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Match Report: Cromford & Wirksworth 4 – 1 Arnold Town

The Yellow's unbeaten four match run comes to an end.

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An undermanned Eagles squad concluded 2023 with a defeat in the soggy Derbyshire Dales after Cromford & Wirksworth’s tight undulating ground managed to pass a mid-morning pitch inspection. 

Having been warned beforehand to ensure we avoided parking on the grass unless we had a 4×4 we knew what to expect on arrival and the treacherous walk to the pitch took some negotiating. With Cromford’s rudimentary facilities despite the lovely location we dropped off the kit and team sheet and as there was still 90 minutes until kick-off were recommended to head for Cromford’s community centre in the village for a cheap and cheerful welcome. A couple of pints of Bass later in a cracking little pub and chips and gravy for Pete and Dennis (which the centre allowed you to buy from the local chippie and bring in) we headed off back for the game.

With a whole host of absentees (Trem Lindo and Tyler Cobb unavailable, Dan Chambers suspended, Aaron Wainaina ill, Kieron Lane injured) Arnold turned up with just 12 players. Matty Hubbard was included in the starting line-up for the first time since early November, Jamie Royle returned from his suspension whilst Toby Francis was able to stretch out and take up the whole of the Eagles’ bench.

Without Cromford’s team sheet I was unable to identify their players but time and again they played the ball down the wings with Arna continuing to play out from the back on a pitch that really didn’t suit this style frequently giving the ball away in poor positions. The only surprise was that Cromford took thirty or so minutes to puncture our defence with a well worked goal having already rattled the post. Keeper Piotr Strycharz made two fabulous saves, touching on to the bar and another finger-tip save to keep the score at 1-0 at the break.

Arna came out for the second half with a much more purposeful approach. Jake Ogden, industrious as ever, was becoming more involved and the midfield was beginning to put together some decent possession as we aimed to support Jamie Royle who was playing a lone role up front. Within three minutes of the restart we were given a way back when one of the Cromford defenders virtually caught the ball in the penalty box. Royle stepped up to take the penalty despatching it in to the corner to level the scores. For the next five-ten minutes we enjoyed our best period of the match as we looked to play longer balls over the top exposing Cromford’s defence in much the same way they had to us earlier. However as Arnold began to tire the hosts were able to pick-up the pace and attacks on the Eagles goal became more frequent.



Toby Francis replaced James Jackson who appeared to pick-up a knock (later confirmed as calf) before the hosts restored their lead with some 25 minutes remaining with a penalty of their own. A cross from the right connected with Lenny Jenkins’ hand at the near post leaving the ref no option but to point to the spot. Having already been booked some of the locals were baying for a red card but Lenny escaped further censure as Cromford restored their lead.

It was now an uphill struggle and although Cromford on the balance of play should have been well in front we had a couple of further chances to perhaps secure an unlikely point. Firstly Jamie Royle broke through and one on one with the keeper saw his shot rebound off the post; and then Francis out muscled the keeper at the far post from a deep cross who fumbled the ball but from close range Toby was unable to convert for the equaliser.

In the descending gloom Cromford were now well on top with Arnold having played their last cards and two close range efforts in the final 10 minutes made the score line perhaps a little more conclusive for all the Eagles’ efforts. Piotr was on hand a couple of times with some fine close range saves to ensure the score did not spiral and was worthy winner of Arnold’s Man of the Match award.

All of which brought about the end of the Yellow’s unbeaten four match run. A good effort from the dirty dozen (you should see the state of the kit!) on a pitch which always suited the hosts on a day when playing any kind of cohesive football was difficult. We trudged back to the cars with a fair amount of Derbyshire mud clinging to our shoes as we attempted to exit the car park where a good deal of blocking in had been necessary to avoid sinking into the abyss!

A blank next Saturday so enjoy your New Year everyone and we’ll see you at Linby on the 13th January.

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