, three minutes later, Dawson in a moment of frustration took the leg of Bray and the referee as if deciding that his previous punishment had been too lenient showed Dawson the yellow card again and it was an early shower for the Goole man. 
 
Despite having a numerical advantage Club failed to dominate in the manner of the early stages of the game and although Darren Schofield's late glancing header was only foiled by an excellent save by Mitchell both sides appeared content with a point apiece.
 
Sheffield's excellent set of results on the road continues and it's a return to Cup action for the next two Saturdays when they will need to be at their best at Thackley and Dunston.
  
BTF Man Of The Match - Ben Naylor
 
Goole: Mitchell, Kamara, Stuart, Dawson, Graham, Danby, Farthing, Jones, Pindar, Fell, Dunning. Subs: Wash, Rimmington, Rollinson.
Sheffield: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon (Hobson), Jones, Schofield, Stewart, Beaumont (Higginbottom), Cluxton (Senior), Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll.  

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Sheffield FC 5   Maltby Main 0

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior Cup Round Two

Tuesday, 04/11/03 

Sheffield coasted comfortably through to the last eight of the Senior Cup, although the five goal mauling somewhat flattered the home team. A lively Maltby side featuring old Club favourite Richard March, currently doing very well in the NCEL Division One, put up a spirited fight but were no match in the end for the clinical finishing of the team from the higher division. 

Maltby took advantage of the now traditional slow start from Sheffield, putting the hosts under a good deal of pressure for the opening ten minutes. The visitors however couldn't make the pressure pay in terms of a goal, and Club were soon to make the Miners pay dearly. On 12 minutes an under-hit back-pass somehow found Duncan Bray unmarked and in acres of space, with a great deal of calm and composure BRAY slipped the ball under keeper Adam Valente's outstretched arm to give Sheffield an unlikely 1-0 lead. 

The goal gave Sheffield the spur they needed and twice within the space of ten minutes hit the frame of the goal; firstly Ryan O'Carroll hit the bar, taking full advantage of some awful defensive organisation, and secondly Lee Vernon hitting the post direct from a corner kick. In the 32nd minute Sheffield got their second and effectively sewed the game up; Duncan Bray turned provider this time, setting up Paul Burke who in turn got the better of Richard March. BURKE made no mistake, emulating Bray's effort by coolly beating a poorly positioned Valente to make the score 2-0. 

Main didn't really give Sheffield much concern, again the Jones-Schofield partnership looking untroubled limiting Maltby to one decent chance either side of the half-time break; Scott Somerville went close with a header, whilst Craig Haythorne missed a golden opportunity early in the second half. Sheffield breezed through the second half, rarely getting out of first gear and didn't chalk their third goal until the 75th minute. Maltby substitute Nathan McHale was lucky to escape with just a yellow card, after a nasty tackle on Asa Ingall with put the Sheffield man out of the game. From the resultant free-kick O'CARROLL hit a blistering free kick from 25 yards that had Valente wondering what had happened. 

The last ten minutes saw Sheffield turn the screw and get two more goals to give the scoreline a flattering look to it. In the 82nd minute, substitute Ben Naylor outmuscled the defence to set Duncan Bray up in space in the area, BRAY showing lots of class to land Valente on his backside and the ball in the net. In the last minute BRAY got his third and Club's fifth from the spot; creating it himself by inviting Maltby's best player on the night, skipper Russ Ward to commit a foul, the kick sending the keeper the wrong way.

5-0 to Sheffield doesn't do justice to the Maltby performance, which by and large wasn't that bad. The win sets Club up with the possibility of a good tie in the Quarter-Final of the Cup, hopefully a money-spinner against one of the UniBond clubs. One downside to the game was a couple of injuries picked up by the home team, Burke hobbling off in the first half with a hamstring pull and Ingall in the second with a foot injury. Hopefully Burke will be back in time for Saturday's clash at Goole, however only time will tell with Ingall's injury.  

Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield, Stewart (Cluxton), Senior, Ingall (Hobson), Burke (Naylor), Bray, O'Carroll.

Maltby Main: Valente, Reed, Staniforth, MacPherson, March (Green), Ward, Sunderland, O'Connor, Somerville, Haythorne (Shaw), Fawcus (McHale) 

Att: 80
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Sheffield 3 Hallam 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 01/11/03
 
Continuing on with their rich vein of form, Sheffield came out on top in the World's Oldest Derby game, coming from behind to comprehensively beat local rivals Hallam. The crowd who braved the chilly autumnal afternoon were treated to an incident packed game, which for once in a Sheffield Derby involved an entertaining game of football.
 
Hallam were quickest out of the blocks and it was the visitors who drew first blood, catching the hosts flat-footed and allowing CAMM to sweep the ball past Bonnington from close range with less than three minutes on the clock. If anything in the opening exchanges, Hallam had the upper hand with Club looking decidedly shaky at the back. Things took a swing in Sheffield's favour around the time Marcus Wood was carried from the field with a nasty looking leg injury, at which point Club were starting to press forward in a more telling fashion. The referee was also on top of his game, booking Danny Campbell on 20 minutes for an acrobatic dive, whilst getting on top of some traditional Derby-style bone-crunching tackles.
 
The game swung completely in Sheffield's favour in the 23rd minute, a point from which the never looked back; Hallam keeper Danny Spooner must have had a rush of blood to his head as under no pressure at all he played a routine clearance directly to the unmarked Duncan Bray, Spooner then lost the plot totally bringing Bray down in the box. The linesman in a perfect position flagged the penalty kick, the referee agreed but was lenient enough to give Spooner the benefit of the doubt by dishing out only a yellow card even though the keeper was last man with an empty goal behind him. Ingall stepped forward for the penalty and slammed home, only for the celebrations to be cut short by the referee who decided the kick should be retaken for encroaching. The second attempt saw Spooner up to the task as he saved the kick, only for the ball to fall directly back at INGALL who rammed home to equalise.
 
Now the chances started to come thick and fast for Sheffield, the only problem was no-one seemed able to finish any of them off and give the hosts the lead. First up was Duncan Bray who did all the work to get round the back of the defence, ignoring the support in the middle, shot straight at Spooner; the rebound came out to Sheffield skipper Schofield, his shot unfortunately ended somewhere in the woods behind the Sheffield end. Moments later Bray was at it again, this time his splendid volley was spectacularly tipped over by Spooner. Hallam weren't looking remotely like troubling the Sheffield defence as wave after wave of home attacks pummelled the visiting defence, Jason Tee (who replaced Dave Faulkner who left following a knee injury) also went near as he saw his shot desperately blocked by an increasingly frantic last-ditch Blues defence. For all the pressure and effort both teams went into the dressing rooms with the scores level, with Club left ruing their missed opportunities and Hallam counting their blessings.
 
It looked as though those missed opportunities would serve to haunt Sheffield as Hallam got their game back in shape and settled into a more composed fashion. Even then it took the visitors nearly twenty minutes to test the Sheffield goal, Phil Reynolds' header hitting the post and eventually going wide. An interesting incident occurred in the 75th minute as Martin Francis, who had been substituted in the first half and also booked for a nasty foul on Chris Beaumont, was shown a red card by the referee for a verbal volley whilst on the bench. Although this incident gave no numerical advantage to Sheffield, a minute later the advantage was rightly on the scoreboard. Picking up the ball wide on the right, Ryan O'Carroll showed some nifty footwork and had the Hallam defence chasing shadows, a neat cool cross to the middle and TEE was there to plant the ball past Spooner. Two-one is always a tenuous lead in a local derby and Sheffield will have been grateful the third came so soon after. In the 80th minute, a great ball from midfield found Duncan Bray in an identical position to the one O'Carroll was in moments earlier, this time the cross found another substitute Ben Naylor; his first effort hit the post from two yards out, however momentum and a spot of luck saw NAYLOR put the ball in the back of the net from even closer, the rebound possibly coming off his chest. 3-1, and Hallam were out of it with no way back.
 
A good solid win for Sheffield, as in any derby fixture it's always nice to put one over your local rivals, especially one as comprehensive as this win was. Hallam looked by no means as strong as they have in previous years, and not as physical as they have in the recent past, this probably was their undoing in today's game. Club now go into a testing set of fixtures, with a difficult away league game at Goole nestling amongst three cup games, the first against Maltby in the County Cup. With a good run of form under their belts, and a settled line-up, things are looking good at the moment for Sheffield Club.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Asa Ingall
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield ©, Faulkner (Tee), Beaumont (Senior), Ingall, Burke (Naylor), Bray, O'Carroll.
Hallam: Spooner, Francis (West), Maybury ©, Howard, Hawkes, Wood (Storey), Reynolds, Roney, Camm, Campbell, Broomhead. Sub Not Used: Longstaff.
 
Att: 255

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Borrowash Victoria 0 Sheffield 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 25/10/03
 
Sheffield are now unbeaten in their last SIX away games, having won the last FIVE in the process. Nevertheless, they made heavy weather of it this afternoon against a dogged and determined Borrowash side at The Robinson Construction Bowl writes Deano.
 
The visitors should have been well in front by the interval having scorned two or three good opportunties. Burke and Ingall both unfortunate not to put their names on the scoresheet. In truth Borrowash never threatened the Sheffield goal during the opening forty five minutes - the only moment of concern coming from Darren Bonnington, when the Club No 1 decided to go walkabout outside his area !
 
The second half suggested the game had all the makings of a no score bore, but with fifteen minutes remaining substitute BEN NAYLOR managed to get a vital head to the ball following a corner to put Club one up. Bonnington had to be alert late in the game to deny the Borrowash attack in a one on one situation, but aside from this one moment of real anxiety Sheffield never looked in trouble at the back.
 
Club move up to fifth spot in the table, leapfrogging local rivals Hallam in the process, and one wonders what will happen when Club really hit a purple patch of form !!
 
BTF Man Of The Match - Darren Bonnington
 
Scorer - Ben Naylor 74 mins
 
Sheffield: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield, Faulkner, Tee (Beaumont), Ingall, Burke (Naylor), Bray (Senior), O'Carroll.
 
