Scorers : Dan Mason 84
Date : Wednesday 10th December 2014 - 7:45pm kick off - Evo-stik League Southern, South & West
Sholing : Rory Anderson, Kevin Brewster, Sam Oloafe, TJ Cuthbertson, Mike Byrne, Jack Smith, Tobi Adekunle (Dan Mason 66), Alex Sawyer (Sam Wilson 84), Barry Mason [c], Byron Mason, Nick Watts. Unused Subs: Taurean Manders, Alex Baldacchino, Jess Walklin.
Yellow Card : Dan Mason 90
Larkhall Athletic : Alex Shaftoe, Jacob Gardner, Jamie Lyons, Ross Lye, Ollie Price [c], Danny Jones, Joe Tumelty, Matt Thorne (Giorgio Wrona 61), Tyler Sibbick, Luke Byran (Brad Norris 70), Ben Horan. Unused Subs: Ryan Batten, Brad Norris, Charlie Maddison, Chris Pile
Yellow Card : Ben Horan 90
Attendance : 74
Man of the Match : Rory Anderson
Referee : Louis Marks Assistants: Con da Costa & Rob Ablitt
A sturdy Sholing performance lead the way to a hard fought 1-0 over Larkhall, with the Boatmen sticking out the freezing conditions until late in the game when substitute Dan Mason tapped home the winner for Stuart Hussey’s side in the absence of Dave Diaper, who was away in Lapland visiting Father Christmas (no, really!). The frustration was clear on the Larkhall faces who were defeated at the ground they slated before kick-off, the mighty Silverlake Arena.
Sholing got the game underway, but Larkhall got the better of the early chances, Luke Byran got into a good position, but skied the effort, and Alex Sawyer saw a corner out to safety. Sholing looked to be playing on the floor much more than usual. Nick Watts was unlucky to run the ball out of play twice after doing well to beat two players on the run.
The Larkhall players were loud verbally but seemed non-existent on the field until Tyler Sibbick was played through on goal, but Rory Anderson did well to snuff out his near post effort. Chances were very limited for Sholing, a disputed corner was claimed very well by visiting keeper Alex Shaftoe. And the next attack saw Tyler Sibbick miss another golden opportunity, as his attempt at finding the far side of goal saw him miss the goal altogether.
In the 27th minute Sholing thought they should have had a penalty, pinball in the box following a corner saw the ball strike a flailing Larkhall arm, the handball looked blatant but the referee wasn’t so sure and nothing was given. In the aftermath, a Barry Mason effort got past the keeper, but there was a Larkhall defender on the line to hack clear. A few minutes later Nick Watts struck a rocket goalbound, the ball took a hefty deflection on the way through but luckily the keeper met it on the dive. Watts was again involved as he stole the ball away from the loud Jamie Lyons and worked the ball down the right, the ball found its way to Jack Smith who struck the ball first time. The effort was accurate and forced another save from Shaftoe, who claimed at the second time of asking.
Sholing fans then thought they should have had a penalty again. And true to the pattern a Byron Mason ball into the box struck the hand of a blue shirt, but nothing was given to the disbelief of the fans. Watts was angry at himself and decided to take it out on Larkhall by drilling a run past a couple of embarrassed players. But he lost out before he could shoot. And that was the last action of the first half. To summerise, lots of corners, some good football from the Boatmen, but not many clear chances and a lot of verbals from Larkhall HT 0-0
The verbals from the visitors continued at half-time with their manager loudly ripping into his side in the dressing room with language that turned the air even bluer than the cold winter wind was. Second half started how the first ended, with the Boatmen on top, Barry Mason made the most of a defensive error to storm down on the Larkhall goal, but his shot was off balance and rolled kindly for the goalkeeper, then a few minutes later a Sholing break meant Tobi Adekunle was alone in the middle, but the ball from the right was just too far in front of the number 7, for what would have been a sure goal. The Larkhall players and coaches continued to harass the officials for decisions that would have been incorrect.
Rory Anderson was continuing his fine run of form and pulled off two impressive saves, the first getting down low to push away a effort destined for the bottom corner and the second from the resulting corner where Anderson pulled off a Christmas miracle, clawing the ball away from a certain tap in on the line. Anderson then sprinted off his line to deny a 1on1 chance before pulling off a remarkable point blank double save at his near post.
Larkhall continued to pressure the referee who held his own, even when the blue shirts were in his face. But Sholing were unhappy with decisions too. There was a rare sight of goal for Sholing as Alex Sawyer hit from range to force a save out of the keeper, and Barry Mason scuffed wide from a tight angle.
The final 10 minutes approached and tensions between fans and the officials eased as the Ultras showed some appreciation for the linesman. Then finally the deadlock was broken. Alex Sawyer broke free down the left and although his effort wasn't the strongest, the keeper spilled the ball and left the door open for DAN MASON to poke home with ease. Sholing saw out the rest of the game comfortably and the frustration was clear to see on the Larkhall faces. FT 1-0
After the game I spoke to stand-in manager Stuart Hussey: “They’re a top 4 side coming off a good run of games, and coming here we knew it was going to be a real tough test. To be fair to our lads, after the first 15 minutes we started to settle down a bit and dominate the game, got on top of it, the physical battle had a couple of chances and should have had a penalty. After being robbed with the penalty against us Saturday we should have had one and gone 1-0 up. However, it's an absolutely tremendous win, the clean sheet is brilliant.
When you go back over the last 6 or 7 games we have only conceded 4 or 5 goals because our defensive work as a unit has been so much better. We are always going to create chances and with Dan Mason, our top scorer, I bought him on for the last 25 minutes, I thought he might nab a goal and he got the winner for us. But the clean sheet is what it is all about, that is what I said to the lads, be pleased for the clean sheet as well as the win.”
Report by Ollie Maskell