Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dunkirk 2 Blackwell MW 1

Emmerdale, Eastenders and Holby City or Dunkirk v Blackwell MW; it’s a bit of a no-brainer really, isn’t it?

The Taxman returns tonight after a ten day break in Cornwall, he moans about The Reds’ bore draw at the weekend. I’m still smirking after my nine goal thriller at Wharf Lane.

Dunkirk is just outside Nottingham City Centre, on Lenton Lane. Three clubs play in a 500 metre stretch; Greenwood Meadows and Bilborough Pelican being the other two.

The Boatmen (it’s on the banks of the River Trent) were formed in 1946. They played in the old Notts Alliance but have kicked on and performed well in the Central Midland Supreme Division last season.

Nottingham Forest nicked Wes Morgan from Dunkirk and haven’t done too badly out of him (forget the Yeovil game), playing over 150 games for The Reds. Jake Sheridan is another from these parts, Gary Mills signed him for Notts County in 2005. He’s now back with Mills at Tamworth.

Blackwell MW are from near Alfreton, in the South Normanton area, just off Junction 28 of the M1, they finished mid-table last season.

The PA system has Radio Nottingham’s football night blaring out its speakers; another classic encounter at Chester’s Deva Stadium for Colin Fray to commentate on.

We’ve time for a drink at the refurbished bar and sit on one of the comfy leather sofas. The whole ground has had a lick of paint.

Entry is £3 plus a £1 for the information packed programme. The pitch is in pristine condition and the huge poplar trees sway in the evening breeze.

Across the other side of the pitch, from where we are, is a covered stand, on closer inspection all the seats are ripped out. In the distance above all the power pylons are the high-rise flats on the Clifton Estate.

Dunkirk are managed by ex-pie David Harbottle, who is a legend on the Notts non-league circuit and a bit of a character. He has an eye for a player and has assembled a strong, young, mobile unit.

The Meadows area of inner-city Nottingham is close by, and is a happy hunting ground for recruitment for clubs like Dunkirk. At junior level this club is respected and feared, I bought my U9’s here last season, we grabbed a 1-0 win, we rode our luck that day.

I have come to the conclusion that football scouts are bone idle because each week I see lads who should be playing way up the pyramid, tonight is no exception. Marquin Smith is a class above the rest, this evening. He has pace, he pushes, probes, drives with the ball at his feet and is positive in his play. I believe he is at university, so maybe that is why he is happy at Dunkirk. His mate, Tyrone Cairns, is not far behind him. In the second period his energy levels and running are astonishing.

I get my first touch on 14 minutes a full minute before any Blackwell player. Dunkirk play a beautiful game, Harbottle looks on with immense pride. Their midfield is tenacious and tigerish and play without fear. They are hungry and play with their hearts on their sleeves.

Jack Reid is dominant in the first half. Another left footer would complete the jigsaw, both the left back and left winger are pre-dominantly right-footed but both have solid games and are not shy of a bit of verbal.

Smith is singled out for some harsh treatment from Blackwell and referee Mr Maltby is weak in his decision making. Harbottle and Manners on the Dunkirk bench, plead with the ref to protect Smith.

Dunkirk forward, Michael Evans, gives the Blackwell defence the slip and finishes with poise and precision. I get my second touch of the ball on 29 minutes. Against the run of play Blackwell equalise with a well struck shot by left winger John Harris.

The Boatmen continue to swarm all over Blackwell, Joel Wilson misses a sitter and has a penalty saved by “Casper” the Blackwell keeper. The away team can be relieved to be going in all square.

Black clouds begin to gather and the floodlights light up the murky sky. Blackwell start brightly but Dunkirk turn up the heat. They play for one another and refuse to bow down to the bully boy tactics of Blackwell. Blanchard, Smith, Wilson and Evans all go close, before a Wilson header from a Whatnall corner clinches the win.

Blackwell are disappointing and play without any real purpose. Their no.9, Mark Deakin, scored 30 goals last season, tonight he’s way off the pace even managing to fresh air one. A Champions League place beckons for Dunkirk on this showing. They play with soul and spirit that you often see from a side in the inner-city.

Dunkirk 2 Evans and Wilson Blackwell MW 1 Harris

Crowd: I counted 40.

Man of the Match: Marquin Smith

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