 

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Blackpool Mechanics 0 Sheffield FC 5 
FA Vase First Round Proper
Saturday, 18/10/03
 
A gloriously sunny autumn day was the backdrop for a rampant Sheffield to breeze past Blackpool Mechanics into the next round of The FA Vase.

From the referees first whistle, the Mechanics were never really up for it after just 3 minutes, Burke was causing the defence trouble, but his deflected shot didnt really trouble the keeper. For the first twenty minutes, Sheffield were in complete control, with Bray putting Clubs best chance of the match up till that point over the bar. This however, seemed to inspire the Blackpool outfit winning two consecutive corners, one of which Delaney tried to take about 5 yards forward of the spot it wasnt until Assistant Manager Lee Walshaw pointed this out to the linesman that something was actually done about it the referee hadnt noticed! But, after this brief spell of pressure, Sheffield were putting their foot on the gas again. This time they were rewarded with two goals in as many minutes INGALL with a powerful header (it went like a rocket) from a Vernon corner, and then OCARROLL slotted home from 10 yards after Tee pulled the ball back to him. The Mechanics best chance came straight from the kick-off a poor shot from Kinley resulted in Bonnington fumbling, and eventually picking it up on the line it was just that kind of afternoon for the Blackpool team.

As the team came out for the second half, it was clear there was to be no substitutions so the referee blew his whistle to restart the game. Once again, Sheffield dominated, and it was now becoming clear that there were huge communication problems in the Mechanics defence they were simply asleep at the back. However, Sheffield couldnt add to their lead despite two goalmouth scrambles and a clear-cut opportunity for Burke who unfortunately hit his shot straight at the Blackpool keeper, Barton. Then, Walsh, the liveliest Blackpool player of the match, had to be taken off due to a nasty looking hamstring injury. Funnily enough, the Mechanics then nearly got a goal back through Hoyle, whose header had to be cleared off the line by Hilton. Moments later, however, BRAY produced one of the pieces of magic we love him for he turned 3 (or was it 4?!) defenders in the area and then blasted the ball into the top corner for Sheffields third. Unfortunately, this appeared to kill the game. Neither team could make any real chances, and just as we were all ready to go home, Bray manages to thread NAYLOR through for his first goal in The FA Vase he calmly curled it around the keeper for a fantastic goal. Straight from the kick-off, Sheffield won a free-kick and it was quickly taken by OCarroll, who was only denied a brace by the acrobatics of Barton. Finally, Dave McCarthy threw on Tom Moxon, an 18 year-old who was playing in his first ever 1st team game, and he made an immediate impact. Just as the game looked dead, Ingall had a pop at goal which was blocked by Porter, but MOXON came in with the follow-up to put Sheffield five goals clear. Sheffield just about deserved the scoreline, but Blackpool wont be too happy at their level of performance today.

BTF Man of Match: Asa Ingall ©

Blackpool Mechs: Barton, Delaney, Marlow (Hughes 52), Days, Hoyle, Porter, Walsh (Sullivan 57), Ashall ©, Kinley, Gardiner, Shields.

Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Stewart, Faulkner, Tee (Senior 75), Ingall ©, Burke (Naylor 80), Bray (Moxon 86), OCarroll.

Attendance: Approx 70

Match Report by Robert Henderson (The Young Reporter, 14)

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Sheffield 0 Gedling Town 1
Presidents Cup First Round
Tuesday, 14/10/03
 
A miserable night for everyone who had the privilege to witness this game at the Coach and Horses, with very little that can be said to put a shine on events. Not much can be said about Sheffield's exit from the President's Cup, losing to a very useful Gedling side, without mentioning the referee. Mr Street, who "officiated" the game, found himself at the centre of attention of tonight's proceedings sending off the Gedling Manager and a player from each side, even though it was one of the least physical games of the season.

The game started brightly for Club with Ben Naylor going close early on, nearly capitalising on a mistake from Nathan Fletcher in the Gedling defence, only good keeping from Neil Waters kept the game scoreless. With events being far from lively, chances weren't exactly coming thick and fast; however Darren Bonnington was tested midway through the half with a long range effort from Anton Foster. Naylor was relishing his opportunity of starting his first home game of the season, doing really well to get a cross to Duncan Bray who was unlucky to direct his header straight at Waters. With time running out in the first half, and Sheffield having a sustained period of pressure, Naylor went perilously close with a bicycle-kick, only a goal-line headed clearance from Mark Clarke denied a certain goal.

Gedling came out of the blocks on fire in the second half, going close twice in the opening two minutes; firstly Nick Kennerdale missed narrowly on the turn, shortly followed by Foster skimming the post. Then the referee took centre stage. After mystifying players and spectators alike with some strange calls in the first half, he started the second by sending the Gedling manager from the bench for "misbehaving". On 60 minutes came the game's turning point; after awarding a goalkick for a clear-to-all corner, a move into the box saw the referee award a penalty against David Faulkner for a seemingly innocuous incident. SCOFFHAM made sure of the goal, sending Bonnington the wrong way.

The game fizzled out into a farcical situation from thereon in with the man in the middle causing a state of confusion for both sets of supporters and players. Things came to a head in the 72nd minute with the dismissal of Asa Ingall, who'd only been on the field for five minutes, for protesting against a late challenge and using a swear word. There was some action in the middle of the referee's performance, Gedling managing to string a few passes together now and again between whistles and Duncan Bray going close once again for Sheffield.

Both teams found themselves down to ten men in the 88th minute when Gedling had a player sent off for a second yellow card. This sparked a late, if futile revival by Club with Craig Robinson going round four players into the box, only to find himself pulled back by the referee with only the keeper to beat for a free kick, to Sheffield. So Sheffield make an early exit from this competition, once again at the hands of the Nottinghamshire side; this time having a pretty heavy price to pay, especially in the way of an anticipated long suspension for Asa Ingall.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Tom Jones
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton (Robinson), Vernon (Ingall), Jones, Schofield ©, Faulkner, Senior, Tee (Burke), Naylor, Bray, O'Carroll.
Gedling Town: Waters, Richardson, Tideswell, Clarke, Peet ©, Fletcher, Evans, Foster, Scoffham, Kennerdale, Newton. Subs: Hogg, Horder, Jepson.

Att: 101.
 
 

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Armthorpe Welfare 0 Sheffield 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 11/10/03
 
Sheffield continued their impressive away form with a comfortable win over Armthorpe at an unseasonably warm and sunny Welfare Ground this afternoon. In an open and entertaining game, Sheffield proved to be in command, and apart from a couple of minor worries, never looked in any danger of coming away from the ground with anything less than three points. Club made a couple of welcome changes to Tuesday night's line-ups welcoming back first choice keeper Darren Bonnington and central defender David Faulkner, both of whom were to have pivotal roles in the games outcome.

Playing up the slope for the first forty-five, Sheffield proved to be in complete control territorially; Ryan O'Carroll provided Paul Burke with the first of a catalogue of chances early on, only a point-blank save from Welfare keeper Strephem kept the scores at nil-nil. Club linked some good passing football together, asserting a great deal of pressure on the Wellie back-line, the only thing letting them down was the application of a good final ball. Armthorpe on the other hand were content to hit on the break, although some of the finishing was "wild" to say the least; Bonnington having to make only one real save of note, getting down well to block a shot from Brown. The defensive partnership of Jones and Faulkner was blocking most of what Armthorpe had to offer and gave a certain sense of comfort at the back, so much so that Faulkner made a couple of sorties into enemy territory, one of which saw him in "nosebleed range" of the hosts goal and worrying the Welfare defence.

Paul Burke was making a nuisance of himself, working hard to get into some good positions; with ten minutes of the half left, fed once again by Ryan O'Carroll, Burke rounded the keeper to square across the goal, only the quick thinking of Nicky Ball averted the danger as he hacked the ball over his own bar. The feeling a goal would come Sheffield's way soon was realised in the 43rd minute when another penetrating run from Burke was thwarted illegally with Beale hacking down the visitor's front man 20 yards from goal. From the resulting free-kick TEE curled a beautiful shot round the wall, past the outstretched hand of Strephem and into the goal to give Club a well deserved lead.

The second half saw a more concerted effort from Armthorpe, with Sheffield the side hitting on the break. Even so, it was the visitors who looked the most dangerous; Chris Hilton was the first to break behind the defence, his cross meeting Asa "The Salmon" Ingall who headed straight at the keeper. The chances were starting to come more frequent for Sheffield now, although some of the finishing left much to be desired; Duncan Bray, so often deadly in front of goal found himself miskicking an opportunity across the face of the goal, after a wonderful cross field ball, Paul Burke compounded the issue by also miskicking the ball at the goal allowing Strephem to tip the ball wide. Sheffield inability to kill the game off, despite many opportunities to literally bury Armthorpe, looked as if it could come to haunt them and Bonnington was needed to help retain the lead with two fine point-blank saves; firstly from Danny Jarvis, the second from Des Bennett. Either of those could have changed the course of the game, as it was Sheffield pushed on relentlessly.

The introduction of Chris Beaumont almost delivered immediate results as once more Beale conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position with a crude challenge. This time Jason Tee's effort was straight at the keeper but it looked to be a matter of moments before the result would be assured. Paul Burke thought he'd done that moments later, a class ball from man-of-the-match Dave Faulkner saw Burkie in loads of space, unfortunately the shot found the bar and not the back of the net. Armthorpe defender Beale was having a bit of a nightmare at the back and his slip let in Beaumont for a one-on-one chance with the keeper, disappointingly his final effort went straight at Strephem. The substitute got his just rewards in the shape of a second goal for Club in the 76th minute; a long ball to Burke was taken assuredly, gaining his composure he crossed the ball to the unmarked BEAUMONT who gratefully prodded it into the unguarded net. It was the end of the scoring, but it wasn't the end of the chances for the visitors as Burke, Hilton and substitute Ben Naylor all spurned good opportunities to give a more emphatic scoreline, in the end though it didn't matter as Sheffield coasted through to the end taking all three points.

