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Afc Halifax 6 Bury B 2, 1 December 2012.


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AFC HALIFAX 6 BURY 'A' 2

There have been a fair share of disappointing results for AFC Halifax of late, but one wonders why when they showed just what they were capable of with this resounding 6-2 success over their neighbours and good friends from Bury ('A' Section). The match itself had intended being a home game for them, but with the threat of freezing elements, not to mention a frozen pitch over the border, the fixture was switched to the warmer climes of Hipperholme and Lightcliffe School, and the fit-for-purpose 3G pitch.

This, of course, made travelling much easier for the AFC squad, yet despite being suddenly at home, the squad size in turn reduced itself inexplicably from a handy sixteen to a bare minimum eleven, giving stand-in boss Johnny Meynell (due to unavailability of John Barker) something of a headache; would he give Bish a place in the side or would he put him on the bench and start with ten? Actually, some tinkering with the pre-determined starting line-up based on just who was available meant the nature of the side retained its balance, and Bish got the nod and joined skipper Adam ‘Rambo’ Ramsden in the heart of the defence.

The chaotic nature of the game also manifested itself with the appointment of the referee Arran Williams; on the face of it some random bloke (handily FIFA qualified) found on Facebook – the power of the wonder web, eh? – but he duly arrived on time and the match was soon underway, and as things turned out, AFC soon in front. Less than a minute on the clock, in fact, and Stewart Heaton’s throw-in on the left was flicked on by Andy Hemblys, one bounce, and there was Martin Probets to lash the ball into the roof of the net. Anyone would think this was a well-worked routine; don’t you believe it. Everything here was instinctive.

The goal did, however, serve to give AFC confidence, and when the mood took them, they played some neat and tidy football, the aim to provide Adam Probets, who cut a lone furrow up front, plenty of balls to run onto. AFC took control and were unlucky not to extend their lead. It was bit of a body blow, then, that the next goal scored was by the opposition. Not that it wasn’t without controversy. A Bury player latched onto a ball over the top, rounded keeper Chris Wigglesworth by the dead-ball line and set up his colleague for a tap in, all the while with the linesman, supplied by the Bury bench, flagging for offside, a decision overruled by the ref, who had deemed the linos were to give the ins and outs only.

Enraged, AFC soon put this behind them to fashion a similar goal, Rambo’s raking pass beyond the Bury back four releasing Adam Probets, who scampered away to neatly tuck the ball under the keeper to restore AFC’s lead. Now Bury asked the questions about the validity of the offside law, and the ref decided in the interest of mankind to allow the linesmen to be given the powers to call it.

With Martin Probets immense in midfield (his words, not mine) and Hembers’ trick-trickery always giving AFC options, the home side continued to dominate, though Bury did press occasionally, forcing a couple of corners. Wiggy, in fact, having shaken off an early knock when pressed into a fifty-fifty with the Bury centre-forward, managed to flick a deft touch round the post, but ironically, it was from a Bury corner that AFC scored their third goal. Evoking memories of Tottenham’s Cyril Knowles, who was capable of dribbling past opponents on his own goal-line, Johnny Meynell chested the ball down, dragged the ball away from goal then delivered a telling pass to halfway where Adam Probets was lurking. The pass so bamboozled two Bury defenders, the ball split the pair and Probets was away, showing a clean pair of heels to would be chasers to finish in style and give AFC a cushion, a sandwich and a two-goal lead at the interval.

With the attitude amongst the AFC players spot on, Meynell called simply for more of the same in second half. But the game became somewhat scrappy, and the neat football that was earlier in evidence, sadly disintegrated. Bury, for the most part, gained the upper hand but were unable to find a way through, thanks in part to resolute defending by messrs Matty Greenwood, Heaton, Bish and Rambo, a regular four-piece combo available to liven any dull occasion. AFC had now been joined by a couple of subs in Henry Wogan and Chris Boow, whose taxi from Queensbury, booked for 8.45, had many believing they had asked the driver to take them to Bury, and it was shortly after their introduction that AFC scored a fourth, a penalty for handball, tucked away by Probets (off the post, mind) to complete his hat-trick.

Bury retorted with an audacious goal attempt from the centre circle from the restart that earned them a corner, needlessly conceded by Wiggy, his only error of the morning (based on the fact that he had no need to attempt to keep in play a ball that was travelling fifteen yards wide of the posts, and almost as high). AFC survived the initial flag kick from the left, but the follow-up from the opposite corner, delivered hard and low, was instantly returned with interest into the back of the net for Bury’s second.

But AFC responded yet again in kind, with Hembers endeavouring to score the goal of the day, and probably succeeding, cutting in from the left and unleashing a rising shot that nestled into the opposite top corner, the keeper barely moving. Adam Probets’ fourth goal was more straightforward, though clinical nevertheless, a downward header from six yards out off Hembers’ cross, this time from the right flank, and the scoring was complete. Though there was still time for Ben Fawkes to block a Bury shot from point-blank range on the line in one final goalmouth melee, the 6-2 scoreline no more than AFC ultimately deserved.

Of the players on show, everyone played their part. Bish and Rambo, who put aside a headache larger than the manager’s (caused by copious amounts of alcoholic beverage and a late night/early finish) were rocks at the back, and Stewart ‘Bobbins’ Heaton tank-like. But man-of-the-match was surely Matty Greenwood, who used the ball with purpose, made some timely tackles, and was an ever-willing option. Unlucky to be brought off after an hour was Nathan Wright, who had probably his finest game in an AFC shirt, withdrawn only to accommodate Chris Boow on the left-wing to retain the balance of the side. Ben Fawkes worked the right flank with purpose and Adam Probets’ four goal haul would have had the England selectors considering him for future engagements had the annual Anglo-Scotland fixture still been on the IFA calendar. Probets’ versatility was later evinced when he won the Killer Darts in the Sportsman later, though Henry Wogan’s sausage eating brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘line ‘em up’.

Team; Wigglesworth; Greenwood, Ramsden, Bishop, Heaton; Fawkes, Hemblys, M Probets, Meynell, Wright; A Probets. Subs; Boow, Henry.

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