Match Details: Dronfield Town 1 – AFC Mansfield 2 (NCEL Division One)
Goalscorers: [Dronfield] Blake Owen (43); [Mansfield] Grant Allot (47), Joe Butler O.G. (87)
Location: Stonelow Playing Fields, Dronfield, South Yorks, S18 2EU.
Club & Ground Overview: Although there has been a senior football team in Dronfield dating as far back as the 1860s, and indeed a couple of previous ones named ‘Dronfield Town’ over the years, the present club of this name are a reasonably new club formed in 1998 out of the renaming of Dronfield Sports Junior FC. The club subsequently added a senior team in 2000-01, which initially joined the Hope Valley League, eventually going on to field in excess of 25 different teams, including many junior, girls and ladies sides. In 2009-10 they joined the CML, and finished runners-up in the CML’s Premier Division in their first season. A big step forward in their development came with the approval of planning permission for floodlights, and with the addition of a small seated stand and clubhouse as well, combined with success on the pitch the club was able to fulfill its ambition of joining the NCEL in 2013.
At a non-league level, the club currently competes slightly with Sheffield FC who are a mile up the road at the Coach & Horses ground at present, though with ongoing plans for Sheffield Club to move back to their home city, this can only be good news for the future development of Dronfield Town, who I’m sure could do with a bit more local support, to go with their decent set up and what seems like a solid structure around the club.
After what has seemed like weeks and weeks of persistent rain (which always peaks on a Saturday morning too), finally Dronfield had a home game go ahead for the first time since early November… though only just, as any more rain and their pitch would surely have been too water-ridden to pass as playable. Thankfully though, today’s game got the go-ahead and the marching AFC Mansfield band rolled into town as Dronfield’s opponents.
Match Report: Now I’ve only watched a few games in Division One of the NCEL this season, but from what I’ve seen, Hemsworth seem some distance ahead of any other team. This means that probably about half the clubs in the division have a chance of taking one of the other two promotion spots up for grabs, and Mansfield will definitely be looking to bag one of those having performed as solidly as anyone in the chasing pack.
Not that there was much at all between the two teams today. Mansfield probably had the slight edge on possession and opportunities, but came up against a man-of-the-match worthy performance from Dronfield keeper Keiran Marsh, particularly in the second half when he made a string of fine saves.
Before this, it was the home side who, first of all hit the post through Callum Mawbey, then got their noses in front via a goal from Blake Owen five minutes before half-time, Owen latching onto a through ball and beating the offside trap to slot home. After the interval, and now kicking down the slight incline at Stonelow and towards the goal which had retained most water, Mansfield fought back with an equaliser coming within a few minutes via a Grant Allott header from a corner.
As the game wore on, the cold began to bite and the increasingly gooey state of the pitch was epitomised by the Dronny keeper setting off on a mission to join their attack for a corner, only to give up part-way ,after he seemed to be travelling further downwards than forwards!
Dronfield would probably have been happy with a draw, however Mansfield it was who snatched the win via a touch of good fortune. Although constant danger Ryan Williams seemed the most likely to initiate the breakthrough via a series of marauding runs down the right wing, it was a move down the opposite flank and cross by Nathan Swindells which undid the Dronny rear guard. With Marsh having kept out his opponents steadfastly, it was the onrushing luckless outstretched leg of his own skipper Joe Butler which prodded the ball beyond him from four yards out and handed the points to Mansfield.
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