Two away games in a week, six points won, not bad considering how the week had started with the home loss to Ossett Albion. Sheffield now move on to next weeks games in good form, next up on Tuesday at the Coach Gedling Town in the President's Cup.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - David Faulkner
 
Armthorpe Welfare: Strephem, Blunt, Currie, Beale, Jarvis, Brown, Ball, Jones ©, Clegg (Allen), Bradley, Bennett (Fox). Sub Not Used: McBride.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield ©, Faulkner, Tee (Naylor), Ingall (Stewart), Burke, Bray (Beaumont), O'Carroll.

Att: 106.
 
 

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Liversedge 1 Sheffield 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tuesday, 07/10/03
 
Determination and a never-say-die attitude saw Sheffield take all three points at the Claybourn tonight, coming from behind with two late strikes in the last ten minutes finally killing off a useful looking Liversedge side. Sheffield made only two changes to the side that lost at home to Ossett Albion the previous Saturday; Jon Senior making a return to the side after a short absence, replacing Jason Tee in midfield and Neil Ferraby becoming the fifth player of the season to take the position between the sticks with his first appearance this season.
 
The start couldn't have been worse for Club with Sedge taking the lead after just 90 seconds; Sheffield found it hard to control and then clear the ball properly, BROUGHTON didn't have to be given a second invitation as he lashed past Ferraby from 20 yards out. Liversedge, with the slope to their advantage, pressed Sheffield for pretty much the whole of the half and had more than one chance to double the lead. Paul Stevenson headed a well flighted free-kick against the bar, with Sheffield's defence rocking a bit and later on Ferraby had to be at his best to deny Andy Markham a goal, again from a header. Club found themselves surrendering possession cheaply with some pretty wayward passes, and Liversedge milked the possession by putting increased pressure on the Sheffield back-line, fortunately though they didn't capitalise on this. The visitors didn't appear to have much to offer in the way of goal scoring opportunities in the first forty five, the best chance of the half coming late on with Kyle Sutcliffe saving at the feet of Duncan Bray.
 
With the slope in Sheffield's favour for the second half, it was Liversedge's turn to be on the back-foot, with Club attacking the hosts with renewed vigour and showing a lot more fight. The chances were more in the favour of Sheffield now; Duncan Bray took advantage of a slip by Asif Hussain, the shot eventually saved again by Sutcliffe. Club also had two very good calls for penalties turned down; firstly Stevenson handled, to be fair the referee could be considered to be unsighted with this, but immediately after the Sedge captain tripped Burke in full view. Moments later another handball claim was waved away, and the feeling seemed to be that of a fruitless night. Things started to tip the balance heavily in the direction of Sheffield when Sutcliffe had to produce a save from the top drawer from Ryan O'Carroll, Liversedge were beginning to look shaky.
 
In the 79th minute Club drew level, it was something special that was needed and Paul Burke was the fella to do it. Picking the ball on the left hand side of the box, he jinked between two defenders and when it appeared to be the wrong option BURKE somehow managed to get the ball under Sutcliffe from the narrowest of angles. After such a bad start, a point would have been more than a promising proposition, but now with Liversedge looking in a state of panic Club went in for the kill. In the 87th minute the visitors got their just rewards when O'Carroll swung the perfect corner onto the head of INGALL who rose like a salmon above the defence to plant the ball into the goal.
 
Liversedge had time to nearly snatch what was now an unlikely point, but Sheffield were relieved to see their lines cleared. In the end it was a fine three points for Club, although from one of their least convincing performances. After Saturday's result it was nice to get a win without playing to full potential, and managing the first away win of the season.
 
Liversedge: Sutcliffe, Cuthbertson, Hussain, Smith, Stevenson ©, Markham, Broughton (Brady), Singh, Nestor (Sandhu), Hamlet, James. Sub Not Used: Goldthorpe.
Sheffield FC: Ferraby, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield ©, Senior (Naylor), Stewart (Tee), Ingall, Burke, Bray (Kistell), O'Carroll.
 
Att: 87.

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Sheffield FC 0 Ossett Albion 1
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 03/10/03
 
It was a case of hit and run for Ossett Albion at the Coach and Horses today, with the visitors taking all three points in a game that was clearly dominated by the home side. In an enthralling game Sheffield, despite constant pressure and several good chances, were unable to take advantage and left the visitors to take the spoils. Sheffield were dealt a cruel blow before the game, losing centre-back David Faulkner with a rib injury sustained in the pre-match warm up. Good news on the other hand for Club was the welcome return of the experienced Chris Beaumont, making his first league appearance of the season after injury.
 
The opening half saw both sides well matched, although it took just ten minutes for the Sheffield forwards to give Andrew Carney something to think about; Paul Burke producing some good football to rattle the cross-bar. First half chances were at a premium for both sides to be fair, Albion never troubled Ross Turner in the Sheffield goal in the first forty five minutes, and Sheffield were limited to only one further clear cut chance in the half. This came half way through the half when the bounce of the ball deceived the Albion defence, Burke once more the man with the ball at his feet; the shot was well blocked by Carney although both Duncan Bray and Ryan O'Carroll were screaming they would have been a better option than the shot.
 
Like the first half, the second saw the home team dominating proceedings, the Schofield - Jones centre back partnership repelling anything Ossett could throw at them. Sheffield on the other hand could have opened the scoring as early as the second minute, Vernon's cross missed everyone in the box, including Carney who must have been a relieved man as Burke stole in at the back to head against the post. The Albion keeper was living a charmed life as he made a hash of a cross on the hour mark; the goalmouth scramble that ensued seemed to send a message this was not going to be Club's day. This view was enhanced when Paul Burke's appeal for a penalty, seemingly hauled down by Guy Dodd in the box, was waved away by the referee and the decision given the other way.
 
A triple substitution by Eric Gilchrist seemed to swing the tide the other way, Mick Norbury's physical presence seemed to shake Sheffield up a little and Albion finally managed a shot to trouble Turner; a 75th minute effort by Nicky Clee clipping the cross bar. Ossett were starting to string a bit of pressure together in the closing minutes and a series of three corners were to be the death knell for Club. In the 84th minute and on the third of these corners, Sheffield were unable to clear their lines and WARD who had hardly been a nuisance to Sheffield somehow shovelled the ball beyond the defence and home. There was no comeback for Sheffield and their unbeaten home league record was lost.
 
A sense of injustice with the result I suppose, Sheffield deserving at least a point from the game for their efforts. However, as I heard on the radio before the game relating to Arsenal's win at Liverpool a quote that sums it up "a sign of a good team is one that can play badly and get an undeserved win". Ossett Albion must be a good side.
 
Sheffield FC: Turner, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield, Tee, Stewart (Kistell), Ingall, Burke (Naylor), Bray (Beaumont), O'Carroll.
Ossett Albion: Carney, Hill, D.Dodd, Duffy, Watts, G.Dodd, Shaw (Calvert), Fretwell (Norbury), Toronczak (Marsh), Clee.
 
Att: 173.

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Sheffield 3 Eccleshill United 1  
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 27/09/03
 
Thanks to a couple of classic blunders from visiting keeper Craig Bates, Sheffield were comfortable winners over high flying Eccleshill United this afternoon writes Deano.
 
Conditions were perfect for football at The Coach & Horses and, despite the shock of conceding an early 8th minute goal from Horrocks, Sheffield were in control from the moment they were back on level terms fifteen minutes later. Jason Tee's corner in the 23rd minute found skipper Darren Schofield, who nutmegged the keeper with his header to find the net. Five minutes later and it was 2-1. This time Lee Vernon's pin point cross was met by the head of Paul Burke and Bates somehow contrived to lose the centre forwards knock down as the ball bounced in front of him and ended in the Eccleshill net. Even the United No 1 was at a loss to explain how the ball had eluded him.  
 
A nasty moment just before the break saw Tom Jones in the referees notebook. The resultant free kick ended with Eccleshill centre back Gelder smashing his effort against angle of bar and post. Nevertheless, an entertaining first half and Club deservedly in front.
 
The second period saw Eccleshill pushing forward in an attempt to get back into the game but the home defence were very much in control and Darren Bonnington had little or nothing to do for the vast majority of the half. However, gaps were starting to appear at the other end and Sheffield were exploiting this with some accurate passing and speedy interplay. The lead was increased in the 58th minute as Darren Schofield's shot seemed to sneak through a hole in the keepers gloves, and much to the amusement of a partisan home crowd it was 3-1. This was the end of the scoring but it could and probably should have been several more for Club as Bates atoned for his earlier errors by foiling Duncan Bray in one on one situations on three seperate occasions. Substitute Ben Kistell also stung the busy keepers hands with his first time volley, from another Vernon pin point cross field pass.
 
Towards the end of the game it was almost exhibition stuff from Sheffield, with the end result never in doubt. They will need to continue very much in the same vein next week at The Coach as they seek revenge over last season's fellow League Cup Final finalists and eventual victors Ossett Albion.
 
Sheffield: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield, Faulkner, Tee (Kistell), Stewart (Ingall), Burke, Bray, O'Carroll. Unused Sub: Robinson.
Eccleshill: Bates, Tyson, Waite, Wilson, Gelder, Newsome, Price, Horrocks, Wood, Buchan, Coubrough. Subs: Howland, Cornwall, Kerin.
 
 
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Consett 0 Sheffield FC 2 
FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Saturday, 20/09/03
 
Sheffield coasted through to the next round of the FA Vase after an easy win over a determined Consett side today at Belle Vue Park, with a patient performance ground out against their gritty Northern League opponents Club never really looked in serious danger at any point. Both goals came late in the second half after some hard work from the visitors, following a first half in which both sides struggled to adjust to the rainswept conditions. Sheffield also had the luxury of being able to miss a late penalty which would have made the score even more emphatic than it already was.
 
