Northern Premier League (North-East Division)
Wednesday 7th February 2024
Up and down like a yo-yo with their recent results, this was another night to forget for Cleethorpes Town as North Ferriby deservedly got the three points in this local derby.
Just like the Dunston game a fortnight ago, where Cleethorpes were 3-0 behind after 20 minutes (at which point it was ‘Game Over’), the boys in black and blue gave themselves another tough job to do under the floodlights as they went behind early on when Josh Whitley worked his way into the box and managed to stab a low shot past Heath Richardson, and then conceded a second goal as Levi Tarbotton doubled Ferriby’s lead from a corner not long after the half-hour mark.
At 0-2; the second goal being a massive kick in the teeth, and not playing anywhere near their best, Cleethorpes could have caved in and got walloped. Instead, they responded by scoring the best goal of the night to pull one back courtesy of Sam Kay who cushioned a fine volley into the net from 20 yards - and at 1-2 before the break, it gave them the impetus going into the second half.
Nonetheless, the rest of the game proved to be frustrating.
There was a lot of tugging and scrapping, battling and physicality on the pitch, albeit not very much quality. Max Adamson - playing on the right of a front three struggled to make any sort of impact (something which wasn’t particularly his fault - he just wasn’t given the ball very often which meant he couldn’t get into the game), and when he was replaced in a double change that saw another one-time DRFC youth teamer in Harry Middleton introduced, that gave Cleethorpes more balance in midfield which they needed.
They carved out a couple of chances in their search for an equaliser; one header on target was saved by the Ferriby ‘keeper on his goal-line and had it not been for the post, Louis Boyd would have scored an even better goal than Sam Kay in the first half, when his ferocious strike from the edge of the box after some decent individual technique, cannoned back off the post and somehow missed the attacker who was in the perfect position for the rebound and, nine times out of 10, would have gobbled it up.
That kinda summed up Cleethorpes’ luck - it just wasn’t happening for them in this game, but in fairness to Ferriby, they were the better team overall. They established the early lead, had more balance, know-how and ‘assuredness’ in various parts of the pitch, won more duels, were organised at the back and defended coherently enough to ensure they made it through the latter stages unscathed and then saw out five minutes of injury-time to pick up three points which moves them up to 7th in the NPL (East Division) - only a point off the Play-Off positions.
On this performance, Ferriby probably aren’t going to get promoted. They’re alright and they’ve got some good players albeit I feel Dunston, Stockton and a couple of others near the top have that little bit more about them and a certain spark or an ‘X Factor’ which make them the stand-outs at this level. It’s hard to look past the strong North-East contingent but, unquestionably, on Ferriby’s day, they’re capable of taking points off anyone and all credit to them on how they’ve bounced back as a football club since going bust a few years ago and all the problems and heartache which that tumultuous episode entailed.
For Cleethorpes in the ‘here and now’, things remain a ‘work in progress’. They aren’t going up (that’s for certain) yet at the same time, as the 3-0 win over Bridlington Town last Saturday proved, they definitely aren’t going down this season either - and, with a few key players (namely Ben Middleton) who missed this game hopefully back in time for Saturday’s tie away at Stockton Town, it’ll be interesting to see what the response is. In games where they feel like the underdogs - whether it be this one, Dunston, or the one against Belper Town in two weeks from now, what’s for certain is they need to start better because they can’t keep conceding early goals which leaves them chasing a game and on the back foot. If that keeps happening, they’re not going to get many points. The intensity wasn’t right against Dunston (as good as Dunston were) in that first 20 minutes where all the damage was done. In the first 10 minutes of this game there were a few dodgy situations and worrying signs - and there’s similarities between the two games for sure.
A special mention for the officials tonight who were spot on. There weren’t really any major decisions for them to make - or blatantly wrong decisions that impacted things and they let the game flow, were consistent and it makes a pleasant change from so often where there’s so many inconsistencies that just make things frustrating. Long may it continue!
For my next game at the weekend, I’m off to Scotland, but I’ll be back at Cleethorpes before the end of the month - either for the league game against Belper (depending on plans) or the one against Scunthorpe United in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup.