One match closer
TWO more wins from their last three league games will clinch the dream of step five football for Newark Flowserve after they maintained their promotion push in the East Midlands Counties League with a battling 2-0 win at Belper United.
Victory at Rainworth Miners’ Welfare next Saturday followed by success at West Bridgford on Bank Holiday Monday will make it an Easter Weekend to remember, and Flowserve will have all their eggs in one basket with a cup final still to come.
The win at Belper was all the more praiseworthy after The Highwaymen were forced to patch up their side after injuries and suspension bit deep.
Ryley Thompson stepped in at left-back on his first start for the club, while the outstanding Jammy Lloyd skippered the side from the heart of defence alongside joint-player-manager Steve Kirkham. And Danny Meadows was a surprise inclusion in midfield after coming through a rigorous training workout in midweek, with his right knee passing the test to allow him his first call-up for 11 games.
Belper were the visitors to Lowfields when the floodlights were switched on for the first time back in September, and they returned home on that occasion with their tails between their legs after a 6-0 defeat.
The sunshine at Christchurch Meadow was deceptive after the cold conditions had brought hail storms on the way to Derbyshire, while a bare and rutted pitch was hardly conducive to flowing football.
Belper were down to the bare bones themselves, only able to name two substitutes, and it took them until the 13th minute to muster a shot on goal, with left-back Tom Curtis sending an effort high, wide and not the remotest bit handsome. The home side began the game in tenth spot, and it was hard to see how they had risen to those heights.
The game was played in the shadow of the impressive East Mill, with the vast structure introduced to the Belper valley in 1912. It said a lot about the football fare on offer that this observer was able to make such observations.
But a goalless first half was followed by a breakthrough just two minutes into the second period, when the Belper defence missed three opportunities to clear their lines, leaving Blair Anderson with the gift of firing the ball into the corner of the net with his trusty left foot.
Nine minutes later and the goal scorer turned provider as Anderson’s corner was headed home by Meadows as he marked his return to the fold with his 17th goal of the season.
Lloyd, usually an all-action attacking midfielder, was terrific at the heart of the defence, proving himself to be the most complete versatile footballer in Newark since the days of Jonathan Handley.
Meadows gave a will o’ the wisp performance with the sting of a wasp, though he understandably tired in the closing stages.
But he lasted the 90 minutes for valuable game time after such a long absence, and another massive plus was the clean sheet preserved by the makeshift back four as Flowserve took another major step towards their promotion goal.
Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Jahred Russell (Curtis Price 84mins); 3 Ryley Thompson; 4 Jammy Lloyd (captain); 5 Steve Kirkham; 6 Sean Woolley; 7 Blair Anderson; 8 Danny Meadows; 9 Tyrell Shannon-Lewis; 10 Elliot King; 11 Sam Agar (Nathan Kelly 66mins).