With the torrential rain adding an obstacle to the already uneven surface, Sheffield took a little time to get going with Consett pinning them into their own half for the opening exchanges. When they did eventually break free it nearly resulted in a goal for the visitors; Duncan Bray turned Steve Ireland inside out and put an excellent cross to Asa Ingall whose shot in turn narrowly missed the target. Territorially, for the rest of the half Sheffield were in command, although they were not taking full advantage of the situation. There was a loud call for a penalty from the visitors midway through the half when Rod Butler appeared to haul Paul Burke down, the referee however saw different and waved play on. In the 44th minute came Sheffield's best period of play, and best chance of the game so far; Duncan Bray intercepted a sloppy pass from a Consett defender, played the ball across the field to Burke who rounded the keeper, unfortunately for Sheffield his shot from a tight angle hit the post.
 
The second half was one which Sheffield managed to control with a lot more ease than the first, although a couple of early scares suggested things weren't going to be all that easy for the visitors. Firstly, Paul Terrell had a header cleared from the line by Tom Jones and then following an error by Chris Hilton, allowing Mick Pitt to break clear on goal eventually overrunning the ball into the arms of Bonnington. The game, by any stretch of the imagination, was not a dirty one, yet the referee still managed to produce the yellow card no fewer than four times in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, all of them for petty offences. Regardless of this Sheffield went at Consett with relentless pressure and the chances were starting to come thick and fast. James Platten in the Steelmen's goal had to be at his best to tip a Jason Tee free-kick round the post in what was to be the prelude to thirty minutes of total dominance from Sheffield. In the 65th minute the Yorkshiremen eventually got the breakthrough they so obviously deserved, Paul Burke the supplier of an excellent cross, TEE dispatching with some style into the back of the net.
 
From here on in it was all Sheffield, Duncan Bray was the next to go close five minutes later, lobbing the keeper from the edge of the area, his shot on this occasion just skimming the post though. A series of corners from the visitors kept the pressure on, and Consett were finding it increasingly difficult to break beyond the Sheffield midfield line. Bray went close again with a deflected shot before Club sealed the victory in the 84th minute with an inevitable second goal. Paul Burke, who had been a constant thorn in Consett skipper Jeff Sugden's side, finally got the better of him with some neat play down the left side, cutting inside BURKE made sure by tucking the ball under Platten's body. Effectively that was game over, but Sheffield were given a stern warning two minutes after the goal that Consett could still be a danger if they weren't careful, Bonnington having to pull off an excellent save from Pitt's piledriver of a shot. Sheffield's forward line were now starting to enjoy themselves with some good movement causing a very tired looking Consett defence some problems. Good work from Jason Tee fed the ball to Bray whose shot was saved by the constantly busy Platten; the ball rebounded to Ryan O'Carroll who chipped just over. With time running out Sheffield had a golden opportunity to get a well deserved third goal; Duncan Bray dribbled the ball with ease round two defenders, rounded Platten only to be felled by the keeper who was scrambling to get back. This time the referee had no doubts in awarding the penalty, Duncan Bray stepped up to take the kick and struck the ball straight at Platten.
 
So, Sheffield march on to the next round of the Vase after a grinding performance, one that belied the injury list at present. Given Club's recent history against Northern League opposition, this made the result and the long journey home so much sweeter. Hopefully the draw for the next round will be kind to Sheffield, a nice home game against Central Midlands opposition being the preferred option for the Management team at the Coach and Horses.
 
Consett: Platten, Ireland (Grimes), Ball, Butler, Sugden, Lish, Thompson (Green), Bryson, Pitt, Terrell, Suddes. Subs Not Used: Green, Grice, Lowden.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Vernon, Jones, Schofield, Faulkner, Tee, Ingall (Kistell), Burke, Bray, O'Carroll. Subs Not Used: Robinson, Jenkinson, Brakes.
 
Att: 70.
 
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Sheffield FC 1 Farsley Celtic 3
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday, 16/09/03 

Injury ravaged Sheffield FC's interest in the FA Cup was ended tonight at the Coach and Horses by Farsley Celtic. A brave performance was not enough for the Northern Counties East side, the game being settled in extra time, as the UniBond side's superior fitness eventually told after a gruelling contest. Farsley showed only one change to the side that came from behind at the Throstle's Nest, Stuart Beech making his first start of the season replacing Ben Austin. Sheffield on the other hand had Darren Bonnington, whose match fitness was still questionable before the game, replacing Nicky Allen who was injured at the weekend. Also making his first start of the campaign was seasoned veteran Mickey Stewart, coming in for the injured Neil Cluxton; and making a welcome return from holiday Paul Burke, with Jason Tee stepping into the substitute's role.

Both sides looked a little jaded in the opening exchanges, with Farsley looking nothing like the adventurous side that opened the first tie, Sheffield more than held their own. Neither side created much in the way of chances with both keepers having a less than torrid time. This was to change dramatically in the 29th minute when Bonnington tipped a long-range effort onto the post; he was still stranded as the rebound fell to SHIELDS who slotted the ball into the empty net. At this point it looked as if the home side's walking wounded didn't have an answer as Celtic, wearing an appropriate green and white kit, waltzed through the game with some ease. In Saturday's game if anything, Farsley could be accused of having some pretty diabolical finishing skills, with better marksmanship the replay wouldn't have taken place, and they carried this trend on in the 42nd minute. A defensive mix-up left Mick Midwood with the simple task of rounding Bonnington, which he did, and the even simpler task of tapping into the empty net, which he didn't; a woeful attempt and probably the most embarrassing miss of the season so far. With seconds ticking away, Sheffield had their best chance of an otherwise opportunity-free half; Paul Burke with his first opening of the game skimming the upright with the keeper well and truly beaten.

Club started the second half with the usual re-energised vigour as of late, and Farsley showed signs of frailty in their defence allowing Duncan Bray time and space to whip a shot across the face of the goal. It was end-to-end stuff at the start of the half and both sides were showing more promise in attack, the ever-dangerous Smithard was set free on the break; yet again poor finishing let the visitors down. Sheffield had a vociferous call for a penalty turned down as Wes Freeman clipped Duncan Bray's ankles in the area. At the other end the chances were coming thick and fast, Bonnington was called into action having to save a point-blank header from Smithard. Midwood added to the catalogue of Celtic misses when he thundered a shot which was tipped onto the crossbar; eventually the activity was too much for Darren Bonnington who had done well to last the 70 minutes to that point. Bonno had an able deputy in young Kenny Brakes who showed he was no slouch making some good saves towards the end of normal time, seemingly Sheffield were living a charmed life. With time running out and Sheffield pressing ever more dangerously at the Farsley area, the visiting defence finally panicked and allowed Club to level the game and take it into extra time. Some bad control by Andy Shields in his own area nearly conceded a corner; rather than allowing the ball to go out he foolishly played the ball to Asa Ingall at the edge of the six yard area, to compound matters Shields then hacked Ingall down from behind. Up stepped BRAY to take the spot kick, with three minutes to go, and inevitably struck the ball into the back of the net.

Probably the last thing Sheffield's brave eleven wanted was extra time and as expected it was asking a little too far for them, Farsley's superior fitness finally showing through. With two minutes of the first period remaining Sheffield allowed visiting captain Chris Stabb to send the ball into the middle, where HENDERSON nodded home past Brakes with the defence rooted to the spot. Although Sheffield pressed on relentlessly for another equaliser, they subsequently left themselves a little frail and exposed at the back and Farsley took full advantage with a storming break from Damian Holmes, who in turn set the ball up for BLACKSTONE to put the final nail in the coffin with seven minutes left.

Farsley go on to a date with table-topping Bridlington Town at the seaside a week on Saturday, they'll need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal if they are to progress further. Sheffield on the other hand have a great deal to be proud of; enough has been said about the injury list, but the side that turned out in the two games gave a better than average performance. Paul Burke turned in possibly his best performance since his return to the Club, with Asa Ingall, Craig Robinson and of course Bonnington and Brakes coming out with a great deal of honour. It's the end of the FA Cup run for this season, but the Club are still in the Vase, with a visit to Consett in the Northeast the next in the diary.

Sheffield FC: Bonnington (Brakes), Watson (Robinson), Vernon, Jones, Schofield ©, Faulkner, Stewart (Tee), Ingall, Burke, Bray, O'Carroll. Subs Not Used: Kistell, Jenkinson.
Farsley Celtic: Morgan, Stabb ©, Ball, Shields, Henderson, Iqbal, Beech (Holmes), Freeman, Smithard (Newton), Midwood, Spence (Blackstone).

Att: 107
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Farsley Celtic 1  Sheffield FC 1
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Saturday, 13/09/03

Farsley had to come from behind to level this tie in a game that they looked like winning with ease in the first half, but after a dogged second half performance by injury hit Sheffield they were grateful to have a second bite of the cherry in Tuesday night's replay. In the late summer sunshine at the Throstle's Nest Ground, both sets of spectators were treated to a wonderful pair of goals, both of which ironically came against the run of play. Sheffield were hampered yet again by a never-ending injury list, today's latest addition being regular keeper Darren Bonnington, out with a groin injury.

The first half was undoubtedly all Farsley, who pounded the Sheffield goal with a seemingly ceaseless amount of pressure. The signs were promising as early as the 3rd minute for the hosts when Michael Midwood gave a taste of what was to follow with a well struck volley; stand in keeper Nicky Allen was more than a match this time though, blocking very well. Sheffield were caught cold on the quarter hour mark waiting for the game to stopped with the linesman flagging, the referee allowed play to continue and Matt Smithard rounded Allen only to put the ball in the side netting.

Farsley were dominating all the play and Smithard was integral to all the attacks, looking dangerous every time he got the ball. Some great work between Smithard and Midwood worked the ball into the middle where Andy Shields had lost his marker; again the Celtic man was off target as Sheffield's defence were rooted to the spot. Smithard went close again after being threaded through by Ben Austin; Smithard beat the offside trap but could not hit the target. Sheffield's cause was not helped five minutes later when Neil Cluxton was stretchered off having jarred himself in a midfield tackle. Five minutes before the half time whistle Farsley went the closest yet; Austin provided Midwood with an opening, who shook the crossbar with a thunderbolt of a shot. To add insult to the ever-mounting list of missed chances Midwood was denied yet again by Nicky Allen with a great save in the last seconds of the half.

