Newark Flowserve 4-1 Sporting Khalsa — Highwaymen KO Khalsa in Midland Football League Premier Division title fight
Newark Flowserve produced a stunning performance to beat title rivals Sporting Khalsa 4-1 and move into second place in the Midland Football League Premier Division.
The men in orange are still in all three cup competitions and are now just two points adrift of league leaders Coventry United and have two games in hand.
To score four goals in a top of the table clash is some achievement, but the game was also a personal triumph for goalkeeper Joe Searson who kept his side in the game at vital moments on the occasions when the visitors flexed their considerable muscles.
Searson was guilty of a couple of errors in the cup match at West Bridgford in midweek, but this performance will have done his confidence the world of good, and one save in the first half is unlikely to be bettered this or any other season. Even the opposing bench were left shaking their heads in disbelief and with admiring curses on their lips.
Flowserve got off to a flier on a relatively mild afternoon in front of another remarkable crowd, considering that Christmas shopping must have been high of the agenda of most families.
They went in front after just five minutes when Zak Goodson chased a lost cause into the left-hand corner and forced the visiting goalkeeper to launch the ball into touch. Goodson had been awarded an unprecedented four successive man of the match awards leading up to the game, and he again impressed with a two-goal show to add to his willing running.
From the ensuing throw-in, the ball fell to the feet of the midfield dynamo Kyle Dixon and he surged down the inside-left channel before checking inside and firing a right foot shot into the far corner for his tenth goal of the season.
Skipper Tom Potts pulled a hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced in the starting line-up by Jack Beckett, with Gregg Smith taking the arm band and Sean Woolley stepping in for Beckett on the bench.
Potts was an unwilling spectator, but what there was to watch was engrossing.
Smith’s eighth minute header bounced back off the bar, but on the quarter of an hour Flowserve made it two. Dixon floated in a free-kick beyond the Khalsa defence and centre-half Mitch Robinson ghosted into the gap and volleyed home neatly in a style reminiscent of World Cup winner Martin Peters whose sad demise was recorded later in the day.
Two minutes later Gurjit Singh pulled one back for Sporting Khalsa after two home defenders collided, but a fine diving save to his right from Searson on 23 minutes denied the Wolverhampton outfit an equaliser.
Then, on 27 minutes, came the moment of the match, and an indication of why Joe Searson once put pen to paper on a contract proferred by his boyhood heroes Notts County. This deserves a paragraph on its own.
James McGready got to the bye-line on the left and fired in a cross across the face of goal and Josh McKenzie pounced to steer the ball on target. Somehow Searson got a instinctive yet strong hand to the ball and deflected it over the top to record one of the top three saves that this observer has seen in watching 50 years of footballing excellence.
If it was shot in the arm for the 21-year-old, it inspired his team-mates as they recovered from a spell under the cosh.
On 36 minutes Goodson crossed from the left and Danny Meadows climbed to head the ball back across the face of goal only to see it bounce beyond the left hand post.
Another break down the right in the closing stages of the first half saw Goodson slip his marker and tear away, only for his progress to be unceremoniously ended by Carlo Franco, who must have been nervous before the referee only flourished a yellow card.
Dixon’s resultant free-kick was met by the head of Ben Hutchinson, but the Khalsa keeper palmed the effort spectacularly on to the post and behind. Dixon, now on corner duty, floated one on to the head of Smith and he nodded on powerfully for Goodson to tuck home on the line. 3-1 at half-time, and the job surely done.
Four minutes into the second period, with the words from joint-managers Kirkham and Roche barely digested, half-time Khalsa sub Jack Till was left unmarked in front of goal, but Searson saved with his feet.
Five minutes later the visitors were through again but, once again, Searson was the hero of the hour as he diverted the shot away with his chest when a Khalsa goal would have inspired a comeback.
And then, to the great relief of those many fans clad in orange, came the fourth in the 68th minute. Dixon clipped a fine through ball into the path of Goodson, and he ran on and gave the keeper ‘the eyes’ before slipping the ball into the net and sealing a very merry yuletide for Flowserve’s fantastic fans.
This was a great day for the Searson family. Joe proved that he is one of the finest goalkeepers ever to pull gloves on for Flowserve. And his dad won the raffle.
Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Lavell White; 3 Jurelle Phillip; 4 Lawrence Gorman; 5 Mitch Robinson; 6 Jack Beckett (Jammy Lloyd 85mins); 7 Danny Meadows (Sol Miller 76mins); 8 Kyle Dixon; 9 Gregg Smith (captain); 10 Ben Hutchinson (Sean Woolley 67mins); 11 Zak Goodson.
More by this authorConnor Thompson