Season Review 2007-08
Story: Mick Ashman | Photo: Richard Hanson
Earl Marshall Under-12s have been promoted to Division C having finished fourth in Division D last season. A late run of form looked likely to have secured a third place finish, but an unexpected defeat at home to Dinnington Town saw them finish two points behind Hackenthorpe Juniors. It wasn’t until the league reconfigured the Divisions that the club was notified that they would be moved up to the next level.
Pre-season friendlies suggested that the team were capable of making the transition. There were comprehensive wins against Hillsborough Pumas and Owls Trust All Stars, and, although they suffered defeats against Division A and B sides, these were by no means one-sided games.
The game against Thorncliffe Juniors (this season's Division B champions) was very close, finishing in a narrow 2-1 defeat. Two postponed league matches meant the team were unable to carry this momentum into September but, in their first competitive game in the preliminary round of the Cup, there was an excellent hard-fought 3-2 win over Dodworth Miners Welfare. There was a real sense of optimism when Earl Marshall faced AFC Dronfield in their first league game but, despite being the better side on the day, they shared the points in a 1-1 draw. A week later there was a better result when Brampton Dynamos were completely outplayed in an emphatic 6-1 win.
Unfortunately the victory was followed by four straight defeats in October, including dismissal from the Cup to Sheffield Rangers. This was particularly frustrating given that Earl Marshall had competed well in all these games and, if they had taken their chances, would have had more points on the board.
A crucial 4-3 win over Sheffield Wednesday Young Owls in November with Earl Marshall grabbing all three points in the last few minutes was celebrated in style by the whole team but the win was followed by two defeats against Birley Spa and Hackenthorpe Juniors. The latter was particularly disappointing since this was a game between two teams that were both in need of points and yet Hackenthorpe played like a team in the hunt for promotion.
Confidence was restored with two away 2-2 draws against high-flying Brinsworth Whitehill and Bramley Sunnyside. There were some outstanding individual performances and defensively Earl Marshall were highly effective against usually free scoring opposition.
A home defeat against Heeley a week after the Bramley game confirmed once again Earl Marshall’s inability to take points off teams outside the top four and sure enough when they travelled to Young Owls, they ground out another 2-2 draw with another outstanding defensive display. The result seemed to herald a turning point in the season. A narrow 1-0 win against Birley started a sequence that saw five wins in the remaining eight games, with defeats for Greasbrough, Brampton, Hackenthorpe and Aston. Had the team replicated the form over the season then they would have been serious contenders for promotion.
The narrow win over Brampton, with Earl Marshall taking all three points with virtually the last kick of the game, gave Earl Marshall 19 points and, with their superior goal difference, effectively guaranteed Division C status for the new season. With the pressure off the players, they delivered three excellent end of season performances. They were unlucky to lose against league runners-up Brinsworth and, at Hackenthorpe, a stunning four goals in 10 minutes ensured that they overturned a 2-0 deficit.
The team went on to finish the season in style with their first back-to-back win of the campaign, another well disciplined 3-1 victory at the expense of Aston Juniors. So despite some disappointments and a slow start to the campaign, Earl Marshall finished on a high note. If they can maintain their form over the last 2 months over the course of next season then they will be serious Division C promotion contenders a year from now.
Earl Marshall Juniors FC are looking for new players for Under 13s (Y8), Under 8s (Y3) and Under 7s (Y2) teams.
Contact Mark on 07776 457 732.
Managers and coaches also needed.