Sheffield must have been counting their blessings at half time, with Farsley having no fewer than six clear cut chances both sides went in goal-less, possibly it was going to be Club's day after all. The second half, by contrast, was a completely different affair with the visitors giving more of a gritty performance. In the 57th minute they finally got their first shot on goal, that honour going to Ben Kistell who whistled his effort over the bar. It was the first sustained period of pressure from Sheffield and they got their just rewards eight minutes later. In the 65th minute Farsley had more than a little problem getting possession in their own area, Sheffield played some neat touches before the ball fell at the feet of O'CARROLL who curled the ball beyond the hand of Tom Morgan from 20 yards. Against the run of play, the underdogs looked as though they could spring a surprise and buoyed by that tried to build on the lead with a lengthy assault on the home team's goal.

Farsley looked to be desperate and Celtic manager Lee Sinnott played his joker with twenty minutes to go, making a triple substitution. It didn't look as though it had made any positive effect for the home team as Sheffield's defensive line of Faulkner, Schofield and Jones repelled everything Farsley could throw at them with ease.  In the 76th minute though, once more against the run of play, the scores were levelled.  A routine cross was poorly cleared by Dave Faulkner, the defender's first error of an otherwise excellent game; the ball fell to MIDWOOD 25 yards out who hit a splendid volley beyond Allen.

Celtic get another chance at the Coach and Horses on Tuesday, both sides will feel they will be able to overcome the other based on their respective performance. Sheffield on the other hand will be hoping that the injury list starts to recede, I can't wait for the day the match report starts "a full strength Sheffield side".

Farsley Celtic: Morgan, Stabb©, Ball, Shields (Brewer), Henderson, Iqbal, Austin (Blackstone), Freeman, Smithard, Midwood, Spence (Newton). Subs Not Used: Holmes, Robinson.

Sheffield FC: Allen, Watson, Vernon, Jones, Schofield©, Faulkner, Cluxton, (Kistell), Ingall, Tee (Robinson), Bray, O'Carroll.  Subs Not Used: Bonnington, Griffin.

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Glapwell 3 Sheffield FC 0 
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tuesday, 09/09/03
 
Glapwell ended injury hit Sheffield's unbeaten start to the season with a 3-0 win, and with it breaking Club's unprecedented winning run at Hall Corner which had stretched for four games. A win for Sheffield would have catapulted them up the table into second place; however it was Glapwell who ended the night in that position. All the goals came in the second half in a 19 minute spell, and all came from Glapwell capitalising on some uncharacteristic slack defending from the visitors.
 
Playing up the notorious slope in the first half, Sheffield found themselves under the cosh from the hosts for much of the opening, although Bonnington was never troubled much by the Glapwell forwards. The first real chance came, much against the run of play, from the visitors; Jon Senior's 20-yard effort being tipped rather unconvincingly by home keeper Neil West. Making his debut for Sheffield was ex-Belper utility player Chris Hilton, and he certainly impressed with some neat touches in the first half.
 
Not unexpectedly both sides cancelled each other out, and Sheffield went into the second half looking forward to the advantage of the slope with the scores level. It wasn't to go to the script of the last three seasons as in the 62nd minute the ball came across the area, Sheffield were unable to clear and BLAND gleefully swept in from the edge of the box. As hard as the visitors tried, even with the slope they couldn't get level. The game became disjointed, being fractured every few seconds by the referee who seemed to be earning commission with his whistle blowing.
 
In the 73rd minute things got worse for Sheffield, this time a corner fell invitingly at the back post for the Glapwell skipper TAYLOR, an easy tap-in left the game too much of a mountain to climb. The scoring was finalised nine minutes from the end when substitute ROBINSON was left un-marked at the back post to head home past the stranded Bonnington. To add insult to injury there was even time for the home keeper to exorcise a ghost from last season, where he conceded one of the most bizarre goals of the season, by pulling of an excellent one handed save from a powerful Tom Jones header that seemed destined to be at least a consolation goal.
 
The scoreline somewhat flattered Glapwell, in a game with not many chances, the hosts took theirs and with it deservedly took the points. Sheffield now move on to Cup football over the next couple of weeks with visits to Farsley Celtic and the following week Consett.
 
Glapwell: West, Ashton, Rew, Taylor ©, Flint, Smith, Davies, Castledine, Bland (Yates), Wilson (Robinson), Walker. Sub Not Used: Magee.
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Hilton, Schofield ©, Jones, Watson, Faulkner, Senior (Vernon), Ingall, Tee, Bray (Kistell), O'Carroll. Sub Not Used: Griffin.
 
Att: 110

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Sheffield FC 2 Glasshoughton Welfare 1
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Saturday, 06/09/03
 
Sheffield's unbeaten start to the season continued today with a two-one victory over a solid looking Glasshoughton side at the Coach and Horses. A patched up Sheffield side came from behind to record a comfortable victory which belies the tight scoreline, the goalscoring hero once more being Duncan Bray who notched another two strikes to his season's tally.
 
Both sides cancelled each other out in the early exchanges but the hosts were caught out on 10 minutes when Welfare went in front. A looping header from WARD caught Bonnington flat-footed and despite a desperate scramble by the Club defence the ball trickled into the net for a soft goal. Undeterred by this Sheffield came on the counter and played some good football, Jason Tee and Duncan Bray linking up as a very good front partnership.
 
In the 24th minute the scores were levelled with another piece of solo magic from the home side's leading scorer. Cutting in from the right hand side of the box, and beating two or three defenders in the process, BRAY put the ball outside the reach of keeper Shutt. The rest of the half was a midfield battle with very few chances and very little work for Bonno or Shutt to do; Jon Senior ran himself into the ground with a great battle with Paul Arkle, the latter having more than a small part in the outcome of the game.
 
Midway through the second half the game swung dramatically in Sheffield's favour, a brilliant through ball found Duncan Bray clear on goal with only Shutt to beat. His effort went beyond the keeper and just wide of the post. The Sheffield hitman was to get his just desserts in the 67th minute when he was hacked down in the middle of a jinking run, by Arkle inside the area. The referee had no doubt with the decision and the visitors did not complain about it; Arkle was lucky to stay on the pitch having been booked earlier, although the afternoon turned even more sour when he retired from the game later with a nasty looking Achilles injury. BRAY dispatched the spot-kick with little fuss to effectively seal the game even though there was more than 20 minutes left.
 
Sheffield pressed forward relentlessly and Tee was unlucky not to open his account for the season when he was denied with a close range effort by Shutt. Glasshoughton couldn't get out of their own half never causing the home team much worry, Darren Bonnington being an unemployed bystander to the whole proceedings, and Sheffield simply closed the game down to finish at a canter. Another impressive performance by the home team, who move on to Glapwell in midweek in the hope of pushing the unbeaten run a little further.
 
Vote for YOUR Sheffield Man Of The Match in the  BTF Poll on our home page.
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Slowe (Griffin), Schofield ©, Jones, Watson, Faulkner, Senior (Davenport), Ingall, Tee, Bray (Kistell), O'Carroll.
Glasshoughton Welfare: Shutt, Ward, Cressey, Noteman ©, Baker, Dutton (Haigh), Ward, Batley, Parker, Arkle (Jackson), Mattison (Woolford).

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Eccleshill United 0 Sheffield FC 0 
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Wednesday, 03/09/03
 
Plumpton Park has always been a difficult proposition for Sheffield writes Deano and so it proved again tonight. However, a gritty competitive performance ensured the unbeaten run continues as the team departed Eccleshill with a point.
 
A late arrival for the Sheffield team due to an accident on the motorway meant the game kicked off 15 minutes late, but the lack of preparation didn't appear to hinder the side who were without Paul Burke, Saturday's FA Cup match winner.
 
In truth the game had little in the way of goalmouth action with neither keeper called into serious action during the entire ninety minutes. Neil Cluxton went close with a first half effort, and young substitute Martyn Lee went even closer midway through the second half. But a point was a fair result on an evening when the brightest spot was the appearance of Mars above the Eccleshill clubhouse.
 
Another satisfactory performance from Club against a side that will trouble quite a few teams this season. 
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Did you travel to Eccleshill ? Vote for your Man Of The Match in The BTF Mini Poll on our home page.
 
Sheffield: Darren Bonnington, Andrew Slowe, Lee Vernon, Tom Jones, Darren Schofield, John Senior, Neil Cluxton (Andrew Watson), Asa Ingall, Ben Naylor (Martyn Lee), Duncan Bray, Ryan O'Carroll. Unused Sub: David Faulkner
 
 

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Sheffield 1 Jarrow Roofing 0
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday, 30/08/03
 
Sheffield march on to meet Farsley Celtic in the FA Cup after dispatching an over-physical Jarrow Roofing outfit more comfortably than the score suggests. A 51st minute wonder strike from Club front man Paul Burke was enough to overcome the Northern League outfit who to be fair weren't as good as their league position suggested.
 
The game offered little in the way of excitement or clear cut chances in the first half, being too tense to be a spectacle as both sides sized each other up. Sheffield had an early opportunity from Duncan Bray which whistled over the bar whereas Roofing created nothing being stifled by the makeshift Sheffield back four. The only Jarrow player to catch the eye was the tricky number seven Ogden whose runs, whilst not penetrating, were enough to keep Slowe, Schofield, Jones and Vernon on their toes.
 
Jarrow came out of the blocks early doors in the second half with their most sustained period of pressure of the game, having an optimistic shout for a penalty turned down. Soon though, they were to fall behind to one of the best goals seen at the Coach and Horses so far this season. Picking up the ball to the right of the goal, BURKE picked the ball up cut inside two players and bent the ball just inside the far post, keeper Hoggarth's despairing touch not enough to stop the ball.
 
The goal triggered a physical response from Roofing with some niggly challenges eventually landing Bendelow, Irving and McCabe in the lenient referee's notebook. Despite this Sheffield had their Northern League visitors on the back foot for the rest of the game, although they never really drilled home the scoreline they richly deserved. The home supporters nerves were kept jangling late on when the previously untroubled Sheffield stopper Darren Bonnington tipped over a fine effort from McCabe. Eventually though the time ran out for the Northern Leaguers, Sheffield can now look forward to meeting up with an old nemesis in the form of Farsley Celtic, a team they last met and beat in the great cup run of 2000-01.
 
BTF Club Man Of The Match - Paul Burke
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Slowe, Vernon, Schofield ©, Jones, Senior (Beaumont), Cluxton, Ingall, Burke, Bray (Naylor), O'Carroll. Subs Not Used: Stewart, Wright, Allen.
Jarrow Roofing Boldon CA: Hoggarth, Myers, Quinn, Irving, Bendelow ©, McCabe, Ogden, Phelps, Nelson, Johnson, Stewart. Subs Not Used: Rodgers, Banks, Follitt.

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Selby Town 2 Sheffield FC 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Monday, 25/08/03
 
Sheffield came away from the home of the league leaders with another point to add to the tally, but will consider themselves unfortunate not to have come away with all three. Sheffield had to come from behind in this Bank Holiday fixture, Selby's fourth consecutive home league game of the season, but they will be wondering how and why having dominated the play for the majority of the game.
 
The visitors were the dominant force from the off; it took less than five minutes for the first chance, Bob Moorwood nearly turning in a wicked Neil Cluxton cross. In the 19th minute Club had the lead, Ingall playing the ball into BURKE who bobbed and weaved before letting a stinger of a shot under Potter. Selby were stung into action and two minutes later, in their first meaningful attack, the ball broke for Cygan whose shot whistled just over.
 
It was to signal a short period of slackness from the Sheffield defence, and in the 25th minute a defensive blunder let the hosts get the score level. Jon Senior's back-pass to Nicky Allen was poorly controlled, Allen then being tackled by GAUGHAN on the edge of the area, it was a gift the Selby striker couldn't turn down and he easily put the ball in the net. Club were soon back on top after this brief restbite and the hosts were clearly rattled. A break by Duncan Bray was crudely halted by Cox, the Selby man finding himself in the referee's notebook, and Darren Schofield nearly made the Robins pay with a fierce free-kick that was tipped around the post by Potter. Duncan Bray blotted his copybook late on in the half, and was lucky to stay on the field, getting a yellow card for petulantly kicking out in retaliation at Croad who had appeared to grab Bray by his collar.  
 
Sheffield started the second half with the same positive approach, Asa Ingall going close very early on after some good build up work. Schofield was also close with a flicked header that was goalbound with a bit more contact. The game started to get a little scrappy, Croad and Stuart finding their way into the book for needless back-chat, and with this Sheffield took their foot off the gas once more. The 58th minute, Selby hit on the break and GAUGHAN made the visitors pay by slipping the ball beyond Allen.
 
The lead wasn't to last for long as Club certainly started to have the Robins rocking with a period of sustained pressure. In the 65th minute it paid off, the ball landed at the unmarked Burke's feet in the area, somehow the ball was scuffed towards SCHOFIELD who planted the ball through Potter's legs. Sheffield should have gone on from here and won, but the ball never broke kindly. Selby had a couple of chances late on to nick the points, Stuart feeding Gaughan who had a chance to complete his hat-trick, his shot lashed wide, and Ward having a shot saved very well from Allen. Lee Vernon also managed to hit the bar from the touchline, but with the aid of some stout keeping from Potter the stalemate remained.
 
Sheffield will be satisfied with the point and should take encouragement with some good performances, Jones making a good impression with his effort and O'Carroll showing up very well on his debut. Next up for Club is the FA Cup next Saturday, Jarrow Roofing Bolden Community Association the visitors.

BTF Club Man Of The Match - Lee Vernon
 
Selby Town: Potter, Render, Hart ©, Barley, Croad, Cox, Wain, Lee, Cygan (Ward), Gaughan (Matthews), Stuart. Sub Not Used: Hadden.
Sheffield FC: Allen, Slowe, Schofield, Jones, Moorwood ©, Senior (O'Carroll), Cluxton, Ingall, Burke, Bray (Naylor), Vernon. Sub Not Used: Kistell.
 
Att: 58.

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Sheffield FC 2 Eastwood Town 2
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Saturday, 23/08/03
 
Sheffield will count themselves lucky to come out of this encounter with a point, after clawing back from a two goal deficit against a lively Eastwood Town outfit today at the Coach and Horses. It took a spirited fightback from the home team, after being outplayed and virtually beaten in the first half, to gain their reward and again it was Duncan Bray who saved the day with a strike five minutes from the end.
 
The Badgers let their intentions be known as early as the second minute when Jamie McGowan threaded the ball through to Scott Huckerby, the ex-Hucknall player being denied by a good stop from Nicky Allen. Eastwood took a well deserved lead in the 19th minute from a well worked move, one which ended in FISHER lashing past Allen to make the scoreline 1-0 to the visitors. Sheffield were finding it difficult to clear their lines, when they actually managed to get the ball in the opponents half they lacked the ideas to create chances and get the score back on par.
 
Eastwood on the other hand were pushing on relentlessly, trying to increase their lead they went close on a couple of occasions both within seconds of each other. In the 36th minute Deon Meikle had a goal ruled out, his header classed to have been in an offside position. A minute later, with the goal gaping unguarded, Huckerby managed to hit the bar when scoring looked an easier option. They weren't to rue their chances for very long as in the next minute they doubled the lead in confusing circumstances. With Jon Hobson off the field injured, Eastwood took a corner only for the referee to blow his whistle with the ball ten yards in play; the Sheffield defence stood still waiting for the decision as McGOWAN swept the ball in from 20 yards. The goal was awarded and Club looked dead and buried.
 
If anything Sheffield came out from the dressing rooms with more spirit and in a more determined mood. Ben Naylor came on to the field to give the home team three up front, and with that a more positive approach that put Eastwood on the back foot for the half. In the 56th minute, Duncan Bray laid the ball to Asa Ingall at the edge of the area whose piledriver of a shot was tipped onto the bar by the hitherto unused keeper Danny Bryant. Fifteen minutes later and Bryant was the visitors' saviour once again, this time tipping Lee Vernon's free-kick over the bar.
 
Sheffield were certainly having the lion's share of both the possession and the territory so it was no surprise that they clawed back a goal in the 73rd minute. Vernon played a testing corner into the box which found it's way to Bray at the edge of the area; his shot went through a forest of feet before it found BURKE two yards out, who got enough of a flick to put it beyond the scrambling defence. 1-2, and the game looked back on.
 
The last ten minutes were all Sheffield as Eastwood looked to settle back on their narrow lead; Darren Schofield had an opening in the box but somehow scuffed his effort into the welcoming arms of Bryant. With five minutes to go the scores were levelled, and as so many times before it came from the Club's leading scorer. A Sheffield free kick was only half cleared by the scrambling Eastwood defence and the ball fell invitingly at the feet of BRAY, his shot curled inside the post beyond the outstretched hand of Bryant to give the home team what seemed an hour earlier to be the most unlikely of scorelines.
 
With today's result, and their defeat at Eccleshill in midweek, Eastwood will now know that this league isn't going to be a cakewalk. And whilst it won't go down as a classic, Sheffield managed to get out of jail and get the point that had seemed so unlikely, whatever was said at half-time obviously worked. One downside to the whole affair was yet another addition to the mounting Sheffield injury list, this time John Hobson picking up a nasty looking ankle injury.
 
BTF Club MotM - Ben Naylor - Lit the spark that prompted the Sheffield recovery
 
Sheffield FC: Allen, Slowe, Schofield, Jones, Moorwood, Hobson (Watson), Cluxton (Naylor), Ingall (Senior), Burke, Bray, Vernon.
Eastwood Town: Bryant, Fisher, Whitehead, Hutchison, Milns, Garfitt (Wilson), Meikle (Gregory), McGowan, Houseley, Huckerby, Morgan. Sub Not Used: Bainbridge.
 
Att: 160

Sheffield FC 3 Mickleover Sports 0
NCEFL Premier Division
Saturday 16/08/03
 
Conditions were good for this the opening league fixture of the 2003/2004 season writes Deano.
 
Club brought in loan signing Ross Turner in goal, in place of the injured Darren Bonnington. Turner having already made one appearance for Sheffield back in 1997. Also in the side was new boy Tom Jones, with Jon Hobson and Bob Moorwood preferred as the centre back partnership.
 
Both sides made a tentative opening to the match but on ten minutes Club took the game by the scruff of the neck. A free kick found Duncan Bray wide in the penalty area. Last season's leading goalscorer jinked his way in the box and his low cross found Bob Moorwood who scuffed his first effort. However, the centre back was not to be denied and his second attempt found the bottom corner of the net.
 
The visitors seemed sluggish at times and, although Turner was tested on a couple of occasions, offered little to worry the Sheffield defence.
 
Club should have been two up in the 35th minute when Bray's low cross took a deflection across the face of the goal and hit the far post. Asa Ingall following the ball in also hit the post and the rebound fell to Paul Burke, who deciding to go for the spectacular when a simple tap in seemed the better option, blasted the ball against the bar, with the defence clearing.
 
However, the home side were not to be denied although the goal in the 40th minute came in controversial circumstances following a penalty decision. Bray fell in the area following a clumsy challenge by the Mickleover defender and the referee surprisingly pointed to the spot. Nevertheless, Duncan Bray stepped up to the ball and sent the keeper the wrong way to open his account for the new season.
 
The second half had little in terms of goalmouth action with the majority of play confined to the midfield area.  However, a third goal was to come Sheffield's way to calm any doubts there may have been about claiming maximum points from the opening game. Duncan Bray it was again in the 58th minute who after beating his marker just outside the six yard box found his foot clipped as he was about to shoot. No doubt about this decision and again Bray sent Wilson the wrong way from the spot kick.  
 
Sheffield were content to play out time with the visitors seemingly yet to come to terms with the step up in divisions. So, overall a satisfactory rather than spectacular start to the new campaign with a tougher test now expected next week at The Coach & Horses from Eastwood Town.
 
BTF Man Of The Match - Duncan Bray
 
Goals: Moorwood 10, Bray Pen. 40, Bray Pen. 58 
 
Sheffield: Turner, Slowe, Schofield, Jones, Moorwood, Hobson, Cluxton, Ingall, Burke, Bray, Vernon. Subs: Watson, Naylor (for Bray 85), Senior (for Vernon 75).
 
Mickleover: Wilson, Sutton, Holness, Reynolds, Strzyzwecki, Smith, Payne, Wraith, Thompson, O'Reilly, Stevens. Subs: Parkins, Yeomans, Mays.

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Sheffield FC 3 Kimberley Town 0
Pre-Season Friendly
Monday 11/08/03
 
It is traditional for the final pre-season friendly that the Manager starts with the line up which he expects to open the league campaign. Tonight at The C&H, with Higginbottom, Watson and Cluxton out and a whole host of other players injured, it was hard to see which starting eleven Manager McCarthy will eventually select for Saturday's tough opener against Mickleover. Tonight's starting eleven featured Tom Jones, a regular with Stocksbridge last season whilst Ben Naylor formed a three pronged attack with Burke and Bray. Jason Tee, another former Club player, was on the bench.
 
Conditions were far more comfortable than for Saturday's game with Gainsborough and Club were in control for the entire ninety minutes. It took a Duncan Bray 18th minute penalty to breach the stubborn Kimberley defence, and from then on the result was a mere formality. Jon Hobson rose to head home Lee Vernon's corner a minute before the interval and the feat was repeated in the 88th minute. Paul Burke saw his second half penalty saved by the keeper and a number of other chances were missed whilst Kenny Brakes in the Sheffield goal saw little action.
 
As an exercise little will have been learned from any of this season's friendly fixtures, but fitness levels should certainly have improved after the punishing heat of the last week or so. Hopefully the side will now be ready for one of the most important league campaigns in the club's history.
 
Sheffield: Brakes, Slowe, Vernon, Hobson, Moorwood, Jones, Schofield, Ingall, Naylor, Burke, Bray. Subs: Hemstock, Tee, Robinson.
 

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Sheffield FC 0 Gainsborough Trinity 5
Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 9/08/03
 
It was too hot for spectating, let alone playing football, at The C&H and a much stronger Gainsborough side took full advantage of the conditions in this friendly.
 
Major talking point, apart from the heat, was the return to Sheffield of veteran striker Stuart Lowe. Dave McCarthy deciding to take a look at Lowe to see if the big target man still had something to offer a side in need of a more physical presence up front. 
 
Club showed good form in the first half and thanks to some good saves by Kenny Brakes in the Sheffield goal kept the visitors to a one goal lead. However, the heat was taking it's toll and Brakes had to be helped from the field at the half time whistle suffering from heat exhaustion. But not before the young keeper had shown us enough to suggest that Darren Bonnington may well be looking over his shoulder when the team sheet is posted on the dressing room wall during the next few weeks.
 
Darren Schofield took over between the sticks for the second half, and from then on the result was always a formality, with the major concern being for the players health in such high temperatures. Indeed, the only talking point after the game was the scoreline and whether indeed Trinity had hit four or five. We'll stick with five but we're sure enough people will correct us if they feel strongly enough about such statistics in meaningless fixtures of this nature. More importantly we hope the heat hasn't affected the players too much as Club prepare for Monday night's friendly with Kimberley and then the biggie on Saturday against Micklover. 
 
Sheffield: Brakes, Higginbottom, Vernon, Slowe, Moorwood, Watson, Schofield, Cluxton, Burke, Bray, Ingall. Subs; Hobson, Naylor, Lowe, Graisham, Robinson, Griffin, Kistell, Cooper.
 
 

Sheffield 5 Sheffield Wednesday U19's 4
Pre Season Friendly
Thursday 07/08/03
 
A good size crowd turned up on a warm summers evening to watch this entertaining match as Sheffield took on an Owls Under 19 squad now managed by former Wednesday stalwart Mark Smith writes Trev
 
It was the visitors who drew first blood as early as the third minute when an attack down the left saw the ball crossed into the area and Brakes was beaten to the ball for ORLICK to score. Six minutes later and Burke was put through and as he rounded the keeper he was pulled back. The resulting penalty saw BURKE despatch the ball with ease, sending the keeper the wrong way. Bad news for the home side just after the quarter hour mark when Bagshaw goes in for a fifty-fifty ball and a clash of knees sees him stretchered off and taken to hospital with suspected knee ligament damage, with Chris Cooper coming on as his replacement. The young Sheffield keeper is on form with some good saves from the Owls forwards who are on a mission to shoot on site. On the half hour mark Sheffield take the lead as BRAY plays a one-two with Burke to slot the ball home. Just four minutes later and the lead is increased as a ball over the top of the visitors defence puts BURKE through and he lobs the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and calmly strokes it into an empty net. The home side are having more of the play but with four minutes to go before the break a mix-up between Brakes and Griffin lets the Owls back into the match.
 
The second half sees Club start with three substitutions and get off to the best possible start as a ball across the area is turned in by COOPER. The Owls stay in touch when ex-Owls manager's son Laurie WILSON fires through a crowd of players. Meanwhile Sheffield are making full use of the squad as the substitutions come thick and fast, which tends to disrupt the flow of the game but doesn't take anything away from the entertainment. With just over ten minutes to go a mix up at the visitors end sees goalkeeper and defender get in each other's way, allowing Ben NAYLOR to put the ball between them and walk it into an empty net. The young Owls kept pressing forward and were rewarded in the 83rd minute with probably the best goal of the game, as POULTER took the ball from the left hand side and worked his way forward before unleashing a terrific drive from the edge of the area which flew into the top corner, with the keeper clutching at fresh air. A frantic last five minutes then ensued but no more goals were forthcomin
 
Sheffield; Brakes, Slowe, Vernon, Griffin, Hobson, Ingall, Cluxton, Bagshaw, Burke, Bray, Gaisham. Subs; Cooper, Moorwood, Watson, Robinson, Higginbottom, Naylor, Kistell.
Sheffield Wednesday U19's; Ogden, Stove, Lowe, Padgett, Foster, McCardle, Palmieri, Wilson, White, Jerome, Orlick. Subs; McAllister, Poulter, Mason, Greenwood.

Sheffield FC 1 Hallam 2
Shaun Hayes Snr. Memorial Game
Saturday 2/08/03
 
The early tempo of this 'friendly' fixture suggested that we were in for typical competitive game against our local rivals, writes Deano. And so it proved for the opening forty five minutes. Chances were at a premium however, with the home strikers off target when their opportunities arose, and Sheffield keeper Darren Bonnington denying Hallam's best efforts.
 
The second half saw the inevitable rolling team changes with the physically stronger visitors starting to take control of the game - goals from Hallam in the 55th and 74th minutes effectively killing the match. A late consolation goal from the penalty spot by Paul Burke (see photo above) added respectability to the scoreline.
 
Sheffield: Bonnington, Higginbottom, Vernon, Watson, Moorwood, Senior, Bagshaw, Ingall, Burke, Bray, Owen. Subs: Newman, Hempstock, Hobson, Ghaisham, Naylor.
 
Goals: Hallam - 55 & 74 mins Sheffield - Burke (Pen.) 86 mins

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Sheffield FC 3 Chesterfield 1
Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 28/07/03
 
Sheffield FC comfortably overcame a young Chesterfield outfit at the Coach and Horses tonight, to notch up their first pre-season win of the campaign, with a convincing display that showed signs of some entertaining football ahead for Club followers. The Spire-ettes were never a match for the physical presence and know-how of their more experienced neighbours but could still think themselves unfortunate not to come away with a share of the spoils. The game also gave Lee Walshaw a chance to look at some of the youngsters in the side with eighteen players taking the field in the 90 minutes, and there were some good promising performances. The result was a good one for Club; the same Chesterfield side had previously turned out at Staveley and won 5-2, so obviously they were no pushovers.
 
The signs were not good early on for Chesterfield, when as early as the 3rd minute young keeper De Gregorio misjudged the bounce of the ball in the area, nearly allowing Duncan Bray to nip in and capitalise on the mistake. Three minutes later and the excitement was at the other end, Cressey rattling the upright for Chesterfield with Bonnington clearly beaten.
 
Andy Slowe had a memorable couple of minutes shortly after, first up was the rarity of a yellow card being awarded in a pre-season game, for a foul on Wright that put the youngster out of the game. Next up, in the 15th minute and on a more positive note was what many believe to be something even rarer, an Andy Slowe goal. After some good work down the right wing, Asa Ingall hammered a shot directly at De Gregorio who parried the ball directly into the path of the advancing SLOWE, who made certain by rifling the ball into the roof of the net. 1-0.
 
Sheffield should have capitalised on this lead with a spell of relentless pressure shortly after, Paul Burke will be wondering how he didn't find himself on the scoresheet with two classic chances going awry within five minutes of each other. Firstly a neat set of interchanged passes with Bray saw Burke with an opening; his shot unfortunately was pulled wide. The second was after Bunn made a real pig's ear of a back-header right into the path of the Sheffield front-man, this time the effort was on the feeble side as he fired straight at De Gregorio for an easy save. Paul Bagshaw showed some quick thinking just before the break, a free kick awarded for a foul on Ingall was taken sharply, and whizzed extremely close to the far post. On the Chesterfield side Mark Smith produced a fine save from Bonnington, one of the few the Sheffield stopper had to make.
 
Club started the second half with a good deal of purpose and it didn't take long for the home side to double their lead. In the 49th minute Jon Senior found himself in a bit of space on the right and executed a neat little chip across the goal, INGALL was unmarked and headed past the beaten De Gregorio. 2-0. Two minutes after, Paul Bagshaw had a golden opportunity to get the game beyond doubt, breaking clear and unopposed his shot fell just the wrong side of the post.
 
Sheffield were without question dominating the game in all areas, the midfield being calmly commanded by the experienced Neil Cluxton, and the front pair of Burke and Bray ripping holes in the defence at will. Bray showed some good vision to nearly set up Lee Vernon, who racing in from the left powered a drive just wide. With the hosts dominating the game so much, it was obvious that sooner or later they would let slip and let the visitors in. In the 72nd minute the Spireites were back in it, DONNELLY finding himself open and with enough time to slip the ball under Bonnington. 2-1.
 
Four minutes later and Chesterfield had the best chance of the night to get on level terms. Jez Mitchell, who had looked a handful all night, was brought down in the area, the referee not having much in the way of doubt. Mitchell decided to take the spot-kick himself, but fired directly at Bonnington, his rebound shot going way over the bar and heading somewhere towards Low Edges. That was the spur Sheffield needed and in the 80th minute they sewed it up with an excellent third goal, Lee Vernon whipping in a vicious cross into the area, NAYLOR brave enough to get in and head past De Gregorio. 3-1.
 
Another entertaining fixture for Sheffield, and a win to boot. Next up, Hallam on Saturday (kick off 12.30).
 
Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Slowe (Higginbottom), Vernon, Watson, Moorwood © (Hobson), Cluxton, Senior (Wright), Ingall (Newman), Bray (Longmuir), Bagshaw (Kane), Burke (Naylor). Subs Not Used: Allen.
Chesterfield: De Gregorio, Walton (Wade), Wright (Austin), Jubb, Bunn, Francis ©, Cressey (Donnelly), Lancaster, Mitchell, A.Smith (Fox), M.Smith.
 
Att: 192.

Sheffield FC 3 Worksop Town 3
Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday, 24/07/03

The spoils were shared at a rainy Coach and Horses, in an entertaining six-goal thriller both sets of supporters left the ground wet, but happy. Playing against a strong looking Worksop team, Sheffield more than held their own in a very competitive match as Manager Dave McCarthy took yet another chance to blood some more youngsters and look at some of the regular first-teamers in action and ending Worksop's 100% pre-season record. Making a comeback at the Coach tonight was an old "favourite", Paul Burke, making his first appearance since his transfer to Hucknall two seasons ago.

The first half was goal-less as both sides weighed each other up; young Sheffield trialist Mark Crunde had an opportunity mid-way through the half that whizzed just wide and minutes later Alex Callery had a header well saved by Sheffield keeper Nicky Allen. Both Burke and Bagshaw were causing problems for the Tigers' defence, with Burke and Crunde linking up to set a chance for Bagshaw, one that was sent painfully wide.

All the goals came in the second half; it took Worksop just seven minutes to open up their account with ROBERTS taking advantage of a mix-up between Allen and his defenders, slotting home from the penalty spot. Darren Roberts had an opportunity to double his account minutes later after Club uncharacteristically left the front man unmarked at the back post, fortunately though his header was a little on the weak side.

His, and Worksop's second eventually came in the 67th minute, ROBERTS managing to slot the ball from an acute angle beyond a despairing Andy Slowe's foot. It looked all over at this stage for Sheffield, all their previous hard work seemed to have counted for little, result-wise anyway, but a minute after Worksop's second goal, Sheffield were back in it. Some neat work from Carl Longmuir and Craig Owen saw the ball slammed into the roof of the net by INGALL.

That goal was in the 68th minute, in the 69th minute the scores were level with a goal reminiscent of James Bullivant's wonder strike at home to Barnsley nearly two years ago to the day. The scorer was John Senior, who from the opposite touchline to Bully's effort managed to chip keeper Nicky Surr from over 35 yards into the far corner of the net; SENIOR took the plaudits, but there were no thrills for the big Surr. 2-2 and we now had a game back on our hands.

Two minutes after though and Worksop had restored the lead, with PELL stabbing home after Nicky Allen spilled a long range shot. Once more the resilient Sheffield side came back with a certain amount of spirit. In the 76th minute Club were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out, set-piece experts Lee Vernon and Paul Bagshaw stood over the ball but it was VERNON who hit the ball, fortuitously deflected into the net beyond Surr to level the game and complete the scoring.

There was still time for Nicky Allen to produce a fine save from an excellent shot by Worksop's Walker which managed to stop the Tigers nicking it at the end. A fair result for both teams and the good sized crowd will feel they got their money's worth, with some good football and some great goals.

Sheffield FC: Allen, Higginbottom, Vernon, Cluxton, Moorwood, Slowe, Bagshaw, Ingall, Crunde, Burke, Owen. Subs: Senior, Griffin, Longmuir, Newman, Brakes.
Worksop Town: Surr, Smith, K.Davies, Hawes, Dryden, R.Davies, Muller, Peacock, Roberts, Pell, Callery. Subs: Sykes, Walker, Gayshaw, Caudwell.

Att: 175.

Maltby Main 4 Sheffield FC 1
Pre-Season Friendly
Wednesday, 23/07/03
 
It was the turn of the Sheffield youngsters to take centre stage at Maltby today, with the Miners' experience showing through in a comprehensive 4-1 victory. The star man for the home team was Sean O'Connor with two in a four goal first half salvo that had the Club side reeling. Making an appearance for Maltby tonight was an old Sheffield favourite by the name of Richard March having crossed the divide during the close season.
 
It took no more than five minutes for Maltby to get on the score sheet with Andy Slowe the unfortunate provider of an OWN-GOAL. Whilst Sheffield had the advantage of the slope in the first half, this was more than countered by a stiff breeze at the backs of their opponents. In the 14th minute the lead was doubled when O'CONNOR was left unmarked in the centre to head home past Nicky Allen.
 
The game was starting to look like a procession when the third went past Allen in the 20th minute, this time SOMERVILLE turning the ball home from 10 yards as Maltby broke from defence leaving Sheffield looking ragged. Maltby's fourth, with still only 30 minutes on the clock, was clearly the best goal of the game, a thirty-yard strike from O'CONNOR to hot for Allen to stop. Even so, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Sheffield boys, both Greg Wright and Sam Cheetham looking very useful in their respective full-back positions, and Mickey Stewart still looking the part in midfield even at his advanced age.
 
The second half saw both Maltby take their foot off the gas and Sheffield take a bit of control of the game. John Senior let a splendid strike at goal loose early on in the half, Adam Volante having to be at his best to stop Sheffield grab a consolation goal. That honour came to young Nigerian trialist Isaac Ugabe in the 66th minute after some neat build up work, UGABE stabbed the ball past Volante from 10 yards.
 
Despite the result, the Sheffield coaching team can take this as a useful training exercise, getting a look at some of the youngsters before committing to signing them on. Maltby no doubt will see this as a bit of a morale booster for the campaign ahead, although how much they'll read into this result is open to speculation.
 
Maltby Main: Stanley, McHale, Staniforth, Ward ©, March, Winter, Owen, O'Connor, Somerville, C.Haythorne, McPherson. Subs: Harrag, Volante, A.Haythorne.
Sheffield: Allen, Wright, Cheetham, Schofield ©, Slowe, Senior, Newton, Stewart, Ferry, Morrell, Ugabe. Subs: Cooper, Brakes, Griffin.
Att: 59.

Sheffield FC 1 Mansfield Town 4
Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday, 17/07/03

Sheffield FC opened their pre-season campaign against a very lively Mansfield Town outfit comprising of reserves, trialist and youth team players. The Stags proved too powerful on the night, winning convincingly 4-1, their professionalism shining through against the spirited hosts.

Mansfield started the most positively getting Sheffield on the back foot immediately, but despite the pressure they failed to create any chances. The first real goal scoring chance didn't come until the 27th minute, and this came the way of the Sheffield side. A weak back header was intercepted by Paul Bagshaw, the Club attacker tried to get round keeper Jason White, however the Stags stopper was too cagey and denied the goal-scoring opportunity. At the other end Darren Bonnington was having a fine game, with two spectacular one handed saves denying Mansfield's youth team player Lance Mulligan certain goals in the 30th and 35th minutes. Unfortunately for Sheffield these saves sandwiched a very fortunate deflected goal credited to MITCHELL, which followed the corner from the first stop. Mansfield got a second just moments before the break when Andy Watson brought down Junior Mendes inside the area. From the resultant spot-kick, Captain VAUGHAN sent Bonnington the wrong way to give the visitors a rather inflated scoreline.

The second half saw Mansfield start like a house on fire, getting another two goals inside the first five minutes of the half. The first came after two minutes from an excellent solo run, beating four Sheffield players in the process, by the Mansfield substitute GAUNT. The second and Mansfield's fourth came after Bonnington blotted his copybook by spilling a shot into the path of ex-Rotherham United player ARTELL.

Sheffield had a couple of chances to get a consolation, Craig Owen on his return to Sheffield colours had a chance after a one-on-one with the keeper, again the Sheffield player came out second best. A goal finally came Sheffield's way in the 86th minute after some determined work from Paul Bagshaw. His first effort was saved by the keeper; Ingall saw his rebound cleared from the line before BAGSHAW smashed the ball into the roof of the net. There was still time for Mansfield to earn another penalty in the last minute; this one however was comfortably saved by substitute debutant keeper Kenny Brakes.
 
So overall the game will have been seen as a good workout both for Keith Curle's and Dave McCarthy's sides, even though the result clearly wasn't in the latter's favour.

Sheffield FC: Bonnington, Slowe, Vernon, Watson, Moorwood ©, Hobson, Davenport, Ingall, Holmes, Bagshaw, Owen. Subs: Bray, Higginbottom, Wright, Robinson, Brakes.

Mansfield Town: White, Clarke, Hunt, Zoricich, Artell, Vaughan ©, Mulligan, Disley, Mitchell, Mendes, Williamson.

Att: 405.